Today has been a rather hectic day for me. Travel days typically are. Indeed, it’s been so hectic I haven’t had a chance to thumb through the comments section of today’s posts and try to get a sense of what people are talking about. Nevertheless, I’d like to chime in, wholly uninformed of ideas shared already, and say a few words about the comments section. You’ll have to forgive me for “typing out loud”, as I certainly haven’t outlined my thoughts on this.
Some of you are newer to Slope than others, so allow a twenty second historical perspective on the site. From 2005 through 2010, it was just a blog. It was just a place for me to write my thoughts on the markets and my life. From 2011 through 2016, I enhanced the site with a variety of tools, most particularly a custom-made comments section. And, starting in 2017, I turned it into a full-fledged traders’ website with its own completely bespoke charting system and, lately, literally dozens of new products and services.
The point is that the comments section used to represent about 80% of the content and purpose of the site, whereas now it’s more like, oh, I don’t know, 10% or so. Commensurate with this, the business model of Slope used to be 100% advertising based. I have shifted it, in fits and starts, to a pure “freemium’ model, with absolutely no advertisements from the outside. The only revenue supporting this site is, God bless ’em, the premium users (Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Diamond).
Regarding my decision to get rid of advertising altogether: I reached this decision only a few months ago, sacrificing a reasonably decent income, mainly because I didn’t want some crass advertisements ruining my lovingly-crafted aesthetics of the site. I had hoped – – wrongly, it seems – – that by replacing those ads with banner ads for the Slope of Hope, a meaningful percentage of free users would elect to at least sign up for Bronze, if not for the services, at least to support the site. Very, very few people have done this. They have been content to have no ads, and simply use the ever-growing services of the site for nothing.
On top of this, the atmosphere from comments is getting increasingly bizarre. I didn’t establish Slope to be a forum for conspiracy lunatics, political loudmouths, or personal fistfights. (Interestingly, those responsible for these aforementioned malfeasance seem to be exclusively free users). More than a few newcomers have written me asking me what on earth is going on in the community, since getting an endless news feed from the same people isn’t really what they were after.
For these, and other, reasons, I am increasingly inclined to make the submission of comments onto the blog a privilege for premium members only. And allow me a moment to address the word “premium.”
It sounds like a Rolls Royce kind of thing, as if it’s so shockingly expensive that only the richest of the rich would dare sign up. But, for the love of God, Slope is the most absurdly underpriced thing on the planet. The Bronze service is the cost of a glass of cheap house wine at a restaurant, and whereas the wine is gone in a few minutes, the service goes all month long.
As I’ve mentioned in the past, my sense of “price’ is anchored to somewhere in 1973, so I’ve stupidly underpriced Slope for its entire existence. Let me put it to you this way: it cost me $300 per night to board my dogs. And yet people actually hesitate to spend that much per year for even one of the higher levels of membership. I hope you get my point. If someone can’t afford 14.95 a month, I’m not sure what they’re doing pretending they are a “trader”.
Anyway, I’m not here to rant about pricing or signups. I’m simply considering making this change. To be sure, there would be drawbacks, the principle one of which is that activity would certainly be reduced. On the one hand, it is satisfying to me to see a steady flow of about 100+ comments per post. On the other hand, a closer look at the comments reveals that the vast majority of those 100+ we could all, let’s face it, live without.
I have already received a smattering of emails on this topic from some readers, but I’m interested in your thoughts on this, since I don’t want to take this decision lightly. After all, the comments section has been a free-for-all for almost 15 years, and there’s a good reason there are about 3 million (!!!!!!!!!!) comments in our database. But some Slopers I deeply respect have already written me encouraging, pleading, and insisting upon me making this move, so I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas.