By in Persona Paper

Future Direction

So I am writing now to update everyone about the direction of the site (as promised on Friday). I have been in talks with Heather about what we want to do. I could go into deep details about how busy our schedule has become, so many things have changed based on what we wanted to do with the site. You have no doubt have noticed the blogger and reviews section has disappeared. I have an incomplete version of what I wanted to accomplish for the blogger section, but regretfully I just don't have the time to devote to that at this point in time.

Heather and I determined we have two directions to take the site. So you can think about it as a fork in the road. We can either 1) pay out the money now to who we can, and shutdown the site. Or 2) Open applications for site moderators to assist in some of the day to day operations of the site. Heather now has has a full time job, and our girls are in competitive dance and gymnastics which means after school they are doing 20+ hours of training per week. At the end of the day, I am lucky to have a few minutes for personal projects on the computer.

We are still trying to catch up, and while we have made significant progress we are still in the hole regarding payouts. In other words, we have given out more coins than we have earned in ad revenue. So while we are closing that gap, the site is still not producing any additional income for us at the moment. Like I said, we are catching up but it will take some time.

So while shutting down the site was on the table at one point in time, we are holding off on that for the time being. If we can find a couple of trusted moderators then we will ask they step up to help with the day to day activities. We are not disappearing, but our involvement has been reduced as a result of life changes. We still need to make some modifications before admins can involve themselves, but I think this will be a step in the right direction.

If you are interested, please let us know here and we will consider you. Thank you all for your continued support, and I hope one day this site grows to where it will be fruitful for all, us and you.

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Feisty56 wrote on September 6, 2015, 10:37 PM

Thanks for this information and your frankness about the situation with the site. I'm relieved that you and Heather are not yet ready to scrap the site. I've been wondering with your busy schedules if you might not look to having some site moderators; this seems a reasonable strategy.

I'd like to throw my hat in the ring for consideration as a site moderator.

Whatever decisions you two make as far as moderators, myself and many others of us will put our support behind them. I think you can be confident in that.

Paulie wrote on September 6, 2015, 10:42 PM

How would a moderator assist in the day to day operation of the site. Please list the job responsibilities and would there be any renumeration for doing this?

bestwriter wrote on September 6, 2015, 11:29 PM

Happy to see you here.

I want the site to continue. And about moderating I think it should be the other way around. You know best who could moderate based on the role they have played in assisting you bringing to your notice situations that need your attention. May be you could email them and they in turn could accept or reject the offer based on their own inclination towards it.
I would recommend Kasman

Last Edited: September 6, 2015, 11:49 PM

wolfgirl569 wrote on September 6, 2015, 11:31 PM

I like Paulie would like to know more information before saying anything about who might be good for the job.

bestwriter wrote on September 6, 2015, 11:45 PM

The site owners know who could be right depending on their involvement with the site.

CalmGemini wrote on September 6, 2015, 11:52 PM

Thank you for your post.Of course,we want the site to continue functioning.Hope every thing works out better for every body concerned.

MegL wrote on September 7, 2015, 1:05 AM

Thank you for the post. Whatever is decided, it needs to be done quickly because I have just read an article on another site that is downtalking PP. emoticon :sad: I like writing and interacting on this site, so would not like to see it close but I can understand that a site of this size and complexity, that is not providing any income for you, can rather seem like a burden round the neck for both of you. Before even deciding whether to remain open or to close, or to add moderators, maybe it needs to be considered whether any technical or business changes are needed to the site to enable it to keep going. For instance, there have been reported problems with pop ups or other advertising that have put off outside users. Bringing in outside viewers would definitely help to improve site income. BUT technical changes require time and programming expertise and these may not be possible with your time constraints. A long time ago, I read an article about shooting or grooming the monkey in the Harvard business magazine. It was so good, I have always remembered it. Basically, a problem is like a monkey on your shoulder. If you can go to the boss and say, I have a problem, can you help and the boss says "yes", then the monkey jumps to the boss's should and you are free. But now the boss is burdened down by the monkeys! The point of the story was to consider whether to feed and groom the monkey or whether it would just languish, withering away. Some people consider it kinder to "shoot the monkey" rather than let it hang on getting weaker and weaker.
So, the decisions I see are:
(1) Do you want to keep on?
(2) Does the site need technical changes? If so, is there the capacity for these?
(3) Can the site improve by appointing moderators? Presumably, moderators will carry out the usual tasks of removing plagiarised posts, nasty comments, spammy links in posts etc? They are unlikely to be able to deal with advertising problems, or pop ups, which will still need you or MaeLou?
(4) Does the site appear to be financially viable, if not at the moment, is it moving in the right direction?
I do not need the answers to these questions. But if any of those 4 points get a "no", then shooting the monkey may be better than letting it die a lingering death.
Personally, I would like to see it continue but I am not the one carrying the financial, technical and time burden.
I appreciate your frankness and openness and that you are asking for input.

