Recent members -- a request

Announcements about changes in the forum. Also a place to ask questions about how to use the forum, or to make suggestions for how it could be improved.

Recent members -- a request

Postby Bill Fosher » Mon Sep 08, 2008 12:13 pm

Hi Folks,

In the past two weeks, requests for memberships have picked up quite a bit. In just the last week I've added about 10 new members, I think. This is quite a spike when you consider that it took more than a year to get the first 100 members signed up.

I'm curious about how you heard about the forums, and if there was any particular event that brought you here. You're all welcome, of course, I'm just wondering if the forum was getting some publicity somewhere that I'm not aware of.

Reply here, or send me an e-mail or private message. Whatever suits you.
Bill Fosher
Westmoreland, NH
Bill Fosher
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Postby newf » Mon Sep 08, 2008 1:19 pm

Bill, I found a link to this sight in some archived threads on that Sheep-L list thingy. I had been looking for such a place and just happened upon it. You got a good review from them, thats the biggest attraction.

Glad I did though.
Jon
People, like sheep, tend to follow a leader - occasionally in the right direction.

Jon
[url]john_parsons@nf.sympatico.ca[/url]
newf
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Postby Darroll Grant » Mon Sep 08, 2008 2:08 pm

Maybe I am partially responsible for the 'spike'. I asked on sheep-l where everyone went? (Loaded question) Someone responded: To Sheep Production.
Darroll Grant
western Oregon
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Postby Justin-PA » Mon Sep 08, 2008 2:34 pm

Bill...I had been studying sheep for quite some time. Every thing I read said to "get well-acquainted" with as many sheep people as you can. Since there seemed to be only a few around here (NW PA), I started Googling. If you type in "Sheep Forum" in Google, this board is usually near the top of the list.

That's how I found it...lurked around for quite awhile and then joined when I was getting close to actually buying sheep.
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Postby Tomar » Mon Sep 08, 2008 8:51 pm

Bill:
I lurked from the time you mentioned this forum on
the Production Dorsets List. I decided to sign up earlier
this year so I could participate, although I haven't had
many reply's. I just like the info and discussions.

Tom
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Postby Travis Johnson » Sun Sep 28, 2008 7:07 am

I missed this thread, but I might be partially to blame. I do a lot of research on sheep and thus correspond with a lot of people via email. This place comes up in the conversations as in..."over on the sheep discussion board we talked about this..."and thus I always give a link and so maybe people join.

And then there is the law of averages. I saw this on a forum I frequent called www.mytractorforum.com. When I was first there we had maybe 300 members, that was 3 years ago and now it has 12,000. If 100 people tell 3 people about a forum, and those people tell 3 more people...well soon it blossoms exponentially. It got to the point on MTF where they had to get sponsors to provide money for the data transfer and size of the forum.

Myself I miss the small size of MTF. It was nice knowing everyone, but with 12,000 members a list of"active topics" covers 6 pages. I miss a lot of good threads...and the scope of the forum changed too. Few farming threads now, its pretty much surbanites with garden tractors talking about mowing their lawns and pushing snow out of their driveways. That's fine, but I miss all the big tractor threads.

Its nice to stay small, but the more the number of people, the more experience and options gets injected into the discussions.
Travis Johnson
 

Postby Bill Fosher » Sun Sep 28, 2008 7:41 am

I have to admit that I have been toying with the idea of developing some sort of revenue stream to help defray the costs of operating this forum. Right now it's not costing me anything other than my time, which I'm happy to contribute. But if it continues to grow there will surely come a point when we outstrip the capacity of this software and the bandwidth and storage limits of my server.

I would like to not make this a site that's about advertising, and I have looked into placing Google's text ads on the discussion threads as they seem to be the least intrusive. I absolutely hate flashing animated banner ads, and won't have them on this forum. Then I started to wonder what Google would try to sell us when we start discussion vaginal prolapses or some other aspects of reproductive husbandry.

As I said, it's not a problem now, and it's not really even close to it, but I can see a point where there would be a need for some outside funding. If any of you have ideas about how to cross this bridge if an when we get to it, I would be interested in hearing them.
Bill Fosher
Westmoreland, NH
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Postby Travis Johnson » Sun Sep 28, 2008 4:54 pm

The coolest forum I belong to as far as operations of the forum goes, has to belong to www.familywoodworking.com. It was started by 10 people that got fed up with this one other woodworking site editing their posts and kicking people off. So on that website the moderators are voted on by all the forum members for a 6 month term. After 6 months, a new team of moderators are elected. The atmosphere is very family-like there so swearing and stuff is not allowed, nor is religion or politics. If someone goes over the line, and refuses to edit what they wrote, it takes the majority of the moderators to agree to have the post edited. Its the most democratic forum in existence.

Again I started there when there was like a dozen people and now they are up to several thousand. These places do grow quick. I think if you needed to fund this place you out to set something up like the Lamb √ Off. Any sort of financial deal that is dealt with between members on here, means you get a stipend from the sale. Lets just say for example that I buy a Border Collie off from Island Shepard Dave. Since this forum supported the sale by getting us together, then you get 20 bucks out of the deal or something. Maybe its 5%, or even a flat fee, but basically an honor system kind of thing.

