Anniversary of paid membership requirement for posting classifieds.... - FaunaClassifieds
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FaunaClassifieds Site HELP & Feedback Forum Anything of a nature concerning this website, moderators, admin, or anything having to do with how it is being run, should go here. Criticism is welcome, but abusive antagonism is not. THIS IS NOT THE FORUM FOR FEEDBACK CONCERNING BUYERS AND SELLERS! Such posts are ONLY allowed as replies to classified ads posted by the specific member involved in a specific issue with you.

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Old 03-08-2008, 01:35 AM   #1
WebSlave
Anniversary of paid membership requirement for posting classifieds....

We passed the anniversary mark on my implementing the paid membership requirement on posting classified ads on this site as of 03/06/08, so I felt a review on how that has impacted this site is in order. As such, I looked at the stats for new posts on this site and here's what I am seeing over the last two years.

These are new posts per month from January, 2006 thru February, 2008:


And here's the chart for new thread starts for the same time period:


In my shoes, how would you interpret what you are seeing here? There is a dramatic and obvious drop in participation, if we assume that new posts and new threads are a relative measure of how active members are participating on this site. Although I cannot show the stats on a monthly basis, I do recall that daily visits by registered members were hitting around the 1,300 mark, whereas today, we barely reach past the 850 mark.

Yeah, paid memberships are definitely up, but with the other statistics in mind, I don't see that being a continuing, much less growing, trend. With overall participation noticeably DROPPING, the incentive for paid memberships to take advantage of posting classified ads here will quite likely be much reduced pretty shortly.

Obviously the big drop came right after I put in the requirement for paid memberships in order to post classifieds at the beginning of March, 2007.

Way back when this paid requirement for posting ads was first suggested, I strongly resisted implementing it, since I felt it would be a mistake. Yet I felt I was being hard headed by not at least giving it a shot and take the advice that some were offering me, so I gave it a whirl to see how well it would work out. I believe the above statistics graphs pretty much paint the picture, without my further comment about the situation.

But, of course, the question hangs in the air about what I should do about this NOW.
 
Old 03-08-2008, 06:03 AM   #2
Gary O
To be honest bro.

I think it is more then just the paid classifieds. there are other factors.

When was the rules kinda lifted in the BOI? Where people could basicly have a bit more freedom in calling names?

When was the pay to be a mod brought to the site?

I think the pay to be a mod may have something to do with it. As we have seen some mods use this power to just be well mean. They are not thinking about the site when they mod they are thinking about themselves. This could scare some off. But I do not remember when it was started so I can not say this is just it. But just becuase drop off did not start right when this was started does not mean it was not a factor. It would have taken time to come about.

And at shows when I bring up the BOI to customers I want to say about 50% of them say the BOI is not the same. Some get into details and others seem to just have something up their butts you know. The number one complaint from the ones that seem to care is. Some seem to get away with more then others. and you have to read through pages of grade school posts to get to the meat. I take this as all the name calling. Sure a liar should be called a liar. And a thief a thief. But I think you know what I am talking about.

I am not saying that paid classifieds is not effecting the site. It probably is but also I do not think it is the only factor.

Maybe talk to your super mods in a redoing of the BOI. Bring it back to what it once was. I could offer my ideas but I do not think they would all work 100% lol.

Also maybe get simple again with the other forums?

I come here and hit new posts. I try to add to things I know and care about. And try my best to stay out of the BS as I am just to tired to keep up with it anymore lol.

I bet this post did not even help lol
 
Old 03-08-2008, 06:18 AM   #3
norsmis
Rich, I think Gary is on to something here. Yes I believe the BOI should be a little more relaxed on the rules but all out name calling attacks should not be allowed. I too have talked to many people at shows and through email and the opinions seem to be the same as what Gary posted above. Some people feel almost scared to post anything here because of the attacks.
I will say I would not want your job on this website. I cant imagine the headaches you have trying to make things "enjoyable" for everyone. I can say I am here to help in any way I can. I do like this site and want to see it continue.
 
Old 03-08-2008, 01:28 PM   #4
WebSlave
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary O
To be honest bro.

I think it is more then just the paid classifieds. there are other factors.