AliCanary wrote on September 7, 2015, 1:19 AM

Thank you for your post; as always, you impress and comfort me with your honesty and openness. I am sorry to hear that the site hasn't been more profitable, but it does seem to be growing more so, so this does not seem to be the time to stop. I hope that you are able to continue, and there are some people who I believe would make wonderful moderators, such as Feisty56 , who has expressed an interest. I think that you have contemplated getting some investors interested in the site, but I don't know if you went ahead with that idea, or whether you have done it recently, but I think that would also be a great move. Now that a good track record has been established and some momentum has been built, it seems like a good time for some venture capitalism. Best wishes!

PS - Obviously, I want the site to continue and hope it does, but I'm a realist. In case the decision eventually gets made to shut it down, I dearly hope you can give us a lot of notice so that we can copy our posts for future use elsewhere. Some people may not have backups at the moment.

AliCanary wrote on September 7, 2015, 1:24 AM

Good comment overall, but I completely disagree that something has to be done quickly. Who cares if someone wrote an article disparaging PP? That kind of thing happens; I don't see why it would constitute some kind of emergency.

MegL wrote on September 7, 2015, 1:31 AM

I did not say it was an emergency, just pointed out that SOMETHING (whatever it is) needs to be done quickly. The reason I mentioned this is because a number of commenters on the article are currently members of PP. Those kinds of articles "encourage" current members to contribute less, redeem earlier and put new people off from joining.

TheMightyThor wrote on September 7, 2015, 3:24 AM

This is an issue of productivity--rather the lack thereof, a supply and demand issue, rather the lack thereof unfortunately. sounds like a pending financial crisis is approaching unfortunately, slash availability, slash time management constraints. As a consumer with a key understanding in Business Management and economics, and quite frankly as a human being, I know the difficulties of not making enough to produce. When supply and demand is suffering, productivity will also suffer and as a result, profits will take the hit. Leaders in industries all over the world are facing this same situation whereby they were forced to either let go of at least 50% of their employees to ease budget restraints or shut down the business altogether. There are ways that I can help you avoid and resolve these matters if you'd like a private meeting. Establishing an Operations Council sounds like a good start by the way : )

Last Edited: September 7, 2015, 3:27 AM

BarbRad wrote on September 7, 2015, 4:27 AM

I was afraid it might come down to this. I like this site and have done all I know how and have time to do to make it successful, but I will understand if you have to close it. I had to close my business because it was costing me more than I was making. Fortunately I didn't have people I needed to pay off except service providers final bills. I'm with Meg. I hope a decsion can be made quickly so that if you feel you need to close the site we can move on. If that happens, I think I'm through joining any more sites. Each of us can only do our best, and I know you have been doing that. Things looked so bright in January, but I think the economy as a whole is bad. Please continue to let us know which way the wind is blowing. I've enjoyed being here. I hope we can still be here for some time to come.

scheng1 wrote on September 7, 2015, 8:42 AM

You can probably invite a few writers who have been very active to become moderators.

elitecodex wrote on September 7, 2015, 9:15 AM

Thanks for the support - I welcome all who are interested. I don't know how many we will need in the beginning, but I'll talk with Heather about it to see what may need to be done

VinceSummers wrote on September 7, 2015, 9:16 AM

I'd (frankly) just as soon receive the pay and shut down the site. ETA: I got to thinking about it. I ought to tell you WHY I am saying that. It's not that I don't appreciate the hard effort you put into the site. It's not because I don't think there are some good writers here. It's just that I think the concept behind the site cannot successfully be put into practice.

