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To one and all!

Perhaps many of you have noticed the sluggish, and slow performance lately of our Shooter's Forum.  Many of you have recieved error messages of "no space available" when trying to post a thread.

This is due to overloading our webhost's server with this site!  We've experienced some outstanding growth since going online two years ago, and have had to upgrade our webhosting multiple times to keep up with the changing needs of this website.  However, we have now exceeded the capacity of our host's largest hosting package options, and by necessity must move BeartoothBullets.com to a dedicated server to continue to provide this service to our viewers.

This move will greatly increase the operating expenses of this website, both in hosting and maintenence fees.  To offset this added expense, and to continue providing an ever expanding, dynamic resource for the shooting community, we must take one of four paths.

1. Increase the price of our products and services.
2. Sell advertising banners on the website.
3. Make information & Forums paid membership only.
4. Seek voluntary user contributions and pledges.


Now, to address those options:

1.  Increasing the price of our products flies in the face of our previous management practices, as our pricing has always reflected actual fluctuation in production costs.  Too, only those persons purchasing Beartooth products would bear the expense of keeping this resource onine.  Many of our visitors cast their own bullets, or use other companies' products.  Consequently this wouldn't be equitable.

2.  Advertising banners, while perhaps a viable option, isn't one of the most palatable to my mind.  I personally don't appreciate garrish, in-your-face banners on every page I visit on the web.  It's nice to have a safe haven where I'm not assaulted by unsolicited advertising and pop-ups.  We prefer to keep BeartoothBullets.com banner-free if possible.

3.  Making the information and forum pages of this site viewable by paid membership only, doesn't fit with our philosophy of information being a free exchange, and this website a platform for that free exchange!  We have held a vision for this website to be an information rich resource to the shooting community with no compulsory financial strings attached, in keeping with the original intent of the internet, being a forum for the free exchange of information and ideas.

4.  Voluntary contributions and pledges.  Although we've never considered this as an option in the past, it may well be the most viable alternative available at this time.  A system allowing for voluntary contributions to keep this site online, expanding and dynamic would be fueled entirely by strictly voluntary visitor contributions.  In this way, those persons who feel that they benefit from, or enjoy their time spent on these web pages can show their appreciation and support by contributing to this site to continue its mission and services.

We have vision for new features on this website, and this can't happen without room to grow, and bandwidth to work with!  

TaggedOut.com is destined to provide a place for members to post hunting photos, their own articles and illustrated write-ups, load development progressions, or any other shooting or outdoor related purpose.... a place for these types of things online, under your own name and accessable to not only the visitors of BeartoothBullets.com, but anyone with whom you share the URL.

We intend to launch a bi-monthly Beartooth Ezine, articles, updates, new developments product reviews and interviews.  This will require bandwidth as well.

Increased host space and bandwidth would make these additions possible.

Now, with all this having been said, we seek the input from you, our visitors as to what you would like to see on this website.  It is you, our visitors who have made this the resource that it has become, and we seek your suggestions as to what you would like done!

God Bless,

Marshall
 

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I only recently found this site, but I am already convinced of the value of the unique information and tools available here. The Beartooth Shooter Forum is also an exemplary outlet for communication of real world firearms and outdoors information and opinon.

Please, post the address and payee for voluntary donation checks. Two aviation sites and corresponding forums that I belong to have been very successful this way.
 

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I also vote for the voluntary contributions.  My financial situation is precarious at best, but I will do my utmost to contribute some.
JM
 

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Marshall;

I agree with the voluntary contribution, and would gladly contribute to maintain this ad-free site.  Figure that I spend more on beer reading this than I would supporting it, I could forego a six pack or so to keep it on the air.

Keep up the good work.

dclark
 

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Alex, Marshall,

I'm not keen on advertizing, don't watch much TV, find the stuff aggravating, and insulting.  

Post an address for us, and give us an idea of a per person dollar figure (amount needed divide by people using your services) so we can raise what’s needed.

Glad to see your posts, hope you’re feeling better.

Don ‘Lobo’ Lohr
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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I personally think that a membership fee is a reasonable thing.  Every month, I spend $4-$5 on individual magazines that don't have as much useful information in a year's worth of paper as this site does every week!

This site is more than just information, I have posted articles and pictures and that is worth something as well.

My suggestion would be free viewing for all, nominal fee for posting, and some industry-related ads (no annoying pop-ups!).
 

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Why not use both a "membership" for those who can, and a voluntary contribution. That would provide two sources of income, one smaller steady stream(memberships) and the vountary as people can pitch in. You don't have to provide anything different to "members". It's just there for those who prefer to help that way.If you wanted you could sweeten the pot for the "members" in an off the forum mode or something. Say 5% off something once a year, Non-bullets products or something. Anyway - just a suggestion.
 

