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Discussion Starter #1
I am glad the bulb here lit up and some of you are getting the gist of the story here.

A side point.
As my “hobby-side business”, I build dual CPU, 7 and 12 slot servers with RAID 0,1, 5 disk arrays running Windows NT 4.0 and beta 2000 server and advanced server mainly for digital data (graphics, audio, video acquisition and CD-ROM library servers), about 3 to 5 machines a year top for close volume of my local friends-customers, one in PBS – local TV station. I am progressing, slowly but nicely, as well trough MSCE study – certification process, also as hobby – just to keep up with the changing world. Along with this I gained developer/reseller discount purchasing status with some major computer and electronics vendors, such as Dalco, CDW, Cables To Go, Bason and few others. Yearly, I buy roughly $20-30,000 of computer hardware. I participate on maintenance and administer mini NT network, as part of large combined NT/Unix domain at my workplace.
Coming from this, I have very good idea about the cost of hardware, software, operation cost, cost of T lines and the entire maintenance upkeep, the whole 9 yards.
The biggest cost to build up the site and biggest time commitment necessary is at the beginning – startup of the site. After this is done and over with, the day to day running of the site, cost of the upkeep- maintenance and monthly/yearly fees and ALSO the time commitment is not that high, in particular as here having the topic administrators-moderators and this being site which stems basically 100% from users comments, tips, etc. There is not PAID Technical Support here. IT is THE MEMBERS, who make this site going and its extremely high quality across the board.

I would fall short if I don’t make some suggestion here.
Jason,
If you feel, the financial support is necessary and If this site is to continue as Free, Not-For Profit, Members site, with your respective and respected ownership,
I suggest following:
1/
Full disclosure of the current operation/maintenance cost, which can be verified, at least parts of it, egg. network connection cost etc., by the members.
The approximate time commitment necessary from you and also from other administrators.
Approximate the monthly or quarterly budget necessary.
2/
Create budget non-profit checking account for necessary donations, with at least one or preferably two administrators with balance verification (not withdrawal) privilege and monthly or quarterly statement displayed on this web site at all times.
3/
Approximate the donation amount necessary per the pool of stable or permanent members.
4/
Set rules for what to do with cash overflow, e.g. forum raffle for donators, quiz–with prize or what have you.
5/
In addition, there is substantial amount of advertisement – for sale going on. To set here some very small, but nominal fee, $2 –4 dollars may even cover all of the financial needs.
6/
To apprize your and other’s administrators hard work, I would strongly support some gift fund from this budget for you and the other administrators, either monetary or gift certificate type.

To run it this way, You will be clear in front of the IRS, you may have to get formal Not-For Profit status though, but that is really formality – red tape only, but will keep you away from any tax-evasion charges, which becomes issue any time you have >$5,000 of unreported income. Donations in cleared – verifiable checks to your account certainly qualify to meet these characteristics and without receipts how it was spent, the possible IRS audit may be a rude awakening unpleasant surprise. You may be accused of WEB scam faster than you can say Ford-Diesel.

On the other hand, if you decide to do this for profit, make it clear to us as well. That would be fair also, we can accept the price and pay and participate if we wish to. Maybe you can charge for posts, not for responses. And for sale advertisements. I doubt many would want to pay for responding ?? That would require much more complex set of rules and management etc. though.

There may be as many other opinions how to do this as there are here other members who also run their own business do their own tax returns or at least balance their checkbooks. This is mine. Sure, it may not be complete, nor may net be the best. It is up to you – Jason, how you will do it.

The issue is not in whether I or anyone else has $10 or more dollars to spare. I have claimed on 1998 federal 1040 over $7,000 in cash receipts for charitable donations to my church and other charitable organizations. So the amount here is negligible to me. But for 100+ hours of my workweek of hard earned dollars I like to get a fair and square return and do not like to be taken. I choose carefully where my donation dollar goes and I like to know how it is spent and how many cents on a dollar actually go for the cause.
And so may consider all of you with your hard earned dollars.

