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Thread: Thoughts on paid forum memberships - free for active members

  1. #1
    Jon
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    Thoughts on paid forum memberships - free for active members

    I'm looking at instituting a paid membership program, similar to what we see on various forums and sites on the web, and through programs like Patreon.

    We would make the memberships free-for-life for currently active members; probably anyone with 25 or more posts, and anyone who has ever won Homemade Tool of the Week. I don't know a good explanation for charging people money when they're the ones creating the content on this forum anyway.

    The best reason to do this is to move away from an advertising model to support this site (you see ads on this site when you're logged out). Nobody really likes advertising, but people generally understand that it's a necessary evil. However, subscription-based models seem to be on the rise on the net, and, as this forum grows larger, they're a better option than relying on advertising.

    Paid memberships would probably be around $5 per month (free-for-life for currently active members) and might include some of the following:

    • An ebook bundle upon joining, with regular new ebooks. Stuff like: Best Homemade Vises, Best Harbor Freight Tool Modifications, Best Lathe Tools, etc.

    • More access to free homemade tool plans. Perhaps even a private "Plans" subforum, that lists all homemade tools with free plans, plus regularly curated additions of more homemade tools that include free plans.

    • Ability to enter more homemade tool contests with larger awards. Maybe month-long themed contests like: Lathe Tool contest, Rebar Tool contest, Wood Splitting Tool contest, Measuring Tool contest, etc.

    • Additional forum privileges like: larger signature, membership badge graphic, highlighted username, special user custom title.

    • Ability of members to tip other users by gifting them months of free membership, if they see a post that they like.


    What are your ideas or feedback for a membership program? What would you like to see?
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  2. #2
    Supporting Member diyfixman's Avatar
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    nice
    I just hope it doesn't ruin your site's experience


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    Frank S's Avatar
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    here is a thought and just as thought to be rolled around on the floor before hucking it in the waste bin.
    I know first hand how expensive running a forumn site can get once it reaches a certain level of traffic. plus the amount of storage space it requires on the servers. I am also a collector of memorabilia. I see things at some sites for sale promoting the public image of those sites if I like the item I'll buy it I may or may not actually use the item all that much but the items I do use get exposure to others they often ask me where did I find such and such.
    HMT. has become a go to brand among the diy scene. I am also aware of the probability that there are many more who visit this site who never become members that there are current members. Those are the ones who will randomly search for ideas on how to complete a project they are working on or what ever. Sure they see the ads but if they buy from those ads HMT.net does not receive a share of the price of the goods sold not directly any way. HMT. net may get paid some in concessions as in lower band width costs due to having the advertising.
    But what would happen if and minde you I am not one of these per guys who thinks someone should pay a per click charge like went around in the early days of the interweb. And I am really not a pay per view person either but like jon mentioned some form of subscription for the availability of the vast knowledge base contained within these forums has value or should have some monetary value to the occasional wed surfer who happens by. maybe not a monthly subscription just to stop and kick the tires but some limited access which would require a paid fee to view. These charges could be lessoned should the person become a contributor and eventually go away entirely.
    Or the possibility of having a store with items for sale may generate income from the membership base as well. Caps T shirts key fobs pens jackets you name it the possibilities in having items branded with the HMT.net logo is almost endless. even to an eventuality of having proprietary items made for HMT is a possibility though remote.
    I used to have a machine shop and an install company for advertising I gave away the usual things business cards pens key chains caps and such some of my customers asked me if I had things like coffee cups or winter hats T shirts jackets and other apparel like I provided for my employees I told them I could do that but as give-me's and they would have to be slightly different to distinguish between someone who worked for the company and someone who had bought the item. we couldn't have persons going around wearing a jacket with the company logo on it and have people assume they were representatives of the company.
    So as I said just some thoughts to roll around on the floor before hucking in the waste bin.
    but to be sure I surely would buy cups and caps and the likes.
    Never try to tell me it can't be done
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    Quote Originally Posted by diyfixman View Post
    nice
    I just hope it doesn't ruin your site's experience
    I'm sure that would be the biggest fear of the possibility of driving away potential contributors
    Never try to tell me it can't be done
    When I have to paint I use http://kbs.justoldtrucks.com/

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    Supporting Member jjr2001's Avatar
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    I am pretty much in line with Frank S.

    Make available for purchase for a one time charge:
    1. Cups, Shirts, Tools, and plans. Many of the youtube machinist are doing this now.
    2. Keep all of the forums and the access to the Categories available for all at no charge.
    3. PDF articles could be made for organization of the "Best" Lathe tips, Milling tips, Welding tips, etc. One time purchase.

    As a subscriber I certainly enjoy not having adds popping up at me like on youtube and other sites.
    At present I do not subscribe to any online forums or sites.


