Introducing Supporter Subscriptions to SFF Forum!

Hey everyone,

On the most recent episode of Low Volume (which went live last night), I announced the launch of supporter subscriptions to the forum. But for those who aren't listeners, I'd like to share with you all what these subscriptions are, and why we've created them.

Up until now, every last expense to run, maintain and improve SFF Forum has come out of the pockets of myself, @confusis, and @Aibohphobia, as founders of the site. We've paid these costs readily and happily - and additionally invested a lot of our time - since we've been able to absorb them, and since we wanted to ensure that this community met our own discerning standards of quality and support. However, we've slowly seen these costs grow to quite a lot, since they include such things as:

  • Domain name registration
  • Forum software (XenForo) and support
  • UX and framework code and support
  • Web hosting
  • CDN services
  • SSL certificates
  • Plugins and miscellaneous expenses
  • All of the above for SFF Network and other upcoming projects

Lately, our metrics have demonstrated that we're beginning to enjoy a rise in engagement and traffic, that itself is gracefully increasing, and we're incredibly excited to see the community expand and nurture even more awesome projects and threads. However, with that growth comes the inevitable increase in costs to sustain operations, and that's left us at a crossroads: do we continue to pay out of pocket today, or try to find ways to make the site self-sustaining, so that it isn't dependent on us financially, and has the best chance of living and thriving in the long term?

Well, as you've probably gathered by now, we've decided to try to get to a point of self-sustinence starting today, and that begins with supporter subscriptions: monthly or annual contributions that members of the SFF Forum community and beyond can elect to make if they so choose. If you navigate to the Account Upgrades section of the forum (available as a link at your avatar's drop-down menu on the top-right), you'll see the following options:

Bronze Supporter, Monthly Subscription
A $2 monthly donation to SFF Forum enables access to the supporters-only subforum, and graces your avatar with a bronze supporter banner.

Bronze Supporter, Annual Subscription
A $20 annual donation to SFF Forum enables access to the supporters-only subforum, and graces your avatar with a bronze supporter banner. You’ll also get two months of bronze supporter status for free, when compared to the monthly donation.

Silver Supporter, Monthly Subscription
A $4 monthly donation to SFF Forum provides all the benefits given to bronze supporters, as well as favicon new post notification functionality and the ability to use a custom title. You'll also receive a silver supporter banner.

Silver Supporter, Annual Subscription
A $40 annual donation to SFF Forum provides all the benefits given to bronze supporters, as well as favicon new post notification functionality; the ability to use a custom title; and a silver supporter banner. You’ll also get two months of silver supporter status for free, when compared to the monthly donation.

Gold Supporter, Monthly Subscription
An $8 monthly donation to SFF Forum provides all the benefits given to silver supporters, as well as access to SFF Network’s private Minecraft server and (forthcoming) IRC service. You’ll also receive a gold supporter banner.

Gold Supporter, Annual Subscription
An $80 annual donation to SFF Forum provides all the benefits given to silver supporters, as well as access to SFF Network’s private Minecraft server and (forthcoming) IRC service, as well as a gold supporter banner. You’ll also get two months of gold supporter status for free, when compared to the monthly donation.
Across all of these, you can choose to support on a $2/$4/$8 monthly (or discounted $20/$40/$80 annual) basis, and for each of those tiers we give back premium features that we think will be valuable to a lot of members.

To be clear, nothing about the present forum experience will change, now or in the future - those who don't donate will not have a changed or compromised experience in any way, nor will donors be afforded any preference or privilege beyond the perks we've developed for these tiers - we are simply just trying to provide premium features as incentives and as thanks to those who elect to help cover the costs for running the site.

Many of these features are live now, but some continue to be in development, and we continue to experiment with additional features to provide to donors, alongside all of the things we have in the pipeline for general release. As always, we will look to you all for feedback and thoughts as we continue to experiment and refine how we can best support the community.

---

I know that us strangers on the internet asking you all for money is awkward, if not a little irksome, but we've gone this route because we genuinely feel it is in the best interests of the community. We don't want to blanket SFF Forum with ads, nor are we yet at the scale where we can do broad-based sponsorships with companies and other communities. We also don't want to come up with a sob story and try to collect donations while providing nothing additional back to those who support us, because that's frankly not anything that even we would be interested in.

Succinctly put, by providing supporter subscriptions, our aim is to provide the same forum experience to everyone, whilst generating sustaining income by offering additional niceties to those who feel they're worth paying for. Simple as that.