Let’s keep this site running. Good luck.

chn
 

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Charles,

I think your making a mountain out of a mole hill.
The computer stuff I know nothing about, cost or otherwise.
As far as time factor it's my opinion that your wrong in the respect that this site will run itself. I think that Jason has to still put alot of time in. Notice I said my opinion and I think, but I believe I'm right.
The moderaters moderate, Jason runs the site adds the new features deals with the breakdowns and has to be getting rather burnt out. I don't care if he makes a profit or files taxes. I don't care that he can be rude or if he takes a bath. I don't even care if he owns a diesel or a bicycle. The only thing I want is for this site to go on. I need the information that I get from here because I can get it nowhere else. Unlike the others this site has cost me money because I'd have never known about pyros and gauges and chips but I still like it.
Lets just assume that Jason wants a 00 PSD and he needs help with the down payment, in other words he wants to make something for the work he has put into this site. Thats OK by me and my check will be in the mail monday, and as long as this site is here I don't care what he does with the $50.00.
 

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I see your point but the only thing I get from this site is helping a few people. If you think I am going to pay to give out free advice your wrong. I am sure I am not alone.
This site is a nice place to spend a little time. If Jason was the tech support or did a lot of testing or product reviews then I could see a charge. Like the 62-65 chevy page. The benifit your getting is the free advice of others. Some of which you'll lose when a fee is placed on the site.
 

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As far as site finances, we have done very well with donations and sales over the last year. Up until that point however, the entire site came out of my pocket (about a year and a half).

We used the Spring donations to buy a pretty hefty server, this forum software, a nice new scanner, two desks (for the server and development computer) and assorted office stuff for the day to day operation of the site. The line to my house was $250 for installation and a recurring $60/month (I have a special deal with the local ISP for that price). I've been meaning to take pictures of the office setup where Ford-Diesel.Com is coming from, but keep forgetting. All Ford-Diesel.Com income is in a separate account. We pay all expenses (product design costs, shipping, line charges, etc.) from that account.

Note that this does not cover any of my time maintaining the site. I spend about 2 hours per day on maintenance. Bringing the site online back in April probably took about 40 hours since every page on it except for the Forums was programmed by myself only. Major updates of articles and photos take about 3-4 hours depending on the complexity. I bill clients at $30/hour for my programming time. I hope you don't feel my time is worth nothing although that's the idea I get from some of the messages. I would like to run the site as a small business, but there's no way it would generate enough income.

All donation and product sales go towards maintaining the site first and foremost. Any extra is put into the account where it may or may not be used personally.

What future plans do I have for the site? First of all I want to finish the user database section. I've almost got it, probably 5-6 more hours to get it working correctly. It's fairly complex with lots of fields to list info about yourself. I would also like to put the chat server back in place after I do some tests to see how it will affect performance. I'm also considering bringing a couple of editors in to help with the articles, photos, and news sections of the site.

Hope that answers all the questions.

Jason


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Ford-Diesel.Com Webmaster
1997 F-250 PSD 5-speed Banks Stinger-Plus
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Jason,

Thank you very much for the response. I highly appreciate it.

Please keep the post you just wrote in some front - site area with clear reference to it. So anyone can access and read it at any time, to understand in detail the works of this site operation.
Also, I suggest, you figure out some form of free - will donation system to cover all your financial needs here on regular basis. This could be easilly part of the reference post. It will work that way and I am sure all of who pitched in the last time, will continue to do so again as needed or on regular basis, to keep us going. That is definitelly fair and now by me agreed as needed.

Probably the best way to convert or add to this site small business operation may be the use of the vehicle-etc. sale advertisement as fee based for starters. The popularity of this site is high. The diesel popularity is high and rising. The number of buyers intersted in used vehicles is rising as well. The start may be slow and not easy, but give enough time and think of ways to advertise this site in statewide specialized used car & truck weekly magazines (in rotating fation - not in all all the time) to get more buyers to look here and subsequently more people to advertise here. You may build this in nationwide small used diesel pickup Want-Add - Auto Locarator database. With the forums, this site superceeds any other for sale site by full lenght.
As long as you keep the members question-answer, tips forums free to access, the membership will only be rising with time, building up the rest of the site. And the most valuable part to any bussiness - word of mouth, personal refference will continue and further strenghten.

There are professional cosultants to make better suggestions, but the really good ones (not that expensive) are difficult to find, always by word of mouth refferal only, so maybe start asking.

