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
In reply to (jcwren) Re: (2) Is PerlMonks economically viable?