Updated Membership Levels, Permissions and Site Features

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vtcnc

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As of today, January 11th, we have made some updates and changes to the Hobby Machinist membership levels, permissions and upgraded some features. There are lots of changes to the site so please read carefully. I will schedule an online chat session for later tonight so people have a chance for some Q&A and gives the staff a chance to debug any immediate issues that people may be experiencing with the changes.

First - WHY are we making changes?

The site is well established and over the past year, Nelson has left the site to me, @Dabbler, @wa5cab, @JimDawson, @darkzero, @mmcmdl and @Downunder Bob to run the site. As we began to manage the daily workings of the site, we have stumbled across many opportunities to streamline and improve the site behind the scenes. Much of the problems we have encountered have been related to permission conflicts, privileges, ad placement issues, etc. Another problem we encountered was that the software that manages donations and expiration dates for your memberships broke sometime around 12-18 months ago. While this has been fixed, it caused numerous problems and caused us to re-examine all aspects of the site and how the membership levels and permissions interact with each other.

In summary, the reasons we must make some significant changes are:
  • the membership and promotion system that grant members permissions was full of legacy decisions, conflicts and software gaps that made the system difficult to understand, communicate to members and to administer on a daily basis,
  • ADS. The biggest complaint we receive from people is that ads are intrusive. While we generally agree, the revenue for the site was maintained through ads during the period when the donation software was broken. This site is supported by a mixed method of donations and ads and until other reliable methods of funding the operations of the site emerge, this is how we will continue to operate.
  • the current system and the temporary problem with the software has left people at membership levels beyond their expiration date, while this hasn't caused a revenue problem for the non-profit, we need to re-establish a fair and equitable membership donation system with appropriate permissions.
Second - WHAT are the major changes that have been made?

  • ALL Donating Levels are AD-FREE, Privilege and Donation Fee Changes at each Donating Level and New Chat Feature:
The Promotion System has been eliminated. Non-donating members will always be either a Guest or Registered:​

Guests - Will view ALL ads, can view forums but cannot reply. Can view media and video galleries but watermark promotional ads encouraging Guests to Register and donate will appear on all photos and videos after a 1 or 5 second delay. Chat is not available to guests.​
Registered - Will view ALL ads, but fewer than Guests. Can view media and video galleries but watermark promotional ads encouraging Registered users to upgrade to Donating Member level status to access more features and...​
Silver - NO ADS. Remains at $10 per year. Silver members will continue to have access to medial gallery and downloads and will continue to have a limit on storage available. Silver members will have permission to post on all forums except for For Sale Forums. Chat is not available for Silver members.​
Gold - NO ADS. Remains at $25 per year. Gold members will continue to have access to media gallery and downloads and will have more storage available to them than Silver. Gold members will have permission to post in ALL forums including privileges to sell in the For Sale Forums. Fully featured Chat is available to Gold members. Gold members will not be able to access new features to the site moving forward from this date.​
Platinum - NO ADS. Remains at $50 per year. ALL Access to all features with unlimited storage in media gallery and downloads. Platinum members will have access to new features to the site as they are added and made available in the future.​
Diamond - NO ADS. $150 for a Lifetime Membership. Same permissions and privileges as Platinum - only difference is it is forever!​
Commercial Forum Member - $100 per year and no changes in permissions are proposed. Commercial members have their own forum for promotion of their business, products and services.​
Sponsor Member - $500 per year. This will allow a sponsor to create custom ad packages for placement on the site in addition to a commercial forum for promotional purposes.​
  • Expired Donation Levels for users who currently have Donation Level privileges.
If you are a member who is currently at Silver, Gold or Platinum level, we ask that you check your membership status. If your expiration date occured prior to December 31, 2019 and you wish to enjoy your current Google AD-FREE privileges, please upgrade and donate accordingly. We will grant all users in this situation one month from today to make the upgrades on their own. After February 10, we will begin to remove privileges for members who have chosen not to continue their donating level membership and move them to Registered status.​
  • Addition of new features
Chat is a new feature on the site and is granted to Gold, Platinum, Diamond, Commercial and Sponsors. I will be placing a How-To posts this weekend in the announcement section for new users of Chat, but it is pretty self-explanatory.​
The rules of chat are the same as within the forum. Keep it clean, keep it friendly, no bullying or harassment will be tolerated. If you violate the rules of the site, you will be warned, kicked from chat or possibly banned from the site. These are paid privileges but they come with rules that makes our member site unique - let's keep it that way.​
Future features added to the site will be released to Platinum and Diamond members only as part of their member privileges. Silver and Gold members will continue to enjoy all of the features they enjoy today but now completely Google AD-FREE.​
  • Sponsor Ads
We currently do not have any sponsors on the site who are placing ads. The new pricing structure is in place so that we can target sponsors who are a better fit for hobby machinists like you. In the event that we do begin to place targeted ads, Guests and Registered users will be subject to dynamic ad placement as we work with our sponsors.​
OK, that's it. I may have missed a couple of details, but will update accordingly as issues arise. Thanks for your patience and enjoy!​
Bryan & the H-M Staff​
 
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