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Old 05-13-2003, 04:39 PM   #1
The Barrow-Wight
Night In Wight Satin
 
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Join Date: May 2000
Posts: 4,048
The Barrow-Wight is a guest of Tom Bombadil.
Sting The Downs Needs Your Support

THE STORY OF THE FINANCING OF THE BARROW-DOWNS

The Barrow-Downs opened in 1998 as an extension of my enthusiasm for Middle-earth. Since that time, it has become a haven for fellow Tolkien fans who share a desire to discuss the lands and peoples of Arda. The site has always existed for those purposes, and my goal has always been to make the site bigger and better. The Downs is run for pleasure, not profit, and over its long and enjoyable lifespan I have had to come up with several ways to keep it open.

In the beginning, when the site was still small, I gladly paid all of the costs from my own pocket. The hosting fees were not high, and it was a fun and enjoyable hobby that kept me entertained for hours on end, so there was no need to ask for aid. After a while, I was approached by eUniverse.com and agreed to allow them to host The Downs for free. This not only relieved me of paying for the site’s upkeep, but it even managed to generate a little extra revenue, which in turn enable me to purchase better graphics software. Things were going great.

But the banner ads that eUniverse.com was paying me for proved to be unprofitable for them, and they unceremoniously dropped the site from their roster. By then, traffic had increased quite a bit, so when I went out looking for a new host I discovered that my costs were going to be triple what they had previously been. It was then that I turned to a handful of the most dedicated forum members for help. The Barrow-Downs Team was formed.

Mithadan, Sharkû, Gilthalion, and Mr. Underhill joined me in a union to keep the Downs alive, each agreeing to not only give a monthly monetary tribute to the site, but also to administer and moderate it across all of its features – forum, chat, site, etc. Not only did this allow The Downs to continue, but it also greatly enhanced its content. Overnight, the site went from a good site to a great site. And traffic continued to increase.

In September of 2001 we decided that EZBoard was no longer the place for our forum. It was full of popup ads and its future seemed questionable. After looking around at several different programs, we decided on Ultimate Bulletin Board (UBB). UBB is a great software package, but it wasn’t free, and its cost was more than The Team could easily raise by itself. Once again The Downs turned to its members for assistance, and they didn’t let us down. In practically no time at all, volunteers donated the needed sum and we moved all of our EZBoard topics to the forum you see now. Things continued smoothly for nearly a year.

In June 2002, The Barrow-Downs Team accepted a new member into its ranks – Thenamir. Not only a Tolkien scholar, he also became our storekeeper and created our store - Barrow-Treasures. By October, the store was doing so well that it was covering all of our hosting costs, and The Team was finally free of the monthly payments it had been giving for so long. It was a proud moment for the site. At last the Downs was able to continue and expand without asking for help. But change was on the horizon.

With the store doing well and two of the three Peter Jackson films in release, traffic on the site swelled in January to an unpredicted number. From November 2002 to Jan 2003, visits to The Downs tripled! (average 25,000 visitors a day) With so many people enjoying the site, our host demanded that we purchase more disk space and bandwidth. Since the store was generating a lot of sales, this was no problem. Then came the slump.

Since the movies came out, visits to the site have grown and slumped in a predictable way. In November, as the movies are approaching release, traffic increases and continues to grow until the end of January. Then visits start to fall, diving sharply until reaching a low valley around May and June. Traffic begins to go up slowly again in July as the DVD release date in August approaches, but it falls again as soon as October comes. Of course, November is next, so traffic again begins to soar.

Right now we are in the May/Jun slump, and the store is no longer supporting the increased costs of site maintenance. The number of visitors to the site is nearly twice what it was last May/June (its now about 9,500 people a day), but apparently everyone has bought all of the Middle-earth paraphernalia that they can handle. It has become obvious that the store, no matter how well kept, will not always be able to keep up with our costs. We need to find an additional source of income to see us through the slow times, and our best source has always been our members.

HOW CAN YOU SUPPORT THE DOWNS?

If you would like to support The Barrow-Downs, here are some options.

1) Buy something from the Store: Profits from T-Shirts, Mugs, and Golf Caps go straight to the maintenance of the site. Plus, it allows you show off your favorite site!

2) Donate directly to the site with PayPal: Quick and easy. Donations go straight to the Barrow-Wight. Requires a credit card. How? Go to www.paypal.com. Open an account. SEND MONEY to barrowwight@barrowdowns.com.

There is a fee, which you do not pay but is taken out of your donation. The fee is 2.9% + $.30. The chart below lists typical donations and how much The Barrow-Downs will actually receive.

$ 1.00 / $0.67
$ 5.00 / $4.55
$ 10.00 / $9.41
$ 15.00 / $14.26
$ 20.00 / $19.12
$ 25.00 / $23.97
$ 50.00 / $48.25
$100.00 / $96.80

3) Donate directly to the site with a Money Order: Send to the address below. Leave the ‘Pay To’ line blank.

R. Kittle
9505 Hull St Suite D
Richmond, VA, 23236

HOW MUCH SHOULD YOU GIVE?
As much or as little as you like.

WHAT DO YOU GET OUT OF IT?
Donators will be listed on the Barrow-Benefactors page, so you can show your friends that you had a part in keeping the Downs online. Plus, your donations will go directly to the costs of hosting and administering the site, so you get to keep visiting The Downs! Look at the list of features, many of them unique to our site:

Articles – opinion articles on a variety of subjects
Chat – a great way to keep in touch with other Tolkien enthusiasts
Contests – essays, poetry, comics.
Discussion Forum – the best on the Net. All your questions answered.
Encyclopedia – already big, but growing steadily
FAQ – a compilation of the most serious forum discussions
Fan Fiction – almost 500 stories and growing all the time
Grave Matters – coming soon!
Hanghobbit – cruel but oh so fun!
Location Finder – important to know
Mad Libs - hilarious
Malbeth the Seer – daily fortunes told
Quizzes – 66 of them!
Personality Test – who are you most like?
RPG Forum – we’ve developed a great system for some superb RPGs
Reader Art – plenty of pictures
Tengwar Scriptor – see it in Elvish
Themes – Detailed information on 20 popular subjects

If your donations exceed our costs, we might be able to purchase items to give away in contests or other promotions.

Thanks for your continued visits, and we thank you in advance for your future support.

[ May 17, 2003: Message edited by: The Barrow-Wight ]
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Last edited by The Barrow-Wight; 03-31-2004 at 07:12 PM.
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