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From The Sideline

Random thoughts and comments from a new HeliFreak
user just getting started with the heli hobby.
Rating: 4 votes, 3.50 average.

Helicopter forums and ads...

Posted 02-14-2008 at 01:22 PM by int2str

The Internet is full of great forums. There's car forums, technology forums, very large game forums and even forums about nothing in particular at all.

Then of course there are various, different RC helicopter forums.

Now what makes the latter ones different from most other subject forums? Ads!

Somehow, helicopter forums - including the venerable Helifreak - are riddled with advertisements. So much so, they look like macabre copies of time square in New York. On some forums content seems to take second place to the ads. It's bad when the actual forum posts don't start before you reach the middle of the screen.

So what is is about helicopter forums that makes them different?

In the list of forum links I've posted above, I've purposely included some of the largest message boards that can be found on the internet right now. The Gaia forum for example currently has 11,475,584 (yes, that's million) users. It takes a lot of hardware and bandwidth to run a site like that. Yet there's only 1 ad on the forum index page (compared to 92 !!! on RunRyder). Granted, Gaia has annoying inline ads in threads, but other large forums like Audizine can do with out.

There are notable exceptions, of course. Scale RC Helis seems to make due completely without ads for now. Then again, the post count is still <100,000.

I don't think there's anything unique about helicopter forums to warrant such a grave jump in advertisement. And I personally run 3 different forums myself. All without ads.

If there's any interest, I'll create some additional posts on:
1) What does it take to run a forum
2) Ad blocking - should you do it? And how is it done?
3) Running your forum without ads

Let me know if there's any interest.

Oh, and please vote on my blog postings here (rating link in top right corner) to help me figure out how my writing is received.
Posted in HeliFreak, General
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  1. Old Comment
    fiveoboy01's Avatar
    Well since members use the forum(and all it's great features in the case of the Freak) for free, someone's got to pay for it. It's not fair for the administrators to pay for everything out of their pockets, so the ads help pay for that.

    Personally I think it's done tastefully on the Freak. At least there aren't ads in the middle of the post string like on the otherr site.

    I myself don't mind them that much... I like to see new stuff coming out.
    Posted 02-14-2008 at 02:51 PM by fiveoboy01 fiveoboy01 is offline
  2. Old Comment
    DebianDog's Avatar
    Well here is the deal and I will give you some history.

    Most of the other forums mentioned, even the Freak, started out as as nothing more than people frustrated with the policy of wherever the heck they were before. For instance, RR was nothing more than a simple Website done in Frontpage back in 2001 with no advertising (as seen here using the internet way back machine).

    Our situation is pretty similar. We started in 2004 fresh and clean. Very few ads and most of them were "gifted" or traded. Heck in 2005 I could log in at the end of the day and read every single post on the Freak no problem. Times changed, more and more people came. Costs went up. (Bandwidth is not FREE - we burned like 10 terrabytes last month - just in videos) People want us to be at events (cost) people want videos (cameras cost) videos have to edited and encoded then uploaded to a sever (hardware and software costs) new software has to be rolled out (programmers cost). Since we (or they) are not independently wealthy we needed advertisers. Now that you have advertisers you have to have bills go out manage, them invoice them, collect, call to arrange for more marketing, etc...

    Meanwhile you have a few thousand users e-mailing you, PM'ing you, calling you.... with site complaints, log in problems, user on user fighting, thread organization, advertisers not happy with what user XXX said, etc... Not a day goes by where there is not some drama or issue that has to be dealt with. We do our best to shield users from it and try to deal one on one with the problem. As a matter of fact, I used to berate other sites for making running a web forum their full time job but now that I have to deal with this (and I am not even the primary owner). I 100% understand!!! I was WAY out of line for even suggesting that they are not earning their money. It is a lot of work to run a popular site and a lot of work to get the site popular. Lots of Helicopter websites have come and gone or just never really caught on. I have heard Will tell several folks "If you think you can run a better site bring one up and do it. Pay for it, set it up, advertise to get the users over there, get the experienced users over there posting content, deal with the administration and financial loss while it grows, then maybe in a few years you will have something"

    Please do not think I am angry. I am not. It is a labor of love and I do believe is "Different". We take Fun, Learning, Friendship, and Mutual Respect seriously. And although you could probably find instances where one of us got "out of line" for the most part we WORK to keep this place and fun and informative place to be. We do not delete user post here (other than spam, porn, etc) and that adds a lot more work because. I also understand now how it would be a lot easier just to delete the posts/user accounts and be done with it.

    Lastly you need a good, available, dependable group of people to help you get though the issues and maintain. We have got that too.
    Oh... and you have to have cool smiles too
    Posted 02-14-2008 at 02:53 PM by DebianDog DebianDog is offline
  3. Old Comment
    int2str's Avatar
    Dan, trust me, I hear what you are saying.

    As I mentioned, I host 3 forums myself. They are not nearly as busy as HeliFreak, but it gives me a glimpse of what it's like. And at a 1/2 million posts on one of them, it's not small either.

    I do understand bandwidth cost. The videos do make a difference. But there's ways to offload that. You don't have to host them yourself (not sure if you do right now).

    You could also charge for this additional service (HeliTV anyone?).

    But I disagree on the fact that a helicopter forum is different in that aspect. I think it's just what the model community has been tolerating from all those RC sites (like RR). I couldn't stand to look at RR for more than 10 minutes, not sure how other can. HeliFreak is much better, but it's following the trend.

    Trust me, I wish, you, Will and all others involved make all the money in the world, more power to you! I'd just wish it was done in more tasteful, and smart ways, other than plastering ads everywhere.

    Like the sponsor logos at the beginning of the videos - that's a good idea right there.

    Besides, if you get over-bearing with ads, users will find ways around them. As you're undoubtedly aware. Do ads right or find other sources of revenue, and you might make even MORE MONEY in the end.

    But that's material for future blog posts

    PS: Please rate my blog entries (even if you hate them - which you probably are )
    Posted 02-14-2008 at 03:15 PM by int2str int2str is offline
  4. Old Comment
    DebianDog's Avatar
    Well the flip side of cost, and I am speaking for us here, is that we did not start Helifreak to make $$$. It was started to give people a REAL alternative. We all have "real" jobs. We could shutdown Helifreak to tomorrow and have extra money in our pockets every month for sure.

    We have had many fair offers from several places but have turned them all down.

    We had the "video idea" ourselves a year or so back and have a few efforts ongoing.

    Lastly I do believe RC Helicopter site are different. Why? Not sure the exact reasons but most RC Heli pilots seem to have that anal, "Type A" personality.
    Posted 02-14-2008 at 03:28 PM by DebianDog DebianDog is offline
  5. Old Comment
    int2str's Avatar
    I think it's very cool what you guys are doing! I wouldn't be here otherwise. And appreciate the value you guys bring to the community.

    Keep up the good work
    Posted 02-14-2008 at 03:31 PM by int2str int2str is offline

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