SFF Network & SFF Forum: A bunch of announcements... and a request for your help!

Everyone,

We have a lot of announcements to share with you today!

1. We have new moderators and a new contributor. Astute SFF Network readers and Low Volume listeners will be well aware of our newest contributor, Drew Duncan (@3lfk1ng on the forum), who joined our team just in time to do a veritable tour-de-force on the ground at CES 2017. His presence on the showroom floor was our first-ever local reporting at a trade show or conference, and as a result we were able to get a first peek at a slew of hardware announcements, to the point where larger publications like Anandtech even used our reporting as a primary source for their own.


Drew Duncan reporting from base in California, the day before CES 2017

Drew isn't our latest addition to the team, however; I'm very happy to give kudos (even if pre-empted) to @GuilleAcoustic and @||| , who have joined the moderator team for SFF Forum! Although we've discussed expanding the number of moderators internally for some time, it's been the latest spike of traffic that's inspired us to have more mods on tap to help us support the community. We've been incredibly proud of how well the culture and discourse on SFF Forum has transpired over the past few years, and - with their help - we'll be able to scale our team to maintain the communal spirit we've enjoyed up until now.

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2. We've improved the forum's search feature. I'm pleased to share that we've made a significant upgrade to the search functionality of the forum, which until this change was... shall we say, dreadful. Now, however, we have an Elasticsearch-powered solution implemented for all users, that's substantially better at pulling up relevant threads and posts. If you've sworn off the search bar in the past, we'd encourage you to give it a try sometime.

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3. We're changing how we monetize our editorial content. Up until this year, our primary means of monetizing content on SFF Forum was to use AdSense, which places contextual and targeted advertising on our site, in exchange for payments based on views and clicks on the part of users. This has worked ok for us - it's generated revenue, albeit not much given the readership we have - but we'll be blunt: AdSense ads suck. They make websites look ugly, they track users to a distressing extent, and they detract from our content, rather than compliment it. We implemented them in order to provide us with critically-needed revenue, and they did that. But we want to be better than that.

So no more. Moving forward, SFF Network will have zero AdSense or other ad placement services. Instead, we will be partnering and working together with vendors in order to have direct sponsorships, both on SFF Network and on Low Volume. In this way - and by implementing thorough internal processes to wholly separate our editorial team from our sponsorship team - we'll be able to cover our costs through tasteful and relevant sponsorships that are relevant to our readers, without the ugliness and disquieting nature of traditional ad networks.

To be clear, there's much more going on behind the scenes with this initiative, and we'll have a lot more to share in the coming months. Our intent with respect to implementation of this change is to be radically transparent and highly responsive to community feedback and guidance. And there's a lot that we're working on organizationally and strategically to give ourselves the best chance of success. For now, though, these more immediate changes will hopefully bring us closer to a sustainable level of income, whilst also improving the reading experience for users, and respecting their privacy. It will be a lot of work for us to co-develop sponsorships and limit ourselves to vendors who actually have good products and services to offer - but we think the effort is worth it.

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4. We're going to Computex - but only with your help! With Drew at CES, SFF Network was able to accomplish some stellar reporting, and the connections we've made with manufacturers and vendors have already yielded benefits in the form of a slew of product reviews we have in the pipeline. That said, it's well understood that the single most important event in our industry is Computex, as it is focused on the silicon and components that comprise computing devices, rather than the consumer-oriented devices that CES is primarily concerned with.

As such, we've set an ambitious goal for ourselves: to bring the whole core team - myself, @Aibohphobia and @confusis - to Computex 2017 this year, such that we can provide the best possible coverage of what is shaping up to be a tremendous event for computing and SFF. The thing is, we have little more than enough to cover our operating expenses and ongoing community/editorial work - and this is where we need your help! We've brainstormed a list of possible methods to give us the funding needed to make Computex coverage possible, but we want the community to drive this initiative as much as any other.

Some of our current ideas include the following:
  • A donation drive, encouraging folks to donate or become forum subscribers
  • An IGG campaign to cover the trip expenses, with tiers of support providing various perks or swag
  • A SFF Network/Forum t-shirt sale (finally!)
  • A "SFF Network Group Tour" whereby community members can pay-in to a group budget, so we can secure group rates for travel and hotel stays (and perhaps we can fit a few fun events in as well)
  • SFF auction drive (we put together a build, have the crew sign it, and sell to the highest bidder)
  • Working with a vendor or vendors to sponsor our coverage
  • Some combination of the above
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As always, we'd love feedback and input for all of the above developments. I know this has been a pretty dense update, but it's commensurate with the amount of work we're doing behind the scenes, as well as with all that's ahead of us this year.

Thanks much,

- Joshua
 

PlayfulPhoenix

Founder of SFF.N
Original poster
SFFLAB
Chimera Industries
Moderator
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Feb 22, 2015
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All,

Thanks much for the feedback! Further, we've seen an uptick in subscriptions and donations since this thread went live, and we're honestly quite touched by the support and generosity.

We have an initial fundraising plan that we'll be putting into motion over the weekend, so look for some announcements next week regarding how we'll be getting SFF Network to Computex!