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Why are you not a Member of BPL?
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Daniel Allen
(Dan_Quixote) - F

Locale: below the mountains (AK)
Re: Re: no point in paying on 07/20/2011 16:50:42 MDT Print View

"The value of this site to me comes from the forum. I see no point in paying for the privilege to share and hear the experiences of my peers."

"Which begs the question, what would you do if you had to pay for forum access?"

Maybe make the SUL forum for members only? Those zealots will pay almost anything, right?! ;-)


rOg w
(rOg_w) - F

Locale: rogwilmers.wordpress
deleted on 07/20/2011 16:51:24 MDT Print View


Edited by rOg_w on 05/28/2012 14:53:51 MDT.

rOg w
(rOg_w) - F

Locale: rogwilmers.wordpress
deleted on 07/20/2011 16:57:26 MDT Print View


Edited by rOg_w on 05/28/2012 14:55:33 MDT.

Kat ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
membership on 07/20/2011 17:03:22 MDT Print View

If my yearly membership can help keep this site going, that is worth it enough for me. I don't need any extra perks compared to non members.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Why are you not a Member of BPL? on 07/20/2011 17:11:10 MDT Print View

I "lurked" on this site for a couple of years before finally joining. I originally planned to be a member for only one year, primarily in order to read the backlog of articles. So far, each year I have decided to renew. However, unless things change, I probably will not renew this fall. While the old articles on technique (such as the various articles on coping with cold, wet conditions) were quite useful, I have seen very little of that nature recently. The State of the Market reports have been interesting and I've learned a lot of general information, but either the items in which I might be interested are not included (such as the ULA Ohm) or I'm just not in the market for such an item at the time. During the years I was "lurking" here, I found most of what I needed in the forum responses to articles!

Nearly all the knowledge of the new "cottage" vendors, new technology and weight-saving tricks I've learned here in the past few years have come through the forums, not through member-only content. I realize that it takes some time to evaluate new gear and to write up an article, but consistently the forums are more than a year, often several years, ahead of almost every article.

Like others, I wonder why Ryan is posting interesting material to his own website but not here. To me, the content of his own website indicates that he is no longer interested in BPL and is setting up his own separate business. I hope I'm wrong!

IMHO, with the antiquated software here, the forums themselves--admittedly the most useful part of this site--are so difficult to use that I can't see paying to support them. (I do support several other worthwhile--and far better organized--forums through donations approximately equal to the member dues here.) By the time I wade through "recent threads," skipping over all the "for sale" and chaff items (and inevitably missing something interesting wedged in the middle of ten "for sale" items), there's not a lot that I want to read compared with the time I have to spend finding it. In other words, I spend a lot of time for relatively little content. If I'm gone for as little as a weekend, there's absolutely no way I can ever catch up with what's going on here. In other words, in simple frustration I may end up leaving the forums as well as the paid membership.

What will keep me here as a paying member?

(1) A larger number and wider variety of articles each week, about techniques and trips as well as gear.

(2) An easily findable list of articles for beginners to which we can refer people just starting out, many of whom post on other forums with which I'm involved. This particular aspect, IMHO, should be free as a public service. They should be updated every few years. The old "Backpacking 101" is a prime example--in fact, just updating that article (10 years old now) would be sufficient. Having this public service base to which to refer beginners would bring in a lot more members here--consider it advertising!

(3) Inclusion on "SOTM" reports of at least the most popular gear items (back to the ULA Ohm again!).

(4) While we're at the Ohm, how about a bit more coordination on SOTM reports, so an extremely popular pack isn't omitted from the "frameless" category because that author considers it "framed," while the author of the "framed" SOTM considers it "frameless."

Forum improvements (for which our membership pays, since this site doesn't solicit donations or outside advertising):

(1) Better forum software with automated functions for links, bolding, quotes from other posts, etc.--in other words, the standard features common to other forums.

(2) A greatly improved search function. While no search function is perfect, this one could be a lot better. Since we have to use google all the time anyway, you might as well eliminate the current search function altogether and instead display how to search through google.

(3) The ability to modify the "recent posts" function to omit certain forums. (For me, this would be "For Sale," Chaff, MYOG.) This would really help us cope with the overwhelming volume of traffic on the forums. We of course should be able to change these easily, so if, for example, I want to buy a piece of used gear, I can check out that forum.