Again, that is my thought.
And thank you, again for your response!

chn
 

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Jason,

I have thought about this a good bit over the last few days and was hit by this idea. But first this point, as best I remember, this site is free to all to come here to read, study, and surf, you only have to register in order to post questions, statements, and responses to other's posts. This should be reinterated, and I have not seen this pointed out in any of the threads I have read on this subject. If it was pointed out and I missed it, I appologize for missing it, but not for restating it. I have not gotten the impression that you, Jason, are planning on making it cost to come to the site and read, only to participate. You play-you pay!


Now on to my original point. How about keep it donations, but change the descriptors of each member's status to some variation of this concept.

Status 1: Visitor, No charge, but must register to post as is current policy

Status 2: Sustaining Member; Was not on the site before the new format, but is making regular (yearly) donations at some level determined necessary to retain "sustaining" status

Status 3: Contributing Member, Was not on the site before the new format, but is making financial donations, but not regular enough to be "sustaining" so is just a "contributing" status

Status 4: Member, was #2 or #3, but quit sending money, but has contributed in the past

Status 5: Sustaining Founder, Was on the site before the new format; donated money for the new server, format,etc;, and continues to send in regular (yearly) donations at some level to keep "sustaining" status

Status 6: Contributing Founder; all of #5 except sends in less money or at least not regular yearly donations

Status 7: Founder; all of #5 and #6, but has quit sending money

With this type of setup those that put in money when donations were called for to upgrade the server, etc., will be honored, (and they deserve it) even if they choose not to send more money, but they have more status if they choose to continue to chip in. It will give those that have come after the changes the chance to donate and help keep things going.

Basically, I think this level of membership status breakdown will highly honor those that helped with the new stuff and continue to donate regularly, it will honor those that have at least donated some to the site, and it will not deny access and the ability to post to anyone else. This would allow potential, hopefully eventually contributing or sustaining, members to come to the site and to participate for awhile and then choose to join when they want to.

This whole issue is complex. Like an earlier post in this thread, when you start taking money form others it reaches a point, like it or not, that there has to be some accountability for the expenditure of said funds. I like Jason's answer to that post. I agree that it would be a good idea to post that as an information point on all pages. That way when stuff starts, the startee can be quickly referred to the link about that issue.

What do you think??

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Rick M



[This message has been edited by Rick M (edited 09-26-1999).]
 

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I don't post much, not very talkative (typeative
) but I read daily and get a lot of good info and am willing to donate to keep this site up. I pay $35. for the Diesel Registry, I sure would be willing to donate that much or more for this site, which is much more informative. I do like the idea of the membership designation reflecting the donation status, otherwise I may never get to be a Member
In fact my check will be in the mail Monday.

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97 PS,4X4,SC,Banks Power Pack
 

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Rick M asked: "What do you think??"

I think I responded to your post in the '99-up forum. I wish someone in Admin would move that thread to this forum, where it belongs.
 

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SmokeyWren,

I agree with moving the thread, however this subject is to important to be relegated to this forum only. Believe it or not, not everyone goes to all of the forums on every visit. While this software and server is fast it still takes awhile (more than 2 seconds) for the larger threads to load and I spend more time than I really have catching up on some of the posts so I don't check out all of the forums during each visit. In fact this issue has me in this forum for the first time in awhile.

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Rick M
 

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If Jason asks $10 bucks or so for the privilege to post to his site, I have no problem with that. What he does with the money is none of my business and I don't feel he should be accountable for anything other than maintaining the site. I didn't expect Ford to account for the money I gave them when I bought my truck, just to abide by the warranty. Why would you expect Jason to owe you anything other than maintaining the site.
 

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I've been reading with interest all the posts on this topic, as well as all the other threads along the same lines.

Well here goes:

Keep it free. It was free when I found it before on the old software/server. It was/is free on the new server. If you charge I will go out to the vast Internet that Al Gore built and find all the info somewhere else for free. JGUN please don't call me cheap because I bought a 40K truck and don't want to pay $10-20. I don't want to hear it.

I believe a combo of SMOKEYWREN's ideas would work out.

I find it surprising that nobody has brought up the fact that JLESTER was going to open up a Mustang site, presumably on the same server that was bought and paid for by PSD donations not Mustangers.

