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Is PerlMonks economically viable?

by tilly (Archbishop)
on Apr 08, 2001 at 06:41 UTC ( #70771=monkdiscuss: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??

Not long ago I was browsing around and noticed vroom's resume. That got me to thinking. As everyone knows, this is not the best of economies. Web-based companies without visible sources of revenue are not exactly doing well. And that seems like an accurate description of PerlMonks.

Well I asked in chatter and others have similar concerns. As a back of the envelope estimate, simple bandwidth for this site probably could be done for (minimum) 6K/year. Hiring someone like vroom costs considerably more than that.

And what kind of revenue does PerlMonks make? Probably not much. We have much more of a high-quality audience than a large one, and advertising does not exactly pay much these days.

Unless I miss my guess, certainly not enough to keep going indefinitely without help.

So what would it take to keep PM going? jcwren said that he would be willing to pay $50/year for a subscription to the site, but that would reduce the size of the audience. jcwren also pointed out that he would not stick around if PM started to have intrusive ads or popups. (Neither would I.)

So far the only thing that I think could make enough cents would be a PBS type model. Where a portion of people donated money to keep the operation going. I both could and would make a donation to that end. I get enough value out of the site to justify that.

Any other thoughts? Feedback? I would prefer to have people speak up now, while it still exists than in a few months after it disappears. And given the current economy I think that disappearing is too big of a risk to just ignore...

This post is entirely based on personal doubts. I have not discussed this with vroom et al and I have no concrete evidence that PerlMonks is in any immediate danger.

Comment on Is PerlMonks economically viable?
(jptxs) Re: Is PerlMonks economically viable?
by jptxs (Curate) on Apr 08, 2001 at 07:13 UTC
    long ago, I made comments about trying to make money for the site and was booed down in the CB, but since you bring it up... =)

    I think this is a huge concern to those who love this place like myself. I would certianly cough up some dough for a "pledge drive" on perlmonks. for those with well paying jobs (as opposed to the students who make up the other large percentile of the audience) in the IT world, lord knows it wouldn't be all that much of a burden. and, for sure, the services and utilities this place provides have contributed to me advancing my career. it's only fair to give something back. I'd love to see paypal accepted on the site (I actually mentioned that to vroom in NYC in person). That way even students could fork over a few bucks and Anonymous Monk could chuck 50 cents in the jar when the monks save his ass yet again.

    basically, any way I could give and any way that could become a conduit for all to give would be warrented and very positive AFAIC. I work for a very large software firm and we charge through the nose for stuff that could be done by a script in many cases (I did once try to talk the CEO into going freeware and becoming a support and services venue, but he thought I was nuts. Oh well, the job pays the bills.) I don't see why people shouldn't expect to pay for something as high-quality as the value they take from perlmonks.

    P.S. you should have seen vroom blush when I told some passers-by that the free stickers would be ten bucks a piece. one of them was ready to pay it too, but the other dude in the booth (forgot who that was...) let him know they were free. that could have been put toward the site =) ...but I imagine that's not the way people really want to get the cash...

    "A man's maturity -- consists in having found again the seriousness one had as a child, at play." --Nietzsche
      Hi There

      Why not allow companies to put up their Perl programmer requirement information and charge them. This way we will be able to make money keep this site running.

      Regards

      Jamnet

Re: Is PerlMonks economically viable?
by footpad (Monsignor) on Apr 08, 2001 at 07:56 UTC

    I would be willing to kick in a reasonable subscription pledge.

    To some degree, I have already done so; I've bought seven of my last eight technical books through the Monastery's link to FatBrain. The hope being that some of that dough would get directed vroom's way. Some does...not enough.

    This is one reason why, when I suggest a book, I use the the [isbn://...] tags. I've even sent /msg's to myself to set up the proper links (hoping that vroom gets more than a round at Stiles that quarter.) I take that extra moment to find the ISBN number, just in case someone clicks and buys.

    While I would hope that pledge drives aren't as annoying as the ones currently running on our local NPR stations, I would hope that folks click the banner ads, buy the TShirts, and buy books through the local affiliation links.

    Support our fearless leader...bandwidth isn't free.

    --f

Re: Is PerlMonks economically viable?
by dws (Chancellor) on Apr 08, 2001 at 08:37 UTC
    Worrying about how to fund the Monestary in the future is indeed worthy of discussion. Bandwidth comes at a price.

    Perhaps a voluntary subscription model might work. Imagine, for a moment, a yearly voluntary payment for one to be considered "in good standing" on the Monastery scrolls.

    Or, consider a sliding donation scale, allowing one to be

    Monk$0
    Monk in good standing$25
    Monk in excellent standing$50
    Monk in exemplary standing   $100
    As a bonus, monks in exemplary standing might get their picture (in suitable monks garb) added to the random set that appears in the header.

    Failing that, there's always the Bake Sale...

Re: Is PerlMonks economically viable?
by rchiav (Deacon) on Apr 08, 2001 at 08:48 UTC
    I haven't been here very long and I've still been trying to formulate my thoughts. What I've been feeling is that this is truely a rare site. I've thought that about other things before but the shine quickly wore off.

