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


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Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Ads on 12/19/2011 14:26:22 MST Print View

Was there ever a clear decision to avoid advertisements?
YES. Right from the start. I will quote Dirk R:

> Management costs, bandwidth usage, and most certainly, editorial control. It is difficult
> to remain impartial in the wake of advertising. Advertisers often have influence on all but the
>most powerful and well-funded publishers, if for no other reason than publishers depend on advertisements.

Is BPL a niche web-zine?
YES. Unashamedly.

Does it cost serious money to run the BPL web site with it's weekly publication of articles?
YES.
Comparisons with university web sites are pointless: their budgeting methods can only be described as 'interesting'.

Cheers

Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: gear swap on 12/19/2011 14:34:02 MST Print View

Kevin,

I think that the future of BPL has to include guest and should never be 100% pay to play.

Fact is, it is unreasonable to expect someone to part with their hard earned money if they don't have a taste/clue of what BPL has to offer.

In order to provide that taste of what BPL has to offer, it demands that there is some free content available to guest that would entice them to WANT to become members.

Honestly, one of the challenges to BPL is the user community itself.

There are a lot of knowledge people here who are great at passing along wisdom to the newer people.

The challenge for BPL then is....what can it provide that is worth paying for that can not be found for free on the forums.

Maybe part of the solution is to limit access to information....control of information is power. People pay for information that they can not get for free.

We can debate the merrits of free exchange of information or about the value of creating artificial barriers to accessing information, but the fact remains that BPL is going to be in the business of educating people and that means providing information.

-Tony

Clayton Mauritzen
(GlacierRambler) - F

Locale: NW Montana
Re: Re: The BPL Mission on 12/19/2011 14:34:22 MST Print View

+1 on a set of "Beginner's Guide to UL" or some set of core articles like that. As a newer member transitioning to a lighter pack, this would do a couple of things:

1. I would know where to go when I got started and could find comprehensive information. Also, each article could continue to have a forum attached, where information/perspectives of others could be added.

2. It would unclutter the forums. There are a lot of newbie posts on here (and I've added to them for sure) that continue to rotate through. It's kind of defacto Backpacker situation, just in the forums. Uncluttering the forums would make it easier for more intermediate/advanced discussion to take place, hopefully keeping older members renewing. Unless there is a compelling reason to re-write the article (major shifts in the industry, new innovations, etc.), they should just stay up as long as necessary. Older articles already written by staff could be re-organized into this structure (i.e. the one on footwear systems for snowshoeing that takes forever to find in the search function).

3. If you solicited long-time members to write the articles on a contract basis, it would also increase their investment in the site, likely leading to more renewed memberships.

I also like the photography contest idea, more trip reports, and anything that really inspires me to keep going outside. I'd also love to see Ryan, Roger, and others answer two-three weekly questions, offering their perspectives on particular issues.

One thing I've seen no one mention is conservation related content. Since I'm not educated in that field, I have a steep learning curve as I try to educate myself. On top of that, I don't always know where to look. Even a bibliographical article or regular reviews of conservation issues would keep me coming.

Those are my few thoughts.

Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: "Open Letter: Don't make the Gear Swap for members only" on 12/19/2011 14:37:58 MST Print View

Jason, I agree.. with my other 2 main hobbies Rock climbing and road cycling you pretty much have read most of the general techniques in a year or 2. after that your time on the forum is either teaching others or chatting with friends.

what keeps people around is talking about new innovations or new techniques that come along. I'm sure there was a large upsurge when Silnylon came out, Spinnaker, Cuben, etc. Different stove, tent/tarp designs, and backpacks will always be fun to talk about. Hell I have NO way of buying a cuben tarp but it's really cool to look at. it's like watching Top Gear for the Lambo's and Zondas.

that said people will always want to upgrade. which means getting rid of the old stuff. This year i sold my old 3-4lb 1p tent and bought a tarptent. and when they get rid of one thing that opens the door to buy something else. smaller shelter.. can get a smaller pack. Which is why i think the gear swap should be open to all. Right now anyone can buy stuff but not everyone can sell. it messes up the cycle.

Someone said that the gear sales were taking over the "newest post" section. the gear threads should be edited out of that. on RC.com we have basically the Chaff section and it is not reflected on the front page or Newest posts. If gear selling is all that is being talked about then perhaps the articles need to be stepped up.

On rockclimbing.com i've been posting for 8 years and have almost 11,000 posts. with no monetary investment i believe i've passed on enough information and clicked the site enough times to have contributed to the community. When i started i barely knew anything. Now I am at a fairly advanced level of knowledge. Point is that if you push new folks out you could be losing an expert down the line.

Chad Anderson
(kiddzoso)

Locale: N. California
Re: BPL Mission on 12/19/2011 14:48:51 MST Print View

I agree with Tony. I think BPL would benefit greatly by expanding content to include more articles that "motivate" people to use their UL gear. I think most of the people here are reasonably obsessed with gear, and the SOTM reports, etc., are the best professional reviews I've come across. However, after sinking a reasonable amount of money into UL gear, I don't think the majority of people will want to replace it the next year. (Though I'm sure many do.) Thus, the great gear reviews lose some value once you've geared up.

