HJ's auction reports - Homme van Blanc
HJ's auction reports are conspicuous by their absence lately.

Is there a reason, other than that he is extremely rich and has gone on a two month vacation to Mustique?
HJ's auction reports - eMBe {P}
Re financial viability of site:
1. Maybe HJ should charge something (say £24 per year membership fee) to access the backroom.
2. I wonder how much HJ paid in unneccessary fees before StephenKhoo sorted out the bandwidth problem a couple of months ago?
3. Apart from sites like schoolfriends and ebookers and lastminute, almost all web-site based businesses are loss making. Allegedly, ebookers and lastminute have only become operational profit makers if you write off all the original investment in the infrastructure.

To run a site like this in its current format, you have to be a very rich philanthropist.
HJ's auction reports - Rob the Bus
FWIW, I'd gladly pay £24 per year to join the BR - I find that the whole HJ site is one of the best motoring related sites about and it would be a damned shame if it had to close.
HJ's auction reports - Obsolete
I would probably pay £15 a year to access the site. Certainly for a year and if I use the site for another year, and so on. I already pay about that to access an American site. The payment in that case is optional, though quite a few people do pay. I think the idea is that an optional payment allows occasional people to pop in. After all, some people only post when they want help with their new mo'uh which don't work no more.

An alternative is to allow only paying users to post. Non payers can read only. Part of the problem is how to get people to stump up the readies without seeing the goods.

Alternatively, swamp non payers with pop up adverts. Payment removes adverts. Whether or not this is practical I know not. I suspect it cost quite a bit to design and implement this site, as it is quite sophisticated.

Guess it all comes down to how much money is needed to run this place.
HJ's auction reports - puntoo
But The Backroom is responsible for a lot of traffic that costs us money and does not generate any income.


Reduce the amount of traffic by banning vowels.



HJ's auction reports - Rob the Bus
That'd be your forum name scuppered ;-)
HJ's auction reports - Jase
I would be prepared to pay an annual fee to use this site. This is my favourite motoring site by far. £20 a year?. I would rather pay a fee than be bombarded with pop up windows occurring at every single page navigation.(E.g. Parkers & 4car)

CavV6 and cavWeb fan.
HJ's auction reports - Chad.R
I wouldn't mind paying a fee to access the backroom.

Having said that, if I couldn't, like others above I wouldn't know what to do the couple of hours a day extra. Though I think both my Employer and my Wife may have a different view....

Chad.R
HJ's auction reports - Big Vern
Hummmm.... The BR is good due to the large amount of good people who contribute, and I am sure there is lots of people who get great benifit by reading but never posting, both these groups would probably pay a little to acess the site. However how would you attract newbies to the site, I would certianly not pay to view a forum on the off chance it might be good. This is the only forum I visit on a regular basis, as all others are too slow or have a low 'signal to noise' ratio.

V. difficult to propose a solution I wish HJ luck and hope he is able to work something out
HJ's auction reports - CM
Hummmm.... The BR is good due to the large amount
of good people who contribute, and I am sure there is
lots of people who get great benifit by reading but never
posting, both these groups would probably pay a little to acess
the site. However how would you attract newbies to the site,
I would certianly not pay to view a forum on the
off chance it might be good. This is the only
forum I visit on a regular basis, as all others are
too slow or have a low 'signal to noise' ratio.
V. difficult to propose a solution I wish HJ luck and
hope he is able to work something out


Like it is at the moment. Free to view without registration but if you want to post then become a paying member.
HJ's auction reports - oldtoffee
How about a free 30 day "open trial" then an option to subscribe after the trial expires. I found the site a bit by accident, dipped in and out a few times and gradually became more aware of the breadth of content and extremely useful information. So over a few weeks it's perceived value to me increased significantly. Although I wouldn't have paid anyhting straight away, I'd be happy to now pay an annual sub in the region of £20 to £30.

Good luck HJ!
HJ's auction reports - Dynamic Dave
How about a free 30 day "open trial" then an option
to subscribe after the trial expires.


Trouble is, people could just resubscribe after the 30 day trial using a different username/email address and get another free 30 days - and so on.
HJ's auction reports - Martyn [(ex) BR moderator]
MoBo wrote:
2. I wonder how much HJ paid in unneccessary fees before
StephenKhoo sorted out the bandwidth problem a couple of months ago?


MoBo, could I ask you please to clarify that question? I'm not sure if you've actually grasped the problem and, depending on what you reply, I may need to make a couple of things clear myself.
 
