The Forum

Submitted: Wednesday, May 21, 2003 at 12:08
ThreadID: 5048 Views:4177 Replies:32 FollowUps:27
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Hi everyone,

Well as you know we have been workig hard on making everything faster and better. I think we have a great system running now - not perfect but still great.

Now for the problem. The increase in server traffic over the last few months which is now at 43GB out and 4.5GB in is costing me an extra $1000 per month. The majority of this traffic is from the forum. So I am left with a problem as the extra money is not being covered and in fact the site after 3.5 years is still not making enough money to absorb the extra costs.

What to do:-

* We are looking at increasing our advertiser volume however we need your help to make this happen. Make sure that you mention ExplorOz as much as you can with suppliers and tell them that they can list their business paid or free on this site. We have over 120,000 visitors per month and around 7 million hits. You can even Add a Business to the system - When you use the Add a Business program on the Advertsing Menu you need to enter the business name, contact name, phone number and email. Our system will then send this prospect an email inviting them to complete the business setup process. They can select free or paid advertising. Even the free advertising has merit for us as it forces the directory to be bigger and the more results pages there are the more chance that some businesses will want to pay to be at the top of the list.

* I am thinking I will have to reduce the traffic of the forum as I have not been able at this stage to secure enough advertising to cover the costs in running it. To do this I think the best way is to limit the number of free posts that can be made by visitors to say 3 posts - Then you would need to become a member to post to the forum. I would like to hear feedback about this please.

* If I cannot sort out this cost I will have to remove the free forum from our system and force it to be a members only facility. I am very reluctant to do this however if the costs to run it cannot be recoved then good bye - We have funded the operation for 3.5 years and it has cost us heaps & heaps.

So I guess the people that use the resources need to know that we do not get paid by ExplorOz yet, our holidays and this site are still paid for by my (David's) I.T. business. If you like it pay up or please go to one of the other forum sites.

Pity that with the volume of traffic and number of users on this site cannot adjust the industry mindset that you should only advertise in Magazines. We have more users in a month than the magazines do so what gives? You have to buy the magazine so they do not have a revenue problem - we want to be able to support the industry and give away as much information as we can, yet cannot get the industry backing. What the!!!!!!
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Reply By: Member - Glenn(VIC) - Wednesday, May 21, 2003 at 12:48

Wednesday, May 21, 2003 at 12:48
Hi David,

I believe that this is the greatest 4WD site in Oz and the work that both yourself and Michelle have done is fantastic. The offerings of this site are second to none. It would be a shame to restrict visitors from the forum, however I agree that costs need to be recovered, otherwise more may be lost.

The knowledge of visitors is also invaluable to us all, but having them become Members would be most advantageous.

Good luck in getting what you require and I will assist as much as I can in keeping this site as is.Just Do It!

AnswerID: 20662

Reply By: Member - Sam (NSW) - Wednesday, May 21, 2003 at 12:58

Wednesday, May 21, 2003 at 12:58
David

Its a shame that people aren't willing to part with a few dollars to help support the site. For $50 for first year and $30 each year there after for a subscription (which is about a tank of fuel these days) I dont understand why more people aren't paying up and becoming members.

$50 is equivalent to a yearly magazine subscription and on this site you aren't having to weed through the biased articles that "keep the advertisers/sponsors" happy as is the case with some 4WD magazines. And you have access to virtually an unlimited source of information.

One thought I had, was maybe different levels of subscription. Maybe you could have a Forum membership. This would mean that if people wanted to post to the forum on a regular basis, they could pay a lower fee ($15 or $20 or something), but this would still not allow them all the features that those of us who are full members enjoy (Rigs, Member Money, etc).

Further to this, maybe a teered membership structure. Have maybe 4 levels, starting at Free (can read all threads, but post only 3), then maybe $5 or $10 (to be able to post a limited number of posts per month), then maybe $15 or $20 ( to be able to post unlimited number of posts), then full membership $50 first up then $30 per year for full access to the site and members features.

I would have thought that given the nature of the site and the information that it contains, that those participating would easily be able to depart with the $50 to become a member. As I mentioned before, its equivalent to a tank of fuel or a yearly magazine subscription. I do understand its each persons decision whether they feel they should pay for something or not, but I would hate to think that the forum would suffer if it has to become a user pays system.

Everyone constantly says how great the site is, so maybe its time some of those who are't already members (but are frequent users and posters), put their money where their mouths are and just cough up the money and help support the site. Sure there are other free forums/sites out there, but i've looked at them and participated in them and they are RUBBISH. Their layout stinks, and they dont have 1/50th the information ExplorOz has.

So as members and users of the ExplorOz Community, we should be all getting together to help support David and Michelle and become members and encourage businesses to advertise on the site. After all, a forum is useless if no one uses it, and as this site such a valuable data source (constantly rating at No 1), lets help keep it up there and available for us all to use.

cheers,
Sam.

AnswerID: 20664

Reply By: Member - Motley - Wednesday, May 21, 2003 at 13:13

Wednesday, May 21, 2003 at 13:13
David,

Congratul;ations on this site. I think it is an invaluable resource. I can vouch that by being able to research matters on Exploroz, I have saved countless hours, p;robably a few mistakes and certainly many hundreds of dollars. It was by researching here that I saved nearly $1,500 through selection of the right generator for my needs (not the one the experts advised me to buy) and then finding the right place to buy it.

having used the site and benefited, I will have no hesitation in renewing my membership when the time comes.

Now, how to encourage others to join. I think the proposal to limit free posts is good, but I would make it 4 or 5, not three. It mightn't seem much of a difference but it is actually 30% more involvement.

The real value on this site, is the presentation and the search facility. I would suggest allowing visitors to browse but limit searches to members. I realise that a lot will baulk at $50 to access search facilities but maybe there could be a two tier membership, sort of Silver and Gold. There could be extra benefits attached to Gold, like discounted trip planning, access to trek notes etc. That way, those that want occasional use and search could buy in for say, $25

Anyway, they are my thoughts. Good luckMotley
AnswerID: 20665

Reply By: Member - Bill- Wednesday, May 21, 2003 at 13:17

Wednesday, May 21, 2003 at 13:17
I joined up yesterday after lurking for a while. So should everyone reading this...it's a unique site. Let's support it, it's chump change compared to the value, you know it.

