moderated Re: Samuel's Paid User Proposal #suggestion

Samuel Murrayy

On Thu, Jan 14, 2021 at 12:36 AM, Sandi D wrote:
We don't know that group owners will be informed in any way by GIO if a member of their group is a paid GIO account holder or not. Everyone seems to be assuming that group owners and members will be able to somehow figure it out. This isn't necessarily true.
You're right, it's not necessarily the way Mark might implement it.

But I would be strongly in favour of giving group owners this information. I would also favour group owners getting a great deal of control over who gets free slots, because it allows them to be in control of who joins as free members and who joins as paid members.  In particular, it allows group owners to prevent members who *can* pay but refuse to pay from taking up space that could otherwise be assigned to members who *can't* pay but who would be valuable members of the group.

And here's another reason why group owners should ideally have control over this: in the premium groups, group owners are the ones who pay for the availability of free slots! So it would be unfortunate if such group owners can't control who gets to benefit from the free slots.

For similar reasons I would suggest that paid members who stop paying should not be automatically converted to free-slot members, unless the group owner specifically wants it.  (There could be a setting like "automatically assign lapsed paid members to free slots when available"... and I suspect many group owners will use that setting.)

On the GIO side of things, if a member opted not to retain their paid account, GIO would notify them that they will be removed from groups X,Y, Z because those groups are over their capped limit. No disgruntlement between members and group owners. The communication is solely between GIO and the account holder. The account holder deals with the consequences of not renewing their paid membership. Just like any other member that leaves a group, the owner need not know why they left. The member can request at a later time to rejoin.
I would be strongly opposed to this.  I see no reason why group owners should not be allowed to be involved in making decisions about who gets to be in their group for free.  In addition, if you remove group owners from this process, it makes it more difficult for group owners to assist less computer literate users.

Sure, if a member decides not to renew his membership, getting a notice telling him what the consequences would be, is fine: the notice could be customised to tell the user exactly which groups he'll be booted from, or the notice could be more generic, saying simply "converting to a free member may result in having no more access to certain groups, depending individual groups' own policies".

In other words the 100 slots of a capped basic tier group are on the GIO side of things and not the owner side of things. If the owner has zero slots, they can upgrade to Premium, essentially "buying" 300 more slots from GIO and the ability to direct add members and have more features.
Ideally, though, the group owner should have another option: decide which members should start paying, and tell them privately to upgrade to paid membership, so that free slots can open up.  And if there are members currently in free slots that the owner feels don't deserve to freeload any long, he should be able to communicate his decision to them (e.g. by threatening to unsubscribe them if they don't pay) -- but this means that the owner should be able to see who are paid members.

For a Premium owner their concern is direct adding. They start a group with 399 available slots. As the group fills, those slots decrease. But the Premium group owner will not know which are filled by paid account owners and which are filled by free members. The group owner's concern is how many slots are left to direct add members. Regardless of whether or not Samuels proposal is implemented, the owner is only looking at how many vacant slots are available for direct adding and for sending invitations. 
Yes, so in other words, there are many disadvantages to not allowing owners to see who are paid members and who are free members.

(In fact, I would be personally in favour of giving paid members the ability to reveal their paid status to other members, e.g. with a badge next to their posts.  In some types of groups, it could be useful for all members to see whom they have to thank for the availability of free slots.)

Now suppose someone with a free basic account applied to join a basic group with 100 members. Their request is denied by GIO system letting them know their application was unsuccessful because the group is full. ... Ditto for a Premium group with 400 members who does not want to pay the additional per member charge. The owner need not be made aware of who in their group holds a paid or unpaid GIO membership. Their concern remains focused on the number of unfilled slots that can be filled if they choose to fill them.
Again, this just shows how bad such an implementation would be (i.e. one in which owners can't see who are paid members).  I disagree that the owner's only concern should be how many free slots there are.  The owner should be allowed to choose who gets in for free and who needs to pay.

In my opinion, here is how joining a group should work:

If someone tries to join a group whose free slots are full:
- If membership does not require approval: the user gets a notification that the group is "full", and the owner gets a notification that the group is full and that user X tried to join. (the owner can then contact that person privately and try to work something out)
- If membership does require approval: the owner gets a notification that the group is full and that user X tried to join.  The owner then decides what he wants to do, e.g. pay extra himself, or ask the user privately to sign up for paid membership, or ask the user to privately send the owner money via PayPal, or decide to ask another member to become a paid member in order to make room for this new member, etc.

And if someone tries to join a group whose free slots are not yet full:
- If membership does not require approval: the usual procedure happens, and the owner's notification includes a line about the new free slot balance.
- If membership does require approval: (it may be a good idea to discuss various possible procedures here, but...) the usual procedure could still happen, which includes the ability of the owner to communicate with the aspiring member to tell him e.g. the policy of that particular group, which may include that his application is approved on the condition that he signs up for a paying membership.

On a related note:

A waiting list feature or the ability to be a dormant member of a group solves several problems.
- For example, if a previously paying member stops paying, he can become a dormant member, which makes it easier for the group owner to continue managing his membership during the period that the owner decides what he wants to do with that member.  (If such a member is simply unsubscribed instead of made dormant, it can be more difficult to win him back.)
- And for example, if a user tries to join a group where there are either no free slots available or where the owner doesn't want to assign a free slot to that user (but the owner does want to provisionally accept his application, in order to try to convince him to pay up, or while the owner tries to get another member to become a paid member), such a member can become a dormant member.  Dormant membership will greatly reduce the amount of administration for group owners.

(And I repeat a suggestion that I made previously, that dormant members be allowed to read messages via the web, even in restricted groups.  This would not really discourage people from paying, since there are many groups with public messages anyway.)

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