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I like Cubmans idea.
I think I would like being a part of something.
He's right, we dont need to recieve anything in particular for our membership.
 

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Some time ago I was a member of Classmates.com.
This was a free service, but also had a paying member section.  Tons of pop ups and adds that were totally obnoxious.  Then they decided that if you wanted to use their listings to email your classmates you HAD to become a paying member.  I told them to shove it.
If BTB decides to have a paid membership group, they need to keep the existing forum with all it's neet features available to non paying members.  Create something that does not already exist here as incentive to become a paying member.  
I'm afraid that if parts of this forum are taken away from the non paying members, they will go elsewhere.
 

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Friends All.....It's time for a bit of reality! Take a look at the number of hits on this forum, then compare that with the number of replies. Strange, is it not? There are some passers through, however there is a mulitude that is gleaning off more information than one could get  buying all the rag mags put out be the industry backed rag writers! There is an old saying. "You Pay to Play!" It is true that Beartooth gets mileage in orders from the advertizing of the web page, but the large percent coming to the forum is after free info, that they can't get elsewhere.
I don't trust donations! Pay to Play!
The answer is quite simple and would be in effect if the Stanton's were not such nice people.
First of all....assess each standing member an amount!
Then....post a membership fee and a # or password in order to get replies to any and all their questions for a year.
And.....If they don't want to pay, let them play somewhere else.
In the future.....There are many of us out here that have something they want to sell.."M" dies, Loading booklets, you named it. Include them somewhere so they can get mileage. Pass a % of sales back to the Stantons.
Remember human nature!...."Quality is a the Customer Perceives"....If one pays for a service (answers, etc) they are bound to appreciate them.
Best Regards, James
 

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In response to worries over making parts of the forum "off limits", or "pay for view", it simply isn't going to happen!

The response here is very encouraging that voluntary contributions will be the answer!  Our vision was, and still remains to make this a free resource, regardless of a person's income or ability to pay!  Information should never be held hostage to the almighty dollar!

Perhaps an annual fund-raising period similar to those operated by public television and radio, with no set contribution amount, just as a person is led to give.  If we could operate this way, it would save about 15% on hosting fees by paying a year in advance.  

Who knows, maybe there's someone on the forums here with an inside track to a hosting company that knows of alternatives we haven't explored.

There is also the silent majority represented here, who visit and read the forum on a regular basis, but never post, and many who have never registered as a member.  They too benefit, and contributions wouldn't be limited to members only.

Contributions could be either mailed in, or done online via secure server and bank card with a simple contribution form.

I'm eagerly watching and listening, and investigating as many viable alternatives as possible.  We may also consider once again changing the platform for this forum, simply to save bandwidth while still providing the same features and feel we now enjoy on this board.

We would really like to expand the topics on the forums as well, including some on different types and aspects of hunting and expanding some of the categories already existing.  However, it requires sever resources to do this.  Our committment to our visitors is to not only maintain what we have, but to expand and improve services and information wherever possible.

Thanks to all!  We need your opinions and ideas on this one!

God Bless,

Marshall
 

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I am all for the donations from who ever to keep forum going. Come on, we probably spill more gun powder and waste more bullet lube than the cost of keeping this forum going if we all chip in. Maybe even a donation type of auction or classifieds of loading gear or casting stuff,bullets etc that we dont use anymore that we could take the money from that and help pay for forum expense as well as help out a new comer that is gettin into loading or something odd that others may be looking for?? just a thought!! Alex what kind of dollar figures are we looking at? $500-$600??
Jim
 

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Jim,

We're lookin at about 1400 dollars above and beyond what we're already paying for existing hosting per year.  Although perhaps not a big chunk to a bigger corporate entity, but to Beartooth a significant sum of money.

Ideas???..... we're kicking them around!

God Bless,

Marshall
 

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Well...If Marshall says no membership fee, that's the way it will have to be since he owns the webpage.
However, time will tell that donations don't cut it and one cannot "Depend & Commit Outlay"....Oh, for a while the bucks will come in and maybe enough to cover the 1.4 grand....but, the silent majority will still be silent! The regulars will put bucks in and the the source of donations will dry up and Marshall will be committed to the assitional cost...then what, ask for more donations? After awhile he will dread to got back for more bucks. Sorry, friends, I've seen this too many times over the years. This is a business and I still believe...bucks for service....James



<!--EDIT|James Gates|April 03 2002,12:38-->
 

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Check out HUNTAMERICA.com  I think they made a combination of donations and advertising work. They may have a much larger base though.
 

