Forum Index » General Lightweight Backpacking Discussion » Open Letter: Don't make the Gear Swap for members only


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R C
(beenay25) - F

Locale: Midwest
Open Letter: Don't make the Gear Swap for members only on 12/16/2011 06:24:18 MST Print View

Dear Backpacking Light Admin and Community,
The BPL Gear Swap is one of the best online classifieds for lightweight backpacking gear that there is. I have bought and sold many items through it and have yet to experience a sour transaction. However, if it is to be for members only, I will never sell any gear through it again.

First, let me clarify because there's a kind of elitism in the forums that causes members to act as though they are superior to non-members just because of a little badge by their names. I used to be a subscriber of BPL. I stopped subscribing because I just don't read magazines, online or not. As a poor college student, I made a policy of not paying for products I don't use, and now that I've graduated, I feel no different. The forums, however, are a knowledgeable and colorful community, which I continued to follow long after letting my subscription expire, and hope to follow for many years in the future.

As a source of revenue for BPL, I believe this is the wrong move. Oh sure, you may get a few of the most active non-member Gear Swap posters subscribing out of necessity, but for me, a part-time poster and occasional seller, if I want to sell a backpack in the $70 range (something I seem to do once a year or so), I'm not going to buy the $24 annual membership just for that. Nor would I buy the lifetime membership, which would put me in the negative (on that hypothetical sale). Instead, I'm going to take it to another site where I can get more bang for my buck. Was that the desired effect when the decision was made to make the Gear Swap members only? If not, it may deserve some re-thinking.

A better way to go about having a constant trickle of income from a classified section is to request a percentage-based donation from sellers, based on the selling price. Another forum I occasionally post to has just this system. Set up a Paypal account and ask all sellers to donate 3%, 5%, or whatever percentage of the selling price to support the forums. It may be on the honor system, but if my experience is any guide, most people who sell through the Gear Swap are honest and would follow through. A small percentage of the selling price sent through Paypal is easy for sellers, and long-term income for BPL. A subscription is a serious hit for a seller like me, and only a one-time fee for BPL. As far as I can see it, a percentage-based donation system as win-win.

I sincerely hope that the new BPL will find a way to live in harmony with people like me, the occasional forum-posting, gear-selling, non-subscribers, who really do love the site. We just don't love it in *that* way.

Edited to redraft line one of paragraph three.

Edited by beenay25 on 12/16/2011 10:01:10 MST.

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: Open Letter: Don't make the Gear Swap for members only on 12/16/2011 06:59:17 MST Print View

But you do find value and entertainment in the forums do you not?

7 cents a day

Support what you will. But don't expect thing to last for years to come, free.

This subject is being hashed out all over this site. Really don't need yet another thread on it. Ryan will do what he wants...

But you should know this. You have been here for years.

Edited by kthompson on 12/16/2011 07:00:58 MST.

Gabe P
(Gabe) - MLife
Open Letter on 12/16/2011 07:02:49 MST Print View

I am so elite :)

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: Open Letter on 12/16/2011 07:06:05 MST Print View

It's great isn't it!?!

Chad Miller
(chadnsc)

Locale: Duluth, Minnesota
Re: Open Letter: Don't make the Gear Swap for members only on 12/16/2011 07:10:30 MST Print View

I agree with the OP.

Karple T
(ctracyverizon)

Locale: Mid-Alantic
"Open Letter: Don't make the Gear Swap for members only" on 12/16/2011 07:33:19 MST Print View

I'm a naive

But I want to be elite someday.

I also want to be e-lite ... that's extra lite.

When my regular subscription runs out soon I will upgrade because it's worth having all the things available as a member.

Edited by ctracyverizon on 12/16/2011 07:34:36 MST.

Chad Miller
(chadnsc)

Locale: Duluth, Minnesota
Re: "Open Letter: Don't make the Gear Swap for members only" on 12/16/2011 07:44:06 MST Print View

Hahahahahahahahahaha!

Sumi Wada
(DetroitTigerFan) - F

Locale: Ann Arbor
Re: Open Letter: Don't make the Gear Swap for members only on 12/16/2011 07:57:38 MST Print View

So... you've "bought and sold many items" through the Gear Swap and "love" the forums and "hope to follow (it) for many years in the future" but you don't feel the need to pay for "products (you) don't use". What, exactly, do you consider the BackpackingLight "product" to be? Just the members-only sections?