JLESTER make your intentions known. You flip flop between free and a for profit small business. The way I see it you have approx $720 a year in line charges. You can surely get that with a combo of donations and merchandise.

You said "As far as site finances, we have done very well with donations and sales over the last year. Up until that point however, the entire site came out of my pocket (about a year and a half)." Is this our fault? Ask and ye shall receive.

You said "I hope you don't feel my time is worth nothing although that's the idea I get from some of the messages. I would like to run the site as a small business, but there's no way it would generate enough income." We don't feel your or any of the other administrators time is not valuable. But don't play the martyr...don't whine it doesn't become you....you are honing valuable skills doing this work that you can then market and charge to your "clients".

You said "All donation and product sales go towards maintaining the site first and foremost. Any extra is put into the account where it may or may not be used personally." That's a little scary JLESTER are we lining your pockets? Let's assume that maybe half of the 3000 would sign up for $10, that's $15,000 per year. What do you do with the rest? You don't have to have new equipment every year. Charge $20 to sign up, well you get the picture.

You say that mechandise sales aren't going as expected. Some of the stuff is pure junk. I can buy only one thin white tee shirt with block lettering a year. People have offered to design and help, apparently they weren't taken up on the deal. Some of the suggestions when you polled weren't taken. Where's the koozies, license plate brackets, denim shirts, etc. etc....

You'll see I'm a junior member....your label not mine. Some will gather that means newbie, but I have been here since the old system. I don't post much, I don't post irrelevant messages just to raise my number of posts to get to the elevated status of "member". I have used this site and attested to that in some of my posts. I have contacted and bought a hitch from Putnam. I have contacted and bought from DIS. Your site has been a very valuable site. I believe in paying as you go, I have no problems with donations. If you are pulling from your pocket to keep this site up and running we has a collective member base need to do something about that. I thought you did very well with donations and merchandising.

I don't mean to incite, but rather bring out some observations.

PK Davis

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99.5 F250 PSD CC Lariat 4x4 SWB
 

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Zeke,

First of all, how do you have any right to come on here and criticize me like this. What have I ever done to you?

The Mustang site is completely irrelevant. The reason no one brought it up is because what you are saying is ridiculous. That site was for informational purposes only and would not affect the rest of the site at all. What about the year and a half that this site ran on my commercial abol.com server?

Al made a good point. As long as the site keeps going with new features and reasonable speed, don't you think the money is being spent correctly? You also forget that I'm paying self-employment taxes on every bit of the revenue that comes in. I'll make it known right now that I do intend for this site to be profitable if at all possible. I thought that was clear. Who wouldn't want that if it was your site? My wife is an accountant and we view this as any other small business. You don't want to live in the red for too long. Also it isn't fun to put time and money into something with little or no return.

As far as the fun value that some have brought up. I won't lie, it isn't as much fun anymore. With a few thousand users and at least 50 e-mails per day, how could that still be fun? I'm not saying that is bad, but when something ceases to be as much fun, you look for other ways to make it worth your while. I still enjoy reading the forums and such, but a lot of the site is real work.

As far as gaining experience, I'm not in the website design business. I do local and wide area networking for a living. What I do here has no affect at all on my day to day job.

As far as merchandise, I'm not a professional at that kind of thing by any means. However, do you want me spending hundreds of dollars on custom designs and logos? We just thought it would be nice to actually get a little something for your money. We wear the stuff too and everyone we've met likes it .. to each his own I guess. Also, how many things do you think is reasonable to offer? I don't have a warehouse here to keep inventory .. get real.

People who contribute to the site in other ways are not expected to donate or buy things. In fact, my wife and I are working on some type of compensation for the moderators and others who help with the site.

Hope that clears things up. My wife and I will be taking the huge profits gained from the site and go on an around the world cruise .. see you in 6 months
(that's for those with a sense of humor)

Jason

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Ford-Diesel.Com Webmaster
1997 F-250 PSD 5-speed Banks Stinger-Plus



[This message has been edited by JLester (edited 09-28-1999).]
 

