Admin Notice Changes to Forum membership.

Discussion in 'Announcements' started by Richard, Sep 22, 2016.

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  1. Richard

    Richard Maintenance Dept Administrator

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    Headline: These Forums are going to move to a Freemium / User Pays hybrid financial model in early October 2016.

    Why:
    Because the purely advertising supported model of the last 20 years is no longer viable, leaving us with two choices;
    a. Endure a long slow wilting death, or
    b. try something else and move on (or die quickly trying and be done with it*).

    * hopefully this new plan has been thunk-out long and hard enough to succeed in a real community this strong.

    How:
    Primarily with subscriptions. There will be 2 subscriptions and they will be priced exactly the same as the current voluntary upgrade plans of $11 per annum and $33 per annum.

    The Big Detail:
    The primary Freemium feature will be this;
    Image uploads will be free to all registered members. This is to encourage new members to join and be free to contribute immediately with as little friction as possible - and thus avoid the 'hobble/unlock' software model that we currently use - as this approach is well documented and known to act as a dis-incentive for social network products like these forums.

    The primary User-Pay feature will be this;
    1. Members that reach (or already have reached) 1000+ posts will be required to subscribe @ $11 per annum in order to KEEP their account active with reply/post privileges. The ability to read the forums will remain.
    Note: Anyone on the previous $11 per annum Image Hosting Only plan has automatically migrated to this new $11 Silver Season Pass plan.

    2. Members that reach (or already have reached) 3000+ posts will be required to subscribe @ $33 per annum in order to KEEP their account active with reply/post privileges. The ability to read the forums will remain.

    Note 1. Members that choose not to upgrade will lose reply/post privileges in the Apres topic group only - but will not lose post privileges within Weather, Travel, Resorts or Backcountry. These forum groups will remain 100% accessible.

    Note 2. There will be a 30 day grace/trial period for all existing members during transition. (See implementation below).


    Re-birthing
    Members that reach (or already have reached) either of these thresholds, whom do not wish to subscribe (for whatever reason) will be free and unchallenged to start again with full privileges with a new account with full privileges should they choose. However, their old account will not be deleted and will simply become inactive like any other abandoned account.

    This approach of providing a carrot for new users and a stick for long-term users (who contribute the most quality posts) may seem at odds with conventional thinking - but I believe it is actually the right approach. Those who use the most resources pay (and if you are into snow sport then there is a better than fair chance your pocket won't hurt at just $33 per annum) - and new users are encouraged to join with less friction, thus (hopefully) more likely to become a regular contributor.

    An 'ah-ha' moment that helped us to arrive at this approach was the discovery that approx 40% of all the members with 5000+ posts or more are already annual subscribers. This tells me that most of you already 'get' the challenges of keeping this forum vibrant and thus choose to contribute. Plus a great many of you generously contributed to last years '20 years' celebratory gift for Ian and myself. This leads us to believe there is fundamentally a lot of untapped good-will with long term members and that this approach is akin to formalising that good-will into meaningful action.

    The Small Detail:
    Getting this new 'Value Proposition' right is going to be the challenge, the small detail is (imho) where we can get this right, or get it wrong.

    As such, there is a bigger picture involving ski.com.au.

    During this summer ski.com.au will migrate to Wordpress, it will be completely rebuilt with a truly mobile-first app-like design. There is a membership-bridge available as a Wordpress plugin for the Xenforo platform that these forums run on. This will enable us to extend the forum subscription features natively across to ski.com.au. Hold this thought & see next;

    The $11 per annum membership will remove two of the three banner ad-slots on these forums and all banner adslots on ski.com.au. The $11 per annum membership will remove some, but not all, third party beacons and tracking.

    The $33 per annum membership will remove all banner adslots on the forums (as it currently does) as well as all third-party advertising on ski.com.au (the classifieds will not be excluded because they are half content, half advertising - plus they are not spy-ware that tracks you across the Internet). The $33 per annum membership will remove all third-party tracking & beacons*

    * Except Google Analytics - not sure what to do on this, I experimented in 2015 with completely removing GA from the site and not having Analytics data for 6 months cost us dearly - I'm not prepared to cut off nose again.

    In a nutshell, small operations like ski.com.au cannot scale to compete with the engineering required to 'sell your behavioral data'. So instead, pay a sub and you get to keep your privacy whilst here - this is what we can offer.

    We will endeavor to continue to go up the value-stack for subscribers across both ski.com.au and the forums where we can and without 'hobbling' non-subscribers. I have numerous ideas penciled onto the product road-map that may or may not eventuate so I don't wish to over-promise at this stage by revealing them (good ideas are welcome).

    On that basis, what we will publicly commit to are the following improvements between now and end of Feb 2017. Improvements that will mostly benefit all members, and certainly benefit all heavy-use subscribers.

    1. https, the forums will be moved to a secure server. (long overdue)

    2. Upgrade of the current theme to a new theme that performs better and faster on mobile.

    3. Upgrade of the forum search to the premium Xenforo search add-on.

    Implementation:
    Rolling out these changes will be gradual. Around Oct 3* late October we will initially commence with members with 10000+ posts. These members will have 30 days to subscribe before post/reply privileges are removed. We will apply the changes to members with 5000+ posts two weeks later (around Oct 17) and so on until we reach members at 1000+ posts.

    *Roll out of new member plans will commence after Image optimisation has been installed and fully working.

    The Numbers:
    Those of you who can quickly calculate the numbers will realise that this is not a 'Business Model' - it is just meaningful sustainability. My blue-sky calculations suggest at best $15K per annum in subs.

    In summary, the revenue from the subs will be plowed back in to the Forums. This place is effectively a community club and it's time to renovate to remain functional. The current status means there is near zero incentive to maintain these forums let alone improve.

    Vent, rant & discuss here:

    Monitor progress of new features & improvements here:
     
    #1 Richard, Sep 22, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2020
    mx_boarder, trappers, piolet and 5 others like this.
  2. JoeKing

    JoeKing Old n' Thrusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    A change is as good as a (ski) holiday.
     
  3. markopolo

    markopolo Naughty Corner Resident Ski Pass: Gold

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    Can we get frequent flyer points? And is it claimable under Medicare ?
     
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  4. person s

    person s Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    this is good news, though I have little notion of what a change to Wordpress would be like
    the cost is minimal to keep it all going
    this is a terrific forum
     
  5. gareth_oau

    gareth_oau Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    Take my money
     
  6. Richard

    Richard Maintenance Dept Administrator

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