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chem geek

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Mar 28, 2007
12,083
San Rafael, CA USA
One of the nice things about The Pool Forum was that it did not have ads. Are the costs of running/hosting TFP so high that membership fees are insufficient to support it without also having ads? Somehow, Ben was able to run his forum without going to ads for revenue. Personally, I would prefer a forum without ads or at least without them interspersed in between postings.

Richard
 

RAA

LifeTime Supporter
Mar 28, 2007
46
The Woodlands, TX
chem geek said:
One of the nice things about The Pool Forum was that it did not have ads. Are the costs of running/hosting TFP so high that membership fees are insufficient to support it without also having ads? Somehow, Ben was able to run his forum without going to ads for revenue. Personally, I would prefer a forum without ads or at least without them interspersed in between postings.

Richard
Wow, we posted the same thing 2 seconds apart. I guess I'm not the only one that feels this way.
 

SeanB

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
Ben made money by selling kits, I do not.

Ben, although he never implemented his plan, was going to start charging all members for the use of the site, at least that was my understanding. This site is, and will remain, free to all users.

The cost of running the forum is not prohibitive but additional revenue is always welcome. I don't view this site as a business, but I do give a lot of myself and time to its operation - not just what you see here in the public areas.

The only place ads run within the threads is after the first post, the others are simply at the top and bottom of the page. They do not pop up or otherwise interfere with the reading of the posts.

To address the concern raised in the other post, please see this thread as well which I think explains my position on the content of some of the ads. http://www.troublefreepool.com/viewtopic.php?t=2326

This is basically a trial run. I am going to take a few weeks to evaluate and will make adjustments to ad placement, color, etc and see what can be done to make them fit better with the flow of the site. After that time I will evaluate and determine if they will be continued.

I do appreciate the feedback!

Sean
 

chem geek

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Mar 28, 2007
12,083
San Rafael, CA USA
Thanks. I forgot about Ben making money from selling kits. And thanks for explaining that the in-thread ad is only after the first post. That makes it more tolerable.
 

SeanB

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
Richard, thanks for the understanding.

If you all will indulge me a little bit, I'd like to take this in a little different direction.

Like I said, the actual cost of running the forum is not prohibitive. That is, I can afford the monthly fees, etc. However, as I'm sure any of you know who have run forums, it takes a lot of of personal time and energy to keep it going. As the membership continues to grow, so does my time commitment. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy running this site and am glad to do so, but it does tend to take me away from time with my family or even other business pursuits which would certainly yield a better financial gain. On more than one occasion, I have passed up additional work at my full time job in order to work on the forum. If I'm going to continue to put in ever increasing time, I have to be able to justify that time not just in terms of my own enjoyment but also with some financial return as well.

Let me just be up front and say that I'm no fan of advertising myself. I don't like it in my mail, my magazines, newspaper, TV, movies, at my front door, or over the phone. Despite that, I thought it might be a fairly innocuous way to generate a some additional revenue.

However, since I do understand peoples aversion to ads, I'd like to ask for suggestions. If you were in my situation, what other means of monitizing the site would you look into? Please remember, that I want to keep the integrity of the site, as well as user friendliness.

Thanks for your suggestions,

Sean
 

duraleigh

Admin
Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
In The Industry
Apr 1, 2007
32,863
Sebring, Florida
Well, I'll jump in here. Those of you with history from PF know that financial issues were at least a significant, if not predominant, reason for Ben's disappearance. I certainly don't want that circumstance to reappear.

My first thought was to get a court order forcing SeanB to wear a GPS ankle bracelet but he'll probably whine and ***** and I dont want that circumstance either!! :roll: :roll:

So....what are the alternatives to the advertising? (which I'm not fond of but I don't think I can complain unless we come up with a viable alternative)

Consider:

1. Anyone can come to this site and read all of the posts all of the time. For many, that would be all they needed and a free service the forum provides.

2. If you chose to post with questions or simply join the fun, you would pay an annual fee of 10 dollars.

a) You could choose to pay 10 annually or 25 for 3 years, etc. (something like that)

b) TFP lifetime memberships would be discontinued on, say, October 1st, 2007 but all current lifetimes
and those joining between now and Oct 1 would receive three years membership from that cut-off date.

3. I recognize that many of you give of your time freely now. Having personal experience, I can tell you it's is very different
between doing something because you enjoy it and doing something because you HAVE to. SeanB has an obligation to the forum and it's members none of the rest of us have. We can drop out for weeks and come back unscathed.....he cannot. It's obvious to me that he currently enjoys it, but as this forum mushrooms (and it is) it's going to be more and more burdensome on his time....we need to find a solution to that.

I hope we see an active discussion in this thread (but not quite with the intensity of that SWG thread :lol: ) that will offer up some positve ideas on this issue.

If we don't come up with something, let's fall back on the GPS idea and let him whine all he wants!!!!
 

KurtV

LifeTime Supporter
Mar 29, 2007
270
SE Louisiana
I don't like the advertisements. I think it cheapens the site and makes the information presented here less credible. I think some of the businesses you have links to have the same affect (one in particular). As Richard wrote, one of the attractions of poolforum was the absolute ban on advertising; you simply knew that you were at a legitimate site and were getting solid information. Yes, Ben sold kits, but you never saw him pushing the kits on the forum.

