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Site Expansion & the future of TU (Poll)


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Poll: TU - Member supported or not? (1 member(s) have cast votes)

TU - Member supported or not?

  1. Yes, I would help support the expansion & future of TU (38 votes [50.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 50.00%

  2. No thanks (38 votes [50.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 50.00%

Vote

#1 redg8r

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Posted 28 June 2008 - 09:48 PM

Hi all,

Tackleunderground.com has undergone some significant (yet unreleased) changes!
We have always held a firm belief that the site should be ultimately directed by YOU, the end user. We have tried to keep up with your needs, surpassing some & yet lacking in others.
Over the years TU has noted patterns & changes in the seemingly ever changing community we've come to love. We truly want to take the site to a higher level & offer you the best platform to constantly improve upon & even promote your craft.

Tackleunderground.com began as a grassroots effort. With nothing more than "word-of-mouth" the site started to grow, we've experienced our share of growing pains & limitations but I'm proud to say Tackleunderground still holds true to its name by operating as an "underground" resource. TU is, what it is, without a single advertising campaign, we let our quality of content, quality of membership & a little quality of management speak for itself.

Our beloved TU is reaching a plateu of ideas & functionality, we're earning sizable numbers of new members, yet we're losing our veteran members as an indirect result, many are feeling like they've absorbed all they can from TU & move on.
It's become a good time to consider making TU a full time effort to push that envelope even further & rejuvenate the interest of all our members.

We have recently implemented alot of upgrades that will enable you more tools to make the best of what TU has to offer.
Keyword being "Full time effort" We will be requesting existing & all new members to support the site with a small subscription fee.

Also, effective immediately, TU will limit access to non-registered members (guests/visitors), these visitors could previously research the entire site without even registering. We are going to require everyone to register in order to view existing content after a small number of page views. This should appease those who complain about competition & mass producers anonymously leeching your contributions.

If the membership request is well received, we will start subcategorizing the forums organized by process, example: (all painting related topics will go under the hardbaits forum in a new area called "painting techniques")

We will also moderate all new member posts to prevent repetitive questions being posted, instead we will privately point them to the correct thread/resource without cluttering up the forum/s.
We will also activate a "help ticket system" for members so everyone can get personal assistance to any possible site problems or questions.

Current expected retail membership dues are as follows:
Monthly = $5.99 USD
Semi Annual: $29.95 USD = 1 month FREE.
Annual: $53.91 = 3 Months FREE.

However, This week, you will receive a time sensitive coupon code. You can use this code to upgrade your account to become a full access "TU Club Member"
Existing members will be given a significant discount on their subscription, depending on your level of involvement/participation in the community. These discounts will continue for the life of your membership as a way of saying "thank you" for helping make TU such a great place.

As a TU Club Member, you will have the same benefits you currently have, along with these new features:

Your Personal TU Webpage

  • Your Profile page can be customized as your own TU webpage:
  • (www.tackleunderground.com/forum/your_username.html)
  • Edit colors, fonts, borders, backgrounds, logo, etc.
  • Create & manage your own personal photo galleries.
  • Hold public conversations on your page using the personal messaging system (a public version of the PM system)
  • Use the friends list feature to keep track of your buddies.
  • & more.

TU Groups Access

  • Now you can create & manage your own group forum, assign moderators, etc.
  • Great for local luremaking clubs & events or similar topics we don't formally cover.
  • (Subject to approval)

TU Directory

  • An organized directory of links to:
  • Supplies
  • Resources
  • Manufacturers
  • TU luremakers
  • Fishing guides
  • Services & more.

Lure Swaps (Insert catchier name here)


  • You request the swap
  • Set participant cutoff number & deadline.
  • Every participant makes total number of baits (you get one of your own back)
  • Ship 'em to TU with return postage fee.
  • We repackage & redistribute.
  • You get a bait (or package of baits) from every participant, all in one box.
  • (This was hugely popular BTW)

Battle Of the Baits © (BOB)

  • Compete against fellow TU members for bragging rights & cool prizes.
  • Each competition has a unique challenge you must meet to qualify.
  • Upload photos of your work by the deadline & be judged by your peers.
  • Winners receive physical & virtual banners along with any posted awards from TU & participating sponsors.
  • Battles run separately in each field (eg; soft plastics, hardbaits, etc.)

