Jul 20, 2011 at 11:59 am #1276968
@valsharLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
This question is being tossed out here not to stir a debate or to shame anyone into becoming a BPL member.
I am simply interested in knowing the reasons why someone has not chosen to become a paying member of BPL.
The future of BPL is going to be rooted in paying members, so it will be important to know the reasons why someone has chosen not become a paying member and to also know what changes there might need to be on the BPL website to offer value enough for someone to decide to become a paying member.
So please feel free to openly share your thoughts so that BPL can become a better place for all of us.
1. Tell us why you are not a paying member
2. What changes would you need to see at BPL to make you become a paying member?Jul 20, 2011 at 12:33 pm #1761261
I'm a member right now, but I might not renew, since I learned more from the forums than the articles. And other than articles, there's no other reason to sign up for a membership.
Maybe do a one year membership and read up on all the articles.
But if the price for lifetime membership was a lot cheaper, I'd get one just to support BPL.Jul 20, 2011 at 12:49 pm #1761266
Raising an interesting question: what would the half-life be on a half-LIFE membership?Jul 20, 2011 at 12:51 pm #1761267
@feetfirstLocale: Northern Sierra Nevada
1. The forums are free, which is why I visit the site. I have considered becoming a paying member for the "M" articles, but it seems like eventually that information trickles down into the forums.
2. If BPL offered a more in-depth, region specific (e.g. Sierra), trip advisor/planner section, kind of like a real time up-to-date guide book with current trail conditions and other relevant beta, then I would probably stretch these short arms into my deep pockets to pay for a membership. Maybe publish a quarterly "season" guide with unique routes, hidden features, or specific challenges presented by an author who has experience in that given area. Yeah, I'd pay for that.Jul 20, 2011 at 12:51 pm #1761268
I just refuse to put down cash for any internet subscription. You can get any info you need for free if you dig around enough (no matter here or another site). I also do not consider myself to be a hardcore UL guy either.Jul 20, 2011 at 12:59 pm #1761270
I have thought about for a while but decided against joining every time. The forums offer more than the articles IMO.Jul 20, 2011 at 1:04 pm #1761272
Am a member. Been a member. May not remain a member.
UL content is dwindling.(The Articles and Reviews are great!)
Chaff/Ought-to-be-Chaff is growing.
I'm not here for entertainment or the "social hour."
I here for learning and sharing.
I know that storage, admin, and maintenance is not cheap. And just because the forums are "free" doean't mean someone isn't paying for them. (I'd guess there is $100k+ in salary and services somewhere.)
I would gladly continue to fund this site ($20? come on, that's your tip to the bartender on a good night) if the BS content was lowered.Jul 20, 2011 at 1:11 pm #1761273
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
At one point in time, I had a paid membership. The articles weren't much good. Immediately I started getting spam to the email address that only BPL had. So, I had to cancel. No way would I rejoin for money.
–B.G.–Jul 20, 2011 at 1:15 pm #1761275
John Frederick AndersonMember
I was a member my first year of UL, learned some, but found I learned more from the forums, where I now try give back what I can considering my experience.
Pay per view reviews and articles of highly technical things don't really interest me, so I didn't renew. You can also find most of this information for free on the net.
Sometimes the forums can be very biased to North American themes, of which I can understand as the site is located in the USA, but some topics, such as guns and so on, are not something I wish to pay to support, or find interesting from my perspective as a european hiker. There's more and more chaff too, which is turning me away. I'm loosing interest in other people's meaningless opinions as I get older and more grouchy- better if this place stuck to hiking related topics.
My favourite things are trip reports and people's shared experiences, which, if developed into a more professional globally shared 5th estate culture, I might consider joining.
I also find the equipment in the gear shop overpriced with ridiculous international shipping fees, so there's no benefit in joining for that. The scaled membership, yearly, and life etc seems elitist and classist too. YMMV, of course.
The other reason is that I'm a Marxist at heart- Groucho of course, and wouldn't be a member of any club that would have me. ¡¡Vive la diference!! ;)Jul 20, 2011 at 1:19 pm #1761276
Now is the best time ever to join BPL!
As they close the gear shop I know the great folks at BPL will be refocusng many resources on the publication experience.
If you are not getting the M membership access to the key articles,; you are missing the meat of the information, entainment and overall experience.
In addition, when you participate in the forums with the M by your name everyone knows you are informed on the article topics and so your opinion and comments have more direct bearing on the discussion and contribute even more to the great community here.
19.99 is a steal for an annual membership.
For the next ten customers at MLD who place an order over $200 I will refund $20 if you will use it for an an annual BPL subscription. Just note BPL Subscription in the comments when checking out and we will process the 20 refund.
Any other mfgrs want to match us?Jul 20, 2011 at 1:29 pm #1761278
Ron, you're great!
