Have you turned a free forum into a subscription forum?

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majjk99
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Have you turned a free forum into a subscription forum?

Post by majjk99 »

Have you turned a free forum into a subscription forum? If so, what have been your experiences? How many regular posting members did you have at the point when you made the transition? How many members actually became paying members, and how many just disappeared?

I would like to hear from people who have good or bad experiences from this, either via a reply to this or via a PM. I'm thinking of going commercial in the near future, but I'm a bit afraid of killing off the forum. What I mean is that if not enough people actually accept to pay for posting on the forum, then I might turn a healthy forum into a semi-dead one.

Any opinions and experiences are welcome!
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Post by chrisb123 »

My opinion is that ppl should not make money from open source software
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drathbun
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Post by drathbun »

Have you polled your users? Do they understand what they would be paying for? In other words, if it is to put money in your pocket they might be less receptive then if, for example, you were going to upgrade the hosting package or something that would benefit the site.

Another thing you could consider (and perhaps have already) is have two levels of membership, a normal and a "premium" or paid membership. You would have to differentiate the two, make the premium membership attractive enough to get people to pay, but it might be an alternative to cutting the entire non-paying membership off all at once.
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drathbun
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Post by drathbun »

chrisb123 wrote: My opinion is that ppl should not make money from open source software

That's very noble. And also impractical. :-)

There are plenty of companies and individuals making money from open source software, and there is nothing wrong with that whatsoever. It's even encouraged, if you read the GPL license.
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pentapenguin
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Post by pentapenguin »

IMHO, unless you have a really active and dedicated userbase, going the paid route is just asking for your site to die....
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Post by chrisb123 »

My opinion I personally think that if you want to make money you should use liscensed software like invizion or vbulletin, where the developers actually get paid for their contribution
Last edited by chrisb123 on Tue Apr 18, 2006 10:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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pentapenguin
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Post by pentapenguin »

Uhh...chrisb123, what does the forum software have to do about anything? Anyways, discussion of other forum software isn't allowed here....
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Post by chrisb123 »

Im not linking to them, nor am i really promoting them in other ways, im sure users on this site know that other software exists so theres no real harm
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Post by chrisb123 »

I dont see why ppl should profit from other ppls effort pentapenguin and much effort is put into phpbb with no profit, so my point has everything to do with the software as the software is the base for him to make money from
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Post by drathbun »

Okay, I'm as guilty as the next person, but let's try to keep this topic focused on the original question please. If you want to start a different discussion topic on whether people should make money from phpBB (or other open source apps) then please do so. Thanks.
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Post by Hynee »

chrisb123 wrote: I dont see why ppl should profit from other ppls effort pentapenguin and much effort is put into phpbb with no profit, so my point has everything to do with the software as the software is the base for him to make money from

It just doesn't work like that. The father of the GNU license himself says it's fine to make money from just distributing OSS. Tons of people make free license open source that you can do anything with. The idea is that you are simply making the source code freely available, nothing more, and any money that goes to developers is from happy users making money.
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Post by lurttinen »

Why pay, if there is something available free of charge?

Your forum would need to be unique if you wuold want to keep your users.
A regular psp, ps2, role palying, etc... wich the net is full would soon die because people would not pay.

Maybe some of your users would even start a rival forum as a protest for your paid one.
I know atleast one forum split because someone did not like where they were going.
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Post by chrisb123 »

the most annoying subscriptions are the ones that I have seen where ppl are selling pirated mp3s, which is a discrace.
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Post by dojo.ro »

If people are willing to pay, I see no reason NOT to do this. I still offer everything for free.
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Post by drathbun »

lurttinen wrote: Why pay, if there is something available free of charge?

Your forum would need to be unique if you wuold want to keep your users.

That's probably the most important consideration. If you have something that is truly unique, and that only you can provide, then people might pay.
Maybe some of your users would even start a rival forum as a protest for your paid one.

I have seen this happen. :-) When you can get phpBB for free, and a domain name for under $10, and hosting for next to nothing (for a smaller board) there's not a big barrier to entry for someone that wants to start a competing board.

There's one board that I go to (not phpBB, but that doesn't really matter for this discussion) where you have to pay to join. But what you're paying for is a magazine subscription, rather than board membership. It's just that they don't let you join the board unless you subscribe to the magazine. The discussion board can be viewed as a marketing effort to sell magazine subscriptions, I guess.

Let me turn the question around and ask, why are you considering going the 'paid membership' route? Are you trying to make money? (for the record, there's nothing wrong with that. ;-)) Are you trying to cover hosting costs? Have you experimented with advertising? Google Adsense can work fairly well, if you have the traffic to support it.
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