One thing that hasnt changed is our mission statement. B&B staff are still committed to the same principles as when we started. You guys do a good job of self moderating. We do have a team of moderators, but they are not "elites". Simply eyes and ears helping protect us from disruptions.
As always, open discussion is welcome here. One similarity to another forum that you will never see here, and which contributes more to the clicque mentality than any other feature, is the "thanks" button.
Forums by their very nature are going to have some commonality. If you look at the wikipedia page you can compare and contrast how we do things here to most forums. There a lot of similarities, and a lot of differences as well.
The supporter subsctiptions are a necessary part of the forum. They provide a way to fund the continuing operation costs, and hopefully will enable us to upgrade when our growth requires it. By offering some additional functionality to supporters, it's a way of saying "thank you" for the help.
But like I said in the first post of this thread, all of our members are helping support the forum by virtue of their participation here. And I will do everything I can to keep this place running so we can all continue to enjoy it, even if that means continuing to operate at a loss in the new year. I get a lot of enjoyment from interacting with you guys and this is something worth preserving, for all of us.
Rest assured the supporter section of the forum is not there for the purpose of creating an elite group. One reason it exists is to have a way to enable file attachments for supporters. I can enable attachments on a board by board basis. Every time I download the forum database to back it up, it is a little bigger. I wanted to allow our members the ability to use attachments, but attachments will eat up server space more than any other forum feature, and increase the size of the backups many times over. Right now our entire database is only less than 15 mb. But all it would take is a handful of .pdf files to triple the size of the backups, triple the time they take, triple the bandwidth and data storage, etc.
This is an inevitable consequence of enabling attachments, but since it is such a resource consumer I figured it would be appropriate to enable it for folks who help fund those resources.
That said, I want to be completely open about the costs of operation of this forum. When we started up, Steve and I each split the cost. It ended up costing less than $300 for the domain and hostiing. I bought $200 worth of patches, and sold enough in the first few weeks to cover the $200. To date, we have taken in about $50 -$60 more in revenue from the patches. I enabled ads for one placement on the forum. For the monh of November, the ads on the forum earned $60.43. The combined revenue from the ads, sales of patches, and the new supporter subscriptions will be sufficient to cover last year's startup costs, and the renewal costs for 2013, but upgrading to bigger and better hosting, more feature rich and capable software, etc. will cost several thousands of dollars. Not to mention the impending need to purchase an additional external hard drive to store the increasingly larger backups. And finally, I do hope to one day make a profit from operating the forum, though not at the cost of the atmoshpehre we have here. I promise that I will always put the best interests of the forum ahead of revenue generation. But It is a necessary part of the big picture. My challenge is striking a balance between that and the way we all experience the forum.
Input from you guys and the open discussion we have here has helped tremendously in that regard.