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Jason,
I have contributed, I don't mind you going on a cruise, but don't you DARE to disappear for six month!! (hope you have a sense of humor also)
Ernest
 

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I think Eric may have hit onto something here. Certain parts could be sold, I don't know about injectors, but small things like filters and oil. Air filters seem to be a big thing too, perhaps K&N and/or Amsoil filters could be sold through the site as well. This would require a lot of experimenting and thought, and you've also got to consider that Jason would probably have to buy the items from somewhere else before selling them which would increase cost and possibly defeat the purpose of selling at all if you could get it cheaper somewhere else, unless he became an official distributor. Worth thinking about though.

Justin
 

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Hello Jason and friends,

For what it is worth. We have access to an excellant on-line Magazine here. The technical aspect is outstanding. The info that we gain by interacting in the forums is unmatched anywhere that I can find. I beleave that Jason is spending more time managing the site than he admitts. No one can be expected to continue this type of commitment forever unless there is some personal profit. It seems to me that all that Jason has to do is to flip a switch one day and it is all over. In short this service is well worth the cost of a subscription.

Thanks for listning.

WayneT
 

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I thought I was hard on Jason, but I think I will defend him a little here.
My problems with JLester is that he appears arrogant. Smile Jason, you don't have to be sooo serious all of the time...
I can handle that attitude of his with a post or two.
(Now for the defending part)......
Who out there would like to run this deal day in and day out without feeling a little used? Not me. Hell, I bet there isn't enough time in anyones day. We all have family and work.. That alone is a full plate..

I have no problem with him making a buck running the board. $20 bucks?? it'cheaper than buying a medium pop corn and drink at the movies! Money usually cures an attitude..

Having said that, Jason, you must come thru with more service.
Photos of guys that participate, and more than once or twice a year..
Columns..
I am not a writer, but I think some of the members can help out here.

Zeke, I think he is getting burned out (and grumpy) like all of us would. He has been at this for a long time and is at a crossroads with his time I presume..
Like any business, if there is a charge, services must be rendered in a friendly fashion..If he wants to continue, and charge $$ thats OK with me.
Jason, I know it may be one big pain in the a*s, but maybe some of the guys will feel more comfortable with a monthly ledger post for money in and out.. Me, I couldn't care less..


[This message has been edited by George C (edited 09-29-1999).]
 

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George C,

I agree with you in that I couldn't care less about where the money is going. I have enough trouble managing my own finances. The only thing that I am interested in on this web site is "Diesel Stuff".

WayneT
 

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I'm fairly new to this site, only about four months, but I have already learned alot, and enjoy reading alot of the posts.
I would certainly be willing to pay a subscription to keep this site, as would alot of other guys. I don't care where the money goes as long as I get what I paie for. Jason is the one that thought up the site in the first place ,and I don't see anything wrong with haveing something to show for his time and work. As far as where the money is allocated, thats for him to decide. I'm a subscriber, not a stockholder.

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'97 F-350 DRW, SC, PSD, auto
410's,stock(for now)
'98 Dutchmen 30' travel trailer
BLACK BEAUTY
 

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You said "First of all, how do you have any right..."

I have every right as long as you let me!!

Apparently you can’t handle criticism too well.


You said "The Mustang site is completely irrelevant..."

I thought the Mustang site comment was relevant because of the bandwidth that it would generate on equipment paid for by PSD people. If I'm wrong I apologize.


Regarding financing etc.....

All people (and I) are saying is that if you want to run it as a business SAY SO. It was NOT CLEAR that you wanted to make money from this endeavor. I really thought this was a sideline hobby for you. Of course nobody wants to pull money from their pocket to keep something going just for fun. But I thought you were doing ok from donations and merchandise sales. Which by the way, I don’t know about the incidentals you incur such as self_employment taxes.

You said "As far as merchandise, I'm not a professional....,get real"

Oh, I’m real. I might say the same to you. It appears you have a do it yourself attitude. I have seen a few posts where people have offered to help you with design and finding manufacturers, you choose not to take them up on their offer. Take some suggestions. Koozies, license plate frames, are no brainers and turn around shouldn’t make you have to go out and get a warehouse. Denim shirts with www.ford-diesel.com embroidered on them would be a nice addition to the wardrobe line.

You said "My wife and I will be taking the huge profits gained from the site and go on an around the world cruise .. see you in 6 months (that's for those with a sense of humor)"

Have fun, you deserve it.
I have a sense of humor, hope you do too.

PK Davis

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99.5 F250 PSD CC Lariat 4x4 SWB
 
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