Forum Index » General Lightweight Backpacking Discussion » Why are you not a Member of BPL?


Display Avatars Sort By:
Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Update on 10/07/2011 12:46:02 MDT Print View

Just culled this forum and a series of emails between me and Tony to provide Ryan with a bullet list of the pertinent points behind folks not seeing value in membership.

Not sure where it goes from here, but our meeting yesterday was helpful, encouraging, and productive. Thanks for the insights and patience!
Addie

Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Update on 10/07/2011 16:32:28 MDT Print View

Addie,

Thank you for taking the time to let all of us know what is going on and that all our concerns are being hear vs. falling upon deaf ears.

Think there were a lot of good suggestions from people here and leveraging the intelligence of all the BPL members will hopefully help BPL move forward in a better direction.

I really that not everyone can be made happy and that change is hard, people will be disappointed while others will be welcoming the changes.

Just like lightweight gear, change is always coming and it will be great to see what the future holds for BPL.

Good luck and please let us know what comes of it all.

P.S. Did you also grab some of the suggestion in the BPL members area? There were one or two threads there that also had some ideas that Ryan might want to see.

-Tony

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Followup on 10/18/2011 13:37:06 MDT Print View

Just following up:

I have reviewed what Addie put together from this forum. A lot of fantastic feedback, and special kudos to Tony for helping drive this discussion.

We have opened up threads in the MLIFE Strategic Planning Forums related to the issues brought up in this one. We are in the midst of our fall strategic planning process for 2012 and this is a big part of it.

We are considering a variety of ways to:

a. Ensure BPL's long term sustainability;
b. Improve benefits for Members

Thanks for your patience as we work through this, and I for one, am very excited about BPL's prospects for refocusing our energies into reinforcing our online presence and services for BPL Members.

Best,
Ryan

Todd Hein
(todd1960) - MLife

Locale: Coastal Southern California
Backpackinglight virtual gear mall on 10/18/2011 17:11:02 MDT Print View

I've seen this come up in this forum and I wanted to reiterate that many (most?) of the cottage (and non-cottage) manufacturers might want (and pay for) a mall-like structure on this website. They could pay or maybe give BPL a slice of the gross for use of this forum. People could review gear, offer suggestions for improvements, etc. right on the site. There could be side by side comparison options and other shopping tools. This action would have the potential of bringing a lot of backpacking gear information under "one roof".

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Backpackinglight virtual gear mall on 10/18/2011 17:17:45 MDT Print View

I like that idea Todd!

chris kersten
(xanadu) - F

Locale: here
membership on 10/18/2011 18:56:07 MDT Print View

I was a member for my first year but after that, I didn't renew because I am in to fishing and other hobbies during the summer and rarely read anything backpacking because it makes me miss it. I like the idea of a smaller monthly membership option. I would rather pay $5 a month for 3 or 4 months and you still get the same amount and I feel like I am using my money when I need it and not feel like I wasted it.

James DeMonaco
(jdemonaco) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco
I joined... on 10/19/2011 00:45:18 MDT Print View

I joined because I wanted to support a great community. I know that its more supporting to share information, which I try and do as much as I can, but some times it takes a little money as well.

For me, the membership has been worth it. I've learned SO much about backpacking, camping, fishing, gear, techniques, geography, ultra-light backpacking, home-made gear, cottage industries, etc since I became a member. Obviously you can learn about almost all of this from the forums for free, but I didn't feel right just using leeching the service and experience of others.

I do like Todd's idea of replacing the old BPL shop with a mall of items from all the cottage industries that are part of this community, that would be great! It gets more traffic for BPL, they get to retain a shop (and possibly sell small things here and there if they want), they don't have to spend as much time or resources on the shop as it is mostly handled through the cottage shops, cottage shops get more attention and recognition, product reviews can be more centralized and easier to find, and boosts cottage shops so that they don't die out so easy and are able to compete with the larger companies.

I think its a win/win and a natural relationship between the two that should definitely happen.

I also think that it would be great if you got some swag for buying a membership. Maybe a sticker or something for a year membership and a patch or something with a lifetime membership. Just an idea (that has probably already been stated previously in this long thread)

Ross P Hemphill
(rbimli) - F

Locale: PNW
I was... on 10/19/2011 01:51:12 MDT Print View

Very glad to've noticed this question being asked. I've been a bit concerned about BPL lately. (The front page change is some part of that.) I think that the relevant people would be more likely to see some important things if there was an obvious way to easily see official BPL requests for input. (PS Search engine still stucks!)(Whoops, this isn't an entirely "official" thread!")