BillRegds

Bill
AnswerID: 20666

Follow Up By: GPA - Wednesday, May 21, 2003 at 17:23

Wednesday, May 21, 2003 at 17:23
Ditto, just joined up a couple of hours ago.
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FollowupID: 13291

Follow Up By: Shawn - Wednesday, May 21, 2003 at 19:54

Wednesday, May 21, 2003 at 19:54
Ditto as well, just joined then.
Sorry guys didn't know how much it costs to maintain this excellent site
Cheers
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FollowupID: 13305

Reply By: Member - Bob - Wednesday, May 21, 2003 at 13:18

Wednesday, May 21, 2003 at 13:18
I have pretty much stopped buying any of the magazines because I get enough 4WD entertainment from this site. Why would I pay for glossy advertorial crap when I can read unlimited crap here for the cost of a basic membership ;-) I would urge non-members to consider voluntarily joining. If that doesn't work I would make contributions to the forum a members only thing - that way people with a burning question would need to join before they could ask it. There has to be a way to make such a successful site pay its way. Perhaps Toyota et al could start paying exploroz to print ridiculously favourable articles instead of just the current paper mags.
AnswerID: 20667

Reply By: Jason (macca) - Wednesday, May 21, 2003 at 13:24

Wednesday, May 21, 2003 at 13:24
David,

Being a non financial user of this forum, I totally understand where you are coming from. I think that by removing free posts totally you may loose people.

I think that you should have different levels of membership. Starting with a $20 membership that may allow you to post 10 - 15 per month. Moving up to the unlimited $50 per year.

I say this because I would part with $20 but dont think I would use the forum enough to warrant paying $50 per annum.

My thoughts.

Thanks for the great job you do.
Jason
AnswerID: 20668

Follow Up By: Hax - Friday, May 23, 2003 at 00:28

Friday, May 23, 2003 at 00:28
I have been a non-financial user on this site for a few months now and only discovered ExploreOz through good old 'google' search. I have found the information on this site both entertaining and informative and I would like to see the site continue and be profitiable for the owners.

However I feel that if public access to the information is restricted to a members only service then the site will eventually wither on the vine because very few will find www.exploreoz.com.au in the vastness of the internet.

For example, I was looking for information and opinions on tyres, so off to google I go and search for 4wd tyres.... bingo. I find a www.exploreoz.com.au forum discussion on MTR/BFG etc If it was a subscription only service, then google would not have pointed me to www.exploreoz.com.au based on my search.

To take this example one step further, when I wanted to actually find out product information relating to my vehicle, get a quote and finally purchase the tyres I was left to my own inititive and the yellow pages...

I see opportunity here for ExploreOz to provide context specific advertising on the side similar to google. This advertising would relate directly to the question asked and the subject being discussed. I should not have to try and find a retailer or service provider from the 'Business Search' tab, ... advertisers should be placed along side or interleaved with the forum content. Special note: popup advertising will drive away many people including me...

I think charging members to post content which creates much of the actual value on the site is putting the 'cart before the horse'. The forum brings people to the site, and with the statistics presented (ie more subscribers than popular 4wd magazines) it would appear that this message needs to be sold/marketed to the 4wd retailers in Oz so that revenue can be gained through targeted advertising.

While I have found the site informative (it has assisted me with purchasing decisions) I would not be prepared to pay for the privilege of using such a forum as ExploreOz.
It is a shame that the current site does not benefit from the assistance it has given me in purchasing products, but with targeted payed advertising this could be a different story.

For over a decade newsgroups (eg usenet) and now many other web based forums have thrived because they are free. ExploreOz needs to capitalise on its user base through advertising, not by charging the users.

There are other improvements regarding the actual site such as forum categories (eg vehicle specific, trip specific, gear specific etc) that would make the site even better, and possibly help with targeting the advertising, and/or providing categroy specific FAQ's product information and associated retailers.

Has ExploreOz considered hosting sites for 4wd retailers, mechanics workshpps etc ? Perhaps some revenue could be generated here also.

I have also purchased a couple of 4wd magazines and only the other day I noticed an ExploreOz advertisemen. Even though I have flicked through the magazines a few times I had never noticed ExploreOz until after I discovered it with google. Perhaps the ExploreOz marketing/advertising needs some review. Perhaps more value would be gained by targeting and attracting retailers to advertise or host their business on your site.

Hope some ideas here help you with tough decisions...
-Hax
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FollowupID: 13408

Reply By: Member - Rohan K - Wednesday, May 21, 2003 at 14:06

Wednesday, May 21, 2003 at 14:06
The concept of non-members getting something for nothing and failing to support the site, put forward recently by a well meaning new member, was met with "stiff" opposition by a few non-members.

The non-members' argument fell into one of 2 camps - they didn't "take/get" anything from the site &/or they contributed as much value as they got. If the former were true, then clearly there'd be no reason for them to continue visiting the site. The later may well be true but is a rather ultraistic and un-commercial view of how the world works (unless you live on a kibbutz). Regardless of that, their views were very firm and they are likely to remain "hard-core" non-members. Unfortunately, I believe their numbers will remain high.

In addition to the good suggestions provided by the other respondees, I think you need to go a step further. Whilst those mentioned above, may choose to not join, and therefore suffer restricted posting ability, I believe they will still obtain much of the information (and entertainment) they seek merely by reading posts and responses. Therefore, you should consider restricting read access to some degree - something along the lines of what was suggested to Michelle (EO) by Michelle (member) regarding member trip reports. That is, provide a teaser. Allow non-members to read the posts/questions but not the replies. Perhaps offer a "read only" or "read and post" membership option, or even a temporary membership, say $5 for 30 days so they can post questions and obtain info/advice on a particular topic.

As much as it may seem unpalatable to some, the "user pays" principal is the only commercially successful model for the service industry.

The alternative is to make the Forum a member only environment, add to it trip reports and a waypoint sharing page. Whilst the Forum traffic may decrease in a members only guise, the infrastructure costs and your time costs will still be incurred and you will need to recover those somehow (again, user pays). You may have to consider an additional (nominal but fair) charge to members for printing or downloading trip reports &/or waypoint/track data, etc. I'd be prepared to pay, as I would rather that than lose the Forum on this site.

