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[P]
We're Broke: The Economics of a Web Community

By rusty in Meta
Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:18:46 AM EST
Tags: Kuro5hin.org (all tags)
Kuro5hin.org

I come to you, Kuro5hin community, in an hour of need.

Great googly-moogly, could that be any more pompous? Nevertheless, it's true. You see, I found out last week that K5 is out of money. Our last remaining funds just went off to the gub'mint for quarterly taxes. I won't get a paycheck this month. Subscription income will help a little, but in the longer term, the prognosis is bleak. Frankly, I don't know what to do.

So I thought I'd take a little time and lay out the structure and workings of the media business in general, and K5 in particular, and ask what you think I should do.


The Business of Media

Many people are under the mistaken impression that the business of media is collecting information or creating entertainment and selling it to the public. This is not true. Information and entertainment is the bait, the "loss leader," which is used to lure large numbers of people into looking at a magazine, newspaper, television show or what have you. The "product" that media sells is you, the audience. Your attention, gained through information or programming, is sold to advertisers whose ultimate aim is to convince you to buy their product.

Advertising is not a means of supporting media. Media is an excuse for presenting advertising.

Have you ever felt like the tremendous power of media was being used for purposes that were lackluster at best, and downright disturbing at worst? When you watch TV, do you feel like you're getting dumber by the second? Have you ever felt like the news media was avoiding certain topics, or dancing around an uncomfortable truth? You were not imagining it. This, my friends, is the feeling of being a product. You're collated into demographics, analyzed, bundled, packaged, and sold to the highest bidder. Even in the media business, the customer is always right, but your opinions and desires don't matter, because you're not the customer. The grocer doesn't care if the tomatoes would rather be closer to the display window, and successful media organizations don't really care what you think of them, just as long as you're still watching.

We're Supposed to be Different, Dammit

I don't like this. I personally hate being a product, and I never got into this in order to lure all of you here and sell you to advertisers. I feel very strongly that one of the things one doesn't do is sell one's friends.

The idea of K5 is that it's a place, a community, for people to come and talk and listen to each other and be people, not products. I don't want to produce media and "package" it and ship it out to passive hordes. The world has about a million channels too much of that already. I want K5 to fulfill the promise of the internet, as a place where everyone gets a fair shot at an equal voice, and everyone gets the information they want, not what some company wants to sell you.

Nevertheless, we are smack-dab in the media economy. TANSTAAFL, as the overly-long acronym goes, and all the ideals in the world don't exempt us from being part of a capitalist economic system.

Income vs. Expenses: The Steel-Cage Match of the Century

The two biggest factors any company needs to account for are income and expenses. Everything else is basically details. These two forces will always determine whether a company lives or dies. K5 is not a complex business, so here is the annotated guide to both sides of our ledger sheet.

Expenses

The major expenses in a web company are people and machines. For most web media companies, "machines" will include server hardware and bandwidth, and people will be techs to manage the servers, writers to actually create content, management to oversee the whole thing, and usually a sales and marketing force to sell you to the advertisers. There are also rafts of miscellaneous and overhead expenses, like office space, office supplies, PCs for employees, and so on.

K5 is not like most media companies. We have been fortunate to find willing providers of hosting and bandwidth (first Intes, then VHosting, now the incomparably cool Voxel). In case any of you are unaware, Voxel provides us the fat pipes and lots of hardware that it takes to actually serve all these pages, in exchange for the promotional link at the top right corner of the page. If not for them, we wouldn't have made it even this far. But thanks to good planning and my bartering skills, we can wipe that major expense of the balance sheet.

You all know better than anyone why the budget for writers is also zero. Built in to the concept of the site is the fact that it lives or dies on your contributions, and contributors are paid in the attention of a smart and engaged audience, and the ability to be heard with no other credential than the quality of your contribution. Judging by the number of articles, diaries, and comments, quite a lot of you find it worth your time to post here, without money coming in to the equation.

That leaves us with people. Here again, costs have been cut to the bone. The Scoop software is open source, and we've benefitted greatly from enormous contributions by programmers who find the system interesting enough to work on, and who enjoy the rush that comes with having your code used and appreciated by thousands of people every day. Anyone who's ever toiled day in and day out for months on some application, shipped it out the door to the client, and never heard another peep about it will probably understand the reward inherent in simply being free to work on what interests you, and to know that your work meant something to someone.

But at last, in this category, we have a single remaining expense. That is, me.

"What?" some people say. "But you have the greatest job ever! We'd pay to switch places with you!" I admit, running K5 is a great job. I do enjoy it, and it warms my heart to know that the site is still there, and everything's ticking over as smoothly as possible, due to my efforts. It is enormously satisfying work.

But the key word in the above sentence is "work." Like the rest of you, I have rent to pay, and car payments, and credit card bills, and all the economic detritus of modern life. If I didn't have to pay the bills every month, I'd gladly run K5 for free. Sadly, that's not an option. Given that I do have to bring in a paycheck, running K5 for free is suddenly not such an attractive choice. Sure, it mostly runs itself. But ultimately there has to be someone who knows all the passwords, rebuilds the database when it freaks out at 3 AM, answers help@kuro5hin.org email, responds to the all-too-frequent ratings abuse complaints, soothes ruffled feathers, finds lost account names, keeps in touch with the hosting company, and generally serves as the public face of the site. So far, that person has been me, and it isn't always an easy job, or a fun one. It is a challenge, which is the stuff that a good job is made of, but it's not the stuff a good hobby is made of, if you follow me. As a "spare time" type activity, running K5 is distinctly lacking. As the bumper sticker goes, "I'd rather be sailing."

While the contributions of the community are what make K5 worth visiting, the work I do behind the scenes is what makes there be a K5 to contribute to in the first place. I'm on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. When something goes wrong, it won't be right again until I fix it. I'm not a unique snowflake. Many people could do this job. I feel it's not outrageous to suggest that I'm currently the person best suited to doing it, but even if you disagree with that, my point is that someone has to do it.

So what, ultimately, does it all cost? With the massive elimination of expenses, to the point where this whole circus can get by comfortably on simply the cost of a single full time employee, our annual budget works out to about $70,000. That includes my salary, corporate and payroll taxes, and all miscellaneous expenses, such as accounting, bookkeeping, legal costs, and the occasional SCSI hard drive. It should be clear that this budget is paltry by corporate standards, and probably equals half of what most media companies spend on lawnmowing in a year.

Income

The other side of the coin (or, as Stoppard put it, the same side of a different coin as it were) is income. We've tried a number of things in the past, including banner ads from a bulk ad network, then OSDN, and a limited subscription scheme. Our current income comes from two sources: textads, and the new premium memberships.

Text ads

Launched at the beginning of March, text ads looked like a good bet. Yes, they're advertising, but they're community-based advertising, that is much more in the nature of sharing information than selling you as an audience. And for a time, it looked like textads were going to work out. But the shine wore off, and only a few of you actually have a business to promote, and textads are currently practically dead in the water as a viable source of income. Let me break it down:

Text ad income:

  • March: $4,181.85
  • April: $3,089.97
  • May: $2,354.98
  • June: $1,241.00 (projected, based on current daily average)
The astute observer will notice that the dominant trend here is sharply downward. I am not expecting to see a sudden upswing in text ad income, and it seems clear from these numbers that text ads aren't going to get anywhere near meeting our needs.

Premium Memberships

It's really too early to tell yet with these, but so far, I'm not too optimistic. If you work out the numbers, text ads can be expected to cover about $12,000 of income a year, bringing our needed income down to $58,000. To cover that, we need 1,208 12-month Full Memberships. We currently have 198 subscribers, of whom 115 were already subscribers when I launched the new system. So in the first two days, we've had 83 people sign up, which is excellent. If this kept up for the whole month, we'd be more or less all set.

I would put the probability of that happening at somewhere between zero and 0.00001. This is not pessimism, but simple realism, based on the experience with text ads. If I'm proven wrong, I will happily admit to having been a fool, and invite any and all of you to email me and receive a personal message stating so. I will be the happiest idiot you've ever met.

Irony Can Be... So Ironic Sometimes

And this is where you came in. To summarize, we're broke. An unfortunate fact that probably bears mentioning is that there were 341,018 unique visitors last month. If every one of them kicked in a single dollar, not monthly or annually but one time, we'd be set for approximately the next four years, and you wouldn't have to read any of this. But if wishes were servers, I'd own Exodus. In the real world, we're still broke.

The other unfortunate fact is that there are a few of you who already understand all of this, and have contributed far more than your fair share of the money we do have coming in. For every thousand people who have enjoyed K5 totally for free, there's one person who has paid a lot more than they should ever have to in our ongoing efforts to remain solvent. I know who you are, and this is absolutely not your fault. The problem is that no one can maintain a business where only one out of a thousand "customers" ever pays for anything.

So, What Now?

So what happens now? As you may imagine, I've chewed over it 24/7 for a couple weeks. It's been coming for months, so I've had plenty of time. Below is my current list of options, with pros and cons.


  1. Somehow convince enough of you that the site is worth a few bucks for the enjoyment and information you get from it.

    Pros: Site lives, I get to do what I'm good at, which is helping people and making K5 better.
    Cons: Hasn't worked so far. Requires an unheard-of 1200 of you to pony up. There are 1200 of you who could, but I doubt you all will.

  2. Rusty gets a "real" job.

    Pros: Will likely be able to pay bills, avoid premature ulcers.
    Cons: As described above, K5 as a hobby would suck. I would have far less time and energy to devote to maintenance and improvements. I have no idea how long I'd be able or willing to maintain the site and work full time.

  3. I find some ad network that will pay to serve you obnoxious banners.

    Pros: Well, it's income.
    Cons: Everyone, including myself, hates banners. As noted above, the prospect of selling you to advertisers doesn't sit very well with me. Feels like the "give up" option. Not very likely, these days, there's anyone who would pay enough to make it meet budget.

  4. Sell K5 Inc.

    Pros: Find a partner who can take over the "running a business" aspect of the site, allows me to do what I'm good at and not worry so much about money.
    Cons: "Selling out" increases likelihood that K5 loses the community aspect that makes it unique and valuable. Loss of trust that I've managed to build up by being a human being instead of a faceless corporation. And who the hell is buying websites these days? Probably impossible in the first place.

  5. Some other crazy scheme

    Pros: No shortage of them.
    Cons: They all require me to basically be in a business I have no interest in being in. I.e. the "selling t-shirts and knick-knacks" business, the "hosting an email forwarder" business, and so forth. End up reducing to "get a real job" without being a job I want to get.

So there you have it. I don't know what to do. I need to get a paycheck by the middle of July, so that's my deadline to do something. At the moment, "get a job" seems to be the front-runner by default, simply because I know that it's possible. In any case, this is where we stand. If nothing else, I hope it was an informative look into the rather difficult economics of operating a site like this.

Sponsors

Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure

Login

Poll
What to do?
o I'll chip in! 42%
o Get a job 20%
o Bring on the banners 26%
o Sell it 3%
o Do some other thing 6%

Votes: 355
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Scoop
o Kuro5hin
o TANSTAAFL
o Voxel
o Also by rusty


Display: Sort:
We're Broke: The Economics of a Web Community | 737 comments (715 topical, 22 editorial, 2 hidden)
allow graphics that can be linked from user hosts (2.50 / 4) (#3)
by disney on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 02:53:19 AM EST

and introduce some kind of user ranking that will get the lamers and mojo whores kicking in their dollars. Sex, video games, contests, user rankings, I mean that's how money is made on the net. It's starting to become just like any other form of broadcast entertainment.

I'll ask my Uncle Walt for some money, too, he's pretty much loaded.

Ugly situation (3.66 / 6) (#4)
by onyxruby on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 02:53:47 AM EST

It's an ugly situation. I was lurking back when you had your Rusty cam, well before I got my account. I finally signed on here after lurking for a while because it seemed like there were people here that actually tried to be something of a community. It was odd seeing a web site that actually seemed to try to cater to the users vs the advertisers or editors. All things considered, I don't think I want to see K5 go "poof" like the dot.bomb it's never been. I've been out of work to do a bad car accident, but finally went ahead and got a membership with the new "premium membership" just to try to help a little.

I don't have any good ideas on what to do for money though. Even Drew over at Fark.com has had a hard time and he owns his own hosting company. He appears to have started to pull out of slump from what I gather. It may be worthwhile to talk to him, as he seems to be a pretty open guy. As much as it would suck, you'll probably have to get more advertisers. Just please, whatever you do, no pop up's/under's. I think your membership can understand the need for advertising and will probably accept it (more of it) without too much grumbling. At least advertising would keep you from selling out, better to rent space on the site than sell the site, right? Call it renting out rather than selling out. I don't like ad's anymore than anyone else, but I at least understand why their needed.

The moon is covered with the results of astronomical odds.

I voted (4.60 / 10) (#6)
by ubernostrum on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 03:00:22 AM EST

For "bring on the banners", but I have mixed feelings toward each of the poll options. I think the solution, if there's going to be one, will end up being a mix of several options, though I hope selling k5 isn't one of them. Banner ads, if you could get a decent source of revenu from them, could work, and the textads and subscriptions will help, so between the three of them you can get closer to the goal. What's left will, of course, require a hare-brained scheme. Mine is as follows:

  1. Pick a lottery drawing sometime in the first two weeks of July.
  2. Write a Perl script that will take all possible combinations of the numbers and map them to the list of k5 accounts.
  3. Each k5er buys a lottery ticket with the numbers assigned to his/her account.
  4. Each of us receives a small bonus from the winnings, and the lion's share sets you up comfortably as k5 president-for-life.
Or there's the scheme of taxation - you could charge for certain privileges. For example:
  • $1 each time E r i c advertises his car, his girl, or monolinux.
  • $1 each time Adequacy is mentioned on k5.
  • $1 for each of mrgoat's accounts.
And so on...the income opportunities are endless.

Seriously, though, I think looking at one solution is the wrong way to go...subscribers will come, ads will come, maybe banners will come. By themselves, they're meager. Together, they might add up to something. And who knows? Maybe the comments here will provide more ways to generate revenue...in the meantime, I just got my paycheck (well, research grant, actually, but it's no strings attached), and I'm looking into acquiring a Visa check card, and if I do, k5 subscription is high on my list of things to buy with it.


--
You cooin' with my bird?

Love (4.00 / 6) (#55)
by duxup on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:02:47 AM EST

As long as love is free, I'm with you.

[ Parent ]
Love will always be free. (4.33 / 3) (#92)
by ubernostrum on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:42:15 AM EST

And if it ever isn't, then by God we'll go steal it and make it free again.


--
You cooin' with my bird?
[ Parent ]

Scoop consulting? (4.71 / 7) (#9)
by Stereo on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 03:05:30 AM EST

Are companies interested in scoop? I'm thinking about newspapers websites, intranets...

If (big if) there's a demand, you could get paid for developing custom features or coaching their developers; the features would get contributed to k5, some for free, some for subscribers; a better k5 and glorious references would attract more customers - it'd be a win-win situation.

That's what most commercial GPL folks are doing, and I don't think Redhat or Mandrake are doing too bad.


kuro5hin - Artes technicae et humaniores, a fossis


Not really (4.40 / 5) (#16)
by rusty on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 03:14:21 AM EST

There hasn't been much demand so far. To create demand, I'd have to basically start a business doing that, which falls under the general heading of "I'd rather just get a job." I've worked in software, and running a software support company is really low on my list of preferences.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Jo-King Corporation press release (4.60 / 5) (#302)
by ennui on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 11:45:13 AM EST

Jo-King Corp. launches new Intranet Scoop Site

For Immediate Release

Pike's Island, ME - June 17, 2002 - Jo-King Corporation today announced it had made a Scoop-based Intranet site available to its employees at http://192.168.17.6/scoop. The site is hosted on a Island Data Systems 486-SX 25 with 32 megs of memory and an 80 meg hard drive.

"We are excited about providing Scoop technology to our employees," said Jason Voorhees, Director of Sketchy Technologies. "The learning curve is not steep, so we expect employees to be insulting each other, posting boring diary entries, and trying to be funny in polls in the very near future. Scoop facilitates inane wankery and short, ignorant rants, two things we think will be of value both internally and to our customers."

"You can get a lot more done with a kind word and a gun, than with a kind word alone." -- Al Capone
[ Parent ]

One other suggestion (4.00 / 6) (#11)
by theantix on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 03:06:05 AM EST

I don't like it so I hesitate to say it, but you could start stripping out current features and moving them to subscriber-only features.  For example:
  • javascript comment views
  • RDF feeds
  • the "normal" hotlist
  • display of email/website in comments
  • restricting diary frequency
Like I said, I know this would not be idea, but it might help convert a higher % of subscribers.  

--
You sir, are worse than Hitler!
RDF feeds (none / 0) (#266)
by tekue on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 10:29:18 AM EST

RDF feeds are syndicative, so people come to K5 because of them, and they are cheap (very little bandwitdth).

And as long as I'm on the subject, it may not be the best moment, but could someone change the format in which RDF feed links are created? They are the long ones, with the question mark in them. I guess they should be the same as on the homepage.
--
Humanity has advanced, when it has advanced, not because it has been sober, responsible, and cautious, but because it has been playful, rebellious, and immature. --Tom Robbins
[ Parent ]

Added to TODO List (none / 0) (#548)
by hillct on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 06:30:07 PM EST

Like I don't have enough scoop features that I want to write...

--CTH


--Got Lists? | Top 31 Signs Your Spouse Is A Spy
[ Parent ]
I agree. (none / 0) (#379)
by terpy on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 01:28:00 PM EST

Restrict the free accounts a little bit. Although I like the new premium features, I mainly subscribed because rusty finally accepted credit cards, some people jsut need more encouragement to part with a buck or two. It couldnt hurt subscriptions.

-- Less foolish people know that we are living in the freest times we will ever know. It is all downhill from here. -Parent ]
Sell not K5 Inc. (3.80 / 5) (#12)
by Talez on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 03:07:00 AM EST

Sell Scoop.

No offense intended but as far as online communities go, they are pretty much worthless. As soon as you start losing the community aspect the people will go and all they'll do is go somewhere else. I know that you know this because people come here because they are indeed sick of the way other places work.

So personally, I'd rather see Scoop go closed source and commercial software before I'd see K5 sellout. But thats just me.

Si in Googlis non est, ergo non est

Umm... (2.66 / 3) (#40)
by Jel on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 03:53:30 AM EST

Open Source cannot go closed source.  That's one of the main points.

[ Parent ]
Closing it (4.00 / 2) (#132)
by kmself on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 05:37:12 AM EST

Free software, yes, even under the GNU GPL, can be closed in future releases, with the approval of all the authors of the work.

You do this by getting the authors' permission, or by removing (and re-engineering) their work.

Granted, in most cases this is nontrivial, but it is possible.

IANAL, TINLA, YADA.

--
Karsten M. Self
SCO -- backgrounder on Caldera/SCO vs IBM
Support the EFF!!
There is no K5 cabal.
[ Parent ]

Problems (4.50 / 2) (#47)
by gazbo on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 03:58:12 AM EST

(I should point out that after reading the article this was my first reaction too)

Firstly, this would piss off a lot of people (me not included) who are free software zealots.

Secondly, the legality. Scoop has been developed as an open source product by many developers. I believe that rusty is not legally allowed to suddenly claim ownership of the codebase, as it was never his property to begin with.

Perhaps it is possible to have certain value-added features sold as plug-ins to the Scoop code and coded only by rusty or people willing to sign ownership over to him?


-----
Topless, revealing, nude pics and vids of Zora Suleman! Upskirt and down blouse! Cleavage!
Hardcore ZORA SULEMAN pics!

[ Parent ]

Huh? (3.75 / 4) (#50)
by valeko on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 03:59:35 AM EST

I'm rather interested to see how Scoop can go commercial and proprietary once it's already open. I have a copy sitting around on my hard drive. How is Rusty going to take it away from me?

"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Or like the old ars digita (4.25 / 4) (#114)
by autopr0n on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 05:11:28 AM EST

Sell scoop support contracts. Get money from people to setup scoop, or even host scoop sites on your server farm.


[autopr0n] got pr0n?
autopr0n.com is a categorically searchable database of porn links, updated every day (or so). no popups!
[ Parent ]
Ars Digita (4.33 / 3) (#138)
by rusty on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 05:45:10 AM EST

Heh. Cause it worked so well for them? :-)

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
6. Close the site. (3.50 / 4) (#13)
by Holloway on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 03:08:48 AM EST

Option 6. Close the site to non-paying members, like the SA Forums. Perhaps only allow FPP to be seen anonymously so they get a taster. Only (paid) members can post.


== Human's wear pants, if they don't wear pants they stand out in a crowd. But if a monkey didn't wear pants it would be anonymous

It's an option (4.50 / 2) (#18)
by rusty on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 03:18:39 AM EST

Not one I like, but sure, it is something that would be possible to do.

I suspect I'd either shut it down or hand it over to someone willing to take up the reins first though. If it's private, I would have trouble seeing the point of having it.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Yes. (4.33 / 3) (#22)
by valeko on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 03:23:41 AM EST

And I am entirely positive K5 would fall apart with such a proposal. Even though it's a measly $5 or whatever.

I don't think anyone would accept closing the site to non-paying members. Ever.

"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

I'm not too serious, but (4.00 / 1) (#76)
by Holloway on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:31:57 AM EST

I'd slide it before shutting down the site and after anything else. You'd still control it (and it would be controllable), and you could bring it out of hibernation when you felt like it.


== Human's wear pants, if they don't wear pants they stand out in a crowd. But if a monkey didn't wear pants it would be anonymous

[ Parent ]
Girls of K5 (3.50 / 2) (#198)
by Holloway on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 08:30:06 AM EST

Sell your panties. You'll do as you're damn well told, Rusty.

Also, as Freeboxen.org died, I need a place to trade/sell my computer bits. You can take a cut and it's something I'd use.


== Human's wear pants, if they don't wear pants they stand out in a crowd. But if a monkey didn't wear pants it would be anonymous

[ Parent ]

um, go non-profit? (none / 0) (#596)
by libertine on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 09:09:24 PM EST

Or not-for-profit?

I know it sounds like a weird idea, but most of the taxes then go bye bye.  Just from my lurking around and such, it really seems like K5 fits in the not-for-profit role of a company.  There are no ads, except for what is driven by the community and sponsorship, no significant overhead, and one employee (founder, who doesn't have a salary cap under either status).  K5 would also qualify for a number of foundation grants at that point (where from?  dunno- that's a research question).  Heck, voxel.net would get a tax break at that point, and they might just offer additional sysadmin services to cover emergencies if there was a decent write off (ok, maybe, maybe not).


"Live for lust. Lust for life."
[ Parent ]

Close the site . (4.33 / 3) (#46)
by johwsun on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 03:56:58 AM EST

..the 13th comment...

[ Parent ]
I can say for certain that would make me leave (5.00 / 1) (#390)
by Subtillus on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 01:38:10 PM EST

and never come back.

[ Parent ]
How about restricting posting? (none / 0) (#412)
by aakin on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 02:02:50 PM EST

Only paid members can post articles/dairies/whatever. Anyone can view, anyone can make a comment.

[ Parent ]
Two more crazy schemes (3.80 / 5) (#14)
by NFW on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 03:09:09 AM EST

6. Reduce expenses, divide the workload

Get a $25/month scoop-hosting account with Altercom.
They'll take over a significant chunk of the work for you.
Divide the remaining work among a small set of trusted volunteers.

7. As above, but let someone else do it.

Surely there is someone out there who would like to take the reins. That person needs four things:

1) they need $25/mo
2) they need to commit to keep K5 alive
3) they need you to set www.kuro5hin.org to point to Altercom's server
4) they need your trust in (2) to get (3) to happen

There will probably be many volunteers... whether you get a volunteer you can trust is another matter - and entirely up to you, of course.


--
Got birds?


Hosting (5.00 / 7) (#17)
by rusty on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 03:17:04 AM EST

Get a $25/month scoop-hosting account with Altercom.

Heh. K5 serves 6.5 million pages a month, or about 120 Gb total. It currently runs on three dedicated Scoop servers, one dedicated database box, and a frontend load-balancer with hot failover clone. We're so far beyond the $25/month Scoop hosting account we can't even see it with a radiotelescope. :-)

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

yeah, but.... (4.83 / 6) (#70)
by NFW on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:25:29 AM EST

They say 'unlimited traffic.' I say hold 'em to it. :-)


--
Got birds?


[ Parent ]

The problem (4.50 / 6) (#15)
by rusty on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 03:12:55 AM EST

I've contacted a couple of ad networks, to at least find out what kind of deals they offer. Something like that is certainly possible, under the heading of "some kind of advertising." What I'm seeing so far is that it will be unlikely I can find anyone paying more than $0.50 CPM for ads nowadays, though. Still, it would help.

If ads it is, I would probably be more likely to just put them up for everyone who isn't a paid subscriber. I am really not sure what percentage is logged-in vs anonymous, actually.

____
Not the real rusty

On a side note: (4.00 / 2) (#24)
by valeko on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 03:27:59 AM EST

Do banner ad arrangements typically expect you to host the actual banner images on the local point of service? I've seen some sites that do and some sites that don't. I guess it'd be difficult to verify (for the marketer) that the ads are being viewed, if that's the case, but I don't know anything about the mechanics.

I'm just thinking about the bandwidth implications of hosting (relatively) bloated ads on K5's machines and whether that might make its hosting provider decide they've had enough. Dunno, just speculation.

"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Most don't (4.50 / 4) (#29)
by rusty on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 03:34:04 AM EST

The majority don't. When you host ads yourself, it's generally with a dedicated machine, and that kind of arrangement usually is more like outsourcing your ad sales department than signing up with a network.

Most likely, anything we did would involve ads served from somewhere else.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

as a side note: (5.00 / 2) (#426)
by joshsisk on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 02:20:09 PM EST

If you do get banner ads (and I'm for it), have a small link under each one that says "If you subscribe, you won't see these ads," or something similar.
--
logjamming.com : web hosting for weblogs, NOT gay lumberjack porn
[ Parent ]
Would ad networks be willing to miss subscribers? (none / 0) (#468)
by Tommy A on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 03:38:47 PM EST

How much income would $0.50 CPM translate to per month? How many page views does Kuro5hin get per month? I am guessing, but wouldn't the subscribers be the real premium target for advertiser. These individuals have already demonstrated there willingness to spend money on the Internet. Maybe you could get more than $0.50 CPM for adverts displayed to subscribers. Do you know how your page views break down (i.e. total views per month, total views by non-logged in visitors, total views by logged in visitors, total views by subscribers)?

[ Parent ]
Re: Missing subscribers (none / 0) (#504)
by Qarl on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 05:06:13 PM EST

Well, but if you're going to see ads as a subscriber, what was the point of subscribing? I think that's probably the most effective incentive, though maybe I'm wrong. I think an ad site probably doesn't care too much how you dole out the hits; if the hits are there, they pay you.
--Carl
[ Parent ]
Ad free for subscribers. (none / 0) (#518)
by Tommy A on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 05:44:29 PM EST

In fact since the number of subscribers is low relative to the total number of visitors then it is probably not a great loss of revenue to give subscribers advert-free browsing.

How about the following:

For non-logged in users - Have the current K5 text-ad, a standard banner ad and maybe a third-party provided text-ad.

Causal visitors to the site are probably very accustomed to seeing adverts on most other sites they visit and contribute the least to the K5.

For non-subscribed logged in users - Have the current K5 text-ad and a third-party provided text-ad.

These visitors may not give financial to the site but are likely to post comments/stories, which seeing K5 is content driven is important.

For subscribed logged in users - These community-spirited individuals are reward with only having to eye-ball the current K5 text-ads.

Assuming say $0.50 CPM for banner ads and $0.15 (a guess) CPM for third party text ads. What would this generate in revenue based on current traffic?

[ Parent ]
An old idea (5.00 / 1) (#520)
by John Milton on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 05:45:36 PM EST

I've mentioned this before, but have you ever looked into partnering with Amazon or some other on-line retailer. You could do book reviews and guarantee with a guaranteed audience.


"When we consider that woman are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should Treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit." -Elizabeth Cady Stanton


[ Parent ]
Actually (none / 0) (#657)
by sean23007 on Tue Jun 18, 2002 at 12:25:04 AM EST

I like that idea. There are a lot of k5 users who read a lot of books and are probably more than capable of not only writing an excellent review, but also coherently discussing the book. At amazon.com there is a "discussion" below most books that is short and pathetic, filled with mostly brief posts by people who are really just waiting to get back to their book. But if, say, Amazon linked to a K5 review and listed the entire k5 discussion below the "Buy this book" picture on its page, well then that would be good for them, wouldn't it? I'm sure the visitors to amazon.com would be more likely to consider a book if they saw how much discussion it really could muster. Rusty, if you're reading this, why have you not considered this breed of deal? Or, if you have, why have you not convinced amazon.com of it yet? ;)

Lack of eloquence does not denote lack of intelligence, though they often coincide.
[ Parent ]
Well, mod me down if you must (4.00 / 4) (#21)
by imrdkl on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 03:22:14 AM EST

but I kinda liked the DI section. I realize that I'm the only one who put any articles into it, but it seemed like some easy money. I guess the queue jackals had good reason to pounce on the stories submitted by the good folks over at DIDworld, hey, we don't let just anything post here. Otoh, they (DIDWorld) did seem to like at least one of the articles that posted here well enough to repost it on their own site.

My latest DI article has a poll which shows that the greatest majority of people, 39%, want to dump the section, but 30% liked it well enough to want more, and another 30% abstained. I'm not convinced that it should die just yet, but there'd have to be a bit more interest than my own, I suspect, to keep it going.

I, like others, enjoy writing and contributing to this site, and will continue to do so, but it just seems to me that the DI section was a nice baby cast out with some only slightly tainted bathwater.

So what are you suggesting? (4.50 / 2) (#23)
by valeko on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 03:25:26 AM EST

Selling more dedicated sections to interested parties, or arranging some kind of "guaranteed exposure" scheme?

That's definitely not as annoying to many K5ers as some of the other proposals. After all, you choose what you read. I think if that idea can be explored further, it'd be good. Although I am unconvinced that it'd pay well enough to help with rusty's financial woes.

"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Find me sponsors! (4.50 / 4) (#25)
by rusty on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 03:28:45 AM EST

If you are a potential section sponsor, please email me. I have some tentative interest from one, but it hasn't exactly gone like a house afire. I think that's a cool idea, still, and would like to do it more. Someone make a proposal. :-)

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Sorry. (4.00 / 1) (#28)
by valeko on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 03:33:11 AM EST

Unfortunately, I am not a potential section sponsor. However, I think it's a good idea. Selling an audience on K5 isn't selling the people of K5 quite like some other propositions that really do seem to bend in that angle. ;-)

I forget all the Digital Identity details now, but is there serious revenue potential there? It seems to me like something that'll happen sporadically a few times, but not as though it can be established as a regular source of money.

"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Section sponsorship (4.50 / 2) (#32)
by rusty on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 03:36:35 AM EST

Selling an audience on K5 isn't selling the people of K5 quite like some other propositions that really do seem to bend in that angle.

Actually, the DI section ended up being much more "paying to get us to talk about some general topic" than buying your attention. imrdkl wrote most of the articles, and has nothng to do with DIDWorld at all.

I didn't actually mean you should find me sponsors. That was more of a general plea for anyone reading. :-)

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Potential sponsors (5.00 / 2) (#127)
by streetlawyer on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 05:29:08 AM EST

I'm not sure that kuro5hin is ready for a "Focus on Hypermints" week.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
Indeed not (none / 0) (#385)
by Miniluv on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 01:33:56 PM EST

However, we've got a fairly diverse readership, and definitely a diverse authorbase, who can write intelligently on a reasonable swatch of topics. At the very least there are folks like me who can write articles about Unix, Linux, Apache and so forth. There's folks like you who can write about the law (with at least some degree of authority), and so on. There are also, coincidentally enough, dedicated online forums for all of these topics.

The way I see it potentially working is that K5 is a vetting, peer review, etc pipeline for stories from me the author to them the focus site. By contributing through K5 I would be waiving any compensation I might receive directly, if we wrote directly for the site, and instead they'd pay K5 said fee.

This is not a get rich quick plan, as most of these only pay a pittance. However, if the content is good, which it could be, and the terms are attractive, which they also could be, there's some potential to generate at least a grand or two a month in revenue. The best part is that it's semi-self propogating, if it works out well. Say, for example, that I write an in depth piece on how to use Apache/mod_ssl/suExec to host hundreds of virtual domains on a single secure certificate. Lets say it bounces through the edit queue for a day or two, then gets a bunch of discussion and evolves into a full fledged two or three page article with good technical guts. You know, the sort of thing SysAdmin publishes all the time. I'd be able to email rusty and say, or potentially indicate at story submission, that this piece is for resale with proceeds to k5. It shouldn't require much infrastructure to support, it'd be one bit in the DB for him to keep track of. The hard part would be developing the relationships with content hosters who'd be interested in buying content.

You stupid wankers. Stop zeroing comments that aren't spam, it's just stupid.
Like
[ Parent ]

yeah but ... (none / 0) (#544)
by streetlawyer on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 06:23:02 PM EST

Lets say it bounces through the edit queue for a day or two, then gets a bunch of discussion and evolves into a full fledged two or three page article with good technical guts

Well if we're going to live in the realm of pure fantasy, why don't we just assume that kuro5hin is supported forever by a Marshall Foundation grant or something?

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

Oh come on (none / 0) (#712)
by Miniluv on Tue Jun 18, 2002 at 12:09:59 PM EST

You don't think there are one or two people who can actually write serious content for K5? I'm not saying that the discussion it generates will be particularly useful, but if a few useful comments come in they have the potential, strong potential, to turn a decent story into a gem that could be resold.


You stupid wankers. Stop zeroing comments that aren't spam, it's just stupid.
Like
[ Parent ]

what's a "hypermint"? (none / 0) (#400)
by Subtillus on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 01:46:10 PM EST

some sort of breath freshening device?

[ Parent ]
As Rusty points out (4.50 / 2) (#42)
by imrdkl on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 03:54:02 AM EST

there wasn't a lot of interest in the beginning. The first few articles got voted FP out of courtesy and support, but things quieted down after that. But the money that they (DIDWorld) was offering was good. 1000 bones/month.

It's my honest opinion, although I could be wrong, that there was more interest in the section than people were willing to admit, because they were generally pissed off about the section being pushed on them in the first place. I personally felt, and continue to feel, that DI and the related topics of security/authentication are quite important, but the general apathy combined with resentment and even aggression made it less inviting to post there for some of the less thick-skinned authors. (I personally enjoy a good queue-fight, so no hard feelings here)

Perhaps an exclusive section is too limiting. Perhaps a general "Focus On" section, with specialized topics for the sponsors might work out better, especially if they can get some limited (non-removable) FP exposure (as today with the DI box) at the same time.

[ Parent ]

..a state needs taxes.. (4.00 / 4) (#30)
by johwsun on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 03:36:10 AM EST

Post your annual budget. Then divide your budget sum to the current members number and demand this sum from every member.

New citizens should not pay taxes until they become trusted ones (reach age of 18).

That's backwards. (4.50 / 4) (#106)
by NFW on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:58:06 AM EST

Then divide your budget sum to the current members number and demand this sum from every member.

Someone just said that 90% of K5 readers aren't members and don't post. I'm assuming that's true (that's about right for most of the mailing lists I'm on).

These people account for 90% of the bills, too. Why ask the people who do contribute to pay for the costs run up by the people who don't? Why not divide the budget by the (estimated) number of unregistered users, and demand that sum from them.

I mean, besides the practical considerations... :-)

More seriously, see the proposal outlined in this post. It removes the burden placed on the system by the 'users' who contribute nothing but costs.


--
Got birds?


[ Parent ]

What to do (4.00 / 5) (#31)
by tftp on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 03:36:19 AM EST

Rusty,

Get a job. You think correctly, this is the most reliable way to stay alive. Other schemes are very risky. Offload maintenance to trusted leutenants, give them passwords.

You are unlikely, IMO, to collect enough money to run a non-volunteer site (such as with you as an employee). Even if this round brings you several thousand dollars, the second one will not. Times are hard, and I myself wasn't paid for last 2 months. Many people don't have jobs, or have poorly paid jobs. This is unlikely to change any time soon. If the invasion of Iraq commences, it will destabilize the economy even further.

One of the problems is the really small audience of the site. Most of names of people who write and comment here are known. Such a small audience does not have enough money to finance you. The bad economy affects them not less than you.

You can try to sell the site to Google. Not really sell - maybe just transfer it there. They already have computers and bandwidth, and probably maintenance won't be a problem for them.

Anyways, this is not the first case when money issues threaten a project that is good for humanity.

The concept of a central server is the flaw here, again and again. Can you rewrite Scoop for P2P networks? That would be nice. Freenet already supports Web pages (that's how it normally operates), but updates are quite slow. Still, it is possible to create a self-spreading, distributed "server", where each node pushes comments to other connected nodes. This can be done over email too; then each person would have his own copy, and diffs would be sent through a mailing list...

Not to sound banal. (3.50 / 2) (#35)
by valeko on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 03:45:31 AM EST

But as I understand, 90-95% of K5's audience doesn't post... and probably doesn't even have an account. The ones who actively participate in discussion are not at all an accurate determinant of the site's audience, as testified by Rusty's statistics on hits.

"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

The Great K5 Recount of 2002 (4.00 / 2) (#37)
by tftp on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 03:49:43 AM EST

90-95% of K5's audience doesn't post... and probably doesn't even have an account.

If they can't be bothered to open a free account, why do you think they will part with any of their money? That's why I dropped them from calculations.

[ Parent ]

This is true. (3.00 / 1) (#39)
by valeko on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 03:51:14 AM EST

I guess I was kind of focusing on your claim about the audience ... without a particular context.

"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Interesting. (4.50 / 2) (#97)
by NFW on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:44:44 AM EST

90-95% of K5's audience doesn't post... and probably doesn't even have an account.

If 95% of the K5 pageviewers go to people who don't post, the answer is obvious. Put K5 on Altercom (or similar) and require people to pay $1/year to get an account. That would bring the bandwidth to levels that a $25/mo account could deal with, while bringing in enough money to keep the site running for quite a while.

If 1 in 10 registered accounts actually pays the $1, that's 10 years of $25/mo service paid for. That's more than enough time for Rusty to get a regular job or cook up a scheme to bring K5 back to the public again.

There'd be no iterruption of service for people actually contribute to K5's content. As for the people who don't contribute but who do run up the bills... we'll figure a way to make them happy later. They're a lower priority anyhow.

I wonder how many of them would pay a buck to keep reading indefinitely?


--
Got birds?


[ Parent ]

Now, granted, I don't know this Altercom thing.... (4.50 / 2) (#101)
by valeko on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:50:09 AM EST

But what makes you think they're going to handle Kuro5hin's thundering bandwidth requirements for $25/mo?

"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

no thunder (4.50 / 2) (#119)
by NFW on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 05:17:04 AM EST

But what makes you think they're going to handle Kuro5hin's thundering bandwidth requirements for $25/mo?

My bad... When I wrote "pay $1 to get an account" I meant "pay $1 to get an account, and only allow registered users to see K5's pages." There won't be any thundering bandwidth requirements after people are required to pay $1 to see K5's pages. And (I suspect) before the bandwidth approaches thunderous levels, the money to pay for it will be in Rusty's pocket.


--
Got birds?


[ Parent ]

What about new members? (none / 0) (#418)
by aakin on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 02:09:49 PM EST

If you can't see the pages without paying, no one else with join. Granted, that's what many people want. But, that's a sure way into failure, since people do leave, and without people coming into the community, it's going to dwindle down to nothing.

[ Parent ]
Three thoughts. (none / 0) (#565)
by NFW on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 07:17:23 PM EST

That is a valid concern.

Perhaps the front page could remain world-viewable. It doesn't change often, so it won't get near as many hits as the whole site. Would people pay $1 to see more? I dunno. $.50? Why not? (Are there payment systems usable for such small amounts? A nonzero per-transaction fee could pose a real problem, but a small percentage of total revenue could be workable.)

Or perhaps the existing members could be encouraged to bring in new blood, either via trial memberships or by paying their way (at $1/person, this is not out of the question).

But mostly, this was intended to be a shorter-term thing, a bridge between Rusty's present state of cash-impaired burnout and some future sustainable means of keeping K5 public. I sorta like it as a last resort - if Rusty chooses to quit, I hope he'll consider this as a last resort before simply pulling the plug. It might be sustainable (as above) but even if it isn't it will give us a place to brainstorm new 'business models.


--
Got birds?


[ Parent ]

Correction. (4.50 / 2) (#123)
by NFW on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 05:20:36 AM EST

Put K5 on Altercom (or similar) and require people to pay $1/year to get an account.

Should have read:

Put K5 on Altercom (or similar) and require people to pay $1/year to get an account, and only allow people with accounts to read K5.

Leaving that out was a major slip-up on my part. Sorry.


--
Got birds?


[ Parent ]

Bandwdith is already free (5.00 / 1) (#373)
by bloog on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 01:22:25 PM EST

Voxel and Promicro (the friendly sponsors in the top right of your page) are already providing bandwidth and hosting for free.

[ Parent ]
Administration.... (4.00 / 1) (#408)
by NFW on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 01:53:39 PM EST

Right, but a scoop hosting service will take up the administration chores as well, thus keeping K5 alive while Rusty does something that he finds either enjoyable and/or profitable.


--
Got birds?


[ Parent ]

K5 is not dying... (1.00 / 4) (#425)
by dipierro on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 02:16:32 PM EST

Look at the numbers... K5 is profitable to rusty. It's not in any danger of going away. Rusty is just complaining because he wants to continue to be paid $60,000/year for his time. And I bet you he will, as you suckers are going to continue to pour in the donations.

I wish I had the woes of rusty, and was "only" making $1241/month off a site which gets bandwidth and hosting provided for free.


