A few people have asked me to respond to Lucy-S's message above, and it deserves a response. I have been a long time admirer of her writing here, a purchaser of her books, and an admirer from afar. I'm only responding to the issues regarding the ad system. The question of who is or is not a content editor is up to Jack and katherine (with temporary help from Apatrix) and the MSU/BSI team has a long term hands off policy.
Let me say that I haven't spoken with either nate or kurt about this, although I plan to. What I'm talking about here is more clarification and what I hope to be able to talk my BSI collaborators into.
Let me say clearly that I think Lucy-S is right, and the people who have contributed to this community should have the ability to advertise on this site. In fact, we've always been (I thought at least) pretty supportive to the projects of noders, making announcements on front pages, linking to websites and whatever we could do outside of the ad system. I personally fought long and hard against lawyers to make sure our contract with MSU was such that we could continue linking to 3rd party vending, so people could have their cafepress links and whatever on their homenodes and the front page. The clickthrough rates for those links tend to be way better than or the banners too *grin*. I'm not expecting ticker tape for these previous endeavors to support noder creative projects, but I think it does show we've been committed in the past to advertising noder projects.
I would also remind folks that we're *all* volunteers here. The writers are obviously most important, but the content editors, e2gods, Jack, Apatrix, Michigan State University and BSI are all volunteering our time. I'm not sure which orifice nate pulled $5000 out of, but that's definitely not what we're bring in in ad revenue. We earn tens of dollars per day. We're hundredaires. It could be that's the price google charges for a complete buy out of the site over a 24 hour period, but we're earning definitely less than a hundred bucks a day in ad revenue. (nate sez: I do have an orifice that i can pull $5000 out of, but it's for emergencies only)
So where is that money going, besides hookers and blow for klaproth? Some is going to continued hardware upgrades (isn't the site nice and fast compared to 18 months ago?) and some is going to defray Internet costs. Alot of it we are banking to hopefully pay for coding work being done, and eventually even writing work. More on that later.
Google is the fucking Voldemort of Web ad sales. They're the alpha and the omega. For any site not Facebook or Yahoo! they are the way web ad sales are done. They're serving our ads, and it's insanely difficult to serve other inventory on your site in the banner location while they are doing so. Yes, I feel like a freaking suit using the word "inventory".
We should support the products of our community members. That simple proposition still leaves lots of open questions. Lucy-S, Sharq, Shaogo, Spiregrain and donfreenut (hey dude) are easy cases. What should they pay? Should the pay be dependent on how *much* they've contributed to the site? Who manages the system for noders? My own druthers is that they shouldn't pay anything, but part of the problem is that neither nate, kurt or I can be depended on to reliably manage anything.
Consequently, here's what I'll recommend to nate and kurt with consultation with Jack and katherine. Forget the banners for noders, but create a special area on the front page of the site for noder products that should be promoted. This is good for the site, as it becomes clear our contributors are goddamned serious people, and hopefully it draws a little attention to the projects people have out there. We don't bury it in News for Noders but make it its own section.
The other thing hidden in there, and an undertone I've heard in the e2forum and here is paying noders for the content that they write. thisby.us does this, and people earn hundreds of cents on that site. Yahoo! Answers did this for a while, and people could make as much as a nickel per answer. I like the theory of this idea very much, and like Lucy-S I started out in the zine culture where this was more normal. Again, this has been in the works, though the priorities have been to make the site stable and to add features (like better feedback tools for writers) that have long been asked for. We're getting there (and Oolong kicks ass). I do think we still have room to *soon* get some money to noders.
But how, and to whom? Do we go by popularity of nodes based on adsense hits? Then I gotta find masukomi, because the anal sex node is an all time winner for this site. Pay by the most "I like it"s? Highest rated WU for the week gets some scratch? Content editors pick someone? Every noder gets a few cents of kickback? I'm not expecting actual answers to these questions (please don't try to answer them), I'm just pointing out that all concerned parties need to think it through a little before we jump in. But in general, I'm for it. I hope to Thor that we don't get to the point where the promise of a few bucks is what is causing people to write on the site; I'd rather burn the servers in holy offering. Still, I agree with the central proposition that some portion of ad proceeds should go back to the noders, as well as the more ephemeral community elements like servers and bandwidth.
So that's where I'm at. I'll chat with nate and kurt tomorrow. Jack and katherine will advocate for you guys as always and keep on top of me as the usual flood of grad students and lowly undergrads vie for my attention. You guys kick ass, and hopefully we can find more ways to show you that we appreciate that.