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Poll...What is this website and the message boards worth to you???(49 posts)

Poll...What is this website and the message boards worth to you???Cima Coppi
Dec 11, 2002 6:03 AM
Given the lackluster economy and the desire for companies to lower their advertising expenses, what is it worth to all of you to keep this board running? For example, would you pay for membership to have the right to post your messages to help fund RBR and the rest of the Consumer Review sites if their advertising dollars dry up? Do you think this help keep the trolls from posting ridiculous messages that simply waste our time? My idea is also that to view the postings is absolutely free of charge, but you must be a member to write a thread.

Personally, I am not opposed to a yearly membership fee to this site that would allow us not only unlimited postings on the message boards, but also no-charge listings in the classifieds sections. Those who don't want to pay for membership can pay for their classified ads in the same manner the system currently works.

As always, I appreciate your opinions.

CC
It would totally depend on the membership feeRickC5
Dec 11, 2002 6:33 AM
I would truly hate to see this site or the boards go away, but given the economy and the personal need to conserve funds, I wouldn't be willing to spend more than $5-10 annually to support this site.

Trolls are not necessarily destitute, so I would also like to have the ability to drop a member from the rolls if that member takes on troll-like qualities. No refund, of course, and it would take some sort of member vote to drop someone.

My $.02 worth.
Maybe $.02 per post? -nmSnowBlind
Dec 11, 2002 12:14 PM
re: Poll...What is this website and the message boards worth to you???StevieP
Dec 11, 2002 6:38 AM
Originally, when I found this site, I only used it for reviews. Since discovering the discussions pages, I use the site 5 or 6 times a day.

Yes I would pay a fee (monthly or annual) to use the site as I use it to read & write posts. It is very useful to know that if you have a query, it is likely that someone can answer it. It is also nice to know others opinions.

It would be good if this site could somehow be advertised to more UK based riders as I live in the UK and I find that this is a predominantly an American site. I have no problem with this but it would be more appealing and sometimes more relevant to have more Uk readers to answer Uk related questions.

In summary, this is my favourite website and it would be very disheartening to see it go so yes I would help to fund its continuation if necessary.

Keep up the good work RBR.
From what I can tell...JL
Dec 11, 2002 6:42 AM
RBR seems to be getting more advertisers. There are now 7 partner stores and other "Hot Deals" vendors. So it doesn't seem like the ad dollars are drying up, to me. Maybe the vendors are learning that there's a large vocal community here.

I can understand about weeding out the trolls, but I think you'll lose many new people and probably a bunch of the old if you charge a fee. This could hurt more than help RBR retain advertising due to a large dip in message posts. While I enjoy this resource, I don't think I would pay to stay because I don't think I post enough.

Long story short, my vote would be status quo. I'll continue to pay for running classifieds and try to click through to advertisers whenever possible.

Just my $.02.

John
Interesting question...did Gregg put you up to it??PaulCL
Dec 11, 2002 6:43 AM
Just kidding on the question.

I would write a check to be a "member". The amount?? I don't know $10...$25???

But wouldn't a fee dissuade new posters??? Its' one thing to register and post, but another to give your credit card # to a sight just to post your opinion. I got "hooked" on this site not by reading posts, but by having someone reply to one of my posts. If there was a fee, I think the site would die a slow death. IMHO
re: Poll...What is this website and the message boards worth to you???pmf1
Dec 11, 2002 6:45 AM
Some of the gun sites I visit have voluntary levels of patronage. On one, no one is required to pay anything to read and post text. If you want to contribute, you get a contributor (bronze, silver or gold) title next to your name and can post pictures.

People do it. Not everyone, but a fair number. I'd pay a fee to join. I like the idea of levels since some folks are less able to pay than others. Making it voluntary would draw more people in. I doubt many would pay upfront to post on a baord they have no experience with. But after getting sucked in and using the board on a regular basis, new members might be more apt to pay a fee.
Interesting concept....biknben
Dec 11, 2002 7:01 AM
I hadn't heard of that voluntary pay membership. Sounds like a good idea.

Personally, since I've already been here, I'd be willing to pay to stay. OTOH, if I was coming here for the first time, there's no way I would pay to participate. Maybe if it was free to read but "pay to post", I'd look around for a while and consider it.

I think these forums would die a quick death if a fee was required. All the lurkers and occasional poster would split and very few new people would come in. What draws most of us in is the volume of posts and responses. If that went down we'd return less often and this place would turn into a ghost town.
the real value is the peopleDougSloan
Dec 11, 2002 6:51 AM
The value here is the people, who add content to the medium. Start charging, and the people go away; the medium is then worth much less.