In capitalism, man exploits man. In socialism, it's the other way around.
[ Parent ]
Fuck you (3.66 / 3) (#497)
by paxtech on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:41:33 PM EST

Rusty's providing something that a lot of people find worthwhile. Why should he have to live like a pauper in order to keep doing it? How exactly does my deciding that what K5 gives me is worth $4 a month make me a sucker?
--
"Eggs or pot, either one." -- Ignignot
[ Parent ]
You're a sucker (1.00 / 1) (#510)
by dipierro on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 05:21:56 PM EST

Why should Rusty get paid more than twice as much as the average firefighter? Save your $4 a month and give it to someone who deserves it, if you want to donate to people providing something that is useful.
In capitalism, man exploits man. In socialism, it's the other way around.
[ Parent ]
Paid how much?? (5.00 / 1) (#667)
by Benabik on Tue Jun 18, 2002 at 12:54:55 AM EST

Pardon? $60k a year? I think you really don't know the realities of running any sort of business. Probably half of that goes to things like random hardware, corporate taxes, income taxes, etc. I personally won't be surprised if more than half of it went to things like that.

Rusty probably manages to get $35k a year... That's barely a reasonable salary for a talented programmer/sysadmin that's on call 24/7. Heck, I could manage to go out and get that in a few years of work. And he has no advancement opportunities, little to no benefits, no retirement plan... and if he does (doubtful for a 1 person company), it's only driving down his take-home pay more.

[ Parent ]

Rusty's salary (none / 0) (#711)
by dipierro on Tue Jun 18, 2002 at 10:27:24 AM EST

is $58,000. http://www.kuro5hin.org/comments/2002/6/18/608/54762/47#47
In capitalism, man exploits man. In socialism, it's the other way around.
[ Parent ]
..get a job... (4.00 / 2) (#51)
by johwsun on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:00:51 AM EST

comment number 31

[ Parent ]
P2P Scoop (4.50 / 2) (#56)
by Jel on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:04:45 AM EST

Can you rewrite Scoop for P2P networks?

Yes, that would rock.  If K5's future is uncertain, then even having K5's existing content always available on P2P would be great.  Having a working, updateable K5 on P2P would be the stuff of legend :)

Unfortunately, such things take work, and given this article, I don't imagine huge scope for such work.

Without trying to be a circling vulture,  I would like to ask Rusty the following...

If K5 does seem real close to disappearing, to release all of the content somehow.  Under GFDL, perhaps, if legalities allow it.  Some great articles have been writtent on K5.

Also, how about an explanation of how you actually started the site, if if hasn't been covered well?  Many of us would like to start communities like this, but can't imagine gaining such popularity.  Since the success of community sites usually requires some threshold level of users, I imagine this is valuable information.  Maybe you could even sell it, in a book or lectures, or something :)


[ Parent ]

I think that's a little premature... (3.50 / 2) (#87)
by valeko on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:39:19 AM EST

If K5 does seem real close to disappearing, to release all of the content somehow. Under GFDL, perhaps, if legalities allow it. Some great articles have been writtent on K5.

I'm not aware of anything that indicates K5 is even remotely close to disappearing. Sounds more like an issue of Rusty personally close to bankruptcy. And I don't gather from Rusty's tone that the problem is of a critical life or death urgency for him or the site, although it might get there soon for him if cash doesn't show up.

"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Well (4.33 / 3) (#108)
by rusty on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 05:00:20 AM EST

It's urgent for me. But no, I'm not even considering closing up shop. That's not really a discussion we need to be having at this juncture.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Rusty turns into Georgie! (none / 0) (#245)
by haflinger on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 09:47:18 AM EST

It's obviously getting serious.

Not at this juncture. Next you know, he'll be saying "Wouldn't be prudent" in that distinctive way that so marked the end of the '80s. :)

Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey
[ Parent ]

Not disappearing? (2.33 / 3) (#305)
by dipierro on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 11:46:37 AM EST

So this is just begging for money? Seriously, rusty needs to figure out what he wants out of this. If the purpose is to make a living off content created by others, well, then I think people are just going to move to that other site, when they can share knowledge for free. If the purpose is about doing something for the community, then it's a whole different story. If this site went open content I guarantee you it would be a revolution. Rusty can make that one decision and change the world, and the fame alone would bring more money than any donations are going to. I'm certainly not contributing my money to anything less.

Maybe if I could get a non-exclusive license to rebroadcast the content I'd be willing to pay for that. But I probably have a lot less money than rusty, so I'm not sure I'll be able to pay enough to convince him to let me do that.


In capitalism, man exploits man. In socialism, it's the other way around.
[ Parent ]
Yes, get a job. (none / 0) (#609)
by Bwah on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 09:42:13 PM EST

Not to try and run your life or anything, but ... :-)

You have got to look out for yourself and your long term career.

--
To redesign an infinite ensemble of universes: what terrible responsibility, what arrogance ... It sounds just like the type of thing your average Homo sap would do for a dare. -- Stephen Baxter
[ Parent ]

Why not try this Rusty? (4.16 / 6) (#33)
by Lai Lai Boy on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 03:40:16 AM EST

Greetings, friends. Do you wish to look as happy as me? Well, you've got the power inside you right now. So, use it, and send one dollar to Happy Dude, 742 Evergreen Terrace, Springfield. Don't delay, eternal happiness is just a dollar away.

Seriously, how hard would it be to get a buck from everyone - I'm a poor college kid, so the monthly memberships would greatly cut into my ramen money - but even I could pony up a Washington to help out K5.

[Posted from Mozilla Firebird]

payment (4.00 / 2) (#54)
by Hamster on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:01:22 AM EST

I'd pay, but:

I don't have money for a credit card / bank account. I'm just a student. If there was some way I could cheaply mail you money, without all the hassle, I would. I live overseas, though. The postage would be more than the money in the envelope.

[ Parent ]

Did you read this? (4.25 / 4) (#90)
by ti dave on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:41:54 AM EST

My comment, and Rusty's reply?
"If you dial," Iran said, eyes open and watching, "for greater venom, then I'll dial the same."

[ Parent ]
And did you read this? (3.33 / 3) (#94)
by ti dave on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:42:41 AM EST

My comment, and Rusty's reply?
"If you dial," Iran said, eyes open and watching, "for greater venom, then I'll dial the same."

[ Parent ]
Card (none / 0) (#625)
by Lai Lai Boy on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 10:40:09 PM EST

Personally, if there was an SSL dealie on the site where I put in the card number and K5 takes a buck I'd be done with it. The mailing address idea is idiotic with small bits of money - postage would be more than what I would be able to send. Put a section in the site and put on the front page.

[Posted from Mozilla Firebird]
[ Parent ]

An SSL dealie. (5.00 / 1) (#668)
by Benabik on Tue Jun 18, 2002 at 01:01:27 AM EST

A subscription is $2 per month. And he takes credit cards. The link is on the front page, that's where I found it. Next question?

[ Parent ]
Wallet (none / 0) (#722)
by Lai Lai Boy on Wed Jun 19, 2002 at 03:36:59 AM EST

$2 bucks a month...*checks wallet* I haven't had $2 uncommitted bucks in 4 months :P

[Posted from Mozilla Firebird]
[ Parent ]

If... (none / 0) (#695)
by ti dave on Tue Jun 18, 2002 at 05:56:24 AM EST

If you're really a Bellsouth customer, then postage will cost you less than 50 cents.
If you can't afford to send 50 cents, Mr. "I give ones", then maybe you should hang on to the money and save up for a rainy day.
"If you dial," Iran said, eyes open and watching, "for greater venom, then I'll dial the same."

[ Parent ]
OK... (none / 0) (#698)
by ti dave on Tue Jun 18, 2002 at 06:04:55 AM EST

Sorry, that last comment was a little snippy, but can you see my point?
"If you dial," Iran said, eyes open and watching, "for greater venom, then I'll dial the same."

[ Parent ]
Well (5.00 / 1) (#723)
by Lai Lai Boy on Wed Jun 19, 2002 at 03:40:14 AM EST

Heh, more than a little ;)

I don't like sending cash throuh the mail, there are never stamps at my house, and I some of these rural route mail men have stick fingers >_

[Posted from Mozilla Firebird]
[ Parent ]

part-time work? (4.16 / 6) (#38)
by danny on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 03:50:07 AM EST

Maybe running Kuro5hin could be just a part-time job rather than a full-time one - trying to raise $35k a year seems almost doable on the figures Rusty gives, whereas $70k obviously isn't. That all depends on whether Rusty could find a decent part-time job, though - part-time jobs seem to be quite hard to find, at least around here.

The "selling t-shirts" problem is a biggie. Even if textads, affiliate programs, etc. were bringing in enough money, they'd still require maintenance and administration... not a lot of fun.

Another option might be for Rusty to get a job and to hire someone else to manage Kuro5hin, maybe from somewhere where salaries are lower.

Danny.
[900 book reviews and other stuff]

Interesting - rusty, read this.... (4.40 / 5) (#44)
by valeko on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 03:54:56 AM EST

I of course don't know what's required in managing Kuro5hin apart from what Rusty has described, but on a whim I would suggest that delegating some jobs to a trusted team of volunteers would even be feasible. I'm sure there are many people who would love the prestige of having an administrative involvement in K5, and as long as the scope of their particular job is relatively narrow, wouldn't neglect it or refuse to do it.

For example, if you do enough to initiate someone into the Ways of the Helpdesk, I'm sure someone will gladly answer all those help@kuro5hin.org questions for you once they get the hang of it. Depends on what kind of questions they are, of course. Another trusted lieutenant could fiddle with forgotten account names and passwords in the database. I'm sure there are people out there who would love to contribute some of their efforts, as long as it's not that much effort and doesn't impose harshly on their time.

Taking that load off might leave you more time to work solely on technical issues, and maybe even enough time where managing K5 and working in a real job might be feasible without neglecting one or the other. I don't know.

"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Management problem (4.00 / 2) (#64)
by sticky on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:15:24 AM EST

Then rusty goes from having to do the work himself to making sure other people are doing their jobs. The more jobs he doles out, the more he has to keep on peoples asses. Dividing up the jobs would bring in diminishing returns. If you put your trust in 10 people, at least 1 or 2 are bound to let you down sooner or later (though maybe I'm just a pessimist).


Don't eat the shrimp.---God
[ Parent ]
So... (3.50 / 4) (#77)
by valeko on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:33:09 AM EST

Don't use 10 people. Find an optimal solution where diminishing returns are insignificant, but practical benefits, even if they are long-term, can be had?

"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

managing volunteers (4.50 / 2) (#122)
by danny on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 05:20:06 AM EST

Yeah, managing volunteers can be a lot of work. They key would be finding one or two people who are competent, comitted, and can earn the trust of both Rusty and the community... It's very dependent on the right people being willing and available.

Danny.
[900 book reviews and other stuff]
[ Parent ]

Problem (4.33 / 3) (#68)
by Stick on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:20:03 AM EST

"I'm sure there are many people who would love the prestige of having an administrative involvement in K5"

People like that generally only do it for the status, and fall apart when they have to do real work.


---
Stick, thine posts bring light to mine eyes, tingles to my loins. Yea, each moment I sit, my monitor before me, waiting, yearning, needing your prose to make the moment complete. - Joh3n
[ Parent ]

About help@kuro5hin.org (none / 0) (#552)
by dasunt on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 06:35:04 PM EST

Is help@kuro5hin.org mostly small questions about the website itself, or does it deal with user accounts/etc. If its mostly the former, then why don't we add a help mini-section (similar to diaries), where questions can be asked, answered by the community, or, in rare cases, voted to be forwarded to rusty?



[ Parent ]
Seriously (none / 0) (#265)
by Shimmer on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 10:27:15 AM EST

I'd be happy to contribute a few bucks to K5, but I really don't see the need to pay for a full-time sysadmin.

Sorry.

-- Brian

Wizard needs food badly.
[ Parent ]

full-time (none / 0) (#669)
by Benabik on Tue Jun 18, 2002 at 01:06:30 AM EST

k5 needs a full time sysadmin because it's problems don't occur on a nice friendly schedule. If the database becomes glitchy, should k5 go down 1 day because rusty can dedicate as much time as it needs to track down or should it go down for multiple weeks because he has to fix it when he's not doing work work?

Seriously, the idea of coming home from a job and then having to work on k5 is not a great concept. (I'm quite sure that, as fun as k5 is to read, keeping it going is work.) Part of what makes k5's atmosphere nice is the fact that rusty can give it the TLC it needs.

As a side note "k5" should probily go in the spellchecker as a valid word...

[ Parent ]

It's still not a full-time job (none / 0) (#734)
by Shimmer on Fri Jun 21, 2002 at 01:49:17 PM EST

Even assuming it needs to be babysitted 24x7 (isn't the quality of open source code supposed to be better than this?), it still doesn't require an entire full-time person.

For example, we could host K5 somewhere and share a baby-sitter sysadmin with other several other sites for far less than $70K a year, no?

-- Brian

Wizard needs food badly.
[ Parent ]

What about re-opening the store? (4.25 / 4) (#41)
by Stereo on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 03:53:48 AM EST

The other site sells merchandise too. I suppose thinkgeek takes care of everything and gives them a cut for using their name. We could also have some music or books reviews and allow readers to order them with one click. Yes, I do realise that we haven't had any book or music reviews recently.

I know I'd love a k5 blue mug :)


kuro5hin - Artes technicae et humaniores, a fossis


good idea, form a relationship... (5.00 / 1) (#435)
by joshsisk on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 02:39:29 PM EST

...with some retailer. Something like the relationship between Game Skins and Blue's News or Penny Arcade. If they can make k5 even a hundred extra dollars a month with little or no effort on Rusty's part, why not? Cafepress is also and option. I happen to know that they give Wil Wheaton a really good deal on merchandise, way better than their standard rate. Their shirt quality is not great, but I bet K5 could move a decent amount of mugs - again, with little effort on anyone's part.
--
logjamming.com : web hosting for weblogs, NOT gay lumberjack porn
[ Parent ]
[OT] excellent sig (none / 0) (#438)
by Arkady on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 02:45:40 PM EST

I've never seen your sig before, but its great.

That's all I wanted to say.  ;-)

-robin

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.


[ Parent ]
where my sig comes from (none / 0) (#498)
by Stereo on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:47:12 PM EST

If you're curious, it comes from this comment

kuro5hin - Artes technicae et humaniores, a fossis


[ Parent ]
Love (4.12 / 8) (#43)
by duxup on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 03:54:42 AM EST

Bummer rusty.
In my opinion K5 has taken blogs to where blogs haven't gone before.
I'm proud to have been one of the first subscribers, if only I could support K5 (and your cat) with love.


I love you (NT) (4.71 / 7) (#78)
by rusty on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:34:33 AM EST



____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Bang (4.20 / 5) (#45)
by kraant on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 03:56:53 AM EST

Just ponied up for 12 month account, *twitch*. I can afford it but it still bites into my budget. I just realized, rusty you earn double what I do, but hey I do live in a banana republic.
--
"kraant, open source guru" -- tumeric
Never In Our Names...
Ooops (4.66 / 3) (#52)
by kraant on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:00:55 AM EST

Scratch that, it's more like quadripple what I earn I forgot to convert between aussie $ to US $. Outsource the admin stuff to aussies you could get 4 of us for that price...
--
"kraant, open source guru" -- tumeric
Never In Our Names...
[ Parent ]
Or... (4.50 / 2) (#59)
by MikeyLikesIt on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:10:06 AM EST

After exchange, you could get around 3 Canadian Sys Admins for that price...

$70,000 seems a little steep... Maybe Rusty needs to move somewhere with a decent cost of living!

;-)

[ Parent ]

Take home (4.66 / 3) (#75)
by rusty on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:31:49 AM EST

I did move somewhere with a lower cost of living. Keep in mind that $70K is total annual budget. Figure 10% for miscellaneous expenses, another 10% for corporate taxes, then 33% for income taxes on my pay. My take-home is not extravagant. It's certainly less than I've made at any job in the three years before I started doing it full time.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Even with those numbers... (4.00 / 1) (#230)
by tzanger on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 09:28:59 AM EST

I am not telling you how to live, Rusty. I just want to add a datapoint.

Living in a town of 5300 in Ontario with three kids (two in diapers), a mortgage and two car loans, two (large) credit cards and a $10k line of credit maxed out (about $140k of debt, about half of which is mortgage), I am getting by on under $70k gross. Not stellar getting by, but we're all fed, I get the occassional toy (as do the kids <g>), the house and vehicles can be maintained, we can go see movies or out for dinner more often than average... you know, typical young family situation.

Oh yeah, I manage to get $75/wk into my RSP as well. :-)

Gross of $70k for a single guy running a small biz and impressing the ladies should be pretty damned easy in comparison, I think. I think. Not being in your shoes I obviously can't pass judgement but as I said, here is just another datapoint from a guy in the same tax bracket.

One other thing: talk to an accountant. There is no reason to pay 33% on income tax -- there are all kinds of loopholes and ways to get that number down, especially when running your own business. As soon as I have some more liquidity I will be doing the same thing. :-)



[ Parent ]
Actually... (4.00 / 1) (#247)
by aziegler on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 09:57:57 AM EST

Rusty may not have a lot of choice. The 33% is probably counting the full 15% that has to be paid for US FICA (unless that's part of the 10% corporate taxes). There's another 6.5% in the Medicare taxes. Rusty's paying between 12% and 20% of his income in taxes, which sounds about right -- I don't know if Maine has a state income tax or not.

-austin

[ Parent ]

Maine Taxes (none / 0) (#731)
by nhlinux on Thu Jun 20, 2002 at 03:23:48 AM EST

Unfortunately Maine has some of the highest taxes in the US. Including an income tax.


-----------------------------------------
nhlinux loves you 2x more than duxup
[ Parent ]
I believe... (5.00 / 1) (#460)
by ti dave on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 03:27:11 PM EST

that Rusty's married.
"If you dial," Iran said, eyes open and watching, "for greater venom, then I'll dial the same."

[ Parent ]
Yeah... (none / 0) (#511)
by terpy on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 05:22:42 PM EST

Put that woman to work!

haha, see - that was a joke. laugh. Laugh damn you!!!

-- Less foolish people know that we are living in the freest times we will ever know. It is all downhill from here. -Parent ]
wow. (none / 0) (#442)
by joshsisk on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 02:52:55 PM EST

No offense, but it sounds to me as though you are doing really well for yourself, especially considering how the economy is doing. Just to put it into perspective, you make about 3x what my parents earn _together_.

Not to sound negative at all, just pointing that out.

I personally would take a 50% pay cut over what I make now to run a labor of love like k5. That would leave me with just enough to pay the bills and have medical insurance, but it'd be nice to be my own boss.

Note : This comment is _not_ me volunteering to run k5 ;)
--
logjamming.com : web hosting for weblogs, NOT gay lumberjack porn
[ Parent ]
i just caught a comment below... (none / 0) (#444)
by joshsisk on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 02:56:25 PM EST

About that $70k figure actually being half of what you make, so n/m most of the above. But still, $35k is decent for a single young guy. I hope you can keep doing that well or better from K5. I'm optimistic that people will subscribe to the new services.
--
logjamming.com : web hosting for weblogs, NOT gay lumberjack porn
[ Parent ]
re: $35k for a young single guy (none / 0) (#447)
by Anonymous 242 on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 03:04:37 PM EST

It may be decent, but it is well below the going rate for someone with Rusty's experience and skillset. In the US, $35k is close to what someone fresh out of college with a CS degree and no experience can expect.

[ Parent ]
As goes the song by The Silhouettes (none / 0) (#453)
by dipierro on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 03:16:22 PM EST

In order to get paid at the going rate for your experience and skillset you have to do the actual work that demands your experience and skillset. Running K5 is not that difficult, and yes, this is an offer to trade places.
In capitalism, man exploits man. In socialism, it's the other way around.
[ Parent ]
yeah... (none / 0) (#486)
by joshsisk on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:14:47 PM EST

...and as I said, I'd take that sort of pay cut to be my own boss, and be involved with something like K5.
--
logjamming.com : web hosting for weblogs, NOT gay lumberjack porn
[ Parent ]
Decent? (none / 0) (#602)
by adamsc on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 09:22:08 PM EST

35K is entry level in Los Angeles / San Diego. Someone who really understands databases and web applications should be getting at least 50% more.

[ Parent ]
yes, but... (none / 0) (#707)
by joshsisk on Tue Jun 18, 2002 at 09:28:55 AM EST

As I said, personally I'd take a 50% pay cut to work on a labor of love type project such as this, and not have a boss (or even freelance clients) to answer to. Sure, you could say that Rusty answers to the K5 community, but not in the same sense that he would have to follow instructions/orders from a boss or client.

I'd definitely take a 50% cut right now if any of my various projects took off to a degree where I could afford to focus on them full-time
--
logjamming.com : web hosting for weblogs, NOT gay lumberjack porn
[ Parent ]

Single young guy, yes (5.00 / 1) (#732)
by fluffy grue on Thu Jun 20, 2002 at 01:37:40 PM EST

But rusty is married...
--
"trhurler: he's a bright ray of sunshine shoved right up your ass" -- Misery Loves Chachi

[ Parent ]

3rd World. (none / 0) (#738)
by a2800276 on Tue Aug 06, 2002 at 11:34:17 AM EST

Just to put it into perspective, you make about 3x what my parents earn _together_

So starting off on the calculation above, rusty ends up with roughly $35k, let's see: a third of that is ~$11.000. Well let's round up to $12.000. A thousand bucks a month. That's $500 each.

So you probably live in Guatamala or what?

Oh, and taking a 50% paycut for "a labor of love" is not really an option in the real world. Most people don't have 50% of their wages left over after the end of the month, even if they cut out "luxury" items.

Do you think your parents would be willing to take a 50% paycut, leaving them with a measly $250, in exchange for working on a "labor of love" instead of Taco Bell?

Oh and by the way, just as a reminder: Quit whining, if you think rusty makes too much money, don't pay! It's that easy.

[ Parent ]

Ditto (4.50 / 2) (#172)
by Benabik on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 07:19:21 AM EST

I'm a lazy ba...  uhhh, person.  I don't post often, and I didn't subscribe mostly on the concept of "Well, I'll get around to it" and "I don't care about extra stuff".  Doing the math, if I cut back on some random stuff I have no problem supporting helping to support k5 for a year.  But I put a more serious dent in my budget by going premium...  Hopefully other people can find room in their budgets.

I know that subscriptions are *unlikely* to solve the problem, but every $ helps, ne?

[ Parent ]

"Open" Administration? (4.37 / 8) (#48)
by MikeyLikesIt on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 03:58:26 AM EST

But ultimately there has to be someone who knows all the passwords, rebuilds the database when it freaks out at 3 AM, answers help@kuro5hin.org email, responds to the all-too-frequent ratings abuse complaints, soothes ruffled feathers, finds lost account names, keeps in touch with the hosting company, and generally serves as the public face of the site.

Why not have sort of an "open" administration system? It seems that trusted volunteers could handle many of these duties.

Please don't let K5 die!

Yeah! (4.50 / 4) (#53)
by valeko on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:01:09 AM EST

That's exactly what I'm saying.

Rusty, what's your take on the feasability of this? I'm guessing if it hasn't been thought of already, it's only because outsourcing the monkeywork wouldn't solve the fundamental problem due to the fact that the monkeywork just isn't big enough to justify training someone, finding someone you can trust, etc.

"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Origin of the problem (4.00 / 2) (#66)
by tftp on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:16:46 AM EST

I'm guessing if it hasn't been thought of already, it's only because outsourcing the monkeywork wouldn't solve the fundamental problem

IMO, it was not thought of before because Rusty intended to stay in the driver's seat. Volunteers are needed only if he takes a job elsewhere, and such a plan he did not actively entertain.

[ Parent ]

Option number two (4.00 / 2) (#91)
by rusty on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:42:02 AM EST

It's there. It's being entertained. I just didn't really want to get into a disquisition on ways to maintain the site on an unpaid basis. That's really the topic of another article, if it were to become necessary.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Also (4.66 / 3) (#72)
by rusty on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:28:30 AM EST

The monkeywork is complicated, and generally involves access to information that I'm bound not to disclose. So there'd have to be some kind of legal framework to it. Some way to ensure that one disgruntled or incompetent admin doesn't crap out the whole thing, and so on. My point is that the stuff I do would be hard to distribute. I'm the laziest person in the world -- if I haven't already found a way to shift work, it probably can't be done.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Sigh. (4.00 / 1) (#79)
by valeko on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:34:42 AM EST

Some way to ensure that one disgruntled or incompetent admin doesn't crap out the whole thing, and so on.

Yeah, it's unfortunate that we live in a world where such considerations even have to be made.

On the other hand, aren't you acquainted with enough trustworthy individuals all by yourself who might be willing to do it, and you know aren't going to screw you over? I mean, probably there aren't enough of these individuals to cover a massive spectrum of things, but who knows.

"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Yeah, well (4.33 / 3) (#89)
by rusty on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:40:31 AM EST

All of this is "how to keep K5 going if I can't make a living at it," which I'm sure would work out one way or another. It just wouldn't be much fun. Someone would have to be administering, and as administering is basically grunt work which no one does for the joy of doing it, the "get what you pay for" rule applies.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Harrumph. (4.00 / 1) (#96)
by valeko on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:44:21 AM EST

Someone would have to be administering, and as administering is basically grunt work which no one does for the joy of doing it, the "get what you pay for" rule applies.

I wouldn't be so pessimistic. If you divide the work enough, I'm sure many people would be delighted to contribute a little effort to running the best online community known to man. Of what calibre are these help@k5 questions, anyway? Surely you can find someone who'd get a kick out of answering them all day.

Or maybe I'm just incredibly, horribly naive. I dunno. It's just that lots of people here seem to have lots of free time. ;-)

"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Some People Care (4.00 / 2) (#130)
by joecool12321 on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 05:35:34 AM EST

I've posted my take already, but it's important to remember that some people care.  I work for a place that pays me $400 a month, and I love it. If I were in the Real World I would be making $40,000 a year.  A lot of what I do is grunt work, but a lot isn't.  But I get to work with people I like for a cause I believe in.

Obviously, Uncle Sam and My Grades are paying for school, or it would not be feasable.  But I think people are willing to go above and beyond.  I know I am.

--Joey

[ Parent ]

You need to discuss this somewhere. (4.00 / 2) (#150)
by Tezcatlipoca on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 06:03:44 AM EST

There are many way s to make sure people can work with data without compromissing the integrity of it. You have many experts here, some of them may be willing to help with ideas and procedures.
---
_._ .....
... .._ _._. _._ ...
._.. ._ _ . ._.. _.__

[ Parent ]
I was going to suggest the same. (4.50 / 2) (#80)
by Jel on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:36:00 AM EST

It seems to me that an open community could (and perhaps even should) be openly managed, too.

To combat all those personal nags, etc, why not simply add a (well-hidden) forum for posting such evil meta questions, and let people answer them, along the lines of "Review Hidden Comments"?

I expect that similar things could be implemented for most of the everyday administration stuff... it's not so long ago that K5 had manual editing, and I was trying to avoid requesting edits of my posts to save on workload.  Now that it's automated, I can do it myself without being a burden to anyone, and the quality of my next story will be better as a result.  (Well, that's MY theory ;)

K5 has three major voluntary contributors, as I understand it:


       
  • The users contribute research, articles, peer reviews, and general input.  This works because it is an open, flexible, and dynamic system -- people can come and go, contribute or be lazy, but the system remains.

  •    
  • The second, hardware contributions, work in part because they get something in return, a relatively prominent sponsor's advert.  However, it also works, in a way, because it is a dynamic system -- should one provider bow out, then another one can possibly be found to take their place.  Obviously, mirroring or P2P would make this a much more reliable piece of the puzzle.  It would also be great technology ;)

  •    
  • The final piece, as I understand it, is Rusty's (mostly gone, I presume) editing responsibilities/admin duties/public, community, and sponsor relations.  This component is not open.  It relies on one guy doing a sh*tload of work, and never tiring of it.

To me, the last one stands out quite strongly.  One word -- delegate.

Many email answering duties, as I just pointed out, can be handled by trusted users.  Admin... well, I don't know what's involved but web administration interfaces exist... just how trusted are your "trusted" users ;)  Is there any way to build a peer-reviewed admin process, or something similar?

Finally... I don't want to get personal here, nor am I trying to accuse you of greed, Rusty.  But $70,000 is quite a lot of money in my part of the world.  Maybe I'm just young, from an easier country, and easily pleased.  I certainly have a simpler lifestyle than most, but I could live happily on half of that -- probably less than half.

Decide whether this is a voluntary thing you're doing.. if so, then don't take on so much work... delegate, and be happy.  If it's a job, then treat it like a job, and ask yourself if $70,000 is a reasonable expectation for running a community site in an environment where unrelentingly commercial web companies like Amazon have to struggle.

[ Parent ]

Half (5.00 / 4) (#107)
by rusty on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:58:28 AM EST

Finally... I don't want to get personal here, nor am I trying to accuse you of greed, Rusty.  But $70,000 is quite a lot of money in my part of the world.  Maybe I'm just young, from an easier country, and easily pleased.  I certainly have a simpler lifestyle than most, but I could live happily on half of that -- probably less than half.

Me too. I'm an employee, and it costs about twice the actual salary to employ someone. Perhaps this wasn't clear, or most people just don't have much experience running a business, but $70K is not my take-home pay. It is, in fact, about half that.

I know you weren't trying to imply this, but I'm not out to get rich here. I just want a decent wage for doing my job. :-)

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

With your skills... (3.50 / 2) (#148)
by Tezcatlipoca on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 05:59:15 AM EST

... that pay seems very modest.
Anybody that knows how skills are paid know that you are not in this for the money.
---
_._ .....
... .._ _._. _._ ...
._.. ._ _ . ._.. _.__

[ Parent ]
Thanks (4.33 / 3) (#153)
by rusty on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 06:08:50 AM EST

Damn right. :-)

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
I agree (4.00 / 2) (#233)
by tzanger on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 09:31:05 AM EST

Anybody that knows how skills are paid know that you are not in this for the money.

I agree totally. Rusty needs to make a decision whether to work for peanuts for love, or to work for Tha Man and perhaps hire a few underlings to run K5 :-)



[ Parent ]
The more the merrier! (4.50 / 4) (#61)
by tftp on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:12:53 AM EST

Database quirk at 3am is bad for you, but someone in Europe would be comfortably considering lunch at that time. A single mailing list (called help@k5.org) would take care of all help issues, and a cron job would send mail to k5-admin@k5.org, so that all volunteers will see it.

[ Parent ]
Hire a couple of thousand salespeople (3.33 / 3) (#58)
by sticky on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:09:32 AM EST

Heh...no really. I submitted an idea a while ago that may or may not interest you. It would require a little (or a lot) of coding; I'm not sure how much. The comment is here.

As others have said, you will probably not find the magic bullet that will cure all of your money woes (short of going out and working full time) but this may help increase one revenue stream. I care enough about this site (and making a few extra bucks) to try and sell ads for you. I'm sure others here would as well.


Don't eat the shrimp.---God
Get a real job. (3.33 / 6) (#60)
by autopr0n on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:12:51 AM EST

Not to be harsh, but since you don't seem to want to work the k5 system to hard for cash, it's probably a good idea to look for a 'real' job.

It shouldn't be to hard for you, I'm sure you've made lots of contacts through the site and you can probably find something interesting and rewarding to do in the same 'feild' while taking in an extra $12k/yr from kuro5hin. I'm sure you could find a few more volunteers to help respond to help requests and admin the server.


[autopr0n] got pr0n?
autopr0n.com is a categorically searchable database of porn links, updated every day (or so). no popups!
Two words: pledge drive (4.58 / 17) (#62)
by inti on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:13:12 AM EST

Your local PBS radio or TV station is in a similar situation. They can can use advertising only very sparingly, since that's what sets them apart from the rest of the media world, and since it's nasty and undignified. k5 is kind of like the PBS of weblogs.

So what you need is the Pledge Drive. "The next donor at the $50 level will receive this lovely k5 tote bag!" And, of course, scoop is a perfect medium for such an effort. You could define a new posting type: plea for help. "50 cents of every dollar we spend on rusty comes from you, the posting audience." Sure, they're annoying, but PBS stations have discovered an important fact: their audience would rather be periodically badgered into doing their civic duty than be subjected to advertising and stupid programming. I imagine the k5 community would make the same choice.

So that's my solution. You could definitely get pledge volunteers. Rusty wouldn't have to do all the badgering himself. People could post testimonials about what k5 has meant to them, and how tragic it would be were it to disappear for lack of financial support. These could either go the normal submissions queue, or you could create a separate pledge drive queue, which would have different rules (lower posting threshold, perhaps, or more editorial control). We could have a little tracking meter, a progress bar on the side of the page, telling us how much money had been raised.

This approach could turn the need to raise funds into a community-building feature. Of course, the pledge drive would stop as soon as the target (say, 6 months of salary) was met.

Come to think of it, that's a good k5 slogan:

"k5: the PBS of weblogs"

Put it on a tote bag.

What do you think, sirs?


Claim your namespace.
Support the OpenNIC

Thought of that (4.87 / 8) (#69)
by rusty on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:24:06 AM EST

I've thought of that, and I do think it could work. I was thinking about putting a cheesy "income target thermometer" on the side of the page, and maybe doing it twice a year. It's certainly an idea, and it does fit with the general ethos of the place.

The contributions would not be tax-deductable, so we don't quite have that squeaky-clean non-profit thing going for us. On the other hand, I'm probably more open about our finances than most non-profits are. You know where the money's going, with us.

Anyone else think it would work? My other question is, is it even remotely possible we'd raise enough money that way. I know PBS and NPR are thrilled with a 20% membership rate. I suppose if we could harangue 20% of people with accounts to chip in $15, we'd only have to do it once a year.

Well, it's something to consider. Maybe July will end up being "pledge drive month." Oh god, would I have to be that annoying wheedling guy who always goes "Come oooon... you know you listen... can't you just spare a feeeew dollars, for all the fine programming you hear on NPR..."

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

In Person? (4.80 / 5) (#135)
by duxup on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 05:40:31 AM EST

I'd be willing to travel around and go to people's houses and interrupt them just when they're reading a good story or diary.

"Hi, we'll be back to our scheduled programming shortly (45 min).  We'd like to take a moment of your time to remind you that rusty's cat is starving.  *duxup holds up rusty's cat*"


[ Parent ]

Put Me Down! (none / 0) (#331)
by Rustys Cat on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 12:36:56 PM EST

or I'll scratch you!

But seriously, I would pay 15 dollars every six months or so just to feed Rusty's real cat.

[ Parent ]

why not non-profit? (4.20 / 5) (#182)
by tps12 on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 08:03:16 AM EST

I don't know anything about non-profit organizations, but since you obviously aren't planning on going public or selling k5 to VA Software or anything, what is to stop you from obtaining non-profit status?

Non-profits can and do have paid employees. But I guess there needs to be some kind of declared focus for a non-profit group. Maybe just the preservation of free, intelligent discourse?

Any way out of paying taxes is a good idea, since a large number of k5 users are not in the US. How do the Brits feel about $1 out of their $4 monthly subscription financing the USian military?

[ Parent ]

Management (4.75 / 4) (#185)
by rusty on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 08:11:42 AM EST

AFAIK, the big drawback to non-profits is that there are lots of regulations to comply with so Unca Sam can keep a close eye on you, since you're getting all this nifty tax-free status. It may be simpler just to be an s-corp, and deal with the limited taxation in exchange for not having to go through so many bureaucratic hoops.

The other problem with being a non-profit is there are restrictions on what you can and can't do, and I think advertising would probably stop being an option at that point.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Re: nonprofit (5.00 / 2) (#298)
by wierdo on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 11:33:44 AM EST

AFAIK, the big drawback to non-profits is that there are lots of regulations to comply with so Unca Sam can keep a close eye on you, since you're getting all this nifty tax-free status. It may be simpler just to be an s-corp, and deal with the limited taxation in exchange for not having to go through so many bureaucratic hoops.

I believe as part of being a nonprofit, you must have a board of directors, or some similar construction. Also, once your company becomes a nonprofit, the company and everything it owns is no longer yours. If I understand it correctly, it becomes public property, in essence.

As you have pointed out, however, the worst part of your situation is not the corporate taxes, but the personal income taxes, including FICA, Unemployment, Social Security, and all that other federal BS that sucks our income down to near nonexistent levels.

Personally, if I were in your position, I'd get some advice from a lawyer, and do one of two things: I'd either become a contractor to the corporation, thereby saving at least some of the payroll taxes, or I'd have the business rent some office space, which I just happened to be able to live in, also. :) Additionally, I'd have the business lease me a car, since the business can deduct the payments from its taxes.

Perhaps you could find a sympathetic tax lawyer who could help you find legal ways to make the most of the money k5 brings in, and lose less of it to the government. Having lawyers as friends can never be a bad thing. ;)

You also remarked about restrictions on the actions of nonprofits. IIRC, the only major restriction on a nonprofit is that you cannot endorse political candidates. In fact, most nonprofits just refuse to have anything to do with politics in general, to avoid violating that rule.

-Nathan



[ Parent ]
s corp (none / 0) (#499)
by valency on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:47:55 PM EST

If you're an S Corp you can cut your tax bill by taking dividends from the corp (no employment tax, capital gains rate) rather than paying out salary. Perhaps you're already doing this.

---
If you disagree, and somebody has already posted the exact rebuttal that you would use: moderate, don't post.
[ Parent ]
setting up non-profits (none / 0) (#621)
by adiffer on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 10:14:43 PM EST

It isn't as hard as it sounds.  The trick is to have a friend who is also a lawyer.

The paperwork load is relatively small.  The main thing to remember is that the non-profit must perform some useful community service a for-profit company is unlikely to provide.  You basically offer to become an extension of the community for which the local government does not have to pay or manage.  I see no problem here and can name at least a half-dozen useful services.

I helped found an astronomical society in Las Vegas, NV during 1980-81.  Just before I went off to grad school in 83, a new member joined up who happened to have law experience.  I handed over the non-profit paperwork I had acquired from the IRS and we were legel in short order.  Since then, the group has had to be a little formal regarding elections and money management, but it isn't hard to do.

When it comes to advertising, think of them as sponsors.  Every text ad becomes a sponsorship from a person or company.  The little give-aways handed out during pledge drives can have the sponsor's logos on them if those sponsors help cover the costs of producing the give-aways.

Before you get too hooked on non-profits, though, remember that the sponsorship model works with for-profit companies too.  Our rocket group at JP Aerospace relies upon them heavily.  Your sponsors will want something in return for their money, so you may have to think of some interesting stunts to make it work.  Conventions, contests, and other stuff can make it worth their time and money.

In the mean time, it doesn't hurt to have a job to give you the time you need to make the longer range plan.  Don't give it up, though.  Hard work on a 'hobby' can be made more palatable if you intend to turn it back into your primary income.

-Dream Big.
--Grow Up.
[ Parent ]

Do you mean that? (4.33 / 3) (#197)
by Anonymous 242 on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 08:21:39 AM EST

On the other hand, I'm probably more open about our finances than most non-profits are.
Non-profits corporations are required by federal law to provide a copy of their tax return to anyone who asks.

[ Parent ]
Uh (4.66 / 3) (#214)
by rusty on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 09:00:52 AM EST

Ok, true, but I just laid out our finances to all of you, and you didn't even want to know. :-)

That was tongue in cheek. I guess living in DC exposed me to a lot of "non profits" that operated a hell of a lot more like a standard business than we do. In DC the rule seems to be that if your company's main product is talk, you should be a non-profit.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

The dirty little secret of not-for-profit (5.00 / 6) (#218)
by Anonymous 242 on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 09:07:44 AM EST

The only real difference between a not-for-profit and for-profit businesses is that the former doesn't distribute profits to shareholders or principles. The abstract notion is that profits are incidental to not-for-profit corporations. In practice it means that the "profit" in not-for-profits corporations gets paid as salary to the high level executives. Hence, it can be quite lucrative to start a not-for-profit corporation.

Which is why I think it might be worth your time to investigate the not-for-profit option a little bit closer. Certainly, it gets more complicated. But that's why there's resources out there such as S.C.O.R.E.

I wouldn't think that k5 would run into any more problem selling ads than PBS or Church bulletins.

[ Parent ]

Yes (none / 0) (#549)
by rusty on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 06:30:27 PM EST

In practice it means that the "profit" in not-for-profits corporations gets paid as salary to the high level executives.

Hence the DC Principle. The thinking generally is that if all your costs are in employee salaries, you ought to be a non-profit. I agree that really, that's all I want K5 to be as well. I will look into it, definitely.

If anyone reading happens to be a lawyer, and wants to donate time or expertise to the cause, please email me.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Yes^200 (4.00 / 2) (#209)
by seb on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 08:53:30 AM EST

I'm not bothered about premium features.  I'd rather not have banner ads.  I really enjoy reading k5.  I should give something, I've been feeling a little guilty for a while that I haven't.  All it took was the prod of your latest article.  I just subscribed for 3 months, in the spirit of a pledge.  I'm going to suggest to some friends that they do the same.  I think I'm probably fairly typical.  I will spend about $50 / year on dead tree information sources; I'll spend $12 on a round of beers.  I really don't have a problem coughing up once a year.  This will work, I think.

However, it doesn't provide you with any long-term security, which may be a bad thing.

[ Parent ]

Not all of us have money though, (none / 0) (#430)
by Subtillus on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 02:32:53 PM EST

Some of us are stuggling to meet tuition as it is.

[ Parent ]
The idea... (none / 0) (#671)
by Benabik on Tue Jun 18, 2002 at 01:16:17 AM EST

...is that those who have even a little bit of pocket change around can. If you have any kind of income, $2 really just means not buying a couple sodas or something. Heck, I think my mostly broke apartment has much much more than that laying around in a change cup upstairs. (I love living in the basement.)

[ Parent ]
I think it would work (5.00 / 2) (#268)
by dennis on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 10:32:46 AM EST

I'm a regular here, and the reason I haven't contributed any cash is that it seemed to be rolling along just fine without my help.

Keep me posted regularly on the financial status, and I'll be glad to do my bit when it's running short. You'll see my full membership coming in this week.

[ Parent ]

This is exactly right (4.50 / 2) (#304)
by peace on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 11:46:12 AM EST

While I enjoy K5 it does not consume a large portion of my thoughts during the day. Of those thoughts even fewer of them are about the business needs of K5. A pledge drive is just a reminder as well as a motivator that it is time to pay the bills. I need the the thermometer, I need to know what my money is going to and when it is needed and how much. The ratio of people trying to take money out of my wallet to people trying to put money in is about a billion to one. And there are so many good causes to contribute to.

I think that the suggestions of incorporating as a non-profit and running pledge drives are the best ideas I have seen.

