....I doubt that this many ads and such are necessary, especially considering the huge number of business supporters that HeadFi now has (again posted on the main page)....
Again, all the sponsors and ads. Don't these generate thousands of dollars of monthly income on sites with this many visitors and/or members? I know for a fact it did on CrazyMeds.com (before its demise) and it had less users....
Well, .org is reserved for Non-Profit Organizations and as such any ads, banners, etc. should serve the sole purpose of funding the costs of said organization's website/code/hosting/maintenance/labor/etc.
Right when Head-Fi opened up in 2001, we were lucky if we had 50 people online at a time--it therefore had a more club-like atmosphere, and so I chose a .org domain, and I don't regret it at all.
Frankly, I've had this conversation many times over the years here, and this may very well be the last time I comment on a thread like this one.
From day one, I knew there would be ads, and that they'd be necessary--not only did I not ever state anything to the contrary, I've been very frank about it. In that time, I've read many ridiculous statements on the matter, from suggestions that the site shouldn't make any money to this site should strive to do no better than break-even. What would you have me do? I own a for-profit company that we work our butts off to make live up to the type (for-profit), and have no assurances (certainly in times like these) that our unabashed attempts at earning profit will succeed in doing so. I have many friends that run businesses that strive to do the same (make profit), but are falling far short of the mark. I own shares of publicly traded companies that are supposed to be doing the same, but are not doing so. I invest in mutual funds intended to be a part of my nest egg--the purpose, of course, ultimately being to make money--but yet some of the ones I'm in are way down the past year. My point? Even if when we intend to make as much money as we can in some of the things we do, sometimes we simply do not. So if one is aiming to profit, and yet sometimes can not, how on earth does one reliably plan to just hit the rather boneheaded goal of break-even as a choice?
Even the most naive individual would know that I can't run this site at a loss, so I can't imagine anyone would suggest I do that (although, unbelievably, I have received that suggestion before, apparently under the impression that I have the means to simply personally cover any losses). If this site should not aim to make more than is spent on it, then please tell me how I'm supposed to run this site (which is technically owned by one of my companies) at break-even. Why wouldn't I try to maximize this site's revenue, when its costs--and the specter of possibly not meeting them at this scale--couldn't be more real to me. When a site gets to a certain size, not covering costs involves what most of us would consider covering expenditures of very considerable sums of money. When the site went down in November 2007 (which I have openly taken the blame for), many thousands of dollars were spent recovering it over a period of about two weeks--during which not a penny was earned, and for which the Sponsors were, of course, reimbursed/not charged for half that month (a couple of the Sponsors refused to accept the prorated rate for that month, which was unexpectedly generous). Things happen unexpectedly. When we moved to the cloud, do you think I did that by myself? No, I paid people to help me, and still do.
We're going to start a Head-Fi.org e-mail newsletter soon. I want to conduct product giveaways on the newsletter, which helps encourage an increase in the subscriber base (and concurrently helps promote the companies giving items away). You can't just do this, without regard for laws. Who do you think I turn to for these and other legal matters? Lawyer(s). What does your lawyer charge you?
Head-Fi.org was a hobby site that has become rather business-like in its operation out of necessity. Trust me, Sduibek, if I just signed the site (and everything that it involves, expenses and otherwise) over to you in its entirety, you'd realize why in a heartbeat.
Further, I can't even reasonably know what the cost structure of this site might look like a year from now. For example, from February 25, 2008 to March 27, 2008, the site had 290,513 unique visitors. A year later, in that same period, from February 24, 2009 to March 26, 2009, the site had 533,586 unique visitors. I didn't expect that much of an increase year-over-year. I don't expect to see a similar increase a year from now, but, again, how will I know until it happens, if it happens? And if the site does experience another 84% year-over-year increase in visitors, I want to make sure it's covered.
After this site continued to lose money for quite some time after it started, I made a more concerted effort to step up its revenue so that the site could continue indefinitely, as, obviously, continual losses tend to undermine an entity's ability to survive. I will therefore not apologize for what I've said many times before on these forums, and what I'll say again now: It is very much my goal that this site, month after month, brings in more money than is spent on it. We've been better about this since 2006 than before 2006, and, by far, what is primarily responsible for that is the Sponsor and ad revenue.
Now, about the ad formats on the homepage: I do wish to improve the homepage. I admit that its layout is far from ideal. But, yes, I have to find some way to do this that balances the interests of everyone better than the version up now does, and will work to do that.
I have not asked you for money, beyond the link at the top of the screen about Contributing Membership (and the post I made when I created that link). Of the over half-million unique visitors in the past month, overwhelmingly most came here to enjoy the site without (a) sending a penny to us, (b) performing any revenue-generating action of any sort, or (c) posting. In other words, most who visit this site do so freely, which I think is also a great thing if that's what one wants to do. (I do the same at photography forums, just going to find photography information I'm looking for and leaving, not even registering at most of them.) There is not a Sponsor listed--not a single solitary one--that I "pitched" to Sponsor this site. Every single one of those Sponsors first approached me to inquire about Sponsoring the site, and every single one of them can confirm that. In anticipation of further growth, however, I am taking a more proactive approach to growing revenue in 2009 (more proactive than waiting for new Sponsors to approach me) and will soon spend some time to sell ad inventory directly for the first time (as opposed to just using ad network placements for most of the inventory, as we have been doing).
So, Sduibek, Head-Fi is a .org. Head-Fi is not a 501(c)(3). My goal regarding Head-Fi's revenue/costs is that it bring in more money than is spent on it--it is absolutely necessary, and so the ads are absolutely necessary. I apologize for none of that. What I will try to do is make that homepage better--in my opinion, it has not been a useful enough homepage in a long time. There will always be ads on it--and it is my goal that every Sponsor will be represented on it somehow--but I do realize it could be a lot nicer than it is.
If you're unhappy about anything I've said here, I'm sorry about that, but it's all I'm saying on the matter, and so I'm done in this thread.