    I've been thinking about posting something in Meditations about just how great of a place this is, but between still being a little hesitant, feeling that it's probably been said 100 times and not quite having the right words, I haven't.

    Over the last couple days I've gotten a feeling that this site turely is for real. But my question then became one of how long it can last. Things change. Things evolve. And they usually don't preserve their original essence. My hope has been that since this site resolves around Perl and it's been able to maintain it's essence, maybe by some miracle so will PM.

    My thoughts on making PM solvent are conflicted. On one hand I'd like to have PM change in a way that would alow it to be more viable but I don't want that to come at the cost of the community. There's something too good here to destroy. Here's some thoughts I've pondered:

    Try to secure some type of corporate/(larger org.) funding. Would O'Rieley kick in a few bucks if there was a page here promoting their books? How does "Perl" get it's funding? Would they be willing to kick in? This is by far the best Perl community out there and it's existance contributes to growth of Perl.

    There's also creating a subscription/donation type system. I feel that subscriptions have the potential to corrupt the site though. I'd happily donate, don't get me wrong. But the problem is that once someone pays a "subscription", they feel that they are owed something.

    How about some donation type system where you get something for the donation. Say a sticker and a shirt for a donation of $50. Maybe you also get some type of token access/content on the site. Maybe a section only for donors. Also maybe some little symbolic designation on your name. That could encourage others.

    Some of this is off of the top of my head so its not all that organized. Anyway.. that's all I have for now. If I come up with anything else, I'll add it.

    Rich
    bash: undo: command not found

      Some good comments here.

      Personally, I'd like to see donations separated from merchandise purchases. My wife and I donate to some animal rescue foundations and the Multiple Sclerosis society. In return, we get a T-shirt. I'd rather that they *didn't* send the shirt, because this pulls money away from the point of the donation. I'd rather they told the wolfy "Here, this food came from Chris and Cindy." No overhead, all the money goes straight to the cause.

      In the past, we've donated goods to animal shelters. One time, I took a pickup truck load of cat litter (1500 lbs!), 24 bottles of Clorox, 48 rolls of paper towels, and a polaroid camera to them. I negotiated a deal with the petstore for the cat litter, and the grocery store for the other goods. The value was that the shelter got something they needed, but more importantly, didn't have to send flyers, pictures, t-shirts, etc, that would have cost real money, and man/woman-power from the shelter.

      What's this got to do with the monastery? Well, we're having a critical shortage of cat litter... Just kidding! Seriously, I'd rather donate money straight into the server farm/fat pipe fund, rather than waste vrooms time and money getting a T-shirt out of it. If I *want* a T-shirt, I would like to be able to *buy* one, but not divert donation funds. And if I donate regularly, I can only use so many T-shirts. If some of the money from the T-shirt/merchandise sales makes it back into the operating fund, great, but the merchandise shouldn't *be* the income source.

      I'm a big believer in paying for the value of services. I get a lot out of the monastery, and besides whoring for XP with the stats pages (shameless plug), I'd like to hope that people think that I've put something back into the monastery. I'm more than willing to wave around my Visa card to help keep it going. I also completely realize that not everyone can afford to make a donation on the scale they would like. But even $1 (no, not the regexp arg) helps, and services like PayPal don't charge a transaction fee (they make their money on the float), so it really helps (some charities incur in excessive of 30% "handling" money. Donate a small amount, and it actually costs them *more* to get the money to the destination than you donated. Big scandal about this a few years ago.)

      This may be of more direct concern than many of you realize, for a couple of reasons. When vroom graduates, and gets a "real" job, he may not have the time to devote that he has in the past. EDC could see hard times, due to the current state of the dot-com's, and may not be able to support the cost of the pipe to feed this monster, without seeing a reasonable return. We are, for all practical purposes, living on borrowed time, and the good graces of EDC.

      It's my particular opinion that we've got something special. There are plenty of websites that are sustained by their users interests, but they tend not be of the "public service" nature that this place is. As a comparison, I went to #kernelnewbies on the opnirc.org network, and it's a bloody wasteland. They claim to "help the newbie kernel hacker" (that'd be me), but it's nothing but a bunch of script kiddies. Whereas, we offer personalized service to people with questions, and demonstrate an eagerness to help them. I would truly hate to see this site fade out of existence, with it's excellent people , abundant resources, and sheer potential, for a simple lack of money...

      End of public service announcement. This was brought to by jcwren, the letter 'B', and the number 6.

      --Chris

      e-mail jcwren
        You make some good points here. My rationale behind offering token items is that it will probably attract more donations. What if there was an option to not receive the goods? My thoughts were along the line of trying to create a snowball effect. Some way to maintain a non-buisiness type environment along with starting some type of donation frenzy.. kinda like the points frenzy. The points system has a good model to attract and keep people comming back. It exists purely on a token level, but it draws interest. Whatever is eventually done (if it's actually needed as tilly mentioned), I think it should build more around it than just a donation drive. As lame as it sounds, it should be made to look like it's "cool" to donate. The point system isn't much more than that.

        Another thought that just came to me. The point system really doesn't mean much in the whole scheme of things. What if there was a cap on how high you could go unless you donated? That doesn't prevent anyone from using the site. It would just be another token advantage for donating..