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I have to say that no matter what the decision, membership fee or contributions, I will support it.  I can honestly say that since I found this forum in December that I have learned more and exchanged info with more knowledgable and friendly people than all of the other forums I have visited.  It's about the only forum that I feel comfortable posting on and asking questions.

I tend to lean towards a membership fee, but I have to ask if the figure is available so that we all would know how much it would have to be.  I agree with James Gates on the point that at first the bucks would roll in but over time the contributions would taper off.  Also, all those who breeze in for free at the forum will continue to do so without contributing, probably thinking that they are getting a "bargain" or getting over on  everybody else.  Let's discuss dollars for a membership fee when the figure is available vs. the $1,400 dollars currently needed that will have to be re-raised in the future.

Either way, this forum and Loadswap are to valuable to lose over a few lousy dollars a year!
 

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I'm no Joe Website but here are some observations and opinions.

I'd be inclined to have ads on the site as they seem to be one of the few "passive" revenue enhancers out there. As long as they are not pop ups that interfere with site navigation.

Membership fees tend to get sticky as most people will simply move on. I've watched this happen on the Motley Fool website (financial info). This is a huge site but after they started charging membership to use the forums roughly 3/4 of the posters left. Now you just have a hardcore of people that are good but the info starts to stagnate.

Donations are a good idea as long as the idea is kept in front of the users. One site I frequent solicits them every quarter to pay for operating costs. They have the big "thermometer" going until they reach their goal for the quarter. If something like this weren't done, initially donations would roll in and then slow to a trickle.

Possibly when you go to a dedicated server, you could do webhosting for other shooting related sites to enhance revenue. I've seen at least a few sites that needed professional help.

You could also have a premium side of the site that is pay for access. Here you could have some real technical info and articles by featured writers. The e-zine idea has merit. I've often mourned the passing of the Old Handloader format where average Joe shooters could contribute articles on their experiments. Something like this would be an interesting concept.

Let's face facts also that shooters tend to be a very independent and shall we say, money savy group of people on the whole. They'll spend their money when they think they are getting something for it.

Finally, and this is not meant to be a lecture, but we have to now realize that this site is no longer merely a side interest but now has to be run like a business entity similar to Beartooth Proper. Taking the step that is ahead means full-time dedication because now you will be "selling" people a product like bullets.

Perhaps running a kind of cost analysis on the operating costs and revenue needed will yield more concrete answers and options you can persue.

I have no knowledge of the costs involved or facilities needed to do all this so I may be blowing smoke on this whole subject.

I for one would love to know how "The Firing Line Forum" keeps a dedicated server and doesn't have any advertising nor any really visible means of support evident. This site has over 10,000 posters. They must be on to something.

FWIW
 

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You've given enough to me over the years that it wouldn't kill me to give you something besides my occasional order.  How you do want payment, PayPal, Check, CC, MO?  Just tell me how and where to send it.
 

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Alex,
i am one of those who get a lot FROM this website,and am agreeable to a voluntary assessment.
I will caution you that a different website had the same problem last year,and did get enough money for a dedicated server. However,they answered people who questioned the need for more money with insulting answers. They did loose some of these.
Like the other Poster said,break it down to a per-user amount.I'm sure that a lot of us will  agree to that.
Frank
 

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Friends All...It's all a matter of concept. If you don't like the word "Membership Fee", how about "Subscripton Cost".......Name one magazine that in one month you can read as much info, get anwsers as quick, technical articles, loading data, a layout one can be involved in, and above all..know the answers you get are not based on someone trying to peddle something faddish to you. There will be a growth of online magazines that will charge a subscription fee! if any outfit loses members because of a subscription fee, it's because they are not getting data, etc.
Growth is not a straight line moving up...It's a series of steps and the forum is now at that point. With a fee there can be even much more offered. Why worry about the free loaders, they will be around always. All should compare what they get from any one magazine they get today and compare with what they have enjoyed free for some time now. None of the regulars mind the time they spend helping with answers, writing tech notes, and all the rest that has gone into making this forum a "people" forum.....but, it's time to feed the webpage so it can evolve to what it is suposed to become. Asking for donations is not the answer, because it will have to become a re-occuring turn-off affair. The choice is simple...Pay to grow or cut back on coverage to save bandwidth. With all the data one get's why would anyone not pay a subscription fee when they subscribe to many rags that do not have a fraction given to the subscriber? I'm through with the preaching. It's time to decide if this forum is going to be a little operation selling bullets.....or, continue growing into what it has become, an International Forum of Shooter/Hunters/Reloaders.
Bye and Best Regards, James
 
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