Martyn [Back Room moderator]
====================
mailto:webmaster@honestjohn.co.uk
HJ's auction reports - Phil G
It's all very well suggesting paid access to the BR, but then you'll never get any new members.

I do miss the auction reports though - they are my favourite.
HJ's auction reports - Martyn [(ex) BR moderator]
Phil G wrote:
It's all very well suggesting paid access to the BR, but
then you'll never get any new members.



I'm not. Nor is HJ, as far as I can recall.
 
Martyn [Back Room moderator]
====================
mailto:webmaster@honestjohn.co.uk
HJ's auction reports - eMBe {P}
Phil G - I suggested the paid access to the site because HJ mentioned the precarious financial situation of this site and the threat that posed to the backroom. Of course if HJ and his backers can fund the site from their own resources without asking backroomers to pay a sub, that is for them to decide. I was only saying that I would rather pay than see the site disappear. At 10p a day, 50p a week, £2 per month, or £24 per year, it would be cheap at the price. Who knows, we amy be prepared to pay a lot more even if asked.

Perhaps in the next weekly poll, Martin could ask: How much would you be prepared to pay per day (annual subs only) if the Backroom needed it for it to be economic:

none = free as now
10p per weekday = 50p/week ~ £25 per year
20p per weekday = £1/week ~ £50 per year
40p per weekday = £2/week ~ £100 per year
HJ's auction reports - Martyn [(ex) BR moderator]
MoBo wrote:
Phil G - I suggested the paid access to the site...


We don't have any plans to make a charge for access at the moment, though of course we'd never be averse to someone offering to pay!

The topic of the site's income has been raised before, and certainly for a start, when we were establishing HJ's impartiality, we were unwilling to enter into a financial arrangement with third parties. Time has passed, and there have been development costs, and we are tentatively testing the waters -- hence the few banner ads that appear at the top of your screen.

Perhaps in the next weekly poll, Martin could ask: How much
would you be prepared to pay per day (annual subs only)
if the Backroom needed it for it to be economic:


That's a good idea, MoBo. Thanks. I'll give that a spin! (Though I want to reassure everyone that reading the forum will always be free, and we would only ever consider asking a membership fee for those who want to participate interactively.)
 
Martyn [Back Room moderator]
====================
mailto:webmaster@honestjohn.co.uk
HJ's auction reports - smokie
"only ever consider asking a membership fee for those who want to participate interactively.)"

MBRM - firstly, I wouldn't necessarily be averse to paying something.

However, as far as the Backroom goes, there are technical muppets like me who depend on the breadth and years of experience of a few experts when it comes to technical issues. While I would be happy to pay to be on the receiving end of the advice, some of the experts may not be prepared to pay just to dispense advice. So charging for interactive participation would need to be carefully considered.
HJ's auction reports - Morris Ox
Nothing stays the same forever, and while there's a certain appeal in the informality and clubby atmosphere of the BR, it's ultimately all about the bottom line. The BR may be a club, but HonestJohn.co.uk isn't.

The business as such isn't a website. It's a motoring advice and information magazine whose USP is the inside knowledge of its figurehead and the amount of useful information flying around generally.

If there are genuine financial problems then a subscription to the BR isn't the answer. I suspect it would raise a reasonable (but not large) amount to start off with then trickle away in the medium to short-term without any kind of subscription drive (i.e. marketing, which costs). It's no different to any print medium in that respect.

The money has to come from banners, section sponsors, product sales with a percentage take...all the ususal models employed by a print medium.

The obvious answer is to get into bed with someone who has all the infrastructure in place to deliver all this, and I know where I'd start. Sure HJ does too.

HJ's auction reports - eMBe {P}
could I ask you please to clarify that question? >>


MBRM: The answer to my question may be NIL, but what I was "wondering" about was the figures posted by StephenKhoo a few weeks ago when he quoted the amount HJ was paying per GB of traffic flow (IIRC, at that time, there were two or more threads running as to how to reduce the bandwidth being used by the backroom). I have not succeeded in finding the threads using the search function. However, IIRC, Stephen concluded in one of his replies that he had worked out some means of compressing the data flows - such that he could get more out of the site without paying for extra bandwidth. The implication was that if Stephen had found that magic workaround before, it would have saved money in the past. I know hindsight is a wonderful thing and that the workaround found by Stephen may have only been discovered due to the application of intense lateral thinking, and I am not suggesting anyone was negligent in any way.