Doug
ZERO...ZILCH...NADA...just my opinion. NMkgrider
Dec 11, 2002 7:03 AM
I'm not opposed; but membership fee's are typically death to a forumKristin
Dec 11, 2002 7:04 AM
I've been a member of several forums like RBR--where there was true comradere amongst members. A membership fee was eventually imposed and the forums dried up. Consumer reviews can't earn all its revenue from advertising forever, and will eventually begin charging a subscription fee to its members. When that happens, the face of this forum will change. A number of key players will inevitably decide that this wasn't a good use of their time anyway, and will opt out. Then others, fearing a mass exodus, will leave as well. New players will be introduced, but it won't be the same and it won't be as many. And its difficult to get new paid subscribers to internet services like this--that's why sites die. Its not like Better Homes and Gardens, which sells publications in every grocery store. Though if RBR began a publication of consumer ratings that could rival other bike publications, then they may have a chance...sort of like Consumer Reports does.

Gregg, if CR ever creates a focus group to help figure out future directions...please include me. I'm a hell of a brainstormer, and I'm motivated to see this site remain around.
It would die just like their classifieds didspookyload
Dec 11, 2002 7:21 AM
Before they started charging for classifieds, there was a thriving market of inexpensive parts and bikes. Now that it costs to post, why would you bother spending $2 to sell a $20 tire? That is 10% of your profits out the door. Now all you find is high end bikes and wheels that are darn near retail/mail order prices. The wheels and tires section is a good indicator of that. Find a wheel set under $300 there. Ebay is now the place to find deals. I would hate to see this turn into the same thing with the message forum. This is one of the few places new cyclists can get information on the basic stuff they might not find elsewhere if they don't live in a big biking community. It is a way for cyclists to become part of a community that might not exist where they live.
Zip.Eager Beagle
Dec 11, 2002 7:36 AM
A large percentage of this board is ill-informed ranting, venting and opinionating. Amusing and absorbing, but not worth paying for.

There are other sources out there for free where you can get good technical advice if you need it.

It would kill it as we know it IMHO.
I hope you include yourself in that 'large percentage', mate. nmRhodyRider
Dec 11, 2002 9:32 AM
No, butEager Beagle
Dec 11, 2002 9:36 AM
I'm sure few people do. Feel free though...
Doesn't matter if he does or notLurkerman
Dec 11, 2002 10:02 AM
He's right. Your post is a classic example.

Not that he helps the situation with his pointless attempts at being an anti-BS crusader. What he posts on Compos and CX is alway accurate and helpful though.

This is the first time I have posted on this board, but I read it lots. There are many folk who post regularly, who are full of it. Don't bother to read the posts properly, and chime in with a load of heresay or opinion that's just not worth a dime. That and posting BS or peronsal attacks, then sliding away when they get called on it, or shown to be wrong. Notice how the Forum Pact never took off in reality - shows what I mean. Noone's gonna pay for that if they have sense. The "who do you read" post was funny the other day - some people really need to be a little objective in there endorsement of some people.

So - no. I think I safely speak for a good deal of the - mainly - silent minority (majority? Look at the read/posted ratios) when I say that paying for this is not gonna happen.

Free entertainment. Aint so entertaining if it aint free.

FWIW-YVMV -WGADA?
You're definitely right, and so is E.B. My point wasn'tRhodyRider
Dec 11, 2002 12:32 PM
to suggest that Eager Beagle is incorrect, quite the contrary. I merely wanted to him to consider the suggestion that a lot of his (and his mate MJ's) posts, specifically the non-stop Guardian-bashes-the-US ones over on the non-cycling board, fall (in my opinion) into that "rant/opinion/BS" category. All in good fun, no doubt, and often provocative of interesting & thoughtful debate, but nevertheless sound and fury signifying nothing. Unless we have some real serious folk lurking here, I think it is safe to say that none of the regular (and irregular!) posters on RBR are policy advisors to any world leaders. I generally view this little community as a bunch of cycling-inclined working stiffs who need a distraction during the day, nothing more. And to answer the original question, no I wouldn't pay for this forum. I'd miss it were it gone, but I couldn't justify the subsidy.
Funny thatEager Beagle
Dec 12, 2002 1:33 AM
I must have posted, oooh, roughly 4 or so guardian posts in my time here (about 2 1/2 years). The last one was the UK view of thanksgiving, which even the most hardbitten anti UK/Guardian posters were only able to fault on the grounds that it said that there were lots of football games on the TV, when there are, apparently, only a few.

