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#1 ShawnW

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Posted 08 April 2011 - 05:02 PM

In the coming months, I am looking at upgrading the forum software here.

Unfortunately, the VBulletin Software is out of date, and the newer version has a lot of problems. This forum is growing. Not as fast as previous years but still pretty well.

As many of you have experienced, the server and software have had a mind of their own in the past few months and have been more trouble than they are worth. I hate seeing any downtime but I know this is unavoidable.

There are various directions I can go with this site but unfortunately, almost all of them are going to be more expensive than what is currently being utilized.

In the past, me and "Shadow" have paid out of pocket for many things and have occasionally been reimbursed from the donation account but there just isn't the funding right now to move. If I had more personal funding right now I would just do it but I don't.

I have never asked for money on this forum and don't intend to just yet but I would love to hear suggestions via email (shawnw@Ultimatesubaru.org).

New Shirts are coming and this generates good funding for the board but with an upgrade I may not have time to be doing a server migration and upgrade along with shipping shirts.

I want to continue the site being AD free. This is my top priority.

I would like to get a more modern user base coming here if people want that. As awesome as the 80's Subaru's are, I think having some Impreza, WRX, SVX and XT/XT6 owners here more often would be of great benefit both to them and the rest of us. When you come here and don't find what you wanted, where do you go?

Any suggestions, again, please reply or email me, especially ones that will generate donations to the site. Big/Small, like usual, I want to hear about it.


I would also like to know what features of our current system you:
1. Want to keep.
2. Want to go away or improve.
3. Is social networking important to the forum users? (Facebook/Twitter, etc)
This will affect how much the forum, data use and bandwidth, etc uses but if it gets people here and hanging out and enjoying the site thats the idea.

#2 grossgary

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Posted 08 April 2011 - 07:16 PM

Initial thoughts:
Lots of features for donors only.
Few features/benefits for non supporters.
Tiered features - more for larger amounts...not sure if it's already like that or not?
Pay for "for sale listings" - have a few freebies but then pay above a certain amount of listings (probably complicated logistics/software?).

If reducing features isn't ideal then maybe grandfather certain folks in (based on join date or something). Or have those new rules apply only to new members.

Fund raising: Raffle Subaru bucks. Offer 500 $1 chances for $100 Subaru bucks.....or something like that. or 100/200 for $50 Subaru bucks...multiple times? Winner is selected by the last 2 or 3 digits of the stock market close on a predetermined date. I don't do lottery but I'd do that. It may even be possible to get a few Subaru bucks donated with the right contacts and persuasion. The online vendors get great free advertising here.

Raffle a Subaru.

This would be tough but a "Community Soob Sale" - dedicate a week where folks can list in the for sale section and encourage a percent of sales go to USMB (not sure how/if it's enforceable). Then spread the word through all other Subaru forums to drive people here. I'll make one of those Ebay listings with links just to drive people here :lol: Folks here could conceivably offer to spread the word via craigslists across the country, I'd take care of MD and WV for you - group effort. Other forums might not - but I would put up a sticky on subaruxt.com for that. Sounds like a fun trend to start! Sellers would have higher traffic, more sales, and a percent goes here..hopefully? I have tons of parts I might list if I knew there would be more traffic in a given week.

Love the fact that you're trying to avoid ad's Shawn. :banana:

#3 MilesFox

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Posted 08 April 2011 - 07:46 PM

The facebook and twitter thing is a good idea, because by now, if not doing so, that is a boat that had been missed in this day and age of the internet.

aside from 80's soobs and retrofits, this is the most appropriate forum for the general public who own subarus, and come here to learn about their car, where nasioc is not their fancy since it is performance oriented(and can be rude) and other forums are not general enough or as broad with knowledge.

This site shoul be popping up in google searches for subarus before all of the dealer cars for sale or generic parts wholesalers that have subaru in the meta tags.

after all, this IS the original subaru community on the internet, and should remain that way for those to come.

#4 davebugs

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Posted 08 April 2011 - 07:51 PM

Shawn,

I'll list more parts and give USMB a portion of the proceeds. Basically I do that already but haven't been selling much over the last year.

What would it take for someone else (perhaps me) to handle the t-shirt stuff the next cycle? That could atleast free you up from that.

Just thinking out loud.

I'd like to see this site remain add free as well.

#5 bheinen74

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Posted 08 April 2011 - 07:55 PM

Well, I doubt Facebook and Twitter (and the other 10 new ones coming out) will be around in 3 years (think myspace, AOL chat, ICQ, etc). So if it was me, I wouldn't dedicate a penny (cent) for any cost for those defunct virus inflicted, and advertisement bombarded sites to work with the USMB. Leave them out. They are full of viruses, and are only in existence to gather personal info.

