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What Does "Lifetime Member" Mean?


Parsad
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A board member messaged me and asked this question, so I thought I should post the response to everyone, since others may be wondering:

 

Hi Sanjeev

 

what dose the new "Lifetime Member" on our profiles mean ?

 

Thanks

 

At some point, I'm going to close membership to the board and start charging new members a small annual fee...it's simply going to get too onerous.  I get some 400+ membership registrations a month, and only about 30-60 are legitimate.  The rest are robot spam registrations and I'm spending an inordinate amount of time filtering them.  I have a spam filter and CAPTCHA built-in, but that only catches about a third.  So along with just normal monitoring, hosting, and support service, I'm spending a ton of time weeding out memberships.

 

When I eventually do start charging new people to use the board, which will also get rid of all of the spam registrations, all members up until that point will be Lifetime Members (grandfathered) and will never ever be charged to use the board...so if you haven't joined, you probably should.  You all have contributed immensely, and as such it's as much your forum as mine...so the board will always be free to you all who have built it.

 

I've just started to switch some of the more heavy users over to that membership...trying to figure out how this will work, and exactly what changes I will need to make to the database.  The fee for new members will go into effect January 1, 2013...it will probably be like $25-35 annually.  Once I figure out the changes, I will get Paul at Watermelon Webworks to help modify things if necessary.  Cheers!

 

Sanjeev 

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I get some 400+ membership registrations a month, and only about 30-60 are legitimate.  The rest are robot spam registrations and I'm spending an inordinate amount of time filtering them.  I have a spam filter and CAPTCHA built-in, but that only catches about a third.  So along with just normal monitoring, hosting, and support service, I'm spending a ton of time weeding out memberships

 

I was wondering how bad the spam was here.  Your experience seems to match up with what I've heard from other sites.  :(

 

I suspect that even a small fee will get rid of most of the spam.

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Either get rid of the spam or make it very profitable!  I wonder why bots would want to sign up for the site?  I don't see many (any?) spam posting, so I'm not sure what the purpose is.

 

I haven't noticed any either, which I think, is an indication of the time Sanjeev spends filtering and removing them.

 

A big thanks Sanjeev for maintaining this site, I really appreciate all the work you do behind the scenes.

 

^^^^^^^^^^^^  +1

 

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I have been a long time lurker on this forum, mainly because I can't sign up for some reason (maybe I go straight to the spam box), but I got in today. It's not easy keeping the quality of the community high. Good job Sanjeev.

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I figured you had spam problems because I remember trying to register several times under random nicks but wasn't approved until I deliberately chose a nick that would be unlikely for a bot :)

 

Along with the spam filter and CAPTCHA, I have three questions registrants have to answer...they still somehow get through!  It's a pain in the ass, but I'm still impressed how programmers do it.  Cheers!

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I figured you had spam problems because I remember trying to register several times under random nicks but wasn't approved until I deliberately chose a nick that would be unlikely for a bot :)

 

Along with the spam filter and CAPTCHA, I have three questions registrants have to answer...they still somehow get through!  It's a pain in the ass, but I'm still impressed how programmers do it.  Cheers!

 

Maybe a visual captcha that shows pictures of cats and dogs or whatever and asks you to pick the happy-looking cat or saddest looking dog exists. That'd be hard to get around (as long as the image files aren't named "happycat.jpg") :)

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Sanj,

 

First off, I must confess to being a tightwad bastard careful with my money, which might contribute to a bias in my thinking.  That confession having been made, I would observe that a successful message board is a living creature with new people enthusiastically joining and spurring a great deal of conversation, experienced posters offering knowledge and wisdom, and then there's a category of posters who lose interest in the subject or who feel that they no longer learn anything new so they quit participating.  All of this is an organic, un-managed process where posters come and go which ensures the constant renewal of a board.

 

The problem that boards sometimes run into is that few new members join to replace those who move on.  In the specific case of the Motely Fool, I would observe that they began charging an annual fee about 10 years ago, which significantly reduced the number of new members who joined.  Over time, many of the fora died out as experienced posters left and very few new enthusiastic posters joined due to the prevalence of tightwad bastards people being careful with their money.

 

For the record, I'd say that this board is easily worth a multiple of the small annual fee that you are contemplating.  However, to a new poster, that value proposition is less clear.  My concern is that people will either simply lurk (which does not contribute to the conversation, and the lack of [naiive?] newbie questions may forestall threads that would otherwise be very productive).

 

Anyway, I understand the problem that you are facing and I'm not sure that I have a better solution to offer, but I would suggest that the fee be a measure of last resort.