Good luck, David. This is a tricky one.Be good, or be quick.
Rohan (Sydney)
AnswerID: 20674

Follow Up By: Member - Peter (WA) - Wednesday, May 21, 2003 at 14:36

Wednesday, May 21, 2003 at 14:36
I to as a member would be prepared to pay for down loads , it could come from my members money ,I have yet to find a book in the shops with so many trip details in WA Born to drive a 4x4 , not a keyboard
Peter York 4x4
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FollowupID: 13283

Reply By: Member - Sam (NSW) - Wednesday, May 21, 2003 at 14:20

Wednesday, May 21, 2003 at 14:20
David

another thought I just had, and this might give people who might not normally post their views an option to express their preferences. How hard would it be to maybe set up a Poll on the issue. Give an overall description of the present problem, and then based on your own, and the suggested models given in responce to this question, set up a poll and give people the option to vote. I am unsure of how much extra work this would involve and whether or not it would be ecconomically viable for you to do this, but it might give you a broader idea of what members and non members are thinking and willing to pay, maybe have it pop up when people visit the site (use a cookie to determine whether someone has voted or not so they dont get bothered next time they visit).

cheers,
Sam.
AnswerID: 20675

Reply By: Member - Peter (WA) - Wednesday, May 21, 2003 at 14:29

Wednesday, May 21, 2003 at 14:29
David I support the idea of user pays ,I dont givaway free furniture in my shop peolpe have to pay , I have visited hundreds of sites on the net and most have some cost involved for downloads cd roms etc. IS IT NOT BETTER TO LOSS A FEW VISITORS TO THE SITE BY MAKING THEM PAY THAN TO LOSS THE WHOLE SITE FOR LACK OF MONEY. If you restict visitors access to the Forum I would let them still be able to read the questions but not the answers , this may promped them to pay up.

TO ANY 4X4 SUPPLIERS READING THIS YOU MUST BE NUTS NOT TO ADVERTISE HERE i HAVE SPENT IN EXCESS OF $2000 ON MY 4X4 THIS YEAR AND ONLY BUY FROM THE GOOD INFO i RECEIVE ON THIS SITE .THERE ARE INEXCESS OF 500 MEMBERS HERE IF WE ONLY SPENT $500 EACH THAT IS $250000 HOW WOULD YOU LIKE SOME OF THAT TO BECOMING YOUR WAY???????????????????Born to drive a 4x4 , not a keyboard
Peter York 4x4
AnswerID: 20678

Follow Up By: Member - Rohan K - Wednesday, May 21, 2003 at 15:36

Wednesday, May 21, 2003 at 15:36
Peter, I reckon we'd all be really happy little four-wheelers if we could only keep our annual spend as low as $500. It would be interesting to see what the average was. I'm betting its at least double that. Just a set of tyres every 3 years will see you hit the $500 pa. 4x4 owners, especially if they are "real" off-roaders and campers, like the members and visitors to this site, are usually big spenders on our vehicles and gear (despite a lot of DIY). What's more, the Forum indicates a lot of "newbies" come to the site so advertisers have the chance to catch them before they make those big "one-off" capital outlays for vehicles, bars, racks, nav and comm gear, etc. My spend so far this calendar year just hit $1,700 and I'm still looking to pick a set of (6) new tyres and a roof-rack (the sale of which, BTW, both manufacturers can thank this site).

So, to the manufacturers/retailers/advertisers - here we are, come and get our dollars!!!!Be good, or be quick.
Rohan (Sydney)
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FollowupID: 13286

Follow Up By: Allyn - Wednesday, May 21, 2003 at 21:51

Wednesday, May 21, 2003 at 21:51
6 x Goodyear Wrangler MTR's
6 x 16 x 8 Rims
2 x 16 x 8 Rims for trailer plus 2nd hand tyres
1 x Off Road Trailer
Canvas Seat Covers
Cargo Barrier
Storage Drawers
AVM Free Wheeling Hubs
OZI Explorer software
Laptop Computer
Digital Camera
Assortment of Camping gear
Huge assortment of tools (as replacement from home burglary)
Books & maps

That's just in the last 6 months. More planned (isn't there always?), like new Barwork, winch, fridge slide, roof rack, blah, blah, blah.....!
All that tells me Advertisers should get on board because I'm sick of reading bleep poor magazine articles with biased opinions based on advertisers money and won't buy 'em anymore.
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FollowupID: 13316

Follow Up By: bruce.h (WA) - Thursday, May 22, 2003 at 13:08

Thursday, May 22, 2003 at 13:08
Peter
i have to say that this is definatly a difficult problem to solve,but how many people walk into your shop with out buying your funiture & would you stop them coming & restrict entry only to those who were definatly going to buy or would you continue to allow them in & try to convince them that your furniture is worth buying,in my business i win about 2 in every 10 quotes manyof the quotes i do you know damded well you are not going to get but if you dont do them you run the risk of getting a reputation & missing out on the ones you can win,yes user pays may well be the solution but before you cut the head off the golden goose a sales blitz may be worth trying both for membership & advertisers , remember once you impliment change it is not so easy to undo it or may well be to late to undo it. the one thing i have learned about being in business knowing your field of work is not enough you must learn to be a sales person as well
jm2cw
by the way not have a go at you specificly here ,just my views seemed to fit best with your respons
Regards Bruce
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FollowupID: 13344

Reply By: Member - Martyn (WA) - Wednesday, May 21, 2003 at 15:00

Wednesday, May 21, 2003 at 15:00
David,
I've recently joined about three weeks ago and the infomation I've recieved has been great, it's a "friendly site", I suppose that's because a lot of us are in the same boat with problems and in a lot of cases solutions, I work for a large multi national company and the best thing to come out of the internet has been the ability to network with others instead of re-inventing the wheel time and time again with issues we have here in WA.
This site is fantastic, the money I've saved from using the information has paid for the membership over and over and I will defiantely be joining again. The more people the better, if enough members joined up the membership fee might even be able to come down a tad you never know.
There are a lot of good ideas about how to restrict non-members using certain screens within the site, I like the idea of them being able to read the questions and maybe a reduced membership fee to read and participate in the forum. Maybe a bank where you pay an amount up front to post a certain amount of "posts" when the bank runs low you either top it up, don't post or become a member, it won't take long before the topping up method with overtake the becoming a member option, the sooner you become a member the sooner you qualify for the $30 membership fee.
Don't give up this is a grrreat site, the pay for advice option maybe painful up front but could well pay dividends later, "no gain wthout pain".

Catch you David, great site Keep the shiny side up
AnswerID: 20679

Reply By: Member - Jo (NSW) - Wednesday, May 21, 2003 at 15:03

Wednesday, May 21, 2003 at 15:03
Dont take away the free forum! I dont reckon that would be good for business in the long run. The forum is one of the things that drive visitors here, and if you take it away, the traffic will go as well. Also, a multiple tier member system is no good either I reckon, to complicated, just freighten the users away.

I realise that my suggestion is only a short term one, or maybe not. I know that you are hosting out of brisbane (or in Australia at least) these days, and that is expensive. What if you sourced out the forum to a seperate domain overseas? Places like gearhost (http://www.gearhost.com/services/hosting/shared/compare/) gives you 25GB a month included. I know that the reliability wouldnt be the same, but it could be a solution....http://www.pad.no/
A viking in a desert :-)
AnswerID: 20680

Follow Up By: Member - Jo (NSW) - Wednesday, May 21, 2003 at 15:27

Wednesday, May 21, 2003 at 15:27
Another thing that could be done, is to split the forum into categories. I mean, a lot of the postings could be split into seperate sub-categories, like accessories, toyota, nissan and such. Everytime I load up the forum, I see everything, but the 2 or 3kb that are used to tell me about some posting related to a nissan, I would never read because it has no interest to me. To go even further, you could only show the title, and not an extract of the posting, you are presenting less information, but for the user it doesnt have much of an impact, however on the whole, you could quickly halve the size of the monthly transfer.

