Posted by GoatWorld on October 20, 2002 at 09:41:38:
I apologize for not being around lately. I've been nursing a sore neck/shoulder - thanks to having to put a starter in our car. It's been kind of painful to sit at the computer (or upright) the last week or so. Anyway, I'll heal up fine, just a matter of time and taking it easier than usual.
What I wanted to write about is that this is the one year anniversary month of switching the GoatWorld Message Forum over to a membership forum. I thought that it might be an appropriate time to discuss the ups and downs of the Message Forum and get everyones thoughts and input on the matter. If you don't mind taking a few minutes to respond to my following observations and questions, it would surely help me make some decisions on how to upgrade/change/leave alone entirely, etc... I'll give you the facts first and then the questions.
For the most part, making the message forum password protected has created a few problems but in some ways has united the community of members. One particular problem is that members lose their Account Information (username and password) from time to time. Another problem is that there are fewer messages being written than when the message forum was "open door". One of the biggest reasons for going to a membership community is because of security; one reason being that there were times when inappropriate messages were being written in - bad mouthing, etc. The other reason is that some thought there were a few individuals "nesting" the message board - trying to force their influence upon every message, i.e., "their way was the only way" and to disagree meant one was ignorant. I think we have seen the "nesting" cases disappear, the inappropriate content diminish, and everyone can discuss issues freely under the creed that we are all here to learn, care and share.
As of this writing, there are close to 150 members. According to my web log statistics, there are only about 1/4 of these members visiting the Message Forum at least 5 times a week. This may be caused by lost passwords or members losing interest, I just don't know. But what I feel I need to do is try and contact each and every member at least once a month (or have them check in) to make sure they are still interested in being members. I do know that the GoatWorld Message Forum is not the ONLY message forum in existence and I would be foolish to think that we are the only one.
What I am trying to accomplish for all of us is a community that we can feel safe and confident in discussing issues that are important to each of us. Charging $6.00 per year was not an easy decision but in deciding to forge ahead as such, it has provided funding to keep GoatWorld going for the long haul. There are a number of members who have gone above and beyond the $6.00 membership fee and contribute qutie often without asking. In many ways I feel bad about accepting these types of donations but please know that every dollar collected at GoatWorld directly affects GoatWorld and will keep it going. As a result, there are a few members that have been granted free memberships - financial hardships, need for immediate assistance, contribution in some beneficial way, for whatever the reasons may be, I have seen fit to let some members use the Message Forum without being a paid member.
Note: Sometime earlier this year, I provided an option that allows potential members to sign up for a three-day trial at the cost of $1 per 3 days, $6.00 for each year thereafter. As a result, the membership fee to those paying via the PayPal Subscription method is $7.00 for the first year, $6.00 for each year after. The "extra" dollar has been tucked away for a GoatWorld Emergency Fund which now contains roughly $65.00. Also, any portion of the $6.00 membership fee can also be used for this fund - that part which does not go toward hosting the actual web site itself.
One of the features included with being a GoatWorld member is the web site feature where a member may post their website on GoatWorld. I do realize that this feature is one that does not give a whole lot of web space, but I would hope that many of you would experiment with the amount of space you do get and use it. Believe me, very impressive web sites can be built with a very small amount of space. Either way, as a result of the web site feature, I have been rethinking a plan to offer full fledged web sites at a fraction of the cost to what other web hosts offer. The price would be included with GoatWorld memberships and even go as far as to offer your own domain name (www.yourname.com) and email addresses. I know that some of you already have web sites (free or paid), but I feel that I can offer more to all visitors to GoatWorld by incorporating more web sites directly into GoatWorld itself. At the present time, I foresee the larger web site feature and email to be somewhere around $60.00 per year but I will release details later once I have all of it figured out. Even if that does not work out, I still want it to be understood that I want each and every member of GoatWorld to be happy in being a member and know that I am not using this site to be a money making scheme other than for the site itself to prosper and move ahead - taking each and everyone of you with it.
Questions: If you would feel more comfortable in responding to these questions personally, please feel free to do so by writing me at:
firstname.lastname@example.org I may not respond immediately but I will respond and take each and every answer to heart and carefully forge ahead with the GoatWorld project.
1) Have you benefited from being a GoatWorld member?
2) What can be done to make any one of the GoatWorld features (or message forum) better than it is presently?
3) If you could change one thing about the Message Forum, what would it be?
4) What selected topics would you like to see discussed regularly in the Message Forum?
5) What do you like most about the GoatWorld Message Forum?
6) What do you like least about the GoatWorld Message Forum?
7) Do you feel there are enough messages being written on a daily or weekly basis?
8) Do you feel that the $6.00 per year membership fee is too much or too little?
9) One dollar per yearly membership is collected for the GoatWorld emergency fund. Please list other ways this $1 might be used to benefit GoatWorld members.
10) Please list your thoughts and input on any part of GoatWorld that you feel may be helpful. Please remember, I have built GoatWorld for each of us to benefit from and your opinion does matters. You are as much a part of GoatWorld as am I.
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