Those who write me in the support issues with a screen shot of their receipt to take advantage of Ron's generous offer, I'll make sure you get the $19.99 price instead of the $24.99 price.
Teamwork is so fun.
AddieJul 20, 2011 at 1:35 pm #1761281
As for content, I have to be honest:
Quickly looking over and counting the last 17 features (current page and first archive page), 10 features are members only. I only read 1 that required a membership.
Out of those 17, I've read 3 total. Clelland's tips (which I like, but is not limited to members), the piece on Balls and Sunshine (also not limited to members), and Luke Schmidt's backpacking with kids parts one and 2.
Didn't even bother to browse anything else. None of the gear reviews, shoe reviews, pack reviews, etc. have interested me in the slightest. Generally, I already have what I need and I know what I want. I'm not into backapacking to buy gear (anymore) so that makes the majority of content irrelevant to me.
3/17 on features isn't a very good ratio.
Personally, it's been going this way for some time now: pretty rare (like 3/17) that I find BPL content I care about.
Save for the Chaff, which is fine for kicks, I think the forums make this site. I've met many good people, done trips with them, and continue to meet more. I get great advice. Trip reports are great. I've been sent things I've needed for free from others. I've given away stuff to others. There are a lot of generous people around here. It's the diverse community.
So what's the future of BPL if it's beginning to sound like the majority think the best part- the forums- is free? Who knows.
And one thing I find strange…
I think Ryan Jordan's blog content (though much is simply brief reflection on gear, philosophy and trips) is better than the majority of BPL featured content: primarily because it's not completely gear-centered. For example, I feel a recent piece on group gear was better than a good deal of the content I've seen here in a while.
Why wouldn't that stuff be published here? He's a good writer, great photographer, and has some great insight on life in the outdoors. In some ways there seems to be a weird conflict of interest going on between his site and BPL.Jul 20, 2011 at 1:44 pm #1761284
@fuzzLocale: Sunny San Diego
I felt it's a difference of could vs should. Can I use the forums and snark around on the internet? Yep. Can I buy gearswap and essentially demo goods till I find my sweetspot free of charge? Yep. How much is this worth and how do I ensure that it remains in perpetuity? Throw down a bit of my money. I appreciate the articles, I like the gear reviews somewhat but I also would LOVE to see more trip related articles, gps routes, technical trip experts and practice driven articles less related to the hydrostatic head of this or that. Video content, articles of people setting up tarps, taking them down, discussing nuisances of UL practices a la Mike Clelland etc…. This would make this membership much more easy to make for many people I think. However, I feel that the people who can steer this the most are the members, if you have a dog in the hunt and money in the game, perhaps you can make more of a difference from within than otherwise. This is a community as I have seen many times recently, not just a forum. So, can I do it free? Yes. Should I? Hell no. I also like seeing the attitude of mlifers and members taking a more interested role in shaping this for content….. Please BPL pay attention to the article theme requests and when these are for members, maybe the attractiveness will swell. The 100 bucks or so I paid for life is the single best investment I feel I've made in the backpacking closet…. and I've spent a few lately getting outfitted.
Just my .02 cents.
To each their own!
EdJul 20, 2011 at 1:50 pm #1761285
Re: Ryan's site vs. BPL-
I could probably give you a pretty good answer, but I'm sure he'd prefer to do it. More content direct from Ryan is probably a good thing to add to the list of what can make the site better. Maybe a recurring column from people like Ryan and similar others? Mike C.? Andrew Skurka? Dave C.?
In reality, like Ryan, there are a lot of us who develop great content, but do it on our personal sites and rarely post it here. Not even a link back to the content. Is that something we should try to change?Jul 20, 2011 at 1:57 pm #1761289
"In reality, like Ryan, there are a lot of us who develop great content, but do it on our personal sites and rarely post it here. Not even a link back to the content. Is that something we should try to change?"
Yup. Definitely. Even if you have an editor culling great blog posts and posting them here (with permission, of course) with links to the original blog, you could easily and cheaply add some stellar content. Dave Chenault's and Roman Dial's blogs are an exemplary example of this, for just two. There are many, many others. You could start a new 'blog' section where you add such posts – I think it'd be popular.
Perhaps even a BPL app that works like Pulse, only for backpacking and such content. That would be cool.Jul 20, 2011 at 1:59 pm #1761291
+1 to everything Chris and Doug muse about above.
The content on BPL is great but there is no stopping it from getting better.Jul 20, 2011 at 2:01 pm #1761293
"Is that something we should try to change?"
I though it was pretty weird to see an interview with Skurka on Ryan's site yet nothing here.
On another note, I think it's interesting to include more members in the content; I've been seeing more of this. If I were BPL I'd be all over trying to get David Chenault (or another member/participant in the race) to do an article on the AK Classic the minute it's over.
There are a lot of people with good adventures and blogs around here. I think rounding up some of that content and getting it onto BPL would be good.