A forum I like is this:
http://www.offroad.no/snitz/
I realise that it is in Norwegian, but the concept should be easily understood. I escpessially like the Active topics (Aktive emner) function, which only shows me what has happened since my last logon in every thread, that way I wont access threads I might be following, but where no new info is. http://www.pad.no/
A viking in a desert :-)
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Follow Up By: Member - Wherethefugawi - Wednesday, May 21, 2003 at 16:59

Wednesday, May 21, 2003 at 16:59
I must agree with Jo
The forum should remain free to all as its keeps the traffic flowing thru.

If the window shoppers are not allowed to participate freely in the forum then i believe the potential to increse membership will be greatly reduced and hence why would the advertiser want to advertise to an ever increasing lesser number of window shoppers.

Would a five yr member ship at a reduced cost attract more memebers and/or maybe throw something in as well for the 5 yr membership???

Reducing graphics in the forum must surely reduce transfer rates and hence costs?
Richard
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FollowupID: 13290

Reply By: goingplatinumcomau - Wednesday, May 21, 2003 at 16:09

Wednesday, May 21, 2003 at 16:09
This is fantastic site

I think people should be Gratefull someone has put it all Together for us.

Good idea to give people say 3 to 5 post for free Get the Adrenalin Pumping

It is very hard to resist the Temptation to post here as deep down inside of Everyone will help people,and that is what it is all about People helping People.

As motley pointed out he has saved money buying things after gaining imformation from the post here

Maybe good advertiseing campain

I saved Bigtime at www.exploreoz.com You can to We are the Forwheel Drivers Co Op

Is it better to have fees paid every 6 months ....as an option ?? $30 for 6 months $50 for first 12.

Anyway www.exploreoz.com is the best 4 wd site i have come across :)

goingplatinumcomau
AnswerID: 20686

Reply By: Member - Bonz (Vic) - Wednesday, May 21, 2003 at 17:39

Wednesday, May 21, 2003 at 17:39
David,

The breadth of experience that ALL users bring to the forum is such a valuable resource, but I agree that posts should be limited. Maybe 5 before having to join?

Consider this: $50/year = 96 cents a week = 14 cents a day and thats just the first year. The amount of money saved easily covers this fee (I'm not saying put it up by the way!) and other things available thru the site are reasonable costs too.

Personally I would not have heard of the Redarc unit I have nor the Jaycar voltmeter/temp guage nor would I have been able to roll around laughing at some of the responses and be able to poke a bit of info the way of the forum without this site.

Both you and Michelle are so accessable, friendly and really care about a quality product and this is one of the most endearing aspects of your site.

I subscribe to the mags, I read Exploroz and its the Exploroz sticker that I wear proudly on the back of the Patrol.

Regards....BonzSo many places to go!
So much work to do :0(
AnswerID: 20694

Follow Up By: Member - Peter (WA) - Thursday, May 22, 2003 at 09:40

Thursday, May 22, 2003 at 09:40
.ooo5 cents per hour Born to drive a 4x4 , not a keyboard
Peter York 4x4
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FollowupID: 13326

Reply By: Member - Peter [SA] - Wednesday, May 21, 2003 at 18:34

Wednesday, May 21, 2003 at 18:34
Hi All,
my motivation for becoming a member of this site was easy, after being a visitor for a while i realised the value of being able to ask a question and get a response rather quickly, also is from people who have been there and done that or used that or had problems etc etc etc. I figured that the info here had saved me much more than $50.00 and by joining i was helping this info to remain available. So i urge people to think what they have saved by using this site and help it to remain a useful resource by joining.
Cheers Peter
AnswerID: 20699

Reply By: Member - Sam (NSW) - Wednesday, May 21, 2003 at 18:46

Wednesday, May 21, 2003 at 18:46
As David has said, in keeping the fourm free, the site will continue to run at a loss. Further to this, in keeping it free and not making changes somewhere, people aren't going to change their ways. People are still going to use the site and not pay the membership. Thats fair enough, but their use should be limited somehow.

This is a business for David and Michelle. Its not like the forums and groups like Yahoo that have big multi-nationals thumping millions of $$$ into keeping them running. And this is a perfect opportunity for us to support a great Aussie business, not to mention Information Resource. The more support we give it (ie paying the membership - in what ever form David and Michelle do decide upon) the more its going to work for us, the users, and given that ExplorOz has achieved No 1 rating two times running, its gotta be a marketing opportunity not to be missed by potential advertisers - why any company would not seriously consider advertising on such a site is beyond my reckoning.

This in turn could also bring in overseas money, not only to ExplorOz but also to the local companies for services/parts etc that choose to advertise. So now, not only is it going to benefit us, the users and David and Michelle's business, but also the local economy through increased business for local companies, which again provides more benefit to us.

So for the sake of a few $$$ (as Bonz said, $50/year = 96 cents a week = 14 cents a day), you can help support what is The Premiere 4WD, Offroad and Travel website.
AnswerID: 20700

Reply By: Dozer - Wednesday, May 21, 2003 at 19:48

Wednesday, May 21, 2003 at 19:48
Hi Guys
I have been on the side for the last month or three, wondering if i should spend some dollars and join. I am an active member on a few forums that are free, and there i believe is your main problem.
There must be a way in which we can all get what we want, maybe that is a free t-shirt or discounts at Bridgestone, but the general public dont want to part with dollars unless they can see the value upfront.
After reading these posts, i have decided to waive camping Australias subscription till next year.
Who else out there is ready to do thesame?
Andrew Wollongong
AnswerID: 20709

Follow Up By: Member - Rohan K - Thursday, May 22, 2003 at 09:34

Thursday, May 22, 2003 at 09:34
Good decision Andrew. Welcome.Be good, or be quick.
Rohan (Sydney)
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FollowupID: 13325

Follow Up By: Member - Peter (WA) - Thursday, May 22, 2003 at 09:45

Thursday, May 22, 2003 at 09:45
Dozer good on ya , I bet the other forums that you visit arnt as good as this one? welcome aboardBorn to drive a 4x4 , not a keyboard
Peter York 4x4
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FollowupID: 13327

Follow Up By: Member - Peter (WA) - Thursday, May 22, 2003 at 09:45

Thursday, May 22, 2003 at 09:45
Dozer good on ya , I bet the other forums that you visit arnt as good as this one? welcome aboardBorn to drive a 4x4 , not a keyboard
Peter York 4x4
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FollowupID: 13328

Reply By: Jason (macca) - Thursday, May 22, 2003 at 03:22

Thursday, May 22, 2003 at 03:22
David,

What about as an alternative each "new user" gets one months free subscription and is then required to cough up the bucks.

