A difficult choice


As everyone I'm sure is aware, our servers suck. We've got some great members who have been willing to help us out so far, but the sad truth is that if we want the site to get to it's full potential we need to figure out a couple of things. One of those is how to continue to fund the site.

Right now, we're looking at a couple of different options. The most obvious option would be to sell t-shirts, and this is an option we're looking into. We're also considering doing things like 17S stickers/bumper stickers or other such things. The question I have for all of you is this: what would you want to see us sell, and how much would you be willing to pay? Keep in mind we wouldn't be able to do things like mistborn symbol t-shirts since those require a license from Brandon. However, custom designs (one that Josh suggested and I loved was a shirt that says "Ask me about Hoid") would be available.

Brandon has also suggested plushies. Personally I love this idea (and I think it's kind of been decided to start out as the monkquitor, but we were also thinking stuffed koloss might be fun), but again this depends on interest. Would anyone want to have a stuffy? Again, what would be the maximum you'd be willing to pay for something like this?

Another thing we're looking into is google adwords, or a partnership with amazon!fail (and then once we get shardcast going we're also looking at something with audible). I hate ads as much as the rest of you, but it's an option we have to consider. And sadly it's looking more and more like it's going to be a nessary evil. I can tell you though we'd try to make them as unobtrusive as possible. If we do put ads onto the site, is there a place you'd prefer to see them/not see them? (Mind you, there may be some places it'd be impossible to place them. It would also be the most practical to have them on every page, so that's probably what we would end up doing.)

If we do the t-shirts/plushies/any other products we'd probably end up doing a kickstarter (anyone who follows Howard has been hearing a lot about this program, but for more information you can visit http://www.kickstarter.com. What type of "thank you"s would you guys like to see for doing a donation?

Another idea that has been kicked around and most people don't seem to like is that of a premium membership. The thought was that you pay a small amount a year to get things like early access to news, special t-shirts, or something like that. I've heard people asking for it, and I've heard of other people shout loudly against it, with great arguments for both sides, so I thought I'd let you the people decide. Would most of you hate the idea? Love it? If you did want a pay content type thing, what types of things would you want to see being offered?

Is there anything else you would like to see us offer? Any other products you think it'd be cool to be able to pick up? Special offers you think we could do? (For example, even though it's not possible right now I had a guy at the release party suggest a thing where you sign up to have an account and deposit X into said account. From there any time a new book is released you automatically get a copy of the book sent to you, so you don't miss out on any of the new releases, but you also don't have to stay up on top of the latest news.) On the other side is there something you don't ever want to see us doing?

We love this community, and want to hear your opinions. Please, chime in and let us know what you think! Even if it's just a question, please let us know. The more feedback and ideas we have, the better understanding we will have of what direction to go in!

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I'm against the idea of premium membership, it just seems like a bad idea for the community as a whole to create such a noticeable divide. Plushies, t-shirts, ads, go for whatever you need, just not that.

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Hmm...

I think plushies are an AWESOME idea. And since it was Brandon's idea (he's at least partially involved) it should be easier to know if there are any copyright infringements too.

For the ads.. *holds up crucifix* I'd much rather have them grouped up than spread out on the page (2 on top and another 4 on the bottom). Something like facebook where they're all on the side might work, although how that effects ease of viewing posts might change because right now on this page there's already a side bar.

For premium membership.. I possibly dislike it more than ads. However, I was browsing multiple Wheel of Time forum and theory sites a few years ago and I can't remember which one but I saw that one has some sort of Quote/Source finder helper for premium members. I forget how much the each person paid but those who like to theorize a lot could find it useful to have a similar thing. I'm sure there are other people who know more about it in here. I don't like premium membership stuff, but something like this could work. I remember that site had LOTS of quoting by posters, and something like that might increase that stuff here, as a lot of people (myself included) mostly vaguely mention citings without explicitly writing it out. That site also had citations as a requirement for an official theory (something similar to our espoused theory thing). I'm not sure if it would work here, or if you guys would want it, it could definitely change the atmosphere of the site, but thought I should mention it.

The automatic book release order thing is really interesting, I am very intrigued.

Also, the 17thshard logo is AWESOME, so it MUST be somehow incorporated into all the merchandise; like on the little tab on the plushes.

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I'm fine with the merchandise and even the ads. The only thing I really have a problem with is the premium membership, unless it doesn't restrict access to posting and boards.

Back to the ads, maybe you could put them on the sides of the view, there is a lot of blue empty space there.

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Get a hosting solution that allows you to scale on short time intervals at put a bar on the main page that shows which performance level is paid for for which amount of time. Fund it by selling trinkets and donations.

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I agree with putting any ads on the side, or if that's not possible at the bottom. As long as they're all in one place. As for premium membership, definitely not.

T-shirts I'd pay $10 to $15 for, plushes $15 to $20(not sure how much plushes would cost to make, so that's just a guess). I think you could also do wallpaper, I see a lot of sites that sell even a few different wallpapers, and that seems to work for them.

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I would do T-shirts for 15 and plushy for 20 or so. I like the "ask me about Hoid" idea for a shirt lol

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I agree that premium membership is a bad idea. Tempting as a source of funds, but I would definitely shy away from it.

I might go for a T-shirt, and I think the automatic account idea is very cool, though it might not be all that effective as it seems to me that most of the people who end up on this type of site are the ones who, like myself, enjoy keeping up on the news. You might consider putting up a way to contribute donations online, even if it didn't get a huge response it would be there just in case, and it wouldn't need a lot of maintenance after you set it up would it?

Whatever comes we are grateful for this awesome site and support your decisions; I trust you guys to do what is necessary in the best way possible. Good Luck!

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I love the idea of T-shirts!! My friends make fun of me at work because I have so many fan type t-shirts :) Preferably, with the total cost (including shipping) staying below $25. The "Ask me about Hoid" idea sounds awesome, along with the 17th shard logo... Would it be a huge hassle to get a license from Brandon to do logos? I mean, this is the official forum/fan site right? Maybe it is something you guys could work on? Plushies sound like fun too, $20 actually seems a little high to me, but I don't know how much they would cost to make.

I also like the idea of being able to donate - especially if you can donate in small increments like just $5.

I dislike the idea of ads, but I understand that they are often necessary to help with funds. I agree with everyone requesting that they are localized to the side or bottom to make them easier to ignore! ;)

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I love the idea of an "Ask me about Hoid" shirt, I would totally buy that.

I am ok with Ads (though too many might make page loading hard for some people), donation model is cool too.

Unlike many people, I would be ok with the "premium" membership idea... I love the books and this is the best forum, and the official one, for Brandon's works, so I'd be ok paying an annual membership to keep it a premium site!

Personally I wouldn't buy plushies, but that is just me, I'm sure they would do well w/o me.

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If you put mist-cloaks up for sale, I'd totally buy them. I also like the plushie idea (I'm a plushie lover and would love plushies of vin and eland. I'd also LOVE a mistwraith plushie to freak people out :P). I think "Ask me about Hoid" would be a great cheap way to help out the sight too.

I'd also buy posters with charts detailing what we know about the different shards.

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