Nov 8, 2012 at 7:43 pm #1295887
@ryanLocale: Northern Rockies
We have finished with the code writing required for us to install this update as Roger passed along to you in this post.
Here's the process from here:
1. Tonight, the forum privilege updates will be installed, and none of you should see any differences there, as this first change will be transparent to everyone.
Once those are installed, we're going to give it a day or so to make sure we didn't break anything, and proceed with testing the update.
2. Then, we will run a script that updates all previous users with a forum posting history to a new user type called "Forum Member" that will give them the ability to post to the forums again. This Forum Membership will be a new type of paid annual membership that will be required for posting in the forums. However, all previous forum posters (anyone who posted in the forums prior to the lockdown) will be grandfathered in for life and won't have to pay this fee, ever.
Once this script is run, we'll probably sit on things for a few days to deal with the inevitable flood of "what's my password?" etc. support issues from people experiencing login problems.
After we run it, I'll post again to this thread, and send an email to the general newsletter subscribers, so old forum members know that they can start posting again.
Thanks so much for your patience, and to those of you that sent me private emails, or posted words of support and encouragement on the forums – sincere thanks – your support and encouragement is GREAT fuel for us!Nov 8, 2012 at 7:49 pm #1927196
@cameronLocale: Idaho Falls
Sounds good, fingers crossed everything works out.Nov 8, 2012 at 8:20 pm #1927201
Glad to see some progress on this!Nov 8, 2012 at 8:28 pm #1927203
Hey.. is Ken T. sleeping or something?Nov 8, 2012 at 8:33 pm #1927204
I'm here. Been spreading the news.Nov 8, 2012 at 11:26 pm #1927229
Pretty slick solution — sounds like the next week or so will be a lot of fun!Nov 9, 2012 at 12:57 am #1927233
@butukiLocale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Just a question. Not trying to start a fight or anything… Will this update work in with your worries about being able to modernize the whole site, or will that be something in the future? I take it right now you're focusing on the membership issue and not the whole site issue?Nov 9, 2012 at 1:54 am #1927235
@jamesdmarcoLocale: Finger Lakes
Thanks Ryan! GOOD JOB!!!Nov 9, 2012 at 4:26 am #1927239
The idea of charging a $5 membership just for the priviledge of posting on your forums is an absolute fail.
The idea that you are collecting money for *entirely* reader generated content is wrong. If you want to claim that this will only cover running costs, then this is covering some huge inefficiencies. Hosted forum packages, with a modern interface and features can be had with starting packages $10-20 a month, see https://www.phpbb.com/hosting/, and these cover tens of thousands of page views per month.
To add insult to injury your bespoke forum package is clunky and painful to use in comparison to any hosted solution, and the spamming issue which triggered this shows it's now entirely a liability.
Right now I'm embarassed to be posting with a life membership next to my name, if I could switch my membership to an article only, no-forum account, I would. The articles here are still worth the price of admission, and I think payment for these is a fair model. The forums – absolutely not, all you will do with this is kill them and leave a residual echo box for a small number of active posters.Nov 9, 2012 at 5:57 am #1927243
You've been right all along. Years now.
Here is a word from RJ circa 2004
Status of the Forums @ BPL.com on 12/01/2004 23:52:05 MST
Welcome to – and enjoy – the new forum interface. Please be patient as we continue to develop this interface. We opted to develop a new solution from scratch rather than use existing forum software modules – some of which are extremely good from both a usability and visual standpoint. Over the long term, however, we want to make sure that every new function we bring to BPL.com is seamlessly integrated with the rest of the Website. The forums are an example – the current software gives us the ability to capitalize on editorial staff, Premium Member, and registered user priveleges to define forum priveleges. This would not have been possible with off the shelf software packages without a lot of code modification, and very extensive testing for code robustivitiness (ha – there's a new word) to ensure that it did not negatively impact the code on the rest of our site. So, enjoy the simple interface for now, and look forward as we evolve our forums into a full-fledged and feature rich interface.
Yeah, OK sure.
Have something to add? Read this thread and see if you question. comment has been address years ago.Nov 9, 2012 at 6:27 am #1927247
@jamesdmarcoLocale: Finger Lakes
I don't believe than there will be a drastic effect…definitly not negative.
I was gifted my first membership by Ryan. I purchased a life membership because I saw the value in it: Knowlegable people suggesting techniques and gear for light backpacking. Well thought out answers to technical questions that many don't realize there was even a question about. Obscure, yes.
"The forums – absolutely not, all you will do with this is kill them and leave a residual echo box for a small number of active posters."
Maybe. But more people like Ryan, Roger, Will, Chris, and other like minded individuals will be drawn. Peer reviews of articles. Quality over quantity. This is a GOOD thing, except when it comes to making money. Teaching/publishing what *is* known can be an arduous and costly task. Without students teaching becomes worthless. Quantity over quality is equally a GOOD thing. It is just as important to support the site. A difficult balancing act for all involved.