Jason
AnswerID: 20737

Reply By: qprfan - Thursday, May 22, 2003 at 10:35

Thursday, May 22, 2003 at 10:35
Dave

I must admit to being a frequent visitor (non-participant as my practical experience is rudimentary at best). I have always meant to join & never have. I will correct that immediately. I am sure there are many others like me out there.

Don't take away the Forum - that is the primary reason for people visiting. However could you not include subtle persuaders to take out membership - down the r/h side of the screen for instance or across the top. It's not until we explore the rest of the site that we are reminded about membership & I, usually, only look at the forum (time restrictions generally - every couple of days I try to read the last 2 days messages but usually don't manage it).

I must go now so I can send in my membership application.

qprfan

PS Intend to do a tagalong tour across the Simpson in Sept & have just realised that I will recoup my membership fee with the discount to members offered by Aussie Off Road Experience, who I intended to go with anyway (I did a driver training course with them)
AnswerID: 20750

Reply By: Member - Peter (WA) - Thursday, May 22, 2003 at 14:12

Thursday, May 22, 2003 at 14:12
Bruce(WA)
I see and agree with your point ,The problem is if you were giving free samples of wine away in a shop you must cut someone off sooner or later or all your customers would go homebleepfor free and not buy a bottle.Maybe the limited sample is the way to go,Oziexplorer lets you try but you must buy to get the full benifits of the system ,I can see the problem is a hard one you will never please all the people all of the time , at least if the limited access did not work it can be reversed and another line of attack tried.Born to drive a 4x4 , not a keyboard
Peter York 4x4
AnswerID: 20773

Reply By: Surf - Thursday, May 22, 2003 at 15:22

Thursday, May 22, 2003 at 15:22
As difficult and unpalatable as it may be, perhaps advertising should be included in the actual forum. I am not sure how this could be done, preferably in a discreet fashion, so that it doesn't become the central theme.

We all agree how valuable and useful this site is, particularly the forum, and don't want to see it stumble now just as it is going from strength to strength, but I think it is going to have to become more commercial if it is to survive (how many of us could absorb an extra $1000 a month in expenses?)

It seems that the forum is the most used part of the site, yet if I was a business, as it currently appears, there is very little to encourage me to want to advertise because no one sees it - unless you go looking. The sponsor for the front page of ExplorOz is located right down the bottom, I only discovered it today after looking at the advertising as a matter of interest. The bottom of the page isn't somewhere I go looking a lot normally. Something a little more obvious may need to be considered to draw in more commercial dollars?

Making access to the forum available through membership only risks it withering on the vine I think, and nobody wants that. The strength of the forum is the wide variety of people and opinions it attracts. Place barriers of any kind, and you risk it becoming the stomping ground of a select (albeit well meaning) few.

Each forum I visit has its regulars, who are the true wells of knowledge, but if you end up with these same people also becoming the bulk of members (which will surely happen, as already most of the regular contributors are members), then were will the forum end up ultimately?

Surely the way to go is through more corporate sponsorship, and reading between the lines, I think that is what David is after as well.

In a nutshell it doesn’t seem to me that businesses get much bang for their buck at the moment, I'm not sure if that been a deliberate course, or just lack of interested parties.

I hope this isn't taken as a criticism, its just my 2 cents worth (and I'm no business man). Like qprfan, I consider my knowledge rudimentary and this site is by far my most visited, so I suppose that as soon as I get my head above water a little, I too should become a member if it helps.
AnswerID: 20781

Follow Up By: ExplorOz Team - David - Thursday, May 22, 2003 at 15:43

Thursday, May 22, 2003 at 15:43
Interesting feedback on the sponsor stuff as it is right at the top of the pages on the RHS in a flashing image (95% of users selecting the sponsor ad are hitting it from the top - the stuff at the bottom is additional information). We also have the banners on the forum view page, we have takers that are advertising this way however you have to have a lot of banner customers at 1 or 2 cents per impression to cover the costs. I guess we really need more advertising customers. We are currently receiving two new businesses into the system a day however 99% of them are free listing - We are still working on this avenue.

Keep the good ideas coming in.Regards
ExplorOz Team - David
--------------------------
Always working, not enough travelling ;-)
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FollowupID: 13357

Follow Up By: Member - Rohan K - Thursday, May 22, 2003 at 16:53

Thursday, May 22, 2003 at 16:53
David, it must be a bit like your magazine ads - each of us is "blind" to things we're not interested in. Whist I only noticed you mag ad recently, I have always taken note of the banner/s and have used it to check out the products displayed. I've used the product displays down the rhs to purchase a number of products.

I guess what you need is more "product". As a matter of interest, if we make a purchase from one of your advertisers, how do they know that's where their business is coming from? Do you rely on us telling them?Be good, or be quick.
Rohan (Sydney)
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FollowupID: 13362

Follow Up By: Member - Ari - Monday, May 26, 2003 at 05:14

Monday, May 26, 2003 at 05:14
Hi David and Michelle,

Firstly - thanks for creating a fantastic forum for 4WD enthusiasts. This forum is a breath of fresh air and a great resource.

I was wondering if the solution to your dilemma isn't a cross between a couple of the ideas posted earlier:

1. Leave the membership fee as is
2. Restrics posts from non-members to - say 5 pr month
3. Flash up adverts for all non-members when they log on
4. Show adverts to non-members inside the forum (similar to Yahoo groups)
5. When you join, you have unlimited posts and no banner ads

Wish you all the best with ExplorOz

Regards

Ari2001 Patrol 3.0TDI
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FollowupID: 13607

Reply By: Member - Peter (WA) - Thursday, May 22, 2003 at 16:41

Thursday, May 22, 2003 at 16:41
Just a couple of quick ideas
1..compertions could be members only

2..join this month and go into the draw for X item (this could be donated by advertiser and they get a special display ad for the month of the draw)Born to drive a 4x4 , not a keyboard
Peter York 4x4
AnswerID: 20786

Reply By: Troopie - Thursday, May 22, 2003 at 17:43

Thursday, May 22, 2003 at 17:43
G'day Team and All
I've been a long term lurker and occaisionally chuck in my 2 cents worth when appropriate. This is an especially tough business problem (let alone one of personal interaction, ownership and combined fate of all who benefit from the forum). This type of problem is also not uncommon for web based service providers. A value chain analysis of EO as a business would no doubt illuminate the fact that much of the value being generated by the site is captured elsewhere in the value chain. How many of us have visited the site to get the low-down on a product we are considering, found the information we require, then wandered off to the local fourby shop and bought the product with no mention of EO - herein lies the problem. Even if you did mention EO would you still have gone there and bought the product. From the business point of view - with or without EO, you still went there and bought the product.