Kind Regards,
peace

[ Parent ]

ditto (none / 0) (#536)
by anon868 on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 06:10:14 PM EST

I'm subscribing tonight. I hadn't subscribed because I never realized money was that short. I'll echo what I posted to another thread- I think a 'pledge drive' would be an excellent idea.
Open a window. No, not that one! One made from actual glass, set in an acual wall, you dork.
[ Parent ]
For what it's worth... (3.50 / 2) (#275)
by fuzzcat on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 10:44:48 AM EST

I've thought of that, and I do think it could work. I was thinking about putting a cheesy "income target thermometer" on the side of the page...

For what it's worth, I like this idea even if we don't have a full blown K5-a-thon. Might help motivate people like me who have been meaning to subscribe but just haven't gotten around to it yet.

[ Parent ]

"k5: the PBS of weblogs" is an excellent (4.85 / 7) (#187)
by wiredog on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 08:13:08 AM EST

I am a subscriber to k5, and a member of WETA my local PBS/NPR station. Since k5 is already a de facto non-profit, why not make it a de jure non-profit? Then everyone (in the US, anyway) who subscribes, or otherwise donates money, could deduct such money from their taxes, and k5 wouldn't pay taxes. Voxel, or whoever gives you hosting in the future, could deduct those costs from their taxes. As the Business Majors say "It's a win-win solution!"

If you did the PBS type thing, you could get grants from various foundations as well. Look at how PBS does it. Maybe your local PBS station would be willing to give you some pointers?

Of course, waiting until the money's gone to start worrying about what to do when the money's gone isn't exactly an optimal solution...

Can't sleep. The clowns will get me.
[ Parent ]

K5 Pledge Drive (4.00 / 2) (#272)
by fuzzcat on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 10:36:01 AM EST

I find your comment to be very insightful and your K5/PBS analogy to be at least mostly on target. Cheers to you.

I finally got off my rear and paid for a full membership. I could only afford six-months worth at the moment, but I fully intend to renew.

I'm fighting the urge to write the "if-we-all-just-bought-a-one-month-subscription" paragraph. Much like Rusty, I know that we won't.

I know that Rusty doesn't want to get in the business of selling tshirts and merchandise, but I wonder if it would be possible to "outsource" it. We could handle the whole thing as a community effort, channeling all profit right back into K5 as donations or some such thing. Of course, we would need Rusty's approval for any such thing.

I don't claim to speak for the community on this though. Someone with a post-to-lurk ratio as low as mine could (or at least should) never claim to do such a thing. I do wonder if such a hair-brained concept would work though.

[ Parent ]

Kuro5hin: the Public Blogcasting System. (nt) (3.50 / 2) (#372)
by scanman on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 01:22:24 PM EST


"[You are] a narrow-minded moron [and] a complete loser." - David Quartz
"scanman: The moron." - ucblockhead
"I prefer the term 'lifeskills impaired'" - Inoshiro

[ Parent ]

It's quite simple (4.69 / 13) (#63)
by Stick on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:14:45 AM EST

I don't think you've exploited the text ads to their full potential. It isn't going to sustain itself if the main advertisers are the site users. You need to get other businesses advertising. You'll be happy to know it isn't difficult either
  1. Create a page on the site aimed at businesses who may want to advertise. Explain the type of user on K5, the amount of traffic, the average click through rate, how it can benefit them. Sales text! Refer companies to this page.
  2. Target small-medium companies whos product actually has a good chance of getting sold via text ads (happy advertisers are repeat advertisers). A good example would be small web hosting companies. Target them first. Don't bother with large companies, since they don't need text-ads (they work on a bigger scale)
  3. Offer a special premium service to advertisers if they want it. For example, sell advertising in bulk (if a company gets sales via an ad they will use this)
  4. Keep targeting and approaching companies. You should give yourself a target. Approach 30 companies a week. Don't just approach them via e-mail, the phone is better.
That's it. Make a page, and contact companies and refer them to it. Of course, there's more to it than that, but that's the basic jist.

Of course, if you want to make a quick buck you could always let me have an ad to goatse.cx :-D


---
Stick, thine posts bring light to mine eyes, tingles to my loins. Yea, each moment I sit, my monitor before me, waiting, yearning, needing your prose to make the moment complete. - Joh3n

Good points (4.00 / 3) (#105)
by Jel on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:57:48 AM EST

I'm not a big fan of advertising, for reasons Rusty mentioned.  But I do agree that if you're going to use them, use them a little better.  I actually find TEXT ads OK, now that I've seen them.

Also, the Haiku Ads were pretty cool, and innovative.  I might be showing my lack of commercial understanding/interest here, but perhaps if companies (not K5 users) were invited to make "themed" ads, they would find clickthroughs a lot higher, and much more interest generally.  They might even remember K5 as "that fun place to advertise on".  How about different a few different text ad themes (as many as possible, I guess)?


[ Parent ]

Nice idea (3.50 / 2) (#118)
by Stick on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 05:13:59 AM EST

K5 text ads are already srong where it counts. They're cheap (unless your making no money off them), they have good click-through rates, and theres a large audience looking at them. Those are the most important points. Themed ads could help as well, and make text ads here stand out from other websites offering them. Of course, you have to be wary of making text ads intrusive (which is we hate banner ads).


---
Stick, thine posts bring light to mine eyes, tingles to my loins. Yea, each moment I sit, my monitor before me, waiting, yearning, needing your prose to make the moment complete. - Joh3n
[ Parent ]
Hrm... (2.66 / 3) (#65)
by autopr0n on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:16:03 AM EST

I'll probably get some more textads once I get my credit card paid off. Last time I made $9 off $12 and 4k impressions.

But... have clickthrough's gone down at all?


[autopr0n] got pr0n?
autopr0n.com is a categorically searchable database of porn links, updated every day (or so). no popups!
Pledge Drive (3.80 / 5) (#67)
by harryh on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:18:56 AM EST

This is a somewhat radical idea, and I'm not entirely sure of the implications but I'll go ahead and throw it out there.

You should have a pledge drive.

Option A (less drastic): in very large letters on the top of the K5 main page say something to the affect of "We need $35,000 and we need it now. So far we have $9,842.34. Click here to donate (donations apply to premium memberships)."

Option B (more drastic): K5 goes dark until you collect $35,000. Remove access to all K5 content and replace the main page with what I said in Option A. Further indicating that K5 will come back when sufficient funds have been raised.

Predicting the effeciveness of both options is left as an excercise to the reader. :-)

-Harry

Won't work (3.00 / 2) (#74)
by tftp on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:31:22 AM EST

"We need $35,000 and we need it now"

People who donate money will do so without such theatrics. People who will not donate money (for example, people who don't have much) won't be convinced.

The problem here is that K5 needs $70K yearly, and the active readership is small (< 500, I'd guess). This amounts to $150 from each reader, and if only 10% donate (which is a lot!) then donors will need to pay $1500 each. That is too much.

Option B (more drastic): K5 goes dark until you collect $35,000.

"Out of sight, out of mind", as they say.

[ Parent ]

Maybe not (4.33 / 3) (#99)
by rusty on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:47:24 AM EST

the active readership is small (< 500, I'd guess)

Depends what you consider active, I guess, but last month 2826 distinct users posted comments and 935 posted stories (including diaries). If everyone who posted a comment gave $30 durng a pledge drive, that would do it. Now, of course, that's not going to happen, but on the other hand, a surprising number of "lurkers" do contribute a lot financally.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Lurkers Pledging (4.00 / 2) (#178)
by Benabik on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 07:37:27 AM EST

but on the other hand, a surprising number of "lurkers" do contribute a lot financally.
I have to agree there. I'm definitely a "lurker" myself. Just my introvert personality, I lurk a lot IRL too unless I'm with a group I already know. But I rely on k5 for interesting discussions to watch and pure amusement, too. I happily paid for a membership when prodded with a big stick (i.e. this story). Maybe pledge drives would work better than people think. ((Maybe paying for a membership was worth it. Spellcheckers are useful.))

[ Parent ]
Re: Lurkers (4.00 / 1) (#289)
by wierdo on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 11:15:31 AM EST

Well, I mostly lurk, and thanks to this story, you now are $48 richer, minus credit card processing fees, of course. :( Until faced with the real possibility of k5 going away, I didn't feel the need to buy a subscription. You're lucky, though; if you had waited much longer to post this story, that money would be on its way to NMA, instead of you. I hope you're happy.. ;)

Now we just have to convince all the other poor bastards like me to subscribe, too. If I can do it, making <$10,000/yr, surely they can, too!

-Nathan



[ Parent ]
One more time on a marathon (none / 0) (#429)
by nutate on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 02:28:53 PM EST

I have income to dispose of. I'm sure I'm not alone in this. I just dropped $48 for the subscription, and I would give more if I got a painted rock paperweight or something for a marathon pledge.

In my previous comment I brought up the freeform radio station WFMU, and how it gets by completely by listener support. Kuro5hin could possibly do the same. Cool Tchotchkes are the key, if people have neat stuff to get, it feels like buying cool limited edition things instead of pledging money.

Just restating the same idea. If I were you, I wouldn't worry about 17 year olds without credit cards who are afraid of paypal and all the million special cases. If you can hit the readers of this site who may not be the squeaky wheels with some sweet deals for their cash, you could possibly survive off of a website.

Personally, if I were you I'd look into freelance carpentry or something like that to do on the weekends, something outside of the computer world to pay the rent.

-Rich

[ Parent ]

I disagree (4.33 / 3) (#208)
by nosilA on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 08:49:14 AM EST

I'm lazy.  Very lazy.  I only signed up for a membership because it was talked about in the diaries.  But I'm not heartless, and I have some money.  So if it were very apparent that Rusty needed money, and very easy to provide some of that money in a donation format, I'd do it.

A progress indicator on the front page would satisfy this need in me, and I'd probably donate more than just my membership.  I'd also buy a coffee mug, or donate $50 to get a free coffee mug, or whatever.  I just need it to be easy and for me to have some incentive (moving a progress indicator counting as an incentive).  

I know not everyone is like me, but I find it hard to believe I'm completely unique.

-Alison
Vote to Abstain!
[ Parent ]

Two Words (none / 0) (#295)
by joeyo on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 11:29:32 AM EST

Progress Indicator!

--
Sure, Dubya has the brainpower of a muppet, but this fuss over terms is rediculous. -- Parent ]

$70k? Some suggestions. (4.00 / 6) (#71)
by vastor on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:27:01 AM EST

There must be some pretty horrific expenses in keeping a single employee in the USA for it to be that high (though it does fit the rule of costing the wage again in expenses).

Possibly getting rid of the Inc and becoming a sole trader would elliminate much of the account keeping costs (since I'm assuming a company needs to be audited, as a sole trader you can do it all yourself).

Setting up as a corporation was probably overkill in the first place.

Even a $40k wage and $10k expenses would make for $50k rather than $70k, which is far more achievable. I really don't think it is cutting down to the minimum if things are at $70k. It may help to think of kuro5hin as a hobby rather than a corporation. A non-profit association rather than company may provide for a more favourable to tax situation as well (depending on what things are like there).

If this is a community, then USD$70k to cover one person seems waaaay over the top.

Options 1 & 2 seem the most practical. Option 1 probably isn't practical without real belt tightening/efficiency gains over that $70k figure.

If the incorporation is an (expensive) protection against being sued, becoming an association should provide the same protection at lower cost and quite possibly other options exist as well.

But really, lets loose the whole business aspect. It just doesn't sit well with being a community. We aren't customers, it is inappropriate to refer to people as such.

Some fundraising options?

Require people to have contributed atleast one month membership before they can vote on stories or rate comments.

Restrict comments so that they can't be made by non-subscribers until 3hrs after the start of a story (or some other fine tuned number).

Auction stories off, so if I see a story I really like, I could put 5 days worth of subscription towards it being voted up. We never did get the ability to auction off/bid on the site wide poll, which is something I thought would be very nice.

Insane fundraising auctions. Given the attention Rusty's cat got, something whacky like a tin of its catfood autographed by Rusty might make for a quite interesting thing that people would bid on.

Sell subdomains of kuro5hin, let someone else run mail.kuro5hin.org and split the profits 50/50 with you (or whatever arrangement suits).

Find a publisher that'll pay big bucks for a story about a .org bubble bursting (I'm not claiming any of these ideas are good).

I'm sure some good ideas will come out of it, the realist in me however doubts that kuro5hin is worth $70k/year however (which isn't to say it isn't a great site, but $70k is a lot of money for what it does).

$70K is actually very low (4.50 / 2) (#83)
by tftp on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:37:52 AM EST

Even a $40k wage and $10k expenses would make for $50k rather than $70k

You don't take into account the taxes. These are paid just because you exist ($780 or so), and because you employ someone, and because you have an office, and because you must have insurance, and because you'd better have a lawyer, and because...

Normally, a company spends twice the salary to employ someone.

$70k is a lot of money for what it does

That's the lowest cost of doing business in USA. But more than one poster (including you) suggested something that might work.

[ Parent ]

Auction off? Please, no. (4.00 / 1) (#98)
by Jel on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:46:23 AM EST

Some good ideas there.  I posted some similar points of view myself.

But auctions?  That would be entirely unsuitable, in my view.  Auctions are entirely incompatible with a voting system.  What if someone could elect Bush because he had more money than everyone else and bought out the election?  Or did that happen, already?  ;)

I gather this was discussed in the past, and didn't make it.  That was a good thing, IMHO.

[ Parent ]

Where some money goes.... (none / 0) (#567)
by fencepost on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 07:22:02 PM EST

Corporate taxes take a chunk, though probably a fairly small one. A good accountant might be able to get rid of most of that depending on how K5 is set up.

Paying for services like a good accountant likely takes a chunk.

Payroll taxes (assuming rusty's paid as an employee) take a significant chunk. If he's not paid as an employee then he's considered self-employed and they probably take about as big a chunk (e.g. social security/FICA is 7+% off your check if you're an employee, or ~15% if you're self-employed. For employees, the total amount is the same, but it's divided between the company and the employee.). That's a possible area of savings - if rusty's an employee, he only pays the employee portion of FICA, and the corporation may be able to do some deducting of the other part based on profitability.

Insurance premiums take a chunk, even without (as I expect) medical coverage of any sort.

Having a lawyer on retainer takes a chunk.

Finally, even after the takehome is figured out, there are US income taxes that probably come out to somewhere between 25% and 30% of what rusty gets paid.

$70,000 a year for K5's revenue out of which all of the above have to be paid is if anything pretty low.


--
"nothing really says "don't hire me, I'm an idiot" quite as well as misspelling "pom-pom" on your resume." -- former Grinnellian
[ Parent ]

Can I ask an incredibly naive question? (4.00 / 5) (#73)
by valeko on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:30:42 AM EST

Why was Kuro5hin incorporated in the first place? What are the benefits of doing this? Can't you be your own, non-profit organisation and eliminate those corporate taxes? Doesn't supporting yourself and the site fall well under non-profit motives? I mean, K5's not a business.

"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart

Liability (4.33 / 3) (#84)
by rusty on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:38:12 AM EST

Originally it was just for a liability shield. At this stage in our corporate existence, it may be well worth considering a re-incorporation in a different form. Possibly as a sole proprietorship (though that provides virtually nothing in the way of liability shielding) or even as a non-profit.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
What kind of liability? (4.00 / 2) (#88)
by valeko on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:40:27 AM EST

Liability from what? Is being sued a serious proposition? And as the sole stakeholder, the proposition that liability is divided among stakeholders in a corporate entity isn't really that beneficial, is it?

"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Liability issues (5.00 / 2) (#103)
by rusty on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:53:43 AM EST

When you open up a place and invite anyone to say what's on their mind, defamation lawsuits become a very real probability. Not to mention DMCA issues, copyright, and so forth. Today, in the US, you'd have to be insane to run any kind of public media without having pretty bulletproof legal protection.

Also, it's not a matter of spreading out liability among shareholders. The key is that the corporation is the entity that gets sued. If we lost, the corporation is liable, not me personally (with a few exceptions that aren't likely to happen). I.e. a losing suit won't wreck my credit rating forever.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

I see. (3.50 / 2) (#109)
by valeko on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 05:00:35 AM EST

When you open up a place and invite anyone to say what's on their mind, defamation lawsuits become a very real probability. Not to mention DMCA issues, copyright, and so forth. Today, in the US, you'd have to be insane to run any kind of public media without having pretty bulletproof legal protection.

Really? Sorry if I'm wasting your valuable time with all this, but you've made me extremely curious now. For instance, how, through the course of what essentially amounts to bulletin-board style discussion on K5, does someone arrive at the idea of suing K5 for defamation? I don't understand. But I don't know a thing about corporations, legal issues, or the real world. ;-)

What DMCA issues? Is it illegal to advocate not following the DMCA?

I could certainly see potential copyright problems, though, I guess.

But still, there are a whole tonne of places on the 'net where people can say what they want. Why does that make your corporation liable? What about disclaimers? "Me Rusty not responsible for illegal activities or defamation on this site. We're just a medium." It's the first time I've heard this, to be honest. Why shouldn't end users be liable for what they say here, for the most part? Or does law simply not make that distinction in the context of a website, and attribute all content to its real publisher/administrator? Still, the only logical problem I would foresee is copyrighted stuff getting posted without permission.

And is a weblog really a sophisticated enough medium to be called a media enterprise and a proper member of the "media economy" entourage? Seems almost unreal.

"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

For one thing (5.00 / 2) (#117)
by Jel on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 05:13:47 AM EST

People here often know what they're talking about, and the truth hurts.  Especially to big companies that have big secrets ;)

[ Parent ]
Countless reasons to sue (5.00 / 3) (#215)
by FlipFlop on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 09:01:45 AM EST

There are countless reasons someone may sue K5.

Someone could allege that K5 systematically overcharged credit cards, and file a class-action suit.

The hosting company may sue alleging that K5 owes $50,000 for bandwidth. Even if it's not true, the lawsuit itself would cost a fortune, and K5 could still lose.

Someone could link to DeCSS with a textad. Since K5 took money for the ad, it may lose its status under the DMCA's safe harbor provision.

In the real world, there are law firms that collect patents, and run around extorting money from people who might be violating those patents. The way the USPTO hands out patents, there is a very real possibility that the Scoop engine violates somebody's patent. The cost of one patent lawsuit could keep K5 running for a couple decades.

While a website can obtain safe harbor status for copyright violations, I do not know if the law provides a safe harbor provision for defamation, slander, or libel.

In the real world, when you say things that upset certain organizations (e.g. Scientologists, corporations) they look for ways to shut you up and/or discredit you.

AdTI - The think tank that didn't
[ Parent ]

I know all this! (none / 0) (#488)
by valeko on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:17:06 PM EST

But, is it realistic to expect that something as relatively small and insignificant as K5 would be targeted? It's not worth it. It's just not big or wealthy enough. Does that not eliminate a lot of potential issues?

"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Worth it? (none / 0) (#673)
by Benabik on Tue Jun 18, 2002 at 01:22:11 AM EST

Small, helpless targets are what they aim at. People with enough money to afford that a lawsuit can fight back, something these kinds of vultures don't want.

[ Parent ]
It's a strange thing (none / 0) (#653)
by aphrael on Tue Jun 18, 2002 at 12:09:26 AM EST

US law, that is. In theory, of course, Rusty could get out of any potential suit by wrapping himself in the cloak of the first amendment and shouting loudly at every passing media member. But that costs money. One of the reasons many lawsuits are settled out of court is that legal costs and lawyer fees are horrendous, and it's easier to just settle and pay than to fight it out.

In the case of the types of things K5 could concievably be liable for, that's only part of the issue. K5 is, in essence, in a legal vacuum: there are no laws which directly cover the kind of beast it is, so different judges will apply different laws by way of analogy. And the question is, which analogy will succeed?

Is K5 a common carrier (eg., like the phone company)? Clearly not, because it isn't 100% content neutral --- spam is removed by the admins. But by removing spam, K5 might be liable under US or state law (or even international law, if for some reason someone denies the holocaust and it comes to the attention of the german authorities) --- one of the controlling decisions for internet regulation came out of a prodigy case, where prodigy was denied common carrier status because it moderated its forums, and so therefore was considered to be required to remove posts which violated federal law.

Even beyond that --- in a world where websites can be prosecuted for linking to content which violates the trade secrets of the church of scientology, anyone running a site like this would have to be insane not to worry about it from time to time.

[ Parent ]

S-corp or LLC (5.00 / 2) (#125)
by cameldrv on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 05:22:33 AM EST

If you redeclare your status as an s-corp, or reincorporate as an LLC, you can get the pass-through taxation of a sole proprietorship or partnership. You should be able to pay out part of this as dividends which aren't subject to the FICA taxes. There should be virtually no disadvantages for your size business. You also keep your limited liability. The s-corp option may be the best for you because as I understand it, declaring s-corp status does not cause a taxable event. Note, this is just from my personal experience in running a business, as well as additional reading I have done. I am not a lawyer or accountant, and you should talk to one or both of these before doing any of this obviously.

[ Parent ]
What you could do... (4.00 / 3) (#81)
by Stereo on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:36:25 AM EST

Do like everybody else, write a book about weblogs :)

kuro5hin - Artes technicae et humaniores, a fossis


You mean, join the zoo (none / 0) (#397)
by Miniluv on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 01:42:56 PM EST

Write an O'Reilly book, something like "Building Communities with Scoop". Picking the animal might be difficult, but I'm sure that crew has plenty of experience with soaking the front cover for all the irony it deserves.

Really though, Scoop seems to be a pretty popular community site framework. I seem to remember that there's at least one Slash book out there, and not of the homoerotic sort either.

You stupid wankers. Stop zeroing comments that aren't spam, it's just stupid.
Like
[ Parent ]

Something that's worked elsewhere... (4.60 / 5) (#82)
by Electric Angst on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:36:44 AM EST

Over at Something Awful, they had a funding problem. One of their solutions was to charge a fee for new memberships to the forums. $10 to register an account. It's actually reduced the number of crap-flooders and gimmic accounts, earned the site some money.

Then again, their admin also follows the "real job" option. But I figured any ideas would be welcome.


--
"Hell, at least [Mailbox Pipebombing suspect Lucas Helder's] argument makes sense, which is more than I can say for the vast majority of people." -
Freelancing? (4.00 / 4) (#85)
by Alias on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:39:00 AM EST

I agree with all those who say you should get a day job of some sort. That's probably the smartest way to pay your bills.

Have you considered freelancing? From what I understand, maintaining K5 takes a lot of time. Freelancing would hopefully allow you to manage your time between money-job and K5-job.

The downside is, of course, that you will have to manage your time. Also, freelancing is not the safest way to get money: it's quite unpredictable.

Anyway, you can congratulate yourself on one point, Rusty: you got me subscribe to K5. One year, full membership. Yay me!...

Stéphane "Alias" Gallay -- Damn! My .sig is too lon

Arithmetic (2.66 / 3) (#93)
by Herring on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:42:32 AM EST

I just worked out that a year's full subscription cost me less than 15 pints at the pub next to work - that's 3 days worth of beer. OK, I'm going to have to work hard to convince the other half that the $48 is not a porn site subscription, but it seemed mean not to chip in.

Cor - and I have a speelchecker as well now.


Say lol what again motherfucker, say lol what again, I dare you, no I double dare you
F*x0r the rating system (4.00 / 10) (#95)
by Will Sargent on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:43:03 AM EST

$1 to give a comment a -1.
$5 to nuke a comment.
$10 to put your story on the front page.
$20 to nuke a story.

Ideally, this should only work on freeloaders who have no right to complain anyway.  Just think of all the money you could make from comment wars.

----
I'm pickle. I'm stealing your pregnant.

This is the best horrible idea I've read yet. ;) (4.00 / 1) (#128)
by traphicone on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 05:29:08 AM EST

The part of me that starts arguments just to hear people fight finds this an incredibly interesting proposition.

The part of me that knows the difference between a gasoline and white grape juice is horrified.

I at least wish there were some site out there that did do this. What a thought!

"Generally it's a bad idea to try to correct someone's worldview if you want to remain on good terms with them, no matter how skewed it may be." --Delirium
[ Parent ]

Story wars (4.00 / 1) (#151)
by joecool12321 on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 06:06:59 AM EST

Whichever side has the most votes, wins.  So you get queue wars that make money!

"How much will you pay to keep this crappy story of the front page?  $20 will register your 'nuke' vote."

"Love this idea, despite what those trolls say?  $10 is all you need to keep hope alive."

"You don't care?  Apathy will be the death of our nation!  $100 to register your 'I don't care' vote!"

--Joey

[ Parent ]

I like this! (none / 0) (#479)
by afree87 on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:01:40 PM EST

Except $20 seems far too little to nuke a story. I'd be asking for something like $100, and no restrictions on resubmitting the story. You could just leech money from the politicians until they give up! ;)

The Kuro5hin Censorship Bazaar
-1 comment ratings, $5
-100 comment ratings, $10
+7 comment ratings, $10 (well, you know people will love to make themselves trusted, so the comment might also be exempt from trusted calculation)
COMMENT NUKE, $20 (of course, the author of the comment can repost it)
Display your ad on FP for half an hour, $20
+100 comment ratings, $30
Instant FP, $40
STORY NUKE, $100
Exemption from all censorship in this price list, $150
Exemption from comment ratings lower than 3, $300
User deletion, $1,000

Got any more ideas?
--
Ha... yeah.
[ Parent ]

The Register Tariff (none / 0) (#563)
by fencepost on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 07:08:37 PM EST

The Register Tariff

This is a bit old, but perhaps......
--
"nothing really says "don't hire me, I'm an idiot" quite as well as misspelling "pom-pom" on your resume." -- former Grinnellian
[ Parent ]

My ideas (4.28 / 7) (#102)
by marcos on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:51:38 AM EST

Kuro5hin is a nice site, and considering the number of people who visit the site, it should be capable of making an amount of money.

Economics, Inc.

But all the same, you have to consider how it makes money. If one depends on the goodwill of users, then it is a risky proposition. Building an economically sound weblog means introducing a money making scheme that is not dependent on the goodwill of users, but will function so long as people are visiting the website.

Textads do have the potential to be economically independent of the site, but not the way rusty has currently implemented them. What should be done is move the textad serving over to another outside company. That way, textad advertisers do not have anything to do with kuro5hin, but only with the textad serving company. The company can then focus on aggresively marketing itself to other customers, something that Kuro5hin cannot do too well.

Fore example, textads.biz or the Filenavigator textads could also serve textads to Kuro5hin.

That way, rusty, it will be unneccesary to have a haiku or limerick contest every few weeks - face it, it won't work forever.

I'll discuss more money making schemes as well as the premium subscriptions later in the text.

Rusty and Job

Rusty, even though K5 has got potential, in its current state, K5 is not a real money maker. It isn't even financially independent. You have a clear choice:

  • Work on making sure K5 is not only financially independent, but will also grow. Growth is very neccesary for all business. You would have to explore a lot of money making paths.
  • Get a job, and delegate responsibility of K5 away from you to other admins. Find a bunch of people whom you trust, and give them editor status, and at the same time let them answer help questions, handle mod stormings and such. Find one or two people you absolutely trust, and give them the password to the admin cupboard.
70000$ a month will be ok for you right now, but in a few years, you will need more money. You either make K5 make that money for you, or you find a job.

Now, I know rusty doesn't really want to go look for a job. He'd prefer to continue being independent and running K5. Face it, who the hell won't?

I'd say rusty, take a year from this date, and work on making K5 not only be self-supportive, and making money for you and your wife, but having prospects of growth. If you cannot reach your goals in a year, then you give it up, and find a job. Face it, the longer you wait, the less valuable you become.

Constructive criticism

Growth. Innovation. It seems to me that K5 has been stagnating around the same concepts for a long time. There haven't been any drives in new directions.

Textads

See discussion above.

Normal ads

Normal ads are annoying. You might bring them back, but try not to piss off your user base. It would piss off people if you said that only premium users suddenly did not have to see the ads. I'm a premium user, so no bias here.

Just add features for premium users, and don't take away features from normal users and give them to premium users. This is a user contributed site, so the last thing you want to do is annoy the 100 or so users who submit stories.

I like the idea having ads for the people who don't have accounts. The fact is, people who have accounts are more likely to contribute comments. When they contribute comments, they are more likely to get involved in the site. They get sucked in. When they are sucked in, and under the heavy influence of the K5 drug, they are more likely to buy textads and register to be premium members.

Since registration is free, at some later date, if the economics don't work out, you can always bring ads to normal users who aren't premium subscribers.

K5 shop

I see absolutly no reason why you don't make a cafepress K5 shop. It costs you nothing, and might make you some money. All you do is aks users to submit designs for t-shirts and mugs and keyholders and mousepads. You then upload the pictures to cafepress and then fleece us all out of a few bucks. No risk, but gain.

Premium subscriptions

You have to keep premium subscriptions interesting. I don't know if you work actively on scoop, but if you do, then think up new features, and keep adding them to Premium. Then, once a month, you post a story about the new features, and what premium subscribers are getting. That way, interest will not wane, and the premium feature will become even more interesting and useful. At the same time, ordinary users are not losing out because you are not taking anything away from them.

Also, make a sample account that show people how the premium features look like, so they can test them out for themselves before commiting.

You don't have a lot of german users, but if you did, you could also add the money-transfer-through-bank-payment-option.

Features that could be added:
- Expanded user info, with the option of adding photographs. Someone will have to check for goatse though.

Expansion of services

Well, I'm very much biased, but I'd suggest exapnding to include features from my other idea. That is a niche service that can be markeatable to lanaguage learning schools, and will expand you audience internationally.

Selling scoop

If you get everyone that contributed to it to agree, you could also think about selling scoop for commercial use, and keeping it open and free for personal use.

Changing the focus of the site

K5 is on and off interesting. Often, there is a lot of crap on the front page that I don't read. Sometimes, there is interesting stuff. I suggest making K5 change its scope a bit, so that it becomes more regular and interesting. For example, you add a news section which is regularly updated by editors. That way, someone who stumbles on the site always finds something interesting.

Generally, the site just seems to be stumbling, and is dependent on the current user base it has. I don't think this is the best method. It should be a bit more focused, and a drive towards interesting content should be made. K5 isn't slate, but perhaps it can borrow some ideas.

Other

I'm running out of time, but there are lots of other ideas. My basic premis is that K5 should not stagnate. It should innovate, and that innovation should lead towards it making money and growing. That is the only way a succesful business can be run; a business that you will actually be able to live on, rusty.

Don't change the content! ;) (4.00 / 1) (#113)
by Jel on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 05:08:12 AM EST

K5 is on and off interesting. Often, there is a lot of crap on the front page that I don't read. Sometimes, there is interesting stuff. I suggest making K5 change its scope a bit, so that it becomes more regular and interesting.

Most folks aren't interested in the same stories.  Few are interested in them all.  Don't change content at all, I love it the way it is.  I suspect many others do too, and it might be suicide to mess with that.


[ Parent ]

And you never know what you might find out (4.33 / 3) (#141)
by joecool12321 on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 05:46:43 AM EST

I think my readership of k5 has made me a more informed, well balanced individual (certain deviant tendencies aside).  But seriously, on the whole crap gets thrown away, and good stuff makes it.  Usually, the stuff that makes FP is worth reading, even if you aren't particularly interested.

--Joey

[ Parent ]

a few thoughts: (4.75 / 8) (#110)
by momocrome on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 05:02:27 AM EST

I would like to expand on the section "5. Some other crazy scheme" for a moment. There are a few possibities I can think of that might be worth pursuit in this rather vague categorie.
  • Firs: the 'generous patron' approach. In the past, this type of sponsorship was typically the purvue of the landed nobility, but everyone here is probably aware that the concept of 'landed nobility' has been secretly replaced with the concept of 'corporations'.

    A small few of these corporations are actually moral and honorable, organizations ranging from PBS, the BBC and General Motors (er, NPR), stretching off into government institutions like the NEA, the Smithsonian, the Library of Congress and wending along to include private endowments, charities and even a few estates. All that it would take to secure such patronage would be lucid supplication and a good mailing address for each potential patron.

    Imagine: "Kuro5hin.org - brought to you by the Oprah Winfrey foundation and a grant from the Phillip Morris Trust". Sort of like selling the site, but more like getting a job maintaining K5.

  • Next up: a K5 book deal. I know this same idea has been met with furor on at least one other site, but their ham-fisted methods are to blame for that. It would be simple enough to arrange for the stories to be sorted, voted on and such to arrive at a set of potential inclusions, and then secure whatever permissions necessary. No doubt many an prideful author should volunteer their essay directly. Why, I know I would- And all my comments, too.

    I think a collection of some of the site's better stories and a selection of some of the better comments would look quite fine on dead trees.

  • Three: I had a three. really. But I've gone and forgotten it in the time it took to write the above. Suffice it to say that there are other approaches, other options than mere Tshirts and Banner Ads.
I'm certain that there is a solution and I will gladly do anything I can to help (cept's the subscription, but I'm broker than I have ever been in my life :( I haven't worked a real job in over a year. Hard to land a gig with Geekizoid as my last resume entry. Not sure why... I will pony up with my very first paycheck though!)

"Give a wide berth to all that foam and spray." - - Lucian, The Way to Write History
Government (quibble) (none / 0) (#465)
by Scrymarch on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 03:32:18 PM EST

organizations ranging from PBS, the BBC and General Motors (er, NPR), stretching off into government institutions like the NEA, the Smithsonian, the Library of Congress

The BBC is entirely publicly owned, funded by a regressive tax on TV sets.  As I understand it PBS relies on a good deal of federal government money as well.

[ Parent ]

Quibble? (none / 0) (#572)
by momocrome on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 07:39:09 PM EST

What on earth could be the confusion? These entitites are most definately 'corporations' regardless of the variety or novelty of their source of income. A corporation is a specific legal construct both in the US and Great Britain.

To illustrate the point, please refer to the Corporate facts sheet for PBS, the entire website of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Charter of the BBC. This should make the matter most clear for you indeed.

"Give a wide berth to all that foam and spray." - - Lucian, The Way to Write History
[ Parent ]

British Broadcasting Corporation (none / 0) (#720)
by Scrymarch on Tue Jun 18, 2002 at 07:25:09 PM EST

Though the BBC et al are technically corporations, it seems to me the cultural difference between government funded and for-profit organisations is such that it hardly warrants the corporation label and all the "taking over the world" memes associated with it.

Point taken, nevertheless.

[ Parent ]

E X O D U S ! Move Ment of Jah People. (2.14 / 7) (#111)
by snowlion on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 05:04:33 AM EST

If the load was less on K5, then I think Rusty would have an easier time of things.

We can break up, and move out to the regions of our interests.

Make new Scoop sites for the many missing topics. ^_^ Federate and K.I.T.

Move! Move! Move! Move! Move! Move!

--
Map Your Thoughts

united we stand, devided we fall (4.66 / 3) (#115)
by boxed on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 05:12:27 AM EST

The diversity of k5 is half the point. Many different voices means different views and that means good discussions. As the Vulcans say: Infinite Diversity Through Infinite Combinations.

[ Parent ]
Our Diversity is GREAT, but K5 can't take this. (4.00 / 2) (#142)
by snowlion on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 05:47:37 AM EST

Diversity is indeed our greatest strength here. We have a great mix of clique and inter-clique going on. I think it's wonderful. I love it. (Well, in-as-much-as anyone can "love" a crack habit.)

It's just...

I don't think that K5 can take the pounding.

I'm not saying that I want us all to break up. I'm not. But time is limited. We like each other. We may or may not see each other again. So I think that it is nearing time for us to sign each others yearbooks, and get ready to go to our respective colleges.

Or maybe K5 is repairable, that this can work out. Right? In which case, there's no problem.

It was just a suggestiong.
--
Map Your Thoughts
[ Parent ]

No, no (5.00 / 4) (#146)
by rusty on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 05:53:49 AM EST

This isn't an "I'm shutting the site down unless you cough up!" story. If that ever becomes a serious option, you'll know well beforehand. This isn't it. Anyway, that only happened in the dotcom days, when the founders would figure out that they weren't gonna get rich off their brilliant web idea that they didn't really care about. That won't be happening here.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Oi Rusty! (4.33 / 6) (#112)
by hulver on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 05:04:46 AM EST

Where did the donate option go? When you moved to the new subscription thing, it disappeared.

--
HuSi!
Er (4.33 / 3) (#136)
by rusty on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 05:40:56 AM EST

It did disappear indeed. A straight "donate" was on my todo list. On the other hand, if you're gonna donate, why not just get some subscription months? At least leave me with the pretense that it's pay for service.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Ok (nt) (3.00 / 2) (#140)
by hulver on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 05:46:24 AM EST



--
HuSi!
[ Parent ]
Premium service, and donations (4.00 / 1) (#282)
by ka9dgx on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 10:59:08 AM EST

I'd donate to prevent the differentiation that comes with premium service. I want this to be classless, and am willing to pony up to keep it that way.

--Mike--

[ Parent ]

Money trouble (4.33 / 3) (#116)
by infraoctarine on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 05:13:43 AM EST

The irony - this article came up less than 12 hours after I finally decided to sign up for premium membership. I'm sad to hear it's this bad, but I can't say I'm surprised. It seems like most websites are desperately struggling to get some income at the moment.

Rusty, I think you're right when you write that the membership revenue will not be enough. People still don't want to pay for web services (ask Yahoo). The people who might consider getting a membership are mostly the regular posters, and even if many of them will become members, it's not enough. The regular posters aren't that many. Definitely not thousands.

In order to get some revenue from all those readers, I think you should give banner ads another try. Personally, I'd rather have the ads than seeing K5 fade away and die. If I can get rid of them by becoming a member, even better! That way, at least you'll get some income from every reader, member or not.

Let's look at some numbers gleaned from other posts in this article: K5 serves 6.5M pageviews/month. Ads pay at most $0.5 per thousand impressions. Say that you can place ads on 5M of those pages, 2 ads per page would give you $1 per thousand pages. That's $5k/mo, or $60k/yr. Am I doing these calculations wrong? Because this doesn't look like peanuts to me.

I'll put it simply... (2.33 / 9) (#120)
by FuriousXGeorge on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 05:17:20 AM EST

let me moderate comments again and I'll give you money.

--

-- FIELDISM NOW!

My Take (4.62 / 8) (#121)
by joecool12321 on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 05:17:53 AM EST

Misconceptions of Fundraising

The church I attend and do video work for is currently raising money for property and a building in southern California.  The total estimated expense is $8,000,000, if I remember correctly.  We have roughly 6,000 regular attendees.  However, raising the money is not simply a process of asking each attendee to write a check for $1,334.  Nor will it work to ask every member of kuro5hin to send in a buck.  

For whatever reason, raising money tends to follow a power regression.  Roughly twenty percent of the people account for eighty percent of the funds.  We've gotten one of our two expected $1,000,000 checks, and two or three $500,000 checks.  Obviously, this money pushes us much closer to our goal.

Community and kuro5hin

With internet sites, there is necessarily a lack of community.  Even a site like kuro5hin, which focuses on community, doesn't have regular face-to-face interaction that many other forums do.  There is no "meet the press" for kuro5hin.  

I think that translates into a wider gap in the fund generation.  It may very well be that kuro5hin will have one percent of the people account for ninety-nine percent of the funding.  It certainly seems like it's been this way so far.

Fundraising for kuro5hin

I think a proper understanding of where the money is going to come from will help focus efforts to raise money.  Appeals to the masses might make sense, but they are ultimately ineffective.  Rather, target the top ten percent of kuro5hinites, because they already see the value of k5 the clearest, and have the most to loose if it goes away.

I think finding a way to foster community might be helpful, too.  I'm not sure exactly how to do this.  With over 300,000 visitors, there is definitely diffusion of responsibility.  There has to be some way to overcome this.  One way is to make the community `feel' smaller, so that individuals feel more integrated, and thus have a heightened perception of individual responsibility.

Grants

PBS gets a significant amount of money from grants.  These grants come from many different places (Fannie Mae, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, etc.).

Does anyone more familiar with the granting process know if there's a way kuro5hin could be viable for grants?  It would probably have to set itself up as a NPO (but that means your donations would be tax-deductible).  I also know the USFG has a wide range of small business grants available.

I could do more research, but perhaps someone is already familiar with the situation?

Community Involvement

I make $400 a month.  Gross.  I take home about $300 a month.  I have school.  I have no money.  If there were another way to be involved, I would be.  And I am fairly involved in comment posting, although I don't write as many essays as others do.

It seems like much of your "load" could be distributed to other users. I know this isn't something that is of much interest to you, because of the problems that can happen in giving away control.  However, it seems like a threshold has been crossed (and crossed some time ago).  You may need to let go some, in order to get a job, or to focus on some specific aspect of kuro5hin. I know there are willing and knowledgeable people that would help.  And there are people that are willing and knowledgeable who also share your vision for k5.  Use them.  You have to.

--Joey


Payed membership (4.72 / 11) (#124)
by duncanp on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 05:20:42 AM EST

This may strike you all as naive and ignorant ;) but I have been reading this site for nearly 2 years and I *never* realised that you could have a payed membership.

I just checked my account options and found the small link. Perhaps you could make this option and it's benefits more obvious. I would have signed up long ago, if i had been aware that it existed.

I can't be the only one who has not noticed this?!


er, did that make sense?

duncan
See site news, and under the ads (4.00 / 3) (#133)
by rusty on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 05:37:19 AM EST

It's been around for a while, but has been de-emphasized since we lost the OSDN deal. I just re-launched the new, improved subscriptions on Friday.

For anyone who missed it subscribe here.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

What about a plain vanilla donation link? [n/t] (4.00 / 2) (#137)
by joecool12321 on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 05:41:36 AM EST



[ Parent ]
It got brokeded. (3.66 / 3) (#156)
by traphicone on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 06:13:30 AM EST

See?

You can also get a text ad and just consider it a donation where you get to say something nice and get looked at, too.

"Generally it's a bad idea to try to correct someone's worldview if you want to remain on good terms with them, no matter how skewed it may be." --Delirium
[ Parent ]

Yeah, (5.00 / 2) (#193)
by FredBloggs on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 08:16:08 AM EST

accept money via paypal, nochex (uk only so you`ll have to get a uk account or something)...do anything you can to make it easy to donate a little money on a whim.

[ Parent ]
Subscriptions/donations (4.00 / 2) (#195)
by dachshund on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 08:20:33 AM EST

Just subscribed. Truth be told, I'd much rather just have donated. I miss the text-ads. I'm sure there's some way to bring them back if I hunt around in the preferences, but getting rid of them almost seems counterproductive. They're hardly annoying. Other than that, thanks for everything, Rusty. You've done a really great job with the site.