 

 

SJ

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Sanjeev, like everyone said, thank you for everything, and thanks to everyone, this place is wonderful and we have to keep it the way it is.

 

Nevertheless, I would like to pursue in the same direction as StubbleJumper. You have to be careful with the renewal of the board. All the long time core users would agree to pay because they know the value of this board, but they will be the ones getting it for free! On the contrary, the wannabe new users will have to pay to join a board which they don't really know the value, or at least, can't appreciate what it is worth.

 

I understand there is a need to protect the board, but you have to consider the next generation also!

 

Two questions :

 

Will it still be possible to lurk around, like reading the board without being registered for these maybe future users?

 

Would it be sufficient to just implement a symbolic fee like 1$ or 5$ to protect against spam? (Not that I mean it is not worth more!)

 

I'm not pretending knowing the answer, it's just food for thought!

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Does Lifetime Member mean I can never leave?  :)

 

Others may leave, but you may not Zarley!  (cue ominous laughter)

 

Anyway, I understand the problem that you are facing and I'm not sure that I have a better solution to offer, but I would suggest that the fee be a measure of last resort.

 

Hi Stubble, the exact points you made were what through my mind, with the MF Boards being the prime example.  I've thought about this a bunch of different ways. 

 

We originally put in the ads to compensate for the time and costs of running the board.  Advertising works, but I'm at the mercy of Google...after spending 4 hours at a "Google Adsense In Your City" last week, I've found that SEO Optimization was a complete waste of time. 

 

Google can adjust their alogrithm to what they want, and publishers have no say as they are a virtual monopoly.  I've never received a response from them on numerous attempts to find out why there were significant discrepancies between pageviews in Google Analytics and Google Adsense, as well as how there are sometimes enormous dropoffs in publishing earnings even when CPC's are the same and page views are higher.  They just don't bother responding to you...period.

 

We then put in the donation tab to avoid fees, and that worked splendidly in the beginning, but again like many things, it falls by the wayside.  Other than a couple of members who regularly donated, there was virtually nothing after the initial stage.  And the far bigger problem isn't any sort of compensation for my time, but simply the lack of time I have...combined with the fact that ads and donations have little effect on spam registrations...so this was the sort of last resort to deal with this issue.

 

I never had any inclination to add a membership fee, but then I've found that was really the only viable workaround.  The other option is just stopping new memberships altogether for a while, and then opening it up after a while.  But again, this has no effect on spam registrations, and creates the same problem you alluded to of organic growth and the forum being almost a fluid, living entity.  So I'm not completely sure what the solution is and I'm happy to entertain any ideas the board may have.

 

Just wondering whether those of us who are registered users but not lifetime members, will we be charged as well?

 

Hi Mephistopheles,

 

No, all "Regular Members" will be converted to "Lifetime Members" and there will be no charge ever for existing members.  It's just I haven't gotten around to converting all of them...I have to do each one manually, and there are about 1,400 Regular Members I have to still convert.

 

Will it still be possible to lurk around, like reading the board without being registered for these maybe future users?

 

Would it be sufficient to just implement a symbolic fee like 1$ or 5$ to protect against spam? (Not that I mean it is not worth more!)

 

Hi Jeff,

 

Yes, the public will still be able to read the forum, just not post.  So newbies will have to decide if they want to participate and pay a fee, or just remain lurkers.

 

On the second question, originally I thought about just a nominal fee for everyone to keep membership costs down, but then the existing members aren't responsible for spam registrations, so why should they pay it?  I then also decided that a larger fee would get rid of spam registrations and allow no fee for existing members...they built up the board, so why should they be required to pay? 

 

Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut winning answer.  You have pros and cons to any route we take.  Again, if there are better ideas, please let me know.  Nothing will be implemented until January 1st, so that means we can go a different route.  The main thing is that I'm thinking about the future.  If I'm getting 400 registrations a day now, while filtering over 200, and spending just over an hour a day running the board, how much time am I going to be spending two years from now...five years from now?  I'm a hands on guy, and like the board a certain way, so it would be very difficult for me to let volunteers do this.

 

Cheers and thanks! 

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Do you need to be an admin level user to view/accept/reject the new registrants? If yes, could a new user type be set up to handle registrations only and then maybe some volunteers could be made members of that group and deal with the issue. I would volunteer to help out with that.

 

Alternatively if you need to be an admin user, maybe have members take turns at handling the registrations. Make them admin users for a day/week etc. All you'd need to do then would be to add/remove the users from the admin role and email them that it was their turn.

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