Subscriptions and Donations

Discussion in 'Site Feedback' started by Rys, Jul 17, 2015.

  1. Rys

    Rys PowerVR
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    Edit: There's a new help page about the donations and subscriptions you can make:

    https://forum.beyond3d.com/help/subscribe-and-donate/

    Hi folks,

    Now that the forum reorganisation is done, the big Intel ad campaign is finished and things have quietened down after E3 and the Radeon Fury X launch, I'd like to talk about Beyond3D and contributing financially to its future, and what I think that future could look like with a bit more help.

    It's clear to me now that advertising is not the best way to support a niche publisher. The rates, even for specialist targeted advertising campaigns like the Intel one we just ran, and the experience for the end user, are just plain shit. Sites like Beyond3D can't fund their publishing on ads (in fact, some months our Google ads don't even cover the hosting costs, never mind anything else we might have planned) and the ads you get to see, if you even see them, are often just a complete waste of everyone's time, CPU power and Internet bandwidth. I wrote about it in more depth on my blog, if you care.

    What should also be very clear before I get into the meat of things, is that even if we turned all of the ads off and had no other income, Beyond3D wouldn't fall off the web. I'd just pay for it out of my own pocket, like I always have. Beyond3D hasn't always cost me money in that respect; for a decent time we were hosted by the same folks as The Tech Report, but then that company was acquired and wasn't willing to extend the deal, so since then either I've paid for it, or my company has, minus what little we make from ads.

    It runs today partially on hardware of mine, in a datacenter near Heathrow airport in the UK, and partially on virtual machines on Linode, Digital Ocean and Vultr, all here in their respective datacenters in the UK. The total bill for everything is currently $135 a month at the time of writing and I've been paying for that myself for the last year or so, since I've yet to move it over to my company. I will do soon.

    Earlier this year I transferred Beyond3D from being a private concern I was wholly responsible for, pretty much as a hobby, to a new company I setup in December 2014. It's a consulting and software company that I use to book income I make outside of my day job at PowerVR, so putting Beyond3D's incomings and outgoings in there too was the natural thing to do, in preparation for future plans and hopefully have it cost me as little as possible (corporation tax is much lower than my income tax, so donating to me is less efficient than donating to the company).

    Fast forward to today, and I have plans for the future of Beyond3D that I want to see if you, the users of the site and the forums, will help with:

    I plan to publish again, including architecture analysis of desktop GPUs, renderer analysis of popular games and engines, analysis of important industry events, and anything else interesting that either I can write about without breaking my NDA and contract with PowerVR, or that contributors can write about and Beyond3D is just the publisher for.

    I'm writing software again. You might have seen The Tech Report run a new Beyond3D suite. That's currently being developed further, to support new kinds of tests and analyses, and I plan to release it to a wider audience when it's ready.

    I plan to do a pair of episodic podcasts, both themes around accelerated 3D graphics, GPUs and the industries that make them possible. There's a thread about that if you want to help.

    Simply put, I want to have Beyond3D take part in graphics analysis again on the web, rather than sit as a set of forums and and old website that never gets updated. With niche technical publishing only getting harder to do online, I want Beyond3D to stand with the rest again. Sadly, money is a thing and the site needs money to execute on the plans above. So here's the deal:

    While my company can't afford to pay for Beyond3D with its non-Beyond3D profits, I'm going to ask for help, via subscriptions and donations. They're the same thing financially for both you and Beyond3D: my company isn't a charity, so you can't write it off against your income tax burden in your current locale, so, subscription or donation it doesn't matter, I have to pay the same taxes on each (VAT on receipt, corporation tax on any profits at year end).

    Subscriptions let you give set amounts, monthly or yearly, with no set expectation about what those amounts will be spent against. By subscribing, you essentially trust me to decide what's best to put the money towards.

    Subscriptions have perks. If you've subscribed already (they've been enabled for a while), you'll notice adverts don't show for you any more. In the future, you'll also get early access to published articles (if that makes sense, there might be NDAs in place that prohibit that) and the ability to listen to the podcasts a day early. I'll also turn on a Subscriber Only forum, where you can talk to me about what's happening with your subscription and what I'm spending it on, or anything else you want to discuss with me or your fellow subscribers.

