R C wrote:
>> 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.
I've extended your membership for a little bit. Please take some time to review what we've published over the past few years since you let your subscription lapse, and if it's worth it, please subscribe. If not, let us know what type of content you'd like to see more of. Please submit this via the contact form, instead of the forums, or put it in the BPL Members forums.
Thanks for taking the time, and feel free to use the Gear Swap as much as you like during your membership trial.
Unfortunately, I'm not able to respond to everything in this thread, but I did read all the posts. I'm currently in Seattle visiting my extended family for a funeral, and then will return to Bozeman to enjoy some downtime for the Christmas holiday with my own family. After Christmas, you can look forward to some new content from me. I'm trying to free up some time in my schedule to do some more writing for BPL, and put three new articles to bed this week.
I do have to respond to one thing - advertising conflicts. As you can see, we're testing out some advertising (automated) in an effort to generate some revenue. This is a really new thing - just a few months old. We have received some money from it, but for now, it's not a lot. However, it is increasing, so I plan to stick with it for a trial period of meaningful length. If it starts out delivering a few dollars a month now and increases at a rate of a few % per month, then within the span of a couple of years, we have a meaningful revenue source, maybe?
Those of you that have been around here for awhile know how sensitive I am to advertising conflicts. We experienced them. We sold advertising in the print magazine. We sold annual contracts to a manufacturers of gear. We wrote reviews about their gear that were less than stellar. In more than one case, a few days after publication, manufacturer's broke their contract claiming that our reviews were "unfair". This happened more than once - it's real. It even happens within our beloved "cottage" industry. Here's a fun exchange we recently had with a cottage manufacturer:
Me to one of our editors: "Do we have a (product name) in the queue for review at BPL?"
The Editor: "Nope. (manufacturer) no longer provides gear for us to review. (Manufacturer's) logic is: if a review of (their) gear gives it less than a Highly Recommended, it hurts (their) business...(Manufacturer) has decided (that they don't) want us to review (their) gear anymore."
So I requested a sample of the gear from the manufacturer. Their response:
(Manufacturer): "It would have to depend on the particulars...I'd kind of like to know who might review the (product name)...and when it publishes...from a strictly (business) standpoint on my end a simple quick hit spotlight type review with no rating would be much preferred...risking a rating other than the (Highly Recommended) is a money loser for (our company)."
This is real stuff. Can you believe it? I could probably make a lot more money writing a tell all book about bad ethics in the outdoor industry rather than trying to sell subscriptions to backpackinglight.com.
Some (including the manufacturer), will say that "it's their right, it's their business", kind of like what some of you have said in this thread about BPL's "right" to do whatever. However, it reflects the continued infection of our business culture that focuses on short term profits above long term credibility, integrity, and sustainability.
And, this type of thing is increasing. Why? Is the world spiraling down the toilet? I suppose at some point, manufacturers will outright refuse to pay, and we can simply afford to be another "customer" for them and buy their products outright, which of course, will totally eliminate conflicts and we can do what we've always wanted to do, which is call people on the carpet and review things without bias or fear of losing revenue, which we've done anyways, but it does make things more challenging, and it makes our relationships with manufacturers a little more tense.
Behind the scenes, we're working on the site's BACK END, including infrastructure upgrades of the forums. It's not going to happen tomorrow, but hang in there. I have no interest in building a reactive business, but one that is sustainable over the long run. For me, "long run" is measured in decades, and I plan on BPL growing to a very old age without advertising conflicts or an IPO. That said, we're still in our infancy and we're still thankfully small and "cottage" ourselves, so thanks for sticking with us.
Take care and happy holidays,