I really enjoy the post-trip reports section of the forum and the "places" articles. I think a more regular appearance of these would put more emphasis on motivating people. Obviously, we don't need another "100 Hikes" book on here, or a writeup that tells us that the JMT is a special place. But maybe some organization could be added to group these routes by a rough estimation of difficulty in terms of terrain, but also for the ability to go UL in said terrain. UL backpacking is different at Point Reyes, Yosemite, the desert, alpine, etc. The guidebooks everyone buys don't feature much in terms of gear, and I think BPL could fill a void in the market. Given the endless opportunities out there, perhaps this approach could add a bit more regularity to the appearance of content, and a well-organized database for reference as the backpacker's goals and knowledge evolves.
I think this is a very good article, with a specific route, gear load, and a description of the difficulty:
http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/sul_with_my_kid_brother.html

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Re: Re: The BPL Mission on 12/19/2011 14:49:04 MST Print View

+1 on a set of "Beginner's Guide to UL" or some set of core articles like that. As a newer member transitioning to a lighter pack, this would do a couple of things:

Perhaps a free digital copy of Ryan's book on lightweight backpacking with each new membership.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Re: BPL Mission on 12/19/2011 14:53:06 MST Print View

"I really enjoy the post-trip reports section of the forum and the "places" articles."

Apple Computer had 'evangelists.' GG has 'trail ambassadors.' BPL only has moderators..... ;-) Perhaps they could use something like the previous examples.

rOg w
(rOg_w) - F - M

Locale: rogwilmers.wordpress
deleted on 12/19/2011 14:56:59 MST Print View

deleted

Edited by rOg_w on 05/28/2012 17:11:56 MDT.

Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: BPL Mission on 12/19/2011 14:57:17 MST Print View

Doug,

I agree with you.

Can I vote for you?

You have a big mouth and always have an opinion....hehehehe. (with love and respect).

-Tony

Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: BPL Mission & Customer Focus on 12/19/2011 15:12:59 MST Print View

Rog,

Great points and I do agree with you...think it will be a question of priority between satisfying the newbie and the experience ULer.

Once the short term goal, as I see it, of taking care of the newbie with "core" articles is taken care of...then it should free up time and resources to address the seasoned Uler.

For me, I would like to see more articles not on gear, but on technique...how to use the gear. I am done buying gear (shocking) for now and just want to learn the "secrets" on how to better use the gear to make my life easier on the trail.

Examples that I have put up before:

1. 6 Tarp Pitches/Configurations you need to know in the field

2. Review on Gravity filters (simply because there is little info on this topic)

I like trip reports and photo essays to Inspire me to want to take trips to places I never have been to before.

Maybe part of this thread is to get suggestions for future articles that appeal to the seasoned ULer?

Cameron,

Agreed....interestingly, I have never used the Gear Swap to buy or sell anything.

Hopefully, with the knowledge that I have gained from BPL's articles and from the forum, I have not made a "bad" purchase to the point where I wanted to sell something. Plus, any duplicate gear that I have, I have kept to have available for friends to use who don't have any gear and are interested in trying backpacking.

****Also, I wanted to thank everyone for changing the tone of this conversation to one that is productive and respectful of each other. We can do so much more together vs. bickering at each other. Love the ideas that are coming out here.******

-Tony

Edited by Valshar on 12/19/2011 15:16:51 MST.

Richard Scruggs
(JRScruggs) - MLife

Locale: Oregon
Re: Re: Re: Re: The BPL Mission on 12/19/2011 15:17:07 MST Print View

Doug: "+1 on a set of "Beginner's Guide to UL" or some set of core articles like that. As a newer member transitioning to a lighter pack, this would do a couple of things:

"Perhaps a free digital copy of Ryan's book on lightweight backpacking with each new membership."

It's available now, free:

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/00034.html

And the latest reader review (by George Carr in 2007) gave it 5/5, even without it having been updated since 2001:

"When I 1st joined BL.com this was the article that convinced me sub 5 was possible. I think that on the home page there should be a link that says read this first. While the original might use some updating, it is a solid first read for newbies to UL backpacking."

http://tinyurl.com/Reader-Reviews

Updating Ryan's digital book, and placing it prominently on the main page as George suggests in his review above, would be a fine step -- and pretty easy.

Easy, that is, except for whoever has to do the update.

Edited by JRScruggs on 12/19/2011 15:26:57 MST.

David Goodyear
(dmgoody) - MLife

Locale: mid-west
great on 12/19/2011 15:21:13 MST Print View

This is turning into a great discussion. Just got home from work and noticed most of the discussion was civil, with real suggestions for improvement. My condolences to Ryan - losing a family member is very tough.

I second the idea of a learning tree for newcomers. Maybe a homework flow chart with links to articles about skills and techniques. I remember - lighten the big three, gear list contests, and on and on. Thankfully, most of the experienced ultralighters were very patient with me when I first came here - I do appreciate this.