The one before that was a bit about Henry Ford riding a bike with no brakes.

I can't recall the others, but I don't consider anything I have posted to the anti-US in any intelligent sense of the phrase.

Still, always good to be intelligently criticised for voicing and opinion on the non-cycling board which is, almost entirely, a forum for voicing opinions. Good old free speach eh?
FWIWMJ
Dec 12, 2002 4:25 AM
I try and keep all my comments/posts on the general and cross boards helpful and factual.

The 'ranting' as you term it, is exclusively reserved for the non-cycling discussion board. It is in good fun and is intended to provoke discussion. If you think that there is anti-US sentiment involved in discussing important events and views because neo-christian ultraconservatives have been offended with plain logic and factual information you need to do some soul searching. :-) Sound and fury signifying nothing perhaps but then again I've always been a fan of Faulkner...

I wouldn't pay either - the posters and lurkers would be even more self-selecting.
God save the Queen. (nm)RhodyRider
Dec 12, 2002 8:39 AM
The Value? Priceless. What would I pay? Well...Gregory Taylor
Dec 11, 2002 7:43 AM
Charging a fee would make it a LOT easier for me not to log on the usual 4 or 5 times a day that I've been averaging. I enjoy it, but not enough to actually fork out some $$. I'm lucky enough to be surrounded by knowledgable bike freaks, so I can almost always be assured of an outlet for discussions on fixie gearing, ti cogsets and handlebar tape.

One alternative would be to boost advertising revenues by allowing access to the discussion boards only after viewing an ad or two. Salon.com, which segregates some of its best content in a "premium" subscribers-only area, did something interesting recently when it gave folks access to the premium area after viewing a four screen advertisement from Mercedes Benz. The advertiser was guaranteed that surfers got an eyeful, which (I assume) allowed Salon to charge more. How about enabling the discussion boards after directing folks through a couple of screens of advertising? Annoying? Yes. Better than actually shelling out $$ for a subscription? That's a personal choice, but I'd be in favor if the alternative was be to set up RBR on a paying membership basis.
Nominal fee - OKtheeatkins
Dec 11, 2002 7:43 AM
A nominal fee annually would be OK with me. I regularly check the discussions for insight into problems/concerns I have.
I have also utilized the reviews fairly extensively before buying anything related to cycling.
Nominal fee would be fine if no-charge lisitings are included. Neyebob
Dec 11, 2002 7:48 AM
RBR is valuable to me, but I think a fee would reduce the value.Scot_Gore
Dec 11, 2002 7:49 AM
I'd pay a membership fee to RBR.

I pay one to public television, public radio, Sierra Club, Rail to Trails, Adventure Cycling, the church and others. I do it because I value the work and service these organizatios provide, and I value RBR in much the same way.

On RBR what I'm willing to pay for (what's valueable) is member provided content. IMHO - a fee would reduce the membership to such a degree that the content would suffer and would not then be "worth it" to me anymore.

All the other groups I list above use my fee to pay professional staff people to provide me content and services. RBR builds and provides a framework for content and services, but provides very little of it with there own staff. Without members, RBR would soon be an empty framwork with no content.

my two cents

Scot
you get what you pay formanicoti
Dec 11, 2002 7:57 AM
I enjoy the website, and am pretty much a lurker, though I am becoming more active. Eager Beagle is right, there is too much stuff that is pointless or that I just don't understand. I don't frequent most of the discussion topics and I never buy anything from the classified. I occasionally use the reviews, but I don't think they are as well organized and as aesthetically pleasing a mtbr.com. I would not pay to use this site though I log on daily. I enjoy being part of the community, but I will be fine if I'm not because it charges or is defunct. I would still read alot of the posts, but I wouldn't pay to post. I may be willing to give money if asked, but ot if told.
cyclingforum.com does this on a "honor system" basisColnagoFE
Dec 11, 2002 7:58 AM
they use Paypal for donations.
This place is where I waste time at work. Pay for this? (nm)onespeed
Dec 11, 2002 8:01 AM
Sure!funknuggets
Dec 11, 2002 8:06 AM
I would be willing to pay a fee. I think this site has a great deal of value. As DougSloan indicated, the value here is the people.. .the people that post, the people that provide reviews, the people that post classifieds...

I too visit the site several times daily and get a large amount of motivation, inspiration, and ideas about everything from bike fit, to maintenance tips, to racing and value it a great deal. I helps me keep somewhat focused on cycling as the vigor seems to wane during these dark winter months.