        *shrug*
        Rich
        bash: undo: command not found

Re: Is PerlMonks economically viable?
by neshura (Chaplain) on Apr 08, 2001 at 10:53 UTC
    How about a Code-A-Thon?

    I remember when I was a kid I used to participate in the read-a-thons at my elementary school. I would go get sponsorships for a certain amount for each hour that I read.

    I don't run in Bay to Breakers here because I'm immensely lazy, but it is the same idea. Your entry fee gets donated to charity, and you do the running just because it is fun. (In theory. I have heard that some people like to do this thing called "running".)

    So maybe there should be a quarterly Quest where the entry fee is, say, $15/student and $25/non-student, and the event is a coding contest. The contest could easily have corporate sponsors, which gives it a one-two punch on the fundraising front.

    I know it sounds crazy ("What, I'm going to pay twenty bucks to do something I do for free in my spare time?") but it works on runners. Maybe because you get a day where you are united with a whole bunch of other people doing the same thing for a good cause, somebody wins and there is much applause, and everyone has a great time.

    I'll put in the bucks regardless of merchandise or contests or subscription plans. But I'd rather see something that reaches out to the existing community (and beyond!) and brings it together periodically. Otherwise people will just forget. I mean, you know about the ain't-gonna-happen of micropayments, right? I'm not going to debate the merits of micropayments, but I do think that pm.org is more aligned along the subsidy lines because of its charitable nature.

    I'd volunteer to help run such a contest if anyone were keen on the idea.

    e-mail neshura

Re: Is PerlMonks economically viable?
by toadi (Chaplain) on Apr 08, 2001 at 14:17 UTC
    IMHO(best way to start this),

    If you want to be a registerd user you should pay a subscription. Simple as that...

    The user base can be smaller, but It would weed out the users that just register and seldom post. But to browse the site and look for things and post as anonymous monks, that part should be free!

    Maybe... Not sure of this:
    • Two versions of the supersearch: Good full functioning one for paying users. And a stripped down version for anonymouse ones.
    • Maybe some parts of the site restricted to paying ones?


    --
    My opinions may have changed,
    but not the fact that I am right

      I don't agree here. Creating a restricted part of the site for paying users is exactly he oppposite (IMHO ;--) of building a community.

      The site should remain as is, accessible by all. If you try to get people to pay before they feel that they are part of a community they just won't, and PM will be all the worse for that.

      I see 2 main categories of users here: those who are mainly looking for solutions to their problems and those who are mostly giving anwers (and learning in the process, that's why they do it). Sad as it is I am not sure the first category will ever be willing to pay. You cannot sign a support contract with PerlMonks for example. Considering all the failed "expert-sites" around it does not look to be a viable model for PM. So the only ones who might actually be willing to pay for PM are the ones who spend a lot of time here, answering questions and helping people. Which might sound unfair, but who said life was fair anyway? Why would they pay? First because they like the site, after all if I am typing this on a Sunday morning instead of just watching soccer on TV I must be enjoying it somehow. Then for those of us who are either consultant or looking for a job this is a great place to gain visibility so it makes perfect sense to spend some money to keep it alive.

      Last thing, how would we pay: what about using the current banner add system? Have us or our companies sponsor the site. No need to look for clickthrough rate or whatever, just knowing that merlyn hates you because you replaced the anime-fu chick would be enough (and before I get the ob-denial, yes, I know that merlyn blocks the add banner ;--)

      Hey, I'd be more than happy to sponsor the Module Reviews section!: These reviews brought to you by XML::Twig (ps: XML::DOM sucks!)

      If you want to be a registerd user you should pay a subscription. Simple as that... The user base can be smaller,

      Not only would teh user base be smaller, you might get fewer registrations. Had Perlmonks required a fee in order to register, I would not have registered, would not have discovered the real value of the site, and probably wouldn't have visited more than once or twice; as it stands, however, I now value the site and would pay a reasonable fee to be considered 'in good standing', provided I could do so by sending a check (as I do NOT do credit cards).

      The standing could be orthogonal to the XP-based rank and go along with it; it could be possible to be a scribe in good standing, a monk in excellent standing, a saint but not in good standing, or cetera.


      $;=sub{$/};@;=map{my($a,$b)=($_,$;);$;=sub{$a.$b->()}} split//,".rekcah lreP rehtona tsuJ";$\=$ ;->();print$/
Re: Is PerlMonks economically viable?
by stefan k (Curate) on Apr 08, 2001 at 15:22 UTC
    Hi Monks,
    IMHO these communites sites need to be free of charge to remain usefull (all that many-users-highly-skilled-audience things here...)

    The most promising way for such a community to pay for the creator is to find a company that considers the appreciation of that community important.

    I know a german example. The site www.wer-weiss-was.de started as a not very big message-board created by a bunch of students. The community that sprang to life rapidly grew larger and so did the messageboard. Today this site is sponsored by ID-Media (which had a little icon showing up) and as far as I know the former creators are paid for their work. They got some ads but I don't think that they make a profit of that.