If you can find and quote the original posts by Stephen, (or publish your pre and post bandwidth-solution costings) then I am happy to be corrected of any mistaken impression I may have formed.
HJ's auction reports - Martyn [(ex) BR moderator]
MoBo wrote:
If you can find and quote the original posts by Stephen,
(or publish your pre and post bandwidth-solution costings) then I am
happy to be corrected of any mistaken impression I may have
formed.


I don't think any of that is necessary. But what people probably don't know is that Stephen's magic workaround came with a cost attached. While it helped us get greater throughput without immediately increasing our bandwidth allocation, there were background penalties. Yes, if we'd applied it earlier we may have put off the need to increase the allocation, and so saved ourselves some outlay, but in the longer term the site would have suffered in another, hidden way.

As it happens, I believe that Khoo Systems actually subsidises our hosting charges some of the time, as throughput rises. So, rather than dwell on whether or not Stephen was negligent (he wasn't, of that there's no question), we do in fact owe him a big debt.

Personally, although I can appreciate HJ's point of view entirely (and clearly I share the same concerns), I'd rather this whole debate hadn't come up as a public issue. It's almost the same as if I were to post a message asking every contributor to the thread to state his or her annual salary and declare what percentage they'd make over to us to keep the forum running. As if...!
 
Martyn [Back Room moderator]
====================
mailto:webmaster@honestjohn.co.uk
HJ's auction reports - Morris Ox
Martyn,

you're right that this really shouldn't be a public discussion, but I suspect there are probably a few people out there with the knowledge to make a few sensible suggestions. Doesn't cost anything to use them as a resource, but may be via e-mail...
HJ's auction reports - Martyn [(ex) BR moderator]
Morris Ox wrote:

...some good sense.

nodding
 
Martyn [Back Room moderator]
====================
mailto:webmaster@honestjohn.co.uk
HJ's auction reports - eMBe {P}
MBRM: I do very much appreciate that all the HJ site backers (including unpaid moderators) have been and still are dipping into their own pockets in one way or another to keep the backroom going. I do not find it surprising that now and again HJ pops up with exasperation that he is subsidising this forum without the full thanks he deserves - possibly because many visitors probably assume that he must be making loads of dosh from this site. I too understand HJ's point of view and I wish to make it clear that I was in no way implying anyone was negligent at all. I agree it is not ideal to debate the economics issue publicly, but perhaps you can take it up via the weekly poll question to test the opinion - prefacing the question with the statement that you are merely seeking opinions and that there are no current plans to introduce charges, and that it will not necessarily lead to changes in the free access to the site.
HJ's auction reports - Martyn [(ex) BR moderator]
Thanks, MoBo. As I said, I'll certainly air the question in an upcoming poll. It would be interesting to see what the response is.
 
Martyn [Back Room moderator]
====================
mailto:webmaster@honestjohn.co.uk
HJ's auction reports - eMBe {P}
.. , I'd rather this whole debate
hadn't come up as a public issue. ...!
 
Martyn [Back Room moderator]


MBRB: In that case why not moderate this thread to remove these unwelcome references starting with HJ's "precarious" remark ! You have my full support to delete any or all my references to the economics issues.
HJ's auction reports - Homme van Blanc
I assumed HJ's response to my original flippant posting to be made with his tongue placed firmly in his cheek.

However, if I have been the root cause of any unpleasantness then I apologise unreservedly.

PS. It's mighty pleasing to see that an informative auction report has been posted.

Let's hear for HJ and Helpers, hip, hip, hip.......


HJ's auction reports - Martyn [(ex) BR moderator]
MoBo wrote:
In that case why not moderate this thread to remove
these unwelcome references


Ah, now there you have the archetypical moderator's dilemma. Just because I find the thread irksome doesn't give me leave to delete it at will, I'm afraid.
 
Martyn [Back Room moderator]
====================
mailto:webmaster@honestjohn.co.uk
HJ's auction reports - Stephen
But what people
probably don't know is that Stephen's magic workaround came with a
cost attached. While it helped us get greater throughput without immediately
increasing our bandwidth allocation, there were background penalties. Yes, if we'd
applied it earlier we may have put off the need to
increase the allocation, and so saved ourselves some outlay, but in
the longer term the site would have suffered in another, hidden
way.


Yes, the cost attached - which of course we can share with other clients using our services - is that the server is working harder as every page is getting compressed. We have just purchased a couple of new servers (Dual 2.4Gig Xeons) to replace the current server. We need this for redundancy, resilience etc anyway, but we also partly need the upgraded performance to cope with the strain this site gives.
As it happens, I believe that Khoo Systems actually subsidises our
hosting charges some of the time, as throughput rises. So, rather
than dwell on whether or not Stephen was negligent (he wasn't,
of that there's no question), we do in fact owe him
a big debt.