I think internal effort rewards only cannot make it. I think mere social stuff cannot make it. Frankly, the universe is NOT interested in how our mornings were, or what we ate last week, or that kidney stone we had to have removed. Who cares? No. Really. Who cares? And even if a few do care, they aren't doing anything to bring in revenue. Real money has to come from outside. From search engines and referring links. Those just don't exist at any practical level.

And advertising such as is used now drives people away. Add to that that additional administrative volunteers won't make a bit of difference as far as bringing money in is concerned. Instead, they'll spend their time caulking a sinking ship. Again: it's not because you failed to fight the fine fight. It's because all the weights are in the gloves of the competition.

Last Edited: September 7, 2015, 9:24 AM

elitecodex wrote on September 7, 2015, 9:19 AM

Basically just monitoring the content submitted to the site, both comments and articles. Ensure proper image credits. Approve new members to the site. Mark articles as plagiarized or comments as comment "spam". Answer and assist new members with questions regarding the site. Things like that. I wouldn't consider this an exhaustive list, but that is the first thing that comes to mind.

Heather and I will still process the payouts, and be an arbiter if issues arise between moderators and the community. So we aren't handing over the site to anyone, but the day to day operations will require help.

elitecodex wrote on September 7, 2015, 9:23 AM

I agree, we do have a few members that we would like to see in this position. However, that being said we would rather see them come forward first. We don't want to impose this responsibility on anyone who doesn't want it. I feel like asking may putting an undue (yet small) burden on them to accept the role. If they volunteer, then it shows they are interested in the role and I feel like it would best for both sides.

elitecodex wrote on September 7, 2015, 9:25 AM

Just simple day to day stuff. I did respond to Paulie above, so you can find a small list of things that came to mind first.

elitecodex wrote on September 7, 2015, 9:26 AM

As do I. I don't want to see the site shutdown, but we have been keeping it afloat for sometime now with minimal involvement so it is pretty self sufficient. I hope it continues to grow. Only time will tell of course.

elitecodex wrote on September 7, 2015, 9:34 AM

I am not too concerned with people talking bad about us. No matter how popular you are, you will always find people that do not like something. That is just the nature of the internet. See below to answer your questions

1) Yes, I put a lot of time and effort into the site and am happy it has steady growth. It may never get the billion users that Facebook has, but that's OK. So long as you have a community of good members, then that is the important part.

2) It doesn't need technical changes, however there are some modifications we would like to make. There are some bugs that I need to work on. I may need to make some modifications to how the server is setup, but all of this is relatively easy just takes a little time to get it done.

3) I think so. A lot of what needs to be done around the site is relatively easy so appointing moderators can help in that regard. However, the site is pretty self sufficient for the most part so even just a little help will go a long way.

4) It appears to be moving in the right direction. The coins we have handed out still exceeds what we have to pay out, but the gap is closing and is getting smaller. Its a slow process, but moving in the right direction for now.

I don't think the monkey needs to be shot just yet, but that is why we are opening up some options to keep it viable for the members.

Ellis wrote on September 7, 2015, 9:36 AM

I also think Feisty56 would make an excellent moderator..

elitecodex wrote on September 7, 2015, 9:39 AM

Thanks Ali, I hope it can continue as well. But even in the worse case scenario, we will not just disappear one day. We will give our members plenty of notice, and I even want to build in a way for everyone to download their data. I know those who have contributed hundreds of articles would be in a world of pain if we had to shutdown and they did not have a backup of their content.

We won't just up and disappear like some other sites have done. We have an exit strategy if it comes to that.

MegL wrote on September 7, 2015, 9:40 AM

That sounds extremely hopeful. emoticon :grin: Thank you very much. I know you said you have removed the blogger / review distinction but would it help for more reviews to be posted? I have previously added Amazon codes (for the site) to reviews and I could still do that if I find more products to review.