When was the rules kinda lifted in the BOI? Where people could basicly have a bit more freedom in calling names?
That took place on June 26, 2006, at the same time I lifted the paid membership requirement for posting on the BOI. I felt that since there were no longer any controls in place for keeping false registrations out of the BOI, then neither should there be any real concern about the topic matter, neither. The warning point rules were SUBSTANTIALLY cut back at that time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary O
When was the pay to be a mod brought to the site?
I believe it was sometime around the end of January, 2007. But I honestly don't think it had all that much impact, since I doubt most members even knew about it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary O
I think the pay to be a mod may have something to do with it. As we have seen some mods use this power to just be well mean. They are not thinking about the site when they mod they are thinking about themselves. This could scare some off. But I do not remember when it was started so I can not say this is just it. But just becuase drop off did not start right when this was started does not mean it was not a factor. It would have taken time to come about.
Perhaps, but I kind of doubt it. As mentioned above, I doubt most members even knew about it being implemented. Secondly, while looking over the moderator log, it appears that most WS mods are not even using it anyway, so it is having negligible impact, I believe. Truth of the matter is, that I am looking over the list of current mods on this system in preparation for an upgrade (as soon as the newest version of vBulletin goes GOLD), and I seriously doubt I will pay to have the WS mod program reprogrammed into the new version. The goal of that project to have more people pitching in to help enforce the rules just fizzled out. I guess most people got tired of the flack they got with every warning point they issued to another member. People DO want rules, but no one really wants the crap associated with being the one to enforce them. So perhaps the project did have one benefit in that more people here now know what crap myself and the site mods have been going through all along with trying to force some kind of structure and reasonableness onto this site.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary O
And at shows when I bring up the BOI to customers I want to say about 50% of them say the BOI is not the same. Some get into details and others seem to just have something up their butts you know. The number one complaint from the ones that seem to care is. Some seem to get away with more then others. and you have to read through pages of grade school posts to get to the meat. I take this as all the name calling. Sure a liar should be called a liar. And a thief a thief. But I think you know what I am talking about.
The old archives to the original BOI sites (except for one where the database got lost and I have to find the backup file...) are still here, and from what I can remember, the BOI has ALWAYS been pretty rough and tumble. So when someone says the BOI is "not the same", not the same as what or when?

As for cutting out the name calling, you might recall that I went through a phase trying to do just that and got slapped around pretty harshly by people trying to split hairs on what should be on one side of the line and what on the other. I even had people resorting to calling people names in other languages, claiming that it was exempt because that name was not specifically listed. And then on the other hand, I had people whining that one word someone else used that did not get warned was just as bad as the word THEY used that DID get them a warning. It was a ROYAL pain in the ass.

Generally speaking, when most people say they want the rules strictly enforced, they normally mean by THEIR definition and against the other guy, not them. Which, of course, is impossible to do.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary O
I am not saying that paid classifieds is not effecting the site. It probably is but also I do not think it is the only factor.
Perhaps not, but I'm running out of ideas on what to try here. About the only two things I can think of that I haven't tried yet is to make EVERYONE a mod or have NO mods here. Exact opposites, but obvious answers since trying to find a middle ground just has not worked. The WS Mod program was what I thought would be a pretty good middle ground solution, since those with enough interest could help effect a change here. But obviously the burden is too heavy, which I can fully understand.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary O
Maybe talk to your super mods in a redoing of the BOI. Bring it back to what it once was. I could offer my ideas but I do not think they would all work 100% lol.
At what point in time would the BOI be as it "once was"? And how many different opinions do you think you will get about which period was the *best*?

The idea behind the BOI, I thought, was pretty simplistic. Expose the bad guys so people would know who to avoid. Shine the light on the good guys so people would know who to go to. Simple? Seems that the line between good guy and bad guy is not all that cut and dried. Plus it is not a permanent label at all. How many people have we seen that were initially labelled as good guys later on turn BAD?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary O
Also maybe get simple again with the other forums?
Yes, I have been considering that. Perhaps consolidating all snake discussion forums into a single General Snake Discussion Forum, and the like. Certainly the traffic levels in the discussion forums don't warrant the separations there. Which is really the way I had it when I first set up HerpWantAds, the predecessor to FaunaClassifieds. Maybe I even had it that way initially in FaunaClassifieds as well.....
I come here and hit new posts. I try to add to things I know and care about. And try my best to stay out of the BS as I am just to tired to keep up with it anymore lol.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary O
I bet this post did not even help lol
Honestly, I've been trying to figure out the perfect way to run this site for so long that it should be obvious by now that there just IS no way to do it. Perhaps the combination of the BOI with the rest of the site is just too much of a conflict. People want to drag the BOI all throughout the rest of the site and it puts a combative edge in all discussions. Perhaps that was a terminal mistake..... Perhaps nothing will help at this point.
 