[ Parent ]
User Preferences (4.00 / 2) (#213)
by rusty on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 08:58:29 AM EST

None of the features are required. Hit "User Preferences" for the selector to turn the ads back on.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Oops! Thanks again. n/t (none / 0) (#256)
by dachshund on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 10:15:32 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Why not put a subscribe link on every page? (4.33 / 3) (#409)
by keenan on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 01:56:24 PM EST

I just logged out [which caused me to lose the first write of this message] to see how obvious it was to subscribe -- plain and simple, it wasn't.  The 'Premium Membership' link at the left was decent, but why don't you put a link to the left of the 'Create Account'/'Submit Story' button in bold or a different colour to make it stand out.  

Also, I checked out the Create Account link and it didn't have any option for the premium membership / subscription.  It didn't even mention it.  It doesn't seem likely that the first time a person logs on that they'd want to subscribe, but at least it'd provide more visibility for it for new users for when they realize what a great community kuro5hin is.

BTW, I'm waiting for the "pledge drive" to start before I give more money. :-)  I think it's an awesome idea.  Make sure that you provide a separate option to display the "thermometer" for premium members -- I'd want to see it, but I'm not up for seeing text ads anymore.  

Bloody hell, there's also a bug with the spellcheck.  [Yeah, I guess it could be considered a feature.]  I was wondering why an earlier message I sent didn't get posted.  My assumption with spellcheck was that after I hit preview/post for the first time, it'd clear that box because there were no errors and I'd then post.  Didn't expect the box to still be checked, so I never ended up sending the message.  [It just happened to me again on this message -- kind of a pain for it to never uncheck itself.]

Keenan

[ Parent ]

Spellcheck bug (4.00 / 1) (#535)
by rusty on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 06:08:57 PM EST

Didn't expect the box to still be checked, so I never ended up sending the message.  [It just happened to me again on this message -- kind of a pain for it to never uncheck itself.

I agree. It should be either checked by default, or not checked by default, depending on what you set it to in your prefs. We'll fix that.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

I know the feeling (4.75 / 4) (#249)
by pauly on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 10:01:42 AM EST

A while back, I made a decision to actively give one year's subscription to sites like kuro5hin that I count on.  For me, that boiled down to Salon and kuro5hin.

I first went to Salon. I knew exacly where to subscribe there, the offer peppered every article I read.

Next was Kuro5hin.  I searched and searched to no avail.    Finally, I used google's advanced search to search all of kuro5hin.org for the word "subscribe."  I don't believe the link was even the first hit.  

In other words, I completely agree with previous posts.  Make the subscription option as perspicuous as you can.  Make it clear to all active and casual readers that subscribing isn't just to purchase in convenience of ad-free reading anymore, it's a investment in the future of this unique and valuable resource on the web.

[ Parent ]

Job, pledge, patron, K5 expertise. (4.00 / 3) (#126)
by Tezcatlipoca on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 05:26:09 AM EST

Community stuff is normally a matter of love. very rarely one can make a living out of helping the community.

Your cats need the security that only a regular income can offer. Get a job and do it now, real life can't wait to see if your users are good involved people or not.

Try also a 2 weeks pledge drive, requesting a one off donation and making as much noise about it as you can in the site (yes a big banner in the front page or something). I think and hope that most people here care enough to send you some money. Sometimes people (specially communities) need to concentrate minds to solve problems.

Get a patron. I am not jocking. There are many big wigs in the IT industry that may be willing to shell out some money to help in exchange of getting good karma from the community.

Finally, you have many talented SysAdmins, programers, etc that read the site. This being a community site may need a community administration effort in which you call the shots but certainly delegate other mundane stuff to others.
---
_._ .....
... .._ _._. _._ ...
._.. ._ _ . ._.. _.__

One problem is... (4.00 / 2) (#129)
by gordonjcp on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 05:35:14 AM EST

... that both methods of payment require some sort of credit card. Outside the US, it's a lot less common for people to use credit cards for everything. Certainly in the UK, most people seem to stick with debit cards. The simple reason for this is that pretty much any cheque guarantee card or cash machine card you get also works as a debit card. So, since having a debit card is free, and works, there's not a great deal of point in *paying* to use a credit card. Consequently credit cards are quite aggresively marketed in the UK.

Anyway, I've scoured the site for a "real life" address, but I can't find one. It would be easier just to send you a cheque, or better still, money order, from the UK.

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


Real Life (5.00 / 2) (#134)
by joecool12321 on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 05:39:55 AM EST

There's a "real life" address in this article at this post.

Send to:
Rusty Foster
124 Pleasant Ave,
Peaks Island, ME  04108
USA

Checks Payable:
Kuro5hin.org Inc.

--Joey

[ Parent ]

Rusty: confirm? (n/t) (3.00 / 1) (#168)
by gordonjcp on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 07:01:39 AM EST


Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


[ Parent ]
Yeah (5.00 / 2) (#171)
by rusty on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 07:11:45 AM EST

Click the link. :-) Yes, that's the spot.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Maine??? (none / 0) (#284)
by ka9dgx on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 11:03:54 AM EST

I always ass-u-me-d that Kuro5hin was based in San Francisco for some silly reason. (Could it be the logo?)

Maine?

Gosh... that is low cost housing.

--Mike--

[ Parent ]

Another benefit (none / 0) (#448)
by Erbo on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 03:05:54 PM EST

Not to mention...cheap lobster! :-)
--
Electric Minds - virtual community since 1996. http://www.electricminds.org
[ Parent ]
logo (none / 0) (#458)
by Arkady on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 03:22:33 PM EST

That's not the Golden Gate bridge; that's the Tacoma Narrows bridge, most famous for vibrating itself apart in a light breeze.

Rusty did live in S.F. for a year, but you should read his old diaries to see how much he hated it.  ;-)

-robin

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.


[ Parent ]
Uhh, can't debit cards be used like credit cards? (none / 0) (#381)
by kestrel13 on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 01:28:30 PM EST

I don't have a credit card here (in US) but my debit card to my checking account can be used in exactly the same manner as a credit card..is that not true of other debit cards? Atm cards are a different thing, they can only be used to get money from cashstations. But my debit card can be swiped/used online/etc. in the same way as a credit card.

[ Parent ]
Yep, that's about it... (none / 0) (#439)
by gordonjcp on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 02:51:42 PM EST

In the UK, though, you can use an ATM card as a debit card (mostly). However, not many online places outside the UK handle them well, or indeed at all.

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


[ Parent ]
Bring on the banners *sigh* (2.00 / 4) (#131)
by S1ack3rThanThou on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 05:36:39 AM EST

I guess its the only thing left to do. I can't chip in anymore, I'm already a full subscriber, and all the other options look rather risky in terms of breaking the feel of this place.

I wish you'd told us earlier Rusty, maybe we could have been more helpful before you got so close to not getting paid!

Other than that all the suggestions for increasing the likelihood of someone becoming a subscriber are good.  I guess you really need to sell subscribership. Oh yeh, and a pledge drive wouldn't do any harm, surely?

Good luck

"Remember what the dormouse said, feed your head..."

Corporate Posting (4.00 / 5) (#139)
by salsaman on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 05:45:41 AM EST

It's a long shot, but how about this: allow companies to purchase a 'corporate posting'. Companies could post a question or something along the lines of 'how can we do this', 'should we do this', etc, anything (but not advertising). There are so many smart people on here it could be really useful for some organisations.

Well, as it stands it probably wouldn't work, but maybe some kind of variation along these lines would.

the k5 thinktank? (4.50 / 2) (#145)
by joecool12321 on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 05:52:50 AM EST

Heh, probably not the best idea.

Plus, what's to stop BigCo from starting an account and posting an article which avoids specifics, and posting to "Help!"?

But it's a good attempt at thinking outside the box.

--Joey

P.S. Heh, sort of a self-referential post.  Rusty posted, "something along the lines of 'how can we do this'".  Hopefully there are enough, "smart people on here" to find an answer!
.  

[ Parent ]

It has gone missing (none / 0) (#704)
by walwyn on Tue Jun 18, 2002 at 07:53:47 AM EST

Government Says "The Box,"
The Standard Of Conventional
Thinking, Is Missing

The National Institute of Standards and Technology reported that "the Box," the official government standard for conventional thinking, is missing from its suburban Washington headquarters. "This could have a devastating impact on businesses who claim they think outside of the box. Without it they have no verification," said a spokesperson for the agency. Security guards at the facility have not determined how the irreplaceable item was stolen though they did conclude it was through unconventional means. "I'm ruined if they don't locate the box. All my clients hired me because I assured them my approaches were far beyond its boundaries. Without government certification for thinking outside of the box I'm just like anyone else looking for a gimic to get work," said a business consultant who specializes in startup companies. An FBI agent assigned to the case indicated he intends to search eBay for the missing government property.


----
Professor Moriarty - Bugs, Sculpture, Tombs, and Stained Glass
[ Parent ]
Hmm... (3.33 / 3) (#143)
by m0rzo on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 05:48:24 AM EST

Well, Rusty - I really can't afford to chip in any more than becoming a subscriber (which I was planning to do anyway). I'm not sure whether membership would kill the site but I'd be willing to pay a small fee for an account. I also wouldn't really mind a banner ad at the top of the page so long as there were no pop-ups.

What happened with Digital IDs aswell?


My last sig was just plain offensive.

What's REALLY so bad about banner ads? (3.60 / 5) (#144)
by SvnLyrBrto on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 05:49:32 AM EST

Maybe that's a dumb question.  I DO know that we have quite the few anti-corperste, anti-advretising, anti-blahblahblah types here.  But of all the advretising I'm routinely exposed to, banner ads are about the LEAST obnoxious.

So long as they:

1)
Do NOT use obnoxious java/javascript/flash/animated gifs/etc.  (ala. "punch the monkey")

and

2)
Do NOT leave obnoxious cookies to track my browsing (ala. anything doubleclick)

I don't especially have any problem with banners, and don't block them.  The time they add to a page's load speed is insignificant even when the DSL is running slow.  And if they don't fuxor my browser with crap like in #1, I don't block or fuxor with them.

They're certianly a damn sight less annoying than pop-up or pop-under crap (x 10) or click through (don't remember who, but I've seen 'em recently) ads.

So just what *IS* the big objection to banner ads???

cya,
john

Imagine all the people...

Why Not Text Ads (4.00 / 2) (#147)
by joecool12321 on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 05:57:10 AM EST

Google makes (apparently) enough money to run through text ads.  In my opinion, text ads are more informative than banner ads, anyways.  

The problem seems to be that lots of companies have banners, not as many have predetermined text ads.  Selling text ads to corportations seems like it could be a nice middle-ground.

--Joey

[ Parent ]

Selling text ads (4.00 / 3) (#154)
by rusty on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 06:11:44 AM EST

The problem with text ads is not the format itself, but the selling part of that. Google is, at present, a totally unique case. They have two huge advantages: tons of traffic and prestige, and the fact that ads are linked directly to search keywords.

For us, the problem is attracting advertisers. The economics of it basically make it impossible for me to hire a salesperson, and sadly, they don't sell themselves.

There was a suggestion to do a voluntary affiliate program for text ads, which is sure worth pursuing. But would people put in the effort to promote them? Who knows. Probably worth trying, at the very least.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Run some polls, get some data (4.00 / 1) (#606)
by libertine on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 09:36:03 PM EST

I figure you probably know more about this than myself, since I don't do this for a living, but Userfriendly did their own market research. The user market may not be the same, but if you have the data showing some demographical information, then it might be easier to sell ads to companies?


"Live for lust. Lust for life."
[ Parent ]
Text ads don't make squat for Google (4.00 / 1) (#374)
by bloog on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 01:22:47 PM EST

I'm fairly sure that Google is almost entirely funded by 'portals' and other sites paying to use the Google engine and database.  I know Yahoo does, and I seem to remember that the Berkeley (UC) web site does as well.
I'd say text ads more like bandwidth subsidies rather than any sort of serious cash.

[ Parent ]
You're wrong (5.00 / 1) (#393)
by Anonymous 242 on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 01:38:24 PM EST

[Salar ]Kamangar [Google's director of product management for advertising products] says that AdWords represents a "substantial and growing" part of Google's revenue stream. [Michael Hurwicz , When Small is Better]

[ Parent ]
Oops, I guess I am. (3.00 / 1) (#402)
by bloog on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 01:48:10 PM EST

What are the odds this post does anything other than prove yet again that I'm an ass?

Heh, in this case...

[ Parent ]

where your idea falls down. (5.00 / 1) (#283)
by cetan on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 11:02:05 AM EST

When you run a website, unless you have an EXTREME ammount of leverage (i.e. an insane amount of eyeballs), you don't get to tell the advertising companies what banners they server up.  

First off, you don't go directly to companies for advertising banners, you go to advertising brokers.  They offer banners of whatever sizes they want and with whatever content they want.  You only get the money (and the small sum that is).  

If K5 was to enter into a contract with these guys Rusty would be (probably be) forced into pop-unders, flash, and everything else.

If you honestly think someone's going to pay Rusty to not include the monkey or cookies (the very backbone of advertising on the internet), you have some serious learning to do.

===== cetan www.cetan.com =====
[ Parent ]

Rusty, (3.40 / 5) (#149)
by auraslip on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 06:00:22 AM EST

it must be real nice to have every single one of your comments instantly rated to 5 by 16 people. I wish I had such luck.
But really money sucks, especially in the internet. I can walk down to the local store and get whatever I want for hard cash. Online, you have to use pay-pal or a credit card. If your not 18 your pretty much screwed. I think more people would get accounts/donate money if it was easier for them. Maybe in 10 years...
I also like the idea of non-logged in people having banner ads.

I think donations would be a good Idea too, But you would have to figure the most that people would donate would be less then $20, and that would only be like %1 of the people.

Also to the people telling Rusty to get a job and have the community run the site; put yourself in his shoes, would YOU want to get a real job as opposed to running K5. Thats what I thought.
124

The black hole of ratings (5.00 / 2) (#152)
by rusty on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 06:08:03 AM EST

it must be real nice to have every single one of your comments instantly rated to 5 by 16 people. I wish I had such luck.

Heh. The irony is that of all the people on the site to rate, I'm one of the only ones for whom it utterly doesn't matter. It's a good thing we don't ration out points here, or I'd be pissed to see all of those wasted on me. :-)

Also to the people telling Rusty to get a job and have the community run the site; put yourself in his shoes, would YOU want to get a real job as opposed to running K5. Thats what I thought.

Ha! Too true. Of course I can go find a job. But damned if I want to. I figured it was certainly worth at least putting the case to all of you and seeing if you were interested in keeping me on as admin. :-)

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Down With Rusty! (4.50 / 2) (#157)
by joecool12321 on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 06:13:34 AM EST

"No admin power for you!"

Haha. I'll give you $20 to give me UID 0 or 1(if it's possible) or to swap your UID of 2 with me.

Also just kidding, and not even funny as I think about it.  I'm going to bed after all.

--Joey

[ Parent ]

Auction (4.50 / 2) (#158)
by rusty on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 06:17:00 AM EST

How about auctioning off UID 1? Seriously, it's not used for anything. It would be cake. How much do I hear for the most prestigious UID around? :-)

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
UID 31337. (4.66 / 3) (#165)
by ubernostrum on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 06:37:47 AM EST

End the hype now. Auction it off to the highest bidder and save k5 in the process.


--
You cooin' with my bird?
[ Parent ]

I'll give you 400$ for a uid.... (4.00 / 1) (#177)
by marcos on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 07:35:42 AM EST

I would pay for:

Uid:1 - 100$
uid:2 - 400$
uid:3-10: 50$
uid:11-100: 40$
uid:101-900: 0,50$
uid:901-40000: 0,00$

[ Parent ]

But... but... (3.00 / 1) (#179)
by rusty on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 07:39:12 AM EST

But I've always been #2. It's like, longstanding tradition and established fact! I don't think I can sell my own UID.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Listen to me, sonny (3.00 / 1) (#183)
by marcos on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 08:03:18 AM EST

YOU WAN'T MONEY, DON'T YOU, SONNY? Well, we all HAVE to make SACRIFICES to reach our goals.
So get out there and sell that uid! Register yourself as uid 37406 then.

That said, maybe I was a bit optimistic with the 400$ bid. I'm going down to 3.50$.

[ Parent ]

$40? (3.00 / 1) (#189)
by hulver on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 08:13:51 AM EST

Is that all.

UID:14 is not for sale.

--
HuSi!
[ Parent ]

Don't worry (4.00 / 1) (#203)
by marcos on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 08:37:26 AM EST

In a few years when you are broke, living under a bridge and fighting with dogs for food, you will know how much $40 can be.

You will then come back crawling to sell that uid. But I don't want the name, just the uid.

[ Parent ]

*sigh* (none / 0) (#449)
by Kyle on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 03:08:16 PM EST

Finally, a good use for the dreaded low UID!

[ Parent ]

Woo hoo! (4.00 / 1) (#186)
by hulver on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 08:13:00 AM EST

I start the bidding at $10.

Heh.

--
HuSi!
[ Parent ]

Auction / Classifieds (4.50 / 2) (#191)
by arbour42 on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 08:14:21 AM EST

Rusty

  This is something I'm amazed Slashdot has never done - you both have a certain market niche coming to your sites, a lot of techies.  Why not create a Classified's section (or an Auction section) of the site.  Charge $1 to post an ad, and ask for a percentage of receipts - sort of a mini-ebay.  You could also get people to pay more to have their classified "featured".  

   Maybe it would be too much work to create this at this point in the game, but if you make it an Open Source code, part of the system, it might work...  Also, I don't know how many legal issues you would have to deal with.

[ Parent ]

You joke, but why not? (4.00 / 2) (#212)
by codemonkey_uk on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 08:57:11 AM EST

Put UID #1 on eBay, and run text ads for the auction here. Let the auction/ads run for, oh, say around 1 week. You *will* make some money from it! Probably only a couple of hundred dollars, and a one off, but it's free money, so why not. UID #3 is unused as well isn't it?

I expect there are some low UID accounts, that have been inactive for a while as well. Send the owners all an email asking them to "activate" the accounts by posting a diary/comment or risk loosing them.
---
Thad
"The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way." - Bertrand Russell
[ Parent ]

Hey (none / 0) (#255)
by hulver on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 10:14:52 AM EST

I'll buy up those accounts, just so no "Johnny come lately" can snaffle up my status as the lowest UID non-admin user of the site.

That's worth a lot to me, sad sack that I am. I just rusty doesn't start blackmailing me now.

rusty: Hey hulver, somebody has just offered me $100 for control of uid 13, want to make me an offer.

All this talk of auctioning off low UIDs has me worried :)

--
HuSi!
[ Parent ]

Think before you speak (none / 0) (#292)
by gazbo on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 11:26:12 AM EST

as the lowest UID non-admin user of the site.
Or in other words, you're the person who's been around longest but hasn't been asked to be an ed. You are rusty's bitch.

-----
Topless, revealing, nude pics and vids of Zora Suleman! Upskirt and down blouse! Cleavage!
Hardcore ZORA SULEMAN pics!

[ Parent ]

Nope (none / 0) (#299)
by hulver on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 11:36:23 AM EST

It's because I'm a hateful vindictive bastard, who wouldn't think twice about eradicating someones entire comment history and any evidence of their existence from the database server.

rusty has decided, quite rightly, not to grant me any privilege over any normal users of the site.

P.S. Not really, but I can dream can't I?

P.P.S. Must remember to turn off spell checker before I try to post & close the window

--
HuSi!
[ Parent ]

That gives me an idea (none / 0) (#306)
by gazbo on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 11:49:05 AM EST

Charge people $100 or so in order to 'modify' a user's account. For example, you could request for a 'Kill Iasson' funding pool to be created, and when $100 worth of donations have been received, Iasson's acct disappears, along with any evidence he'd ever been here.

I chose Iasson purely as an example there. No sir-ee, no other reasons.

-----
Topless, revealing, nude pics and vids of Zora Suleman! Upskirt and down blouse! Cleavage!
Hardcore ZORA SULEMAN pics!

[ Parent ]

Postin' a comment (none / 0) (#676)
by vineet on Tue Jun 18, 2002 at 01:40:07 AM EST

I guess its about time I post something! Sorry to break it to you - but my uid is being used. Its just that I have been 'lurking' for a *long* time!!

I have not posted because I never had much time to post anything that I felt was worth reading! Hopefully, posting will happen more often in the future!!

- Vineet [uid:3]

[ Parent ]
But... (none / 0) (#690)
by codemonkey_uk on Tue Jun 18, 2002 at 04:48:56 AM EST

You are UID #261...
---
Thad
"The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way." - Bertrand Russell
[ Parent ]
Re: But... (none / 0) (#716)
by vineet on Tue Jun 18, 2002 at 12:47:27 PM EST

sorry... I messed up!!

Vineet

[ Parent ]
See I'm right (none / 0) (#697)
by auraslip on Tue Jun 18, 2002 at 06:04:26 AM EST

Your comment is rated at 5 mine only 3.4. I tell you, I bet you pay ppl off.....
"vote me up, I'll give you admin rights one day."
124
[ Parent ]
Create peer pressure (4.62 / 8) (#155)
by komet on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 06:12:54 AM EST

Since you clearly can't force people to pay up (except by closing off the site, which would clearly suck), how about letting the coercion come from the other K5 users?

Comments from paying subscribers could be placed more prominently at the top of the page, and/or they could have a little icon displaying the fact.

With a bit of luck, peer pressure will get a few people to subscribe who otherwise wouldn't.

YOU HAVE NO CHANCE TO SURVIVE MAKE YOUR TIME.

photo.net (4.75 / 4) (#207)
by codemonkey_uk on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 08:46:46 AM EST

Comments posted by "patrons" of photo.net have a special icon next to them. It's a little icon of a hand holding a gift. A quick look at the comments for the photo of the week indicates that around 1 in 4 posters are patrons.
---
Thad
"The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way." - Bertrand Russell
[ Parent ]
Bag o Ideas (4.76 / 13) (#159)
by gnovos on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 06:21:49 AM EST

The first option that comes to mind is to pack up and move to Japan with me and my buddies.  It's loads of fun, you get to see all the new doo-dads and game systems a year before anyone else, it would be an adventure, and best of all, for the first two years you won't have to pay US taxes...

Barring that, if you are thinking of getting a real job, or even just a part time job, you could elect a REAL k5 cable of people you trust who could cover the smaller fires and ease the burden a great deal, even if you only do it short term, while you look for other options.

If you don't mind a little cheating, you could have a "pay to post" option, whereby people could pay a small sum to guarantee thier article gets posted to a section page, with a little disclaimer of course (Maybe just a different color bar, something that says "Look at me, I'm helping this site out, so love me!").  It could be abused, yes, but even if some troll wants to spend $100 bucks to spout off about whatever in a series of useless articles, it's not like he couldn't be suffered by the masses for the greater good, right?

New kind of banners:  Text, targeted, and turn-offable.  I would NOT mind banner ads if they don't blink all over the place or make sounds and if they are even remotely connected with what I like to see.  The problem I see with banner ads is that people just assume that nobody wants whatever crap they are selling, so they somehow have to flash them up to get people all confused.  It just doesn't work.  People don't impulse buy a $600 PDA.  If you had a section in the preferences as to WHAT KINDS of ads we may want to see, if any they suddenly become very useful.  A generic HP ad for $10,000 laser printers (I have no money and don't print anything as it is) does nothing for me, nor does TriXXXi's Playhouse (Usenet has all the pr0n I could ever need, updated daily, for free).  But a simple ad saying "Joe's computer barn: $150 100G hard drives. blah blah," would make me gurgle with delight.

And finally, the one that may actually work:

Personal websites.  I would love to get my gnovos.kuro5hin.org site, with all my diaries (ok, ok, so I don't have any yet, but still...), my own personal scoop-site that is tied into the main k5 site (so I can put k5 section boxes up in addition to my own), along with my own cruel rules for story posting (-1 hide, +500 show, muhahaha), and the possibility for my OWN text ads (complete with my own poetry contests), of with you could take a percentage, all for $50 a year.  

This one could actually work wonders, becuase you could interlace personal sites and build on the "community" atmosphere ever more.  My site may be dedicated to stories about Underwater Bit-Bucket Weaving (First UBW poetry winner: "I  think that I shall never see, a poem as lovely as weaving"), and anyone interested in UBW could come and talk on my personal site, and when there is a truly fantastic article on my front page all about the FBI's secret war on weaving, it could get passed into the master k5 queue at the push of a button for further voting.

What really makes me love this idea is that it totally follows along the concept of community, but strengthens that bond even more.  If I just have a particular hobby that I like to talk about, boom, I make a site.  If no one looks at it, well, it's just my personal little hobby right, so who cares about the cost (only 35% of an average dot-com era power-lunch, easily doable).  But if it does really well, and I generate soem fantsatic discussion, then my success begins to help both of us.  Perhaps the text ads (or full-on, siezure inducing banner ads, maybe I should have that option) will end up paying for my subscription and buy me a steak dinner every month.  If I am exceptionally good, I might be able to make a living, just like you, and all the while you'll get your 5% or whatever from me and the other web-siters, and you get to still run the master site.  We will both be happy campers, and the community is stronger for it.


A Haiku: "fuck you fuck you fuck/you fuck you fuck you fuck you/fuck you fuck you snow" - JChen

foo.kuro5hin.org idea (4.00 / 2) (#180)
by ShadowNode on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 07:49:57 AM EST

Perhaps rusty could delegate this to one of the existing scoop/slash providers, for a kickback.

[ Parent ]
Dude!! (4.33 / 3) (#242)
by vinay on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 09:40:30 AM EST

That idea is hot. Especially the personal scoop site idea. I wonder how feasible that would be, though. I mean: He'd need a helluva database server for that.

I'd completely want to jump on that though.


-\/


[ Parent ]
Bah (4.00 / 2) (#406)
by Miniluv on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 01:52:59 PM EST

The database server isn't that heavily loaded for all the penny-ante sites that'd get setup and promptly forgotten about. The hardwork is either coming up with the hardware to make that happen, or integrating it into the tightly tuned existing k5 setup.

This is something virtually everyone forgets, or never understood in the first place. K5 is not a stock scoop site. The features are virtually identical, but the configuration is massively different. Because of the nature of scoop, you can't just throw 16 servers behind an LVS director and hope it all works, instead you have to do some creative things with caching, load balancing and build a helluva nice database. Tying a bunch of silly user sites into this structure would be foolish and self-destructive.

Associating with a hosting company, and getting a small kickback on referals, plus maybe a chance to do some comissioned free-lance scoop-dev work is the only way of making that fly. Obviously the dns aspect is easily manageable, and I might be willing to pay a few bucks a year for miniluv.kuro5hin.org, however I'd not be willing to pay rusty for webhosting, since that's not what he's good at. It'd be hard for him to be price competitive, and even harder to be feature competitive.

You stupid wankers. Stop zeroing comments that aren't spam, it's just stupid.
Like
[ Parent ]

excellent! (4.00 / 1) (#271)
by WetherMan on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 10:35:15 AM EST

yea, that's an excellent idea, but I think it may rail against rusty not wanting to start his own quasi-hosting business.

[ Parent ]
Personal sites won't fly... (none / 0) (#560)
by fencepost on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 06:56:05 PM EST

... for one very simple reason.

K5's getting free bandwidth. I salute Voxel for providing it (and I'd think real hard about using them for hosting if I felt any need for high-reliability hosting for my personal web pages), but I suspect that they'd take a dim view of rusty effectively turning around and reselling that bandwidth they're giving him, in some ways competing with them using their own product.

"But," you say "if he was hosting he could pay for bandwidth!" Not a chance. I don't know the numbers, but I can almost guarantee that the extra income from hosting would be less than the added cost of having to pay for traffic to and from the site.


--
"nothing really says "don't hire me, I'm an idiot" quite as well as misspelling "pom-pom" on your resume." -- former Grinnellian
[ Parent ]

Except that we already have... (none / 0) (#566)
by El Zahir on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 07:21:23 PM EST

K5 users get their diary pages at http://www.kuro5hin.org/user/"username"/diary

What's to say that with a premium membership, we get a premium url, username.kuro5hin.com. How is that functionally different from the current diary setup? But it would be very cool. I would pay for it, anyway. Well, I would if I had a job :(


For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled. - Richard Feynman


[ Parent ]
The problem as I see it (3.20 / 5) (#160)
by MickLinux on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 06:24:37 AM EST

Actually, let me divide this into three classes: (1) my own excuse (2) the problem as I see it (3) possible solutions (1) My own excuse: My wife and I have a microbusiness in prepublishing. At the moment, we are recovering from triple hits of mass MSWord98 corruption (cost $7500), police migration dept mixup that sent us back to the US for 6 months (cost $8-10k), and the loss of a major contract due to us having to switch to a better word processor and raise our prices (cost $18000). We're living on credit cards unti the next contract pays off, about 3 months from now. There is no way I'm going to pay anything optional until those credit cards are paid off. Sorry. I have a kid, and -- food for my kid / Rusty gets a job and k5 gets banner ads just isn't even a choice I have to think about. (2) Now the problem of media institutions. Media makes money off of inefficiencies in the product distribution system. They deliver buyers to products that are not necessraily what they want, and take payment for the small service or betrayal (depending on how you think about it). That is true *If* they work. But K5 is trying to maintain trust (horrible, horrible) and doesn't want to sell out. I like that, but it may or may not work. It would be ideal if people would pay voluntarily -- but it isn't happening. Without going into specific reasons why, it is simply that k5 has not effectively tied its purpose to its source of income. In capitalism, you don't get what you are worth, you get what you are able to demand, be it far more or far less than you are worth. K5, in the process of trying to maintain trust, is failing on this one specific issue. Rusty, if you can manage to solve that one equation, you'll keep K5 going, and maybe make it grow. (3) Possible solutions. (a) Ones mentioned here. I'd put up with banner ads, but not with the active ones or popup windows. My bandwidth can't handle it, and I never see the page. Anything more than DrudgeReport.com, and I'm outta there. Others may be too. (b) Rusty finds a nice 2nd world country like Belize, and goes to live in a village there, complete with satellite hookup and everything. [If you want to come to Lithuania, I'd be glad to give you what extra work I could, but who knows. Anyhow, the cost of living here is $8000/yr if you live cheaply in a town, right up to $70k/yr if you want to live well in Vilnius.) (c) Some great programmer sets up a specific, trustable way of linking people to the products they really want, of all classes, evaluating products and the companies that sell them, and sells access to *that* (either on a pay-per-use basis, automated with credit card/paypal/e-gold, or alternatively included with membership). (d) Simpler, perhaps -- some programmer does the same for linking people with programming code and programming help they need. If it's effective, people may use it. Again, though, it needs to be done on a pay-per-use basis. Not too expensive -- even $1 per access would be enough if it were effective (again, membership makes it free) -- but the usage has to be tied to payment. Yeah, a lot of these may be things that Rusty doesn't want to do. That's fine -- it's ultimately his job to figure this one out, or not. Needless to say, I would rather that Rusty sold K5 before he closed it down. My feeling about this is that k5 would continue, and slowly lose *previous* users as the new company mortgaged the trust. But Rusty should get something out of his effort, and the sale of a marketable community is a valid form of payment -- especially since the new company *might* maintain the trust. As long as Rusty lets us all know that the sale is in progress, we can each respond as we choose and *his* trustworthiness is maintained.

I make a call to grace, for the alternative is more broken than you can imagine.

Good points (4.66 / 3) (#163)
by rusty on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 06:31:03 AM EST

We're living on credit cards unti the next contract pays off, about 3 months from now. There is no way I'm going to pay anything optional until those credit cards are paid off. Sorry. I have a kid, and -- food for my kid / Rusty gets a job and k5 gets banner ads just isn't even a choice I have to think about.

And well you shouldn't! Jesus, feed your kids. Definitely.

Without going into specific reasons why, it is simply that k5 has not effectively tied its purpose to its source of income.

That right there is the nub of the gist, I think. This is one reason I think a "pledge drive" type thing might work. The whole point is that advertising here is extremely limited, and you are not a commodity. The only way to ensure that is to support the media that's not tryng to sell you (yes, I am a member of Maine NPR, :-)). Would it work? I don't know. But it is the most direct way to link purpose to income.

On the other hand, K5 with banner ads is better than nothing, and a hell of a lot easier than most other choices. It may end up there, and, well, I'd have tried. We'll always have Paris.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

One other MAJOR source of income (5.00 / 1) (#270)
by MickLinux on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 10:33:31 AM EST

Rusty, there is one other way you probably could get a good bit of income -- first, now, on a request / service basis, and later integrated directly with your system.

This method also directly ties the purpose of k5 to its income, so I think it should be effective.

You can sell articles -- to Readers Digest, to special-interest magazines -- anything like that. K5, in addition to being a news site, can be a sales agent for the articles it publishes.

But you can only do it with permission of the authors.  Therefore, here is my short-term and long-term pair of suggestions:

(1) Short term:  look over your best articles that are the most relevant to today and today's issues.  Contact the authors, and ask if you can submit them for paid publishing (generally, or with a specific magazine).  If you have editing that you think should be done, mention the specific edits.  Deal is, the payment gets split 50-50.

(2) Long term:  Set up your website to allow users to authorize such an arrangement when they submit the article.  If they do, they will also have to provide payment information either then, or if and when payment comes in.

It isn't unlikely that you will get contracts -- even, as time progresses, regular contracts.  There are over 100k special-interest journals, and if you can deliver good articles to them, they will pay.

This idea, BTW, comes almost straight from Don Lancaster's "The Incredible Secret Money Machine II".   Don Lancaster is the author of "TTL Cookbook" and the "CMOS Cookbook", and regularly writes for NUTS AND VOLTS magazine.  The methods he describe are business methods that he has found to be successful.

The book costs less than $10, and in my opinion is one of the best investments a person can ever make.  

I would suggest you check that book out (first ask your public library to get it...  that's cheapest, of course.)  

I make a call to grace, for the alternative is more broken than you can imagine.
[ Parent ]

Details... (5.00 / 2) (#285)
by MickLinux on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 11:03:59 AM EST

Sorry to not include this with the first reply -- but I don't usually think that way.  I thought I was done; I wasn't.

If you are going to do something like this, it will pay to get as many quality articles out the door as possible.

Therefore, you are going to have to have people who go through the journals, listing the details of what that kind of article belongs with that kind of journal.  What is the style of a typical article?  What is the length?  What kind of pictures need to be added?  Of course, the initial job is slow, and doesn't pay well.  But once a journal is in your database that matches your articles well, then you're practically guaranteed a periodic income.

Then, you automate that process. As people submit articles, users can also classify the article in a way that tells you which journals are probably best to submit that article to.  

In essence, k5 will become a vetting station to help match good writers up with journals that can use their material.  Since there are over 100k journals, most good writers never link up with the appropriate journals, and never get paid for their work, or even extensively get into writing.  

Now, admittedly some of the journals will be hesitant about taking prepublished articles.  However, there are couple things working in your advantage here:  (1) the articles, although seen, will not have been extensively seen by the same people who read the journal.  Articles don't last much longer than a month, and aren't available at the local library as a physical journal is.  (2) Using your submission will link the author up with the journal.  If it's a good author, he'll likely write more articles later.  (3) Using your submission will also make it more likely that they will get more submissions from you.  That will help keep them on top of the field.  (4) They probably can get away with paying 1/2 to 3/4 the cost for a prepublished article.  Even at that, for such an article the price will be good enough.

Now, for you, the benefit is that under a little comment at the end of the article, there will be a description "{name} is an electrical engineer in the power industry who writes articles for Kuro5hin.org in his spare time."  As people see this, they'll start coming to Kuro5hin.

Of course, to do this takes building up.  First, you'll want to get a few articles off.  Then you'll want to encode the permissions form.  After that, you'll want to start increasing the number of journals you can submit to, by researching what kind of article they accept -- that takes long hours in the library, or possibly donated hours from members.  

As you do this, you'll also need to get artists involved [maybe you can send some work my way... ], whether that be photography, good skillfull drawings, sample-code text boxes, or whatnot.  Early on, you'll do your own artwork, or have the author do it.  But later, it may pay to just have it done in-house.

But you have only two choices for the direction this takes:  either you grow this slowly, and keep the business in hand [style of K5 so far], or you're going to have to sell the idea to investors, and instantly capitalize.  The second idea is not impossible for you, and indeed won't even be difficult.  I think there is a entrepreneur's symposium every year in DC for that purpose, and your ongoing k5 site will attract investors like flies.  But if you do that, you'll also lose control, and sooner or later have to take bank loans, and a ton of businesses are lost to loan debt. The business will continue -- but it'll belong to ABC or VIACOMM or Ted Turner.

I don't think you want to do that.  

So the alternative is described in that book ISMM II that I mentioned in the last post.  That is, you take the slow growth method.  Get a few things out.  Meanwhile, either banner-ads or a second job can keep you going.  Make it grow step by step, and don't ever take employees, at least until you are a millionaire.  Subcontract jobs out, rather, to Kuro5hin members who are competant.  

That's a bit more detail about what I think will be a good way to capitalize on what K5 is.

I make a call to grace, for the alternative is more broken than you can imagine.
[ Parent ]

Make paid accounts show that they're paid. (4.22 / 9) (#161)
by Dest on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 06:27:18 AM EST

I'd really like to see this. I've paid for an account, and I'd like to show it off to other people. It'd be a great way to harness peer pressure of the community to support k5: "What, you're not subscribed? Shame!". Everyone should be able to afford $4/mo USD. I pay 3 or 4 times that for internet access alone. Hell, I'm an unemployed university student with staggering (for my age) credit card debt, student loans, and absolutely no cash and still managed to find enough cash this month to pay for an account. You guys surely can too.

----
Dest

"Bah. You have no taste, you won't be getting better than tofurkey bukkake." -- Ni
yeah (4.00 / 1) (#196)
by tps12 on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 08:21:13 AM EST

A little green dollar sign next to the user name in every comment would be awesome.

[ Parent ]
re: Make paid accounts show that they're paid. (none / 0) (#221)
by calimehtar on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 09:16:18 AM EST

All paid accounts could be displayed in "De-luxe anti-aliased serif Flash-based text" for that rich luxurious flash feel. Perhaps something like Copperplate Gothic or Fairfield. It might be nice to create a first-class box at the top of the comments so that paid comments come first and have more legroom and better service.

Okay, okay, maybe I should save my smart-ass comments for after I get a subscription myself...



[ Parent ]
Another Option (4.00 / 1) (#162)
by rodoke3 on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 06:27:25 AM EST

Maybe you should try auctioning off some other UIDs(not just 1).  If rusty is 2, try looking at UIDs 4-10.  Those accounts haven't been doing much of anything lately.  Why not auction them off?

I take umbrage with such statments and am induced to pull out archaic and over pompous words to refute such insipid vitriol. -- kerinsky


Oi (4.00 / 1) (#184)
by hulver on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 08:10:20 AM EST

Hands off the low UIDs. They're mine, all mine I tell ya!

--
HuSi!
[ Parent ]
nope (none / 0) (#227)
by x00 on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 09:22:26 AM EST

define "low", as I don't think they're not all yours !

[ Parent ]
Woo hoo! (none / 0) (#235)
by hulver on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 09:34:08 AM EST

Another low uid leet person.

Anybody with uid < 20 is OK in my book :)

--
HuSi!
[ Parent ]

age == leetness (none / 0) (#718)
by x00 on Tue Jun 18, 2002 at 02:35:02 PM EST

I'm not sure having a low id implies "leetness", just merely someone who jumped on the bandwagon before it really got started !

[ Parent ]
Wait! (none / 0) (#733)
by rodoke3 on Thu Jun 20, 2002 at 09:54:53 PM EST

I meant the ones that weren't being used.  Most of those had no comments in their history.  You, hulver, are an active poster.  I meant sell the UIDs of those who jumped onto k5 early, but eventually left.  I know I'd like one of those.  The reason my UID is so high is because I had never even heard of k5 before February!

I take umbrage with such statments and am induced to pull out archaic and over pompous words to refute such insipid vitriol. -- kerinsky


[ Parent ]
Loyal inter-continental serfs. (4.00 / 3) (#164)
by Fran Spy on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 06:32:49 AM EST

A good idea rusty is to delegate jobs out to places where wages are cheaper - and time zones are different : already a big trend in the software world. The time difference means you could schedule different cheap-workers to work the schedules it would be impossible for you (the 3AM bit).

The best option is India (lots of sub-continent K5'ers), in which the rupee is not the economic powerhouse of the world for sure, and there are lots of keen, talented people who would love the prestige and the moolah. The time difference between India and the East Coast is also around 12 hours.

Otherwise South Africa is also a good bet, with a great exchange rate you could pay relative peanuts and get amazing returns from a hobbyist. Heck, I would jump at the chance but I've got my hands full studying full-time. Again, 6 hour time difference could be perfect.

This scheme has all the perks of volunteers, but 'volunteers' will actually be more willing to work when the going gets tough. I also like the book idea, although hard to get off the ground it could be a great success.

'I'm sick to death of the inarticulate hero' - John Fowles
Heh! (5.00 / 1) (#190)
by FredBloggs on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 08:14:19 AM EST

"A good idea rusty is to delegate jobs out to places where wages are cheaper - and time zones are different : already a big trend in the software world"

Yeah, Nike, Gap etc didnt get where they are without taking advantage of..uh..flexible renumeration policies!

[ Parent ]

..the knowledge tree.. (2.00 / 4) (#166)
by johwsun on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 06:52:48 AM EST

..built a knowledge tree with all possible propositions for solutions on your problem.
Let people vote on this tree.
The correct answer will appear.

yeah? (1.50 / 4) (#217)
by garlic on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 09:05:29 AM EST

Fuck you and the knowledge tree you rode in on.

If it's such a great idea, implement it and give it to rusty. Stop harping on it already! It's tiresome.

HUSI challenge: post 4 troll diaries on husi without being outed as a Kuron, or having the diaries deleted or moved by admins.
[ Parent ]

..you have also an alternative solution... (3.33 / 3) (#243)
by johwsun on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 09:45:01 AM EST

..go to the damnation poll, and vote for: "I am damned, but this can change" option

It is stucked to 13th, and this is a very bad sign for me. (and for you)

[ Parent ]

what the hell? (2.33 / 3) (#443)
by johwsun on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 02:53:52 PM EST

Insteed of going to the damnation poll, you went to my personal ballot and turned the zero raters on my right to vote to 13!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This smells garlic!!!!

