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.

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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
 

jeshikat

Jessica. Wayward SFF.n Founder
Platinum Supporter
Feb 22, 2015
4,965
4,764
I try to follow best practices for both WordPress and XenForo and both the old and current host was way overkill for how much traffic we get.

The old host had more downtime than I would have liked and I've certainly broken things around here doing updates/migrations (especially with security certicates) so there's still improvement to be had on site stability.