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It's a Wonderful Organissimo Board


ghost of miles
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To be honest, I think AAJ is on the sterile side for this group. Plus we did that after BNBB closed, and ruffled alot of the AAJ poster's feathers. Some of us stuck around there and post, but not too many post there in preference to posting here (maybe Bev Stapleton is the lone exception that I can think of).

Actually, a few members seem to have went there recently. Jim R comes to mind.

Edited by Daniel A
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can't you buy a domain name for 25/yr and then use free board software and set something up. i guess bandwith would get used up quick? i think potentially it would cost only 25/ys for a board like this.

or a free blogspot which is an annoying format but maybe only let's say jsangrey and clifford_thornton and magnificent goldberg and aric would be able to start topics and everyone else would respond to their topics? it would have variety and flavor?

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I've purposely stayed away from the board (and the internet for that matter) today to allow myself time to think about this. I will admit that my reaction was "in the heat of the moment", but it is something that has been bothering me for a long time. It is very multifaceted and challenging to put into words succinctly, but I will try.

The financial part is well documented. The current costs to host this site with CIHost, based in Texas, is $99 per month for a dedicated server and $50 a month for weekly back-ups of that server. Hosting your average website is cheap, yes, but when you move the amount of data around that we are, you not only use up your monthly bandwidth quickly, you also move extremely slow. Remember when this board dogged like crazy? That was because it was on a shared server for awhile. Sure, it only cost $20 a month, but with the current 600+mb database and numerous people visiting every day, you'd reach any limits very fast. So a dedicated server is a must. And having backups is a must.

I've gone through the numbers in public here before, but the bulk of this site is paid for by the band through CD sales from CDBaby and any money from the search bar above linked to Amazon and CDUniverse. Not much comes down that pipeline; maybe $20 every two months. CDBaby sales vary but average around $50 a month. Sometimes we don't sell any for the month. Whatever is left comes directly out of my pocket.

So, $150 a month doesn't sound like much, I realize. But to me it is. I have been playing music all my life. I've been a full-time musician, with no other income, since 2001. In the past six years I've seen gas go from $1.25 a gallon to darn near triple that. I am making the same amount of money, on average per gig, that my dad was when he was a full-time musician 30 years ago. He was able support a wife and five kids on that income. He finally got tired of being out all night, and became a piano technician and eventually had two more kids.

I could not support my family on the income I make and I only have one child. The only reason I'm not homeless is because my wife works. She is the main bread-winner, but even so we live month to month. I'm not telling this for sympathy, just to try to explain my situation. Yes, my situation is my choice, a choice that I am seriously reconsidering right now. The music industry has always been hard but this year was one of the worst years as far as gigging goes that I've ever seen. And I don't see it getting better any time soon. Everybody is scraping. I just played a gig tonight for $80 at a college bar where everybody was pissed off at us because we were playing while they were trying to watch MSU basketball on ESPN. $80 to haul a Hammond organ and Leslie through the snow and be out until 2:00am, away from my family, around unappreciative drunks.

It sounds like I am complaining; maybe I am. What I'm trying to say is that I have several things weighing down on my mind stemming from money. I have a new baby coming in April. My wife has to have a c-section. She'll be out of work for at least 6 weeks. Her current job has no maternity leave. I have nothing booked past February and what is booked is few and far between.

Besides that, the money that the band gives to the operation of this site from our CDBaby sales could have easily paid off our current debt from our last two CDs. We're still in the red from those discs and we don't really feel comfortable making another record until we've paid off what we owe on the first two. We could've been in the black a long time ago with the CDBaby money.

Okay, so financially things are being strained, yes. Subscriptions might be an answer. This software does allow automatic subscription services. But then that might conflict with the other thing: The health of the forums.

How many new members are we getting? When those members post, are they welcomed or instantly ridiculed? Is this a boys club with a special handshake or an open forum that welcomes new people?

I have expressed this before, but sometimes I feel like this place is playground for a select few. I want people to feel comfortable here. I want people to want to join in the discussions. I want people to feel welcomed. I do not like the clique-ishness that is evident here sometimes.

Would subscriptions then push away even more people? Who pays a subscription vs. who doesn't? What does the subscriber get that the others don't? Or should they be voluntary subscribers?

I am not happy that Chaney left (awhile ago), Jim R has left, Bev left a long time ago, and J.A.W. just recently left. When I first read couw's comment about it, I got pissed off and you can kind of read that in my reply. But after thinking about it for a few days I realized that he's partly right. I still don't know what to do about it, but he's right.