There are a lot of things that could be done that would enhance the value of a membership, such as special discounts for members at the featured vendors, or free/lower classified costs, etc... or free t-shirts... (right Gregg!!!)

Nonetheless, I do not think it would be a "bad" thing, but might eliminate those posts about "come see my ebay auction" or the "what is it worth" posts from users we never see again.
re: Poll...What is this website and the message boards worth to you???DuraAceBob
Dec 11, 2002 8:11 AM
It is a good forum to vent my frustrations, however, I doubt I would subscribe to it.
rYou just talked me into paying. nmLen J
Dec 11, 2002 8:40 AM
*Snicker*>>>LOL! nm.MB1
Dec 11, 2002 8:54 AM
ISP address blocks $100.00 per request, what ya think ? (nm)Scot_Gore
Dec 11, 2002 9:00 AM
More thoughts - Troll InsuranceScot_Gore
Dec 11, 2002 9:09 AM
You send a voluntary $100.00 troll insurance to RBR.

If you find a troll or flamer bothersome. You e-mail Gregg to spend 1-10 dollars of your insurance against this troll.

Once a troll has $100+ directed at it, the ISP gets blocked.

hmmmmm.......could work. Real money involved and no one person can boot another. You need a min. cabal of 10 to get a block put up.

Just a wild thought.

Scot
much cheaper than thatDougSloan
Dec 11, 2002 9:17 AM
Trolls are totally parasitic. They would not exist if we did not feed them. If we ignored them -- POOF -- they go away. That's no fun, though, is it?

Doug
The occasional passing Troll and our reaction to themMB1
Dec 11, 2002 9:35 AM
is part of the charm of this board. Besides if we started paying $100 to get rid of them gregg might start trolling himself.
The occasional passing Troll and our reaction to themScot_Gore
Dec 11, 2002 11:38 AM
This was just a wild thought and not really a serious proposal so this just fun speculation on my part.

Gregg's incentive to "fake" a troll might be limited. He'd already have your money and have used it to buy office supplies or whatever. His principle incentive would be that you would use up your account and send in more. But really, the speed with which you use it up is in your own control and if in your opinion the practice was spawning vs limiting trolls you'd stop purchasing the product.

Like I said, pointless specualtion. AKA off-topic trolling....have me banned :)

Scot
I try not to feed themScot_Gore
Dec 11, 2002 11:24 AM
I have to admit it was fun watching a recent troll get strung along. The guy who got compared to RRP and didn't understand the reference. Nobody would tell him anything, because he's a Troll after all. He strung along for 2 days begging for to get somebody to explain it to him.

I enjoyed that : )

Scot
We wouldn't play with the trolls if we didn't get something out of it.Kristin
Dec 12, 2002 6:34 AM
Akin to a 13 year old boy with a stick and a snake, we just can't help ourselves. We are drawn to the game every bit as much as they are. They skirt accross our horizon, daring us to chase. Suddenly the preditor in us awakens. We poke and prode at them, and watch them wriggle and defend until we finally become bored. Then, with captive in hand, we go off looking for suitable means of execution.
no fee.Frith
Dec 11, 2002 8:12 AM
Any mandatory fee would limit the knowledge base of the site by decreasing overall users. It's this base makes the site a cut above all the rest. I've taken part in plenty of discussion boards and news groups, and all though there is the odd troll here, it could be much much worse. I say don't f*k with a good thing.
On the other hand some sort of volantary payment system might be a good idea to help boost revenue a bit. I'd probably be willing to pay something.
Just a waste of our money.MB1
Dec 11, 2002 8:17 AM
Don't get me wrong, I love this board. The problem with a fee requirement to post or even to view is that it would drive away new viewers and posters.

Over time people naturally drift away. Yesterday I looked at some of J's and Doug's old posts-did you? Look at the names of the posters. Over half of them are no longer active although there is no way to know if they are still lurking.

No fresh blood and the enthusiasm they bring combined with the natural exodus of current posters would spell doom for this place.