More on the burner:

  • Member Stores (TackleScout - Powered by TackleUnderground.com)
  • Video Demonstrations
  • Webhosting
  • Group purchasing
  • Supplier & service discounts
  • Sponsored gatherings
  • Custom apparel (with your stats/info)
  • Articles & interviews
  • Professional advice from Patent attorneys, marketing tips, etc.

We have a 2700 sq ft. industrial warehouse with a HD digital camera awaiting to be turned into the official TU lab, it just needs the funding.
Your opinion is important, please vote on the poll above & feel free to comment.A decision will be made this week.

Thank you,
Jerry Goodwin
Founder - Tackleunderground.com

#2 braveviper

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Posted 28 June 2008 - 10:03 PM

I like it....Throw in a T.U. shirt or baseball cap and im in. There should be a yearly or maybe even monthly prizes awarded.I think guys want tangable items when they write a cheque every month. Yeah Im in.

#3 Vodkaman

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Posted 28 June 2008 - 11:58 PM

Big YES from me.

#4 redg8r

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Posted 29 June 2008 - 12:53 AM

Thanks for your opinions, Make sure you cast a vote even if you don't wanna comment.

Thank you.

#5 Basseducer

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Posted 29 June 2008 - 12:57 AM

Count me in!!!!

TJ

#6 Delw

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Posted 29 June 2008 - 05:15 AM

Jerry
no disrespect as we talked about this many times and I can still see problems with whats going to happen.
the veteran members will leave again due to too many people seeing what they only want a few to see.
Veteran members don't want there secrets let out, as they are worried about competition, these is nothing you can do that Will make them happy. some people don't mind sharing info, others only mind it to a few and yet others only will read it and never share a thing. whats going to happen is the ones that only like to share to a few will thing the private sub forums are great until the number of people get high then they will disappear again. its a clique so to speak.
your going to have members putting themselves against other members , etc.

Charging people to read a forum, for pleasure or hints and tips etc. will get old after the first few months of payments, even if they are veteran members that post in them. I mean seriously would you pay x amount of dollars to read replies on a month old thread? especially with times being tough like they are for most. and if you really want the answer people can do a goggle search and find a million answers to the question. not to mention someone can build a tacklemaking forum and be up and running in a few hours free verse's paying you know where that will go.

the members you have now will pay for the first few months just out of curiosity then they will quit and membership will die down might take 3 months might take a year but it will happen.

what you have in allot of forums right now is people showing off there work and then not explaining how they did it, or people showing off there work just to have others buy there products ie self advertising for example, "check out this new paint job I did" "look at these new baits I made" they put a picture up with no explanation on how it was done, not to mention they don't help others. this wont change in the private forums it will be the same thing like now. this wont change and I guarantee you the people that do it wont pay for more than 3 months.

The individuals that want to learn and are just starting or are making baits for themselves are the ones that add allot to the forum, more so then the "veterans" these guys are the ones that are showing a bait not to sell it but because its something they created with the help of the guys here at TU, or there just proud of what they done. they have no monetary interest in selling there baits. not to mention some of the creative ways they have come up with in making baits.

a forum of this type is made up of 2 groups of people
sellers and people that just do it for fun and have no interest in selling.
The sellers especially the ones that help people I don't think would mind paying a donation, the ones that don't help people or only do it privately won't pay a dime. they might for a month or 2 but after that they will still continue to come on and just post "hey check out this new bait we have" and never saying a word if someone asks how they did it.

so now lets say you split the sellers up and the hobbyist up into 2 separate groups. problem there lies with competition, do you really think seller "A" is going to post so seller "B" can copy his routine or make them faster by using his routine? not on your life.

