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I am very worried about the Forum going away!
Save the forum! (having a BTTF flashback)
I have no problem at all with ads / subscriptions (preference would be a subscription for no ads, else ads), but feels to me like they're holding you to ransom knowing how popular the forum is.
I self host a blog with a UK based hosting company called krystal. I have a pretty basic package (few thousand hits per month) but their service is outstanding even for small fish like me - and even their priciest business package is only £90/month. (I pay £60/year, and hardly touch my CPU / DISK / RAM usage allowances)
So $500 / month can't be hosting costs, and it's not licensing cost (if it's open source) so must be them bundling it as a support package / setting up costs - and the question is, is their support worth that much? Lots of bright technical people on here who I'm sure would always be prepared to chip in.
40€ / month, plus VAT. (48€ / month then ?)
Any host offering 'unlimited' anything is hiding some very real limitations on resource usage. It's simply not possible to host unlimited unique websites on one account when there are limits on resource usage, particularly when there are probably something like 50 or 100 accounts on one server competing for the same CPU and memory. These sorts of accounts are great until you start getting any sort of traffic. If you have a very busy website then you need to be showing resource usage logs to a potential new host, and have them guarantee the package they're offering can cope with your needs.
^ Agreed. To be honest I don't read it anymore as it's impossible to follow it if you're not logged in 24/7. There are simply too many comments. Instead of crazy long threads, which are such non-helpful for new members, they should be divided into smaller topics. Then everyone wouldn't click the same thread. SW fan would click the SW one, City collector the City one and so on. Less clicks and information would be easier to find. There's always the other side of things. Then we would have a lot more threads.
BTW how many people read threads they are not really interested in? You don't have to click every single thread every time there's a new comment!
So this is what it'll look like...
-Predictions on Discontinuing StarWars Sets and their Secondary Market Value
-1M views 10K comments
-Predictions on Discontinuing SuperHeroes Sets and their Secondary Market Value
-3M views 15K comments
-Predictions on Discontinuing City Sets and their Secondary Market Value
-35 views 3 comments
-Predictions on Discontinuing Death Star and its Secondary Market Value
-13M views 21.7K comments
-Predictions on Discontinuing Modulars and their Secondary Market Value
-10M views 18K comments
-Is Market Street a Modular?
-6M views 13K comments
Predictions on Discontinuing Sausage and it's Secondary Market Value
Predictions on Complaining About the Next Modular and Complaining About Ubiquitous Police and Fire Station Playsets
Predictions on the Mammoth Hoth Playset that has yet to Materialize
Complaining About Re-Treads, and Accepting We're Going to Buy them Anyway
Predictions on UCS SW Sets and What Sets 'Count'
And I don't really have that much of an affinity for the Lego sausage, it's just a reoccurring coincidence. My passion is the round 1 x 1 tile printed cookie that I first noticed in the Rapunzel Tower.
It is possible to hide the entire forum for users who employ an Ad Blocker.
If you do choose the ad route, then the only real option is to accept that not everyone is going to net you ad revenue and that has to be factored in to the viability of that option as a solution.
The thing is that you have no idea why people block things, or whether they always do it. If they are, currently, in the middle of nowhere, using dubious kit, there are countless good reasons to block anything unwanted. Or if they're using somebody else's resources. Or whatever. Back "in civilisation", things may be different. But if you arbitrarily decide that it's not good will and make the site unusable, they they are quite likely to find they don't need to use it. Ever.
This forum doesn't work particularly well on a mobile device. If I thought that I would have to endure it like this for than a few more days, I wouldn't bother. Later on, I probably still wouldn't bother. Then the question about blocking a revenue stream becomes irrelevant.
When you start talking about leeching, you also have to consider what you are providing, and where that is coming from. A forum derives its value from the posters - without them, you have nothing. If you want to make money from them, then who just who is leeching? It's all a very fine balance, and its very easy not to consider how other people may view the situation.
Maybe it is worth @Huw putting an Amazon link on the forum with a different tracking ID, so he can see how much of that traffic comes from forum users rather than front page users.
The front page could equally well be charged for. Don't want general ads? You pay. Got more than 10 sets in your collection, you pay. Got more than 100, you pay double. Use search queries? Only if you're a paid up member. Would it make the site better? I doubt it, just fewer members.
I use AdBlock myself and would not be without it. The only site I've found that detects it and makes a fuss is https://www.mixcloud.com.
on some websites there is even more space used by ads than for the site actual content O_O
Wowhead.com introduced a Premium membership where you could view the website without adverts in exchange for a small fee. Theirs was my first experience of this but I've seen it rolled out at a few other places, and I've been happy to pay for many of them. Hell, most of us pay for cable or satellite TV, and still put up with adverts in order to watch it! Same goes for newspapers and magazines. Why would someone be happy to suffer ads in those things but then demand an ad-free resource online? I use Ad Blocker myself but I turn it off for websites I know and trust. If they start having bad ads like pop-ups, sounds or redirecting, I would enable it again.
In addition ISPs are beginning to experiment with ISP level ad blocking.
Chrome also now blocks flash ads because of the security issues, the annoyance factor, and as a way to increase battery life of mobile devices.
Ad blocking use is continuing to rise in response along with the privacy issues (facebook, google etc tracking via their share buttons etc), as well as ads just being annoying. It goes without saying I block all ads without exception, the way ad networks operate is inherently insecure and they can't be trusted. Its likely that ad revenues will continue to decline although increasing your own site views might counteract this for awhile.
I've noticed a number of sites begin offering optional subscriptions and when their ads are blocked they display begging messages asking for a subscription to try to nudge users. I assume it picks up some users but I've declined most so far, although I would subscribe to brickset (its pretty essential for me, the other sites were all fairly disposable). It seems like this will long term become the model for many websites. Paywalls don't work because you need people to get invested in the site before they are likely to pay. Quite a few newspapers have had to drop paywalls.
I'd suggest trying to come up with some subscription only features. Some offer https access, private forum areas, user badges/decoration, ability to vote, database api access (to brickset.com), shopping alerts etc. Competitions/giveaways, discount codes.
But you then ultimately declare yourself a hypocrite, a sponge and a leech as you put it on some websites.
Really, ad blocking is a growing thing precisely because ad networks have been the sponges and leeches for so long, using people's bandwidth without their authorisation to push down everything from unwanted ads that shout at them through their speakers, to ads that hijack the rendering area and break the site until you click them, to malware, to simply tracking you and logging your habits often without you ever even knowing.
If you feel that you're owed money by everyone that visits your site, then don't make it public - stick a paywall on it, otherwise you can't whine when people use it without netting you any income. It's like putting up a public display of a film you just made in a town centre and then whinging that passers by dared to stand and watch some of it without paying you. Obviously if you wanted income from everyone viewing it you should've shoved it in a cinema where viewers have to pay for entry, not right in the middle of a public high street.
Brickset is where it is because Huw has done a fantastic job of working with his users and not against them, and it would be incredibly foolish to change that now.
To be honest I'm not actually bothered by tracking if it's to my benefit (i.e. for product improvement research) and with my agreement. I take offence to it when it's done without my knowledge, to profile me, and to sell that profile onwards.