I'd miss everyone here but so it goes.
depends on priceDaveG
Dec 11, 2002 9:03 AM
Free is best, but I would probably accept a small membership fee to access the site. I find it a valuable resource once you weed out some troll posts and flames. I do think a fee would reduce the number of trollers that show up from time to time. However, a fee would also reduce the number of legitimate visiters including those that really contribute valuable info I also agree with your thoughts on free classified being included.
Charging would definitely kill the site.lemmy999
Dec 11, 2002 9:34 AM
No matter what anyone says, 99.9% would not pay so the important part of this forum (the people and their knowledge) would be gone. The webage would become worthless (nothing in the classified, nobody in the discussions) and so the remaining 0.1% wouldn't pay anymore. Then the site is gone. In principal I would pay maybe $2-$5 year to support the site, but in reality, I wouldn't becuase I know what charging does to a place like this.
Bad Ideabsdc
Dec 11, 2002 10:31 AM
It's not that I don't want to pay money. I don't want to have to log in each time I come and try to remember which password I use here. If I came to this site and couldn't get in without a credit card number, etc. I would probably have moved on without checking it out. I think it would dwindle down to such a small group. I hope the advertisers keep supporting this site. We need to do what we can to let the advertiser know we appreciate it and are doing business with them.
re: Poll...What is this website and the message boards worth to you???geeker
Dec 11, 2002 11:28 AM
As long as there are Usenet newsgroups, I can't see a for-pay message board working. For instance, you can buy/sell at rec.bicycles.marketplace, and rec.bicycles.tech is useful for tech info. Google (took over from Deja News) archives Usenet posts, so you can do searches. Granted Usenet has a lot of trolls, and there are some useless ngs (r.b.misc and r.b.racing), but it's too big a competitor for paid boards.
How about this...Souxsie
Dec 11, 2002 12:09 PM
I would not pay for a membership and would imagine only die hards would.

However, Salon.com has a really swift way of releasing their premium content to the masses if they don't want to pay.

Currently you have to click through a 4-screen flash presentation by Mercedes before you can view content. It's like a mini-web site that advertiser pays good money for.

Perhaps your partnerstores would be interested if they wanted more exposure than they do now.

Ever since the birth of the web users have expected free content, especially if that content is provided by other lay people such as ourselves. I'm not saying that won't ever change I just think you need to come up with more unique placement for advertisers to supplement your income because all of mine is going towards BIKES!
Ahhh....another Salon.com reader (nm)Gregory Taylor
Dec 11, 2002 12:14 PM
no good solutionDuane Gran
Dec 11, 2002 1:25 PM
I have donated a small amount to cyclingforum.com and I would donate to RBR as well, but if I were in Consumer Review's shoes I wouldn't bank on donations to pay the bills. Ultimately the site can make money by connecting the dots between visitors and sponsors. There are several ways of doing this:

1) Banner ads, vendor links & whatnot. This is the status quo and it works to some degree. Advertisers build on branding even if they don't sell anything immediately.

2) Gather demographics on readership and provide/sell it to sponsors. This may have limited value, since the demographics of the cycling population is well known and the online cycling community may not differ much.

3) Gather specific demographics on a person by person basis and provide/sell it to sponsors. This is fairly valuable data for most vendors, but some people have natural privacy concerns about the proliferation of the data. If it handled correctly some view it as a win/win. For example, the vendor knows your bike uses Shimano components, so they don't advertise Campy parts. Likewise, advertising you encounter is somewhat more relevant and possibly useful. There are plenty of pitfalls with this approach, but it might work if handled sensibly.
ZeroStewK
Dec 11, 2002 6:25 PM
re: Poll...What is this website and the message boards worth to you???moabbiker
Dec 12, 2002 5:04 AM
Well, this topic has been beaten to death on many other online forums over the past decade, for all that I can remember (first started BBS'ing back in '88). My observation has been that:

A) Any forum that requires a membership fee will die
B) Any forum that begs for 'anonymous' contributions result in practically negligible funds coming in.
C) Any forum that makes membership fees optional BUT makes the system recognize you as a paying member will ultimately die a slow, painful death. It creates animosity amongst new users who have no desire to pay money, and are flamed whenever they decide to post. If they can't post because of a membership restriction, they will go elsewhere. The result is a bunch of rude members flaming one another just to get their thrills.

Now, one forum that I know of has been able to make membership optional and they do not publically acknowledge that they are a paying member. The main benefit was that the paying members accessed a private server that was ad-free and higher performing. All other users used a server that was loaded with ads and sluggish. It worked well until they decided to completely overload the free server, making response time of the website totally unacceptable. Eventually, they balanced the free servers out more so it wasn't so sluggish. Last I heard, they weren't really making any real money with the forum section.

Bottom line is that you can't ask people to pay money for a forum and expect the best of both worlds. It doesn't happen that way. If a forum can't financially survive for whatever reason then it should just nicely fold. Trust me, in the IT world, there is a huge line of people who can put up a new server and forum very easily.