This is not fair! I am going to think a lot next time when I am giving you unclassified information.

I am behaving fair to you, and you are playing tricks to me.

Shall I trick you too?
beware! ;-) :-|

[ Parent ]

..rusty likes small knowledge trees.. (3.00 / 2) (#254)
by johwsun on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 10:08:18 AM EST

..here you are a snapshot of rusty's favorite knowledge tree, I have manage to built especially for him...

Poll  : What to do?
---------------------------
 I'll chip in! 31%  
 Get a job 21%  
 Bring on the banners 35%  
 Sell it 2%  
 Do some other thing 8%  
---------------------------
Votes: 114

[ Parent ]

..knowledge tree explanation.. (3.00 / 2) (#314)
by johwsun on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 11:57:58 AM EST

Poll : What to do?
---------------------------
I'll chip in! 31%

Some of them claim that they will chip in. This 31 is not the best number, it seems to me that they dont really care...

Get a job 21%

Rusty should get a part time job, 1 day per week, recommended Friday.

Bring on the banners 35%

This seems to be the today solution ..

Sell it 2%

This is another solution . You could sell 2% of k5, by giving some shares.

Do some other thing 8%

This is always the best solution. And the best of the best solution is , of course, to built a knowledge tree.

---------------------------
Votes: 114

I dont like that 114 number. We are too many, comparing the 30.000 subscribers.

Hope the result will change, hope also to see some other branches on the tree...

[ Parent ]

the purpose of k5 should be... (3.00 / 2) (#445)
by johwsun on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 02:56:26 PM EST

..firsty to feed rusty, but then to feed all its members...

how this can happen?

built a knowledge tree, how many times I have to say that?

[ Parent ]

..a better knowledge tree for rusty.... (none / 0) (#684)
by johwsun on Tue Jun 18, 2002 at 03:42:17 AM EST

Poll  : What can I do for you in order to give me money to live ?

---------------------------
 nothing! be a beggar and I chip in 31%  

 nothing, but I dont like beggars. Get a job 21%  

 nothing! Search to other places for money (banners e.t.c) 35%  

 nothing! Sell k5 2%  

 Do some other thing 8%  

---------------------------
Votes: 114  


[ Parent ]

we had it coming... comments bellow (3.60 / 5) (#167)
by KiTaSuMbA on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 06:56:55 AM EST

Since ranting is no use at all and neither is simply repeating your analysis, I will just comment on your proposed solutions:

1) Membership: good idea as long as it stays an optional, I have this terrible itch on pushing out money on the web over a credit card I do not own. So, you might ask, if it *is* optional just *who* is going to buy into this? We need to make this option appealing to those willing to join in... Good ideas on this: digest mails, a "vip" section (like diaries with better S/N ratio) prime-members only (perhaps a read&comment access on them, only read for others), a scheme much like freshmeat's membership with internal, private "mail" and "friends" to watch out for, more obvious *advertising* of membership on site. Bad ideas: editing/rating priviledges (e.g. you can comment but not post articles unless you pay), any downgrading of the current status of free members (just give more on those that pay).

2)Real job: making scoop a real job. Since scoop is still mainly your code, what you like to do and what you actually pass your time on, you may as well turn it into a job. This does not mean you have to change licenses, but you CAN provide technical support on a fee. I know that scoop has not all that high profile and large usebase (intended as the admins using it, not the users browsing the scoop-based sites) so this couldn't handle all your expenses - you will have to associate this with something else from your proposal list to round up. On the other hand, this is an advantage since it would be fun, is fully aligned with the K5 maintenance and won't eat up all your time, not like a full job at another company.

3) banner ads: I know they suck but they are getting so common, people notice K5 and few others as the *exceptions*. Plus, some of them are not that bad. If you keep them selectively "on-topic" according to the K5 audience (mostly tech people & freedoms/political crowd) as well with a nice "advertisment" note under them, it won't hurt that much. I did check out ads from freshmeat, sourceforge and a couple of OMDs (on-line music distributors, like ampcast.com) and even found interesting stuff. If a banner is about a related product, is not flashing around or taking *hours* to load AND it's not a pop-up / generate a secondary pop-up storm upon click, I think most people won't bother or will even take that click on a new window. You do have a point on the actual revenue generated by ads. That's true, especially after the overloaded expectations for a revolutionary internet era of commerce were blown up. You can't base all of K5's income on ads but still some weight could be alleviated.

4)The sell out: bad, BAD, BAD idea. If you do sell K5 Inc., you cannot guarantee that the new owner will not try to tamper with it - even if you are still hold as K5's administrator/editor in chief, let alone contract/legalese low tricks. As a matter of fact, there is an almost certainty they will actually do so. So who can pay for K5 and still keep it honest? A freedom / open source tech organisation is your best choice (think EFF, GNU, OSDN etc.). But even if you get them to buy into this, there is a long-term issue here, much like the banner ad business crashed. One of the reasons for ads going down as a revenue resource is that most of it was stupid crosslinking between sites but no real "product" to sell. If OSS / other "free" organisations make recursive "blood transfusions" among them, they will all get drained in the, not so far, future. Money has to come from the "outside". So, I don't see a viable both economicaly AND of principles way of pulling this sell off.

5)Crazy ideas: well they are crazy and heading nowhere, move on. Yet keep an eye on them since some might be actually good ones... :-)

In conclusion, from where I stand it looks like there is no *single* solution. You will have to combine things to make the revenue keep coming. Many people would be delighted to help you on this one I'm pretty sure. Personally I'm not a programmer nor do I own a big fat connection or something... We could all go for the promotion of K5, "spamming" the url in our mail sigs but that would probably generate a disanalogous raise in traffic (and hence bandwidth and "machine" costs) and payed memberships, so it gets classified under the "crazy ideas" section... I Hope any of this helps.
There is no Dopaminergic Pepperoni Kabal!

You gave me an idea... (4.00 / 1) (#201)
by mcherm on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 08:34:26 AM EST

You gave me an idea. The diaries are fiarly popular (though not like the stories). What if diary posters were given the OPTION (their own choice) of making the diary entry viewable by all, or only by subscribers?

-- Michael Chermside
[ Parent ]
Bad idea (3.00 / 3) (#220)
by AmberEyes on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 09:14:31 AM EST

Because then you'll get a clique forming of people who only play with other subscribers.

The idea here is community, not cliques. Remember when Rusty took the mojo away from the diaries? Two cliques instantly formed, the diary clique (who felt let down and ignored), and the story clique (who said "hey, if you can't cut the mustard by making insightful comments in stories, then screw you"), and neither side was very pretty.

As I've said before to nodsmasher, we don't want Kuro5hin to turn into a remake of Seuss's "The Sneetches".

Subscription services obviously are intended for people who are constantly on the site (ie: wanting constant information and input/output on the site's contents, to the point of wanting to pay Rusty for this). So rather than allow those people to start barring and clique-izing the site, simply allow the user to get the information he wants as quickly and as efficiently as possible, with as much control as he wants, so long as it's backwards compatible with non-subscribing users.

If a non-subscribing user comes to this site, writes a diary, then looks around at others, and half of them say "SORRY, YOU CAN'T READ THIS N00BIE, GET A SUBSCRIPTION", it's going to annoy and possibly turn away someone who might be coerced into ponying up some cash for Rusty. Rather, you could use something like basic diary controls, such as the ability to hide entries you don't like from your diary, or be able to choose whether you want people to post in it or not. That way, everyone can still read the diary and see what they have to offer, but the non-subscribers go "wow, that's a nifty feature to use....I need to get me some of that".

What you're suggesting is to give diary users controls to limit their diaries, which is kind of juxtaposed to the whole idea of a site created by community contents. How friendly is a gated community again?

-AmberEyes


"But you [AmberEyes] have never admitted defeat your entire life, so why should you start now. It seems the only perfect human being since Jesus Christ himself is in our presence." -my Uncle Dean
[ Parent ]
I was thinking of it differently (none / 0) (#301)
by mcherm on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 11:41:30 AM EST

I was thinking of it more in terms of the diary writer having the choice of making their "content" part of the registered-user premium. But you make some good points. I certainly understand the danger of creating "cliques", but it's ALSO annoying to come to the site and find that most of the useful services are unavailable unless you pony up cash.

I guess my actual favorite idea is for Rusty to just ask nicely and for folks who use the site to just chip in. Too bad that doesn't work in the real world. (Although the pledge drive approach might do it)

On consideration, you're probably right: members-only diaries may not be too great an idea. Maybe shame would work... make it visible (perhaps in diary entries) whether a poster is a subscriber?

-- Michael Chermside
[ Parent ]

did some of us miss the point of the article? (4.22 / 9) (#169)
by j0s)( on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 07:07:13 AM EST

In a very short form, Rusty needs money to live off of. Running k5 is his "job" since he doesn't have a real one. The point of the article was not to tell everyone that the site was going bye-bye, but that we, as the community we are, need to put our collective heads together to bring in cash, so Rusty can continue to run the site and not be homeless. Almost all of the discussion has been about delegating so the site might not disappear, and as Rusty said, the site going away or being sold is not a possibility at this point. Hosting and bandwidth are taken care of, what we're trying to do is keep Rusty's time from being monopolized by a real 9-5 so he can sit at home and take care of all the k5 related work.

Anyone here who runs a website that updates regularly knows how hard it can be when you get home from a long/bad day at work or when your just tired/have other things to do. And if it comes to Rusty working a real job, the site won't suffer too badly, at first. Only after the combination of work and "k5 at home" becomes to much of a burden will Rusty neglect the site and the code and all the other goodies that he has to deal with being the sole employee. And the point of this discussion is to find a way for Rusty to not get a real job so he can run k5.

So how can we solve any of this. Well, free money would be the easiest. I for one, will be subscribing to a full membership. Maybe only for a couple of months right now, seeing as how I'm broke from paying my bills, but I will definitely subscribe. If the donate option was still available, I'd definitely donate, I don't need to be rewarded with a membership to help out a friend in need (I consider Rusty a friend because he gave me an awesome place to spend my free time).

Next up, the whole PBS/NPR analogy works well for this site. I definitely think that we should have some sort of fund raising drive. Put the thermometer and a message across the top that says we're so close to raising this needed amount. I know that when I can see the gap from here to there, I'd be inclined to donate multiple times as I could afford. And as someone else mentioned, every June we could do it again to bring in what is needed or just to get extra cash into the corporation.

The selling merchandise idea sounds good too. Coffee mugs, shot glasses, t-shirts. Just a few lil novelties that we could pick up for a reasonable sum, I know that a lot of geeks would love to brand themselves with your logo. I read that your not too keen on that idea, well, it sounds good, and its fun, why not consider it a lil more heavily.

A k5 without ads is a wonderful thing, but something to good to be true.... Ads are a part of the web. How else does a site make any money. I think bringing back the ads like the ones from the OSDN days would be fine, I wasn't annoyed by those at all, I liked that seeing those ads allowed me to read the site, its a small price to pay. By all means, I say, bring back the ads. Lets say that all non-users and users see the ads, unless they are paid users. Basic can turn off banners or exchange ads, but not the text ads, and premium gets the benefit of both. Something along those lines. I know that if that we're the situation, I'd leave on text and banners, anything to help keep this site in its wonderful existence. I mean, honestly, what sucks so much about an ad. As long as they aren't on every single page, I think the people of this community that actually use it won't really notice them that much. You should look at it like this, all you have to do is pay no mind to them to continue enjoying your kuro5hin. I think it is a measily favor of Rusty to ask of us in return for him putting his hard work into all of what we see before us.

The only thing I see coming from the outsourcing Rusty's daily tasks, would be the whole email thing. Maybe getting a couple of people who can login and respond to some of the help messages for Rusty, and maybe those couple people could also be able to help with the username/password type questions as well. I'm positive that theres a handful of people Rusty will trust enough to let them help out with small things like that. It would be purely volunteer and they would not be expected to do anything, just the ability to do it if they felt like lending a helping hand.

Well this has gotten really long, but I will be sending some cash your way Rusty, and I will be more than happy to donate some more on top of it, and to veiw the ads, because that doesn't cost my mastercard anything, and the more appealing/entertaing they are (ie. thinkgeeks ads on /.), the happier I will be to do such a trivial thing.

*clicks through to send Rusty my hard earned cash*

-- j0sh -- of course im over-dramatizing my statements, but thats how its done here, sensationalism, otherwise you wouldnt read it.


We got the point (4.00 / 2) (#175)
by Jel on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 07:28:27 AM EST

The point of the article was not to tell everyone that the site was going bye-bye, but that we, as the community we are, need to put our collective heads together to bring in cash, so Rusty can continue to run the site and not be homeless.

Yes, I was one of those making this assumption.  I didn't think it would happen right away, but it did sound like it was on the horizon.  A title like "We're broke..." on a community site tends to suggest that there is a threat to the site itself.  Also, it's fairly natural to assume that when those who create a site start to run into money problems, the site will not survive.

To address your overall point directly, what most of us are saying is that K5 will probably NEVER be profitable.  I think ANY attempt to work on it full time will be likely unsuccessful, unless you happen to be independently wealthy.  Therefore, to run such a site, the issue becomes how to delegate your duties, so that you don't NEED to work on it full time, and can take "Option 2 - Get a real job".  Sure, I subscribed, despite being fairly poor right now, just to help Rusty out for a while, even if it's against my usual politics -- that doesn't mean I think he can keep this up in it's current form.

In short, I think most of us got the point of the article.  It's most likely how you're reading the answers.


[ Parent ]

What's so bad about banner advertising? (4.00 / 3) (#170)
by cgenman on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 07:07:59 AM EST

You can't lower expenses any further, though I'm sure everyone here would be happy to shoulder some of your burden. So you need to increase income.

You have two options. You can sell your viewers to other people, or you can sell yourself to your viewers. Selling things to your viewers yourself probably won't support the site, though Kuro5hin reusable shopping bags might be nice... Ask The Register.co.uk if they make 70k per year off of merchandising.

What is so horribly wrong with banner ads? Quite honestly, I would recommend going with something a bit more invasive such as what cnet and zdnet are using. One per page, at the top of the page, and only of the discussion-starting stories. This might bring enough support to our dear K5 to keep one full-time employee in cornflakes. If you can get .05 c per impression, spread over 300,000 people per month you will be making enough in a year to hire a second person and buy two second-hand aerons.

I have a degree in sociology, and I hate advertising. But I would much rather see K5 taken down the route of large static ads (no moving banners! Big, static pictures!) than the circular bin in the sky.

You can also get corporate sponsorship, an excellent idea that you should explore thoroughly.

The other way to boost revenues is to try and move visitors into paid subscribers. There are several good ways to do this.

1. Paid subscribers get no ads - obviously, they would be contributing financially to the site in ways potentially more substantial than .05c per view.

2. Paid subscribers get an automatic karma boost. Yes, I know this isn't Slashdot, but you have to admit that those who are good contributers to the community should be heard, and what a better gauge of community involvement than donations?

3. Paid subscribers are the only ones that can post to the front page. Yes, we're treading into the dangerous territory of speech in exchange for money, but this is just an idea...

4. Paid subscribers vote on stories and moderate.

5. Perhaps sponsored discussion threads that could be brought up in a sponsored area of the homepage? Oh wait, your text ads... nevermind.

The money (obviously) has to come from somewhere. Personally, I think the best outcome possible would be to find a corporate sponsor willing to pay one person's salary. Hey, it works for NPR
- This Sig is a mnemonic device designed to allow you to recognize this author in the future. This is only a device.

Do people still pay attention to these? (4.00 / 1) (#174)
by Alias on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 07:20:41 AM EST

I was under the impression that these don't pay anymore.

As in, "if it gets any lower, it won't even pay for the increase in bandwidth use it generates for the sole banner..."

Did the web advertising economy suddenly got an upturn and I am the last to know?

Stéphane "Alias" Gallay -- Damn! My .sig is too lon
[ Parent ]

Yes and no (4.00 / 2) (#176)
by rusty on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 07:30:50 AM EST

If you have really good volume, banner ads can still pay the bills. If you have good volume and don't have to pay for bandwidth (we love you Voxel!) then it can work. The ad slump was basically a deflation of a wildly inflated market. One day you could actually get $50.00 per thousand (seriously!) and the next day you can barely find $0.50 per thousand. If we could scrape up $1.00 per thousand somehow, we'd be in the black, but as described above, K5 is a statistical anomaly in terms of traffic per dollar cost. Even with the market the way it is, it may be possible for us to do that.

In my opinion, banner ads right now are being sold at less than they're really worth. This as well can't remain the case forever. But in the meantime, the slump cut off the air supply of a lot of smaller sites that couldn't make the bandwidth vs. income equation come out without the inflated ad market. So the general view has been that they're worth nothing. Really, they're worth not enough to support the expenses of bringing in "eyeballs" to show them to, for the majority of sites. It's not quite the same thing, though near enough as to make no difference for most people.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Not exactly what I was asking... (4.00 / 2) (#205)
by Alias on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 08:43:01 AM EST

If I understand well, with banner ads, you get paid according to the numbers of persons who actually click on the damn thing.

My question was more into the lines of, are people really clicking on banner ads? I know I must probably do so once per year or so. I use a browser (iCab) which allows me to filter banner ads out, and there are many other ways to block the buggers.

So is it really worth the bother, in the end?

Stéphane "Alias" Gallay -- Damn! My .sig is too lon
[ Parent ]

rarely click-thru (none / 0) (#721)
by marksetzer on Wed Jun 19, 2002 at 03:33:20 AM EST

of course, it varies depending on which advertising firm you decide to go with, but most banner ad co's pay for impressions, IE, just loading their damn banner on a page one time. click-through has died off (and so has the payoff for hosting ads in general) as consumers' ability to ignore them rises proportionally. :)

If a smoking ban will actually cause Houston to fold up and disappear, then I'm all for it. -rusty
[ Parent ]
Banners and the savvy don't mix (4.00 / 1) (#350)
by tjw on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 12:53:24 PM EST

I have a feeling that too many K5'ers might just block the banners with tools like BannerBlind or by other simple means.

I really don't see any profitability in banner advertising when a good percentage of your audience knows how to hide them and will do so with little remorse.

[ Parent ]
Ad Blocking (none / 0) (#464)
by PresJPolk on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 03:29:37 PM EST

It really shouldn't surprise anyone, considering rusty *solicited* stories on ad blocking back when ads were going to be a new thing.

My attempt was one of the four stories I ever got posted :-)

[ Parent ]

delegate (3.50 / 2) (#173)
by enri on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 07:20:31 AM EST

Hi,

I think that running kuro5hin as a job won't succeed if You don't want to put banners here and there on the site.

Another possibility (IMHO a better one) is to delegate jobs to a team of volunteers. Applicants could be chosen from you, or could be voted by the community (a la debian). Whatever decision you take, you will be able to get a job and run kuro5hin as a hobby, and your creature will probably survive.

Best wishes,


Enrico Sirola Key fingerprint = B446 7332 ED55 BC68 5FE8 DE0F 98DF EC86 377F E07F
Kuro5hin in dead-tree format (4.00 / 5) (#181)
by Mwongozi on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 07:57:21 AM EST

I know that I'd subscribe to a monthly Kuro5hin magazine, containing all the posted stories from that month, and maybe a selection of the highest rated comments/threads.

Of course, I don't know how legal that is, etc. Who owns the stuff posted?

It's a cool idea, though.

Cool idea (4.00 / 1) (#206)
by nosilA on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 08:45:04 AM EST

IANAL, but the copyright issues could easily be taken care of.  Instead of the little fine print that says you grant k5 a non-exclusive right to put your articles and comments on the web, it would say the web and the magazine.

There can be a lot more here.  Some of the articles, some of the better rated comments (just a few), some ads, maybe some additional content, bundle it all up, and sell the magazine.  If it gets really good it could be sold independent of the website.

Of course, this would take more time and money to start up, but with a bit more fleshing out of the idea, I think it could work.

-Alison
Vote to Abstain!
[ Parent ]

Or at least ... (none / 0) (#424)
by rajivvarma on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 02:15:02 PM EST

What about PDF versions of stories with comments?
Rajiv Varma
Mirror of DeCSS.

[ Parent ]
Be a jerk (3.60 / 5) (#188)
by Paul Murdock on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 08:13:32 AM EST

It's the only way to make money doing something like this. If your users aren't willing to pony up, make them suffer the consequences. Restrict posting for non-paying accounts. Allow 1 post per day for accounts that aren't subscribers or something. I'm sure you'd get a hell of a lot more money coming in then.

You could just do this until costs have been met, then unclench the iron fist, but that might just encourage people to wait for everyone else to solve the problem.

Of course, I'm using a non-paying account right now...

How so? (4.42 / 7) (#192)
by Anonymous 242 on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 08:14:23 AM EST

We're Supposed to be Different, Dammit
Both coasts of the US are filled with the corpses of dot bombs that held to this view. The fact is, we're not different. We're subject to the same rules and same realities as any other business.

IMO, k5 is not harnessing its two biggest assets: its readers and its content.

Rusty is dead on when he says that in the media world (of periodicals and dailys anyway) publishers are selling eyeballs to advertisers. The key to profit in this endeavor is having a marketable set of eyeballs. Does k5 have a marketable set of eyeballs? Who knows. No one knows the real demographics.

If the demographics were known, I'd wager that one or more in-house salespersons could bring in 150% to 200% of their associated payroll expenses through cold calling and mail campaigns to the types of companies that might be interested in acquiring eyeballs on k5.

As for content, k5 probably has enough material of high enough quality to put out a monthly or bi-monthly magazine. Assuming that permission to reprint stories and key comments is not too terribly difficult to acquire, I think that a k5 magazine could be lucrative endeavor. The largest problem is the initial investment to get it up and running. A large part of Rusty's quandry is that it is difficult too make money when you're broke.

There are a good many other ways to raise funds as well. Two of the better ideas that I've seen are (1) a reference system for ads by which we users can get paid for getting people to buy ads on k5, and (2) a small fee for new accounts.

On the latter, perhaps read only accounts could be free (allowing k5 to get the demographics). But to write (comments, diaries, article submissions) there would be a one time $5 fee.

Another idea would be to sell banner ads in the same fashion text ads are currently being sold. I can't imagine that a self-serve banner ad system would be much more difficult to implement.

And Rusty, I still think that a business plan is in order. Judging by a front page article asking how k5 can make ends meet, I think we're still stuck on point #2 of the dot bomb business plan.

  1. Start really cool web site
  2. ???????
  3. Make money

Try contacting your local S.C.O.R.E. office if you have not done so already. The Service Core of Retired Executives is a group of retired entrepeneurs that now offer free counseling to those trying to start their own businesses. These old timers have been where you are now and can offer some incredible insights on how to make a business profitable.

Regards,

Lee Irenæus Malatesta

K5 magazine (4.00 / 1) (#200)
by marcos on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 08:33:43 AM EST

How about a weekly or monthly K5 magazine website, run by volunteers from the main K5 group which takes the best stories and the best comments, and places them in a nice magazine format.

That magazine would then be only open for premium subscriptions.

[ Parent ]

Magazines run on ad revenue (3.00 / 1) (#279)
by TON on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 10:49:53 AM EST

Sure it sounds good to convert the "best o' k5" to a tidy little magazine, but they run on ad revenue. Many magazines fail, too boot. Lee Malatesta is right on about a salesperson being able to bring in the cash. But, does rusty really want to become a mini hr head / sales manager? I seriously doubt it.

Ted
---
"If you feel like a patient, why not dress like one?" Mission of Burma

[ Parent ]

Here's the thing (4.66 / 3) (#202)
by rusty on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 08:35:01 AM EST

We're Supposed to be Different, Dammit

Both coasts of the US are filled with the corpses of dot bombs that held to this view.

The thing is, my goals here are, in a lot of ways, actively hostile to K5 ever being a successful business. I am fully aware of that, and ok with it. If we were a good business, my energy would be focused on making money, expanding, growing the business. That really isn't where my interests lie, though. I know you're thinking right now "Boy, that sounds stupid!" but stick with me here.

The point of K5 is to be a good community. I don't need to ever see a profit from K5 Inc to be satisfied that we're meeting my goals. In fact, I think we are right now. My problem is that one of the things I think is key to what we are is that I'm here, doing the things I do.

So the idea is not to be a good business, but literally just to make enough to get by, and to have K5 here, doing what it does and being what it is. The intro to this article hints at it, but I really am very uncomfortable with the "media business." I have a first hand view of it, and I don't like it much, and I don't have a real strong desire to be part of it. It would be the standard way to go, now that we've got all these people here, to find advertisers and sell you to them. But "dammit, we're supposed to be different."

I didn't mean that "We're supposed to be wildly profitable without following any of the rules of economics, like all the other dot bombs." I meant that we are fundamentally not supposed to be a business. Given low enough costs, and dedicated enough participation, isn't it possible that a community could be self-supporting without selling itself to external interests?

Naive and idealistic? Yeah, it is. I'm an idiot. But the question is, am I the right kind of idiot?

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

goals in opposition (4.66 / 3) (#211)
by Anonymous 242 on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 08:55:53 AM EST

So the idea is not to be a good business, but literally just to make enough to get by, and to have K5 here, doing what it does and being what it is. The intro to this article hints at it, but I really am very uncomfortable with the "media business." I have a first hand view of it, and I don't like it much, and I don't have a real strong desire to be part of it. It would be the standard way to go, now that we've got all these people here, to find advertisers and sell you to them. But "dammit, we're supposed to be different."
Point taken. But the bills still need to be paid, no? How profitable you want k5 to be is of no consequence. The point is that you need k5 to be profitable enough to support at least one employee (you).
I didn't mean that "We're supposed to be wildly profitable without following any of the rules of economics, like all the other dot bombs." I meant that we are fundamentally not supposed to be a business . Given low enough costs, and dedicated enough participation, isn't it possible that a community could be self-supporting without selling itself to external interests?
Since when does "self-supporting" not entail selling oneself to external interests? My family is self supporting because I sell my labor to my employer. Self-employed people are self-supporting only if they can sell something to someone external. Self supporting means that an individual (or community) leverages its assets to provide necessary income.

IMO, the k5 community would be better off with more paid employees. For example a couple paid editors that actually edit for style, grammar, etc. and some sys admins that share call-out duties would do much to improve the community. I think that the k5 community could actually support those roles as paid positions if the k5 community leveraged its assets.

It doesn't matter if an organization seeks to be a community, municipality, not-for-profit, business, charity or tribe. The bottom line is that if funds are lacking to meet the goals of that organization, there needs to be a viable plan or the organization will never meet that goal. Since your goal for k5 includes paying your salary, making a viable plan for meeting that salary is pretty damn important. You can say that "we are different" all you want but when it comes down to the writing on the wall, the story remains the same. The only difference is (perhaps) the magnitude.

By all means, continue to attempt to take steps that make the move towards profitability community centric. (For example, the self-serve text ad system is great. A similar system for banner ads would be equally as great. Paying k5 users for referrals to each would also be great.) You desire to build k5 as a community can be incorporated into a business plan. But it still comes down to the same formula. Your vision of k5 requires necessary expenses. It takes money to pay expenses. Money can only be consistantly made if a viable plan to leverage the assets of the community exists.

Regards,

Lee Irenæus Malatesta

[ Parent ]

Non-profit? (none / 0) (#660)
by lovelace on Tue Jun 18, 2002 at 12:30:59 AM EST

I meant that we are fundamentally not supposed to be a business.
In that case, is there any reason you don't take the logical step of switching K5, Inc to non-profit status? It could still pay you a salary, but I would think you could get some sort of tax breaks. Or is K5 already non-profit?

[ Parent ]
are you scheduling (2.00 / 1) (#219)
by streetlawyer on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 09:09:29 AM EST

... a visit to the planet Earth any time soon?

As for content, k5 probably has enough material of high enough quality to put out a monthly or bi-monthly magazine.

Unless you inadvertantly forgot to type the words "high school" after the words "bi-monthly", this is ludicrous on the face of it.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

Browsed through a magazine rack lately? /nt (4.00 / 1) (#222)
by Anonymous 242 on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 09:17:00 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Yes. Have you read kuro5hin recently? [n/t] (3.00 / 1) (#226)
by streetlawyer on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 09:20:55 AM EST



--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
Was that magazine rack on planet earth? /nt (4.00 / 1) (#232)
by Anonymous 242 on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 09:29:34 AM EST



[ Parent ]
He's right you know (4.66 / 3) (#223)
by farmgeek on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 09:18:21 AM EST

As allergic to sales as I am (a former sales drone turned geek), sales people pay for themselves.

My advice is to open the whole thing up to the k5 community, and give a straight percentage for any money brought in.

The only problem, is that you need something to sell.  I don't mean text ads, I mean demographics.  No one is going to really be able to sell k5 until there are some figures on the audience.

Average page views, amount of time people stick around, education level, the whole kit and kaboodle.

If you can put this info together, then open it up to the community to generate some leads, you might be surprised.

Now, for the personal bit, I think the whole NPR  thing is the way to go.  Personally, I consider k5 to be the "All Things Considered" of the internet.

I'll pony up for a membership just as soon as I talk my wife into it, but it would be a lot easier if it were tax deductable.

You'd also have an easier time getting grants and corporate sponsorship that way, but you'll still need the demographics, since getting a grant is basically the same as getting an advertiser.

[ Parent ]

Surveys. (none / 0) (#692)
by Ranieri on Tue Jun 18, 2002 at 05:28:22 AM EST

The only problem, is that you need something to sell. I don't mean text ads, I mean demographics. No one is going to really be able to sell k5 until there are some figures on the audience.

I'd be more than willing to fill in a (reasonably) detailed survey if i knew that all the identifying information will be stripped out before shipping the data to advertisers/sponsors. I completely trust rusty to do this.
I don't mind being "sold" by K5. At least I know the money will go to somthing I care about, instead of being used by major networks to devise even more demeaning and moronic gameshows.

So rusty, bring on the survey!
--
Taste cold steel, feeble cannon restraint rope!
[ Parent ]

Fund raisers, delegation and distribution (4.33 / 3) (#194)
by richieb on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 08:20:09 AM EST

What about a PBS style fund raiser every few months? It would be more attractive if the donation was tax deductible.

As far as support for K5, I'm sure there would be many who would volunteer their time to help administer K5. If people were available around the world, then 24/7 support would be easier - as someone would always be up (I'm willing to help)

Finally, to reduce the cost of bandwidth etc, maybe it would be possible to distribute K5 contents on volunteer computers around the world. Sort of a new generation USENET...

...richie
It is a good day to code.

Content over Usenet (none / 0) (#513)
by tchuladdiass on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 05:28:16 PM EST

I was actually working on some web-log code that would run 100% over usenet. Basically, it works as follows:
* Establish a group in the alt hierarchy (alt.kuro5hin)
* All content posted on the group would be digitaly signed
* Distribute the site core contents (graphics, site structure, etc.) on a monthly basis, as a series of news postings. New site content would be distributed the same way, but on a daily/hourly basis. Also, user's comments would be posted to the same group.
* The "Presentation software" would be a set of cgi programs and cron jobs that run on the end-users' linux boxes. It would function in the same mannor as the software that runs this (or similar) sites, but would use the usenet server as it's database backend (or, more appropriately, populate a local database with content from the given usenet newsgroup). It of course would validate the signatures on each item before it accepts it.

Since the site maintainer(s) would only be sending out updates to usenet, this could be done with a low-bandwith personal dsl connection. Also, since not everyone that would want to use this site would be able to run their own copy of the code on their home linux box, anyone who does run it can make their site publicly accessable and be put on a list of site mirrors (hopefully a load-balancing solution could be used, or use round-robin dns).
This would eliminate the need for a high-bandwidth connection and high-end servers for the main site. The site admin would manage user accounts via the same usenet feed (when a user signs up for an account, they would give out their public key and the site admin would publish a periodic update of keys via a signed usenet message). So, does anyone think this is worth going forward with? Security is taken care of through signatures, ratings & moderation could be distributed as "special" comments, etc. The only thing that I can't figure out how to take care of is a way to handle lost usenet articles.

[ Parent ]

Interesting.... (none / 0) (#724)
by richieb on Wed Jun 19, 2002 at 08:41:07 AM EST

Interesting idea. Using USENET for storage.. cool!

The idea I had was to write a news reader that allows a group of people to rate usenet posts. There would have to be a database somewhere that kept the user info and rating info. Think of this as a particular view on Usenet.

If you belonged to different rating groups you could see USENet different ways.

Perhaps you should write a K5 article describing the system and see what the response is...

...richie
It is a good day to code.
[ Parent ]

Get a haircut and get a real job :-) (3.66 / 6) (#199)
by mmcc on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 08:33:40 AM EST

So says the song.

Realistically, a site like K5 should not require a fulltime maintainer. Some other posters pointed out that you can delegate some of the work to lower paid workers in other countries.

Distribute! I think stuff like help@kuro5hin.org should be a mailing list that trusted users can login to. There's probably plenty of people ready and willing to do this work.

That leaves you with maintaining the code and rebuilding the databases... ok so either get some really trusted users (somebody that has been around for a while), give them access via ssh and get them to do it for you... thus you can have a truely community site.

This should free up most of your time, cut back on some of your k5 "work" and allow you to find another job while times are hard.

Optimize! Do you really need three machines and load balancing. Can two machines do the work of three?

I like your site, I'm too stingy to pay for it :-/ but I would spend time to help you maintain it... and that's worth more than $5/month ;-)



Missing the point, I think.. (none / 0) (#342)
by BigZaphod on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 12:46:01 PM EST

I don't think Rusty wants to get a "real" job.  I wouldn't.  :-P

"We're all patients, there are no doctors, our meds ran out a long time ago and nobody loves us." - skyknight
[ Parent ]
Rusty the employee vs. Rusty the Director (2.00 / 1) (#356)
by dipierro on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 12:58:24 PM EST

Rusty is committing tax evasion if he is not separating his decisions as Director of the corporation from his decisions as an employee of the corporation. As a corporate director, if the company is losing money and 90% of its expenses are the salary of a single employee who can be easily replaced, that director should either lower that employee's salary, or replace him.

Personally I think anyone who donates to a for-profit corporation is a sucker. But, that's just my opinion.


In capitalism, man exploits man. In socialism, it's the other way around.
[ Parent ]
Uh, no. (none / 0) (#689)
by Benabik on Tue Jun 18, 2002 at 04:25:36 AM EST

That would be tax evasion if it involved not paying (evading) money due to the government (taxes). Keeping around extra employees simply results in more income taxes to the government. I doubt they care.

Companies, even ones consisting of a single employee, are free to run themselves into the ground paying salaries they can't afford. It's a free (no pun intended) country.

[ Parent ]

Ticker (4.50 / 2) (#204)
by Alias on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 08:39:03 AM EST

What about that for an incentive to donate: a fund ticker.

Saying prominently on the first page "K5 still needs US$ [N]. Please donate / subscribe / place us on your last will and commit suicide."

Okay, maybe not the last page, but you get the idea...

Stéphane "Alias" Gallay -- Damn! My .sig is too lon

additional pay-features? (3.00 / 1) (#210)
by rsidd on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 08:55:53 AM EST

If users don't pay out of the goodness of their hearts, the thing to do is to tempt them. IMO, registering and posting should remain free, but there should be other benefits which are linked to fees in some way.

Like what? I don't know, but eg, when yahoo asked for payment to continue use of their mail-forwarding facility, I paid up, because it wasn't a large amount and they were the only webmail service I knew of which offered it (which is why I used them originally). So what would people at K5 pay for?

No banner ads - already been suggested.

Advanced search facilities for archived discussions?

Bells and whistles like "dynamic threading"?

Additional display/comment preferences? (Or, convert some of the existing ones to pay-only?)

Webmail? (I'd pay -- within reason -- for a kuro5hin.org email address. Especially if it had some other features I'm looking for, too.)

Any way membership of the pay service here can be tied up with membership of other paysites, like salon.com?

Anyway, I think this is the way forward: people who really can't pay can use the site anyway, but this way, people who can pay but are lazy to, will be tempted to overcome their laziness/stinginess.

dynamic threading (4.00 / 1) (#240)
by whovian on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 09:39:30 AM EST

Bells and whistles like "dynamic threading"?

He's already done this in the Comments area. See Display menu.

[ Parent ]
I meant, charge for it. (none / 0) (#267)
by rsidd on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 10:29:25 AM EST

It's a nice feature and all, but there's no reason to give it out free :-)

[ Parent ]
PT? (4.33 / 3) (#216)
by obsidian head on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 09:03:40 AM EST

I know people who telecommute and work part-time, doing stuff in PHP.  No doubt your work here can bring you a lot of offers for such jobs.  Is working part-time feasible?

Other than that, I don't know what you can do.  K5 does not provide a specific service that someone can point to and say, "That makes/saves me money."  Certainly adding on Scoop features for subscribers won't bring you much cash by itself.

tax exemption? (4.66 / 3) (#224)
by phraggle on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 09:18:51 AM EST

I hang out quite a bit on OpenProjects Net and they're currently in the process of applying for US 501(c)3 tax-exempt status. Would it be possible for k5 to do the same perhaps? Just a thought.

Long time lurker, first time poster (I think) (4.00 / 3) (#225)
by Lockle on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 09:20:38 AM EST

I am a lurker. I have had an account for a while but rarely even login.

I used to run a community site myself, and even used Scoop code for a while. We went through growing pains also. Eventually the site died due to server malfunction, but maybe some crazy ideas we had will help.

For pledge drives, you need to make it not just online. Pick some sort of event that has a lot of geeks, libertarians, sociologists, and whatnot... Go there and set up a booth and hand out small flyers that explain what Kuro5hin is all about, and also run your pledge drive from there. Have a monitor that shows the pledges in realtime. People at the booth can pledge.

Perhaps makes it a distributed pledge system, so if it's an event that's spread out (The Mozilla 1.0 release event might have been possible) you could rely on a few people in different cities who have had long-time accounts to take pledge money and send it to you and input their pledges.

OK, too hard, but fun to think about.

Another one is merging the whole meme of "amihotornot" with a calendar ;-) Get all the kuro5hin members who are interested to submit their images and let the entire community vote on them, comment, etc. Also count page views for the images.

Then take the best of the images and make a calendar and it could be one of the items that you sell, if you ever decide to sell actual physical goods.

You can do the calendar yearly, and also use the people in the calendar for advertising purposes. For instance, a shirt with an attractive woman that says "I may have a good body, but geeks on kuro5hin.org salivate over my comments on Distributed Computing."

Also, make a community system for images. Not just for images of members, but advertising. I'm sure that people on this site can come up with clever ideas for shirts, mugs, postcards, etc. If you can setup a feedback system where things can be rated and it's incorporated into the scoop interface, you can get some great advertising ideas.

Hrmm... This is sounding more like the underpants gnomes...

Step 1: Advertising
Step 2: ???
Step 3: PROFIT!!!

OK, well, find some way to make money off the site. Then let the k5 fanatics advertise for you by providing image templates and we'll take care of the bumperstickers, flyers, cards, t-shirts, etc.

Nope (3.00 / 1) (#228)
by autopr0n on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 09:24:42 AM EST

This is your 6th post.


[autopr0n] got pr0n?
autopr0n.com is a categorically searchable database of porn links, updated every day (or so). no popups!
[ Parent ]
Get A Real Job! (4.00 / 2) (#229)
by cvou on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 09:28:06 AM EST

I don't mean this to come across as rudely; please don't take it that way.

But I feel that in a battle between your hobby / web community and your livelihood, your livelihood must win.

Go and get a job. Keep yourself above water. As a casual reader (and even more casual poster) I won't mind if things slow for a while for your sake. You did kinda make the site, after all :)

But then again, I am just a casual reader.

I wish you good luck in whatever you do decide to do.

Some thoughts (4.00 / 2) (#231)
by AmberEyes on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 09:29:20 AM EST

1.) As it currently stands, the subscription services are enough to tempt me to get a subscription, but they could be better. Email addresses, a small (less than 15 or 10 MB) webspace to play in (www.kuro5hin.com/users/~username or username.kuro5hin.org). A certain number of free text ads each year. Stuff like that. I know you don't want to do that (see your point #5), but if we're willing to pay for it....)

2.) K5 as a hobby for you with a job would suck. However, K5 as an optional hobby for you with a job, because you divided K5-ish tasks to screened volunteers could be an option.

3.) You're right in that most advertisers are realizing that banners don't work well. If your goal is to hit people who do advertising to techish people, then their advertising department is very well away that the tech demographic is more prone to having the know-how to block their ads, and will probably pay you less.

4.) Bad idea. I think you know why it's a bad idea. :) I'm sure you recall my temper-tantrums over the Digital Identity stuff. ;)

5.) Again, if you have people willing to buy stuff like that from you, you're crazy not to pursue it in some way. What you're essentially saying is "While people would pay me money for a web forwarding address, I don't want to do that because I'd rather have a job where people pay me money." It doesn't quite make sense. I mean, I know that T-shirt sales isn't quite as glamorous as what you might like to do, but it's still a form of income. Check out cafepress.com sometime.

I'm going to be getting a subscription as well, but since my total bank account has around $26 in it, and I'm a contract designer looking for work, I think I'm going to wait a month or so. :) I sympathize with you for the poor thing -- been there, doing that. :\

Best of luck.

-AmberEyes


"But you [AmberEyes] have never admitted defeat your entire life, so why should you start now. It seems the only perfect human being since Jesus Christ himself is in our presence." -my Uncle Dean
An @kuro5hin.org... (5.00 / 1) (#241)
by Dest on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 09:40:11 AM EST

address for premium subscribers would rock.

----
Dest

"Bah. You have no taste, you won't be getting better than tofurkey bukkake." -- Ni
[ Parent ]
Maybe a sub domain (none / 0) (#378)
by nooper on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 01:26:53 PM EST

I know I'd like myname.kuro5hin.org to point to my webpage... and I'd love anything@myname.kuro5hin.org for myself.

[ Parent ]
Sounds good (none / 0) (#257)
by arheal on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 10:15:36 AM EST

As a premium subscriber (well, as of today) this all (email + webspace) sound good to me, but then again I have already paid for a year- so you are not going to make any more money out of me that way.....
There can be only one!
[ Parent ]
I'd like to understand this attitude... (5.00 / 1) (#482)
by John Miles on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:13:05 PM EST

... a little better.

1.) As it currently stands, the subscription services are enough to tempt me to get a subscription, but they could be better.