    Thus I'd say The Monks should find a company, maybe involved in Perl, that makes it's money from other products and would keep the Monestary Gates open just for the appreciation of the visitors

    And: Good Luck!

    Regards Stefan K

Re: Is PerlMonks economically viable?
by scottstef (Curate) on Apr 08, 2001 at 16:50 UTC
    I have mixed feelings on Perl Monks getting solvent. I am new to the monestary, however I do have to say I am a frequent visitor here. Perhaps we should look for corporate sponsorship in alternative methods. I am afraid that if we do start to get solvent, the issues that are going to arise- what do we do with the left over $? Who decides how the $ get spent? As a linux user, it amazes me the number of companies that send me free distributions- some of which I say are way over priced if paid for.
    Maybe our best bet would be to get an ISP to donate the space/bandwidth (probably like it is now). Most ISP's do make charitable contributions and that is an avenue that we should look towards. Perhaps we have to put a banner up that says this site "graciosly" hosted by CrummyIsp.net.
    Code-a-thon's were mentioned, perhaps that would be a viable way- we get some prises and the most ++ answer wins a t-shirt. Why not, runners pay to enter races, and they can on almost any other day run the same area for free.
    A donation system seems plausible, IF and only if it is purely anonymous. I dread looking at posts that start with as a LARGE fiscal supporter of this site... I already think we are all Large fiscal supporters of this site, by donating time around here, that is time that we could be billing someone for.
    Perhaps a series of donations from open source companies or companies that support open source?
    I think the biggest obstacle in getting this support will be the fact that it is a recurring issue, it is not as simple as sun/ibm/dell donating us a server, Perhaps we do need to add a series of small banner adds (ugh I hate adds) to get the sponsorship. Perhaps we should just look for a colo facility and figure out what that would cost.

    I guess this is just a little spooky- think what would Perl Monks be like if things were to change-

      Extra dollars?

      I somehow doubt there would be a problem with that.

      Take a look at the stats. There are a few thousand users who have logins to the site. About 2000 of those with writeups, many of which may have come and gone. About a thousand registered users had a login in the last week. Judging active site participation from putting in a tag for jcwren's bot, we have a couple of hundred real users. Many of whom are students or have been hit by current economic events.

      If we are lucky we will have a few dozen people willing to support the site. Covering costs is a plausible aim. Covering costs and having enough left over to have a single full-time employee (ie vroom) working on the site would be a wonderful goal but I am dubious that it is viable. Considering how much real value is contributed to the Perl community, a corporate sponsorship might be possible. I have no idea who you would talk to about that. Various publishers perhaps?

      When it comes to individual contributions, well perhaps multiple techniques would work. Personally it is easier for me to come up with money than time. (Particularly once you realize that I already spend a lot of time trying to contribute to the Monastery.) People without steady jobs at the moment are likely to find time cheaper to give. Those two could co-exist quite easily.

      But the idea of trying to charge for services rendered, or to segregate things into paying members vs non-paying members turns my stomach. I don't know about others, but I have found at other sites that attempts to "reward" me for being there stifled conversation and made it a less rewarding experience for me. I really think that would ruin the dynamic that makes PerlMonks work.

      Ditto while I would be willing to make a financial contribution, I don't like the idea of making a big deal out of who is paying and who is not paying. As I have said many times, I dislike cliques, and I am generally against things that I think will lead to cliquish behaviour...

        To play devil's advocate, suppose we do get PM to be solvent. How do we manage the money that comes in?
        Does vroom get to make the call? No offence to vroom but some people will have an issue "donating money for upkeep to a site when the have no say in its government. (see American revolution for proof)

        Since a monarchy regardless of how well intentioned the "leader" that gets put in place, perhaps we should seek out some form of a democracy.
        1. Do we have a pure democracy? Who gets to vote? Can AM's vote on matters that affect the community? Must you be of a certain rank to vote on matters of the community? So this way we don'ty get some people that just showed up determining the fate of perl monks? How would we make decisions on this matter, make an addition to the site right below the poll- "Perl monks can't meet its obligations, we should? a)Shake down some of the monks that donate for more money, b) hack into an eccomerce site and get CC numbers, c) call the folks for money
        2. Do we have a representative democracy? How do we choose leaders? Saints and above? An election? What about AM's do we keep them involved?

        tilly brought up the point of hiring a full timer to run the site, how do we do that? Being to new around here to know the full workings of the site, I can't comment on what goes on behind the scenes. Who hires him? How do we pay for him? Do we hire someone permanent? How do we do benes? Do we incorporate so we can get a corp health plan for the person? Perhaps we should find a few college students that are willing to do internships here, usually they work much cheaper.

        I am a little scared by this idea of making PM solvent, unfortunately it does need to be discussed. I hope we stay a community through out this. I remember Red Hat Linux going IPO. Boy did that create hard feelings. The had some screwy lottery for unpaid members of the hacker community, regardless of what you had done for them you got the same chance in the lottery for pre-IPO shares. If you pointed out 100 fixes for the distro, you had the same chance of getting shares as me the person that submitted one bug.