Raffle idea is good. Something I never thought of til it was listed. Good idea maybe.

#6 nipper

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Posted 08 April 2011 - 08:24 PM

So in total, what is the software costs. I know it can be a little brash to just talk money, but let us talk money and let those who can give just do it anonomusly, and once the number needed is reached just do not accept any more.

Lets start at the awkward number first :)

#7 davebugs

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Posted 08 April 2011 - 08:39 PM

The last 2 posts have some good points.

Personally I don't twitter, facebook, or what was the last one like that the kids have already dropped? I don't know that active linking to them would really add any value. Perhaps traffic if that's what you're after.

Getting higher in searches is a possibility. But heck, I come here and usually don't search Yahoo or Google.

What kinda numbers are we talking about - if you'd share.

I can't believe anyone would expect you folks to moderate, babysit, and pay out of pocket. But it would help if we knew the magnatude.

#8 Scoobywagon

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 12:09 AM

Shawn,

IN terms of features, I like the site as it is. I just wish it wasn't having quite so many database problems. I wish I could recommend a cheaper and better performing solution than vBulletin, but I don't know of one.

As others have suggested, perhaps it would help if you broke down some of the costs for us. I don't think anyone here expects you guys to spring out of pocket for all this. For myself, I can make some educated guesses as to space and bandwidth usage, but that's probably not good enough here.

As a fundraiser, I like the idea of a raffle. As a matter of fact, if that happens, I've got a few goodies that I'll donate for that purpose. I even know a few people that might be willing do donate some fairly big-dollar items for such a thing. I'd be more than happy to do some footwork for that.

I suspect that there are quite a few people here who would be more than happy to help out if they were only asked.

#9 lostinthe202

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 12:15 AM

I agree with bheinen74 100%. If it means any kind of expense or hassle to work with myface, then leave it out.

I'm also with Nipper and Dave, what kind of figure are we looking at?

I'm not as much of a participant in this forum as others, but it has been invaluable to me in keeping my Subarus on the road. I really love the "vibe" of this forum and the no-ad nature of this place has a lot to do with that. I also recognize that no ads means that somebody is paying for it out of pocket. I haven't even owned a Subaru for almost a year now (a situation I should be rectifying in a few weeks, and in my defense I did renew my membership even with my current Subaru deficiency) and I STILL come here to read up on stuff.

I like the raffle idea though, I'm not sure what Subaru Bucks are. But a raffle as a fundraiser maybe, or a booth or something at WCSS where the sales go to the forum.

Along the same lines, I see from time to time stuff people are selling where they "really just want shipping" or for it "to just go to a good home". Maybe a section where people can offer this stuff up for the cost of shipping (which would go to the seller) plus a fee or maybe a percentage or something that would go to the board.

Will-

#10 bheinen74

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 12:21 AM

like on AWD pirates, the Flotsam and Jetsam section, to "help a usmb'r out, post your free stuff here" like that new possible section.

like ^ said, sometimes we have good stuff just would like it to go to a good home pay shipping and it's yours section, and wfc threads.

#11 ShawnW

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 12:41 AM

like on AWD pirates, the Flotsam and Jetsam section, to "help a usmb'r out, post your free stuff here" like that new possible section.

like ^ said, sometimes we have good stuff just would like it to go to a good home pay shipping and it's yours section, and wfc threads.


I love that section of that forum! Will be added after migration!

As for pricing, we are at 60/month for hosting, 14.99/yr on domain registration, and 275/yr for VBulletin License. When we exceed bandwidth the pricing on the hosting goes up but not by a big amount like it was on the providers we had in the beginning.

I am looking at Invision Power or "Ip BOard" to move to. Right now we have, as I type this, 83 users on the forums and this is probably off peak. I have seen as many as 636 according to the bottom of our VBulletin but that seems really high. Anyway, the packages on Ip Board require you to pick a number of users max online at a time. At 175 at a time its 119/month and it jumps another $200 to go to 375 at a time.
While expensive, it is pretty much the top of the line 'home' for USMB, just a matter of is it worth it.

Right now we risk a hack with the version we are on but because the 4.0 version is a piece of junk and the 3.7.4 is the last stable version according to what I was reading on the VBulletin forums, I haven't upgraded. Didn't seem worth the $275 and time spent upgrading just to have new problems and a still hackable board.