I would like less personal attacks and less name calling. I would like people to use the features of this software (like the ignore function) and exercise self-control. I would like more problems between members to be dealt with via PMs, instead of airing your dirty laundry to everyone. The jazz community is small enough as it is; do we really need to piss on each other?

Getting rid of political and religious discussion might help. Then again, one of the most contentious rivalries currently active on the board is between two members active in the baseball thread, which is in the miscellaneous forum. So whaddya gonna do?

Another thing that has been gnawing at me: As some of you know, Zora broke her elbow three weeks ago. I was in the room when it happened. I saw her leap off the chair. I was not paying attention to her, I was absorbed with my playing, practicing the organ. Nobody thinks it is my fault. But I still feel guilty about it because I was not paying attention to her.

Several times today she got upset at me because I wasn't listening to her. My mind was somewhere else, even though she was in the room trying to interact with me.

God, I do not want to be the distant dad. This board is one of several distractions in my life that I personally need to get a handle on. I spend too much time on the computer and not enough time interacting with Zora, writing music, writing poetry, talking with my wife, etc. This is something that I must change.

This place takes a lot of time to manage. I do like the idea of moderators. I do not know who to enlist for that job.

The other thing that is always in the back of my mind is the association of the board with the band. Is it helping? Is it hurting? Does it matter (no such thing as bad publicity)? Should I change the name and put it on a different domain?

I honesly don't want to shut the place down. But some things need to change. I don't know what the answers are. Let someone else take it? Change the name? Moderators? Be more persistant with the fundraising?

I don't know. I'm re-evaluating a lot of things in my life right now, most fundamentally whether I want or can afford to be a musician anymore and how to provide better for my family.

I'm sorry for freaking everybody out, but I need your help to figure out the best course of action that will satisfy the community and myself.

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So there is hope? Cool. Though I could certainly understand you wanting to just walk away from this stuff. ;)

I wish I had done more over the years financially for this place. I think I sent you $20 once, and that was it. I didn't intend for it to be that way, but since moving to Louisiana (one of my big mistakes in life so far), my financial situation has deteriorated severely. I can't skip a morning coffee, or a night out with the wife; those things have already been cut. I wish it wasn't so, but there it is. But it just isn't right that you have to put out money for this site. We all know that it isn't the home page that is the problem, it's the forums. I'll try to do better.

As far as moderators, the only suggestion I have is that no one who has been "part of the problem" should even be considered for the job. Yeah, I know that cuts me out, but so be it. It would be nice if some of us could show more restraint (and I include myself in that group), but I'm afraid we're all about as grown up as we're going to get. Maybe moderators for each section would be a good idea.

Hope we can get through this somehow.

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So there is hope? Cool. Though I could certainly understand you wanting to just walk away from this stuff. ;)

Oh I want to, but I realize that wouldn't be fair to the community at large and would be rather dickish of me, I think.

I wish I had done more over the years financially for this place. I think I sent you $20 once, and that was it. I didn't intend for it to be that way, but since moving to Louisiana (one of my big mistakes in life so far), my financial situation has deteriorated severely. I can't skip a morning coffee, or a night out with the wife; those things have already been cut. I wish it wasn't so, but there it is. But it just isn't right that you have to put out money for this site. We all know that it isn't the home page that is the problem, it's the forums. I'll try to do better.

And that's why I hate asking for money. Believe me, I understand and I don't want anyone to feel bad for not donating. Its an internet forum for Pete's sake; there are so many more important things that need money.

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Jim: Thank you very much for the work and money that you have put into this board. You have created a truly great site. It is not fair at all that you should have to shoulder any more of the costs of keeping this board up. You have paid your dues for life.

Let's think of concrete options. Can we set up an easy and secure way to make credit card donations over the internet? My feeling is that you will be able to raise more than enough from members in that case. You could also expand the advertising space here. Given the number of hits that you get, there should be a decent demand.

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So there is hope? Cool. Though I could certainly understand you wanting to just walk away from this stuff. ;)

Oh I want to, but I realize that wouldn't be fair to the community at large and would be rather dickish of me, I think.

Jim, if nothing else, don't let this part of the equation bother you. I don't think anyone would feel any ill will toward you either way this plays out.

It does sound like you could use a break, so perhaps you might consider simply handing over the reins, either temporarily or permanently, and let someone else run the board for a while. It looks as if there's enough support for the financial matters, but I understand the time commitment and strain on your personal life.