    Just one guy's opinion.

    Cheers, JR
    Last edited by jjr2001; 09-04-2019 at 08:56 AM.
    Back to the shop.

  7. #6
    mklotz
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    Since I'd probably be on the automatic member list, I don't think it would be fair of me to say what I think of the idea. Instead, I'll raise some questions and thoughts that might help to illuminate the issues.

    Would an individual need to sign up and pay for membership before being permitted to submit material?

    Seems to me that the answer would have to be "yes" or there is no incentive to become a member. We might see fewer folks who are just here to advertise their youtube channels if the answer is "yes".

    What about current members who don't meet the automatic free membership requirements? Would they and their posts be deleted if they failed to pay for membership?

    How would non-member viewers be handled? Some fora allow non-members to read posts but not see the attached photos. Discouraging casual visitors can be both good and bad. Good if they have nothing relevant to offer, bad if they do and are deterred by the exclusive nature of the forum.
    ---
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  9. #7
    Jon
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    Thanks for the feedback; keep it coming.

    Regarding sales of HMT-branded physical goods - I like this idea. I remember researching it a while back, via online stores that handle this; you just upload your logo and they take care of all sales. I was put off by the fact that many of them used cheaper clothes and various other low-cost goods for imprinting logos. I can research this more to ensure that we only sell high quality stuff.

    Regarding signup specifics:

    -Individuals would be able to sign up and post without a paid subscription. Interesting point about YT videos; maybe we can require a subscription to post videos. I'll think about that one.

    -No posts would be deleted.

    -Good point about viewing fullsize photos; I've seen that same concept on other forums.

    -The main incentive to subscribe would be access to curated content. For example, we could manually review the 34,000+ homemade tools listings we have, and separate out all of the ones that include free plans, and organize them and present them to people regularly. Same thing for PDF ebooks of the best tools.
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  10. #8
    Supporting Member Karl_H's Avatar
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    My whole profile reset to zero a few months ago - no posts, no awards, no thanks, no avatar. I never mentioned it because is seemed unimportant at the time.
    If my ticket to admission is based on my history, then there should be a whole system of double checks to keep that history accurate.

    If admission is based on the number of posts, many people would game the system, and instead of clicking the "Thanks" button, they would make a post saying "Thanks Marv - do you have any plans published?"

    Many of the postings are fun to watch, but not very helpful as far as homemade tools. Many of the actual homemade tools are interesting but of no real use to me because they don't fit my interests or they are beyond my skills (anything that requires welding for example.) But it is interesting seeing how they are built.

    As Marv mentioned a few days ago, he tosses out ideas that he has refined that he thinks others might benefit from.
    There have been several posts that, while the tool per se is of little interest to me, the author's methodology, technique, or even general approach have given me ideas to solve problems that have been interrupting my sleep for a long time.

    I am not sure I would be willing to pay to MAYBE pick up a pearl or two along the way, even though I am just a few pearls short of having several "Tools of the Week!"

    I am not a hat or T-shirt sort of guy, but I like the idea of using them as a way to pay for the site. That seems to be a veery popular way to raise money.
    I would be more inclined to buy something useful - say a 6" gauge with the HMT logo.

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  12. #9
    Jon
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    Quote Originally Posted by KarlH View Post
    My whole profile reset to zero a few months ago - no posts, no awards, no thanks, no avatar. I never mentioned it because is seemed unimportant at the time.
    That's important! I just double-checked our Homemade Tool of the Week winners file. It looks like you won under the KarlMetalworks username. Here's that profile with your award and such: View Profile: KarlMetalworks. My best guess is that you probably use KarlH and KarlMetalworks as different logins on various sites and they got mixed up at one time; I do that same thing. Does that sound reasonable? Let me know and I can merge the two users into one.

    Agreed on people gaming the system, and how it could result in low-effort posts. I would only give free lifetime memberships to people who already have 25 posts at this point.
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    You would certainly loose me.
    Even though I have built various tools, jigs, fixtures, and have come up with unique solutions to issues I never seem to have the time to write them down or submit them. Maybe some day.
    I do enjoy seeing how some of your submissions have solved their own problems. I occasionally pick up a new technique to use.
    Some times I feel like I should comment; especially when I see something that is truly hazardous. Again I never seem to have the time and when I remember I usually am too involved in family matters.
    Such is the pace of todays world that we don't always get the time for what we would like to accomplish.
    To have to spend $60.00 a year for what value I currently receive from your site is a cost too dear, as money always seems to be too tight and other day to day expenses are more demanding.
    I think this is the most time I have ever spent in commenting.
    I do enjoy the few minutes a day perusing your posts and would be sorry to see you go.

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