FWIW, I don't care whether the Gear Swap is open to non-members, nor do I care whether others who participate in the forums are members or not. But I do think that when you enter www.backpackinglight.com, even if it's only to read the forums or sell something on Gear Swap, you are *using* the product.

Edited by DetroitTigerFan on 12/16/2011 07:58:25 MST.

R C
(beenay25) - F

Locale: Midwest
Re: Re: Open Letter: Don't make the Gear Swap for members only on 12/16/2011 08:01:26 MST Print View

RE: Ken

The BPL forums are offered to users free of charge. No, I will not feel guilty for using them without paying a subscription. I don't think you understand that business models exist for running a website which don't depend on the users' charity.

Edited by beenay25 on 12/16/2011 10:09:57 MST.

R C
(beenay25) - F

Locale: Midwest
Re: what is BPL's "product" on 12/16/2011 08:03:27 MST Print View

RE: Sumi

Backpacking Light is an online magazine. I am confused why a paying subscriber wouldn't know this without having to ask.

spelt !
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Well, two things on 12/16/2011 08:04:49 MST Print View

1. You are gonna get all manner of word-I-can't-say-here for this.

2. Good luck getting any sort of official acknowledgement, much less response.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Open Letter: Don't make the Gear Swap for members only on 12/16/2011 08:09:21 MST Print View

It's important to note, first of all, that the vast majority of paid members are folks who don't even use the forums - including the gear swap forum. BPL has said this is so. So it seems to me that it's a small minority who might be lost because of the no posting in gear swap for nonmembers rule.

BPL is interested in creating a sustainable model for this site. This does not necessarily mean a huge list of members - but simply enough for a vibrant online community. In short, BPL is more interested in quality than quantity. They have said this as well.

None of us know the true makeup or the financials of BPL. So the many "this is the wrong move financially" statements are certainly opinions, but also may be completely wrong. It may be working out quite well.

Lastly, you write: "I made a policy of not paying for products I don't use, and now that I've graduated, I feel no different. The forums, however, are a knowledgeable and colorful community, which I continued to follow long after letting my subscription expire, and hope to follow for many years in the future."

There's some irony in this statement. On the one hand, you're saying you do use the forums and even get something out of them. On the other hand, even though you do use them, you've decided not to pay for them. So your policy of not paying for products you don't use extends to not paying for products you do use. And that's your choice, of course. I hope you continue to contribute to the forums, paid or not - I've learned a lot from non paying members and hope they stick around.

But I also think that anyone who adopts the attitude, basically, of: "I'm going to take my ball and go home if the rest of you won't play MY way" is certainly welcome to do so.

And, really, the elitism thing is a bit of a canard being bandied about by a few folks upset with this particular change. A few members made some posts that, most certainly, could have been taken as elitism, and suddenly all members have an elitist attitude. In fact, some members disagree with the change to the gear swap forum and said so. Others gave their opinions - in favor of the change - with no elitism at all, they simply disagreed with your view. So all of you folks who continue to try and foster the "members have an elitist attitude" meme, as one of the pre-football game show members say, "c'mon man."

R C
(beenay25) - F

Locale: Midwest
Re: Re: Open Letter: Don't make the Gear Swap for members only on 12/16/2011 08:15:48 MST Print View

RE: Douglas

Who's being ironic? The forums are free. Do you make a habit of paying for things that cost nothing?

I didn't know that "a few members made some posts that....could have been taken as elitism." I've noticed patterns of posting over the years and decided that I needed to preface my post with a note about elitism or else people would think that they could stop in and say "some member you are," "what a leech," "how ironic that you enjoy something without paying for it," and other such comments, which I don't believe are valid criticisms of the position I'm taking.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Re: what is BPL's "product" on 12/16/2011 08:20:14 MST Print View

"Backpacking Light is an online magazine. I am confused why a paying subscriber wouldn't know this without having to ask."

R C, this is a fair statement, at least the first part. BPL, once a print magazine, has become an online magazine. And that's, for all intents and purposes, what your 'subscription' is for.

