[Edit ehMax - Moving this thread to "Everything Else" for awhile for more exposure. Please read first 2 pages before replying as some changes were made from first post]
The ehMac online community forum is partly sponsored by a mix of advertisers, large and small. ehMac will very soon be offering two new "Premium Memberships" that offer an enhanced membership experience as an additional source of revenue that will help pay for our bandwidth, server maintenance, site upgrades and the like.
The enhanced premium memberships will offer things like increased storage / attachment / PM space, having all ads disabled, a premium support section, access to exclusive Mac related deals and promotions etc... Full details and pricing will be released at launch and will be completely optional. The system is automatic and will be tied into the automatic payment system of Paypal. There may be other payment methods at a later date.
The standard "Free" membership will be basically the same as before except with the following exceptions:
- There will be an additional Ad Unit under the first post of each thread (This is already enabled)
- HTML / Web links will not be allowed in signatures in free membership. (Links will be allowed in both premium memberships)
Even for members who don't purchase premium membership options, your continued involvement and participation will be just as appreciated and this won't be about "tiered classes" on ehMac, just another way to support that ads a few extra benefits.
I understand the advertising/no advertising options for membership, but revoking the ability to have links in your signature unless you pay for it? I think that's a bit over the top Mr Mayor.
Successful business models generally give subscribers value added features, they don't take away options from existing members if you don't ante up. In the retail world, which I know you're familiar with, they would call that Bait and Switch, no?
Ok, I get it. I am fine with the links in the signatures deal, but I am a little disapointed with the new ad bar after the first posts. I get that the economic climate, increased resource requirements and the such, I find this poor deal for us basic members.
Now you also claim their wouldn't be any membership class discrimination, but I can't help but wonder if the paying class will be treated more kindly than basics because they bring more to the table. Would there be any issues regarding conflict between the classes etc? I am not stating that this is a certainty, or you wont make a concerted for equality, but I am concerned.
I understand the advertising/no advertising options for membership, but revoking the ability to have links in your signature unless you pay for it?
Originally Posted by ertman
Ok, I get it. I am fine with the links in the signatures deal, but I am a little disapointed with the new ad bar after the first posts.
My apologies... I know fully well that when I implement this, not everyone is going to be necessarily happy about these 2 changes and some members also won't really care about one or the other or both.
Trust me when I say this: I have thought long and hard about the implementation of this, have spoken with many other forum admins, and I do have my reasons.
Before that, I'll say that I have learned something in meeting several other forum publishers this year. I've met several publishers who do successfully make a living running their own forum and are able to devout their full time to their passion. The idea of this has always kind of been a goal, but recently I've been a little more excited at the possibility... I'll let you read between the lines on that.
So.. as to specific reasons for the two changes above:
No links in signatures for free members:
1. Out of almost 30,000 registered users on ehMac, are several thousand users who have links in their signatures. Scattered in these registered users are quite a few dormant accounts from spammers who have put spam in their signatures. It is a very methodical, tedious process trying to review these old accounts for spam. It's also tedious to constantly have to review new registrations for spam links in their sig. There are technical ways to combat this, and many have been implemented, but quite frankly I'd rather spend my time and resources on better things. Spam links on a site are REALLY bad for search engine rankings on sites like Google. Which takes me to my next point...
2. Much of the traffic from ehMac comes from Google search engine referrals. Therefore, much of the banner ad revenue also comes from visitors from search engines. How much traffic comes from search engines depends on a lot of things and there is a whole science behind SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Google assigns value or page ranks to website. The higher the value, the more search engine referrals. There's a lot to it, but one of the factors is how many links are pointing in and out of a site. The more quality links (From high ranking sites) the better for the sites page rank. Conversely, outgoing links take away from your site (And in essence, pass along some some of the sites page rank)
3. The idea of allowing links in signatures was so that members could point to their personal sites and other sites of interest. However, quite often these links are pointing to commercial related sites... sites that host advertising, sell products or services etc.. This is not what links in signatures was intended for and is against T's & C's of ehMac.
So, I decided that links in signatures will be a "premium" feature.
Ad below first post
- There are still a lot of other forums and sites out there with way more obtrusive advertising. (Some with less too) Some 3rd party advertisers who approached ehMac in the past, only want to advertise if they can have their ads show up within the content, not just above the fold as they say. In the end, I don't think its too bad, it fits the format, and there aren't sky scraper ads on ehMac.
Even though I don't even use the sig links, I still agree. The telecos would be proud of such a move.
I believe some people need to look up what the term "bait and switch" means.
I must of "baited" people onto ehMac advertising that they'd be using a forum on a single 7,200 RPM Serial ATA drive and then "switched" them by upgrading to have the forum run on a level 5 RAID of three 15,000 RPM SCSI drives with nightly offsite backups.
Last time I looked into it... offering a service for free, then doing a minor change to the free service (While also doing some enhancements to the free service) was not considered the fraudulent sales practice of baiting and switching.