As far as my computer skill, Jake, yes you are right. When I need something technical done, then I call my son. I don't know how to use tiny url, but I get by somehow. As far as my knowledge of ads, I have been to sites with click through pages, flashing things and short ad videos that you must watch before you can watch what you want. I don't want BPL to go this way. As far as print magazines, I don't like articles that continue on page 112 and then finish on page 147 with 3 lines a picture and a period. I actually cut out articles, index them and file away for later use - especially MYOG techniques and plans. I said I was a simple man.

Keep up the good work BPL - I like a clean screen.

Dave

Ty Ty
(TylerD)

Locale: SE US
Wow... on 12/19/2011 15:40:03 MST Print View

I am kind of shocked at the audacity of this argument. 'Your service is awesome, the best on the internet but if I have to pay for it then I won't use it therefore you need to keep it free'. Seriously?

Since when did BPL become a non profit organization here to help you sell your stuff and meet your pact with yourself to not pay for things you don't use (but really you want to use)? Why would a business person care that you won't continue to use their service for free? You are saying you are a customer only at a cost of $0.00, so basically you are not a customer at all, you have yet to reach the status of customer. How else can you describe it?

Why would BPL care what you (as a self proclaimed free-loader for life) thinks unless it is to convert you to a customer, which you have already stated you will not become?

I mean come on, is this serious? I am amazed this is being met with civil discussion.

Richard Scruggs
(JRScruggs) - MLife

Locale: Oregon
Re: great on 12/19/2011 15:42:18 MST Print View

Flow charts are great!

And would really enjoy seeing a "flow chart" approach married to Mike Clelland's cartoon character all outfitted for the wilderness.

You could click on an item worn or carried by Mike's cartoon character (his pack, his shoes, or anything else illustrated on or with the character), and == "pooof" == you're taken to a page listing articles, reviews, etc. from BPL database regarding that generic item.

Maybe Mike could expand his art to animation and have his character walk around demonstrating skills and techniques (skip the TP-less demo though).

His cartoon hiker could even be given a voice.

Maybe his own "Ask Mike" forum, too.

Or make that a "Dear Mike" column. As in, "Dear Mike: My pack and I are having a few serious relationship issues. I want to bag it, but my pack wants to keep hanging in there. Can you help me? Please keep it simple, and cheap. Sincerely, Yer Everlovin' Backache."

Edited by JRScruggs on 12/19/2011 16:00:07 MST.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The BPL Mission on 12/19/2011 15:47:54 MST Print View

"It's available now, free:"

I didn't realize this! thanks Richard for pointing it out. I wonder how many new folks to the site don't know about this either!

Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: great on 12/19/2011 15:53:07 MST Print View

"As far as my computer skill, Jake, yes you are right. When I need something technical done, then I call my son. I don't know how to use tiny url, but I get by somehow. As far as my knowledge of ads, I have been to sites with click through pages, flashing things and short ad videos that you must watch before you can watch what you want. I don't want BPL to go this way. As far as print magazines, I don't like articles that continue on page 112 and then finish on page 147 with 3 lines a picture and a period. I actually cut out articles, index them and file away for later use - especially MYOG techniques and plans. I said I was a simple man. "

David. Did you look at the 2 photos of the websites i posted? No where in there are there pop ups, click through screens, animated or sound ads, or any of what you said.

Static, gutter and/or banner ads that are pertinent to backpacking and ultralight backpacking. ie Backcountry, REI, MEC, Spadout, mountaingear. None of these would cause a conflict with gear reviews.

thanks for putting words in my mouth though. I appreciate it.

-guest

Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Wow... on 12/19/2011 15:54:41 MST Print View

Ty Ty,

So when is it a good idea to not be civil when someone expresses an idea that I don't agree with?

For me, rather than becoming angry/emotional, I try to understand the other person's position best that I can- even if I completely disagree with them.

Short of someone trying to physically harm me or outright accusing me of unethical behavior, I do my best to be civil at all times.

After all, this is the internet, and just words on a screen.

No reason to break out the AK-47 and go postal on people. :)

-Tony

Edited by Valshar on 12/19/2011 15:55:15 MST.

Richard Scruggs
(JRScruggs) - MLife

Locale: Oregon
Re: Re: Wow... on 12/19/2011 16:09:43 MST Print View

I like Ron Moak's metaphor from a thread that I linked earlier in this thread:

"Remember, not all of us stand on the same step on the staircase to backpacking nirvana. Nor are all of our destinations and desires the same. That which lacks value to some, may be quite valuable to others on a different path."

See, http://tinyurl.com/Ron-Moak-Quote


Different staircases for different folks makes things interesting.

David Olsen
(oware)

Locale: Steptoe Butte
I just became a member on 12/19/2011 16:09:57 MST Print View

Just checking to see if the little M shows up by my name.

I hope this doesn't detract from sales, what with people thinking I am in bed with BPL.

Ryan, give me a call.

Richard Scruggs
(JRScruggs) - MLife

Locale: Oregon
Re: I just became a member on 12/19/2011 16:14:05 MST Print View

David,

Don't you have the urge to celebrate by offering a big Oware sale?