Old 03-08-2008, 02:25 PM   #5
Jim O
Rich,

One can analyze this in many different ways. One thing that *some* people are saying is that forums by themselves are not as popular as they once were. There are other ways to get and exchange information, specifically from CMS systems that include articles, reviews, blogs, etc. Competition from other sites may be a factor as well.

Another fact is that the economy has slowed, debt has increased, home equity is down, and discretionary budgets are squeezed by the increased costs of gas, food, and heating oil. Perhaps as a result high end reptiles, the type often showcased here, are not moving as quickly as before (no pun intended).

On the other hand, coincidences are rare, and so this is still likely not completely a coincidence. I'm sure that someone with a knowledge of SQL and access to you database can tell you how much of the drop has been in the classifieds, in each forum, etc. with a few simple queries. That would really be useful information.

Now the big question really is, what do you, Rich Zuchowski, want to get out of this site? Is it income? If so, how much, if any, has that suffered? If not much then a smaller forum is easier to manage. Obviously page impressions must be down, but I'm guessing that most link clicks are made by guests and not members. It seems that you have no shortage of directly sold banners and text links which are paid on a daily or monthly basis irrespective of page impressions and clicks. If so, is that income down? I ask these questions for you to ask yourself, not to answer here publicly of course. If income is more or less unchanged, and the site is smaller, then you need less Excedrin!

If what you want is a bigger, busier site, it is going to require some real involvement on your part. Leaving a business on autopilot is a sure way for that business to fail. You have made clear that you want less and less to do with this site, but you haven't brought in a "leader". None of the site mods have been given that mantle by you, and my guess is that none would want it unless they were being paid to do it. Too many headaches in that, as well you know!

Another factor may be the outdated forum software. I know upgrading is a huge, costly hassle but vBulletin 3.5 has been out for a few years, 3.6 for maybe two years, and 3.7 is in beta now with a release candidate likely to be out in a couple of weeks. I would *guess* that 4.0 is likely a year or more away. Can you wait that long? The added functionality is something that people like. When I go to a new site, and I see an outdated software version, I am less likely to register and post. This is not only about the bells and whistles but I wonder about the commitment of the webmaster. Are new registrations down in proportion to posts? I know that on the sites that I run, many new members are active for a few weeks or months and move on. Maybe they show up again 6-12 months later, maybe they don't. One site that I helped out upgrading from vBulletin 2.x(!) to 3.68 has seen a substantial increase in posting and registrations. Just another thought of course.

The bottom line is that there will be no "quick fix". Negative growth requires major changes, not tweaks. So that brings back the question, what do you, Rich Zuchowski, want out of this site? And then what resources, personal and financial, are you willing to put into it?
 
Old 03-08-2008, 02:49 PM   #6
WebSlave
Yes, an upgrade is in the plans, but not until version 3.7 goes Gold. It would be foolish not to wait for that at this point. I just need to analyze all the mods done on this version and decide which are worth paying for to have redone in the new software.

As for what I really want out of this site, heck, I don't know. That changes periodically. I actually think income is up, but the reduction in participation really concerns me. It makes me think I am doing something wrong that needs to be fixed before things become terminal. I do try to keep tabs on such things.......

When I looked at the graphs and noted the abrupt downturn coinciding with the paid membership requirement for posting classified ads, it is difficult NOT to think that this may be a primary cause. Yes, it did cut out the spam taking place there, but the spammers just chose other targets on this site afterwards. Yeah, I think the price is very reasonable, but the evidence points to the thinking that many people believe that if they can't get the service for free, then they will just go elsewhere where they can. As long as traffic is high enough that prospective members will think paying the fee is worthwhile, the site would recover from the temporary slump. The trick is figuring out if it IS a temporary slump, or a spiraling down into oblivion instead.

A crystal ball sure would be nice to have sometimes.....

Oh, back to what I want out of this site, today. I want to feel gratified that it is useful to people, I guess. I would like to think that eventually I can drop my reptile business when the physical demands become greater than my wife and I can put into it, and make a modest living off of other means which include what has been built here. I'm 57 years old and have to be realistic about how long my health will allow me to do everything I am trying to do these days....
 
Old 03-08-2008, 03:49 PM   #7
akaangela
Rich, I don't have any good advice, but I do want you to know there are many many people who use and enjoy your site. One reason I have not posted a lot is because of the search function. I look up stuff before I post. Most of the time I find the information I need! Also the BIO is something that has not only helped me but a lot of others.