Membership is an important element of such a site - but I'm sure it's secondary to the primary value created by the site. So I believe the questions are, how does and should, EO capture more of the significant value it creates for business? If the memebrship is close enough, then perhaps some clever member gathering activities will suffice. If however, the costs are projected to grow, as one might expect, then the questions being asked - and the solutions provided thus far, are primarily tactical and won't ensure the strategic sustainability of the site.

So, here are some real "shoot from the hip" suggestions based on late afternoon ramblings as opposed to any form of analysis or thought.

1. Who are the top product suppliers that tend to benefit from dicsussions on this site? Do these suppliers have a strong market position with their own established branding and purchase decision channels? If yes, - these are attractive from a value point of view - but possibly hard to attract to EO because they are doing quite fine without.

2. Who are the key competitors to each of these lead product suppliers from above (they still need to be large to be worth chasing)? Would EO like to commence some sort of relationship with these businesses? If yes, then perhaps EO could establish itself in some sort of brokerage position, between the customer and the business. This would reduce the transaction costs for the business and the customer. One difficulty - people still like to wander into a shop and see/feel/touch the product. This is especially so for larger purchases as a web site purchase experience doesn't cope well with the post purchase dissonance evident after many large purchases.

3. The same brokerage relationship could also be established for the larger businesses. The key problem with such a strategy is the capital required to get the system operating seriously (the site is already doing this - but not at the magnitude I'm talking about).

If EO can prove that it is (can) providing a valuable service to the businesses advertising then the chances of attracting larger scale business advertising are multiplied.

Going back to short term tactics and the issue of advertising within the forum - I know nothing about web site creation mechanics - but would it be possible for links to businesses web sites (or the EO brokerage service) to automatically appear within the forum when a campanies product is mentioned. E.g. if ARB was mentioned then the ARB site appears as a small logo/link at the side of the page?

In relation to forum postings, some of the suggestions sound reasonable - but involve a significant risk. What are the chances of the sight going under if the forum ceases to function?

One final thought (although somwhat provocative), another possible source of revenue could be from various government departments. I'm sure these departments would value the potential "community consultation" possibilities represented by such a site. These departments spend resources attempting to "engage the community" - perhaps EO could facilitate part of this process for them (at a small fee of course).

Anyhow - that's enough. I'm keenly aware that all will have noticed that I'm not a member and perhaps should put my money where my mouth is - I guess like many others (the businesses obviously also) I either haven't got round to it, or can't justify the $$ given my low level usage.

I hope my rushed and disorderly thoughts contribute positively to the debate!

Keep up the great work - but more importantly, strive for a long term strategy - and don't suffer the work!

Kind Regards

AnswerID: 20789

Reply By: bruce.h (WA) - Thursday, May 22, 2003 at 22:23

Thursday, May 22, 2003 at 22:23
Gday David
i think that maybe rather than chase off the end user & potentail buyer
it might be an idea to look at those advertisers who are on the site for free
i just had a look at business search under accessories to me & others opionions may be needed, but the free adds are to close in resmblence to the paying customers ads may be it might be worth re structuring the adds to make the free ones harder to read & the paying ones more inviting ,because to me the free ads are still achieve as much for free as the paying ads this might encourage those who are getting sales from this site without paying to upgrade their add if they are harder to find
jm2cw
Regards Bruce
AnswerID: 20812

Reply By: Member - Willem- Friday, May 23, 2003 at 07:12

Friday, May 23, 2003 at 07:12
Hi David and Michelle,

A bit late in response to your dilemma but it is early morning and the brain seems to be clear.
What you have created here in the Forum is actually in the form of an interactive E-book. My thoughts are that if most 4x4 enthusiasts are prepared to pay $8 per month for a magazine from which you get no immediate feedback then you could adopt the user pay system here as well. Well, you do already, but $50 per year is obviously not enough. Within the forum so many brandname manufacturers are getting a free ride as users mention their products, the information being sourced elsewhere.
I have read all the responses and there seems to be a general consensus not to restrict the Forum. Unfortunately you are not operating a charity and you cannot continue to spend money for insufficient return. If you go broke then this wonderful creation will collapse.

I suggest:

1. Forum membership $100 per year ( cost of one 4x4 monthly magazine)
2. Restrict unpaid Forum users to three posts..then you have to join.
3. Cancel all free business advertisements
4. Include advertising in margins on Forum
5. Lobby Government Departments for advertising revenue.
6. Employ an advertising broker/salesperson to push the product hard.
7. When advertising reaches the stage where it is covering the costs of your monthly site download bill...then you could apply various discounts for members including a discount on membership fees.
8. Compression of data in site?? ( I know nothing about this but my personal website has more that 100 pages of data and images compressed to under 5MB to facilitate less download...that is what my webdesigner told me!)

Just some thoughts.

I get a lot of pleasure from this site and contribute as often as I can and I am willing to pay $100 per year for the pleasure of using this Forum and receiving solicited information that I need.

AnswerID: 20828

Follow Up By: Member - Mike (SA) - Friday, May 23, 2003 at 17:20

Friday, May 23, 2003 at 17:20
David and Michelle,
I agree with, and support, above remarks.
I also wonder about the free use of your trek notes which you also market as e-books. I confess to occasionaly evading this, download and convert to .pdf - and voila! Perhaps filter - read only? Extract only to be available to browsers?
Bottom line - user pays.
regards
Mike
Too little time in the bush!
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FollowupID: 13468

Reply By: Allan - Friday, May 23, 2003 at 09:01

Friday, May 23, 2003 at 09:01
David/Michelle,

Only discovered this site a few weeks ago and love it.
I was planning to join, but will hold off until I see what restrictions you place on the forum.
I reckon the greatest thing the forum has going for it is the number of people who post information. Restricting the posts would reduce the amount of infomation.