    Donations are specific things I'd like help with, to help you direct your contribution a certain way. Some of you will only want to help if it's in the area of something you want to see written or done. The first two donations that'll show up when I enable them are help with keeping the lights on: the current hosting and software licensing costs, monthly, and a drive towards moving back towards modern colocated servers here in Europe, rather than virtual infrastructure at Linode, DO and Vultr, to reduce long-term costs. That'll be a one-off fund you can contribute to.

    Other donations will show up from time to time. Say you want the site to take a look at the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Hyper Fighting when it comes out. If we're not in contact with NVIDIA by then to get one early, we'll need to buy one after launch. We might need hardware or software for the podcast. We might need hardware or software to test and develop the new software suite. Those things will show up as and when they're needed, and I'll discuss each one separately so you know why the donation exists.

    With things you've helped the site buy, when we're done with it we'll donate it to someone. Maybe free-to-enter competition style, maybe to one of the moderation team to say thanks for their hard work over the years, maybe to someone who can't afford a new GPU but would absolutely love one. We'll work that out at the time, but Beyond3D won't horde hardware it doesn't need any more. We'll give that back to you.

    So, before I turn on the new donations and remind everyone how to subscribe and what the new tiers are (they've been tweaked), and I push people towards noticing they can help, let's talk about the above and make sure it's OK. To publish again I need help, and I think adverts are the worst possible way to get it. This is the best way I can think of so far.

    Lastly, if we don't get anywhere with this then it's all OK. There's no pressure or obligation to help out like this and if nothing happens then like I said before, Beyond3D will still exist and I'll pay for it even with zero other income.

    Thumbs up, thumbs down, questions and comments are all very welcome. I'm off to Scotland tomorrow for the day, but I'll reply when I can, and I'll be back around properly on Sunday. Thanks for getting this far <3
     
    #1 Rys, Jul 17, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2015
    DSoup, Alexko, Pixel and 5 others like this.
  2. AlBran

    AlBran Ferro-Fibrous
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    On a separate note, could there be a way to more easily publish a blog of sorts?


    edit:

    I promise not to discuss philosophy and existence.:rolleyes:
     
  3. Rys

    Rys PowerVR
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    You mean something where folks other than me can publish something to the website (specifically not the forums)? Yes, with the software I currently plan on using for the new website, any of you can write features, blog/column pieces or investigative articles and work with me to publish them.
     
  4. Infinisearch

    Veteran Regular

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    Wow I didn't realize how much you did for Beyond3D, you have my sincere gratitude/thanks.

    Some of my stupid ideas and wants:
    1. A Caps/feature level database on B3D with an official B3D program that you can download and run to contribute. (opensource)(ala DimitryKo's thread except searchable)
    2. Benchmarking - I noticed your B3D suite at techreport (i think) can you a opensource it, create a subforum for it and/or benchmarking software and their metrics and maybe allow us to contribute to the suite. (after a discussion in a thread and your approval of course)
    3. I liked the PC hardware and software forums separate.
    4. I remember Ingenu aka Roderic had an article on B3D on making an engine... maybe more stuff along these lines?
    5. Global Domination and one wish per year granted by a blue genie of some sort. (must be blue)

    Oh and how much would a subscription be?

    But seriously Thank You.
     
  5. Rys

    Rys PowerVR
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    Thanks for the suggestions!

    1. sounds like a good idea, let me investigate.

    2. There's no plan to open it (at least not the current incarnation) but there is a plan to find a way to let people contribute to the tests without having to write code.

    3. Why did you like them separate? Happy to hear more specific feedback on the reorganisation and consider it.

    4. Back in the day, the biggest barrier to those articles being published was me having to get everything into our publishing system. In the future, that won't be a problem, so I'd expect an uptick in user contributed content.