        Perhaps someone that knows vroom can find out what the deal is with us and EDC. As tilly says, it is always better to have a plan before we all log in one morning to find EDC has decided that PM is too much of a finacial drain, and the site will be shut down tommorrow at 5:00 pm
        I seriously doubt they would EVER do that, but maybe we should start figuring out some secondary plan

Re: professional code review /help section anyone?? was(RE: Is PerlMonks economically viable?)
by little (Curate) on Apr 08, 2001 at 17:08 UTC
    Ok, just an idea;

    could you imagine to hang around at Perlmonks.org the hole day and night?
    Just to wait for buddies asking questions?
    Well if, so you could be the first serving professional and high quality perl support for paying or willing to pay customers beside the more public section. Cause for sure there are many perl hackers out there that need help in specific cases and where security is a major concern, so they want to rely on the service team to not discluse any data. But they would be willing to pay for a quick help.
    So if you charge a PRO a monthly subscription fee for a quick and high qualified answer you earn money, and you will hjave to pay a part of that to perlmonks or the other way around. Perlmonks could be the provider for high quality perl help and support and would then have to pay out those who answwer these questions.
    Ok, ok, my idea causes even more costs for human work, but that is a way where I see a solution for perlmonks.org and vroom and for the those cool guys working on that support. I mean, to be honest, I could imagine merlyn (just as an example out of many) hanging out here all day and night and for sure he would get paid for his advise.
    Ok, that would cause that some sections are not accessible to the public, but thats the point. A company doesnt want it's trouble to be carried out into the world or the net. Perlmonks does have the infrastructure, the manpower etc. to make that come true.
    And for those who prefer everything for free : think about a company that provides such service, giving monks the chance to get a new or different or part time job to serve high quality support to paying customers. That company pays a fee for using the perlmonks.org technology to perlmonks org. And thats it. Keep it simple!
    Even though it looks alike a bit more, it's nothing more than just 2 cents.

    :-)
    Have a nice day
    All decision is left to your taste
Re: Is PerlMonks economically viable?
by jepri (Parson) on Apr 08, 2001 at 17:17 UTC
    I'd like to break my response into two sections. One is my ideological thoughts on the matter, one is a (possibly) practical suggestion. These are only the skeletons of ideas, so please be a little gentle with them. I'd better do the practical first since my ideological ravings can go for a while and scare people :)

    Practical: If it's costing 6k a year to serve data for this site, a large chunk would have to be cache-able somehow. I have no idea how this site is setup, but it would have to be possible to get some kind of - what's the word - servers that keep local copies of the data but point the form submissions back to the master database, which then pushes a copy to each local server. Kind of like mirrors, but in near-real time. A lot like Oracle's instances. The chatbox would have to stay where it is, of course.

    Or maybe even just a way to check the time-stamp on each node, the way HTTP caches do for pages.

    I know that this would take time and effort to do, and the addition of code to do the server push (potentially complicated) but it's not like we've got a time limit.

    While the code is being devoloped I'm sure I can stick a cheap machine in the corner of the server room that could take the load of all ten Australian PerlMonks. I can just write it in as a 'testing' machine and it will probably manage a few years before anyone asks me what I'm actually testing on it. Other people might like to oblige in a similar fashion. Involve the community a bit.

    I think it's an even better offer than money 'cause nobody has figured out how to tax services yet. And 50% of it doesn't disappear because of the exchange rate.

    Rant: I've worked in one or two companies now and the one I found quite despicable was the one where the boss just regarded open-source ware as something to be plundered. His attitude towards the community was that they were a bunch of fools for leaving all this great stuff lying around for free. I got the feeling that he thought he was beating the game and taking advantage of these fools. We were preparing a Linux distro for commercial sale and developing a control system that was tailored for ISPs (we were an ISP). His plan was to take free stuff and sell it.

    Did he send any patches, bug-fixes or ideas back upstream? No. Did he mirror any Open-Source sites or projects? No. Is his distro now having it's arse whipped by a worldwide volunteer effort? Yes.

    I'm not implying for a moment that his project went bad because he didn't believe in the power of open source. I'm just expressing my intense irritation that he didn't give anything back to the community (remember the community? This is a rant about the community). While we were working on that damned project we got help from the local users group and from countrywide mailing lists. And did the stingy bastard even show up at the user group and pay for pizza as a thankyou?

    Businesses who benefit heavily from online communities should at least make an attempt to give something back. We don't have money at our place (I'm really not kidding), but we have under-utilised services. So there's my offer. Show me how to donate services and I will. I'm sure there's a few other people out there with static IPs who could help out in a similar manner. Then there'd be less donations needed to cover the gap, right?

    ____________________
    Jeremy
    I didn't believe in evil until I dated it.

Re: Is PerlMonks economically viable?
by djw (Vicar) on Apr 09, 2001 at 00:07 UTC
    I'd like to see a tip jar type system. Get vroom to setup a paypal account or have a mailing address where we could send money.

    I'd send a few bucks whenever I had a little to give.

    Thanks,
    djw
Re: Is PerlMonks economically viable?
by WebHick (Scribe) on Apr 09, 2001 at 02:29 UTC

    If you think about it and crunch the number a little: if 280 monks contribute $25 over the course of the year --- that's $7,000 right there. And I'm sure that many monks like myself would contribute far more than just $25 a year.