(4) A bit more moderation on these forums (maybe a few volunteer moderators?) to tone down some of the name-calling (there's a reason I don't read Chaff!) and keep the discussions more polite and on-topic.

Edited later to correct abbreviation confusion!

Edited by hikinggranny on 07/21/2011 15:46:01 MDT.

John Nausieda
(Meander) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Why are you not a Member of BPL? on 07/20/2011 17:22:04 MDT Print View

+1 on everything you've said Mary D, especially the search functions and lack of stickies or beginner's articles. It is a drag to see the same questions and responses about every 3 weeks. And what incentive is there to become a Mlife if you are a M already? If BPL gave me a break for having been here 2 years I would consider it , but otherwise it gets more tempting not to renew because you know enough already and can just infer the paid content from the responses.

Edited by Meander on 07/20/2011 17:22:56 MDT.

Kat ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Re: Why are you not a Member of BPL? on 07/20/2011 17:25:27 MDT Print View

A better search function would be good....but I like the simple format here; no bolding, jumping people, long quotes, colors...I hope it will stay this way.
As for more moderation? Nooooooooooooooooooo. We are doing just fine like this. The only problems I see with Chaff is that some don't want to scroll down through all that when looking at recent posts, and that is legitimate. Keeping discussions friendlier by moderating them just irks me. We have had unpleasant exchanges but people got out what they wanted to say and then , in most cases, we move on and I would like to keep it that way. Actually, as a paying member I DEMAND IT!!! ; )

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Re: Why are you not a Member of BPL? on 07/20/2011 17:28:43 MDT Print View

"And what incentive is there to become a Mlife if you are a M already?"

Some MLife members are trying to add value to MLife membership on their own. There is a gear lending closet - only for MLife members, run by MLife members - with such things as a Backcountry Boiler, a cuben MLD Cricket, a Tenkara Iwana 12' flyrod, various Caldera Ti-Tris, an Exped Downmat 7 Short, an SMD Gatewood Cape, and an MLD Superlight bivy. And we're trying to think of other ways to add value to MLife, FWIW.

John Nausieda
(Meander) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Re: Why are you not a Member of BPL? on 07/20/2011 17:34:07 MDT Print View

Well Doug that IS something concrete. Don't get me wrong -I just don't understand why "time served " doesn't translate to a discount on Mlife .

Aaron Benson
(AaronMB) - F

Locale: Central Valley California
Re: Re: no point in paying on 07/20/2011 17:35:45 MDT Print View

""Which begs the question, what would you do if you had to pay for forum access?""

With the numerous ["free"] forums and blogs out there--as suggested several times above--my guess would be that many would simply spend their time on other forums; most of us frequent quite a variety of forums and blogs, already, I assume.

Here are a few of my thoughts about this place that I've truly come to enjoy, FWIW:

I paid for an annual membership because I wanted access to a 'few' of the M* articles and, because I was wet behind the ears at the time, wanted to positively contribute and say "Thanks" to BPL. I don't regret that, but do agree with a lot of what has been said above. Ironically, most of the articles that I reread are accessible to everyone. Had the forums not been so informative at the time, I would not have thought the articles alone worth the money (money is tight, as I'm a Grad student).

-I almost upped for a LifeM when I [mis]read that Lifers got free shipping from the Gear Shop, as I thought that generous perk for dropping the $100 would help offset the high prices...but I hesitated and thought about it for a while longer when I realized that that was only for New/Preorders. Shortly after, it was announced the shop was closing anyway.

-I wasn't around when the Podcast(s) production stopped, and don't know why they did, but quite a few of them were informative and enjoyable. (Why, BTW?)

-I'm a little more learned now and--again considering what has been said above--I don't honestly know if I would have made the same decision, today. The articles are good, but the forums totally make this place - at the moment, the "Forums = BPL." Lately, as suggested--because it's become a little stagnate in here, I think--Chaff and Gear Swap stick out like sore thumbs. Those who enjoy this place visit often out of loyalty, but because it's a bit slow, Chaff becomes busier, as it's become a kind a compensation of use/interaction/involvement, if you will...but that is frustrating for many because that is not worth the price of a paid membership (IMO).