Ellis wrote on September 7, 2015, 9:51 AM

I have to agree with you VinceSummers ...As I was able to spend less and less time here, the 'what I ate for breakfast' type posts were the first to go. Not that I wasn't interested in keeping up with friends but simply because of time constraints. To appeal to a wider audience we need far more informative and creative posts to develop more outside my opinion..

elitecodex wrote on September 7, 2015, 9:54 AM

Nope, there is no financial crisis. The cost of running the site is very minimal and we are closing the gap in the coins handed out and the money we have to pay for those coins. The only financial issues are we do not see any money from the site, so its weight in what we need to do on a daily basis is pushed below other priorities of higher value (whether monetary or not). Examples are full time jobs and family. When we started this venture, MaeLou did not work full time. Now she does, and she was a big part of our community. She still logs in and puts time into it, but the involvement has been drastically cut.

This is why we are looking for some trusted site moderators to help fill the void to keep the site viable.

elitecodex wrote on September 7, 2015, 10:00 AM

Well, we aren't throwing in the towel just yet. Currently the wind is still blowing in the same direction, just want to find some moderators to help in this regard.

elitecodex wrote on September 7, 2015, 10:02 AM

We could, but would rather see who steps up and wants to help. We don't want to ask someone to do it if they aren't willing to offer. We tried that in the past.

DWDavisRSL wrote on September 7, 2015, 11:11 AM

I appreciate your openness and honesty and hope you are able to keep the site up and running long into the future. In the short term I don't see any need to add bells and whistles to what the site already offers as it is an excellent platform as it is for sharing our writing and ideas and interacting. For now, I would offer, that keeping the site going smoothly as it is should be more than sufficient.

While my schedule won't allow me to throw my name in the hat for consideration as a site moderator I know there are several here who would be excellent in that position. Indeed, some of the folks have been acting as unofficial moderators by offering advice and directing people to the TOS when something is amiss or complaints are made.

Before I've gone too long, let me express my personal appreciation for all you've both done to keep the site up and running and I wish you future success both with the site and in all your endeavors.

melody23 wrote on September 7, 2015, 11:22 AM

I haven't been about anywhere near as much as usual over the last three months or so with finishing up uni, life has just been too busy so I completely understand what its like to have other commitments - and I don't have any kids! I do still pop in every few days and check my notifications and I am still actively promoting the site (I have that set up automatically anyway), but I haven't had the time to write as much as usual.

I still 100% believe in this site, although the growth has been slow, I honestly think that in the longer term it will succeed. Obviously it is your decision at the end of the day, but I would hate to see this site close down, its the best site out there in a lot of ways, mostly because of you guys. I do think having moderators would help, and I would be happy to volunteer. Sometimes all people want is an 'official' voice on a matter to make them feel that they are being listened to. I don't think you should need to be here all the time - I think its really unfair of people to expect that.

WordChazer wrote on September 7, 2015, 2:12 PM

I'm easy either way. I certainly can't volunteer to be a useful mod, as it's rare I have more than a few minutes to myself in an average day. I'd be happy to have the payout and run but sad to lose the site too. I'm equally happy to stay here and carry on writing, although my review input tends to be more to my blog these days rather than here, if only for ease of viewing by others. So you would get more opinion posts and Ranty McRanterson posts out of me, I think.

Kasman wrote on September 7, 2015, 2:54 PM

elitecodex - I would be more than happy to be considered as a moderator on this site. Your reply to Paulie listing some of a moderator's duties is pretty much what I have been doing anyway! Glad to hear you're not closing us down!

Last Edited: September 7, 2015, 2:55 PM

markgraham wrote on September 7, 2015, 2:58 PM

I would be interested in working as a site moderator, but being a doctoral student I do not feel I could do a fair job. I am close to starting my capstone project.

seren3 wrote on September 7, 2015, 3:51 PM

Thanks for the post. As I'm more stretched than ever myself, to keep a few sites going, I understand. It certainly was easier a few years ago to make a few dollars on line.

markgraham wrote on September 7, 2015, 4:49 PM

If I could work it out could I be a site moderator as a intern towards my doctoral degree, but I would also like to continue writing for the site as well. If I can do this I would consider being a site moderator. My doctorate will be in Reading and Literacy at all levels.

bestwriter wrote on September 7, 2015, 7:12 PM

I have already recommended you emoticon :tongue: Your periodic analysis of the site was an indicator for me to think you would suit the post.

bestwriter wrote on September 7, 2015, 7:29 PM

As I have already stated in my comment it is you who will know who will suit and it is for the members to accept or decline. It will be bad for a member if they volunteer and you decline.

bestwriter wrote on September 7, 2015, 7:33 PM

If you decline a member's offer you can be sure that member will not be seen around the site. It is better that you invite and the member is given the opportunity to accept or decline. It works that way elsewhere.