    On the other hand, if I'm told that I have to donate (via setting up a subscription system), I would reluctantly do so. And in my experience, when people pay for something, they expect something back. So, when a subscriber can't find the answer to a question, might he scream bloody murder? What about people who pay for the subscription, get downvoted for a bad node, are they getting what they paid for? Whether or not they are isn't the issue. It's whether or not they feel they are. Bad news spreads faster than good news. Not to pick on a genius such as merlyn or start a flame-war: One jilted subscriber who feels as though the merlyn's answer was a little snarky starts to spread around to potential subscribers that we're an evil and nasty community. Then that'll develop a trolling problem. :( But I'm probably being paranoid.

    Besides, when was the last time you opened your door on a Sunday morning and saw a couple of monks standing there going, "If you don't give us money, you aren't allowed to appreciate our singing." Them some hostile monks ;)

    scottstef brought up a good point of "who gets to decide how the money is spent?" Not that vroom would intentionally mismanage funds (and I don't think that's what scottstef is trying to say, either), but there are ways to prevent that. I have received several donations to my humble and imperfect website. I could have easily spent the money on the eBay auctions that go hand-in-hand with the site, but what I bid on and how much I bid relies heavily on personal judgement. So instead of using the money on auctions, I attributed it directly to the hosting costs. And in order to make my contributors feel better, I keep track of who contributed and send out a report of where the money went. Granted, I wouldn't recommend vroom mail out reports considering that his site is soooo much larger than mine, but perhaps make the data available online to those who have contributed. Or perhaps that's too complicated a system or too much work for him?

    Update: Took out the downvoting comments. Contrary to belief, I couldn't care less about xp.
    Update 2: Modified first paragraph to way-lay a lot of the /msgs I've been getting about it. Please stop people, I can only take so much.
    Update 3: Due to several complaints, removed signature. Anything else?
    Update 4: I shouldn't have asked. I was going to edit the first two paragraphs, but instead removed them completely. I'm tired of being bothered. Please leave me alone.
    Update 5: More complaints...Removed the personal experience tags. There will be no further updates, so please stop /msg-ing me about it.

    Sarah

      Don't feel too bad about not contributing to the site if you're new to Perl. I'm relatively new to Perl (been using it for just over a year, and not that intensively), and I think, if you can't contribute something useful, then just shut up and read more nodes and learn more Perl things, so you can do so in the future. Or just tell people on your homenode what you're up to Perl-wise.

      And please, don't start your posts with "I know I'm gonna get downvoted for this, but..." - this was originally meant to attract sympathy upvotes, but consider yourself lucky I'm out of votes today ;-)

      Shortly after I signed up, I had an epiphany that I actually could not contribute anything worthwhile to this commmunity due to lack of experience, decent ideas, etc.

      An honest, well-phrased question is also a contribution. Try something, and when you hit a dead-end that you can't puzzle your way out of, contribute a question. Tell us what you're trying to do, what you've tried, and what you're seeing go awry.

      A good question is an opportunity for those with experience to share, and for those on the learning curve to test their understanding. A good question might help clarify misunderstanding that others are having.

      Good questions are always welcome*.

      * The first time. By the n+1st time, people get tired of seeing it. Take advantage of SuperSearch as part of your research, to see if the question has already been discussed.

Re: Is PerlMonks economically viable?
by Lexicon (Chaplain) on Apr 09, 2001 at 10:20 UTC
    What I want is to hear from Vroom (or a suitable member of EveryDevel) on what the state of things is. Unless I'm forgetting someone, not a single member of EveryDevel has commented on the viability of anything. We've had a few posts along these lines in the past, fruitless as far as I can tell. So tell us what's going on!

    Are they secretly being funded by a millionaire Perl Saint? Have a master plan they're waiting to spring on the world? PM is just a hobby and the bandwidth/resources are being stolen from Vroom's university?

    I'm just frustrated because nothing we say here really feels satisfying unless we get some feedback from the big guys. If such conversation is being mentioned in the CB, it doesn't seem fair to those users who are never around to see it, and it would be better commented on in a more accesable forum. Not that PerlMonks owes me anything of course. It's just the most frustrating thing in the world is lack of communication.

    -Lexicon

      PerlMonks runs on one of the Blockstackers servers, and costs a few hundred dollars a month to keep bandwidth flowing. For the immediate future, we're willing to eat the cost to keep it running. Obviously, this won't be the case forever, but right now we have another site which eats up a lot more bandwidth, and PM gets to ride along.

      We have discussed various options for setting up an "offering plate" or some form of user-support. So far, the plan that was best recieved was the "Watch Vroom dancing for Dollars" webcam. Maybe pretty soon we'll be doing bake sales...

      However, if financial support for the site is going to be primarily user contributions -- it would make sense to have it maintained by a non-profit organization, and giving people (mostly us at this point) tax-deductions for their dear departed loot. The yang to that yin is that we couldn't take it back into the company, even if the internet ad market took a miracle cure and woke up from it's death-trance. We're not holding our breath.

      So we haven't made up our mind quite yet, but we get a little closer to making it every time we write a check to our co-loc. Keep your eye out for that donations box.