So if I'm reading that correctly, the fact that you think K5 is cool (obviously, or you wouldn't be posting here) and you don't want it to go away (obviously, or you COULDN'T post here) isn't enough to motivate you to subscribe.  

How come people like you don't perceive the value that sites such as K5 deliver just by existing?  In giving you a place to spend a few minutes a day, a place that hosts the comments you post and read, and a place that attracts an audience of people you (again, obviously) enjoy communicating with, Rusty is essentially giving you a free lunch.  

Doesn't that bug you just a little bit?  Doesn't it seem like a lopsided exchange of value when you get something, and K5 gets nothing except for the marginal content value of your posts and some measly text-ad revenue?

It bugs me, and that's why I subscribed.  The value of my time spent on the site far exceeds the price of the subscription itself, so it was a no-brainer in my case.  If K5 shuts down next month or becomes unlivable due to excessive commercialism, I want to make damned sure it's not my fault.  

Instead, it'll be your fault, and that of the 90% of users like you who leech off the site and can't be bothered to cough up a few bucks once in awhile because of the lack of what you perceive as value-added features in a system that's already almost 100% free value.

Are you really OK with that?

For so long as men do as they are told, there will be war.
[ Parent ]

Question (none / 0) (#493)
by AmberEyes on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:30:34 PM EST

Do you give out cash to people you pass on the street at random, for providing you the service of not beating them up? Maybe you give people who say hi to you a buck or two for the service of being nice? Or would you rather save your money for something larger like someone finding your missing child?

The point here is that it's totally unrealistic to go around handing out money left and right to people who do anything resembling politeness or basic service. That's why it's called basic service -- it's basic. Perhaps if I had more money, I'd be willing to donate cash, but to me (being a poor kid), my dollars are worth more than (apparently) yours. Rusty's got to have good services and deals for me to pry my money out of my hands. In fact, I already told Rusty what, to me, would be more than basic service. In fact, I've done this several times in the past.

So yes, I'm ok with that for now. In the future, I'll be subscribing, but considering my financial status (which I see you didn't bother addressing), it won't be this month.

And, if this website suddenly disappeared, I'd be bummed, but I wouldn't go blowing my brains out like you apparently would.

-AmberEyes


"But you [AmberEyes] have never admitted defeat your entire life, so why should you start now. It seems the only perfect human being since Jesus Christ himself is in our presence." -my Uncle Dean
[ Parent ]
That's a pretty distorted outlook (5.00 / 1) (#502)
by John Miles on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 05:03:22 PM EST

Do you give out cash to people you pass on the street at random, for providing you the service of not beating them up?  

Um, no, because they aren't adding any value to my life by refraining from beating me up.  

Unless K5 has suddenly ventured into the extortion business, that's a good candidate for lamest argument by analogy of the year.

The point here is that it's totally unrealistic to go around handing out money left and right to people who do anything resembling politeness or basic service

Even when you take advantage of their politeness, day in and day out, without so much as a "Thank you"?

And again, how do you define a "basic service?"  Certainly I can't get pizza, cable TV, or electricity delivered to my house without paying for it.  Nobody will wash my car for me unless I pay them.  

About the closest thing to a free "basic service" I can imagine is when I call the local time and temperature number.  That's free, except for the sponsor's message, of course.  If you don't get any more value out of K5 than that, then that would be a legitimate excuse for not subscribing.  

And, if this website suddenly disappeared, I'd be bummed, but I wouldn't go blowing my brains out like you apparently would.

There are plenty of other sites out there to keep me from blowing my brains out, thanks.  But most of them aren't very well-engineered at all, either technically- or socially-speaking, compared to K5.  As with most other aspects of life, it makes sense to reward the good and ignore the bad.

For so long as men do as they are told, there will be war.
[ Parent ]

More explanation (none / 0) (#515)
by AmberEyes on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 05:33:51 PM EST

And again, how do you define a "basic service?" Certainly I can't get pizza, cable TV, or electricity delivered to my house without paying for it. Nobody will wash my car for me unless I pay them.

Would you pay for a pizza where you couldn't get the toppings you wanted -- rather, you were at the mercy of the generosity of the pizza maker?

I want stuff at K5 that will enhance my stay here -- and that stuff like a bit of webspace, an email address....that's more than is basically offered here. As you said yourself, there's a lot of other sites out there that I can migrate to. And all those sites provide the same basic service that Rusty offers on his. But I like Rusty. I think he's a cool guy, I hope he likes (or at least tolerates) me, and I'm willing to hang around and subscribe to his stuff. But I want more. As I said -- I'm a poor kid, so maybe to you, you can drop five bucks at the tip of a hat, but I have to be a bit more careful about where my money goes. I gotta eat, you know.

If Rusty wants to pry that cash from me, that I prefer him to ante up with the services.

The whole discussion comes down to what do you feel is worth spending the cash on -- which you even said when you asked how one defines a basic service. That's wonderful that you think K5 in it's current state is worth your cash. Unfortunently, to a starving 20 year old, I can tell you that my priorities are different.

However, food for thought -- don't bitch at me or anyone else for donations, when this site is run by Rusty as a volunteer effort. It just pisses us off, and in some cases, makes us not want to subscribe, just to give the finger to people like you. You attract more flies with honey than vinegar, which is something any businessman knows, and something that obviously passed you by.

-AmberEyes


"But you [AmberEyes] have never admitted defeat your entire life, so why should you start now. It seems the only perfect human being since Jesus Christ himself is in our presence." -my Uncle Dean
[ Parent ]
Cool... (none / 0) (#554)
by John Miles on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 06:35:47 PM EST

Would you pay for a pizza where you couldn't get the toppings you wanted -- rather, you were at the mercy of the generosity of the pizza maker?

Not if I could go somewhere else and get the exact toppings I wanted on a pizza of similar quality.  However, that's not really the case, is it?  I'm not about to bitch at the guy who delivers free pizza to my house because he won't bring me an eighteen-incher with marshmallows and extra chives.

Not flaming, and sorry if my previous posts came across that way.  I was just curious.  I was a starving 20-year-old too, once, back when Noah was hawking flood insurance instead of bagels.

For so long as men do as they are told, there will be war.
[ Parent ]

When was I bitching? (none / 0) (#651)
by AmberEyes on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 11:51:10 PM EST

I don't bitch about K5. In fact, I've suggested to Rusty, twice now (read my diaries), about ways he can overcome this. In my original post, I even suggested stuff he could do. I certainly don't bitch and whine about it, because it would be more prudent of me to use my time simply going somewhere else, rather than staying and moaning.

I wouldn't bitch to the pizza guy that gives me marshmellows and extra chives, but I wouldn't pay him either. I'd go "that's nice...maybe the neighbor's dog wants it if I can't eat it, BUT, if next time you let me choose the toppings, then you'll get money", which is basically what I'm saying to Rusty.

I think K5 is good, but not good enough to fork over ramen noodle money for. :) I'll be paying him in the future, when I acquire "fun stuff" spending money, but as for now, with a couple tens in the bank, my money is going to food and shelter. ;)

-AmberEyes


"But you [AmberEyes] have never admitted defeat your entire life, so why should you start now. It seems the only perfect human being since Jesus Christ himself is in our presence." -my Uncle Dean
[ Parent ]
501(c)(3) & Grants? (4.80 / 21) (#234)
by broody on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 09:33:14 AM EST

Have you considered incorporating Kuro5hin as a 501(c)(3)? Nolo has an excellent guide to getting started and provides a sample chapter going over the pros and cons of the concept and execution.

The 501(c) (3) seems to be the corporate structure that fits best with the goals you outlined in this story. If you can stand the grant application process I suspect you could get funding that way. The 50% tax break for individual donors could not hurt either. You might be surprised to find a better deal for a lot of the current expenses as a non-profit and you can continue to justify a salary for yourself considering the effort you are putting into the process.

This also fits well with the pledge drive concept mentioned earlier.


~~ Whatever it takes
More on Grants, 501c3, Common Carrier (5.00 / 4) (#258)
by ip4noman on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 10:15:45 AM EST

I have been researching grants w/r/t Public Access Telvision and community radio facilities. These media are somewhat similar (non-profit, non-commercial, community produced) to K5, and I think K5 should apply for grants from these foundations. Here are some links worth persuing: In this case, I would agree on organization as a 501c3, but it might mean that all ads must go away. Also, 501c3's (in the U.S.) are prohibited from engaging in political speech. This shouldn't be a problem, since many community radio stations and Public Access TV stations are organized this way, yet still manage to transmit very diverse political views, due to their operation as a Common Carrier.

--
Breaking Blue / Cognitive Liberty Airwaves
[ Parent ]
Can still make money (sortof) (4.00 / 1) (#309)
by joecool12321 on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 11:56:02 AM EST

I mentioned this idea elsewhere, but it didn't generate this discussion.  

Anyways, ads don't have to go away.  You hear 'ads' all the time on PBS (This show was brought to you by The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.  The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation supports...).

And it's still possible to 'make money' as a non-profit: but the money doesn't stay in the company like in for-profit organizations.

--Joey

[ Parent ]

or my favorite: (4.00 / 1) (#383)
by ethereal on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 01:31:19 PM EST

...K5 is brought to you by Corn Fairy International, ...

Mental note: never name a company something that I can't say out loud without making people snicker :)

--

Every time you read this, God wishes k5 had a "hide sigs" option. Please, think of the
[
Parent ]

Korn/Ferry International (none / 0) (#532)
by rusty on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 06:01:34 PM EST

I agree though, on the radio, it's a terrible name for a company.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Thankyou (none / 0) (#717)
by joecool12321 on Tue Jun 18, 2002 at 01:56:06 PM EST

I was having trouble finding Corn Fairy International.  

When you think about it, isn't Korn/Ferry a lot better than Ferry/Korn?

--Joey

[ Parent ]

Rusty, are you in Maine? (5.00 / 3) (#259)
by haflinger on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 10:17:41 AM EST

Your whois gives a Maryland address, but there was another comment that gave a Maine address for you.

Anyway, the State of Maine has a page about incorporating (I give the Google cache; the original server appears to be down, possibly their main pipe is down).

If you are in Maryland, the appropriate page is here. Anyway, I think 501(c)(3) is definitely the way to go. It doesn't preclude advertising; the SCA is a 501(c)(3), and they advertise in some of their publications. The most important thing is the goal: the nonprofit corporation must be organized and operate for some religious, charitable, educational, literary, or scientific purpose permitted under 501(c)(3) of the tax code. k5 I think could be characterized as either educational or literary. The SCA's educational; it's a pretty broad category.

Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey
[ Parent ]

More on why 501(c)(3) is good (5.00 / 2) (#262)
by haflinger on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 10:24:57 AM EST

Registration as a 501(c)(3) (like NPR/PBS) will make it easier to attract big corporate sponsors (like NPR/PBS have). It will also immediately cut your costs by wiping out that nasty income tax line. It will also allow you to issue tax certificates for donations (but not for subscriptions; resurrect the donation feature!) which will naturally make said donations bigger.

All in all, this is the way to run community organizations: not on a for-profit basis. Look at the FreeBSD Foundation, or the Debian folks.

Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey
[ Parent ]

Why its bad... (none / 0) (#461)
by Sawzall on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 03:28:08 PM EST

The goddamn tax filings, accountants and lawyers that eat up what you might have saved. Look, Rusty is just trying to get 70K here. The taxes are mostly for his "employment" which would not change if the tax status of the company was changed.

Meanwhile, 503's have to make Federal and State filings for every state they have significant business, have open records subject to request, etc. It simply is not worth the money for this small operation.

I participate in a small website community (started as a BBS). We pay taxes every year. The guy who owns it, like Rusty, makes a little off of it. As a community we went down this road and decided it made no sense, even with community members doing all the legal, accounting and such. It has worked for more than 13 years now.

[ Parent ]

accountant fees (none / 0) (#474)
by Anonymous 242 on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 03:47:52 PM EST

Accountant fees for a small business are likely to be far less than corporate taxes. The accounting rules for not-for-profit corporations are not that much more difficult than for-profit corporations.

What I haven't seen mentioned, though, is that not-for-profit corporations still have to pay the payroll taxes that are the largest part of the tax burden.

One big bonus is that if Rusty can get not-for-profit status, those who work at progressive corporations may be able to get their employers to match donations.

[ Parent ]

The NPO/charity route (none / 0) (#481)
by dipierro on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:13:02 PM EST

One big bonus is that if Rusty can get not-for-profit status, those who work at progressive corporations may be able to get their employers to match donations.

The big disadvantage is that Rusty can't keep paying himself $60,000/year when he could just hire someone else for half that. NPOs can't inure to the benefit of their directors.

The big advantage is he might get people like me who refuse to give donations to for-profit corporations to donate.


In capitalism, man exploits man. In socialism, it's the other way around.
[ Parent ]
And why not? (4.00 / 1) (#494)
by Anonymous 242 on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:32:45 PM EST

The big disadvantage is that Rusty can't keep paying himself $60,000/year when he could just hire someone else for half that.
Aside from the questionable assertion that Rusty is paying himself $60k per year, I'm pretty certain that the CEO of a not-for-profit corporation does not have a limitation on compensation.

And even if Rusty did have to justify his wages, given that a competent DBA, programmer, and sys admin can top $60k each, I'd say that his salary for performing all those duties for k5 makes his salary a bargain.

NPOs can't inure to the benefit of their directors.
I fail to understand how that is a consideration. Whether or not the directors can profit is of no consequence if a salaried position offers a level of remuneration to the satisfaction of the party (Rusty) involved.

IMO, the benefits of not-for-profit status (in this case) greatly outweight the disadvantages. Tax-deductable donations, employer matching of donations, greater credibility to potential donors, and a smaller tax burden are weighty benefits.

Another question altogether is whether or not k5 could truly qualify as not-for-profit. It can take months or even years for the IRS to come back with a decision. When that decision comes back, it is not always favorable.

Regards,

-l

[ Parent ]

Why not. (none / 0) (#500)
by dipierro on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:56:59 PM EST

Aside from the questionable assertion that Rusty is paying himself $60k per year

I'd guess it's probably more, before taxes...

I'm pretty certain that the CEO of a not-for-profit corporation does not have a limitation on compensation.

"The organization must not be organized or operated for the benefit of private interests, such as the creator or the creator's family, shareholders of the organization, other designated individuals, or persons controlled directly or indirectly by such private interests. No part of the net earnings of a § 501(c)(3) organization may inure to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual. A private shareholder or individual is a person having a personal and private interest in the activities of the organization. If the organization engages in an excess benefit transaction with a person having substantial influence over the organization, an excise tax may be imposed on the person and any managers agreeing to the transaction." - http://www.factnet.org/501_c_3.html?FACTNet

And even if Rusty did have to justify his wages, given that a competent DBA, programmer, and sys admin can top $60k each, I'd say that his salary for performing all those duties for k5 makes his salary a bargain.

I disagree. I think it would be easy to find someone who could do as good of a job at a lower price. Remember, when you form a corporation for a specified purpose, it is illegal for the directors of the corporation to not act in the best interests of that purpose.

IMO, the benefits of not-for-profit status (in this case) greatly outweight the disadvantages. Tax-deductable donations, employer matching of donations, greater credibility to potential donors, and a smaller tax burden are weighty benefits.

By the way, these are the benefits of a 501(C)(3) charity, not necessarily those of an NPO. Mastercard is an NPO, for example, but it is not a charity.

Another question altogether is whether or not k5 could truly qualify as not-for-profit. It can take months or even years for the IRS to come back with a decision. When that decision comes back, it is not always favorable.

It all depends on the purpose for which the NPO is founded. If that purpose is geared toward the advancement of education and science, then it will be accepted as a 501(C)(3) charity. If that purpose is to keep Rusty from having to get a "real job", it will be rejected.


In capitalism, man exploits man. In socialism, it's the other way around.
[ Parent ]
you say (4.00 / 2) (#508)
by killmepleez on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 05:18:51 PM EST



"Dipierro, Why do you hate Kuro5hin so much?"



__
"I instantly realized that everything in my life that I thought was unfixable was totally fixable - except for having just jumped."
--from "Jumpers" in The New Yorker, October 13, 2003.
[ Parent ]
Excess Benefit Excise Tax (none / 0) (#517)
by haflinger on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 05:43:39 PM EST

Disclaimer: All emphasis is added.
The organization must not be organized or operated for the benefit of private interests, such as the creator or the creator's family, shareholders of the organization, other designated individuals, or persons controlled directly or indirectly by such private interests. No part of the net earnings of a § 501(c)(3) organization may inure to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual. A private shareholder or individual is a person having a personal and private interest in the activities of the organization. If the organization engages in an excess benefit transaction with a person having substantial influence over the organization, an excise tax may be imposed on the person and any managers agreeing to the transaction.
Okay. So in order for the IRS to impose a discretionary excise tax under this clause, it would have to show that Rusty had both an excess benefit from and substantial influence over k5. I think we can skip the substantial influence part of the test: it's pretty obvious that Rusty has it. Now, excess benefit.

Steven T. Miller, director of Exempt Organizations at the IRS, has written an analysis of the intermediate sanction regulations which includes the following statement:

An excess benefit transaction is a transaction in which an economic benefit is provided by an applicable tax-exempt organization, directly or indirectly, to or for the use of any disqualified [substantial influence] person, and the value of the economic benefit provided by the organization exceeds the value of the consideration (including the performance of services) received for providing such benefit.
As I understand it, under Rusty's desired arrangement, he'd be making $35K in return for his services as CEO. So the IRS would have to prove that his services are worth less than $35K. I think this is a near-impossible task. What's more, I doubt the IRS would invest the kind of resources necessary to pursue an action under this section when the sums involved are, well, so small.

There's a summary of these issues here.

Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey
[ Parent ]

If it's $35K/year salary I think it's justified... (4.00 / 1) (#528)
by dipierro on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 05:58:47 PM EST

As I understand it, under Rusty's desired arrangement, he'd be making $35K in return for his services as CEO.

As I read it is nearly $70K/year that he is paying himself.

What's more, I doubt the IRS would invest the kind of resources necessary to pursue an action under this section when the sums involved are, well, so small.

Yes, he'd probably get away with it, but it would still be breaking the law.

In any case, my main concern is that one day Rusty could sell kuro5hin for $1 million, to AOL, for instance. As an NPO that would not be possible, and I wouldn't find it immoral to donate to the cause.


In capitalism, man exploits man. In socialism, it's the other way around.
[ Parent ]
WTF? (5.00 / 1) (#691)
by Benabik on Tue Jun 18, 2002 at 04:58:55 AM EST

From the article, emphasis added:

So what, ultimately, does it all cost? With the massive elimination of expenses, to the point where this whole circus can get by comfortably on simply the cost of a single full time employee, our annual budget works out to about $70,000. That includes my salary, corporate and payroll taxes, and all miscellaneous expenses, such as accounting, bookkeeping, legal costs, and the occasional SCSI hard drive.

How do you read that as "After paying myself $70k, we're nearly broke"? Estimating that half of that goes to all those things (except salary, of course) leaves $35k for him. And I don't think that's a bad assumption.

[ Parent ]

Rusty's salary (none / 0) (#710)
by dipierro on Tue Jun 18, 2002 at 10:25:39 AM EST

is $58,000. http://www.kuro5hin.org/comments/2002/6/18/608/54762/47#47
In capitalism, man exploits man. In socialism, it's the other way around.
[ Parent ]
your ad numbers are spurious (4.50 / 4) (#236)
by buridan on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 09:34:21 AM EST

sure you have fine numbers that are going down significantly, however, have you noticed that they go down most significantly in april-june, which you assume is a steady turn, which it might be, but we cannot know as of yet.  What we can know is that april-june phenomena is consistent, at least for my websites with academic content over the last 3.5years, which matches north american college schedules.  Thus if this is a related cause, then the assumed cause of lack of interest is not the complete case and the spurious claim.

People didn't buy ads because they had to do other things which were more important and they didn't have money because they had spent it already.

now if this is part of the problem, the solution is to collect when the collecting is good, which are the months of aug-sep and jan-feb.  This does require that one thinks long term.

it's too easy to not pay (3.66 / 3) (#237)
by calimehtar on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 09:35:31 AM EST

I'm a long-time non-subscriber. Had I known the state of K5s finances I would have been shamed into buying a subscription a long time ago.

I believe you'd increase subscription rates if, in addition to premium membership features, you made it more difficult for people like me to keep parrticipating without paying. Make me login everytime instead of remembering my username and password. Make me click through a screen explaining why I'm abusing the system by not paying and offer multiple ways to support the community including text ads and subscriptions. K5 is addictive and you can take advantage of that by treating a K5 subscription the way shareware writers do their software.



That won't work (4.00 / 3) (#260)
by DarkZero on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 10:20:41 AM EST

People don't join a community site that harasses them. They just leave and find somewhere that doesn't harass them for their credit card. If Rusty introduced a system like that to K5, a few current members would join up, many others will leave, and the amount of new members will take a dive as anyone who is introduced to the site for the first time is turned away by its annoying membership system.

[ Parent ]
The first one is free (5.00 / 1) (#277)
by FlipFlop on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 10:46:37 AM EST

People don't join a community site that harasses them.

lots of shareware lets you use the software unhindered for a month or two before it starts nagging you. The point is to get you hooked before begging for your support.

K5 does not need to nag new users. Instead, it should take note of long-term freeloaders and occassionaly ask for their support.

For example, if someone has been using their account for three months, and still hasn't subscribed, then there would be a chance that one of the comments would ask for their support (highlighted in K5 orange of course). The comment could even state how many pages they have viewed for free, the site's current financial situation, etc.

You would not want to make them log in again. It is easier to track freeloaders if they stay logged in.

You could do the same thing if someone has let their subscription lapse for three months.

AdTI - The think tank that didn't
[ Parent ]

I'd give money... (3.00 / 1) (#238)
by fortytwo on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 09:37:04 AM EST

But I'm too young to have a credit card, and besides, I'm broke too! :(

Interesting (1.05 / 20) (#239)
by psychologist on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 09:38:11 AM EST

Let us look at the facts
  • Rusty went and married. Now he wants us to support his wife
  • His pussy needs to be maintained and kept happy
  • He needs to support his crack habit
In my opinion, rusty should get a job, and if the site folds, some should open Kuro4hin.org, and we will all migrate there. Problem solved.

Good idea! (4.00 / 6) (#246)
by tokage on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 09:52:21 AM EST

Failing that, we all take turns beating you at length with a large wooden clue stick, then urinate on you from a great height. How could everyone move to another site without the same problems if this one folds? Can such stupidity really exist in nature? Surely you're a man-made aberration. Probably Republican spawn. Goddamn Dubya.

I always play / Russian roulette in my head / It's 17 black, or 29 red
[ Parent ]

HI CYBAR PALZ (4.50 / 2) (#244)
by tokage on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 09:45:57 AM EST

I think the main problem is one of sustainability. With some effort it's possible to raise a good chunk of money several times, but after a while it becomes difficult. Unless, you know, if you don't you'll end up in hell, where God will show his love by burning you forever. Too bad k5 isn't a religious disussion site. Shit, what am I saying, I hate religious discussions. The best scam in the world though. Next to marriage anyway.

I have no problem donating to the "Crazed Sysadmin" fund, as I am a young kipper with a decent job and no dependants other than multiple personalities and such. Like I said earlier in #k5, rusty should put up a "Keep Crazy Rusty Sane", maybe with a special picktur and a sanity bar that grows a little everytime you donate. A little punch the monkey type action.

In the short term, I think something can be done. A direct donate link somewhere would be a good idea, maybe tactfully hidden in preferences or somewhere off the main page:) - in the long term I have no idea. Maybe a few supplmental consulting gigs might help if you can find them. A direct donate link shouldn't really bother you I don't think. It'd help lazy asses like myself who don't mind helping, but hate having to put forth any real effort, such as creating a banner ad. Assuaging the conscience from the comfort of your armchair by donating money without actually having to think/move is one of the hallmarks of the True American.

Anyway I'm off to do whatever it is I do when I'm not here. We're rooting for you rusty, damn the man and his real job plans for everyone. If I can help promote economic deviance(or any sort really) I'm all for it.

I always play / Russian roulette in my head / It's 17 black, or 29 red

I say sell us (seriously...) (4.50 / 2) (#248)
by skiingyac on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 09:58:44 AM EST

Sell us.  Many of us are capable tech/computer people who may either be interested in part-time work, be unemployed, or a college stuent (myself) who could always use some extra cash.  Instead of trying to milk us for money, get us money.

Yes, I realize there are dozens of websites which offer freelance tech jobs or similar things, but I think K5 could be different.  Plus, K5 is in a very unique situation.  There is already a very large user-base who would potentially be interested in this service.  What more could you ask for?????  Seriously, you've got the exact demographics sitting here staring at your website almost daily, 300,000+ people per month as you stated.

The only problem is that current freelance job websites have random people from who knows where bidding $0.50 for every project, making competition very difficult, and they don't have enough businesses looking for projects to be completed.  Fix the first problem by limiting who can work on projects.  People must be well-trained, go through an interview/screening process, receive good feedback from project buyers, etc.  You may end up with more people wanting to work on projects than you have projects, but that is OK.

OK, now for the math.  K5 needs 70,000/yr.  Lets say you get either by a flat fee or percentage, around $50 per project.  I think that is a reasonable price for any project over a few hundred bucks.  So, we need 1400 projects per year to pay the budget (assuming ads are a complete bust, which they aren't).

K5 has 300,000 people many of which work for real companies.  Lets say 10% of them work for real companies, thats still 30,000 people.  If about 5% of those people, (or 1500) are able to successfully convince their boss (or are the boss), and complete a project through K5, you've got your entire budget.

Or, look at it this way, 0.5% of people must get the service, ONCE (per year of course).  Thats a fairly decent percentage.  I realize subscriptions are nowhere near that percentage, but this is something somewhat more practical and  tangible than a subscription to a service which is otherwise free anyway.

No, I don't think this would ruin K5 if you do it correctly, and I'm sure you would.  

Potential, but no (4.00 / 1) (#252)
by nosilA on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 10:05:03 AM EST

I work for a real company, and I'm 100% sure that we wouldn't even consider doing anything through this means.  Even if we were doing well financially, we wouldn't take a gamble like that, and risk having our proprietary information in the hands of someone we don't see.

But, there are other ways to sell the community.  A significant amount of k5 is unemployed, as you said.  Companies pay a lot of money to job websites.  Maybe k5 can drum up some business of companies posting job listings as text ads or in a special section or something.  Have the companies pay some small amount per post, and everyone wins.  

There are lots of ways to sell the k5 user base, but this is something that Rusty says he doesn't want to do.  But if it's mutually beneficial...

-Alison
Vote to Abstain!
[ Parent ]

I agree mutually beneficial is key (none / 0) (#273)
by skiingyac on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 10:36:52 AM EST

Alright, so I admit my scheme isn't perfect, but yes the idea is a good userbase is here, and out of all the ways to make money, a way which is mutually beneficial is clearly the best, and would likely have the fewest objections.

[ Parent ]
I *want* to be sold! (none / 0) (#324)
by eann on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 12:21:38 PM EST

I want to be sold to the highest bidder. I want my skills at web application programming, server administration, interface design, idea hamstering, and looking at the "big picture" to be valuable to someone, and if K5 is responsible for matching me up with whomever they're valuable to, I'm all for giving rusty a kickback.

With refinements, making a space for K5ers to offer their considerable collective technical talents is probably the best idea we have. A model sorta like Elance might work, or maybe we can come up with a better way to do it.


Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men. —MLK

$email =~ s/0/o/; # The K5 cabal is out to get you.


[ Parent ]
A weird idea that could work... (3.66 / 3) (#250)
by DeadBaby on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 10:02:47 AM EST

How about making K5 subscription based every-other-day? So if the casual reader logs in on Monday he'd see a message explaining that only subscribed users can view the site but tomorrow he'd be free to view the site all day long. It's not like K5 is a news site per say, it doesn't really matter if a user has to wait 1 day to see a story.

It could also be setup that some users would view the site for free on some days, while others didn't. This would ensure subscribers don't control the story que.

The only downside here is that it would be annoying, well yes... if there's no reason to subscribe people aren't going to. I'll say right now, with no moral problems what-so-ever, I will *never* subscribe to this, or any, other site as long as I can get the content for free. I would feel like a moron for paying for free content.
"Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us." - Carl Sagan

per se (none / 0) (#261)
by p3d0 on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 10:24:40 AM EST

Not "per say". It's latin.
--
Patrick Doyle
My comments do not reflect the opinions of my employer.
[ Parent ]
The PBS model doesn't work. (4.75 / 4) (#251)
by eann on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 10:04:49 AM EST

That's right, folks. Pledge drives, etc., still generate some money, but I'll bet if you called your local PBS/NPR affiliate, you'd find out they're operating in the red this year. [Those of you outside the U.S. reply below if you want someone to explain this idea to you.] If pledging really worked (and, to be honest, how is it different from what he's doing now with K5 memberships), they wouldn't do it so damned often. The station my wife works for is scrambling to avoid layoffs right now. A K5 pledge drive might fix things for July/August, but it's not a long-term solution.

So, a few crazy schemes:

I'm leery of a textads network, but it might have some potential. Still, companies like DoubleClick have proven they're willing to sell out anyone for a buck, and their balance sheet's probably not all black this quarter either.

The idea of putting textads on more pages at K5 has only one flaw: not enough people to buy ads. If, in the (extremely unlikely) event rusty would like to make his job selling advertising for K5, he could probably do it. Most of us, even if we're not in a position to shell out for membership, would still answer a demographic survey so he had some baseline numbers. In fact, we should probably do this regardless. Because the amount is so small, any established businesses with a web presence would potentially be willing to pay for impressions if we keep the cost low enough.

Where to put them? Every story page. Premium members get the option of no ad in their diary pages. Or choosing ads they'll allow in their diaries. Including ones they buy (at a discounted price?).

Is scoop a service that rusty could offer in conjunction with Voxel? How many pathetic message boards and fora have we seen on the bigger news and discussion sites? Would they pay a little not to have to worry about it? Would anyone else?

I would not pay for a dead-tree K5. It works as a community site because we're allowed to contribute. That's significantly harder to do on paper (and the printing and distribution costs really would be prohibitive). However, I'd probably buy a book about the problems of .org-ness. Maybe ORA or Manning would pick it up. Just ask johnny if self-publishing is really a get-rich-quick scheme. :)

Do bring the K5 store back. Minimal effort (CafePress) until someone volunteers to do more. Dunno if BookPool and the like have affiliate programs, or would be willing to set one up, but it might be worth exploring. I know it doesn't generate much cash, but every little bit helps, no?

In short, keeping this site running is going to require a salesman. Maybe we, as a community, should take on that role. Judging by the amount of traffic and number of posts, there are some people around here with quite a bit of free time. Set up a commission program where they get some percentage of the profits from text ads that they sell. Top sellers get more each month. Make some rules up front about spam, etc., and enforce them strictly.

Good luck. I'll become a member when I get a job.

Ooh! K5 Employment Service! K5 Temp Agency! Coders/admins/editors/whatever for hire! Naaaah.


Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men. —MLK

$email =~ s/0/o/; # The K5 cabal is out to get you.


WFMU (none / 0) (#345)
by nutate on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 12:49:07 PM EST

WFMU, the freeform station of the nation, really the freeform station of the world, has 1 2-week marathon each year and two record sales and that's pretty much it. They are totally listener supported. No gov't grants or anything. The only paid staff they have are administrative (but not the station manager).

I personally think Kuro5hin here is a lot more like WFMU than PBS and it's affiliates. People tune out from PBS, but like me for example, I'm giving WFMU a dollar a day this year just because I love 'em and I loved the pledge drive. With WFMU only the schedule dictates what you'll hear next, be it Black Metal, '50s 45s, pop-punk, talk radio, etc. Not some sorta preprogrammed genre made up for a demographic. Nevertheless, they make a lot of dough (~$300,000) and have been that way for years. Being a 501(c)(3) is prerequisite for that really working, and only Rusty knows if that would happen.

I'll through up some cash to K5, but I won't be surprised if it just disappears. Do profitable web sites exist?

Heading to the subscription page now.
-Rich

Oh here is the link to WFMU. Check out the streams.

[ Parent ]

Cafepress (none / 0) (#351)
by cetan on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 12:54:42 PM EST

Though there is a definite issue of quality with Cafepress, the speed at which one can setup a store and start selling items is amazing.  I would be all for a K5 store on Cafepress.

===== cetan www.cetan.com =====
[ Parent ]
daily ads (none / 0) (#539)
by hurstdog on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 06:17:07 PM EST

I've been home for a few days, helping around my parents house, so I haven't been able to finish yet, but in response to the 'not enough ads' comment, I'm almost done (as in about 2 hours away) from daily ads. Soon you'll be able to buy ads on an unlimited impression basis, just pay for a certain amount of days. I figure once that is done, ads will sell much better. People don't like this 10000 impressions in one day and thats it type of ads...

Just an FYI. Look for it by the end of the week (hopefully, we're planning a big party here right now ;)



[ Parent ]
Sell to the Parasites! (2.33 / 3) (#253)
by Baldrson on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 10:05:25 AM EST

Sell K5 Inc... And who the hell is buying websites these days? Probably impossible in the first place.

A bit of business advice:

If you're looking to sell something you'll be negotiating price, in which case you don't necessarily want to advertise the fact you believe it to be a buyers' market.

Secondly, the parasites, having grabbed the money from all those dotcon ponzi schemes, are now in position to buy up the key assets. There are buyers -- and they're just the kind of buyers to whom you'd like to sell: The "you're just jealous of me, that's why you hate me" parasites. Just think, Rusty, you can hang out with the elites of the world, just like Cmdr Taco! You just won't be able to get as much for the sell-out because The Big Con has already been run and there aren't as many senile "Greatest Generation" GI's mortaging their family's estates with their hot-pump-and-dump day traders.

-------- Empty the Cities --------


Other Mediums (2.66 / 3) (#263)
by theshunt on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 10:24:57 AM EST

The internet is a great way to communicate, but a lousy primary source for money. So, it may help to enter into the wonderful world of magazines, possibly even radio!

A K5 magazine would likely generate plenty of revenue. However, it would be a major pain to maintain.

Another solution (actually a set of solutions) is radio. One possibility is to have a syndicated radio show which basically covers the most popular stories at K5, and lets listeners to call in with their comments. This also would be a major burden to maintain. Also, I am not sure if it would be profitable.

However, it would be quite easy to host an IceCast server, and have an internet radio station sort of like The Linux Show. This way, K5 could either sell ads, or do the annual "begging-for-cash-a-thon" that NPR does. By doing this, K5 could make money, and I wouldn't think it would be too difficult to do.

Do you guys think that one of these would be a decent way to keep K5 alive? (no rhyme intended)



Magazines.. (none / 0) (#326)
by BigZaphod on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 12:29:10 PM EST

The magazine idea is pretty cool.  There must be a pretty decent amount of money in advertising there because I know I personally have a whole slew of "free" magazines that show up at my door every month.  And many of them are actually worth the read!  Somehow they support a small writing staff at the same time.  Worth investigating, actually, because it would allow furthur growth with little to no cost for those who subscribe.

"We're all patients, there are no doctors, our meds ran out a long time ago and nobody loves us." - skyknight
[ Parent ]
Indeed (none / 0) (#330)
by nosilA on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 12:36:53 PM EST

I really like the magazine idea, but it would certainly involve more people and effort than just Rusty.  Assuming Rusty and volunteers can handle organizing the content for the magazine, which would be no easy job - there would need to be at least one full time person selling ads, and they'd have to know something about advertising too.  And the printing isn't cheap - someone would have to be paid to print the magazines, whether they sell or not.  But small hacker magazines survive (2600, phrack, etc) so why not a k5 magazine?

However, I really do think there is potential there, but there's been no response from Rusty of whether or not he likes this idea that I've seen.

-Alison
Vote to Abstain!
[ Parent ]

One other pro in favor of this.. (none / 0) (#332)
by BigZaphod on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 12:37:13 PM EST

Anyone who submits an article (and gets it posted) to K5 could be eligiable for appearing in the magazine.  Now, that alone would be cool (as someone who has a had a couple articles posted here, I know that it would be quite a rush for me to see one of them in print).  But..  For any budding authors out there, this would count as a published work and therefore help get the all-important foot in the door.  From what I've read, most places that actually pay for publication are very interested in people who have had things in print before--even if it was a free magazine.  It is sort of a peer-review process for them.  A free ad-sponsered K5 magazine made up of contributions by the community could probably go a long ways toward both saving K5 and increase community size and quality even further.

"We're all patients, there are no doctors, our meds ran out a long time ago and nobody loves us." - skyknight
[ Parent ]
free? (none / 0) (#336)
by nosilA on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 12:39:10 PM EST

Charge a fee, try to get it put on newsstands... Maybe have it be free for subscribers to k5, but it should pull in at least what it takes to print up your copy and mail it to you.  This is quality, not just a book of ads.

-Alison
Vote to Abstain!
[ Parent ]

Cool.. (none / 0) (#338)
by BigZaphod on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 12:41:21 PM EST

Actually, that's a cool idea.  Subscribers then get both, therefore making it worth it to pay in the first place.  And it would be cool to see a K5 magazine on newstands, but then you need to print way more of them.  Therefore the cost is much much higher.  :-/  

"We're all patients, there are no doctors, our meds ran out a long time ago and nobody loves us." - skyknight
[ Parent ]
In it for the long haul (4.60 / 5) (#264)
by jabber on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 10:25:28 AM EST

OK Rusty, that's the last straw!

You've got me on Top-level Membership for 2 years. Bitch all you want, but you're not getting rid of me that easily. I hope this helps, at least a little bit.

That said, I think you can try a number of things to supplement income. Extra benefits to Subscribers are just the beginning, and I realize that new features here will eat into your time, so I'll just make a brief mention..

  • I an OPTIONAL gold star for those of us (heh, yes, I paid, I gloat) who care enough to send the very best ($$$).
  • I want an 'ignore user' feature to make posts and articles from people I single out to no appear on the pages that I view. I want other subscribers to be able to see my ignore list. (obviously, on mutual ignore, we simply do not see each other)
  • I want to be able to ignore (at my choosing) any advertising you WILL eventually accept - maybe in a tiered scheme.
  • I want a feature that will let me group accounts, so that I'd be able to see which accounts belong to the same person. I wanna be Big Brother, damnit. (I'm not really that attached to this 'want'. It's more of a 'whim', but if the spirit moves you, I'll be grateful).
  • Is a clearly visible scheme for new replies to my comments already in place? If not, I want one of those too. (Damn, I'm a greedy little bastich)
  • I want to be able to want other features as I think of them.
Of course, this is your site. If I don't get what I want, you keep my money anyway. I've gotten enough joy out of the site over the last couple of years to consider my $96 to be repayment, not payment in advance. If you fold the site tomorrow, well, so long and thanks for all the fish - but I hope you stick around.

The only way I want a refund is if you sell the site before my subscription expires. I trust you will prorate for the term, and will trust you to be honest about that. If you can't refund, you can't refund. I like benevolent dictatorships more than corporate democracies.

Advertising, I think, will become a necessity. I hope you draw the line at easily ignored banners, not those fucky animations that have been showing up on the likes of www.weather.com. And please, tag the adverts in such a way that a subscriber can either ignore them, ignore the non-text ones, or ignore animated gif banners. Also, as a subscriber, I'd like the banner ad to load last, after the footer, not first and in the header.

As for your getting a job.. Maybe that is not such a bad idea.. Perhaps something part-time, like maybe running a discussion site or something. I mean, how much loafing can you do before you start getting bored?

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"

Ignore User? (4.00 / 1) (#300)
by joecool12321 on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 11:41:15 AM EST

Why do you want an Ignore User?  I understand its use in a chat room, when someone is spamming the channel making it hard to follow conversation.  But on the web, just scroll past the comment.

"Is a clearly visible scheme for new replies to my comments already in place?"

Yes, it's the "my comments" link on the user toolbox.

--Joey

[ Parent ]

DUH (none / 0) (#340)
by jabber on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 12:43:05 PM EST

Not what I meant.

I want to see not just replies to my comments, but NEW replies that I've not seen yet. You know, new replies since I last checked..

As for 'ignore', some people are simply obnoxious, and ruin the experience. It's a feature proposal that I would exercise with respect to just a handful of people, at most.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

What it would cost. (3.33 / 3) (#269)
by Sesquipundalian on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 10:32:52 AM EST

In order to pony up for a membership here I'd have to be able to get something here that I need and can't get for free.

For the most part I lurk on sites like this because every once in a while someone who is really pissed at their boss/industry/culture etc. posts a comment that makes me stop and go wow! so thaaaaattttssss how it works.

The I go along on me merry surfing way until it happens again a few days later.

Now if the subscription model allowed only paid subscribers to view the highest rated comments or had some other mechanism built in to it so that in exchange for my contribution I was given access to informative high quality content that the free lurkers don't get, then I'd consider paying for it because then I'd have an advantage in life over people who couldn't afford to pay. In short I'd be making an investment in myself. It's the exact same reason I learned to develop software/excercise/do hard math in my spare time/compose music/paint with acrylics/etc. I'm investing in myself. I'm making my 90 or so years on this planet into a better place to life. If you give people a means to do that I think it might fly.

This will of course require that you overcome your communist nature a little. I suspect that a lot of people don't want to pay for the site because they don't want to support the freeloaders.


Did you know that gullible is not actually an english word?
Communist? Are you related to Mr. Alchin? (5.00 / 2) (#318)
by mjs on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 12:14:55 PM EST

In order to pony up for a membership here I'd have to be able to get something here that I need and can't get for free.

A common misconception. There's nothing in any of the classic definitions of Capitalism which requires that everything have a price and that all transactions exchange a form of currency. Capitalism is simply an efficient means of allowing financial transactions to occur when the principals want them to. In the case of something like Kuro5hin, if you value what is offered then feel free to support it by donation without having to compromise your capitalistic principles. It isn't communism (or even socialism): it's called "community".

[ Parent ]

Some number running, and a solution? (4.80 / 10) (#274)
by fluffy grue on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 10:38:51 AM EST

$70K/year = about $6K/month. K5 gets about 1 million pageviews/month (being generous). This means that the amortized cost of K5 is essentially 0.6 cents per pageview. (Obviously, in this case more pageviews will bring the cost down, but it'd take a pretty massive surge of the userbase to do so.) However, I don't know of any form of Internet advertising which could be expected to pay 3 cents per pageview.