Let's not make the overall site maintenence an issue. My only interest is light weight packing, ergo, maintaining this site for that purpose. The BPL Staff have done a good job despite reducing the overall number of posts recently. I have learned a lot here, and, I look forward to learning more. I really don't care how they manage things. I *do* want BPL to continue to supply good indepth articles with a chance to discuss them. If that means free forum access, fine. Spammers have shown the difficulty in maintaing free access, though.Nov 9, 2012 at 7:50 am #1927268
@ryanLocale: Northern Rockies
@miguel — over the long term, we are certainly going to have to move to a more scalable platform. This move is intended to get us back on our strategic track as what has been communicated in the past few MLIFE newsletters. In the meantime, we are certainly exploring how to move forward with a new platform.Nov 9, 2012 at 12:59 pm #1927358
Let me be a little more constructive.
First let me clarify, in my mind the forum is quite separate to the main paid BPL site, I have no problem with paid access to the published content, which I think is a good model and excellent value. But the forum is entirely community driven, putting pay barriers up to this will break it (or change it beyond recognition). I don't buy the idea that restriction to members might improve the quality, like any online community there is a critical mass which can rapidly move en masse somewhere else. People will go where the conversation is, there's nothing to stop us all hanging out at at the whiteblaze UL forum tomorrow.
And even a nominal fee will drive off people, partly because of the hassle, but also because many people object to paying any amount for some things, on principle, because it transfers ownership from the community to the host. If you had to pay $5 a year to a company to edit wikipedia, it never would be where it is now. And what is BPL providing for that $5? A platform to communicate with others? The internet has many many places for this where you pay nothing. The argument that you need paid memberships to avoid spam is bunk, there are innumerable non-pay forums which surmount this issue without paywalls.
I suggest again that BPL take inspiration from the packrafting forms: create a separate hosted backpackinglight forum, sponsored and branded by BPL, but a free and open discussion space open to all. The traffic and interest generated into the main paid for published BPL content should provide some return for very minimal hosting costs. If that's not enough, put up a donation system and make the donation account transparent and clearly separate to any commerical BPL accounting. The advantage of having a non-profit open forum is that you can do this. I would happily donate $20 for example, whereas I wouldn't pay a mandatory $5 membership fee – can you understand the difference?. Similarly, you could pursue getting unpaid volunteer work for migration of this forum database over to a modern system – if you have to do that for your paywall forum attached to a commerical site with membership fees, you'd be expected to deal with that yourself, out of your pocket.
The alternative will be ending up with a much smaller member only discussion space for those who've paid for BPL membership for the published content. With respect to all of these people, I don't want to spend time in a smaller exlusive member only set. There are a ton of good contributions on here from non members, you can grandfather them in now, but that's just going to slow the fade, because what about the next 10 years of people who you might have had on here that you won't see now?Nov 9, 2012 at 1:39 pm #1927370
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
OK, this is my own personal reply, not a reply as a Staff member.
Geez Adrian, where have you been for the last week or two???
BPL and many, many other open Forums have been hammered by a wave of spam from the recently updated Xrumer spamming SW system. Absolutely inundated. We are talking here about waves of up to 300 spams per day (or more maybe).
Now, the business model for the spammers is about $1 per 1000 spam postings. Yeah, they have to really flood the place to get paid. And they do. Well, their bots do: it's all automated stuff with no humans at the keyboard.
So if we charge a nominal $5 fee to be able to post, how many of them are going to pay that do you think? I would hazard a guess that there will be zero. And if any of them do, rest assured they will be chopped fast and lose their money. This is not a money-raising exercise: every current registered reader is being grandfathered in for life. It's a spam filter.
Yes, it is money. But what other way is there of blocking the tsunami? If you can think of one which does not involve a large number of full-time paid moderators (which none of the free open non-advertising Forms can afford), please let us know! (If it involves a dark alley and a set of knuckle-dusters, be my guest.)
CheersNov 9, 2012 at 1:40 pm #1927371
@hikinggrannyLocale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
It will be interesting to see how many old nonpaying members come back (I know that a number have become active on other forums and have most definitely expressed how unhappy they are with BPL) and how many new members will be willing to pay the $5 just to use the forum. I guess time will tell! I'm not as skeptical as Adrian, but I'm not optimistic, either.
What would it take in the way of code changes for that $5.00 to include access to one article per year? That might act as an incentive to join with full membership, especially since there are hardly any free articles any more to entice forum-only members to join.Nov 9, 2012 at 2:09 pm #1927373
>So if we charge a nominal $5 fee to be able to post, how many of them are going to pay that do you think?
Sure, this will stop the spam. So would powering down the server though.
>every current registered reader is being grandfathered in for life
Short term fix only though, you always need new people.
>BPL and many, many other open Forums have been hammered by a wave of spam from the recently updated Xrumer spamming SW system.
Are all open forums switching to pay walls too ? Are *any* of them?
BTW Roger, I do appreciate the manual work you've put in dealing with this.Nov 9, 2012 at 2:44 pm #1927384
It's $5, not a car payment and provision is being made to grandfather in the previous contributors, why all the angst? As far as the constant doom and gloom, that is something that BPL has to assess over time, right now this speculation is being done without any knowledge of membership rates or trends. I tend to believe in real data more than hyped up speculation and the only people with actual data are the BPL managers that own and operate the site.
