Major Change Coming

Update 12-11-13:

The good folks at Roll20.net have offered to fully sponsor RPGMapShare for 6 months. An extremely generous offer! I have accepted, and the sponsorship will officially begin Jan 1, 2014. You'll notice a sponsor logo at the top left of every page. Please be sure to check them out and thank them for helping to keep the site open and free. Remember, though, donations are still an important part ofthis community, and are always appreciated. Every little bit helps! I will be mulling over future options, such as Kickstarter, and will keep everyone posted.

Update 11-26-13:

A member has suggested using a service such as Kickstarter to gather the necessary funds to pay for the site for one year at a time. A quick look at the Kickstarter guidelines show that this site may not be eligible. Usually there is a product of some sort that is being developed and rewards which are offered based on donation amounts. I don't have anything like that.

So, if Kickstarter is a non-starter, I can also try a simple donation drive like I did when the server needed to be upgraded. Many of you really came through when needed. But, that amount was only 1/10 of what's needed to pay for the server for one year. I don't want to do this on a month to month basis, that's just too stressful to keep on top of (I have a day job). The goal is $2300 US (the server costs $190 per month). I would love to keep the site open as it has always been, but I hate begging for money. If it's a concern, I can place the money in a separate bank account, and post monthly statements online.

As always, feedback is appreciated.


After much deliberation, I have decided that I must make this site subscription-only.

I know this won't be popular with many people, and it's not something I want to do. But it's become a necessity. It's either subscription or die. I simply can't afford the monthly payments for the server ($190 per month). Granted, RPGMapshare isn't the only site on the server, but it's the one that generates the most traffic, uses the most bandwidth, and the most disk space, by far.

I have always wanted to keep this site free, and I've done so for 7 years so far. It would be great if donations could keep it going, but I haven't received any donations for many months.

Many of you stepped up when it came time to upgrade the server, and I appreciate that more than I can put into words, really.

How will the subscriptions work? I'm still mulling that over. I don't want to make it unaffordable, and drive people away. I was thinking of a $5 monthly subscription, in case you're not sure if you want to keep subscribing, or a $15 6-month sub, or a $25 yearly recurring sub. I'm definitely open to suggestions.

I hope to be able to implement this by December 1.

Please let me know what you think.

Steel Rat

Comments

Well, no one has responded at

Well, no one has responded at all. So I have to assume this is good with everyone.

I'll be proceeding with the payment structure as outlined above.

I still have to work out what to do with content that can't be sold, such as user-created Star Wars, Star Trek, etc images. These can't be sold without a license, which I definitely can't afford. So there will still most likely be a free area, I just have to work out how to organize it so it makes sense.

Again, I'd like to hear some feedback...

Hi Steel Rat, Bit late in

Hi Steel Rat,
Bit late in commenting due to being on holiday the Asian Urban Jungle. Might get a map out of it one day... Anyway, I should be able to get the $25 yearly recurring sub. Your suggested price range allows for the $5 "quickly download as much as possible" user as well.
A possible thought for 2014 is to create some Compilation DVD's, packed with goodies on particular themes. Even though items can be downloaded, many people like a hard copy = money for you. A few banner links to these on friendly sites might produce results(?)
All the Best, ProBono.

Glad I never used the site

Glad I never used the site that much, but now that it's coming I'll be sure to save everything I can before everything goes behind a paywall.

I have no idea what other

I have no idea what other people think, but I'm inclined to subscribe a year at a time. I'll keep coming back.

Also, BTW, I'd pay for commissioned maps!

C

Glad I never used the site

Glad I never used the site that much, but now that it's coming I'll be sure to save everything I can before everything goes behind a paywall.

I'm confused. You're glad you never used the site that much? But now you're going to?

Your choice, of course, and I respect that. But you'll be missing out on a lot of new content I'll be adding later. You can of course just pay for a one month and rape the site as needed. I have no problem with that either.

Hi Steel Rat, Just seen your

Hi Steel Rat,

Just seen your comment there. Many people come here on a non-regular basis, so you shouldn't have considered that a "non-reply" after one week only.

I can envision several alternate solution to the [probably] unpopular subscription solution:

- use advertisement banners to generate some revenue.

- adopt a "cloud" approach where some of the content is hosted on other sites; rpgmapshare migth host the thumbnails and search engine, and the actual objects which are the heaviest part of the stuff might be somewhere else; I am currently underusing the bandwidth of my site, so I might volunteer to host some of the contents there to reduce the workload. If others can do the same, that could be enough to drop the bandwidth usage to acceptable levels.

- use kickstarter, plain and simple, to keep the site alive and affordable: $1000 funded you keep it free till mid 2014, $2000 you keep it free till end 2014, $5000 funded you add functionalities to the site etc. etc.; kickstarter is a very powerful and popular tool and would grant you to get the bucks BEFORE you have to put the system in place. This would also put the burden of funding on those who can afford it and leave casual users unannoyed.