Over on MTF, they have Site Sponsors, so for 20 bucks a year people pay in and they get to have a little name tag under their name that says "Site Sponsor." It does not seem like much, but those 20 buck people add up to help off-set the cost of the forum.
Travis Johnson
 

Postby Double Barrel » Mon Sep 29, 2008 7:59 am

I found a link on one of the yahoo sheeplists. I dont remember which one. Honestly I had been looking for a forum, rather than a list since early this year. Dont know how I didnt find this sooner? But Im glad that I did as I have found a wealth of information that has gone well with the books that I have been getting from the library.

Thanks Bill for starting this forum and allowing me to join. Thanks to everyone else for posting great questions and honest answers so that folks like me, can read thru the old postings and ask more.
Got to be a little crazy to keep from going insane!
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Postby Bill Fosher » Mon Sep 29, 2008 8:23 am

Don't look for me to be adopting the democratic model of the family woodworking forum anytime soon. I never say never, but I am a control freak and as long as something is hosted on a server that is my responsibility, I feel I need to have the ability to control how that server is used.

In short, it's my sandbox, and you guys are welcome to use it, but I am not going to wait around for a committee to decide whether it's okay for the cats to crap in it.

I checked out the tractor forum, and I think really like that model of sponsorship. I especially liked the section titled, "Hey, look what I broke today!" That has always been my experience with tractors and farm equipment.

Breeders World dot com has just started sending out unsolicited e-mails to everyone who has registered with their forums. I got two e-mails for cattle sales in the Midwest yesterday. I've managed to figure out how to opt out of future mailings, but I sure found it annoying. That's something I will pledge to never do. I can see a point where there might be some sort of e-mail newsletter associated with this forum, but it will be strictly opt-in, not opt-out.

Travis's experience with forums with large growths in membership and an associated decrease in usefulness and focus is something I have also noticed. When I joined the US Border Collie Club's forums many years ago, there were under 400 members, and most of us had at least a passing familiarity with Border collies as working dogs. Now there are more than 4,000 members, and most of them are wondering whether the latest toy at PetSmart would be good for their dog, which the shelter told them was probably part Border collie (or BC, or [gag] Border).

That's something I really want to avoid here, and it's one reason that I ask people to explain their interest in sheep when they ask to join. I don't care so much about the number of sheep that people own -- I've approved a few people who are simply thinking about getting sheep -- but there's a mindset that I want to maintain here. Sheep are a production animal, not a pet, not a lawn ornament. They require care, and that care requires thought. To the extent that this forum can be a place where those thoughts are hashed out, it will be useful.

And that's my goal. Keep it useful. Make it more useful. The membership is the key to that, and I thank you all for your posts.
Bill Fosher
Westmoreland, NH
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Postby feas » Mon Sep 29, 2008 5:53 pm

Bill,

How much revenue would you expect to need to keep the forum operational without ads?
Walt Feasel
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Postby Travis Johnson » Mon Sep 29, 2008 6:31 pm

No problem with the Democratic Forum Family Woodworking, Bill. I just think its a unique way of deciding forum rules. It can get annoying too though. Once I was asked to edit my post because I said this really, derogatory, disgusting and offending line...

"tree pee."

Yep, I have used tree pee instead of maple syrup since I was a kid, but someone was somehow offended by that line. Come on guys, I say hiney instead of butt, and say silly instead of !@#$% up, and generally try to be politically correct but to get offended at the line 'tree pee', good golly get over it.

As for the pet thing Bill. I understand that too. In fact my aunt once said that the best thing about this down turn in the economy was that people would be getting back to their roots and having livestock again. I belong to a homestead website and I can tell you all right now, modern day America is not ready for the responsibility of of livestock.

One woman on that homestead website actually asked if it was okay to buy goats, let them roam in the woods all week while she stayed in the city 3 hours away. She wanted to know if milk production (for soap, drinking and cheese) would be reduced if she did not feed them all week, just on the weekends when she went to their 'homestead" in the woods.

There is a horse rescue farm not far from me (5 miles) and they are over-run with horses. People cannot afford to feed them and they are abandoning them by the droves!!

Myself, I know 4 sheep is a pathetic number, but when I had the chance to take 10 sheep from a guy that "was sick of buying grain", I realized his attitude was of a sheep farmer I did not want my starter flock to begin from. You are indeed right Bill, mind set is everything.
Travis Johnson
 

Postby Bill Fosher » Mon Sep 29, 2008 7:01 pm

Hi Walt,

Right now the answer to your question is zero. I think if we kick up into the next category of bandwidth or storage space (which we are quite a ways from doing) my cost would be something like $50 per month.

If we get to the point where we need to install more robust software and get much larger bandwidth and storage, I can see it going as high as a few hundred dollars per month.

Right now, I can do 99.44 percent of the work behind the scenes dealing with the software and my hosting guy does the rest out of the goodness of his heart. Plus the fact that his cell phone is on my account. :D My biggest worry would be if I had to start hiring someone to do installations, updates, backups, restores, etc., etc. That's where we could run into money. That is thousands and thousands of members away, and as long as I keep it as hard to join as it has been so far, it'll probably take a long time to get there.
Bill Fosher
Westmoreland, NH
Bill Fosher
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Posts: 5617
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