RonNov 9, 2012 at 3:20 pm #1927388
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
> Sure, this will stop the spam. So would powering down the server though.
Er yes, I guess so.
One option leaves everyone able to read the Forums though.
> Are all open forums switching to pay walls too ? Are *any* of them?
Frankly, I don't know. I would appreciate (and so would Ryan I am sure), ANY info about other solutions from other open Forums which are working!
CheersNov 9, 2012 at 3:36 pm #1927390
>It's $5, not a car payment and provision is being made to grandfather in the previous contributors, why all the angst?
As I've tried to point out, it's not the amount, it's that even a nominal amount like this will drive many people away. Grandfathering in all the existing members works well to keep them on board, and in the short term, but what about all the new members over time?
>As far as the constant doom and gloom
I'm only objecting because the community here really is that good, and I don't want it to disperse.
And let me stress again, I'm only objecting to the direction of the forums, not the overall site. Some of the published material this year I think has been outstanding (I just reread the integrated stove article, and went and bought a Jetboil). Roger Caffin's articles alone are worth the price of admission.Nov 9, 2012 at 4:00 pm #1927391
@valsharLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
Great to hear about the changes.
I am sure that there are going to be a number of people who will be upset about the $5 fee to post.
I hope that it works out for Ryan and BPL as a source of income.
For those who are up in arms about the $5 fee….think of all of this as one big beta test.
Sure that it is never easy to run a business.
BPL/Ryan has to walk a fine line between being an online charity being free for everyone and trying to pay the bills but not "selling out" and having tons of ads on the site.
Bottom line, it takes money to keep the lights on.
If Ryan put a bunch of prominent ads in here, I am sure a whole bunch of people would be up in arms over that.
It is a balancing act and if the $5 fee does not work out, then Ryan can always chose to change or eliminate the need to pay for the ability to post on the forums.
The forums are great, but the biggest issue is that the forums clearly undercuts the value of buying a membership…simply because people on the forums are great and generous in passing along information that would often be found in the articles included in the paid membership.
I think that it is a great idea to try to see if the $5 charge works.
If not, then it can always be changed back to the way that it was before.
Odd thing about the internet….it is the only place that I know of where people staunchly believe that things should always be free.
-TonyNov 9, 2012 at 4:22 pm #1927396
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
"I would appreciate (and so would Ryan I am sure), ANY info about other solutions from other open Forums which are working!"
Here is one at the bottom of this post.
The site was started 10 years ago after a similar site instituted PAY to post membership requirement. The PAY to post site also offered a store and a print magazine.
When the new FREE site opened up, the majority of the membership jumped to the new site.
Over time the PAY to post site diminished and was eventually bought by the mentioned FREE site.
The site topic is Tent Trailers. Pretty small niche in the camper world. A vastly smaller number of tent trailers are sold each versus the number of UL packs!
As to Ryan being interested – I doubt it. When he ways exploring was to make BPL work a couple years ago, I PM'd him, offering to put him in touch with the owner of the FREE tent trailer site. Never heard back from him.
BTW, this site has been expanding its offerings during the economic turn-down.
popupexplorer.comNov 9, 2012 at 4:28 pm #1927397
@ouzelLocale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
"Thanks Ryan! GOOD JOB!!!"
+100!!! Simple, effective, and to the point. I do confess to being mystified at the carping about charging a $5 SPAM deterrent fee for new registrants as a bridge solution. Especially without any better solutions on offer.Nov 9, 2012 at 4:30 pm #1927398
NMNov 9, 2012 at 6:19 pm #1927420
Still free at other forums. We did this to ourselves, the forum users. Keep on saying that the real value here at BPL is in the forums. Many have said that they don't get value out of the articles here. So what is RJ going to do?, capitalize on that and turn it into something he can charge for. Like the strategic planning "retreat".
And had the MLifers been receiving the interim reports and updates of BPL, like we paid for, this might have all been prevented if someone did not have a colossal ego and could accept help from a community that offered it time and time again.
Sad to see this.
Cynical. Oh well It's how I think.
Prove me wrong.Nov 9, 2012 at 6:39 pm #1927426
From Ryan's first post above:
"However, all previous forum posters (anyone who posted in the forums prior to the lockdown) will be grandfathered in for life and won't have to pay this fee, ever."
I might be wrong but i think that means all the previous free members will be let back in free.
The $5 charge will only affect newly registering members.
So in effect BPL will be right back to where we were before the spam debacle and everyone will be here; life, member, and free members will all be able to post free.
If the market will not bear new registrations at 5 dollars then time will certainly tell.
Has anyone considered the approach taken by Whiteblaze?
That site is free but donations are accepted.
What if BPL were to offer that $5 membership but and also solicit donations with a percentage of each going to trail protection groups like the PCTA, ATC, etc?
That way giving money to BPL would also mean giving money to the trails as well.
Might take the sting out of this whole mess and turn it around into something good for all.
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