      --nate

        Out of curiosity, what has the discussion been of this over at Everything2 been? They have a lot more users, and would probably be a collectivly deeper pocket. And, of course, they love their site as much as we love ours. I imagine everyone's willing to contribute, but I'm not familiar with what legal loopholes you/we'd have to jump through to make everything work. You mention of a non-profit doesn't surprise me though.

        BBSpot's got a paypal account (got rid of the Amazon account, yay!)...have you asked them how they're doing it?

        I'm still a student, but the amount this site has contributed to my resume in just 6 months makes me happy to throw a few bucks this way.

        -Lexicon

        My apologies for posting to such a date thread, but in the future, know that I can get a site with as much notoriety as PM free colocation just for the rights to put a discreet "colocation servcies provided by" line on the site and permission to mention it as a reference to potential customers.

        If nothing else, I have permission to colocate a box as an employee benefit. I was going to put my domain on a box here, but it turns out I've had little time to work on it, and it's probably better off in a virtual domain situation as it now is. PM could take its place.

        The cons to this start with my presumption vroom et al don't want some regional ISP in Illinois to house the site because of the distance. Another is that I may be looking for other work situations soon because the company is tight on cash and is not able to give me the raise I am due, while still working me 70+ hours a week. I'd still be moonlighting as a consultant for some other ISPs, and I could work something out, but I'm not sure the exact cost. I'd hate to leave here and leave the PM box in the hands of my current coworkers, but some other situation I might not be able to get for free. As for hardware, my biggest spare box right now (personal -- I'm not sure I can get the company to spring for that part) is a K6-2@500Mhz with a piddly 8.4gig Ulrta ATA66 harddrive. I would consider giving up my current game machine, but I'd have to think hard about that.

        A pro to this is that the company has an AT&T DS3 (to be turned up next week), and is currently only using 6 megs of bandwidth, so sluggishness in the line should not be an issue. We're also keeping two outbound DS1 circuits routed through two other CO's just in case of emergency. The NOC is physically secure, although I must admit it might use water instead of foam fire systems.

        Anyway, I'll be sending a few dollars to the collection plate once I get my next expense check, but I thought I'd offer to help in other ways, too.

        Mr. Mischief -- aka Chris
Re: Is PerlMonks economically viable?
by arhuman (Vicar) on Apr 09, 2001 at 13:04 UTC
    Just my humble opinion about this topic :

    If we like the monastery as it is, we'd better keep the same spirit : Let everything free.

    For the boosting the income several (good) answers were already advanced :
    • Donations (I think a paypal account is needed vroom)
    • Using our banners
    • Sponsorship
    • ADDITIONNAL paying services for ENTERPRISES
    I think that we have here all we need to ensure enough income to the monastery without loosing its identity.

    Let me go on a little bit further on this :

    Donations :
    They have the good side of allowing those who CAN to help,
    without preventing those who CAN'T to use all the ressources.
    Of course some people won't donnate even if they can,
    but why should it prevent us to donate anyway.
    Mirod raised an important point : to keep the monastery open, it must remain free.
    (selection via money isn't a good think for a lot of reasons)
    We all agree that this site is very valuable (if not priceless)
    so let's just don't buy this new book and donnate to the monastery instead.
    But again before all those good intents disappear (it happens)
    we need a paypal account or another mean to donnate.

    Using our banners :
    Working on several sites, the least I can say is that our banners are under-employed...
    I don't want ANY ads in the monastery, but I'm sure there could be a lot of
    tech/open source/perl-related ads which wouldn't disturb the monks
    (anyway, for those monks, ads blocker exist).
    It could bring some incomes if we are disciplined enough to click on them sometimes
    (BTW it would provide to even the less healthy of us a way to donnate...).
    A monk with commercial skills could also will to help contacting entreprises
    and selling banner on a site with highly skilled/motivated members and a high click-rate.
    (A click campaign could be the next quest ;-)
    If you're interested just say it (and contact vroom?)

    Sponsorship :
    I've seen few sites talking as much about O'reilly books as PM.
    We are good promoters are we really like those books.
    The same goes (at a lesser extent) with Addison-Wesley.
    Some monks are even authors (Merlyn,Danger...)
    MAY BE they could/would help being the PM's ambassadors to ask for a sponsorship
    or giving us some contacts inside those companies.

    ADDITIONAL paying services for ENTERPRISES :
    Everything is yet to invent, some modules authors could help in selling their services for entreprises
    (you know what you do for free for other people : helping them answering silly questions...)
    As there's a high concentration of highly qualified Perl programmer here
    (Guys you just don't know are worthy you are...)
    we could setup a job board :
    I know entreprises are WILLING to pay to post job offers on good sites
    this has also the good side effect of giving some unemployed monks another opportunity...
    Of course this is only few ideas, I'm sure you can bring a lot of better ones...

    Anyway I feel that a lot of people want to help so we have to do it NOW !
    So please vroom,tilly any other interested contact me if you think I could help in any way...
    I still have (few) time left to help...