#12 Olnick

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 01:05 AM

Thanks for the numbers, Shawn. Helps us get a handle on what you (we!) are facing.

How many "donor" members do we have presently?

Judging from the caring and ideas coming out here, I'm sure we can make it work. Keep us up on what you're thinking.

And a big Mahalo!

#13 ShawnW

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 02:14 AM

Thanks for the numbers, Shawn. Helps us get a handle on what you (we!) are facing.

How many "donor" members do we have presently?

Judging from the caring and ideas coming out here, I'm sure we can make it work. Keep us up on what you're thinking.

And a big Mahalo!


Active donors is 78. Meaning their "subscription" is active. 2/3's of these are 5 and 10 dollar donors.

#14 bheinen74

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 03:46 AM

when i sell Baja i donate well.....wish me luck. thanks for the updates and work, if we are going offline, just let us know so we know....

#15 The Dude Abides

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 08:56 AM

I will look into donating more but times are hard and lots of people are out of work. But whats 20 bucks for a good cause these days so thats not that big of a deal.

As far as suggestions i think raffling off a car would be a bad idea. As much as i would like to win a subaru from washington i don't want to pay for it to be shipped to iowa and i think some might be with me on this.

I think facebook would be a good idea since it is free, but the target of facebook is communicating between friends so i don't think it would be beneficial to look into it that much.

I wouldnt take away features from people just because they dont donate but maybe have a graded package. IF you try to collect donations every year have a grading scale. like 0-10 Bronz 10-30 Silver 30-50 Gold 50-above Platnum. Just have a colored hugh around there name or around the donations signature so people can know whose donated more. I think that would get rid of the 10 dollar people (which sadly i think i am) and you can show how much USMB pride you have. Just a thought.

Ben

#16 1982gl4

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 09:11 AM

I wouldnt take away features from people just because they dont donate but maybe have a graded package. IF you try to collect donations every year have a grading scale. like 0-10 Bronz 10-30 Silver 30-50 Gold 50-above Platnum. Just have a colored hugh around there name or around the donations signature so people can know whose donated more. I think that would get rid of the 10 dollar people (which sadly i think i am) and you can show how much USMB pride you have. Just a thought.

Ben


I really like this idea, like a lot.

#17 davebugs

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 09:26 AM

Active donors is 78. Meaning their "subscription" is active. 2/3's of these are 5 and 10 dollar donors.


I am amazed that there are only that many donors, and donors of significance.

I'm on 2 forums regularly and donate to both (this being one of them). They have both helped me significantly. I figure its worth it to me, and others.

#18 grossgary

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 09:41 AM

Wow, crack so you're talking about going from $1,000/year to $5,000/year? That's huge.

And this is a sustained need (monthly), not a one time need (strictly migration related)? Equally huge. :eek:

Are the top reasons for the move safety and better visibility/traffic?
And increased safety necessitates the move to better software?

How about a group like "The Subaru Seventy" - a group of folks committed to keeping this place floating. If 70 folks gave four dollars a month that's almost $3,500 a year. I would join that group. Give them some special perks, their own forum, stickers, Subaru themed banana's, a yearly drawing for some Subaru bucks or something....etc. :lol::lol:

I'd contribute more but I don't know the needs (getting clearer) or how it's spent. A breakdown similar to what you've already started would make sense to me.

Can you register as a non-profit so I can tax deduct it? :lol::lol:

#19 nipper

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 11:02 AM

I am amazed that there are only that many donors, and donors of significance.

I'm on 2 forums regularly and donate to both (this being one of them). They have both helped me significantly. I figure its worth it to me, and others.



Actually that is quite a lot for free site.

Is there any way that an autopay system can be operated. I am not looking for for anyone to be berated or a tier system of usage, but for quite a few it may be eaiser to voluntarily give 5-10.00 per month if they can.

Another idea is to put a paypal (or whatever is used) link on the first page you see after begin logged in (I auto long in so not sure what comes up first) just so it is easier to see.

I know my life is f*****d up mostly but if the link was someplace easy to see i would always divey up more then my usual payment.

Here is a out there open to discussion may fall flat as a doornail suggestion. Drop SOA a line and (if we MUST have a banner ad) ask them if they would like to pony up (eww a ford term). If we had to have a banner ad, i do not think subaru would be completly unexceptable.

I know that Outback went to a ad based service (they sold out basically and did not warn anyone it was coming, all us mods thought it was spam) and it is a horrible system.

Another possability, how does making money with google ads/help work? That is another way of going.

I ran my own site for a while, after 3 years I gave up only because all the people who wanted it did not use it. It is one thing to face that then another to be pained with a working site that is well loved.