Also, have you considered posting this on the communities that benefit the most from rpgmapshare being free (Maptools, Fantasy Ground, etc.)? You might find out others who wish to volunteer for some help rather than letting rpgmapshare go commercial (yeah, you are not intentioned to make the big bucks out of it, I know, but from the user's POV it is the same).

Finally, Alephtar Games is willing to consider giving rpgmapshare some sort of support in exchange for banners or something else to determine. This might become more difficult or even impossible if you have already gone . You know, subscription-only creates a barrier between you and your potential users, most of whcih are casual. Once the barrier is in place, all things are gonna change. Please contact me [ paolo --at-- alephtargames --dot-- com] as there are details I cannot disclose here.

Best regards,

Paolo Guccione
Alephtar Games

I just sent you a quick email

I just sent you a quick email about supporting the site as well on behalf of the Roll20 community. Let me know if for some reason you didn't get it. Looking forward to hearing back from you. Thanks!

Thanks for your reply,

Thanks for your reply, Paolo.

I hadn't given Kickstarter a thought, but I will have to try it now. Thanks for the suggestion.

As for your other points:

- I do use advertising banners, Google Adsense. Unfortunately the revenue from those is about $100 every 6 months. While it's certainly welcome, it's about 1/20th of what's needed to pay for the server for one year.

- re: Cloud. I don't get charged more for bandwidth. It really isn't a problem. I only mentioned it to illustrate why this site needs to generate the revenue to keep the server going. Of my various sites, it uses the most resources, more than the rest combined.

- I have posted on one community site, the Dundjinni forums. My experience at that site was what prompted me to start this site in the first place.

I take your comments to heart, believe me. I don't want to create a barrier for users. One of the strengths of this site was the ability to link to images here on other sites. If I have to go sub only, that will go away.

I will look into Kickstarter, or Indiegogo, or something similar and will keep everyone posted. The community really stepped up when the server needed upgrading, I'm hoping they're willing to do that once a year to keep the site going strong. I guess this will turn into the PBS of RPG Maps Wink

I'll send you an email about the banner ads.

Thanks!

I just sent you a quick email

I just sent you a quick email about supporting the site as well on behalf of the Roll20 community. Let me know if for some reason you didn't get it. Looking forward to hearing back from you. Thanks!

Hi Riley, didn't get an email from you. Did you send it to alberts dot jeff at gmail?

Thanks

I sent it to jalberts at

I sent it to jalberts at jalberts. I'll re-send it to that one instead. Sorry for the confusion. EDIT: Sent to alberts dot jeff at gmail. Let me know if you still don't get it Smile You can also ping me directly at riley at roll20 dot net.

I got it and replied. Thanks

I got it and replied. Thanks Riley.

How about making it free to

How about making it free to upload, and if you upload you get free download privileges for a month. Everyone else has to pay. That way, people don't have to pay to contribute.

Tabicat. I hear you. I

Tabicat. I hear you. I dislike the idea of upload to get free download privileges. I think it promotes junk uploads.

Fortunately there are some developments happening that may make the subscription option not needed. I would much rather keep the site open, even if not free. Stay tuned.

Hi Steel Rat: Kickstarter

Hi Steel Rat:

Kickstarter isn't the only crowdfunding site around, and different sites have different rules. You might fit into one of them.

Kickstarter does have the advantage of being the best known and the one most likely to draw attention and funding to your project. Maybe you could expand your horizons to cover more than just paying server rent for a year, for example commissioning freelance artists to create a whole new set of free unrestricted use maps covering all the bases for VTT fantasy campaigns, (100 maps X $250/map = $25,000 + $2300 per year for the website = $27,300. Then six months later you could do another for sci-fi maps, etc. Somebody just finished a Kickstarter for a big set of mark-able tabletop battlemaps (heard about it on paizo, don't have a link). Yours is a well known site and with the right promotion you should be able to raise a decent amount of money.

PS: There are several books out about how to run a successful Kickstarter campaign, I recommend going to Amazon and getting a few. My real world place of employment is planning a Kickstarter campaign and we have found them helpful.

Thanks Hound. Kickstarter did

Thanks Hound.

Kickstarter did eventually respond to my query and said my project falls within their guidelines. It's something I will definitely have to look into.

For now, however, an RPG company has graciously offered to outright pay for the hosting for 6 months, which will then be revisited after that. So during that 6 months I(we) will need to think up something to offer those who wish to donate via Kickstarter.

That, or we have annual donation drives (like PBS) to raise at least enough money to keep the server going for another year.

Extra money, from either Kickstarter or Pledge Drives would be used to purchase subscriptions to the better 3D object sites to which I used to belong. Thus allowing me to add more high-quality content.

Either way, I'm excited about the responses I've been getting, and am confident we'll be able to keep this going free and open. It's going to take a lot of community support, however.

RPGMapShare/Roll20 teamup

RPGMapShare/Roll20 teamup best teamup.

Awesome news and thank you Rat for providing this great resource.