Granted, everyone can't be paid or compensated for their work…so BPL becomes a good hub to link to blogs, trip reports, etc.
But if BPLs content fails to become the draw, and people simply come here to get in touch with each other and find out where the better info is and all the cool blogs are…That sounds like trouble; you could do that through any free forum.Jul 20, 2011 at 2:45 pm #1761305Jul 20, 2011 at 3:30 pm #1761313
The value of this site to me comes from the forum. I see no point in paying for the privilege to share and hear the experiences of my peers.Jul 20, 2011 at 3:37 pm #1761314
The value of this site to me comes from the forum. I see no point in paying for the privilege to share and hear the experiences of my peers.
Which begs the question, what would you do if you had to pay for forum access?Jul 20, 2011 at 3:50 pm #1761321
@dan_quixoteLocale: below the mountains (AK)
"The value of this site to me comes from the forum. I see no point in paying for the privilege to share and hear the experiences of my peers."
"Which begs the question, what would you do if you had to pay for forum access?"
Maybe make the SUL forum for members only? Those zealots will pay almost anything, right?! ;-)
DanielJul 20, 2011 at 3:51 pm #1761322Jul 20, 2011 at 3:57 pm #1761325Jul 20, 2011 at 4:03 pm #1761328
@kat_pLocale: Pacific Coast
If my yearly membership can help keep this site going, that is worth it enough for me. I don't need any extra perks compared to non members.Jul 20, 2011 at 4:11 pm #1761331
@hikinggrannyLocale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
I "lurked" on this site for a couple of years before finally joining. I originally planned to be a member for only one year, primarily in order to read the backlog of articles. So far, each year I have decided to renew. However, unless things change, I probably will not renew this fall. While the old articles on technique (such as the various articles on coping with cold, wet conditions) were quite useful, I have seen very little of that nature recently. The State of the Market reports have been interesting and I've learned a lot of general information, but either the items in which I might be interested are not included (such as the ULA Ohm) or I'm just not in the market for such an item at the time. During the years I was "lurking" here, I found most of what I needed in the forum responses to articles!
Nearly all the knowledge of the new "cottage" vendors, new technology and weight-saving tricks I've learned here in the past few years have come through the forums, not through member-only content. I realize that it takes some time to evaluate new gear and to write up an article, but consistently the forums are more than a year, often several years, ahead of almost every article.
Like others, I wonder why Ryan is posting interesting material to his own website but not here. To me, the content of his own website indicates that he is no longer interested in BPL and is setting up his own separate business. I hope I'm wrong!
IMHO, with the antiquated software here, the forums themselves–admittedly the most useful part of this site–are so difficult to use that I can't see paying to support them. (I do support several other worthwhile–and far better organized–forums through donations approximately equal to the member dues here.) By the time I wade through "recent threads," skipping over all the "for sale" and chaff items (and inevitably missing something interesting wedged in the middle of ten "for sale" items), there's not a lot that I want to read compared with the time I have to spend finding it. In other words, I spend a lot of time for relatively little content. If I'm gone for as little as a weekend, there's absolutely no way I can ever catch up with what's going on here. In other words, in simple frustration I may end up leaving the forums as well as the paid membership.
What will keep me here as a paying member?
(1) A larger number and wider variety of articles each week, about techniques and trips as well as gear.
(2) An easily findable list of articles for beginners to which we can refer people just starting out, many of whom post on other forums with which I'm involved. This particular aspect, IMHO, should be free as a public service. They should be updated every few years. The old "Backpacking 101" is a prime example–in fact, just updating that article (10 years old now) would be sufficient. Having this public service base to which to refer beginners would bring in a lot more members here–consider it advertising!
(3) Inclusion on "SOTM" reports of at least the most popular gear items (back to the ULA Ohm again!).
(4) While we're at the Ohm, how about a bit more coordination on SOTM reports, so an extremely popular pack isn't omitted from the "frameless" category because that author considers it "framed," while the author of the "framed" SOTM considers it "frameless."
Forum improvements (for which our membership pays, since this site doesn't solicit donations or outside advertising):
(1) Better forum software with automated functions for links, bolding, quotes from other posts, etc.–in other words, the standard features common to other forums.
(2) A greatly improved search function. While no search function is perfect, this one could be a lot better. Since we have to use google all the time anyway, you might as well eliminate the current search function altogether and instead display how to search through google.
(3) The ability to modify the "recent posts" function to omit certain forums. (For me, this would be "For Sale," Chaff, MYOG.) This would really help us cope with the overwhelming volume of traffic on the forums. We of course should be able to change these easily, so if, for example, I want to buy a piece of used gear, I can check out that forum.
(4) A bit more moderation on these forums (maybe a few volunteer moderators?) to tone down some of the name-calling (there's a reason I don't read Chaff!) and keep the discussions more polite and on-topic.
Edited later to correct abbreviation confusion!
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