    5. Shit, I only have hot pink genies in stock.

    6. They're pretty cheap, starting at $10 a year. More on that soon.
     
  6. Rodéric

    Rodéric a.k.a. Ingenu
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    4. I've been thinking about writing a new version of that series for years now !
    I'll see how to get that done, last time I wrote that rather quickly over a week-end I think, might be able to find the time relatively soon (harder now that I'm married with child ^^)
     
  7. Rys

    Rys PowerVR
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    I've written a help page to describe both subscriptions and donations:

    https://forum.beyond3d.com/help/subscribe-and-donate/

    I'd love to hear feedback on the subscriptions in particular. I've tried to make the yearly tiers nice and affordable, and the monthly ones a bit of a step up, to cover a decent range of final yearly values that folks might be comfortable with. I've also put my money where my mouth is, so I'm an Alpha monthly subscriber myself.

    I know talking about money is difficult, especially when I wonder if you can really see what value you'll get out of it in the end, but it's something we need to do if we're going to seriously publish again and be more than just a (really great!) set of forums and an archive of (really great!) historical analysis.

    Back to work on new stuff I go <3
     
  8. Kaarlisk

    Regular Newcomer Subscriber

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    One question.
    As a subscriber already, I only see four tiers available:
    • the one I currently have – red montly, plus red yearly as already purchased);
    • the three higher monthly tiers
    As a result, I cannot figure out how to see the other 3(4?) tiers.

    The subscription/donation model in general is great :)

    account_upgrade_options.PNG
     
  9. Ryan Smith

    Regular

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    Blue Subscriber (yearly) is bugged. It's showing $50/month rather than $50/year.:eek:
     
  10. Rys

    Rys PowerVR
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    Eek, fixed!
     
  11. Rys

    Rys PowerVR
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    For each tier, I disabled viewing all other tiers lower in value than the current one you were subscribed at. I've reverted that, you can move around the tiers at will. I've also written a couple of pieces in the help page about refunds for donations and cancellations for subscriptions.
     
  12. Rys

    Rys PowerVR
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    The Subscriber Forum is now active and open for posts and new threads.
     
  13. Kaarlisk

    Regular Newcomer Subscriber

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    Thank you.

    And wow, the discounts for yearly subscriptions are impressive. ($240 monthly alpha = $100 yearly; $60 monthly red = $10 yearly; green monthly = $120 vs alpha yearly = $100).
    I am surprised that yearly subscriptions are so advantageous for the site; or is it only going to stay this way for a short while? I do understand that answering this question may not be in the interests of the business :)
     
  14. tinokun

    Newcomer Subscriber

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    I want to contribute, but I don't have Paypal.
    Have you considered using bitcoin payment providers like bitpay or coinbase? You can receive usd directly and never have to see btc if that's what you want.
     
  15. Rys

    Rys PowerVR
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    Great question! It's been on the to-do list for a while now, pending demand. Now there's some demand, I'll work on that this week (seems straightforward using coinbase's merchant services). If you want to contribute ahead of that I can give you a wallet address.

    Thanks!
     
  16. tinokun

    Newcomer Subscriber

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    I'm glad to hear that! And sure, an address now (and amount I need to transfer for "yearly green") would be great.
     
  17. Rys

    Rys PowerVR
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    Code:
    1JdBhcKARuxiF9UU92qrKvjnv2XNbaSJm6
    0.075 BTC gets you a year at the Green tier. I'll process that manually for you, ahead of the automatic stuff!
     
  18. I.S.T.

    Veteran

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    What's the difference between all of these tiers?
     
  19. Rys

    Rys PowerVR
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    Right now, nothing functional and in the future probably very little. The reason they exist is to allow those with a bit more disposable income to contribute more if they want, while keeping the lowest tier as affordable as possible (and from Beyond3D's perspective as attractive as possible).

    So it's my (reasonably amateur, because we've never done it before) attempt to fit a bunch of initial starting points to things to see what happens. If none of the tiers suit and a donation doesn't either, PM me with what does and we can try and work it out.
     
  20. tinokun

    Newcomer Subscriber

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    Thanks a lot, Rys, for the manual processing. I wish you and the site all the success!
     
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