All that said, I understand completely that you need to fund the running of the site and need to be compensated for your time, effort, and talent. I can't think of a better way to do it than with the google ads and the links. To maintain the site's credibility though, I think you'll need to be even more vigilant about slapping down the snake-oil salesmen when they try to peddle here. (And no, I'm not talking about the other Sean. To the contrary, he's the kind of industry person you need here.)
 

ktdave

LifeTime Supporter
May 8, 2007
888
Katy, TX
Well said Dave! I certainly can't speak for everyone, but I would gladly pay an annual (or so) fee for the use of TFP. To me, it's similar to a magazine subscription, but much better since I get to interact, ask questions, goof around, etc. I think it would be well worth 10 -15 bucks per year. (But I better not see Sean B. rolling up in a brand new Hummer pulling a 25 ft fishing boat on his way to his condo on South Padre! :lol:)

To be quite honest, the ads are not that bothersome to me, certainlly less of a PIA than some other sites.
 

RAA

LifeTime Supporter
Mar 28, 2007
46
The Woodlands, TX
ktdave said:
(But I better not see Sean B. rolling up in a brand new Hummer pulling a 25 ft fishing boat on his way to his condo on South Padre! :lol:)
Or posting threads about his plans to build a new $80K pool with Grotto, wet bar and cabana. :wave:

Seriously now, why not limit the number of ad blocks on the pages? I dont think having three ad blocks will increase your click trhough rate.
 

mbar

LifeTime Supporter
Apr 24, 2007
257
Ashland PA
I don't mind the adds, but I can watch tv and read at the same time - I'm good at blocking out things I don't want to pay attention to - Just ask my husband :shock: We all have to make a buck, and why shouldn't Sean?, he took the initiative and the time to start up this forum. While charging a fee to belong to the forum is fine with me, it does keep a lot of people away, which in turn keeps a lot of good ideas away too :( So my opinion is whatever works best for Sean. I will continue to be on the board with all of my friends from the pool forum :goodjob:
 

SeanB

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
I just wanted to let you know I am following this thread closely and really appreciate all the input and suggestions. Please keep them coming.

I really do view this as "our" forum and want to arrive at a solution that works for everyone.
 

AnnaK

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 15, 2007
1,138
Eastern Pennsylvania
Ads? What ads?

I use Firefox with Adblock Plus. All I see is an unobtrusive line of text, "Adsense - ads by Google".

I find advertising of any kind extremely annoying and I especially object to it on forums where I've paid for membership. I support the suggestion of limiting ad display to non-member users.

Anna
 

maxsrents

LifeTime Supporter
Apr 2, 2007
91
NJ
The ads are a bit of a nuisance but being that they are only placed after the first post it isn't so bad. If the ads help Sean then I can deal with it.
 

Ohm_Boy

TFP Expert
May 1, 2007
1,344
Orlando, FL
I use Firefox with Adblock Plus
Yeah, me too. I never even knew there were any ads on the forum, until I saw this thread.

As far as the PoolForum was concerned, Ben also had other irons in the fire. He ran a web hosting company, and did some web programming for clients, so he had a revenue stream from his internet systems. I don't know if that river ran black or red, but it was there. He also charged for his newsletter and restricted areas of PoolSolutions.com.

Sean doesn't have those resources at his disposal, at least to my knowledge, and this forum will require more effort to maintain than poolforum.com, if for no other reason than that it is open to access by countries other than the US (Ben had most of the world's networks locked out of his sites). Hackers and spammers are far more prolific now, too, and there is even newly developed software designed specifically to automatically signup and post on forums. (See: http://www.botmaster.net/) They are proud to help spew Crud onto forums, saying that it is not spam 'cause it's not email.

Add to that the normal load of all of us pool owners and users posting regular stuff.

So Sean (and his moderators) will stay pretty busy. If the ads help, I think we should deal with it.
 

kimrst

LifeTime Supporter
Apr 15, 2007
108
West Michigan
When I first saw the adds I thought Trouble Free Pool had been hacked! I also agree that they may take a bit of legitimacy from the site. I don't like the adds. But having said this, nothing in life is free. I'm willing to pay for my use of the site.

Maybe we need to find something else to generate $$ for Sean B so he can keep this site add free? Some one designed a new test kit, maybe there is another idea that could make him $$ he needs to keep this going? What about a cheep easy way to keep the bubble pools clean and sanitized? Maybe a kit for just the small pools with diections that anyone could understand? Kimrst
 

SeanB

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
I'm still listening, but just wanted to interject one thing in case there is any confusion.

This site is free and no one has ever been charged for it's use. Everyone, supporter or not, can read all the posts and participate in the forum.

People who have donated have done so, I hope, because they have found some value in the site and have gained knowledge that has already saved them more than the amount of the donation. I am able to offer a few perks to those people but nothing that in and of itself, justifies the contribution.

Thanks for all the suggestions. I'm not ruling anything out and am keeping an open attitude.
 
G

Guest

Sean,
I just saw an ad that cracked me up right on this page. Here is what it said:

"Adsense Pays Too Little
I Make Over $160,000 Online Every Month without A Website or Product.
www.GMoneyPro.com "

Maybe this is the answer that you are looking for! :cop: :party: :twisted:
It will only cost you $97.98 to find out! (Yes I did click on it...had to, you know!)
(Just kidding! NOT about the price, that's real--about it being the answer you are looking for!) :wink:
 

MeSue

LifeTime Supporter
Jul 29, 2007
345
Florida
I prefer (text-based) ads over a pay-to-post system. I think anything that restricts membership in that way would hurt the forum. People who hate ads that much can find ways around them...several have already been mentioned in this thread.

I do think paying members should get an ad-free version, assuming that is technically feasible. I think it would be a good incentive for donating.
 

crabboy

LifeTime Supporter
Jul 24, 2007
628
Suwanee, GA
Personally, the adds don't bother me.

Another forum I frequent, gives contributing users the option to turn the adds off. While I do have the option to disable the adds, I still do not. Clicking on them once in a while is a good thing.

I am _really_ not a fan of requiring people to pay before they can post. Reminds me of that Crud site, experts exchange.

Gary