Announcement An end-of-year update from SFF.N

PlayfulPhoenix

Founder of SFF.N
Original poster
SFFLAB
Chimera Industries
Moderator
Gold Supporter
Feb 22, 2015
1,060
1,935
Hey all,

I wanted to share a few quick updates regarding SFF.N as we look forward to the new year!

Supporter Tiers

We have some updates to our supporter subscriptions, which we've already (quietly) rolled out for a little while now. Our supporter tiers are a way for community members to contribute directly to our hosting and other costs, in exchange for some neat features. Historically, our supporter benefits haven't been as robust as they could be, so we've added some perks and brought others down from higher tiers to lower ones, in order to boost their value to the community.

You can take a look the various supporter tiers here, but some highlights across them include:

Bronze
  • Custom Titles: Normally the title beneath a user's avatar is generated based on the number of posts they have on SFF.N; Bronze supporters additionally have the ability to change this to anything they want.
  • Trade Subforum Listing Privileges: Although anyone can comment/engage on the Trade subforum, only supporters can create new threads listing items to buy, sell, or trade.
  • SFF.N Supporter Discord Channel Access: Thanks to our new Discord integration, we now have a Discord channel that's exclusive to SFF.N supporters and staff.

Silver
  • Additional Forum Themes: All users can use the Dark Red or (OG) Dark Blue theme, but we've made two new dark themes (Blackout and Throwback) as well as two light themes (Light Red and Light Blue) that can be toggled at the bottom left corner of any page on SFF.N. Check out the gallery of these here.
  • Media Uploads & Media Galleries: Wish you could just upload your photos to SFF.N directly when making a post? Now you can – and you can even compose galleries of images to share as a group (see the above link to the SFF.N styles gallery for an example).
  • Vendor Marketplace Listing Privileges: Much like Trade listing privileges are a benefit for Bronze supporters, Vendor Marketplace listing privileges are a benefit for Silver supporters who verify themselves with SFF.N staff.
  • Enhanced Profile Pages & Forum Threads: You can now upload banner imagery to your user profile, or to any thread you start (in much the same style as subforums), providing a little extra creative latitude for yourself and your content. Here's an example of this on a user profile (you can see this in action for threads right here).

Gold
  • SFF.N Staff Discord Channel Access: Want to join an even more exclusive Discord channel that's a direct line to SFF.N staff? Want to overhear our musings and ramblings, particularly during trade shows? Now you can.
  • SFF.N Live Recording Session Access: Whenever we might record a video, podcast or other bit, we're plugged into Discord on a channel you can tune into.
  • SFF.N Game Server Access (Coming Soon): Minecraft is great, so we're building a Minecraft server exclusive to Gold supporters. Stay tuned for more info.

As a part of these enhancements, there is one important change to Trade/Vendor listing privileges (and grandfathered perks more generally) that I want to call out. We have decided to make these a benefit that require an ongoing supporter subscription to use on an ongoing basis, rather than our existing policy of extending such perks to any past or present supporters. Given this, any grandfathering we have done to date for former supporters will end. To be clear, this change is not motivated by a desire to boost supporter subscriptions, particularly since folks can still temporarily pick up a supporter subscription to make a listing; rather, we have made this change to better filter out abusers, simplify moderation, and try to engender more trust in these subforums in general.


Serving ads for guests

Aside from establishing a more sustainable and fully-featured website, one focus of our development this year has been to try and make SFF.N more financially secure. To this day there are bills I pay out of pocket each month to keep the lights on. However, in the long run, we want SFF.N to be self-sustaining such that there is no question about whether the forum, newsfeed and and beyond remain online and active.

We’ve already made some changes internally to reduce our cost overhead without impacting the forum experience, but to close the remaining gap we need a way to collect revenue from the >99.9% of folks who don’t support us directly. The way that’s done online is with ads, and so we will soon start to roll out ads for guests of SFF.N – namely, those browsing SFF.N who aren't logged in to an account.