However, per pageview is IMO a worthless way of gauging things. You need to gauge things based on the number of people who see stuff, and the time they see it.

The current cost for textads is 0.1 cents per pageview. However, textads aren't selling very well because they aren't worth 0.1 cents per pageview. Even if the textad pool were constantly saturated, though, at the current pageview rate this could only cover 1/6 of K5's expenses.

However, the $70K/year seems pretty excessive, too... obviously you have to pay more in taxes because it's basically self-employment - so of that $70K/year, probably $20K goes to Mr. Bush and friends. Ick.

Hm.

POSSIBLE SOLUTION:

I think that textads could work at the current rate if there were 6 million textad impressions per month. How do you get 6 million textad impressions per month? The obvious answer is to put 6 textads on every page served, but that's annoying. A better answer would be to have K5 become an ad farm. I'd happily put textads for supporting K5 on my own site, and I'm sure there's quite a few others who would as well. Maybe give a small percentage cut to the sites which run K5's textads or something as an incentive. ANd by advertising on a larger variety of sites, you get more ads submitted to begin with, and will theoretically keep the textad pool saturated.

Hell, all you have to do in order to make this possible is to make a way of requesting a single ad impression, and then on the various sites which use it, either do a client-side include or iframe (ick) or a server-side include (like, wget -O - http://www.kuro5hin.org/getad within the page generation CGI). Things could become even more finely-grained as parameters passed to this "getad" page.

Of course, this means that ads need to be sold faster, but I think that by having the ads on a larger network of sites which people want to support, more impressions would be bought. Maybe at some point the rate could even be reduced!
--
"trhurler: he's a bright ray of sunshine shoved right up your ass" -- Misery Loves Chachi

[

Here here! (4.50 / 2) (#294)
by outlandish on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 11:27:41 AM EST

The truth is, if you really want to remain free as in freedom you're going to have to get creative. You're going to have to do something different from what other sites have done. This is potentially a good idea. I get about 5000 pageviews a month and I'd be glad to put up a k5 textad box as a gensture of support. I'll also be plinking in some subscription dough as well.

Seriously though, if you could get 500 small-time bloggers like me to sign up, that's 2.5m pageviews a month you could be selling. It's not the first time I've thought of this. This may sound mercinary, but the real advantage of establishing a system like this is that you can sell to your ad customers the ability to vastly increase their search-engine rankings. Having so many diverse pages pointing to a website gives it a huge boost on the google engines (c.f. googlebombing). That's something you could sell for a pile of money. Think of yourself not just as an advertising asset, but as an overall marketing asset as well.

Community, which you have in spades here, is actually far more valuable than pageviews. Forward-thinking marketers would love to have you as a resource. The fact that most of your demographics are probably young, hip, and posessed of a fair amount of disposable income means you've got something they'd like to have: a relationship so potential customers. The down side of trading on your community value is that cash generated from community and community spirit tends to have an inverse relationship (c.f. /.).

Last idea: fund drive. Make like PPS and get a thermometer graphic showing your funding goals. Offer font-page recognition for large donors. Find two-bit net celebs to write articles talking about how we all need to support k5 to keep it "on the air" and make them read those before they get to the real content. Annoy people into handing over the buck or two you know they can spare.

That is all I've got for the moment. I'll keep thinking.


-------------
remote-hosted soapboxing, mindless self-promotion, and salacious gossip -- outlandishjosh.com

[ Parent ]

Great Idea (none / 0) (#529)
by anon868 on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 05:59:35 PM EST

Last idea: fund drive. Make like PPS and get a thermometer graphic showing your funding goals. Offer font-page recognition for large donors. Find two-bit net celebs to write articles talking about how we all need to support k5 to keep it "on the air" and make them read those before they get to the real content. Annoy people into handing over the buck or two you know they can spare.

I think a fundraising campaign would be a great idea. I bet you would have no problem finding "two-bit net celebs" to further the cause, and i bet it would make a bunch of the news sites. I don't know if Wil Wheaton (wilwheaton.net)"reads this site (not to imploy that he's a "two-bit net celeb"), but if he does, it strikes me as the kind of thing he'd try to help with...
Open a window. No, not that one! One made from actual glass, set in an acual wall, you dork.
[ Parent ]

Unclear where that $70K is going... (2.50 / 2) (#310)
by dipierro on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 11:56:26 AM EST

However, the $70K/year seems pretty excessive, too... obviously you have to pay more in taxes because it's basically self-employment - so of that $70K/year, probably $20K goes to Mr. Bush and friends. Ick.

It appears that rusty has set up a corporation (Kuro5hin.org), and that he's paying himself as an employee of that corporation. Alternatively, he's set up as an S-corp, and is able to deduct all the expenses. In which case, it depends how much of that $70K is payments to himself.

Which leads me to a question. How much of that $70K/year is rusty's salary?


In capitalism, man exploits man. In socialism, it's the other way around.
[ Parent ]
Mr. Bush and friends? (none / 0) (#322)
by worth on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 12:18:30 PM EST

Actually, more like 40% goes to the government, thanks to Mr. Clinton and friends.

[ Parent ]
Traffic (5.00 / 4) (#545)
by rusty on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 06:25:14 PM EST

K5 gets about 1 million pageviews/month (being generous).

Actually, it's more like 6 million a month, being conservative.  Those are the mod_perl server stats, which only serves actual scoop pages. My estimate is that a page costs about a tenth of a cent, so if we could actually sell one text ad on every page we serve, we'd be ok even at the reduced current price of $1.00 CPM.

so of that $70K/year, probably $20K goes to Mr. Bush and friends

Ah, grad school must be nice. :-) Try $35K. Payroll tax is a bitch.

The problem with the ad farm idea is that you're looking at the wrong side of the equation. We could do OK on textads if we had advertisers. We don't have the advertisers. Expanding our inventory won't help, we have plenty of inventory. It's just not selling.

Two related ideas I think might help: The commission-for-referrals idea, and the "dial and smile" idea. I think the only way to make textads work, ultimately, is the old fashioned way, where I (or someone, but probably me) actually individually contacts potential advertisers and tells them about it.


____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

S Corporation? (none / 0) (#607)
by feanor on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 09:40:13 PM EST

Not to stick my nose all the way into your business, but are you setup as a Subchapter S corporation or as a regular corporation?

If you're not a subchapter S, and you meet the qualifications, you might want to look into that, there are some tax benefits to doing so..

--Bryan

[ Parent ]

Missing link (none / 0) (#643)
by fluffy grue on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 11:14:13 PM EST

By increasing the number of pageviews, you decrease the cost per impression, and thus lower the cost per ads. I still think that 0.1c/ad is too much - if you can get it down to where the price per ad impression (because that's what's "costing" money here - I was talking about how much ad impressions would have to be served assuming that there was an infinite supply of them for K5 to break even, and remember that many K5 pageviews don't cause an ad impression) is maybe 0.02c/impression... ad farming is, IMO, the best way of doing that. If you can lower the textad prices, more people will be inclined to buy textads, at which point you'll (hopefully) have an excess of impressions, at which point the adfarm suddenly becomes feasible. Obviously you'd have to build up a supply of ads before you can do that.
--
"trhurler: he's a bright ray of sunshine shoved right up your ass" -- Misery Loves Chachi

[ Parent ]

One million? (none / 0) (#623)
by seebs on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 10:27:04 PM EST

I think you may have dropped a decimal place; looks more like 10 million to me.


[ Parent ]
A feasable idea (4.00 / 1) (#276)
by marcos on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 10:46:25 AM EST

I think that the best idea so far has been the skiingyac idea. Like I mentioned in my last diary, I use freelance sites. I've made about $3000 over the past two months, and the site has taken a 15% cut.

Now, you don't need to make K5 itself commercial - it can remain as open and as free as it always has been. Rather, you use the free bandwidth and hardware, as well as the userbase you have to open a new website just like the rentacoder.com website. The profit from that site will then support K5.

The basic premise is that there is an auction site where bidders put up software projects to be bid on. Software developers then bid on the projects, and the person with the best resume/lowest cost wins the auction and gets to do the job and get paid. The site gets a cut.

The great advantage you have is that you have a large user base of techies and potential hirers. Also, because K5 is already reasonably high profile, you will get onto all the indexes at once.

Ian has a similar arrangment where rentacoder.com makes money and supports pscode.com, which in turn advertises for rentacoder.

Of course, this will need a completely different backend - I doubt that scoop will be up to the job. To program such a thing, you can call out for volunteers, who will then be paid when the site is launched and starts making money. If you do such, count me in as helping with the back-end coding, because you certainly will make money.

Just charge less than 15%. Something like 7% or 10% will be enough, I'd say. I always feel so fleeced when 150$ of my 1000$ has to be given away.

Volunteers (4.42 / 7) (#278)
by salsaman on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 10:47:03 AM EST

Rusty, have you thought of contacting local universites/colleges and so on ? Maybe you could take on an intern or two - they could get experience of running a popular internet site, and it could free up some of your time to pursue other sources of income.

Who knows, if it were really popular, the university/college could maybe help with some funding. Seems like it could be a win/win situation to me.

Franchise kuro5hin.org (4.80 / 5) (#280)
by SlashDread on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 10:55:16 AM EST

Our local startpage guru basically franchised the dutch: startpagina.nl to dungload of people like:
vakantie.startpagina.nl, boten.startpagina.nl etc.

How about franchising:
knitting.kur05hin.org, sewing.kuro5hin.org?

tie it in the code, so that the maintainer can easily catagorize his stuff and create the new daughter.

Demand a small ofset of their ad fees.

Startpagina guru got loaded in Holland by doing this.

Gr Richard

if I may build on that.... (none / 0) (#455)
by NFW on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 03:20:10 PM EST

As someone pointed out elsewhere, one of the things that makes it hard to make money via ads on K5 is the lack of focus. We're mostly talking about stuff that can't be purchased. A site dedicated to hardware reviews, on the other hand, attracts a lot of poeple who buy a lot of computer parts, so retailers are motivated to buy ads (because, hopefully, readers buy through those ads).

Suppose www.K5.org remains a place for discussion of ideas, and subdomains (or supersections, with some changes to scoop) are created for discussion of products. For example... c0mput3rs.k5.org for talk about new CPUs and GPUs; c4rs.k5.org for talk about horsepower and handling; st3r3o.k5.org for talk about home entertainment; gam1ng.k5.org for video gamers, and so on. Within each subsection, perhaps you could get advertisers to buy ads to sell their wares.

Setting it all up would be work, though. Maybe more than you wanna bother with. I still think the minimum-work approach would be to make K5 100% subscriber-only, charge $1 for a year, move everything to a scoop hosting provider, and let it combinue there until someone comes up with a better way to make K5 public again.


--
Got birds?


[ Parent ]

Sell Stock in K5 (2.00 / 3) (#281)
by jforan on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 10:56:44 AM EST

Go "public".  Ask the people on K5 to write up appropriate legal document(s) that enable you to sell stock in K5.  Keep 51% of it.  Or not.  K5 has a lot of users, and even though you can't think of a way to make money off of them without 'ruining' the site, that I believe there is a viable buisness potential for the site.  Plus, when other people have a stake in K5, more ideas might perkolate.

Sell 1/10000th shares for 50 bucks each.  Most corporate sites value their users much higher than that.  I'd buy.

Jeff

I hops to be barley workin'.

Too Expensive (4.00 / 1) (#290)
by Evil Petting Zoo on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 11:17:09 AM EST

While I agree, selling stock could bring in money, but the lawyer fees and logistical expenses to set it up would be far too expensive to be a viable option for K5. We're talking about $10k+ to get it rolling, and there's still a risk of losing money on the whole ordeal.

[ Parent ]
Fine... (none / 0) (#321)
by jforan on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 12:17:22 PM EST

Take the first 70K and pay rusty for the year.  Then take the next 10K and hire the lawyer.

Jeff
I hops to be barley workin'.
[ Parent ]

order of operation (none / 0) (#580)
by aphrael on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 08:06:25 PM EST

the lawyers, etc, have to be paid first --- eg., you have to put up the $10K in advance and risk losing it if nobody buys in.

[ Parent ]
You need more payment options (3.71 / 7) (#286)
by raaymoose on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 11:06:17 AM EST

I know the fact that you folks only use Paypal or credit cards has most definately stopped me from getting a subscription or text ads. Paypal I just don't trust with any of my information, and credit cards are tools of evil. Maybe you should start accepting money orders or whatnot.

Wire transfer? (none / 0) (#339)
by Torako on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 12:42:34 PM EST

I definitely would subscribe or buy textads, but living in Europe I don't have a credit card. They are not as common as in the US here, and our debit cards (at least here in Germany) don't have VISA or MasterCard numbers either.

So there is just no way for me to pay. PayPal accepts wire transfers from checking accounts, but only after you authorize yourself using, guess what, a credit card..

[ Parent ]

Please read this... (none / 0) (#475)
by ti dave on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 03:54:11 PM EST

Read this.
"If you dial," Iran said, eyes open and watching, "for greater venom, then I'll dial the same."

[ Parent ]
Please read this... (4.00 / 1) (#476)
by ti dave on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 03:54:46 PM EST

Read this.
"If you dial," Iran said, eyes open and watching, "for greater venom, then I'll dial the same."

[ Parent ]
Make this a regular posting (4.95 / 20) (#287)
by TON on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 11:07:55 AM EST

No, not "We're broke".

You've already laid bare the costs and your projected income (plus some overhead and taxes, so I'm not sure exactly how much you are aiming for, but it is modest). There isn't anything to hide here. Open writing and discussion is at the heart of k5, so open the books. Post the budget as site news each and every month.

This will give fence-sitters a good reason to subscribe if the numbers look bleak. It will give subscribers in good standing the knowledge that they put k5 over the top for the month. It will give all of us on k5 some warning, rather than a bit of a panic.

Post a clear and detailed budget. Why not? I honestly think it would help. It would certainly make it very clear to everyone what is involved in giving us our k5. Any community group I've been a part of had to talk frankly, but usually mercifully briefly, about money every month.

Ted
---
"If you feel like a patient, why not dress like one?" Mission of Burma

Agreed... (4.00 / 1) (#313)
by lithmonkey on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 11:57:43 AM EST

I think this is a good way to go.  

It works for public radio.  Know your budget, figure out how much dough you need, and ASK for it. BEG for it.  Having a membership option is not enough.  You gotta bug people, remind them that without money k5 goes away, and keep bugging them until enough people contribute to keep the site going.  

I haven't really considered getting a membership until today.   I'll get one after this posting.  I promise.  k5 is worth a couple bucks to keep around.

-andy

[ Parent ]

no (3.00 / 1) (#364)
by infinitera on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 01:06:51 PM EST

The budget will be rusty's life expenses, among other k5-related things. Posting that would result in people dictacting how he should live. That's a Bad Idea.

[ Parent ]
Not at all... (3.00 / 2) (#436)
by lithmonkey on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 02:44:01 PM EST

He would be dictating how he should live.  He would make a budget for himself and k5, and ask for it.  Rusty would be the one dictating his income, even if it is limited by the willingness of k5'ers to pay.  (isn't that how it works in the REAL WORLD anyway?)  

Regardless, as is he's broke.  Being Broke is more of a dictator than Askin For Money.

[ Parent ]

More of a balance sheet I guess (5.00 / 4) (#524)
by TON on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 05:49:22 PM EST

I don't mean that rusty should tell us how many cans of cat food and what brand so that we can bicker over his cat's eating habits. He has already posted what seems to be a very reasonable salary target. Just post income and expenses every month. That means: ads, memberships, sponsorships, whatever- vs- the odd SCSI drive, taxes, legal expenses, and a steady paycheck. What rusty does with his paycheck is his own business, dammit.

"First, I am born. Then, the trouble begins." -- Schizopolis

Ted


[ Parent ]

There is no other way to achieve transparency. (3.00 / 1) (#686)
by Tezcatlipoca on Tue Jun 18, 2002 at 04:00:41 AM EST

The day K5 is a multinational corporation it will be a boring balance sheet, as things stand now the items in this balance sheet are few and most boil down to how much food a cat can eat each month.
---
_._ .....
... .._ _._. _._ ...
._.. ._ _ . ._.. _.__

[ Parent ]
What you should do. (2.20 / 5) (#288)
by dipierro on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 11:11:40 AM EST

Go P2P. Open source all your content (old content would remain copyrighted by the old author unless s/he marks it otherwise). Allow submitters to choose between GPL, OPL, GFDL, QingPL, whatever. Allow easy access to the raw data in your database. Then wait a month or so. Someone will create a P2P network to distribute your content, and you can now go out of business without hurting the rest of us.


In capitalism, man exploits man. In socialism, it's the other way around.
Mark my words... (none / 0) (#349)
by Jel on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 12:52:37 PM EST

That QingPL thing is going to burn you bad some day, when someone steals all your content.  Switch to GFDL.  They don't have lawyers working that stuff out for nothing.

[ Parent ]
Steal my content? (none / 0) (#365)
by dipierro on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 01:08:45 PM EST

I don't believe in intellectual property law, so using the GFDL would be hypocritical of me. I want people to be able to implement "technical measures to obstruct or control the reading or further copying of the copies [they] make or distribute." I want people to be able to make modifications without jumping through 10,000 hoops. I want people to do anything they want with my works, except sue me for copyright infringement of their derivitive work.
In capitalism, man exploits man. In socialism, it's the other way around.
[ Parent ]
Fair enough, but... (none / 0) (#399)
by Jel on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 01:45:55 PM EST

Fair enough, but "copyleft" is very suggestive of GNU Licensing.  You might want to rephrase.

[ Parent ]
Copyleft (none / 0) (#415)
by dipierro on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 02:05:39 PM EST

"Copyleft is a general concept; there are many ways to fill in the details." - FSF

The term copyleft means that my work is free, and all derivitive works must also be free. The QingPL may not be a strong copyleft (because it allows source code to be hidden, for example), but it is a copyleft.


In capitalism, man exploits man. In socialism, it's the other way around.
[ Parent ]
Quick idea (4.33 / 3) (#291)
by ubu on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 11:26:08 AM EST

Quit saying "googly-moogly". Studies that show that 20 people leave K5, never to return, every time you say that.

Ubu


--
As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
"Get a Real Job" (3.00 / 3) (#293)
by pb on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 11:27:38 AM EST

If you are indeed the only person on the K5 payroll, I'd have to say "Get a Real Job".  I'd hope that some (most?) of your duties could be split between all the other people who work on the site...

Failing that, I'm sure you could find a lot of volunteers.  K5 is a community, and I don't think it would die if you stopped taking as much of an active role.  But if it did, I'd definitely let you know, because you've done a great job so far.  :)
---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall

how i would do it (3.50 / 2) (#296)
by dj701 on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 11:29:46 AM EST

try to get every visitor to pay one dollar once. if that doesnt work - try to find a sponsor.

This is the real world.. (2.66 / 3) (#297)
by kelar on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 11:30:35 AM EST

And in the real world, sacrifices have to be made. Sounds like #2 is your best option.

T-Shirt Design Contest (4.66 / 3) (#303)
by Evil Petting Zoo on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 11:45:34 AM EST

Why not start a K5 T-Shirt design contest? The best few user submitted designs get to be sold on Cafe Press to raise money for K5. I realize this entails doing more work to run K5, but it can also bring in some extra money.

Comment Bribes or "Advertisements" (3.50 / 2) (#307)
by Evil Petting Zoo on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 11:50:11 AM EST

How about adding a feature that will place your comment to the top of a story for a buck a day? To minimize spamming using this feature, there could be a voting feature on the comment that can remove it if 75% of the people viewing it say it's spam.

Also, I just subscribed. Now how the hell do I get my text-ads back again?!? ^^



text-ads (5.00 / 1) (#333)
by radeex on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 12:38:00 PM EST

It's in your user preferences. I just subscribed today too, and was rather disappointed when I saw that text-ads were off by default. It's like two conflicting features of the site. (yeah, I do consider text-ads a feature, not "something I have to live with" ;))
--
I DEMAND RECOMPENSE!
[ Parent ]
Shaming Users into Subscribing/Advertising (3.40 / 5) (#308)
by Evil Petting Zoo on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 11:56:01 AM EST

How about making how much a user has paid to K5 public knowledge? Put it right there under the signature. I think this could bring in more subscription revenue by just peer pressure alone.

Subscription network (4.66 / 6) (#311)
by jhodge on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 11:56:58 AM EST

As a reader, my dilemma is thus: if I add up the cost of supporting all of the various struggling websites that I enjoy reading, the sum is far greater than the money I'm willing to put out. Maybe I'm just cheap, but I'd like to propose a solution: invert the media equation and make us the customers.

Instead of aggragating eyeballs and changing advertisers for access, aggregate website subscriptions and change us for access. For instance, rather than my paying $4 per month for K5, and $x for /., and $x for realworldtech and $x for storagereview, etc., I'd like to see the webmasters of a collection of various sites get together and change me one fee of sum($x1 - $xn)/2 for access to all the sites. The lower overall revenue would be made up by sharing code and admin duties amongst yourselves so that no one site has to carry the full upkeep burden.

It would require lots of coordination, but I think it might work because it provides value all around:

  1. I get to keep reading my favorite sites
  2. I only have to pay one fee
  3. You get paid
  4. You have other admins/coders to share the load

The big downside I see is that the various sites would lose some of their distinctive look and feel if they worked off of a common code base, but I bet we could all live with that if the content and community flavors could be preserved w/o resorting to advertising.



the porn site solution [nt] (none / 0) (#361)
by infinitera on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 01:04:50 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Mod this down (3.50 / 6) (#312)
by Wondertoad on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 11:57:28 AM EST

Rusty: "I feel very strongly that one of the things one doesn't do is sell one's friends."

No, one rates their statements from 0-5 and tries to ignore them if they don't rank.

K5ers are not your friends.  You may have a lot of friends amongst them, and tremendous good will towards your users.  You may value them as if they were friends.  It is a very very very very good statement about you if you do.  But they don't know you, and they obviously don't have enough good will in return to help pay for the site.

AND THIS IS THE DISCONNECT, GODDAMMIT!

I'll wager any amount of money that the VAST MAJORITY of K5 users do not feel that same sort of alliance with you or, especially, with each other.  The vocal minority may appear to be a majority, but they are not the majority and it's the majority that you need to sell.

The vast majority do not share your good will.  They may be here because it satisfies a social urge, or they may be here because they are insufferable egotists who are intrigued by the idea that they have a tidbit of power.  Who knows?  They all have their own motivations.

I would never be friends with anyone who rated me from 0-5.  It is communication, but at its root it is an anti-social action.  A friend wouldn't rudely tell me I was valued or not valued.  To a friend, I'd be valued even if I was a moron.  To a friend, all my comments would be 5s because I would be accepted even when I was wrong.  ESPECIALLY when I was wrong.  A friend is the one who listens to you when you need, not when you're bright or on-target or the stopped clock that's right twice a day.

And we may value you, Rusty, but in order for the site to have value to us, we need to value each other.  So it's still a disconnect.

Furthermore, if we are "friends" with K5, we will accept whatever it needs to do to remain solvent.  "It's sad that it has to have banners," friends will say, "but since I feel I'm a part of it, I accept that this is what it has to do."

Look, I've submitted a few stories.  One of them I'm very proud of, and happy that K5 could be the vessel to get a larger audience for what it was.  GOSH that makes me want to pay!  But the last story I submitted was trashed, and harshly.  It was called unworthy in several different ways.  Sure, it may have been unworthy -- probably was -- that's not really the point.  The point is that it left me terribly unimpressed with the entire community, AS A COMMUNITY.

Rust-man, as someone pointed out in another comment here, you're the guy whose posts get voted up to 5 every single time.  If you want the full user experience -- the experience that the rest of us get -- try posting a story under a pen name some time.  Then you'll really "feel the love" as something that you deeply care about is summarily and harshly rejected.

Then ask yourself what you'd pay to get that experience.

A community, by definition, has to act exclusionary.  What would you pay for the chance to be excluded?


ranking friends (somewhat OT) (5.00 / 2) (#317)
by nosilA on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 12:02:46 PM EST

Don't think of rankings or voting on posts as a reflection on the person, but a reflection on the content.  In college, I had friends as my TAs many times.  Sometimes they didn't give me As because I didn't deserve it.  It's not that I was a bad person, but I did a bad job on the test or homework or lab or whatever.  

If you take things too personally, it means you won't take the criticism in a good way.  The ratings/votes are about the comments/stories, not about you.

-Alison
Vote to Abstain!
[ Parent ]

nonsense (5.00 / 1) (#405)
by tps12 on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 01:52:07 PM EST

To a friend, all my comments would be 5s because I would be accepted even when I was wrong.  ESPECIALLY when I was wrong.

So the more of an idiot you are, the more your friends like you?

You have strange friends.

[ Parent ]

I suppose I do (none / 0) (#459)
by Wondertoad on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 03:27:09 PM EST

...but it makes a lot more sense than paying for them.

[ Parent ]
To a friend, all my comments would be 1s (5.00 / 1) (#451)
by johwsun on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 03:14:39 PM EST

To a friend, I'd never be valued when I am a moron.  To a friend, all my comments would be 1s. I dont want to be accepted when I am wrong.  

[ Parent ]
The Morning Star (3.00 / 3) (#315)
by drhyde on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 12:00:33 PM EST

The Morning Star newspaper (a moderately far-left daily paper in the UK) only survives by constantly asking readers for donations.  But survive it does.  I see no reason that this wouldn't work for K5.

70K is not that much (4.90 / 11) (#316)
by cod on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 12:02:42 PM EST

70K is pocket change to a lot of companies. You have a dedicated, educated, talented audience - just the kind of people many companies spend millions per year trying to recruit or sell to. I think it's highly likely that you could quickly come up with a list of companies that might pay 70K for a year of exclusive access to your audience. Track down their VP of Marketing and make a pitch. You just might get yourself hired at 70K per year, plus full benefits, with your new employer picking up the tab for all expenses. Here are a few firms that come to mind... IBM, Microsoft, Sun are obvious candidates Many of the big tech oriented consumer products firms (like Sony) might be interested too. The K5 audience could be sort of guinea pigs for their new ideas and messages. I guarantee you they spend far in excess of 70K anually on test marketing, etc for new product. If you can find the right person at IBM (and I have no idea who that might be) I really think they might hire you for a year as an experiment, to see if they get value from owning K5. Maybe look for their open spource program manager or somebody like that. Look through IBM press releases for somebody being quoted about open source and call that person. It's worth a shot...

Absolutely (5.00 / 2) (#404)
by superdiva on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 01:50:49 PM EST

The K5 audience could be sort of guinea pigs for their new ideas and messages. I guarantee you they spend far in excess of 70K anually on test marketing, etc for new product. If you can find the right person at IBM (and I have no idea who that might be) I really think they might hire you for a year as an experiment, to see if they get value from owning K5.

Another marketing angle is to see if small book publishers or publishing houses would be willing to buy ad space at K5. I'm sure that there are up-and-coming sci-fi, fiction and non-fiction writers who would love the exposure; it could mean selling a thousand or two more books. And the geek/intellectual crowd will never give up books, no matter how broke they are.

I think Rusty needs to do some marketing and find out what the K5 crowd buys with their disposable income; I'm sure he'll get electronics, books, computers, servers, Doc Martens (j/k)....

I think it's possible for Rusty to make a living running K5, but he should invest his "work hours" on a resource that is guaranteed to give the money he needs: tech companies and culture merchants with ad dollars to burn and want to capitalize on the wealth of readership (and the clicks) K5 gets. The money is out there if you're resourceful and persistent.

Better yet, get a few scrappy kids to be account executives for free and let them keep 10% of the ad revenue. JMHO
_____________________________________________
[ Parent ]
OK, Rusty... (3.00 / 1) (#319)
by Erbo on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 12:15:24 PM EST

I anted up for 1 year at Full membership level. We community types have to stick together :-).

I'd buy more textads to plug Electric Minds, but right now we've got problems of our own; the server disks have crapped out (why, oh why, did the shop I bought the server from have to use IBM DeskStars???) and I've got a lengthy data recovery job ahead of me. Then, too, there is the "I want to do better tracking" issue I've alluded to in previous comments on the textad issue, and I just haven't been able to get a break to add that functionality to Venice.

Of course, I have a real job, too, and there's times I wish I could go your route, but I'm enough of a realist to know it would never work. (Although it was kind of "involuntarily" my "real job" for about 5 months there...let me tell you, that sucks big time.)

Hope things work out for you...
--
Electric Minds - virtual community since 1996. http://www.electricminds.org

not to state the obvious but... (4.33 / 3) (#320)
by hmmmm on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 12:16:59 PM EST

This is in no way in offense to Rusty, who is a good guy, but...the article should be more like "Rusty's broke", shouldn't it?  I mean, K5 gets their equipment, hosting, and bandwith for free, and the only other real expense (minus minor admin costs, like taxes, fees etc) is to pay Rusty.  Like I said, I don't want this to be a flame or anything, but I can't think of too many other people who get paid to sit around and do something like this, it's been that way for Rusty for a few years now, so maybe it's time to return to the real world and get a real paying job.  I'm sure Rusty never thought that this would pay his bills back when he started, and when it did do that, I'm sure he didn't think it would last long, especially after OSDN stopped serving.

The only reason people like ./ survive is when someone buys them out, you think they'd still be around if Rob and Jeff still ran it out of their apartment? No way, they would've never had the time or money to keep up with it and pay their bills at the same time.  I think what Rusty needs is a few other people like himself to split the admin duties so he can work and it doesn't go down the toilet because he can't focus on it full time.  But as others have pointed out, the second it becomes too difficult to read or post here, everyone will go somewhere else that's 100% free of ads or BS.

Shut down the @kuro5hin e-mail addresses... (5.00 / 1) (#337)
by mech9t8 on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 12:40:59 PM EST

But ultimately there has to be someone who knows all the passwords, rebuilds the database when it freaks out at 3 AM, answers help@kuro5hin.org email, responds to the all-too-frequent ratings abuse complaints, soothes ruffled feathers, finds lost account names, keeps in touch with the hosting company, and generally serves as the public face of the site.

It looks to me like most of the work comes from stuff that could just be ignored.  

help@kuro5hin?  Stick a community-supported help forum up.  

Comment rating abuse complaints?  Ignore 'em... someone can go join the discussions in the Scoop community if they really want to be productive.  I'm sure it's mostly just bitching.  

Soothes ruffled feathers?  I'm not sure what this would be, but it sounds like something where if you didn't give an e-mail address to bitch to, people wouldn't be bitching...

Lost account names?  Deal with it... set up a new account.  If you've forgotten your account name, it couldn't have been very important to you.

That leaves the dealing with technical problems... which shouldn't happen too often... and dealing with the hosting company... which shouldn't be needed too often.  Maybe a few trusted people to help out, and it seems to me it could be run by volunteers.

Seems to me that putting those help/complain e-mail addresses there is just asking for more work.  The community is supposed to moderate itself - the best way to test if it's working is to let it do so...  

Anyway, the complete lack of caring or respect for the users exhibited by the Slashdot admins shows what happens if you end up devoting your life to trying to maintain a weblog...

--
IMHO
[ Parent ]

Rusty's broke (3.50 / 2) (#354)
by MicroBerto on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 12:56:33 PM EST

I cannot believe this forum today. All I see is suggestions that obviously will not and have not worked in the long run, when there's one thing Rusty can do and he knows he should -- GET A JOB.

This is an open-source community, scoop has helpers. Scoop and k5 do not need that many more features, and I think it should become less maintenence-needy. K5 is a profitful entity, it's not my damned problem if somebody wants to live off of it and it's failing. Who would ever think that will be sustainable? Please quit bugging people to line your pockets. You have done an excellent job, but it's still not a *job*.

Berto
- GAIM: MicroBerto
Bertoline - My comic strip
[ Parent ]

Pfft, False distinctions. (none / 0) (#683)
by Perianwyr on Tue Jun 18, 2002 at 03:35:10 AM EST

If my 24 bucks can help someone live independently and do what he loves, I'll call that a job. He's not begging. He's just saying that he does something we appreciate, and is asking if we'd like to help. The "i'm broke" card can only be played so often, and to rusty's credit, he's been sparing enough with its use that I will gladly help.

[ Parent ]
One word: Endowment (4.40 / 10) (#323)
by Dr. Zowie on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 12:20:14 PM EST

Why focus on the $70k/year, and not on building a self-supporting endowment? Rusty, we all want to see kuro5hin continue, and your costs would be entirely supported by a relatively small endowment -- say $1,000,000 -- that could be kept with an investment firm or a bank.

I don't think that this is pie-in-the-sky. I, for one, would gladly pay $100 up front to solve this problem once and for all (and I'm pretty broke right now). If you manage to get 1% of your 300,000 visitors to kick in $100, it's $300k -- most of the way toward the magic million-dollar mark needed to support you.

Why "most"? Because fundraisers often gain momentum as they go: once you have a significant fraction of your goal collected, others will take you more seriously. I bet that among your 300,000 readers are 1,000 people who could spare a few kilobucks each for a cause they believe in -- but that kind of contribution takes credibility of the campaign as a whole (as evidenced by the first $100k). You could do the usual things -- put major contributors' names in a "hall of fame", give folks funny hats and other sorts of recognition for contributing, and such. You could also put a box with the current fundraising effort status on the front page.

The point here is that it might be easier to get everyone to pony up a lot, up front, than to get folks to dribble out paltry subscription funds continuously. There's not much difference (for most people) between contributing $1, $10, or $100 -- if they're feeling tight they won't give anything, but if they're feeling comfortable it's not unreasonable to ask for $100 in a good cause.

To make your campaign successful, you need at least a rallying cry ("Make kuro5hin independent!"), a goal ($1,000,000 by October, 2002), an acknowledgement mechanism (e.g. "wall of fame" with ranked types of contributors), and silly prizes. Unlike a traditional campaign (which would send mailings too) you probably want to avoid spamming your readership :-)

Ideally you'd have 501(c)3 charitable organization tax status too -- very important for folks who are more likely to give larger chunks of change.

Payment options! (4.50 / 4) (#325)
by moeffju on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 12:26:52 PM EST

I know it has been said before.

PayPal won't work. Give me some data where I can wire my money to from Europe, and I'd gladly subscribe. But with the current system, I just cannot.


Payment options... (none / 0) (#352)
by dagsverre on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 12:56:17 PM EST

Visa? MasterCard?

[ Parent ]
Hasn't this changed? (none / 0) (#353)
by snakey on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 12:56:21 PM EST

I used to have the same problem, however I believe PayPal have altered their system to accept European transactions. (I live in the UK, and it works for me.) See: PayPal's help page for people outside the U.S.

[ Parent ]
PayPal = Criminals (5.00 / 1) (#454)
by Kintanon on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 03:19:43 PM EST

They will do all kinds of nasty things to you based on specious complaints from random people who you've never done business with. My little brother had them claiming he owed them 600$ based on the fact that one transaction he was in might have been with a person who was at one time guilty of behaviour that resemble their fraud criteria. And they refused to investigate or anything. They just wanted my brother to give them 600$. And stuff like this happened to other people I talked to afterwards as well. I hate paypal.

Kintanon

[ Parent ]

Would you be willing to do e-gold? (none / 0) (#359)
by MickLinux on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 01:03:27 PM EST

I'm just wondering...  the reason I won't touch Paypal ever again is because I have seen enough about them cleaning people's bank accounts out.

Also, they claim to insure against fraud -- then duck everything they can (and try to duck a lot they can't, just to catch the percentages.)

But e-gold doesn't seem to have such problems -- yet, anyhow.

I wonder if e-gold would work.  

I make a call to grace, for the alternative is more broken than you can imagine.
[ Parent ]

prostitution. (3.20 / 5) (#327)
by trener on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 12:31:34 PM EST

think about it.

lots of money to be made.
do you have a daughter? better yet, just take advantage of the k5 hardcores. add some new, chaos-inducing features to scoop (ability to modify diaries, comments, stories after they've been posted - imagine the fun!), and offer free membership provided you're willing to work 3 nights a week.

you'll have that 70000 in no time.



6. Do what PBS does (4.00 / 4) (#328)
by willpost on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 12:33:01 PM EST

- Research how the TV and Radio stations that have no advertising do it.

- Create a plan to host a "web-a-thon" for a certain period of time.

- Have a goal to reach a certain amount of money and show a page with it's progress.

- Set up as a credit card merchant, P.O. boxes for checks and money orders, email for paypal.

- You have to sell the qualities of this site for the cost of running it for a reasonable amount of time.

- If the goal is met, great.. repeat until the goal is not met.

- If the goal is not met then there were not enough  viewers "sold on the content".  You would have two choices.  Extend the "web-a-thon" until a smaller goal is achieved or plan for the end.  If you plan to end, calculate how long the money will last and announce the final day.  Consider it a social experiment and move on to the next project.

P.S. I'll send a few as soon as my Paypal transaction clears.

Don't forget to etch the donators in stone. (nt) (none / 0) (#329)
by willpost on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 12:36:47 PM EST



[ Parent ]
I think this is a good idea (none / 0) (#343)
by Work on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 12:47:45 PM EST

The web-a-thon gives a real time dollar amount needed to keep afloat. It's not abstract like "we simply need more money". It'll give people incentive to actually fork over money, if you're like me and keep saying "one of these of days ill subscribe..."

[ Parent ]
PBS has advertising (none / 0) (#344)
by dipierro on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 12:48:34 PM EST

see subject
In capitalism, man exploits man. In socialism, it's the other way around.
[ Parent ]
Dont Sell K5 just sell out (4.66 / 3) (#334)
by cione on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 12:38:59 PM EST

That seems to be the basic feel from the community. I think Rusty's version of selling out is much more conservative than most. While many don't like banners, they may just save the soul of K5 when K5 won't save itself. That is to say that 1200 wont save the site. If the advertisers for the said banners were smart then some of those advertisements might just be aimed at what the K5 community might buy. Rusty, as long as my personal information isn't let loose then let Mr. Goat buy his banner ad. I know that is an extreme but hey it sets the stage. If the community won't save itself from ads then maybe they won't mind them. I would almost venture to say that people would click on them if they thought it would bring some money to the site. Remember the Digital Identity discussion. People were just going to vote the stories up to get the money in your pocket. Even if banners aren't the way to go, the answer will not make all happy.

The second point is take the help now and work out the logistics of such issues. People have offered to help with stuff like help e-mails. This may not lower costs but it would allow you do work on Scoop to make K5 have those added features that we will pay for. I don't think any of these changes the culture of K5.  I think it may bring to the forefront that K5 is a business and has to make money to stick around. I get more news from K5 in a month than I do my local paper and with a lot more information. That is worth the .13 cents a day. Rusty, your version of selling out may be another person's way of helping out.

_________________________________________________
Chromophobia: The fear of colors

Merchandising, baby! (4.50 / 4) (#335)
by webwench on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 12:39:04 PM EST

You need tshirts and mugs &c.

ugh. (none / 0) (#341)
by Work on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 12:45:50 PM EST

don't go that route. remember how well that worked for all the linux companies that no longer exist.."ah yes, we can pay our developers in money from stuffed penguins!" seriously, are you going to buy a t-shirt a month?

[ Parent ]
any little bit helps. (none / 0) (#355)
by cetan on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 12:56:59 PM EST

So you or I don't buy a t-shirt or mug a month, but with something like Cafepress, there's no need to worry about it.  You don't have to buy anything before hand to setup the store, so it's all just extra income from the get-go.

===== cetan www.cetan.com =====
[ Parent ]
No, but... (none / 0) (#358)
by webwench on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 01:00:50 PM EST

...if some number of people spend $12 apiece on one tshirt, that's still some income.

[ Parent ]
from cafepress (none / 0) (#376)
by nutate on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 01:25:09 PM EST

It looks like people need to spend 15.99 on a t for an $2 profit. A problem like this could be solved by a bunch of little things, but I think it would be better solved by some big idea...

-Rich

[ Parent ]

Rome was built of smaller pieces :) (none / 0) (#398)
by webwench on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 01:43:39 PM EST

But you're right; this sounds time critical, as in a big idea or at least some smaller faster ones are in order.

[ Parent ]
I agree (5.00 / 1) (#357)
by cholly1 on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 12:59:47 PM EST

I agree.

[ Parent ]
Research or someting else (4.60 / 5) (#346)
by Swashbuckler on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 12:49:49 PM EST

Maybe you can get a contract from an Internet Research company (PEW, Media Matrix, etc). Or maybe there are Internet based companies who would pay for your expertise. I am not suggesting you get another job, but instead transform your current job into more money. There are few people in the world, I imagine, that know what you know about Internet communication and fewer people still in the your position to learn more about it. This isn't a quick fix solution by any means. It just seems to me that, as K5 administrator, you could serve a larger purpose then to *just* administrate K5 (and perhaps get paid for it at the same time).


*Note* - this comment contains no inside K5 humour because inside K5 humour is only for/by K5-wankers. Media does not = "community."
several suggestions (4.69 / 13) (#347)
by mattw on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 12:49:51 PM EST

First, I really liked the subscription idea. I just don't feel like I'm quiiite getting my money's worth at $4/mo. At $2/mo for the deluxe membership, I'd subscribe immediately. I'm seriously considering paying $2/mo just for the hell of it. I enjoy k5 more than I would enjoy a typical magazine, after all. But now, with the whole $4 thing, I'm feeling like if I pay $2, I'm missing out on a bunch of features that cost you nothing but a tiny smidgeon of CPU (that you don't pay for). See my dilmena? I might not be the only one.

Second -- textads. Well, I bought one, and it was really just for the site, because I figured (essentially correctly) that the odds of a K5 reader needing scrapbooking supplies was between 0 and 0.0001%. (And as evidenced by what might be a record-low clickthru rate for a single minimum-run ad). However, here's the thing. The average K5 reader is probably seeing a lot of pages. If I were you, I'd figure out how many, and make sure they didn't see the same textad more than 3-4 times MAXIMUM per visit. Then once you know how many textads are needed, auction them off. In other words, stop selling by impressions. Auction off textads by day. You average X impressions, you'll share the box with X people during your day, etc. So if the average K5 user, say, views 30 page views per day, you'll sell 10 ads per day, and you'll auction them off. Now, I don't think this will necessarily make you $2/person, but hey.