Thanks all for your support, and for making our community worth supporting.

- Joshua
 

iFreilicht

FlexATX Authority
Feb 28, 2015
3,241
2,355
freilite.com
Proud supporter of the first minute.

I wouldn't say that absolutely nothing changed on the experience, the favicon notifications were there previously, now you have to be silver supporter, but that's a very, very minor thing and goes to show what we can expect in the future.

Already mentioned this on the podcast post, but I think that this is a much better route to take than ads or sponsorships. Sure, sponsored builds are absolutely fine and manufacturers sending in stuff for review is as well, but I think your integrity as tech-journalists stands and falls with your affiliation with the manufacturers whose products you're supposed to be reviewing objectively. LTT and most youtube channels fell into the same trap, and I'm only reading or watching reviews from these very cautiously because of it. Does that mouse of that manufacturer really feel that great in your hand or do you just say that because they've literally donated half of your gaming PC?

Something I am dearly hoping for is that you'll never have to run ads on the site, even for non-supporters. Let's see whether it works out.
 

Phuncz

Lord of the Boards
Editorial Staff
Moderator
Gold Supporter
May 9, 2015
5,121
4,477
Well, if iFreilicht is going Gold, I can't go Silver or Bronze !
I'd like to mirror his sentiments and thoughts on the matter, well said.
 

Aibohphobia

aka James
Gold Supporter
Feb 22, 2015
4,956
4,717
I wouldn't say that absolutely nothing changed on the experience, the favicon notifications were there previously, now you have to be silver supporter, but that's a very, very minor thing and goes to show what we can expect in the future.

Everyone who was registered before the v2.0 site launch was grandfathered in as a thanks for being an early member. All new registrations since then do not have the favicon notifier by default.
 

BirdofPrey

Standards Guru
Sep 3, 2015
797
493
favicon new post notification functionality
What exactly is that?

Everyone who was registered before the v2.0 site launch was grandfathered in as a thanks for being an early member. All new registrations since then do not have the favicon notifier by default.
People need to start telling me about awesome things that exist instead of me stumbling upon it and already knowing half the people who got there before me.
 

confusis

John Morrison. Founder and Head writer SFF.N
SFF Workshop
Editorial Staff
Moderator
Jun 19, 2015
3,462
5,971
sff.network

This is the favicon notification. It shows how many alerts you have, right there in the tab bar
 

BirdofPrey

Standards Guru
Sep 3, 2015
797
493
AH, right, favicon, so it's that option in my settings that doesn't seem to do what it says it does.
 

Phuncz

Lord of the Boards
Editorial Staff
Moderator
Gold Supporter
May 9, 2015
5,121
4,477
I'd forward that to @confusis ' "thermal test platform" aka "his PC". In case he zaps another motherboard. Or @Tek Everything since he also seems to love extracting the life force out of 'boards :p
 

Aibohphobia

aka James
Gold Supporter
Feb 22, 2015
4,956
4,717
The site is pretty lightweight so I don't think we'll be need to move to something like Azure or AWS anytime soon.

You say web developer, does XenForo add-on development sound like something you could do?
 
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Runamok81

Runner of Moks
Jul 27, 2015
331
376
troywitthoeft.com
I can see that this site is XenForo served from Nginx on CloudFlare. Looks like it has some popular javascript frameworks in and scripts in place: jQuery; Modernizr, FontAwesome. I feel like you guys do a pretty good job of maintaining the site, keeping it up to date and adding new features. Does one of the founders have web dev experience? You could have them chat with me to see if we could play together in a test sandbox somewhere? In the past - on collaborations I've setup up a dev subdomain (dev.mywebsitename.net) as a sandbox for these types of things.
 

Aibohphobia

aka James
Gold Supporter
Feb 22, 2015
4,956
4,717
I've been dabbling with running WordPress and forum software off and on for the last 10 years but by no stretch of the imagination would I call myself a web developer. For example, I did not do anything with Nginx, it's actually a managed server running Apache with Nginx in front of it.

Joshua (@PlayfulPhoenix) has experience with the web design side of things but I don't think he'd really call himself a web developer either.

Some kind of collaboration sounds interesting though it'll have to wait a bit, I'm too busy right now with various projects, including your eGPU dock :p
 

Phuncz

Lord of the Boards
Editorial Staff
Moderator
Gold Supporter
May 9, 2015
5,121
4,477
I'm still amazed at how stable everything is or atleast seems. I've seen much much worse from people claiming to be a lot more competent. But that might be karma kicking their lying asses.
 
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