heres and example lets say guy a wants to make molds and asks me all the details on how to do it aside from 20+ years of programming and machining experience it would be kinda cutting my own throat to tell someone a way I program or run a program, set-up the machine what speeds and feeds etc. its tricks of the trade that keep people in business.
I have a commercial job that I get over 250 bucks and hour for, its nothing special actually really simple but only really simple because in 20 years I learned a few tricks, no one else in the valley will mess with them. I can set it up on any cnc lathe with standard tooling at any machine shop and make the same amount of money. so now my customer gets a new buyer he sends out the job to someone else for allot less money the job is 45 days late with 50% scrap. I get the call to do them again ship the job in a week no problems. now I have the new buyer telling me to call this other guy up ad tell him how I am running them so the new guy can run them. If I do that I loose 3k of easy work.
while some people might not understand how business work you pay for experience. a business has hundreds of thousands of dollars invested in equipment, and experience if we give that to someone else your out of business.
people are in business to make money not help the competition take your business.
anyone can pour a bait and sell it, only a few will do better than others cause they have the knowhow in order to do so.

you can bet zoom doesn't tell berkely how to make there production faster its going to be no difference here. allot of successful bait business are very secretive, unless you work for or are best friends with some major companies you wont see how they do there process. I keep my front door lock at our place, we dont let salesmen in even my friends don't come to my shop walk in cusomters have to make an appointment. and April meets them at the door or covers my desk up. My best friend doesn't see the custom baits I am making for people. all this because a few times people have walked in and low and behold a major bait manufacturer got ahold of one of my customers designs through someone that walked into the shop and told a friend what he saw, and a few times I expained the process to friends only to see them come out with one of my customers baits.

I read this site cause I enjoy it, sure I have an ad on it and have customers that have come from it, if the ad was gone tomorrow I would still be reading and helping those who need it, I have been on this site since the very beginning my only concern is that it will drive people away, will I continue to be here heck yeah even if its only you and I.
I am on over 20 sites regularly I own over 6 successful forums, none have to do with tacklemaking only one has to do with fishing( aside from my del-mart site). My Arizona bass fishing site only a few people know I am the guy thats makes the molds. I have never advertised on my own site or any of the sites I own. the fishing forum I help everyone that has a problem with an outboard motor( cause thats what I am good at :lol:) I don't do bass boat work anymore and haven't for the last 3 years.
I am not trying to say its just me but there are lots of guys that will help people even though they don't make money off it or they do. some people are just helpful others are not.

there has to be another way rather than charging people and have special groups. you know I will support you in anyway I can. and when typing I came up with a few will tell you about those later privately.


the tackle scout is a fantastic idea and we talked about this for ever I am glad to see your going to finally do it. its cheaper and easier for a person to sell there baits on this then to make a website and pay hosting every month. also having a bunch of guys selling baits in a mall setting will give the customer something to look at like colors sizes etc all in one area.


also you might want to consider charging for x amount of space in the gallery, this will give people something and they get to show there baits off. they would have to pay other hosting companies to host pictures so why not pay TU.

this one is touchy but let the mods use there own judgement, sellers who come on just to show a bait off that they did and don't help anyone or answer the questions people have on how they made it just delete there post if they get pissed so what its not like they have anything to offer other than promoteing there own business anyhow. so who benifits?

battle of the baits is cool always was
Lure swaps are cool and even better the way your going to handle them.

put a donation button up, its a great way to help pay for the website. BBC does it and its pretty succesful.

this one I do have a problem with and I will try to explain.

We will also moderate all new member posts to prevent repetitive questions being posted, instead we will privately point them to the correct thread/resource without cluttering up the forum/s.
We will also activate a "help ticket system" for members so everyone can get personal assistance to any possible site problems or questions

.

its been my experience that very few fishermen are computer literate let alone forum setting literate. so people are going to ask the same question over and over, why not answer them it doesn't take but a few seconds and it really ain't no bother. while you might think its clutter there are allot of things that get said in a conversation like this via replies maybe something that would have never come up in a search ?
and if you really think about it you would have 0 posts anymore. cause everything has already been covered.
We have the same problem on my fishing site. we have a few guys that tell the guy to do a search, will heck he doesn't know how in the first place.
it would be kinda like you asking your buddy for a so and so's phone number and he tells you to look it up yourself.
My opinion and my opinion only its being a tad rude to people. besides if people help people they will stick around longer and might have something to offer in the future, if someone gets a rude tone or they think its being rude there gone and not coming back.
I realize that your trying to make it organized or make it appear more organized but this one might not be a good idea.