Volunteer more-intrusive advertising. I've brought this up before, but I'd happily volunteer to receive rusty-selected more intrusive ads -- even via email. I don't think all email advertising is spam. I just want to pick what I get, I want to know there's value being received in return for my attention, I want to know who its coming from, etc. So let people volunteer to receive a K5 newsletter with ads. You (as editor in chief), or via some sort of algorithm against votes, will pick a 'best of k5'. Send out a newsletter to those who request it, and let people who VOLUNTEER to receive these ads pick out a profile, and you spend a smidge of time to screen would-be ads into the profiles. I ask for computer/net related ads -- I get them. Book ads? I get them. I don't want to get an ad for pantyhose? Ok, skip the female products. This way advertisers know exactly how many people are getting their ad, and if it fits into a category, they know these people ASKED to receive the ad. That's got to be valuable. You know, the johnscompanies.com ad, for example, stuck in my head. That shared-hosting stuff was cool, and while I don't need it now, I will look into them again if I do, and they have k5 to thank. Hell, you might even include a dynamic version of the newsletter on the site -- same ads, but some sort of, "I thought this was interesting, and I'm not looking for it now, but I may in the future" feedback for an advertiser. Again, this is all voluntary, but people who can't or don't want to pay money may pay attention for k5.

An entirely new form of advertising: the "I was enlightened" link. By your own admission, media exists to present its viewers to advertisers. Once again, however, I suggest a voluntary-and-more-obtrusive form of advertising. The "I was enlightened link". After we read a particularly interesting story, or an interesting comment, there's an "I was enlightened" link. It is like another type of vote, say -- it takes a user to a page where they view a nice, big, full color ad -- be it a banner, or bigger. It can be a full page monstrosity! Why? Because the user is saying, "Hey, what the hell...I loved this. I'm going to support K5, the medium that brought it to me, by viewing it."

I definitely support another user's suggestion of a K5 book. I'd buy it. I'd buy several copies if something I wrote made it into the book, in fact. Interestingly, there's actually a whole cottage industry that does this with poetry and such. People host a poetry contest or whatever, and the prize is publication. They get thousands of entries, and if you win, all you have to do is accept by ordering a copy of the book. In other words, there's space for X poems, and they will sell at least X copies, guaranteed -- because people like to see their poems in print. This would go triple for K5. Let's elaborate:

  • You sell copies to those whose comments or stories are published
  • You get mainstream media which drives more visitors and more sales to cover the book
  • You add in a special link for book-published stories for easy reference. www.kuro5kin.org/book/1 for the first article published in the book
  • We distill what goes into the book by taking story nominations. Say, any trusted user or paid subscribed can nominate, anyone can vote, and you'll write a quick story summary
  • Footnotes will translate attached links into something relevent.
  • An editorial summary will give details in the book, like when the story was published on k5, what the voting stats were, etc.


I think it would be fun. And honestly, K5 already has some of the best gems on the web. It is one of the few places intimate enough to have caused me to actually change a viewpoint on anything, or really learned anything. That sort of thing would translate into book form. It would make a hell of a coffee table book.

The ideas just keep coming to me. So, you sold this little 'digital identity' box? Did they actually end up paying you? I'd like to see a "soapbox" box. Auction it off, again, by the day, week, or month, and it becomes the semi-property of the owner. They can place any story still in the queue into it, and any comment. It will run, say, 3 lines long, and say, "Comment: <comment subject here>" or "Story: <The many faces of mrgoat>" or such. You can even click the box to see what they've been doing with it. Honestly, I might cough up $100 once to own a box like that for a week. It would be fun. Again, it's all in the line of supporting k5.

Have a membership drive. Instead of saying $2/$4, let everyone offer to pay what they want, from $.25 minimum to $4 for a membership. Say your goal is $6000/mo income. When you get there, memberships are then only available at $5/mo. You've created both an ease of purchase and artificial scarcity. Better to pay $2/mo now than be forced to pay $5/mo later.

Promise us more. I want more features. I'd really ilke to view, in some easy-to-navigate manner, a best-of-k5, since whenever I last checked it. I don't want to see 30 obscure comments with 1 vote of 5, I want stuff that got 30 5s and 3 1s from people who hated it. Provocative, insightful, etc. Perhaps -- shocking, eh? -- instead of just going on votes, present a best-of-k5 as picked by the mega-mojo crowd. Take the users each week with the 20 highest mojos, and let them each pick a comment to add to this best-of-the-best digest. You promote thoughtful comments and provide something of interest.

Develop some partnerships with people who sell stuff. For example, I'd actually ENJOY having a k5 box that showed me what was new at copyleft. I like them, I like their products, and having a box on your site would drive sales.

Get yourself an amazon/B&N affiliate link. I'd buy my books through you. Seriously. And make sure its done in such a way I can be sure you get credit, if possible. I probably spend upwards of $1000/yr on books, if not more. If you get 3-5% of that, you've got my subscription, via referrals. If there were just 500 people who did likewise, you'd have $15k. And I'd still get the subscription anyhow if it were a smidge cheaper (or if I felt compelled to by an auction when I realized that there were enough people willing to pay).

Anyhow, its hard to tell what you're really after. I think there are a lot of creative ways to make money which both promote the site or require very little effort, or whatever. I'd buy a well-done k5 t-shirt for $20, for sure. But you don't want a job, even if it makes you $16/shirt. I'd buy a k5 mousepad -- I'd absolutely kill to get a k5 pad with the "best quotes of all time". Anyhow, if what you're saying is, "How do I make $70k a year without changing anything?" the answer is: "Have fun getting a job, and we hope the heroic countenance you enjoy here is enough reason to run the site in your spare time." But K5 has, as far as I'm concerned, changed the landscape of the 'community site' forever. There's no reason you shouldn't make an effort to change the landscape of the money-making aspects of the web. I'd start trying the crazy ideas.

One final idea: you could write a book. There's a bunch of choices. You could comment on the making of K5, and what life was like before, during, and after the making of it. You could write a perl-and-sql-as-taught-by-learning-scoop book. You could write an interesting and thoughtful treatise on what's occupying the mind of the K5 demographic these days, and what your thinking reader scoffs at and reveres, from your own perspective but drawing on K5 stories and comments as material for your writing. I like that last idea the best -- a navigation of (probably geek-oriented) social issues, debated from the same perspective, written by rusty but drawing upon the gems of the community. I think it would have wider appeal than even the K5 community would reveal. In fact, I'd probably even be willing to finance a first print run myself if you didn't have a publisher who'd be willing to pick it up. When you get down to the nitty gritty, what little material I've seen from you as a contributor instead of just the site manager/editor has been pretty nice, and I'd say you'd probably come off very well in print. You managed to write a couple thousand words which could be summed up as, "I had trouble getting into the Expo for those Apple sell-outs", and it was quite entertaining ;)


[Scrapbooking Supplies]
Affiliate Link Suggestion (5.00 / 2) (#403)
by Erbo on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 01:50:24 PM EST

If you do go the affiliate link route, link to a bookstore like The Tattered Cover (here in Denver) rather than Amazon or B&N. Independent booksellers pursue the same goals as independent Web sites; they deserve our support more than the bloated megacorp bookstores do.
--
Electric Minds - virtual community since 1996. http://www.electricminds.org
[ Parent ]
so long as... (none / 0) (#527)
by mattw on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 05:58:28 PM EST

So long as they are price competitive. Being an affiliate won't help rusty (who runs the best website in its class, AFAIC) get money, if people won't buy because they're not getting as good a deal as they can at Amazon/BN/etc.


[Scrapbooking Supplies]
[ Parent ]
text ads by user (none / 0) (#431)
by eries on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 02:34:02 PM EST

We already have a user system here. It would not be that hard to guarantee that no individual account got shown the same ad more than N times (where you can set N when you buy the ad). That way, I could say "one impression per person" and know that my ad will last a lot longer than just "the first 10000 HTTP GET responses your webserver sends out"...
Promoting open-source OO code reuse on the web: the Enzyme open-source project
[ Parent ]
How Ads Work : Repetition (none / 0) (#584)
by kraant on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 08:25:15 PM EST

Ads work by hammering the concept in by being shown repeatedly so that they sink into a persons subconscious.

Like how ads are shown on TV.

What do you think when I say Cola?
--
"kraant, open source guru" -- tumeric
Never In Our Names...
[ Parent ]

How many today? (4.33 / 3) (#348)
by nchannen on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 12:51:02 PM EST

So, rusty, how many new subscribers have you got in the last 8.5 (and counting...) hours? I know it's at least one :-) Thanks for explaining your financial situation enough in advance that we (the community) have time to try to help. I'm glad you didn't leave it until it was too late, and then announce that k5 was closing.
--
Parents of young organic lifeforms are warned that towels can be harmfull if swallowed in large quantities. [HHGttG]
Pay or contribute model (4.00 / 4) (#360)
by MSBob on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 01:04:19 PM EST

I've been toying with the idea of a pay or contribute business model. I had several ideas quite different from a web log but it might work for you too.

Basically what you could do is create a subscription model based on points. You collect points for every story you submit that gets posted. Comment ratings are too prone to abuse and therefore useless.

Each viewing of a story costs you a cetrain number of points. Once you exhaust the points you have you can either try and post a story to get some points again or pay money and simply buy yourself points with plastic.

Draconian? You bet. Does it have a chance of working? I think so. This is a way to prompt those who neither pay nor post interesting stories into realising that they are getting something for nothing. And in todays' world you can't have a large number of your customers constantly getting free lunch. That won't work.

Making everything monetary subscription based is too harsh in my opinion but the model I propose is a compromise you should consider. I appreciate your generocity but if you can't make your site at least break even you're being too generous.

Technical details aside the idea is that one either contributes meaningful content or only gets to see said content for $$$ if they can't come up with something of a value themselves. You might have the first week free or something so the newbies can experience the site before making a decision.

I don't mind paying taxes, they buy me civilization.

Income 'tuning' (3.00 / 1) (#362)
by MSBob on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 01:05:52 PM EST

In my system you could tune your monthly income by rasing/lowering point thresholds required to access the site.
I don't mind paying taxes, they buy me civilization.

[ Parent ]
Won't fly here (5.00 / 1) (#367)
by jabber on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 01:16:15 PM EST

That might work in a cashless society, but Rusty needs to eat. Contribution quotas are fine if you're trying to fend off leeches, like the old-time file-sharing BBS'es did. But K5 doesn't have a problem with stale content.

Why would anyone want to pay to surf this website? If it costs money to be part of this community, but /. is free, then everyone will simply go there. If you require something as tangible as money to participate, you must give something equally tangible back.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

Not quite (4.00 / 1) (#371)
by MSBob on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 01:22:03 PM EST

This site is much more user driven than slashdot that is its main selling point. It took off because it is quite different from slashdot. I visit both and just seek different stuff in both. Slashdot is a geek/tech only site this is more of a general armchaair scientist, basement politician, free wheeling community than slashdot. If my idea won't work then I believe nothing else will. I think we'd also see a dramatic spike in the quality of queue submissions once there is a real incentive to get your story on the front page. I see nothing but benefits :) Sorry.
I don't mind paying taxes, they buy me civilization.

[ Parent ]
Sounds like an old Warez BBS (none / 0) (#470)
by humpasaur on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 03:41:19 PM EST

I used to frequent warez BBS's in the early 90s and they usually had a similar model.

Upload something good, or quit leeching.
----

*sigh* Must I explain FURTHER?
[ Parent ]

With a difference (none / 0) (#574)
by MSBob on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 07:49:11 PM EST

Here you would contribute something (mostly an article) or pay money to enable access. See the pay money bit. This is the important part.
I don't mind paying taxes, they buy me civilization.

[ Parent ]
Welcome to the real world (4.00 / 4) (#363)
by thunderbee on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 01:06:36 PM EST

It's nice working on what would otherwise be a hobby. I know. I own a small European ISP. I get paid minimum wages for between 60-100 hours a week, but hey, I'm my own boss.

Now we don't have K5's problem because we sell a service (many actually). However since we try and do it honestly (not selling the same bandwith to 5 cutomers, writing nice commented code, ...) we have a hard time growing. We live, but don't make enough money to fully fund our growth. We'd have to sell out (actually sell or get VC which would be the same in the end) to do that. We do go on because we're not losing money, our clients really appreciate our service, and do love our freedom from pointy-haired boss ;-)

I'll tell you what I think - whatever you do, if you do it right, you simply can't make enough money to live on it. It's true for us, it's true for you. If you stand by your principles (and it is a commendable thing), you'll never make a living.

Go get yourself a job, and spend whatever time you have left to run the site. Don't neglect your family, they're worth much more than a website. If you can't run it by yourself, delegate. If you can't delegate, let it die honourably rather than selling out.

It's not a light decision to make, but you can't go on living, hoping every month that enough money will come in to get you your paycheck.

And if K5 does go on, please post some site statistics. I'd buy some TextAds if I knew how many french-based readers (at least those with a .fr TLD) read the site ;-)

geographic text ads (none / 0) (#414)
by Arkady on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 02:04:28 PM EST

Like you, I sun a small ISP (though as a collective, we can't go the VC route).

We would also buy a running text ad if we could filter it so it only went to norther California, since we can't do a broader geographic range.  We did do one text ad already, but only got 2 click-throughs and no contact.  We really do need better focus before it would be useful.

That said, K5 could charge for ads on a base price + click-through model.  This would make it more generally attractive as well as making more money from successful ads.

-robin

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.


[ Parent ]
WEBATHON (3.00 / 1) (#366)
by gmol on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 01:09:43 PM EST

Rusty, In the text-ad box, put a up a blatant plea for money. I'll put in $100...and I'm sure others will put in alot. This kind of think worked for thegia.com.

Ah, gmol do you mind sitting down...? (none / 0) (#384)
by xxxlucasxxx on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 01:31:52 PM EST

I hate to break this to you gmol, but GIA is dead, long live GIA!

As we can see webathoning might not be the best idea on its own. I am sure that if it was part of a group of money making schemes it would help supliment. It's a start.

[ Parent ]

TheGIA died for other reasons (none / 0) (#487)
by gmol on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:15:52 PM EST

My point was that thegia asked for money and raised 10K in someone insanely short amount of time, probably from an audience with less purchasing power than k5's.

If you read the farewell, it just seemed (at least to me) that thegia editors were just tired of running the site (started in high school, they've graduated college...not as much time to invest in RPG's).

A once in a-while beg-a-thon might be a sustainable strategy.


[ Parent ]

In any event... (none / 0) (#726)
by xxxlucasxxx on Wed Jun 19, 2002 at 02:07:51 PM EST

I think you found a winner. The WEBATHON idea is really pulling it in. Good idea.

[ Parent ]
Thank you, Rusty (4.25 / 4) (#368)
by Yekrats on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 01:16:57 PM EST

I'm mostly a lurker here, but I'd like to thank you, Rusty, for being up front about K5's financial situation.

In my opinion, SlashDot made the transition from free to payed-for-by-ads poorly. They sprung their subscription/advertising model without asking their readers. When quizzed about Slashdot's financial situation, they were vague and cagey.

Your honesty about the situation is much appreciated. Although, like many others, I am somewhat on the penniless side, I'll see if I can chip in some dough or buy a text ad in the near future. I'll do what I can.

-- Yekrats

The PBS Problem (4.00 / 2) (#369)
by eann on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 01:21:02 PM EST

I should've mentioned more of this in my comment below about the PBS model not working.

Significant funding for PBS and NPR stations comes from grants and corporate underwriting. They have commercials, they're just all stuffed in at the beginning and end of programs. Remember, it's now ExxonMobil Masterpiece Theatre. The rules are dodgy about advertising, but there are many ways a company can promote itself without directly saying "buy our products".

Most stations also get state money (usually under the education budget), but quite a few don't (Massachusetts, Michigan, I'm sure others). The limited federal support is important, but it's not exactly flowing freely these days, either. Public broadcast stations only get about half their funding from their audiences, and they're finding it's not enough.

K5 may be the PBS of weblogs, but that's not a good sign for K5.


Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men. —MLK

$email =~ s/0/o/; # The K5 cabal is out to get you.


Guilt works wonders (4.50 / 8) (#375)
by JyZude on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 01:23:06 PM EST

Oh, er, did I sign up to Kuro5hin at a bad time? This is my first post...

Instead of banner ads, develop a guilt-o-meter. The meter would use cookies to track users of the site, (hey, everyone else is doing it!) It would count the number of stories that user viewed, diary entries read, perhaps approximate time on the site, (tricky, but could be done).

Make this data prominent on the page somewhere. Give it a nice pastel red background. Calculate a "cost" for the content. So, if I pay 10$/mo for a daily newspaper and I read, say, 5 to 10 articles from it per day, I pay approximately five to seven cents per article. So the guilt-o-meter would say:

You've read 28 Kuro5hin articles! If this were a newspaper, you would be paying $1.40. So far, you paid: $0.00.

When that total goes above, say 5$, make the guilt-o-meter go bright red. Don't say YOU SHOULD PAY, BASTARD, just have it sit there in its bright red majesty. Oh, and put a pay link on it.

When a user clicks the pay button, he chooses the amount to pay. When he pays more than what he owes, the guilt-o-meter should turn a pleasing green.

The guilt-o-meter should appear even for not-logged-in users. (In that case, make it track by browser cookies and/or IP).

Oh yes, and peer pressure should help this system. If the user owes > +5$, put a red dot next to his username. If he owes < -5$, give him a green dot. Green dot people maybe could get privileges. I dunno what.

In any case, I think I should go buy a premium membership before I feel too guilty.

-----
k5 is not the new Adequacy k thnx bye


Abuses (4.00 / 2) (#380)
by nosilA on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 01:28:27 PM EST

I think that would have minimal effect, as people could just come up with another account.  Some people are trying to build up personae, but they will either pay or not pay out of spite.  The people who just occasionally post would just continue to do so and change accounts in order to avoid obnoxious messages/red dots.

-Alison
Vote to Abstain!
[ Parent ]

Yes (none / 0) (#501)
by AmberEyes on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 05:01:31 PM EST

That's an excellent idea. It certainly is good to throw guilt trips on poor college kids, or someone who just got fired from their job. Thats exactly the kind of motivation that they need to somehow divine money from thin air.

Plus, as another benefit, the good part is that your idea absolutely guarantees we won't have people having trollish contests over who can leech the most off of K5 by seeing who can make their Guilt-O-Meter the brightest red, because that would just be mean.

I like your idea a lot more than adding more functionality for subscribed users, and trying to lure people who aren't subscribed to the service by showing them how they can achieve this functionality. It's much better to treat them like worthless shit right off the bat, so they understand how friendly we are, and how much we value the idea of a community.

-AmberEyes


"But you [AmberEyes] have never admitted defeat your entire life, so why should you start now. It seems the only perfect human being since Jesus Christ himself is in our presence." -my Uncle Dean
[ Parent ]
ouch. (none / 0) (#730)
by JyZude on Wed Jun 19, 2002 at 03:41:39 PM EST

Hmm. Yes. Well. In any case, I like rusty's non-profit idea much better, and I paid some cash to make that meter move. My guilt-o-meter idea should be killed. AmberEyes, you are right, but did you really have to be that sarcastic about the whole thing? That really hurt. You could have told me I was a complete moron in a more polite way.


-----
k5 is not the new Adequacy k thnx bye


[ Parent ]
Pride not guilt (none / 0) (#597)
by j0e on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 09:09:55 PM EST

Not a terrible idea, but it might be more effective if it emphasised the positives. Contributors who have donated should get virtual badges that all others will see. This would also act as a constant reminder to those who have not yet contributed.

Joe Lombardo | Joe at familytimes dot com
[ Parent ]
You just convinced me... (3.50 / 2) (#377)
by mbell on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 01:26:39 PM EST

Rusty, you just convinced me to buy a membership. I bought a 6 month full membership for $24. I don't particularly care about any of the features offered, but I want to support this site that I have gotten so much use out of. I'm a lurker (hell, this is my first post in a year or something), but I read the site daily. Its great for those long hours at work when you have nothing to do and just need to look busy. I want K5 to stay alive.

One thing that would really motivate people to buy a subscription would be little icons next to each user's name when they post signifying if they were members. The peer-pressure around here could shame people into buying a membership and it would offer some prestige to the user.

If you're a lurker like me, and get loads of amusement from this site, just buy a membership. Even if you don't care about the features, support the site.

-mbell

Showing who is a member (4.00 / 1) (#389)
by Kyle on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 01:37:59 PM EST

I've heard before the idea of having an icon next to names of people who contribute. I like the idea, but I think the icon should be optional for members.

  1. Members should be able to hide their icon from others. I want to look just like any of the other rabble, thanks.
  2. Members should be able to hide everyone else's icon from themselves. I don't want to discriminate, so please don't tell me who's who.

Taking the proposal to the next level, there could be a "leech rating" that tells how much a user takes away from the site in terms of bandwidth or page views or what-have-you. Each user would have an icon representing their contributions minus their leechiness. You'd be able to tell at a glance if someone contributes more than they take away or take away more than they contribute. I'm thinking of a color gradient or a filled row of stars or something.

It's just an idea. How exactly to quantify a leech value, and how it compares to dollar/good comment contributions would probably be the subject of a lot of debate.

[ Parent ]

Why. (3.00 / 1) (#382)
by /dev/trash on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 01:28:48 PM EST

I like K5.  Articles are diverse.  People are diverse.  The admin don't have that /. attitude.  Hell I even put up with the DI stuff.

That being said, I'd gladly give 50 bucks a month to keep K5 up and running.  But this isn't two years ago and I have no job.  I can afford a textad every other month, and subscribing has enough features to perhaps get me addicted to paying.

Once the job situation works it's self out, I'll give more.  Little consolation because at this rate I'll be unemployed til I retire.


---
Updated 02/20/2004
New Site

suggestions (4.77 / 9) (#386)
by Arkady on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 01:34:00 PM EST

I've seen some good ones in the comments; here are the ones that I thnk could go over well:

1)     First, the comment about the vast majority not really being engaged may or may not be true, but it feels right.  Much as I personally hate advertising, I'm obviously willing to pay not to see it.  I see no problem with K5 having three (instead of the current two) tiers of ad-blocking.  Say, $2 lets you block the banners and $4 lets you block the text ads.  I know you don't want to deal with setting up ad deals and such; the next one deals with that.

2)     You can offload some of the responsibilities to other folks, and generate some income (as well as try out some of your ideas from the Constitutional K5 article), by turning K5 Inc. into a membership organization.  I'd certainly pay $100/year to be a member.  That'd bring your "official" standing down to being an equal one-among-many, though your unofficial standing as founder will always be the first among equals.  The nifty thing is that the folks would then be paying for the priveledge of contributing even more.  For example, any of the members could then be responsible for arranging advertising, merchandising or any of the more "business" side that you don't want to deal with.

3)     I don't know what his/her K5 username is, but a reader on Anarchy Online has suggested that a K5 book would be a good idea, and I agree (and not just because it was my own article whichwas the immediate inspiration for it).  I strongly suspect that O'Reilly would be interested in publishing and distributing such a collection and (if you went the membership route) it would not be difficult to get editors from the membership.  In addition to providing some extra income, a book would also provide a lot of extra publicity as well as giving K5's writers a cache of legitimacy in the dead-tree world.  I have no doubt whatsoever that any K5 writer whose work was selected would donate use of their copyright to help K5.

4)     Diversify; remember talking to Craig (who already has a comment on this article) and Matt about using Scoop in peer-reviewed scientific publishing?  Most of the features it would need are available now (though it still looks like accounts can only be members of one group at a time still).  Go for it.  K5's current machines can handle adding in another site, and this would broaden K5's exposure as well as provide both a new source of revenue and a big change for the better in the world of science.

5)     Dr. Zowie's comment on endowments in a good one.  Once the basic bills are paid, put 50% of any money left over into an endowment fund (from which you never draw principle, only interest).  Not only would an endowment help stabilize K5 as an economic entity, as an investment fund it could be used to support worthy ventures.

6)     Think about the boundries between user/subscriber/premium subscriber/member and what features belong where.  Comment rating, for example, could benefit from being moved to a basic subscriber only feature (in that it would largely prevent anyone from setting up multiple accounts to game the ratings, since they'd have to pay for each account).  Alternately, you could move only trusted user status to subscriber-only (meaning you'd have to have high mojo _and_ be a subscriber to get it); this would at least cut down on the extraneous 0s.

Those are some thoughts; there are many other good ones in the comments here.

Nil desperandum.  ;-)

-robin

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.


Whats so bad about ads? (4.50 / 2) (#387)
by the womble on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 01:35:58 PM EST

Personally I do not mind ads on a free site.

I like what slashdot does (subscribers do not see ads, everyone else does).

The "other schemes" option need not take too much of your time (to run the business you do not want to be in). You need someone else who does want to be in that business. K5 merchandise may make a nice additional line for someone already in the t-shirt buiness, for example.

There is no reason you can not combine  options 1,3 and 5.

I am considering subscribing even though I only started using K5 recently so I hope long time users will pay up.

What do you wanna K5 to be? (4.71 / 7) (#388)
by cribeiro on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 01:37:23 PM EST

Firs of all, I have to praise your courage. It takes guts to write such frank admission. Now, let us see what be done about it.

What do you wanna K5 to be? That is the main question, and not an easy one.

  • K5 as a social club, or a charitable entity. This takes some transparency from you. Post financial reports periodically - monthly for example. Show your balance sheet and cash flow statements; let us know how much do you have on reserves, and how many subscriptions are going to expire in the next months. This way, people can decide whether to send or not money to you, and how much.
  • K5 as an 'entrepreunership' (that's how it's written in English? ouch!). In this case, you want K5 to be a successfull company. In this case, a simple rule. Don't be ashamed to make money. Sell T-Shirts. Sell mugs. Make partnerships. Publish books. Do whatever you seem fit to leverage the K5 brand with the public.
  • K5 as a corporate sponsored site. That would detract a lot from your independent position, but that's nothing wrong with it - it's a choice like any other. Pursue a corporate partner that is willing to pay you, and to explore all commercial aspects of it for you.
Once you have made your mind, go for it. But don't stop thinking, I should have done it other way. These are pragmatic options. If you don't choose your own way, no way will lead you anywhere.

Spelling and such (none / 0) (#491)
by lumen on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 04:28:08 PM EST

Entrepreneurship, actually...blame the French, I suppose...

I have only been reading (, moderating, and editing) K5 for a few weeks now, and I will probably subscribe for a few months at the very least in the near future. It is more than support-worthy.

[ Parent ]
An immodest proposal (4.76 / 13) (#391)
by jabber on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 01:38:22 PM EST

I think that this is a very good opportunity for a select group of K5 readers to do their part and help K5 make it's bills.. You know what I'm getting at here, don't you folks??

"The Women of Kuro5hin.org - The Swimsuit Calendar"

Now, I'd buy THAT for a dollar! Hell, I'd buy that for as many dollars as it had participants. Can't you just envision one of these in every server room across the world? "Hey Joe! Check out the rack on that one!" "Which one Bob? The Sun Blade, or Perdida?", "Check out Mentots in that VA Research t-shirt! And boy! If iGrrl doesn't just make me wanna do some gene-splicing of my own."

Sorry if anyone feels left out, but you know what would fix that? More exposure.. Ahem..

Then there's also the possibility of sponsorship. Yes, I've already suggested promotional logo t-shits.. But imagine those soaking wet with, say, Bawlz.. Or a text-ad written in chocolate syrup on Evilpckls' naked back.. The opportunities to aid K5 in this hour of need are endless.

Come on ladies.. You know you want that ego stroked. You KNOW you do.. And what better way to do it than for a good cause?

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"

let's not be sexist (5.00 / 1) (#407)
by Arkady on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 01:53:17 PM EST

I know Rusty and Hurst both look good in swimsuits, so you may want to do either a Men of K5 calender as well or just skip that and do one Folks of K5.

It'd make a nice replacement for the (now-seems-to-defunct) Studmuffins of Science calender.

-robin

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.


[ Parent ]
Hey, I'm game (none / 0) (#417)
by jabber on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 02:09:20 PM EST

I look decent in a two piece, what the hell..
But I think we should keep it as two separate issues, or maybe one for men, one for women, and one for both..

[Fluffy Grue comment deleted, just in case.]

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

not just swimsuits (4.50 / 2) (#452)
by Arkady on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 03:15:56 PM EST

I have no idea how I'd look in a swimsuit, since I very rarely wear them, but I'm told I'm pretty hot (in a metphorical, as well as literal, sense) in the motorcycle leathers.

Maybe a broader theme?

Actually, it'd be kinda nifty to do a calender that, openned in one direction, was photos of tech women and, openned from the other side, was photos of tech guys.  One printing, lower cost, bigger audience.  Plus, it can't really be called sexist.

Anyone want to set up a photo submission/voting sirte for this?  I'll host it for free on myserver, but I don't have time to whack together a back-end.

I'm sure we could convince Rusty to delegate "calender.kuro5hin.org" to this.  ;-)

-robin

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.


[ Parent ]
Ha (5.00 / 1) (#550)
by rusty on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 06:33:09 PM EST

This coming from a man who appears in my .sig quotes file saying "Those lads were *buff*!" Hmm...

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
I've seen all three of you without shirts... (none / 0) (#569)
by tankgirl on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 07:28:49 PM EST

...so really, you'd all have to be in Speedos to get any more of hard earned cash. But, that is something I would definitely pay money for....

You three are all very much 'hottie geeks', if not also 'haughty geeks'!

jeri.
"I'm afraid of Americans. I'm afraid of the world. I'm afraid I can't help it." -David Bowie
[ Parent ]

It's settled then (5.00 / 1) (#618)
by jabber on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 09:57:24 PM EST

Do it up Rusty. Set up someplace we can email photos, and the members of the community can vote their pleasure for 36 (2*18 months) most eminently swimsuitable K5ers, democratically and so forth - though, it may become a www.amik5ornot.com, though that too might be worth a chuckle. Then it gets sold for production costs + $4.99, or something.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

Should everyone be allowed to vote? (5.00 / 1) (#631)
by tankgirl on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 10:50:47 PM EST

Or just the premium subscription holders?

jeri.
"I'm afraid of Americans. I'm afraid of the world. I'm afraid I can't help it." -David Bowie
[ Parent ]

And so it begins (4.00 / 1) (#637)
by jabber on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 11:01:54 PM EST

Well, IMHO, yes, everyone should vote. After all, not only the <sarc>Higher Class Citizens</sarc> will be able to reap the fruits of these labors.

Though, I think it might be a good idea to first lay out some ground rules, and categories on what is acceptable.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

My fear... (none / 0) (#645)
by tankgirl on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 11:30:39 PM EST

...is that people will use their troll accounts to pad the vote....if accounts that have forked over the actual dollars were the only ones able to vote then, it would be less likely for people to troll the calendar submissions.

Plus, aren't those with subscriptions supposed to have extra privileges?

Plus, it would be one more incentive to register for a subscription. Thereby helping Rusty meet his short term goal of a paycheck in July.

jeri.
"I'm afraid of Americans. I'm afraid of the world. I'm afraid I can't help it." -David Bowie
[ Parent ]

but (none / 0) (#646)
by Arkady on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 11:37:28 PM EST

It seems that, probably, many subscribers would buy a K5 calender, if only to support Rusty (as they've paid a subscription for the same reason).  As the subscribers are few, however, if many sell the majority of purchasers will _not_ be subscribers.

Of course, your point about vote padding probably overrides any concern about whether this should matter.

Come to think of it, the risk of inane/obnoxious vote padding argues strongly in favor of a subscriber-only vote.  You could think of the results as a surprise to be presented to non-subscribers?

-robin

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.


[ Parent ]
The way that polls are right now... (none / 0) (#656)
by tankgirl on Tue Jun 18, 2002 at 12:15:25 AM EST

...I think that works...As would that pic of you in your new leathers on the bike :->

Now all we need is hurstdog and his surfboard and rusty in his running shorts on a sailboat.

Where can I preorder this thing?

;-)
jeri.
"I'm afraid of Americans. I'm afraid of the world. I'm afraid I can't help it." -David Bowie
[ Parent ]

K5, the New Republic (none / 0) (#658)
by jabber on Tue Jun 18, 2002 at 12:27:36 AM EST

Ok, let's reconsider this.. Everyone gets to vote on a subset of choices approved by the Premium Subscriber Electorate?

Oh, speaking of leathers, where can I get a durable pair of leather pants? I have a pair that's more 'looks' than 'function', and while they're very appreciated by the people who's opinion I appreciate in return, they're not exactly ones to be worn 'around'.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

Reconsidered, and I agree with you. (5.00 / 1) (#665)
by tankgirl on Tue Jun 18, 2002 at 12:39:52 AM EST

I'm not a fan of discriminating, but I even less of a fan of trolls ;-)

Regarding leathers, it depends on the function you need them for. Arkady's are for the bike, and they're made by Tiger Angel.

They were a present and completely custom with armor in all the right places for the most protection while he's out riding. I highly recommend them if you ride, and they happen to be quite aesthetically pleasing, too ;-)

cheers,
jeri.
"I'm afraid of Americans. I'm afraid of the world. I'm afraid I can't help it." -David Bowie
[ Parent ]
I don't ride (none / 0) (#666)
by jabber on Tue Jun 18, 2002 at 12:52:08 AM EST

But I'm not ruling it out as a possible adrenaline delivery system; though my GF is sure to differ with me on that. Still, I like the look, but couldn't bring myself to be that much of a poseur. I'd have to get a bike to justify the leather. Maybe I can sell Spiegs on the bike if I call it a fashion accessory. ;)

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

Hmmm... (none / 0) (#677)
by tankgirl on Tue Jun 18, 2002 at 01:56:59 AM EST

...fashion accessory....worry. As attractive of a fashion accessory I think it is on Arkady, I also think it requires alot of know how to stay safe.

Arkady's been riding since he was in his teens, and from his stories, I've learned that like martial arts, it's important to know how take a fall.

Just be careful while enjoying yourself ;-)

jeri.
"I'm afraid of Americans. I'm afraid of the world. I'm afraid I can't help it." -David Bowie
[ Parent ]
Very much yes (none / 0) (#708)
by jabber on Tue Jun 18, 2002 at 09:41:34 AM EST

Don't get me wrong, riding isn't something I'd ever take lightly. I've several (not very near-by) friends who ride, and several more who worry about them very much when they do. I've heard them referred to as 'donorcycles' too often to not be aware of the inherent danger that a lack of fenders and bumpers provides. As with every other 'new thing' that might land me in a hospital or worse, when I cross that bridge, I'll do it in baby steps.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

yup (5.00 / 1) (#636)
by Arkady on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 11:00:35 PM EST

Looks like you're going to get railroaded into this.  ;-)

How about it?  I'll submit a shot of me topless in the leathers (posed on the bike?) if you'll pony up one flexing in your running togs (maybe lounging on a saiboat?  picturesque ocean background?).  Not that I think we should waste your photo on a calender page.  Nor sir; you should be the cover model.

Think we can get Hurst into it?

-robin

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.


[ Parent ]
Excellent idea. (5.00 / 1) (#577)
by voltaire on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 08:02:53 PM EST

I'd easily pony up the cash for this.

[ Parent ]
Donations (4.00 / 3) (#392)
by tankrshr77 on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 01:38:23 PM EST

One of my favorite sites, FreeRepublic.com came upon funding problems in the same way as of two years ago. The solution was simple- user funded contribution campaigns. Each quarter, there is a huge gauge at the top of each page measuring how close they are to the goal (with motivational comments). In the comment section of each new article during the fund raising period, big contribution ads appear. There are also races between registered users for each state to contribute the most money. This has been very effective.

you may have answered your own question (4.22 / 9) (#394)
by RealObject on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 01:39:54 PM EST

Rusty,

As with so many questions in life, just stating them lucidly can often provide the answer. I see indications that you may have done so yourself.

Please allow me....

Fact: I make rather more money than your average bear (as I suspect many K5'rs do).

Fact: I adopt technology early and often, so that I can experiment with it, find out what impact I expect to see on society as a result of it's introduction.

Fact: K5 is well run, well organized, and truly a pleasure. I often turn here for relevant info long before it becomes available elsewhere. Those K5'rs really have their fingers on the pulse of society.

As a user of K5, here is what I'd respond to:

1. Go ahead and market me to advertisers. K5 lends credence to the ads placed there. I would greatly appreciate a lack of banner ads....but I would gladly follow any text-ad that offered difficult to find technology stuff.

2. I will gladly subscribe...premium services too...but really, I'd prefer to have premium service in the areas that I choose, and not in others. Frankly, I'd pay for individual, categorized premium services even if the total for, say 3 categories, was slightly more than the total for the whole site. This assumes that premium means "really cool ways to access and search K5 articles and comments". ;)

3. So if 341,000 people each gave a buck, once, you'd be set for a while? So ok. You have text ads, and I would willingly click through on one that said "click here to pay a buck 'cause you liked this article". Heck, I might even do it once  every 4 years or so!

Best of luck,
Roy

now...where did that subscribe button go???

A piggyback suggestion (none / 0) (#428)
by GhostfacedFiddlah on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 02:27:40 PM EST

"1. Go ahead and market me to advertisers. K5 lends credence to the ads placed there. I would greatly appreciate a lack of banner ads....but I would gladly follow any text-ad that offered difficult to find technology stuff."

This is a great idea.  Advertisements don't have to look any different than the textads you have here now.  You've got great click-through on them already, market that to advertisers.  Take out a google text-ad that advertises kuro5hin text-ads.  It's a great advertising system many many people are simply unaware of.

[ Parent ]

What many dotcoms forgot: (4.00 / 7) (#395)
by Phantros on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 01:40:56 PM EST

K5 has one resource - the community, or to look at it with different glanularity, thousands of individuals. Each of these people want and need a number of things. You make money by providing one or more of these things.

K5 has it a little harder than a hardware review site, where a link to the newest motherboard is a natural...part of the content, rather than just advertising, yet it pays for itself. Still, there are things that your users have in common, so your first step is to find out what. How? Add a new "profile" section for each user, it can either by visible or invisible to other users, and definitely would be optional, but perhaps would give some extra minor bonus to any user that fills it in. This would collect a bit of demographic info.

The next step is to look at this info and find a need to fill. You can either:
a) Provide the service yourself. (best, but more work)
b) Find an advertiser that provides it, take a commission.
The most important thing about whatever you select is that it be something that you won't dislike, and that you'll feel does not compromise your principles or vision for K5.

I don't know the demographics of K5 well, but a few ideas off the top of my head as examples:

  • Most people want social interaction, and you've already got a community. How about an activity partner/friend finder/date finder service? Add a new module to the scoop code and presto, I can find a K5 person to play chess or go bowling with. (If I've subscribed to it.)
  • Many K5ers are probably techies. Offer a tech related job finding service.
  • How many people here buy things online? If they go to ebay/amazon/whatever through your links, you get paid.
The point is to work with your users rather than against them, as so much advertising does.

Whatever you choose, it of course needs to be something that doesn't degrade K5 itself. A number of posters don't seem to understand that charging people to post etc. will only drive people away or alienate them, making things worse.

4Literature - 2,000 books online and Scoop to discuss them with

Greatness comes at a price (4.16 / 6) (#396)
by theboz on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 01:42:55 PM EST

K5 has become pretty popular, and Rusty's ideal of a democratically run site is mostly realized from what I can see. However, it doesn't really work as a way to make money. I personally wouldn't count on making any money from K5, and the stuff that I do make would just be looked at as gifts and such.

I think to further the idea of a democratically run site, more of the responsibilities should be doled out to others, as has been suggested in previous comments. The content here is open, the scoop software is open source, everything here is done by a number of people except administration. There are a handful of admins, but I don't think enough to deal with everything. I don't think we need more people with full access to everything, but it would be good to have smaller teams of people to deal with issues. There could be some admins who deal with user maintenance, comment deletions, modstorm problems, etc. There could be other admins who function as sysadmins, and if you wanted break out DBAs from them. I would say break it up with one of the current full-admins over each of the new sections, and let them figure out how many people are needed for each task. I assume you could get away with one or two people doing the sysadmin work, but ten or more would be better for the user maintenance part.

Also, I think Rusty should get a real job. K5 would be great if he could make a living from it, but it doesn't seem possible right now. If you go and get a job, then you can support yourself and work on K5 in your spare time until you do have a way to make money off of it. Sometimes you have to be willing to retreat a little in order to advance further in the future. Get a job then figure it out.

I also don't like the ideas of people wanting to restrict K5. A good way to kill K5 would be to force people to pay to make more than one comment or post diaries. I like the subscription for added features, but not removing things already in place.

Stuff.

Realization (4.66 / 3) (#401)
by bsletten on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 01:46:39 PM EST

I've been a k5 butterfly since shortly after it began. I haven't been reading it daily because of brain bandwidth limitations, but I've always enjoyed it when I did. The realization that k5 might disappear struck me pretty starkly and I decided to help out to try to keep it afloat. I encourage others to do so as well. This site is important.

Banners Banners Banners! (4.00 / 5) (#410)
by CarryTheZero on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 02:02:14 PM EST

Seriously, bring 'em on. Make it so subscribers can turn them off. That way, the freeloaders pay for themselves (if only partially), and probably you get more subscriptions. Hopefully, this will tide you over until you can find a corporate sponsor of some kind (as someone else pointed out, $70K is pocket change for a company like IBM).

--
You said I'd wake up dead drunk / alone in the park / I called you a liar / but how right you were
iTunes users: want to download album artwork automatically? Now you can.
I will "pony-up" (3.66 / 3) (#411)
by thatto on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 02:02:47 PM EST

This site is too good to throw to the dogs. I will become a premium member. But it looks grim.

Suggestion box (4.00 / 2) (#413)
by Silent Chris on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 02:03:13 PM EST

A few suggestions from a recent subscriber:
  1. The Replies section still doesn't work right.  Under Stories I'm seeing diary entries (which shouldn't be seen anyway, because they have had no new comments from refreshes).
  2. You should be able to easily review your original comment from the reply menu.  It makes no sense to just show the replies.  It's not a chat - how am I supposed to remember what the subject was (especially when I get well-thought out comments like "You're wrong.")
  3. There should be a FAQ telling me what new features I have, where they can be found, and how to set them.
  4. Ad blocking should be selective.  I like seeing the text ads (they're really creative), but I hate seeing the Voxel ads.


Make the subscription link more prominent! (4.80 / 5) (#416)
by Perianwyr on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 02:08:30 PM EST

If I want to subscribe to K5, the link to do so should be the FIRST thing I notice at the top of the page. Why isn't it in the text navbar at the top of the page? Hell, why isn't it in the sidebar as an image,