Naturally, that means there is a very easy way to avoid ads altogether: simply be logged in to SFF.N! This is intentional; our goal with ads is to monetize traffic from passersby who are simply skimming (and thus don't contribute anything to balance out the cost of their usage), while minimizing the impact to community members who are regularly active and do contribute. After debating alternatives like mandatory ads for everyone, ad-free supporter tiers, site wide sponsors, and so forth, we think that this approach has the best chance of balancing financial security with the ability to continue providing an ad-free experience accessible to all. That said, we will be continuously exploring opportunities to support SFF.N financially, and ensure that SFF.N continues to support the SFF community - and feedback from you all to those ends is always welcome!

-

2019 has been quite the interesting year for SFF, and especially for SFF.N. Since January 1st, we've all but rebuilt the website; covered another round of trade shows; and witnessed a bevy of hardware and industry developments that have brought challenge and opportunity alike to the SFF ecosystem. Even so, I am sure 2020 will be more eventful yet, and I can't want to experience it alongside you all.

As always, thanks for making SFF.N and the SFF community what it is. You guys are awesome. Here's to big things in small spaces in 2020!


Best,

– Joshua
 

adeeb7861

What's an ITX?
Dec 21, 2019
1
6
Been lurking on the forums and just made an account because I had an idea.

For members of the forum that aren't subscribed to any of the supporter tiers (or even if they are), an option to help contribute by still being served ads might be cool too. Have a switch somewhere for logged in users or something like that.
 

CottonTexas

SFF Lingo Aficionado
Oct 14, 2019
106
71
Y'all need a one-time donation option. I was thinking about throwing a coupla' bucks in the hat, but I shied away when I saw that it was a reoccurring charge. I'm sure it's no problem to cancel, but it stopped me when I considered I might not be able to log in for a while and/or forget, and yeah, a coupla' bucks per month means a lot to me too since the only way I get to enjoy this hobby is by counting every dollar. Just a thought, but a single tip system might somehow be integrated for the Marketplace listing access (50¢ or $1 per listing for non-bronze members? - I dunno'), but I'm guilty of using an ad-blocker, buying awesome stuff from SFF members, I've acquired a lifetime of knowledge, and I really haven't given back in a way that makes cents (<--- see what I did there? :D OK, I'm done). With that said, PM me a PP link, and I'll throw a little bit in for the cause. I'm not concerned with bronze or gold badging, I'm just lovin' this forum y'all, Cotton
 

Windfall

Shrink Way Wielder
Moderator
Silver Supporter
Nov 14, 2017
2,114
1,562
Been lurking on the forums and just made an account because I had an idea.

For members of the forum that aren't subscribed to any of the supporter tiers (or even if they are), an option to help contribute by still being served ads might be cool too. Have a switch somewhere for logged in users or something like that.
Sorry for a double post, but I missed that idea and I love it!
 
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She loved E

Add smallness
Compact Splash
Silver Supporter
Jun 24, 2015
28
23
Message received, I finally subbed! Keep up the great work, the site is looking fantastic and I know you and other contributors have put in a ton of work to build & improve the site. Its always my first stop for sff news & projects.
 

PlayfulPhoenix

Founder of SFF.N
Original poster
SFFLAB
Chimera Industries
Moderator
Gold Supporter
Feb 22, 2015
1,060
1,935
I've supported sff.n on patreon, bought cases and accessories from creators here -- it's about time I support the forums directly.

Thanks for all the work and here's to a great 2020! 🎉
Sounds like a great set of changes and plans to me, hopefully the non-logged in ads cover the rest! And thank you so much for covering the extra needed to keep the site alive!
This looks great, I think that you've given solid reasons to support the forum financially! Looking forward to supporting and to a great future here!
Message received, I finally subbed! Keep up the great work, the site is looking fantastic and I know you and other contributors have put in a ton of work to build & improve the site. Its always my first stop for sff news & projects.
This thread just got me to stick the site on subscription. Thanks for all the hard work.
Thanks for your support!

Been lurking on the forums and just made an account because I had an idea.