and lastly ;) you might want to change your poll answers a little it might make people feel cheap. while I will continue to support tu like I have been, I just disagree with some of the things like I have mentioned in my novel ;)

Delw

#7 JSC

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Posted 29 June 2008 - 08:32 AM

Having been in business for myself as well as a salesman for others I have worked on a commission all those many years and I think of "things" being done in a percentage way.
I belive that the "Store" concept, display of products and other things of this nature have a collectable price on them and therefore you are keeping a "Free" Forum with a profit maker.
Just my 2 cents worth and I really enjoy this forum.
JSC

#8 TNBasser

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Posted 29 June 2008 - 08:44 AM

I think Delw has several pertinent points both positive and negative which should be taken with serious consideration. However, I am more than willing to support the site with a fee.

I am not in the tackle business (medical products distribution is my business) but am passionate about fishing. The creation of my own designs is something that has naturally developed as a consquence as I approach retirement. It's fun and extremely rewarding to create something with your hands and I expect quite satisfying to have someone find that creation worthy of purchasing. So, my newfound hobby may also provide me an opportunity to also help fund my creative juices in retirement.

Many who visit the site have been in the business or hobby for years and have much to offer the site. I learn something each time I visit TU. I'm strictly a beginner and as of yet have little to contribute. As I progress and experience successes and failures I too will have something to contribute that may be of interest to others who visit the site.

For the reasons stated it is only right that I and others like me be willing to offer financial assitance to TU through some fee structure. The amount will ultimately be determined by what the "market will bare", which of course will be determined by the real and percieved value the site offers its members vs competitive sites available.

I have found TU to be a great site and look forward to enjoying it in the future, with or without a fee.

Edited by TNBasser, 29 June 2008 - 08:46 AM.
spelling error


#9 reeves

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Posted 29 June 2008 - 09:03 AM

Jerry,
I really have some mixed thoughts on this. Of course it is only human to avoid 'change', and maybe we have all become too comfortable with the site the way you have provided it for us thusfar.

I for one wouldn't mind paying the fee, to me it is well worth it. I do like the sound of many of your future additions and would welcome them. I also find that I agree with much of what Delw has pointed out in his post. I have really thought about this since first reading it a couple of hours ago and feel that in the long run active membership is going to be lost. I come to the site several times a day, but I only generally sign-in once a day. I like to check and see what is going on and contribute where I can. Since these recent changes, I have been blocked from doing my 'habitual' surfing and prompted to sign-in. I have notice that the amount of members signed-in seems to have increased which tells me that possibly there are others with the same 'habits' as myself.

I will support this site any way I can, for it has given me so much and introduced many new friends to me that it has become a bond that I am not willing to give up. I will now cast my vote and hope for the best because this is always where I have found the 'best'.

#10 Pop

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Posted 29 June 2008 - 10:49 AM

oh boy :oooh:, I'm confused. Alot has been said already giving alot to be thought about. I might be wrong, but; I get the feeling that a mod or mods want to quit their day jobs and run the site full time. Nothing wrong with that, good american ingenuity. I don't know how long I have been on TU but it has been before the current site ownership and I must say it has constantly improved. I make baits as a hobby and don't sell them, so the site has been very helpful to me as a novice, and I say novice because I certainly don't have the talent others have. I have not come close to contributing as much as others to the site due to not knowing any more myself, than had already been posted. I am not going to vote on this at this time, I don't know what my ultimate decision will be. If you go with charging for the site, I would suggest you offer one month free to new people or at least a very minimal charge. This will draw in people that would otherwise move on instead of paying the suggested monthly fee for a look see. IMO. There are only two sites that I look at reularly, TU being one of them, it probably would be hard for me to walk away from this site. Oh yeah, almost forgot, social security starts next month, will there be senior citizen discounts?:lol: Good luck with what you decide. Plaster of Paris

#11 redg8r

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Posted 29 June 2008 - 01:28 PM

oh boy :oooh:, I'm confused. Alot has been said already giving alot to be thought about. I might be wrong, but; I get the feeling that a mod or mods want to quit their day jobs and run the site full time. Nothing wrong with that, good american ingenuity.


You are correct to an extent, the mods have no current stake in this, it has been lightly discussed & they are fine continuing as volunteers at this time.