-I realize no one is saying that BPL is going to start charging for forum access, but since the question was brought up: I will gladly renew my membership if BPL comes through in other areas (informative articles, thorough trip reports, podcasts, etc, as suggested above). I certainly won't renew for forum access alone. I don't know how may others would either and I wonder if there would be enough relocation to bump-up a few of the other, less-busy forums that are geared toward light-weight backpacking.

I "heart" BPL, so please be careful - your Customers are talking. ;)

EDIT: very well said, Mary D! I should just say "+1."

Doug - I had no idea there was a MLifer closet; that's pretty cool, actually. I wonder how many more didn't know.

Edited by AaronMB on 07/20/2011 17:41:05 MDT.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Life Membership on 07/20/2011 17:39:08 MDT Print View

I personally think that the Life Membership concept is going to do BPL in about 5 years down the road. With Life Membership, the big chunk of cash comes in up front, and is equivalent to about 5 years' annual membership. Once the 5-year mark has passed, Life Members will be getting all services for free and the cash flow will not be coming in.

This is not to insult any Life Members; you are all great people who were intelligent enough to take advantage of a bargain, protecting yourselves from future inflation! I just want to point out that this concept may turn out to be a poor business decision in the long run. In case you haven't already figured it out, I am an accountant (retired)!

As for me, being somewhat "stricken in years" as they say, I may very well be gone from this earth before 5 years are up. (I hope it will happen out there on the trail.) I therefore don't see much point in paying that far ahead for anything!

Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Why are you not a Member of BPL? on 07/20/2011 17:40:25 MDT Print View

Regarding the issue that has been put forth on making the forums only for paying members.

I think that focusing on this idea really is distracting from the original point of this thread.

The forums, by themselves is not a good and compelling business model for sustaining a long term business.

What is important is to find out what changes in the website and content offerings would sway someone to find enough value in the website/subscription.

Thank you to everyone for taking the time to add their comments.

This is all about trying to make this a better website for all of us.


USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Is that all it is? on 07/20/2011 17:40:40 MDT Print View

I thought the yearly subscription was more? Like $10 month. Still, so many other bp forums I belong to and contribute to which cost nothing. Something to consider.


Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: Why are you not a Member of BPL? on 07/20/2011 17:52:49 MDT Print View

What I was getting at about the forums is that they are never truly free. Someone has to pay for the website, hosting, and all of those wonderful associated fees. Generally that's done via advertising, which BPL doesn't have. The site is member supported and there is a ton of content that doesn't exist anywhere else. Without the members, we'd either have to endure intensive advertising, which I personally despise, or lose the content forever.

Edited by simplespirit on 07/20/2011 17:55:13 MDT.

Jacob D
(JacobD) - F

Locale: North Bay
Why are you not a Member of BPL? on 07/20/2011 17:55:02 MDT Print View

Tony, My general fear of those who wear quilts prevents me from committing.

All kidding aside, I'm happy to pay $20 / yr. to help support the site. The lack of banner ads, bot-generated posts, and all of the hoopla that comes along with sponsorship is a welcome departure from other forums for me.

As a paying member I would like to say that it would be nice if the forum itself was given a complete overhaul with some modern back-end such as vBulletin, Powerboard, or even phpBB.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Re: Why are you not a Member of BPL? on 07/20/2011 18:02:03 MDT Print View

I agree with Tony--

"The forums, by themselves is not a good and compelling business model for sustaining a long term business.

"What is important is to find out what changes in the website and content offerings would sway someone to find enough value in the website/subscription."

Duane also has a good point--the relatively low price of membership ($25 annually the first year, $20 for renewals) is not publicized on this site--you have to work down a step or two to find it! Most people see "become a member" on the home page and are turned off right there! Why not state on the home page: "Become a BPL member: Only $24.99 the first year; $19.99 per year thereafter."

Duane, those other forums aren't free at all; they take in advertising and rely heavily on such things as donations, sponsorship, calendar sales, etc.

If BPL goes, this forum will go, too. Only you can decide if it's worth saving. Never mind the opinions I've expressed; these are the hard economic facts.

Edited by hikinggranny on 07/20/2011 18:09:16 MDT.

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
fundamental disconnect on 07/20/2011 18:32:28 MDT Print View

I'm not interested in so many reviews, or market reports. Figuring out my (nonconsumable) gear, while exciting at times, is ultimately a chore. I wouldn't pay to read reviews--no matter how excellent--of things I have no intention of buying. I'm not interested in the highly technical stuff, either. Is it interesting for its own sake, yes. Is it interesting when I'm just looking to answer a question, no.