PS,
As a test, I did a search using google.com.au looking for Australian pages for everkool.
Three of the 4 matches were from the exploroz forum.
You really should hound some of the manufacturers and retailers for sponsorship/advertising.
AnswerID: 20835

Follow Up By: Member - Rohan K - Friday, May 23, 2003 at 10:09

Friday, May 23, 2003 at 10:09
Allan, are you saying that if no restrictions are placed on the Forum, you won't bother paying membership, but if there is a threat of restricted access you will?
Life just ain't that serious.
Rohan (Sydney)
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FollowupID: 13420

Follow Up By: bruce.h (WA) - Friday, May 23, 2003 at 13:10

Friday, May 23, 2003 at 13:10
Rohan
iread it the other way if no ristrictions he wil of restrictions he wont,becauce you by restricting acces lessen the number of people available to solve the problems posted
correct me if im wrong Allen
regards bruce
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FollowupID: 13439

Follow Up By: Allan - Friday, May 23, 2003 at 13:21

Friday, May 23, 2003 at 13:21
Rohan,
No, the opposite.
If there is no change, I will join.
If restrictions are made and the forum seems as good or better than it currently is, I will still join.
I am concerned that restrictions may reduce the amount of input to the forum. If it does, I wouldn't join as the forum is one of the most significant parts of the exploroz site (too me).
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FollowupID: 13442

Follow Up By: Member - Rohan K - Friday, May 23, 2003 at 13:56

Friday, May 23, 2003 at 13:56
Fair enough. Just as a matter of interest, since you know would you get the same access/info for nothing? Why join? Why subsidize those that won't?Life just ain't that serious.
Rohan (Sydney)
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FollowupID: 13446

Follow Up By: Allan - Friday, May 23, 2003 at 14:39

Friday, May 23, 2003 at 14:39
Rohan,

Why pay?:
It just seems fair. (A bit like paying for computer Shareware, if you decide to use it)
This site is a resource that I would be happy to pay the $30/year for.
A lot of work must have gone into the site to set it up, and it is continually being updated. This warrants reward of some sort.
I also figure that a fair chunk of the money would go into improving the site or keeping it running.

Why subsidize those that won't?:
Just like the site itself, the people who post to the forum are providing me with a service. Their information and opinions have value.
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FollowupID: 13451

Follow Up By: Member - Rohan K - Friday, May 23, 2003 at 16:41

Friday, May 23, 2003 at 16:41
Interesting. It seems most members have joined from a sense of "fairness" and those who haven't joined seem not to recognise the fairness concept or don't believe they obtain value beyond that which they believe they input. If it were a matter of exchanging this "value" directly between each other, that would seem a reasonable view.

However, we don't correspond directly. We utilise a platform built and maintained by a "third party", at their expense. It is not David and Michelle receiving the benefit of the input from these users. It is other users, many of whom also contribute value to the forum but who also recognise the value added (and cost borne) by David and Michelle in providing the platform, and compensate them for that expense.

Life just ain't that serious.
Rohan (Sydney)
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FollowupID: 13462

Follow Up By: bruce.h (WA) - Friday, May 23, 2003 at 19:58

Friday, May 23, 2003 at 19:58
Rohan
yes the exploroz team do recieve some benifits by having a large number of users on the site while theese are not in your face benifits or not $ benifits directly they have the potential to be turned into a $ value in other areas of the site such as sales & advertising as it gives them a selling point to market to potential advertisers, it is my opionion that what david wants to achieve is a sybiosis with the forum users where he is able to profit from the forum or at least break even so other parts of the site dont prop up the cost of running the forum (which is why he is in business) & provide A excellent site & lets face it the site is way more than just this yak fest ,in away that keeps the cost to the users to a minimuim how this is achieved is dificult but what allen has said puts whole new slant on the effects of restricting the forum in that it may well be counter productive & cost members , maybe the solution is for the members to assist david by doing a membership drive umungst our freinds ect. or try to convince those that we buy off to advertise here
just an idea
regards Bruce
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FollowupID: 13475

Follow Up By: Member - Rohan K - Sunday, May 25, 2003 at 12:41

Sunday, May 25, 2003 at 12:41
Bruce, again I don't disagree. While the Forum is fun and informative, I also have gained real value from other areas of the site. I've used the trek notes, trip planning, vehicle set-up, etc, all to great benefit. I may also avail myself of the EO trip/itinery planning service in the future. I have also made a number of product purchases conveniently via the Shop. All good stuff. I'm sure non-members have also used these other site facilities.

However, from David's original post it would seem its the cost of maintaining the Forum that's getting out-of-hand. From Michelle's comments, the rest of the site does not compensate for this so their main business - IT Beyond, has to. Clearly, that not sustainable.

Allan, Hax, Troopie, Surf and others have made some very relevant points about the potential negative commercial impacts of restricting the Forum access. The longer term solution, as you suggest, may be up to us to ensure EO obtains greater advertising revenue. I'll certainly be doing what I can in that regard, as I'm sure, will many of the members. However, how do we curb the escalating costs in the short term? Do we restrict the Forum traffic to everyone (including memebrs) by placing a limit on the posts we can all make, say one per day?

The equation is fairly simple. We either increase revenue, or decrease costs. I don't think EO is keen to wait for a long-term solution with EO bleeding $1,000 a month from IT Beyond, so what's the short-term answer? Life just ain't that serious.
Rohan (Sydney)
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FollowupID: 13545

Reply By: Member - Nick (TAS) - Friday, May 23, 2003 at 21:29

Friday, May 23, 2003 at 21:29
Gday all.I must congradulate David and Michelle on the best and most informative site regarding Exploring Australia.We couldnt have planned our trip without it,it will be interesting to see what happens over the next three months(while we are up Cape York and The Gulf).My-self , I would be willing to pay $50 a year membership to keep the site operating the same and for what its worth,can I donate my members money back to the site? ,if I can its yours !Any way i wont see the results until the end of August,must go and finish packing,we leave on the boat tommorrow.See-you all
AnswerID: 20889

Reply By: Slammin - Sunday, May 25, 2003 at 00:29

Sunday, May 25, 2003 at 00:29
Geeze with everybodys 2 cents it must surely add up.

I had been thinking about this problem last week.

I can't afford $50 so I rang up and donated what I could, in the old days it was called an honor system. Now in this day & age I can see how it won't work. Thats why I like the idea of a tiered usership. Post numbers seems feasible to me.

BTW what did occur to me is that one of your most useful tools in this site is information and for ExplorOZ I was surprised that there was no User demographics gathered as I thought that this would be quite valueble to the industry, advertisers and yourselves.
I mean look at what the stereotype is 4wders are either hoons, rich or close to retirement but none of these describe me or probably most people here.

If the information is kept anonymous no specific addresses I would happily provide whatever you see as interesting. It would be good just to see vehicle makes. If you could take this specific info to your advertisers I feel it would help sales immensely. The site seems kind of like a gang (members or not) and if the advertisers don't pay or support you then tell us and we'll choose who to buy from!