    Note to vroom : Did I ask for a paypal acount ?
    Note to vroom : Did I ask for a paypal acount ?
    Note to vroom : Did I ask for a paypal acount ?
    Note to vroom : Did I ask for a paypal acount ?
    ...
    (/me is trying to mesmerize vroom with a subtle subliminal message)
    ...
    Note to vroom : Did I ask for a paypal acount ?
    Note to vroom : Did I ask for a paypal acount ?

    "Only Bad Coders Badly Code In Perl" (OBC2IP)
Re: Is PerlMonks economically viable?
by C-Keen (Monk) on Apr 09, 2001 at 13:51 UTC
    I don't want to raise older and already discussed issues here but in what financial condition is PerlMonks.org? I haven't found any detailed information how this (wonderful) place is run, so is there really the need to commercialize this site?

    I will be definitely a subscriber when it will come down to that (hopefully not) but again do we have to take any measures like that? Maybe I am missing something important.

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge with me.

    sincerely

    C-Keen

Re: Is PerlMonks economically viable?
by nysus (Deacon) on Apr 11, 2001 at 04:02 UTC
    Here's an idea:

    User's pay: Cost = $1.50/question asked (but could be paid for in bulk at a discount as well).
    Portion of registration fee that goes to house: $1.00
    Portion of fee that goes to a "good anwerer" fund: .50 cents.
    Benefit to PerlMonks.org: priceless

    People with very high reputations and answer a lot of questions would get cash payments (small, but not insignificant).

    If 20,000 questions per year get asked, the income generated would be nothing to sneeze at. Just an idea...

      I want to encourage competent people to give others a chance to answer easy questions rather than just nailing them all.

      If you can make money by answering the questions, that really makes that harder.

      Also the idea of "gating" things, by making questions cost money, would sharply reduce traffic.

      For all those reasons, I would prefer to pay for the current setup than hope I could get paid under a fee system. (The strength of my preference can be seen by the fact that I long ago stopped showing up at QuestionExchange...)

Re: Is PerlMonks economically viable?(almost off topic!)
by fmogavero (Monk) on Apr 11, 2001 at 17:33 UTC
    Is PerlMonks economically viable? YES!

    The question here seems to be are we (and I mean we) ready to undertake a business endeavor? That is actually what I feel is the underlying question. For if we take on a a business endeavor then we would be ensuring the longevity of PerlMonks and not watch it go the way of so many dot-coms that were great ideas but were run by people with no "business" experience.

    I don't have an MBA, but I am old (enough) and know that when you make the dollar the bottom line you are talking business. This is where I get almost off topic.

    I have been playing many different musical instruments now for almost 32 years. (I told you I was old) I always had that artist mentality. You know, "why can't the world see me for the truly great artistic genius I am?" Then I had an epiphany. "Truly great artistic geniuses don't get any recognition until they are dead." I want recognition, but I don't want to live as a pauper and die young.

    Finally after years of struggling in several unsuccessful bands, I gave up and got Peter Nickle's "Doing music and nothing else" course. Eureka!

    If you want to be a successful musician you have to devote 50% of your time to music and 50% to business. 66% of your budget needs to be devoted to advertising. Two music business rules. I'm sure every professional(sic) developer is familiar with business rules.

    If someone had told me when I was a teenager that I could be a successful musician by getting a dual degree in music and business or for that matter just plain business, I would not be writing this today. I would be dead and very well recognized.

    Yes it takes money to keep bandwidth. The question that looms large in my mind is "how much." Any beginning business venture needs a business plan and a budget. If vroom reveals to us how much is needed then we can make a budget.

    I do believe that vroom is already aware of what needs to be done. Look Here! I smell the beginning of a business venture. Either that or vroom is looking to profit from us all. (Which I highly doubt)

    I think that this node is an extremely valid one and should be brought to vroom's attention, although I can't imagine him not knowing what's going on here at the monastery. Two things to consider:
    1.) Will this be run like a monastery where we request religious donations
    2.) This is a dot-org.

    Thanks you for bringing this up. I do not want to see the monastery crumble, and will do my part to help.

(Now you can DONATE !) Re: Is PerlMonks economically viable?
by arhuman (Vicar) on Apr 12, 2001 at 12:28 UTC
    Just for those interested,
    You can now DONATE to the monastery.
    (via paypal)

    offering plate is a good place to go, just see vroom's post for the official announce.


    "Only Bad Coders Badly Code In Perl" (OBC2IP)
Re: Is PerlMonks economically viable?
by traveler (Parson) on Apr 12, 2001 at 20:06 UTC
    Hopefully this thread is not completely cold... I have been thinking about this since it came out. I have gained a lot of benefit from the Monestary this year and I'm willing to contribute. However, my clients have benefitted even more because I am a better coder and get work done more quickly (in that way I have a sort of reduced benefit as I then get less money for the same work :). What I've been trying to think of is a way my clients could contribute without asking them to make a donation (which is unlikely).

    My thought was what if the Monestary sold CD-ROMs of some useful data that clients could purchase. If there were significant profit figured into the cost, the client would get perceived value, the Monestary would get money, and I could browse some data (e.g. useful code) at the beach (well, maybe somewhwere else).

    Thoughts?

    --traveler

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