#20 RAugur33

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 11:16 AM

I like the paypal idea. What % do they get?

#21 MaddCelt

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 11:44 AM

Just a thought in the raffle area. My folks are pewtersmiths and specialize in event medaillions. They can do custom work and engraving as well. (http://www.dirkandthistle.com). Could look into a USMB medaillion.

One board I am on offered anniv. items for renewal of membership. The first year is a pewter pin of the site logo. This could be an idea as well.

I like the overall feel and form of the board and it is the reason I came to this board and continue to do so. I am not fond of the other Subie sites for the reasons already mentioned. I am not a mod nut, drive older Subies, and do not have the BigusDickus complex I found on the other boards.

What about the possibility of hosting a server at home? I'm not real knowledgeable in the area but I know there were sites I went to that were self hosted.

#22 Flowmastered87GL

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 11:52 AM

Ignore myspace/facebook/twitter.

I agree that they are trouble-prone and from my history, I already got bored with myspace LONG ago, still use facebook, and never even saw the point of useless twitter.

Maybe see if we can have a USMB raffle at WCSS??? Like the profits from this single item go to fund the board or something....

#23 edrach

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 03:23 PM

Ignore myspace/facebook/twitter.

I agree that they are trouble-prone and from my history, I already got bored with myspace LONG ago, still use facebook, and never even saw the point of useless twitter.

Maybe see if we can have a USMB raffle at WCSS??? Like the profits from this single item go to fund the board or something....

I'm with you on the myspace, FB and twitter. I have no use for any of them either.

I do like the idea of a raffle at WCSS13 with the funds going to the USMB. I'll be checking out stuff in my garage which is going to waste here that could be used in a raffle (not junk, only good working stuff).

Maybe SOA could be persuaded to donate some NOS for the raffle.

#24 Ionlyhave3suubs

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 04:58 PM

Shawn, thank you for the opportunity to give input. First let me say how as a relatively new user I have enjoyed the site. I have looked at other sites and I believe this to be the best discussion forum of any kind, regardless of topic. Good work to all who are responsible for making this forum happen!

I don't have a lot of ideas on fundraising other than simply getting the word out that funding is needed, possibly some sort of posting on the log-in page that simply has what funding is needed for (total cost) and how much is still needed. Maybe separate columns for one time expenses such as a software etc. upgrade, and monthly expenses. Along with that a simple "donate now" button that a user could click and take them right to were they need to go to donate.

I am not a computer guru and I won't pretend to be, but I do know that pictures use more memory than text. It seems that the forum has a large amount of pictures, some of which get duplicated in quotes, within the same thread. Is that a significant issue that results in cost?

Features I would like to see on the forum, some type of tutorial for new users on how to use search functions, how to post threads, what the conduct expectations are etc. Maybe set it up so when a new user first joins, they are directed to that first, but also having a link where it can be referenced as well. All of these things are things I have had to find out by trial and error. I am still learning and still not very proficient at searching for information on the forum. It is a good forum, I am just not as adept at this as some are.

I suggest "donors only" features such as the ability to post ads for things for sale. If someone is going to make money off the use of the forum for advertisement, they should be willing to contribute to the operating expenses.

Keep up the good work, and thank you!

#25 Fairtax4me

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Posted 10 April 2011 - 12:27 AM

I don't car for the Twit-Face craze, but I know plenty of people who are big into the social network scene. A USMB page on those sites may help bring more people here looking for help. Or might it just flood usmb with trolls or forum noobs who just want somewhere to waste time or ask more of the same questions? Then there are the ever present spammers.
Take a poll on it?

I wouldnt take away features from people just because they dont donate but maybe have a graded package. IF you try to collect donations every year have a grading scale. like 0-10 Bronz 10-30 Silver 30-50 Gold 50-above Platnum.

I've seen this done at larger forums. There are usually restricted access areas that only donors of a certain group can get into. Certain features on the board, storage space, discounts at the forum shop, things like that. Little perks to encourage larger donations.

The idea to forward a percentage of a sale for an item listed in the classified section is good IMO, but it seems way too difficult to regulate. You would have to restrict communications between sellers and buyers to prevent under the table deals (someone would do it). Payments would have to be made through 3rd party software, which would undoubtedly add to the cost of running the board. How would you deal with items listed on multiple forums?
3Suubs' idea is much simpler, and free. :) Only allowing donating members to post items for sale could be a ticket to get more donations.


Where is that Donation page anyway? I don't think I've ever seen it. Or I don't remember it at least. :confused:




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