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Should The CrazyGuy put up a paywall?

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Should The CrazyGuy put up a paywall?

Old 07-28-19, 04:44 PM
  #1  
RohloffRoller
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Should The CrazyGuy put up a paywall?

He wrote on Fri 31 May 2019 14:37


With a site that gets literally thousands of unique visitors per day (according to my server log, which records a unique cookie that I set for each browser - so it excludes bots, who don't generally accept or keep cookies) - with a site like this, I shouldn't have to be scraping by.

So why shouldn't those who drop in to research their proposed tour not have to pay $5 per month or $50 per annum for the information that they seek?
Very little on the internet is free anymore.

Discuss.

Mike Ayling
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Old 07-28-19, 05:14 PM
  #2  
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He doesn’t want to do any advertising so relies on donations only. This hasn’t been working for him for a number of years, if ever. A system like bike forums uses might work for him if he had advertising to pay to get rid, or some features extra for paying customers. Unfortunately he doesn’t ever do anything other than what he has always done, which hasn’t worked. He is always going to develop new parts to his site to make more money but it never seems to happen. I have no idea if a paywall would work and I doubt he will try it because he doesn’t know what would happen either. I donated a small amt. recently out of guilt for using his site for free. But the reality is this has been going on many years with no real effort to change it.
At one time he had some advertising but eventually got rid of it because it was against his vision of how the web should be.
With all hits he is getting there should be more money, as far as I know advertisers pay for hits.
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Old 07-28-19, 06:54 PM
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I go there to read trip reports sometimes. I don't go there to learn anything specific. I cant imagine going there for research...its a total cluster of a site.

I wouldn't pay a dime to read a few trip reports at random times they the year.

Just allow advertising. And make journaling cost $5 or something. Many users who want to post their stories would pay that to have the easy ability to blog.
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Old 07-28-19, 07:24 PM
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The site is constructed via other peoples intellectual content contributions that they have in good faith ceded to him. It's why I don't journal there as it is just as easy to create my own website for free and still retain control of my work. Imagine logging an extensive amount of journaling there only to find out down the road you now need to pay to access it. Those journals are basically a gift to the owner who could generate income from ads if he chose to but when you try to charge people for what was given freely it will create some bad mojo imo.

The idea of holding all those contributors work hostage to a user fee retroactively has been tried before, most recently by Photobucket. Wonder how that worked out for them? I know I switched to free flickr which I discovered works better and won't go back even though they eventually dropped the annual fee idea.
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Old 07-28-19, 08:30 PM
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I find the site difficult to navigate and uninteresting. When I was starting out touring, I read a few trip reports, but haven’t looked at it in a long time. If the guy who runs the site wants to monetize it, advertising is probably the way to go. I’ll read through someone’s blog if they link it here on BF, just out of curiosity.
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Old 07-28-19, 08:46 PM
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Originally Posted by RohloffRoller View Post
He wrote on Fri 31 May 2019 14:37


With a site that gets literally thousands of unique visitors per day (according to my server log, which records a unique cookie that I set for each browser - so it excludes bots, who don't generally accept or keep cookies) - with a site like this, I shouldn't have to be scraping by.

So why shouldn't those who drop in to research their proposed tour not have to pay $5 per month or $50 per annum for the information that they seek?
Very little on the internet is free anymore.

Discuss.

Mike Ayling
Without a doubt NO PAYWALL! I'm an old programmer and do web development. While I'm not an expert at website monetization I'm pretty sure putting up a paywall will be detrimental.

There are other ways to monetize the content you've built up - affiliate links to retailers (e.g amazon), travel services, bike shops, etc.

There are experts that can guide you at this (sorry, don't know anyone to recommend right now). They will analyze your traffic and figure out how to monetize it. It takes a nuanced touch to place ads and not overpower the useful content.

Last edited by tyrion; 07-28-19 at 08:56 PM.
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Old 07-28-19, 11:11 PM
  #7  
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I developed a bike touring website with no intention of making any money off it. Crazyguyonabike.com is much more popular than my site and it does seem that getting thousands of unique visitors a day should equate to a nice income (my site gets thousands a month!). That said, it isn't obvious to me how I would monetize it in his situation.

I could use Google ads but I've heard that doesn't actually amount to much. I could go out and solicit companies for ads but who wants to cold call bike companies? I could use targeted links to products or services (Amazon, etc), but my experience with those is that they pay out slowly and very little.

So as tyrion said, "It takes a nuanced touch to place ads and not overpower the useful content." Luckily for me, I don't need to generate income from my site and enjoy working on it when I have the time or inclination. Whatever method a website uses to generate income,it is best if it is well integrated into the design from the get-go. For Neil to change his approach now is likely more effort that it is worth.
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Old 07-29-19, 03:38 AM
  #8  
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I'm happy to donate and have done fairly regularly for what is an amazing resource and facility for publishing to a wide audience.

Paywall? No.
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Old 07-29-19, 04:19 AM
  #9  
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Well, it's easy for us to discuss, but the owner has made it very clear that he does not want to go down that route.