But just as you are confused as to why paying subscribers 'wouldn't know this,' what you don't seem to understand is that, for a number of active forum participants, the forums have become one of the primary reasons they come to BPL, not the 'printed' content. And perhaps that's where the true division on this issue is. A number of people simply pay their subscription more for the forums than for the magazine (at least that's my belief from having followed the various threads on this topic). Others, if they don't feel the magazine portion is worth it, won't pay for a subscription.

No, you shouldn't feel guilty in any way for using the forums without a subscription. BPL has made them freely available, which is a great thing. Members and nonmembers alike benefit from this free and open forum and exchange of ideas and information.

But you should at least try to understand the 'other side,' some folks get so much from the forums they can't quite understand why frequent visitors/contributors wouldn't want to support that aspect of the site to ensure its long-term sustainability.

Doesn't make them right. Doesn't make you right. Just means we're looking at it from different viewpoints, both valid.

Sumi Wada
(DetroitTigerFan) - F

Locale: Ann Arbor
Re: Re: what is BPL's "product" on 12/16/2011 08:21:55 MST Print View

>> Backpacking Light is an online magazine. I am confused why a paying subscriber wouldn't know this without having to ask. <<

[Sigh...] OK, fine. BPL is an "online magazine" - I never said it was or wasn't, nor did I "ask". I just think that you've conveniently decided that the "community" section, which includes the forums that you apparently frequent, does't fall under the "product" that the membership applies to.

Like I said, I really don't care whether you're a member or not. I happen to like BPL and I like to support the things I like when I can and not assume that someone else will. Maintaining a forum isn't free. If the forums you "love" aren't worth $2 a month to you then, well, so be it.

R C
(beenay25) - F

Locale: Midwest
Re: Re: Re: what is BPL's "product" on 12/16/2011 08:24:20 MST Print View

There's nothing convenient about it. That's how it is. Or is it that you haven't noticed the advertisements?

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Re: Re: Re: what is BPL's "product" on 12/16/2011 08:30:49 MST Print View

It costs a lot more money to sell your gear on Ebay rather than pay $25 annually to support this site, of which wouldn't be here without the membership.

Can someone honestly be that daft not to understand the concept?

Let's vote. Only Members may vote.

Sumi Wada
(DetroitTigerFan) - F

Locale: Ann Arbor
Nothing is "free" on 12/16/2011 08:34:18 MST Print View

>> The forums are free. Do you make a habit of paying for things that cost nothing? <<

Yes, as a matter of fact, I do. I support "free" things that I value all the time. I support public TV, public radio, museums, symphony orchestras. I buy a National Parks pass every year regardless of how many parks I'm planning to visit.

Nothing is "free". If something is made available without charge, that just means that something or someone else is paying the cost. My opinion is that there is ALWAYS a cost in that arrangement. This is why the plastic water bottle sale ban in the Grand Canyon NP was revoked; because Coke, a parks "benefactor" didn't want the ban. And why, in the very near future, the candidates from among which we will choose our elected officials will be chosen by corporations and special interest groups who can afford to pay for their campaigns.

Edited by DetroitTigerFan on 12/16/2011 08:38:14 MST.

Gabe P
(Gabe) - MLife
Open Letter on 12/16/2011 08:35:37 MST Print View

RC

Your examples of elitism (i.e.,"some member you are," "what a leech," "how ironic that you enjoy something without paying for it," and other such comments), don't seem like they fit the definition of the word "elitism." Where's the snobbery in those remarks?

I think the issue here is that some members think that the people who don't pay for a membership are taking advantage of the people who do. I don't share their sentiment, but I get it and I definitely don't view it as elitism.

I'd rather Gear Swap not include a user fee, and that includes membership dues and a "percentage based donation."

M B
(livingontheroad) - M
elitism on 12/16/2011 08:38:36 MST Print View

The fact is that persons who PAY to support this site so that it can be here and operate are basically subsidizing those that do not.

Of course they can feel more deserving for doing this, and non payers SHOULD feel less so, if they have a conscience.

There is nothing "free" about the forums,or the site. Someone pays to set them up, host them, police them, and maintain them. They are only free to YOU because others allow them to be.

The unbelievable thing, is that some have no absolutely no appreciation of this.