Changstar officially started on November 28, 2011. There were 225 pageviews through 25 sessions that day. Since then, there has been slow overall growth, except with a recent upshoot in the last several months. Several silent bannings of CS members on Head-Fi lately seemed to have fueled popularity of this site.
Last week, there were over 14,000 sessions with near 90,000 page reviews. Coupled with a low bounce rate of 33% and high average session duration of almost 9 minutes, that's a lot of activity, at least for us. What it comes down to is that keeping this site up and running smoothly with good content costs money.
As usual, I will lay out the points:
#1) I pay for running this site out of my own pocket. A lot of gear we have measured and talked about is paid for out of my pocket (and other members' pockets). The loaner programs that I've initiated have cost me money. Stupid things I've done for science such as taking apart HD800s cost me money. Measurement equipment costs money. Organizing meets has cost me money (lots of hidden costs such as hotel, travel, extra power strips, lost items, etc.) You may have heard of some people at HF saying I was making a killing off Light Harmonic with the Premium Sponsor banner at the top. Light Harmonic got that banner for securing a location for one of our meets. I received no money from them.
#2) I make squat from the ads. Those ads are from Google Adsense. I have done zero optimization on getting maximum revenue from them. That's why you see ads for Russian and Chinese brides. No one clicks on them. We take no money from sponsors. We don't have any real sponsors.
#3) We are running out of capacity. This site has already briefly gone down twice this year because it hit certain capacity limits. A higher capacity more cost effective hosting solution will be needed before the end of the year.
#4) The forum software generally sucks and has certain limitations. A phpBB or vBulletin solution would be superior.
#5) I feel that a fresh start will be necessary. TheGame, has volunteered as a serious moderator (he's quite good) for the new forum. I would like to compensate his duties a little bit. Moderating is difficult work, especially for people like us. I do not plan to migrate existing Changstar articles to the new site. After the new forum is up, I plan on running this site in read-only mode for a period of time until I can transfer its contents to an archive server running in my house. This will cost money in the immediate term and a little bit less money in the long term. The data migration will require expertise and this will also cost some money. I may take some good threads here and distill them into nice articles. Any recommendations on good threads to distill would be appreciated.
The bottom line is that I am tired. At some point, a hobby isn't so much fun when you realize that you keep putting your own money, blood, and sweat into it. And I don't want to take money from manufacturers either because doing so would most definitely ruin the fun.
What I am asking from you now is to help keep Changstar (and whatever the new site will be) alive and running.
Many of my responsibilities for moderating will be offloaded to TheGame. Since we don't suck manufacturers' schlongs, I would be unable to do things like pay him a salary or give him a free Hugo DAC. I would love to give him good quality used gear though. This costs money. And no, I don't believe in Communist crap that people should work for free for the benefit of all mankind. I believe that peop
le should be compensated in whatever way I can best manage. Having TheGame as the primary moderator would make me less tired and make things more fun for me again.
I would also like you to pay for the new site for the next 15 months. I am looking at plans that probably would not cost much more than what is currently paid, but I need to look into the fine print. Bandwidth costs money. Storage costs money. I would love to have the option where most users can upload their images. We might also be able to support a feature where people who donate a certain amount won't see any ads. Not having to see my credit card charged every month for keeping this site up and running for the next year or so will make me less tired and make things more fun for me again.
I would also like you to pay for keeping this existing site up and running for 6 months, and then for migrating the content to an archive server (laptop) to be located inside my house. I will cover the costs of the business class Internet connection myself, although I plan on outsourcing the server migration. This costs money.
In all, off the top of my head, I figure we will need $3000 for the next 15-20 months. If we don't meet the full amount, I can always leave out things like the archive server.If we exceed the amount, we can buy cool stuff, measure it, and then burn it if it sucked. Or maybe put it on a permanent Changstar loaner program. Or maybe sock the excess away for keeping the site running in longer term.https://www.gofundme.com/3b4fwr8s