locked Re: Pricing Changes #update

Patty Stokes

I’d like to share my thoughts on large groups and the perhaps-inevitable necessity of monetizing them, sooner or later:

I’m curious if there are other large groups (mine is just over 3000) that are entirely non-commercial? I manage Berlin Scholars, basically a mutual aid network for expat scholars living in Berlin, Germany. People use it to find housing, choose a doctor, navigate the visa and health insurance bureaucracies, and much more. I allow job offers to be posted but forbid ads for professional services (people outside the scholar/artist/writer communities were trying to join just to advertise their services). We’re not any sort of official nonprofit (too many countries involved!) but the ethos has always been that people shouldn’t be using the group to make money (e.g., sublet offers should be close to regular market prices, not Airbnb rentals).

In short, my group is noncommercial, but big. It’s large enough that it would be prohibitively expensive for me as the volunteer owner to pay for if we were no longer grandfathered. We don’t really use functions apart from email messaging and the archive of old messages. I paid the $220 out of pocket during our mad flight from Yahoo last year. We switched back to free last month.

Though noncommercial, groups of this size represent juicy potential revenue that Groups.io would benefit from tapping. I think the majority of my members would grumble initially and a few would flounce, but most would be willing to pony up, say, $5 per year. 

However, this would only be feasible if there were a way to require payment annually - and automatically collect/track payments, issue reminders to those who haven’t paid, and then remove people who don’t pay after 2-3 reminders.

It that weren’t automated, it would be an utter nightmare, and we’d need to move, probably to Google.

As a group owner, I think it is ethically reasonable to expect my members to help ensure the sustainability of Groups.io. However, the logistics of collecting fees would have to be automated, or it's too burdensome for the group owner. I now have a co-moderator but ran the group solo until we moved to Groups.io a year ago. I’ve never asked for compensation.

However, Susan’s mention of member fees in the Park Slope Parents group makes me think it would be reasonable for moderators of large groups to get a modest honorarium. So, say GIO wanted $2 per member, and we charged $5 annually, $3 per person could be split between the moderators. 

I do think that mandatory fees would result in culling of inactive members in groups like mine that have existed for nearly 20 years. So it’s possible we’d be left with 1000 members instead of 3000. It’d still be a large group tho.

Again, I’m well aware that my group is grandfathered! I’m just trying to think long-term and imagine how current free groups - especially large ones - could be reasonably asked to bear some of the expense of running Groups.io and ensure its sustainability. I appreciate Mark’s promise to stick to the original terms, and I trust his intentions. I also know that GIO has to be financially viable or it will end.

Patty Stokes
Group owner, Berlin Scholars

On Dec 30, 2020, at 6:52 PM, J_Catlady <j.olivia.catlady@...> wrote:

Royal Pita as in pita bread? I mean, if we’re talking about loaves of bread and pieces of cake. 😊

On Dec 30, 2020, at 3:47 PM, KWKloeber via groups.io <KWKloeber@...> wrote:



When I previously said "bait n switch" I wasn't referring to the current issue.   
I know that wasn't the nefarious plan so I even hate to clarify it, but here goes:  I meant in the big picture like, "I know gio couldn't be a success if I start out with huge charge$$$, so I'll get it started by offering a bunch of free groups to gain a foothold/share then start building into paid groups once the platform is out there.  But I'm keeping that plan in my vest for now."
I know that isn't the history of it. 

But the alternative (poor business plan or poor projections?) is a definite issue here.  I don't mean that in a criticism sense -- plenty of good folks have grand schemes to make a profitable business (better than sliced bread) and end up crashing.  Some don't crash. 
But then what?  Bread isn't an issue because we can always go buy a loaf.  But it isn't exactly a pc of cake to switch/migrate groups when they fail.  It's a royal PITA, at least for our group with members who barely hang on without jumping ship to a FB group or wherever.  All I can say is, as in our instance where it would have been nearly a grand a yr for 1600 members (of which two dozen are active,) there is NO WAY the owner would have given gio a first-look, no less a second-look.     

Again, I don't see how membership is the driver of costs.  It's activity (storage/bandwidth) not the raw number of users -- unless I am missing something.  What I am saying is that the price platform/structure needs to consider what actually costs you money to provide the service, not something arbitrary like 400 vs 500 members.  That was what moved our owner to migrate to the premium level (storage GBs, not how many members we have.)

Maybe the reality is that FREE anything, just isn't a good business model for gio because it costs a lot (in infrastructure) that you just cannot support??
What would be your breakeven if you did away with all free?  Would it save enough money in infrastructure and operating costs to make gio profitable so that you can take a vacation (at least one day a year  :-) )

Thx for your service to all of us!


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