For members of the forum that aren't subscribed to any of the supporter tiers (or even if they are), an option to help contribute by still being served ads might be cool too. Have a switch somewhere for logged in users or something like that.
Y'all need a one-time donation option. I was thinking about throwing a coupla' bucks in the hat, but I shied away when I saw that it was a reoccurring charge. I'm sure it's no problem to cancel, but it stopped me when I considered I might not be able to log in for a while and/or forget, and yeah, a coupla' bucks per month means a lot to me too since the only way I get to enjoy this hobby is by counting every dollar. Just a thought, but a single tip system might somehow be integrated for the Marketplace listing access (50¢ or $1 per listing for non-bronze members? - I dunno'), but I'm guilty of using an ad-blocker, buying awesome stuff from SFF members, I've acquired a lifetime of knowledge, and I really haven't given back in a way that makes cents (<--- see what I did there? :D OK, I'm done). With that said, PM me a PP link, and I'll throw a little bit in for the cause. I'm not concerned with bronze or gold badging, I'm just lovin' this forum y'all, Cotton
One time donation option sounds perfect!
Back in the day (perhaps the first year or two of the forum) we actually did have a link for folks to make a one-time contribution to SFF.N, but I don't know that anyone ever used it! By the time we launched the supporter subscriptions, we retired it. I can certainly look into re-instating that button, for folks who aren't active supporters at least.

As for voluntarily enabling ads, I'd like to avoid that for now mostly to see if non-member views are enough to carry us along. I have the luxury of not being fixated on trying to make SFF.N as profitable as possible, which is why I'm trying to avoid ads for members in the first place if possible - nobody likes them and if I have the means to exclude that from the full forum experience, I will.

Thanks for the feedback!
 

Solo

King of Cable Management
Nov 18, 2017
696
1,174
I've literally only ever subscribed in order to post in the classifieds lmao.
 

PlayfulPhoenix

Founder of SFF.N
Original poster
SFFLAB
Chimera Industries
Moderator
Gold Supporter
Feb 22, 2015
1,060
1,935
A quick update – per this thread's suggestion, I've added a section to the sidebar of SFF.N that allows folks to make a one-time contribution to the site! It also links to the supporter subscriptions that are currently available.

Note that this module is disabled for any community members who have an active supporter subscription (since I think it would be a bit uncouth to ask folks who are already supporting the site).
 

CottonTexas

SFF Lingo Aficionado
Oct 14, 2019
106
71
A quick update – per this thread's suggestion, I've added a section to the sidebar of SFF.N that allows folks to make a one-time contribution to the site! It also links to the supporter subscriptions that are currently available.

Note that this module is disabled for any community members who have an active supporter subscription (since I think it would be a bit uncouth to ask folks who are already supporting the site).
I'm pretty sure I'm just being dense, but I don't see it. Where is it in the sidebar - under what section?
 

Necere

Shrink Way Wielder
NCASE
Feb 22, 2015
1,630
3,126
I don't really have a problem with ads on the margins, but these ads that look like posts are terrible:





And yes, no ads when you login is great, but 1.) I'm thinking about the experience for new users and 2.) I often browse the forum without logging in, I expect others do too. Would be a good idea IMO to put a prominent notice near ads informing users that they won't see them if they have an account/are logged in.
 

PlayfulPhoenix

Founder of SFF.N
Original poster
SFFLAB
Chimera Industries
Moderator
Gold Supporter
Feb 22, 2015
1,060
1,935
I'm pretty sure I'm just being dense, but I don't see it. Where is it in the sidebar - under what section?
See below (the bottom module; this is the sidebar that's visible on the Newsfeed and homepage for the forum:

Screen Shot 2019-12-31 at 6.18.49 PM.png

I will likely tweak the icon and verbiage some.

I don't really have a problem with ads on the margins, but these ads that look like posts are terrible... And yes, no ads when you login is great, but 1.) I'm thinking about the experience for new users and 2.) I often browse the forum without logging in, I expect others do too. Would be a good idea IMO to put a prominent notice near ads informing users that they won't see them if they have an account/are logged in.
Yeah, some of the ads that Google inserts dynamically are pretty crappy. I've spent some time cleaning up how these integrate in the UX.

I've already updated the home page banner to call out that folks w/accounts enjoy an ad-free experience; I'd like to avoid having something persistent like that across the website given that ads add enough visual clutter by themselves. Maybe a banner that's dismissible the first time you visit? Hm...