It’s a canned, free platform as far as I know…No custom enhancements. The only bills to pay are the hosting fee, domain reg and Sam’s time. Collect a buck from everyone here (is it 500 now?) and that keeps the lights on, commercial free until Sam gets tired of the admin side
Non-profit is not the same as non-revenue. I am aware that Sampson has stated that this is not a profit seeking site, but that does not mean it cannot have revenue. People have suggested donation and fee. Receiving donation is a form of revenue. Asking for registration fee is also a form of revenue. Maybe it won’t be “advertisement”, but it can be “sponsorship” – so my title is a bit misleading. (I do think those on FoodTalkCentral are advertisements, not sponsor banners)
According to the IRS, a qualified sponsorship payment is “any payment made by a person engaged in a trade or business for which the person will receive no substantial benefit other than the use or acknowledgement of the business name, logo, or product lines in connection with the organization’s activities.” For instance, if a nonprofit organization simply acknowledges the sponsor’s name, logo, and/or slogan, then the nonprofit organization would not have to pay tax on the income.
The combination of this site’s low ongoing operating costs, low clickthrough rate of banner ads in general and this site’s small membership base makes this form of revenue unsuitable for this site at the moment, especially when it comes at a cost of cluttering up the site. Our current operating costs are here: LA Times article about what happened to CH
Longer term financial model- we can think about it if/ when the site gets a little bigger. Unlike the early CH days, bandwidth/ storage costs have come down significantly. The site is all DIY with the software open-source and free, so the low operating costs is a strength. To maintain a good signal-to-noise ratio for this site, its very ok for this site to be smaller than CH (but larger than now), so I think the long term operating costs can still be kept quite reasonably.
With that said, since the site is DIY, users will probably have to self-serve amongst themselves more as the site scale if there are questions about how to use the site, features, etc.
One point around reg fee- at this point, I am not too big a fan because it by definition locks some people out. Its kinda like PBS locking people out if they don’t pay, it just doesn’t feel right to be not inclusive…
This reminds me that I should probably write something regularly to everyone on where we are, what we are doing with the site, etc. Have been just focused on site building and user base building…
You can look at the model that egullet uses, which is voluntary donation… almost the public radio model. There are the costs for hosting etc, but then there is also the admins time. While it is great that it is being donated currently, there is no reason why there could not be some basic compensation for the time.