You want to feel like the forums are useful. They ARE! I have been enjoying this forum for a long time. The only reason I have not contributed this year was three fold. 1. hospital bills 2. I have not wanted, needed to sell anything. (I am trying NOT to look at the classifieds I cant afford any more snakes ) 3. since the $10 option was taken away I figured I would just wait till I needed to sell or I was able to save enough for the 25.

Anyway. You are doing a great job.

Sorry for rambling
 
Old 03-08-2008, 03:59 PM   #8
The BoidSmith
Rich,

Yes, the paid advertisement is a possibility but I tend to think of an explanation more along the lines of Jim's thoughts. There are several extraneous sources of variability confounding the interpretation of the graphs.

A vission I would have for this site is not necessarily something huge (although that may interfere with your economic aspirations) but something respected by peers because the way people conduct themselves in here, and the quality of the information.

There have been (and still are) individuals that are highly detrimental to this site. Some forum moderators have been using their position for subliminal advertising. People are not dumb, they can see through that. Others have clear conflicts of interest, and incurr in cyberbullying of individuals that are clearly their competition. This is also perceived by the public.

In MHO it's not that much about charging for using this site as it is about the distasteful crudeness of some of the participants. Most people have enough with their daily problems to come to a site where 80% of what they read is negativity towards other members and/or themselves.

In all honesty and looking at the big picture (beyond Fauna) one should feel good that people try to stay away of this kind of behavior. The problem is that as the site scares some former good contributors away, at the same time it "concentrates" the rest.

You want to improve traffic? Give more power to your "super" moderators and have them crank the zero tollerance level up a notch. Sorry, but for some people that's the only solution. In short as much as I hate to say this the site needs to gain its respect back again, and IMHO the BOI is the place to start as it is where the main problem lies.

JMO
 
Old 03-08-2008, 04:16 PM   #9
Stardust
In thinking on whether this site has dropped because of the price tacked on for ads, I just do not think so.
I tend to agree with Dan. The question I have is when the stricter rules were inforced were there more people for it and just a quieter, gentler crowd then those fewer that were against it but much more vocal?
I know that at one time I was not for the nicey nicey all the time, and some of it still stands on the BOI but I do believe that when that was in affect there was a lot more traffic. Perhaps people felt "safer" to post without being made to feel stupid or whatever reasons they personally had. There are a lot of guests that travel thru here, an awesome amount, how do we go about trying to entice them to communcate on these forums? I doubt the answer would be the gruffier way of doing things.
 
Old 03-08-2008, 04:59 PM   #10
KJUN
I didn't do it intentionally, but I for one will say that I started using this site less and less once the paid requirement for classifieds enacted. I don't argue with it, and I wasn't EVER a BIG user before (too many kids of all ages arguing for my tastes), but I would hit it to SEE the ads and look at the "New Posts" while here. Once the ad posts seemed to drop off BIG TIME, I just had "no strong reason" to visit the site, so I just wasn't visiting to think about checking "New Posts." I will say that I'd LOVE for this site to grow and pull posters away from some of the sites I REALLY dislike!

I think the idea of combining 2-3 of the slower traffic forums into one larger forum, thereby reducing the total number of forums here is a GOOD one. Forums with only a couple posts of weeks don't attract people to visit them often. Combine a couple slow ones into one that isn't as slow will LIKELY, I suspect, encourage people to visit that forum more often. It would me! Better (i.e., more productive) moderation - not censorship like some sites do but more productive moderation - might help. The million dollar question is HOW? Obviously, if you step on a few toes while improving the sites for an overall increase, the ones with the stepped on toes probably needed/deserved to be ignored. Yes, I have a couple people that I believe banning would IMPROVE the overall quality/usefulness of this site, but that is neither here nor there.

I can't speak for others, but I DO use the BOI occasionally. When I do, I am VERY glad that it is there. Generally, though, I don't think of it as a "good" place. When someone posts a bad deal, for example, all of the posts saying "why don't you answer?" from 50 people make the whole thing, well, messy. You know penchant for order, though. The problem is that has become the tone of the forums, so it is, de facto, appropriate to behave that way. That's further harm to the BOI.

If I could help, I'd help....but I don't know the answers, either, Rich, so I don't know what I could offer. We all know that slow sites don't attract more users (even I admit guilt to that), but you need more users to MAKE a site busier. Circular argument - like a snowball rolling down a hill: how do you GET it started????

KJ
 

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