If you go with charging for the site, I would suggest you offer one month free to new people or at least a very minimal charge. This will draw in people that would otherwise move on instead of paying the suggested monthly fee for a look see. IMO.


Offering free trials are detrimental in this case, similar to software, as most would just copy as much info as possible & never pay, but if the quality of content is ever increasing, that's a good motivator (along with the networking) to stay aboard. constantly increasing the content would be my full time job.
This model would allow me time to place beginner demonstration and resources outside the forums as a lead-in to what is available inside, as a member.

Discounts, yes, I've put some heavy code in to determine the level of contribution each member has given, it doesn't just count your posts, or your seniority (although, those are small factors).
Discounts would go to every existing member, the discount depends on your involvement to date. Stats show a lot of active members, would only pay a portion of what is listed above.
That personal discount would continue until you decide to cancel.

Statistics show that only @ 2 out of every 10 members actively contribute.
This fee structure will at least force the other 8 to contribute (indirectly, as in monetarily) to further the site. The other 2 enjoy their personal discount.

#12 nova

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Posted 29 June 2008 - 01:50 PM

I think there may be other ways to raise funding.
Why not an online store where members can sell their product through TU where TU would receive a % of each sale.

I think a lot more members would agree to this than a signup fee.

The store would allow members ,who are thinking of selling to the public, to test the saleability of their products. For the members who just pour for themselves it would allow them to offset their costs of making baits. For the guys like myself who have a website it would allow them more acess to the web as well as customers.

www.novalures.com

#13 Vodkaman

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Posted 29 June 2008 - 01:51 PM

What mildly irritates me, is the feeling of being on a reality TV show. TU is our house and all these strangers are looking in. I just checked out the 'who's online' feature. Online were 18 members and 35 non-members. Of the members, only two were in the gallery and none viewing personal profiles. Of the non-members, 8 were in the gallery and 4 viewing personal data.

The personal profile section should be closed to non-members and just a random selection of gallery should be made available only. Enough has to be made available so as to attract new members, but by opening everything, who needs to join.

TU is getting big and needs a lot of work to keep it at the standard that we want. I would sooner pay than consider the alternative of having those tedious mortgage adds, or 'click here for your free visa to the USA'. You then try to close the thing, to read what's hidden, then it's gotcha.

#14 Basseducer

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Posted 29 June 2008 - 01:59 PM

I for one donít find the fees that Jerry is proposing to be excessive, in fact they are quite cheap. I donít have a site and donít operate a tackle business. I sell wire baits and such to the guys in my bass club and a few other buddies for boat gas money.
However several contacts developed through TU have resulted in sizable orders for me and have more than paid for several years of membership. Not to mention the wealth of knowledge that is available just for the asking.
Maybe Jerry will come up with a Life Membership.

You have my support Jerry.

TJ

#15 BobP

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Posted 29 June 2008 - 02:04 PM

I'm a dedicated hobby builder. I'm not looking for an enhanced sales outlet, a commercial edge, free advertising for any product, or "ancilliary" benefits like a free T shirt. I'm just here for the community interaction. I understand your desire to take the site to a "higher level" to derive more benefit from the hard work and expense you put into maintaining TU. But IMHO, when you get above a nominal subscription charge (and I strongly feel that $50+ per year is well above "nominal"), you'll see a huge drop in TU membership. Will enough paying members remain to offset the loss in advertising income? I hope so but ???.

No sour grapes here, I enjoy TU and wish it every success, whatever form it takes. But I've seen several sites become moribund failures when they strayed from the free membership/advertising supported model they began with.

#16 redg8r

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Posted 29 June 2008 - 02:14 PM

I think there may be other ways to raise funding.
Why not an online store where members can sell their product through TU where TU would receive a % of each sale.
I think a lot more members would agree to this than a signup fee.


That's the Idea behind Tacklescout.com
The software customized to integrate with TU & all the necessary options to function was quoted around $1500 uninstalled & doesn't include SSL certificate or possible merchant account.

That's a lot for me to personally spend to allow our users to "test the saleability of their products" Also, with that model, no sales = no revenue for anyone, manufacturer or service provider.

I've been researching ALL available software developers, opensource & otherwise for over 4 years & the pickins are slim. I am happy with one, but again, thats the required investment with no guarantee of ROI.