However, it is very clear that the current system is not working. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again hoping for a different result, no?


I'm banned from there and my most recent donation was rejected. Prior to my banning I was a donor. I find the site to be a fantastic resource, there is excellent information there that is very useful for planning. The search facility is genuinely excellent. Some of the writing is very enjoyable to read. While I find the Journal format difficult to comply with as a writer, as a reader I love it!


I would see no problem in instituting a charge for all future journals (not retroactive), say $5 per journal and an annual hosting fee of $?

I would see no problem in a type of paywall - for example journals are free to read, subscription required to comment/ask questions/download maps etc. There are literally dozens of options available.

I don't understand the reluctance to sell branded materials. CGOAB jerseys/stickers would surely be a big seller?


I don't see how the expansion plans will work, for one reason and one reason only - the owner works alone. I don't see how one person can possibly moderate a site the size that is envisaged. Without the expansion the site will continue on its financial trajectory. Personally, I find that very sad.


There is also a very personal tale on display. We should all be cognisant of that.
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Old 07-29-19, 05:01 AM
  #10  
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I used to use and support CGOAB but he went on a few rants and I moved on.

I'm all for the folks that put the effort in producing content getting compensated - I pay for several different news and consumer product review type sources that have actual reporting or testing, still donate to public radio station, etc.

But sites like Facebook or other online forums that are all user content would have way less user content if they go to a paywall, kinda self defeating. Asking for donations or accepting ads is pretty much the model.
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Old 07-29-19, 05:15 AM
  #11  
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Originally Posted by Caretaker View Post
I'm happy to donate and have done fairly regularly for what is an amazing resource and facility for publishing to a wide audience.

Paywall? No.
Yes I too have donated regularly when I was using the site more. I have not donated in a number of years, but have given a few hundred dollars over the years and would donate again if I were to start another journal or read regularly again. Given that everyone donated the current content under the current model, I'd see a paywall now as a betrayal of good faith in his use of the content that was posted to the site. I am not sure how I'd feel about that. I might consider asking that my content be removed if he were to do that (I don't know if he'd be obligated to or not). I'd have to do some soul searching.

His current model is the owner operator's choice and he has made his preference crystal clear. I think he feels pretty strongly about it.

I think the forums could be a bigger success, but I find it pretty easy to run afoul of Neil's good graces there to the extent that I don't really feel like I can use them comfortably without risking eventual banning. To be fair that could say as much about me as it does Neil. I don't think they are a good candidate for a paywall in any case since there is a lot of competition elsewhere (like here) that is also free.

I have no idea how he feels about merchandising, but think he could make a few bucks on shirts, jerseys, water bottles, stickers, and so on with little to no risk. People would enjoy having that stuff on their tours and at home and it would raise more awareness of his site.
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Old 07-29-19, 05:35 AM
  #12  
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I never knew about the guy until this thread. I didn't see anything there I couldn't learn the hard way, which is usually how I usually pay for knowledge. Put me down as "do what you want but I ain't paying".
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Old 07-29-19, 07:32 AM
  #13  
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
I cant imagine going there for research...its a total cluster of a site.
It can be useful for research. Two years ago I was planning a trip in NW Montana that included Yaak. After learning all I could from other resources I went to CG (which I rarely visit) and simply searched journals for the "Yaak." Found a journal that contained invaluable information (including a map) about a route out of the area that made the trip logistically more feasible and that is very scenic and fun to ride.

P.S. OBTL

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Old 07-29-19, 08:04 AM
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There's a lot I like about CGOAB and a lot I don't like. I love the location tagging. If I'm ever passing through an area I'm curious about, I can usually find a couple journals of people who have passed through just using the location data. I would say that's the main reason I use the site and why I prefer it over a personal website. It's nice to be able to use locations or tabs or searches to see what several cyclists have had to say on the topic.

But it does feel like a site from the early days of the web. It's got a lot of features, so that look is kind of deceiving, but it's there. Neil has some very specific rules about using the site. Some I agree with and some I don't, but none of that matters since it's not in any way my site. And while the title of the site tickles my funny bone, it also seems somewhat dismissive of half the population.