Ta. Martyn is right in as much as around half of last year we made a modest amount of money from the hosting of this site. The other half we lost as the usage grew well beyond what we were charging. We have had to put our fees up to cope with this. Again in January, before compression, we were into the same situation already of losing again, but with compression we are making only a small return - but for how long? And, taking into account the costs of higher powered servers etc. it's not a money spinner for us really. However, it is a really good site to have hosted as part of the portfolio etc. So I am not grumbling. And the high usage takes us into cheaper unit costs for bandwith etc.

It will be interesting to see if Martyn does a poll as to what people think they would be willing to pay. As someone pointed out, with this much usage, it should be possible to make some return.


----------------------------------
Stephen Khoo
www.khoosys.net
HJ's auction reports - eMBe {P}
Stephen, Martyn, HJ and the other "investors": You are all very open and candid about the finances of the site. In the past (I think it may have been when the suggestion of purchasing an improved search engine was mentioned by some backroomers), I had suggested but which did not appear in print(?) -maybe I was timed out then:

1. Traffic to backroom to be forced to go via the HJ home page
2. Whenever someone posts a link to an external site, then, if that link is already given in HJ's pages elsewhere, the link should be a reference to HJ's page and from there the external link can be accessed (rather than allowing direct links from within replies.)

Perhaps these may be technically difficult to implement?

3. E-mails to HJ should be accessible only via the "contact us" button and not directly via the "Email Honest John" button. I have heard that the D.TEL does not allow HJ to force people to e-mail him via visits to this page and that he has to give his direct e-mail address in his column in the newspaper. However, he can still ensure that non-telegraph readers contact him via the web based "contact-us" button. This means people cannot mail direct from Outlook or other e-mail programs, and will give the site a few more hits.

HJ's auction reports - blowpipe
Other similar sites (such as the VFR club www.hondavfrclub.org)
have a voluntary 'sponsors' arrangement. The vfr club solicits ten quid to allow access to a sponsor's forum, which gives access to downloads, the ability to use avatars, etc. Successful, no pressure approach.
HJ's auction reports - Obsolete
If it's of any interest, an example of a major site that has a voluntary payment scheme is Photo Net. A user who pays has an icon against their name indicating that they have contributed.

www.photo.net
HJ's auction reports - eMBe {P}
To illustrate that this is not a problem unique to HJ, I have posted a quote from another excellent motoring site below. However, because that site is also suffering from too much traffic, I will refrain from naming it to prevent adding to its costs through even more traffic!

>>>> We have a great bunch of people at this site! Because of the extreme activity this site has produced from all the people who have joined up with us, the cost of our forum jumped up 4 times in 9 months! It started out at 100.00 a year on may 28, 2002 and now is 6 times that. That being said, a lot of people on the site have donated to help with our expenses and because of every ones efforts, we are going on for another year with no problems. What I see is how everyone on here are all interested in the same goals, that is honest, unbiased information about XXXXXXXXX without all the sales hype that goes with products we see all the time on many web sites.
When you visit our forums, you'll see these avatars, "£33 or cash supporter" , next to the name of someone that has taken the time to help keep this board free to everyone. We all need to say thanks for their support and I want to extend our thanks to each and everyone for this. <<<<


HJ's auction reports - maby66
Long time viewer, very infrequent poster. A number of sites that I visit have the facilty to make a donation via an electronic service such as PayPal - allowing donations of any size to be made from any point on the site thru dynamic links.
Perhaps these could be considered in the areas that people "value" such as the car by car breakdown? The easier it is to maek a small donation the liklier people will do so.
The idea of a "gold star" for those that donate and post frequently in the forums also has a lot of merit - especially if you have a heirachy system :)
HJ's auction reports - googolplex
I've bought two cars in the last few months from following links to this site - GTC and Trade Sales - both times they asked how I'd heard of them and both times, I mentioned this site. I don't suppose they would, in turn, give HJ feedback on this.

I wonder how many others have done the same and whether its worth getting some sort of survey put together of the value HJ's reports provide for backroomers and the subsequent sales which these companies have achieved. I'd have never gone beyond the local press/garages were it not for this site.

I'd be happy to subscribe because I know how much the advice I have gained has been worth personally. However, I would worry about the resulting exclusivity of this site - putting off new members, especially the less technically aware (such as myself). This site needs all sorts to function well, and that includes people like me who are interested but only really have anecdotal evidence to offer rather than a huge amount of technical knowledge.

Splodgeface
 

Value my car