1. Anywho, I am not a Member because I have been very broke for a while. I have been a Member in the past, and intend to rejoin in the future.. (But, I wish I knew when the cashflow will stop sucking so hard.)

2. There's nothing of the top of my head that BPL would have to do to regain me as a member. The next paragraph might be an answer to the question, if the issue was something other than poverty.

I should probably mention that the articles I like best are also the least numerous. These would be from Technology, People, Gear Lists, and Techniques. (I prefer Solid content with lasting value, and recognize that such articles can't necessarily be as common as simpler ones. However, the distribution still feel a bit screwey to me. (Only 33 People articles? Are they really that unpopular?))

Well, I'll quit my blathering, now. Thanks a bunch! Stick around BPL!

Oh, and HECK YEAH on the cottage company mall idea! Would be particularly helpful for small/new/no-web-presence/obscure shops to be visible to people without the time or interest to hang out on the forums all the time. It should be clarified whether a company would have to actually "manufacture" something, or if just reselling/retailing would fly.

Edited by rbimli on 10/19/2011 02:00:47 MDT.

Ross P Hemphill
(rbimli) - F

Locale: PNW
a haven of non-crapiness on 10/19/2011 02:12:20 MDT Print View

"One thing i really appreciate about the forums and site is the minimalism of the software and open/low moderation feel of the forums. I know many people are calling for PHPbb and flashy forum software, but the lack of smileys/green text/sigs is one of the main reasons I want to support this forum. Maybe just a little code update for auto recognizing links?"

+4(?) Almost totally agree. Please, please... let BPL retain (or gain) some sense of aesthetics and design, and not turn into "the rest of the internet!" (I remember when most web sites/pages were personal and/or academic, and many had terrrible design... but I still feel that was way less annoying than how things are now.)

Edited by rbimli on 10/19/2011 02:15:50 MDT.

Bryce F.
(bster13) - MLife

Locale: Norwalk, CT
Re: Update on 10/19/2011 06:00:29 MDT Print View

I joined because that great "free" forum I used and abused for months of knowledge before gear purchases wouldn't of been there if it were for members who support the forums financially and with their knowledge. Of course there are personal financial hardships that prevent some from giving back, but for the others, I hope they realize it's not "free" in the slightest and I hope they have a backup "free" forum to go to with all this UL/SUL/XUL knowledge because I sure as heck haven't found the same knowledge and like-minded people anywhere else, haha.

I'm looking forward to some of the changes the admins are cooking up. I generally go straight to the Gear Swap and Gear Deal sections to check things out (I'm a gear wh_re!), then to recent threads. I hardly ever go to the main page. If those three pages were incorporated to an RSS feed or someone on the front page that'd draw me there more (and non-members too), we might get more traffic and members. GL!

spelt !
(spelt) - F

Locale: Midwest
Re: a haven of non-crapiness on 10/19/2011 06:50:22 MDT Print View

>>(I remember when most web sites/pages were personal and/or academic, and many had terrrible design... but I still feel that was way less annoying than how things are now.)



Yeah...the good old days.

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife
Re: a haven of non-crapiness on 10/19/2011 07:15:18 MDT Print View

"One thing i really appreciate about the forums and site is the minimalism of the software and open/low moderation feel of the forums. I know many people are calling for PHPbb and flashy forum software, but the lack of smileys/green text/sigs is one of the main reasons I want to support this forum. Maybe just a little code update for auto recognizing links?"

+5(?) Almost totally agree. Please, please... let BPL retain (or gain) some sense of aesthetics and design, and not turn into "the rest of the internet!" (I remember when most web sites/pages were personal and/or academic, and many had terrrible design... but I still feel that was way less annoying than how things are now.)


Been like a huge family whose visits you can't control. Would hate to lose that.

James Castleberry
(Winterland76)
Why are you not a Member of BPL? on 12/01/2011 15:50:32 MST Print View

Bryce said "I joined because that great "free" forum I used and abused for months of knowledge before gear purchases wouldn't of been there if it were for members who support the forums financially and with their knowledge."
Ditto Bryce. Same here and can't say it any better. This is actually one of the best virtual communities I have seen. I have young kids and can't participate as much as I would like but the knowledge offered here has been priceless. I can tell by the summaries and ensuing comments that the content is first-rate.

Nick Larsen
(stingray4540) - F

Locale: South Bay
Re: Why are you not a Member of BPL? on 12/02/2011 05:03:12 MST Print View

To many free forums out there for me to consider paying for it. I'd rather see a few advertisements on the side or top, than pay to browse a forum. It would be nice to be able to read the articles, but paying for a forum subscription doesn't fit into my budget. I'd rather spend the money on gear.