What I would pay for is esoterica: why backpacking, why UL, why SUL? Dave C's blog is a good example. Some of Ryan Jordan's posts as well. I would think the Philosophy and Technique forum would be for this, but most often I see posts about which way of doing something is more authentically UL. I've found good musings by following the Trip Reports section and combing through the blogrolls of everyone who posts. If that sort of content were here, I think I'd pay for it.

Brian UL

Locale: New England
Re: Re: Why are you not a Member of BPL? on 07/20/2011 19:10:40 MDT Print View

I was a member back when BPL was a physical magazine. The 3 main reasons I don't bother joining again:

1- articles are too few and far between, Reviews are not only too few but they review gear thats been out for a while and reviewed in detail already on forums like this. I would be more interested to see reviews of gear thats just, or not yet on the market. Also I don't need another review of a ruck sack with mesh pockets and other stuff thats been done- I want to see NEW stuff and new ideas that make me rethink the way I do things.

2. There is only so much to say and learn about carrying a light pack. Its not rocket science for most occasions.

3. The forums are the best part of the site- there would be little reason to come here without them.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Why are you not a Member of BPL? on 07/20/2011 19:26:42 MDT Print View

I used to buy annual memberships, then converted to Life membership.

Actually, I agree with Brian's point that backpacking is not a rocket science. While every article and gear review used to be wonderful and exciting to me when I was a newbie hiker 7 years ago... the subject matter, technology, techniques, etc. just don't change that much from month to month or even year to year. So no fault of BPL's, but the reading does become repetitive and increasingly boring...

So why did I pay for the Life membership? Because I enjoy the forums. If we want BPL to continue, then we all have to do our part to support it. And since I don't want to freeload, then I may as well pay the Life option and be done with it. To those who benefit from BPL articles and/or participating in the forums or simply lurking... I encourage y'all to show support as well.

Edited by ben2world on 07/20/2011 19:28:38 MDT.

Mat Tallman
(wehtaM) - F

Locale: Midwest
Re: Why are you not a Member of BPL? on 07/20/2011 20:24:02 MDT Print View

My take:

As others have stated, I only use the forums here.

I've been a member on a LOT of forums over the last ten years, and have never once seen one where paying to be a part of the discourse was commonplace, or even really a possibility. Some have had the option to donate, but never any sort of "membership" aspect. All of these forums were successful communities packed with information which was free to all. The general consensus was that you pay your due by sharing your own personal wealth of knowledge, not dollars. Forums were funded primarily through advertising (isn't everything anymore :( ). I, being the type who is irritated by pervasive marketing, simply block ads within my browser (and other firewalling steps) and am none the wiser to their presence. The domain name is paid for, forum software stays updated, users benefit from the exchange of information, everyone's happy.

In light of the time I've spent on other forums, which actually have useful features like a search, the ability to easily quote/reply to other users, doesn't require someone to insert a goofy subject line to reply, allows links, has a functional private message system, etc. the list goes on. The software this forum runs on is really bad in my opinion, and until some time/money is devoted to bringing the forum software up to a reasonable level, there stands a snowball's chance in hades on a hot day that I would spend any money to become a member.

It has also been my perception that having "members" and "life members" seems to tend towards an occasional attitude of elitism or entitlement, and sometimes some insinuations that non-members are somehow "freeloaders" here. This is, from what I've seen, not especially widespread, but it's certainly not been a 1-time thing. Perhaps I'm the only non-member who gets this vibe sometimes...

As to the question of what would happen if a "forum membership fee" were instituted, I'd surmise that someone(s) would simply start their own forum, probably using modern forum software, paying for it with ads from gear companies that I would block, and that a fair portion of non-members would jump to such a forum. I've seen situations on other forums take MUCH less than demanding payment for forum access to drive scores of members away to newly started forums which take off and thrive on their own. This is usually an overall detriment to the "community" though as it serves to decentralize much of the information and discussion. This would essentially be segregating groups whose only uncommon trait is a willingness or ability (or lack thereof) to pay for a subscription. You'd probably save the domain a fair bit of bandwidth though, if money is the subject of the discussion.

My take on it, YMMV.