MaeLou wrote on September 7, 2015, 9:19 PM

I do not think this is true. If we have 30 applicants (over-exaggeration) we wouldn't accept them all obviously. We've done the route of asking members for help and it didn't end up well for us in the end. Therefore, we are not going down that road again.

elitecodex wrote on September 7, 2015, 9:22 PM

This is a good point, however I don't think it would be one that would be do-able in our position. Moving to that kind of site, which would be an editorial based site would then require someone to review the content, and have a focus/direction. We would basically have to "hire" writers and that market is already saturated with sites that get far more traffic than we do. It would take a lot of time to build ourselves up to be another player in that market. Even then, sites like that are falling. Just look at Gigaom, and they had over 6 million monthly readers.

I suppose we could re-launch another site with that focus in mind, however another problem would be the up front capital. This site was started with practically no upfront capital. An editorial based site that relies on advertising revenue to fund itself would require some upfront investment.

elitecodex wrote on September 7, 2015, 9:34 PM

Thanks for the kind words. I agree, I don't want to add too many bells and whistles. I like the idea of it being simple (unlike something like Wordpress) and it seems to be sort of self sufficient as it runs with minimal oversight. We are currently looking for any way to keep the site open. Shutting down is a last resort.

elitecodex wrote on September 7, 2015, 9:40 PM

Thanks for the kind words and the offer - we will be working this out over the next week or so. I think they look at our site as an actual business, when it is more of a side project. Unlike a normal business, we do not have employees or anyone full time to keep an eye on things. If we can support it in the future, then maybe but it isn't like that right now.

elitecodex wrote on September 7, 2015, 9:42 PM

Well, we aren't adding any restrictions to the content, so feel free to post your Ranty McRanterson posts :)

elitecodex wrote on September 7, 2015, 9:46 PM

Thanks Kasman - we are leaving shutting down as the last resort option. I hope it doesn't come to that, as there are many good people here. I'll talk to Heather, but thanks for all the help you've given in the past in any case.

elitecodex wrote on September 7, 2015, 9:48 PM

I have not made it that far in my academic career, but it certainly sounds like your schedule will be busy in the near future. I do thank you for the offer though.

elitecodex wrote on September 7, 2015, 9:50 PM

Yeah, but I think the online display advertising is going to be going through some major changes over the next few years. I think that people are starting to realize they are not worth the price they are paying, especially with the prevalence of ad blockers and malware distributed via ad networks. It is going to be difficult, and something we may need to consider going forward in the future as well.

bestwriter wrote on September 7, 2015, 9:50 PM

My best wishes are with you and hope you will get the kind of help you are looking for.

elitecodex wrote on September 7, 2015, 9:54 PM

Interesting, but I am unsure of how that would work. Not sure how our little site can help you in your goals of getting a doctorate.

Feisty56 wrote on September 8, 2015, 1:08 AM

I'm thrilled to see you volunteer to be a moderator. Your name popped into my head as soon as I read this.

AliCanary wrote on September 8, 2015, 3:49 AM

That is the way one normally applies for a position. People needn't volunteer publicly.

AliCanary wrote on September 8, 2015, 3:59 AM

Wow, I never even HEARD of that site. Heck, even Yahoo, an internet juggernaut, closed Voices, and they DID have editorial review, so it's tough. However, I'm a little curious why you didn't push on with your plan of having a separate Reviews section, because in my experience, reviews are one of the top, if not THE top, pageview-getters on the internet, as a category. Can you tell us?

Also, separate question: What the hell happened to Ashley? Did he just flat-out abandon you completely? I thought this site was his love child, but he seemed to be happy enough to slide it onto you with a quickness. Maybe he could find you some investors. I feel like he should definitely help SOME way--this site DOES have plenty of potential, I still believe. Call me a starry-eyed optimist...

melody23 wrote on September 8, 2015, 2:15 PM

I think that's exactly it, people seem to expect that you guys are here all the time which is really unfair of them, especially when Heather is often updating us on how busy your lives are.

melody23 wrote on September 8, 2015, 2:20 PM

Helium had editorial review and was bought (for a heck of a lot of money I might add) by a massive traditional print publisher (RR Donnelly) and they still couldn't make it after google panda. You are right, its very tough on the internet these days.