I've donated before and will again. I love the idea of the site. I am not always thrilled with the implementation, but I understand that it's one person's labor of love. Well, one person making the framework and many, many more providing the content. But I don't love it so much that I'd pay a subscription for access. A small fee per journal could be something, but still probably not a great idea. It'd be fine for me, but since journals are the meat of the site, I wouldn't want any barriers in place to prevent people from starting one. It can only serve to bring the amount of content down.
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Old 07-29-19, 08:16 PM
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The owner/operator would need to drastically reduce his political rants for me to ever pay for such a resource, as good as it is. It's a shame, too, because if he would have gone into the background a bit he would have definitely attracted a more diverse and active crowd, even more so than his current userbase. The incessant begging is also a big turn off, and a big reason I would not document my trips there. It is too much of a risk that my works could be removed or lost to the whims of an unstable person who took umbrage to my views outside of his own website or simply cannot fund it on charity alone.
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Old 07-30-19, 05:36 AM
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This made me curious, so I went to the site. He has a donation counter on the front page, showing $5,000 this month. Over $30,000 for the year so far. He's on track to make over $50,000/year running a website that is basically his hobby? Most of the content is provided to him for free and he just posts the journals and trip reports they've written? Maybe it's my lack of a high paying office job, but that sounds like a pretty sweet gig to me.
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Old 07-31-19, 05:06 AM
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Originally Posted by 3speed View Post
This made me curious, so I went to the site. He has a donation counter on the front page, showing $5,000 this month. Over $30,000 for the year so far. He's on track to make over $50,000/year running a website that is basically his hobby? Most of the content is provided to him for free and he just posts the journals and trip reports they've written? Maybe it's my lack of a high paying office job, but that sounds like a pretty sweet gig to me.
It looks like the site is on track to make at least the average income for his geographic area if not a little more, but I don't know how much overhead he has, so I may be wrong. The average income of a Portland resident is $32,438 a year. The Median house hold income of a Portland resident is $53,230 a year. Back when I used to frequent his forums I think he said that his wife was gainfully employed as well, so I am sure they are doing okay with the current model.

BTW, The discussion of a paywall is entirely moot. Neil has often and emphatically made his views known on the subject.
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Old 08-05-19, 04:37 PM
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Should the Crazyguy put up a paywall.

Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
It looks like the site is on track to make at least the average income for his geographic area if not a little more, but I don't know how much overhead he has, so I may be wrong. The average income of a Portland resident is $32,438 a year. The Median house hold income of a Portland resident is $53,230 a year. Back when I used to frequent his forums I think he said that his wife was gainfully employed as well, so I am sure they are doing okay with the current model.

But that does not support a lifestyle to which he would like to be accustomed!

BTW, The discussion of a paywall is entirely moot. Neil has often and emphatically made his views known on the subject.
I know Neil's views on the subject. I started the thread because I wondered whether he would be better off with a paywall but the consensus here is in the negative.

Mike Ayling
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Old 08-07-19, 01:09 AM
  #19  
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Originally Posted by 3speed View Post
This made me curious, so I went to the site. He has a donation counter on the front page, showing $5,000 this month. Over $30,000 for the year so far. He's on track to make over $50,000/year running a website that is basically his hobby? Most of the content is provided to him for free and he just posts the journals and trip reports they've written? Maybe it's my lack of a high paying office job, but that sounds like a pretty sweet gig to me.
Yes, how much does the web server cost anyway? Isn't he at least doing better than breaking even? Not to criticize though. I like the old-school layout & the large # of posts. Not sure if I would like to pay though, it's a nice resource but hardly a one-stop info site.
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Old 08-08-19, 04:10 AM
  #20  
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Originally Posted by HobbesOnTour View Post
However, it is very clear that the current system is not working. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again hoping for a different result, no?

I'm banned from there and my most recent donation was rejected. Prior to my banning I was a donor.
He does seem to spend a lot of time asking for donations on that site. I'm just curious about how you managed to get banned? He does seem a little prickly on there. I remember making a suggestion in the forums some years ago about how he might better fund the site (I honestly can't remember what I said now, but I definitely used very moderate terms and I suggested a model I'd seen used elsewhere), and he seemed to get quite offended by it. That said, being offended seems to be a rite of passage on the Internet these days.

Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
I think the forums could be a bigger success, but I find it pretty easy to run afoul of Neil's good graces there to the extent that I don't really feel like I can use them comfortably without risking eventual banning. To be fair that could say as much about me as it does Neil. I don't think they are a good candidate for a paywall in any case since there is a lot of competition elsewhere (like here) that is also free.
For me the forums there (much like the forums here) are primarily for entertainment. I've asked specific questions there before and received almost no answers at all, but if I post something that might offend someone, I'll get more replies than I have time to read in an average day. Generally if I want information now, I'll just go and do my own research with the help of some search engines.

You also make a good point about how easy it seems to be to upset Neil (even when it's not your intention). It was one of the reasons I stopped journalling there and using the site generally (except for maybe some entertainment when I have little else to do).

Originally Posted by robyr View Post
The owner/operator would need to drastically reduce his political rants for me to ever pay for such a resource, as good as it is. It's a shame, too, because if he would have gone into the background a bit he would have definitely attracted a more diverse and active crowd, even more so than his current userbase. The incessant begging is also a big turn off, and a big reason I would not document my trips there. It is too much of a risk that my works could be removed or lost to the whims of an unstable person who took umbrage to my views outside of his own website or simply cannot fund it on charity alone.
I think you're onto something there too. I have no problem with his political views, but a site dedicated to bike touring isn't the place for it. I know for a fact that he's had arguments with other users in the past because they posted political views he didn't like.

Perhaps he could set up a separate political forum with banner ads as a way to help pay for the crazyguy site.

Ultimately though, it's Neil's site, and he can do with it as he pleases,
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