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I'm glad to hear there's hope. I totally understand that you're feeling overwhelmed. It is hard to make sound decisions when you are stressed. I've been pushed hard at work and am operating on a few hours of sleep a night, and I have come close to quitting a couple of times over the last couple of weeks. Which I would totally regret later.

This is an awesome site, despite some bruised feelings now and then. On the whole, I think probably leaving the political forum as is makes sense, since the discussion (and occasional rancor) will spread to the non-political forum if it isn't there as a kind of lightening rod.

Maybe you ought to set up a list of donors somewhere on the site. And the running tally of donations each month is not a bad idea. This would subtly encourage people to pony up without making it exclusive or subscription-based so that new members aren't put off. We all hate asking for money -- but it isn't fair for the band to carry the expense, and I'm sure there are about 100 of us that would split the cost even if no one else did. We are well aware of how much we would miss the site, and it is worth it to us to find a way to keep it going.

But maybe it is worth considering renaming the forum, just to get a bit of distance from the band. That's obviously your call. But we'll support your decisions ... and just gripe a bit later.

Eric

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Can we set up an easy and secure way to make credit card donations over the internet?

Don't you think the "Donate"-function (link on the top right of the page) is enough? I suppose most of us have a Paypal account.

Actually, no; I hardly ever look there. One of the problems is that we don't contribute regularly but either when there's an appeal or when we feel like it. To judge by the number of people into this thread and the sincerity of all our reactions to the possible (I hope only possible) closure of the board, there seem to be around 50/60 regulars, most of whom could well afford to make small regular payments. If there were a way of setting up an automatic payment every month, I think we 50/60 people could ensure that the very sensible objective Clem set out earlier - that we try to raise enough money that we can completely cover the costs and treat the publicity etc facility as a bonus or reward for Organissimo - is met.

Even if we assume that a third of us are truly strapped for cash and, with the best will in the world, won't be able to contribute regularly, forty people coughing up $10 a month looks enough to cover the costs (including some extra that will be needed for new software or upgrades from time to time). But, without the security of regular payment pledges if you like, I can see financial difficulties for Jim in carrying on (to add to the other problems).

We do need to get the money on some sort of firm footing, or there'll be little point in trying to help with easing Jim's time burden. While I think something satisfactory can be done on both fronts, we really do need to get our act together and sort out what those things are.

MG

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The only realistic way most of us can help is through voluntary donations. Subscription only has it's merits but it effectively keeps out almost all newcomers. Maybe Jim can can post a suggested donation or we can pony up say $25.00 on January 1, 2008 with the idea of sending a similar amount every three months. Jim can let us know if that covers things. If it's inadequate we increase.

Edited by Harold_Z
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Getting rid of political and religious discussion might help. Then again, one of the most contentious rivalries currently active on the board is between two members active in the baseball thread, which is in the miscellaneous forum. So whaddya gonna do?

I have to say that getting rid of the politics forum strikes me as a bad idea. It's a steam valve (or perhaps "sewer" is a better word) for the rest of the board -- all the really heated controversial stuff goes there so we don't have to read it in the other subforums. Eliminate it, and it will pop up elsewhere on the board. Cesspits serve a purpose. :)

Guy

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on a more serious note, I would be willing to help with the subscription effort and with collections - best way to do it might be to set up an email list and send it out as needed as sort of a billing method -

second best way would be to get a couple of guys named Vince who own baseball bats -

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look, let's get serious, Jim, if it's ok with you - I will pledge, right now, $10 a month - if 49 more members email me at allenlowe@verizon.net I will set up a list of pledgees and bug the crap out of people every month - which I do anyway, right now - I am happy to do this, please let me know if you DON'T think it is appropriate - even if it's not 49 to begin with, we can surely build it - think of it as buying one less CD or book every month - which is my personal average, and which I can live without -

as for what Jim said:

"How many new members are we getting? When those members post, are they welcomed or instantly ridiculed? Is this a boys club with a special handshake or an open forum that welcomes new people?

I have expressed this before, but sometimes I feel like this place is playground for a select few. I want people to feel comfortable here. I want people to want to join in the discussions. I want people to feel welcomed. I do not like the clique-ishness that is evident here sometimes."

great points, and I know I am one of the guilty ones who sneer on occassion - we need to watch this, or the board will stagnate -

Edited by AllenLowe
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whenever I read one of my posts and I notice some of the fights here, I think of what Bob Neloms said on the bandstand about 25 years ago when he was playing a bad piano trio gig and he decided to pick up his kid's folk guitar and start strumming at random to see if anybody noticed:

"Now you can see why jazz musicians haven't gotten any farther than they have."

Edited by AllenLowe
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