I wouldn't like to see the site exclude completely non payees but if it has become fiscally impossible and the above reply suggestions don't help I really can't see any alternative but a teired usership.

Keep up the good work thanks.
AnswerID: 20972

Reply By: Johno - Sunday, May 25, 2003 at 23:46

Sunday, May 25, 2003 at 23:46
Hi David
First off I would like to say great site. Here are my opinions on your problem, I hope they are helpfull to you. I found your site a few weeks ago by doing a google search for Cape York. I posted on your forum a few days ago and have recieved some great advice from both members and non members.

I am not a member and most likely will not become one for the following reasons. I have many interests, not just off roading. My interests include, but are not limited to, 4WD, motorbikes, shooting, archery, fishing, rc airplanes, woodworking and photography. I have a son that races motocross and a daughter who competes in archery. The shooting requires club membership as a federal law, motocross, archery and rc planes require club membership for insurance reasons. All of these things have associated costs.

Which magazines or websites do I subscribe to? The answer is none as I can't afford it, I can't subscribe to them all. If my only interest was 4WD then I would probably subscribe to a magazine and I would definately become a member of your site.

Your $50 membership fee is fair and reasonable. But people will only pay for two reasons A: Value for money B: Unable to get service elsewhere. After reading your post and some of the replies I had a look around your site, David I couldn't find an advertisement, where are they? Is this good value to advertisers? In a magazine when I turn a page, adds jump out at me. They are in my face all of the time. You say that with the forum, traffic has increased, this should be a good thing. If you make it members only you will decrease the number of hits and therefore make it less attractive to advertisers.

How about an area for advertisers to do product reviews like in the mags, links to the advertisers sites. One of your stipulations for advertisers is for their products to be 4WD or camping related, why? If a company wants to advertise left handed doorknobs let them do it if it pays the bills.

A number of the replies to your post refer to non-members being subsidised by the members. Has anybody ever let their mate read their magazines? Isn't this an advantage to advertisers? The more people who read their adds the better, they don't care who pays for it.

I hope you receive my views as constructive as they are intended and not as whinging. And once again top site.
Regards Johno
AnswerID: 21036

Reply By: Lockie - Monday, May 26, 2003 at 23:29

Monday, May 26, 2003 at 23:29
Hi David.

Regular can of worms, this, isn't it! I've been coming to this site for a couple of months now, stumbled across it through google, along with a number of other sites, while looking for info re the CSR. And that brings me to the point. The info provided on this site can be sourced elsewhere with a bit of time & effort. For free.
Which is what the internet is all about - the dissemination of information. One of the primary reasons I continue to visit this site is the forum...it's like a little community, with people sharing their experiences & abilities with others. Keyword is SHARING.

I understand very well the costs involved in maintaining a site, especially one that is as professionally presented as this one is. However, I have grave doubts about this, or indeed any other site, maintaining it's popularity by charging it's devotees a fee for SHARING information. I believe the majority would probably de-camp & become involved in other forums suited to their interests which did not charge for the privilege (and there are plenty out there!) If it come down to paying for information, most would simply buy a book, or source the required information elsewhere.

Therefore I think it would better suit your interests to maintain the forum as a resource available for anyone to visit & view. However, if they wish to contribute, then membership should be a requirement. However, membership should not be conditional upon payment of a fee, but rather by the purchase of goods or services through this site, with the suppliers of said goods or services providing you with a financial reward for providing them with new/repeat customers (read Agents Fee),
which in turn would subsidise the costs of running the site.

I know this all sounds very difficult, but it is a model that works very well for a site called Wincustomize. They sell their own products (T-shirts, caps etc) as well as promoting the products of a software company called Stardock, which sells software for "skinning" the GUI of Pc's & so on. You may wish to contact the administrators there & have a chat with them regarding their business model, as it seems to work quite well & they have a huge membership base, as well as untold numbers of visitors. The address is www.wincustomize.com.

Anyway, keep up the good work. I'll be back from time to time to see how it all pans out.

Best regards,
Lockie.
AnswerID: 21170

Reply By: Member - Des - Tuesday, May 27, 2003 at 16:15

Tuesday, May 27, 2003 at 16:15
Like many others, I joined because I felt that I could not keep on getting lots of value from this site without contributing to keeping it going. I think that less than $1/week is good value. I susbscribe to Choice on-line and it is about the same. (They also have pay-per-view.) But if the fee went to say $100 pa, I am afraid that a number of members would drop out.

In principle the idea of limiting the number of posts by non-members, or limiting access to the forum by non-members, sounds like a good idea, but I think it would be difficult to enforce - people could just create new profiles when they used up their quota.

I hope we can avoid intrusive ads, but I would rather suffer that than lose the site.
AnswerID: 21215

Reply By: Michelle from ExplorOz - Wednesday, May 28, 2003 at 00:25

Wednesday, May 28, 2003 at 00:25
To all forum users and to all that have made a comment in this thread - a huge thank you. We really appreciate the risks you take to state your opinions and challenge our thinking and ideas.

As a market research activity this has been very successful and we now have a much clearer understanding of what our market will and wont tolerate.

We have decided that the best solution is to sell the current model - ie. outsource the sales of advertising entirely and give the existing business model a fair chance of working and let that pay for the forum usage. However we may still consider some of the suggestions for read only restrictions and/or limited free posts for non-members.

We will also continue to look for ways of achieving topic based display of relevant advertising related to post keywords in the Forum however David has just groaned when thinking of how to achieve that.

Once again thank you everyone who responded to this thread and also to the Post initiated by Rohan that generated further discussion on the topic. It has all been useful.
AnswerID: 21255

Follow Up By: Member - Rohan K - Wednesday, May 28, 2003 at 13:13

Wednesday, May 28, 2003 at 13:13
Michelle, its probably time to archive both these posts now, eh? Save some space.Life just ain't that serious.
Rohan (Sydney)
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FollowupID: 13864

Reply By: Member - Nigel - Friday, May 30, 2003 at 23:42

Friday, May 30, 2003 at 23:42
One way to get more exposure for the advertisers is to put the ads where people are looking.... not on the top or sides, but between the replies to posts (eg one ad after every 2 or 3 replies).

If the forum generates the most traffic then that is what most people are looking at. They completely ignore the header and side bar and go straight for the questions and replies. So put the ads right in there with it.

BUT having suggested that - the ads should be no bigger than 3 lines of text so that people look at them rather than simply skipping over a large advertising "block"
AnswerID: 21494

Follow Up By: Wazza (Vic) - Saturday, May 31, 2003 at 02:06

Saturday, May 31, 2003 at 02:06
Good idea. Like we are way down here..... and the ads are way up there....Cheers,
Wazza
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FollowupID: 14028

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