I aslo posted this regarding the content issue:
Just to float an idea... Scientific journals have been having the same financing issues lately due to the Internet. The solution that they came up with finally was to have subscribers pay for content for a set period of time, say going back one year. All previous content beyond that period of time, over one year old for example was then incrementally released for free on the Internet for all to access. So if you want to stay current and add to the discussion you support the journals. But the data and intellectual ideas stay open to the public as intended by the contributors around the world. The price paid for the service is the cost of being behind the times by a set period of time. This model has kept the major scientific journals from going insolvent. It has kept intellectual property intended to be open open. For the most part it is a solution that has worked.
I have seen your post, but unfortunately can't post a reply at RG's, being banned and all ...
I have to disagree with your comparison, online magazines, and even more so scientific ones, take a very different approach to communicating knowledge than a message board does, imho.
An internet forum gains its value solely by member contribution, be it day-to-day postings or searchable archives.
Take away even only one of those, and you get an incestuous coffee klatch.
It has been mentioned before, restricting (read) access to a forum also isolates it from the rest of the internet , as noone can link or otherwise refer to the content of such an insular community.
I'm quite familiar with online fora, as moderator, former owner and dedicated user, the issue of a forum with high traffic volume running out of funds for bandwidth isn't uncommon.
There are several ways this issue is normally dealt with:
- Sponsors, who can run their own sub-forum - which doesn't necessarily lead to censorship; or who are allowed to run ads and such in a sales forum.
- Ads, didn't seem to work for RG.
- A call for voluntary donations. Trust me , in a really popular forum this works almost every time, when the alternative is a close-down. Should have been a great success in a forum frequented by a comparably wealthy audience .
The expenditure of time can be minimized by appointing voluntary moderators, shouldn't be much of an issue to find people ready to oversee a crowd as low-maintenance as on RG's.
However, it was decided to make a quick buck by selling the archive and possible 'high-tier' member base - or what remained of it after the recent cleansings - to the next best buyer.
Time will tell if the formerly high standards can be retained, and if the precious members from the industry will find it worthwhile to further contribute in such a restricted group.