Thank you for the suggestions, please keep them coming.

#17 nova

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Posted 29 June 2008 - 02:27 PM

It was just and idea Jerry. I'm not up on all the background costs involved in this type of venture.

If I have any more ideas I'll run them out here. Maybe one of them will spark an idea from another member.

www.novalures.com

#18 redg8r

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Posted 29 June 2008 - 02:35 PM

I'm a dedicated hobby builder.... I'm just here for the community interaction.

Thank you Bob, Your input, given by your use of the site is of particular interest.

IMHO, when you get above a nominal subscription charge (and I strongly feel that $50+ per year is well above "nominal"), you'll see a huge drop in TU membership. Will enough paying members remain to offset the loss in advertising income? I hope so but ???.

I've done alot of math & the fee seemed reasonable to me, I mean that's my average order for necessities from any of the retail component suppliers.

No sour grapes here, I enjoy TU and wish it every success, whatever form it takes. But I've seen several sites become moribund failures when they strayed from the free membership/advertising supported model they began with.

Thats a real concern, much why I want your feedback.
Supporting a site via advertising is a common practice, but it requires 2 fundamental things:
Larger userbase = more moderation work
Advertisers = excessive amounts of ads, which I honestly dont enjoy as a user or administrator.

We have some of both, I wont divulge what the site makes currently, but it barely pays the annual software licensing fees, web hosting bill & domain registration.

Everything else is paid by me. My time is volunteered, the mods time is volunteered.

Again, I'm not defending any decisions, none has been made yet, just explaining our situation in an somewhat uncomfortably casual fashion.

#19 redg8r

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Posted 29 June 2008 - 02:41 PM

It was just and idea Jerry. I'm not up on all the background costs involved in this type of venture.

If I have any more ideas I'll run them out here. Maybe one of them will spark an idea from another member.

www.novalures.com


Hey, thank you for your input, seriously, your opinion matters, I want to keep open dialogue here, if it seems I'm defending the idea, I apologize, I'm just trying to let you know the hurdles we need to cross in respect to your ideas.

Also, on a side note, you can put your website URL into your signature via your UserCP, so you don't have to type it in each time you post. just a timesaver tip. Thanks again.

#20 mark poulson

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Posted 29 June 2008 - 04:04 PM

I'm not sure how to vote.
If you're saying you need to charge to keep the site going, then I vote yes.
If you're saying you just want to make the site different, and need to charge to do that, I vote no. I like it as it is. Any more complication will just make it a pain to visit.
If you're saying you are thinking of selling the site, and this will increase it's value, I will probably vote yes, to help you increase the value of the sale, pay the dues for a little while, and then eventually stop visiting.
I am not selling lures. I am strictly a hobbiest. And the only reason I've been able to make successful lures is because of what I've learned here. I started making them to replace a Pupfish lure of a friends that I broke. One thing lead to another, and now I've made a bunch that catch fish. And I've had guys I fish with offer to buy my lures, but they're just for me, and a couple of fishing buddies.
If you had had a charge to visit the first time I came here, it would have been my last visit, and I'd have looked elsewhere for help.
I can see how expanding the site would involve a lot more work, and more moderator time, so charging for that makes sense.
I just don't think the site needs expanding.
There are a lot of forum sites that don't charge. But they do sell advertising, mostly fishing related. And they're model seems to work for them. One I visit a lot, Westernbass.com, has an add banner at the top of it's forum pages, and they get some kind of payment whenever someone accesses one of those sites through the banner connection. I am not sure exactly how it works, but it does. I asked the site owner if it helped him if I went to those add sites through the banner, and he said, "Heck yes", so I now make a point of going to a couple of sites from that forum site instead of visiting them directly.
Given the enormous number of fishing-related businesses discussed here, and sites posted on the forum in responses, I'd think you could work something like that out. But I don't pretend to know if that would meet your financial needs. I'm totally clueless about the financial aspects of running a site like this.
But it's your site, and you can make of it whatever you like.
I'd just like to know, upfront, why the changes? Of course, you don't owe me, or anyone else, an explanation, but letting us know why you're doing it would help in my decision making.
From my perspective, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" applies.
So, is it broke?