Reviews and how-to articles both tend to do quite well page view wise so I think a reviews section is a good idea. there is also a possible earning opportunity there through amazon.

WordChazer wrote on September 8, 2015, 3:03 PM

Thanks. emoticon :winking: May just consider taking a raincheck on starting a second blog and post my opinion posts here for a bit. Some of my regular review contacts also request content to be posted here so I'll continue to post that as well.

I would also add that if I found anything questionable, I would flag it, as I do on all sites. Haven't had much time recently to plough through the new members but I have leave upcoming and a potential shift in job role which might lead to more regular working hours, so who knows. I'll send over the latest popup nasties later, as I'm getting a bit tired of those and wonder if there is anything you might be able to do to halt them.

Last Edited: September 8, 2015, 3:06 PM

WordChazer wrote on September 8, 2015, 3:07 PM

That would make for some interesting content at least, Mark.

markgraham wrote on September 8, 2015, 3:17 PM

That's what i was thinking too, posts on doing a capstone project and the steps required in such a project. Plans on forming workshops and ideas for possible power points. Thanks for the suggestion.

AliCanary wrote on September 8, 2015, 7:39 PM

Yes, I want to kick Google in the butt for Panda. Bing seems to really like my blog posts, which is funny, since they are on Google's Blogger platform. They come up higher on Bing than on Google!

Yes, please push on with making reviews a thing, and as melody23 said, tutorials are also quite popular. If you allow people to use their Amazon affiliate codes, it will be an additional money-making opportunity for your contributors that will not cost you a dime, so more people will want to use the site.

melody23 wrote on September 9, 2015, 5:56 AM

What annoys me about google is that post-panda, the goal posts keep moving. Just when you think you know what google wants they change their minds again - their thing now is mobile friendliness which I understand with people accessing the internet on mobile devices more than computers these days, but who knows what the next thing will be.

I think allowing people to use their amazon codes would help the site greatly, but obviously I don't have to do the work to make that happen so I don't know how difficult it would be to implement.

My blog does really well in views from foreign versions of google for some reason, particularly Russia - not that it makes a blind bit of difference in adsense mind you!

AliCanary wrote on September 9, 2015, 4:04 PM

Oh, you too? Good! I was wondering what the heck was up with all these views from Russia, and I was afraid it was bots and Google would cut off my AdSense. But if they are organic views, it's all good!

melody23 wrote on September 10, 2015, 1:57 PM

Less that a tenth of my blogs views actually show in adsense anyway so I am not worried since they are probably making money from me showing ads but not crediting me for it.

I get a ridiculous amount of traffic, percentage wise, from Russia for some reason and very little from here in the UK. its weird most of my views are either Russian google or twitter.

cheri wrote on September 23, 2015, 1:49 AM

I appreciate this information and honesty. There are a lot of good writers here who can help.

markgraham wrote on September 24, 2015, 9:10 PM

I did talk with my school and I am still interested as a site moderator if you are still in need. The school also said it would be all right to use as an internship if I write articles pertaining to education some way or other pertaining to PreK through 12. Are you still in need of site moderators. Thank you.

markgraham wrote on October 20, 2015, 10:24 AM

I am still interested in working as a site moderator. Let me know.

markgraham wrote on October 20, 2015, 11:09 AM

I have also completed a career counseling course when I started graduate school. This could help me practice some skills when looking over applications. I really want to help this site survive.

Colibry21 wrote on October 22, 2015, 8:08 PM

I can understand your dilemma. Hopefully, everything works out for you guys.

SandraLPetersen wrote on November 17, 2015, 12:52 PM

I'm almost ashamed to admit I hadn't visited this site for a long time except to read a few posts. This summer the hotel was wicked busy. I was putting in six hours per day four days a week and coming home exhausted. I didn't have the brain energy to do much writing. I do hope this site continues and prospers and that the right people are found to be moderators. You've both done a superb job at building a quality site.

MaggieD wrote on January 18, 2016, 9:52 PM

I am interested in being a moderator. Do you still need help?