Have you guys ever considered putting ads on your site? You could make it so paying members don't see ads, but you could still make some money off of freeloaders like me. That would allow anyone full access to the entire site(articles included). Free members would just have to put up with ads.

Craig Savage
(tremelo) - F

Locale: San Jacinto Mountains
"Why are you not a Member of BPL?" on 12/02/2011 10:43:52 MST Print View

I'm broke, so no real need to research gear/use.

Dunno that I'd buy new gear if I did have the money, pretty happy with what I have and how I use it.

Chad Miller
(chadnsc)

Locale: Duluth, Minnesota
Used to be a member on 12/02/2011 10:56:50 MST Print View

I used to be a member for quite some time (five years) but I've found that after absorbing a great deal of information from the pay portion of this site I'm not really learning anything new.

Now as for the form section of this site I'm learning new things every day. Alas with the hard economic times I simply can't justify paying for a site membership when all I use is the free forms. When the economy picks up for me I'll renew my membership but right now we simply can't justify it.

Aaron Sorensen
(awsorensen) - MLife

Locale: South of Forester Pass
Re: Used to be a member on 12/02/2011 12:08:31 MST Print View

One thing that eek's me the most right now is the 1000% increase in "Gear Swap" over the past few years.
To me it's just more garbage to sort through in order to get to the good stuff.

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
Re: Used to be a member on 12/02/2011 12:38:34 MST Print View

BPL certainly offers a wonderful and free forum. I appreciate the opportunity to read and interact here without paying to do so. If that ever changes, I'll be sorry to go (but I will).

I did quite a bit of work with a volunteer group that involved teaching people how to do something (complicated). It had a similar model: membership, benefits, annual dues, a magazine (an actual print magazine in that case). A fundamental problem the organization had was the "graduation effect". Folks learned what they could or at least about as much as they were going to, and then they in effect "graduated" (dropped their membership). This is in a way a good thing for a non-profit, 'mission accomplished', but ultimately a huge issue for an organization that took in a lot of dollars in member dues and perhaps more in advertisement revenue based on the size of their stated membership --- as the membership declined they had to radically alter their expenses and approach (not being the U.S. government they couldn't print more dollars, but certainly would have if they could have ...).

I personally think the right solution to that sort of thing for a non-profit is to have as lean an organization as possible, driven by volunteers as much as possible.
BPL follows a different model here, and I wish them luck with it, but as a for-profit enterprise, I don't feel the least incentive to join just to give them money to succeed/survive. Insofar as they offer something that I deem to be of sufficient value, I'll pay for that. For me personally, and perhaps more relevant, in my particular situation and circumstances, what's offered does not seem worth the money. If I were to volunteer more in this area of my life I might be more inclined to do more work for www.backpackgeartest.org. But in fact I'll do so more locally.

Sorry to ramble on; an interesting, if somewhat uncomfortable topic of discussion!

Edited by brianle on 12/02/2011 12:39:54 MST.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: "Why are you not a Member of BPL?" on 12/02/2011 13:03:37 MST Print View

This place costs money to run, and the ownership has mostly gone the membership route (along with other methods) to finance it. No matter what method they use to generate the money to keep it solvent, it takes money... probably a lot more than many people think.

So as part of the community, each person needs to make their own decision whether $25 a year or $110 lifetime is worth it. To me $25 a year or 7 cents a day is worth it; and it is even cheaper with a lifetime membership.

However, there is no guarantee that after you spend your money, BPL will remain. I hope it does.

So in a sense, if you are unwilling to spend 7 cents a day, then maybe one should not be too critical of how things are done, because the other members are financing it for you. It does not matter to me if you pay or not, but please don't criticize those who are providing you a free service. If it isn't worth 7 cents a day, then it won't matter to you if BPL fails.

Now there are some very savvy non-members here who are major contributors to the forums, and I don't see what they get out of BPL, other than helping others and a little conversation. To me, they give more than they receive. And I can understand why they have chosen not to join. I cannot criticize them for that, and I hope BPL stays around a long time and these folks do too.

To be honest, I really don't like Websites that need paying members to stay solvent. That business model usually fails, and other than BPL I have never paid to be part of a site... but then there is only one other site that I regularly visit. But the method of generating income is up to the ownership of BPL. I joined because I enjoy it and my investment is worthwhile to me, assuming BPL stays in business. For others it isn't and that is fine by me too.

Just my 7 cents of opinion.

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife
Re: "Why are you not a Member of BPL?" on 12/02/2011 18:15:19 MST Print View

+1 with Nick. Well said.