Cubit MEMBER issues forum: Coming soon: A shiny new gardening website!

 
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Imagedave
Jul 5, 2011 9:02 AM CST
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas
Resident cubit-master
I started this thread several days ago, and allowed access to it just the owners of gardening cubits. I am now opening it up for the rest of the members so that everyone can learn of the news.

You all know by now that my dispute with IB is finished. This means that I am now free to continue on with my career unencumbered by an ongoing lawsuit.

Ever since leaving DG 18 months ago, I have worked to build up a project that could provide a new source of income for my family. I had high hopes that Cubits would become a producer of revenue, but the projections show that this is not something that's going to happen in any kind of reasonable timeframe.

The graph of member signups is flat from April 2010 to present.

Thumb of 2011-06-20/dave/479c64

The monthly visitors to the site has been up and down month after month. We are not on an upward growth trajectory.

Thumb of 2011-06-20/dave/748821

When I launched Cubits, it was my intention and desire to create a website that had a diverse set of communities ranging across the entire spectrum of interests and hobbies. Therefore, I designed Cubits with that goal in mind. But what happened was that 80% of the active Cubits are gardening related. This means that Cubits became a de facto gardening site.

Basically, Cubits.org is considered a gardening site but it wasn't designed to be that, and it does that poorly. The communities are segregated from each other by design, and therefore the interface is very confusing for members who are trying to find their way from one area to another.

Members come and join, visit a couple times and often disappear in confusion. This is happening because the site wasn't designed to be an all-encompassing site, but rather a series of individual websites.

If I had wanted build a site devoted to the gardening public, I would have designed it much differently. I believe the time is now right to do just that.

I have a lot of experience building and managing a gardening site, and I enjoy the process of writing applications that support and enhance the activities that gardeners do. Therefore, I am going to create a website dedicated exclusively to gardening.

The site will contain all the things you would expect to see in a gardening site. For starters, we will have forums, articles, and personal blogs. I am also currently planning a seed and plant trading application, audio interviews with various people in the gardening industry, and photo contests. There will also be all kinds of fun little features that are too numerous to list.

I expect that the members will also request various new features to be created and I will work to provide those things.

The site will be designed to allow individual forums to have moderators that have the power to manage all the posts in that forum, as well as ban individual members from their forum.

Now, because 80% of the communities at Cubits.org are gardening related, I expect that some of the Cubit owners will be desirous to join me in my endeavor. I will be glad to work with them to determine where they may fit in on the new site, and I can copy over any forums, threads, articles and so-forth over to the new site once it is ready.

So, the main message here is twofold:

1) You will soon have a new gardening website that you can visit, and I hope and expect that you will like it and enjoy visiting and interacting with it.

2) If you own a gardening cubit, you have an opportunity to make a decision about your own Cubit, whether you want to continue as you have, or whether you feel the time is right to make a dramatic change by moving the content over to the new site and taking a more limited role in its management.

What about those who like their Cubit and want to keep it? Nothing changes for them. They continue to do things as they always have. I will be continuing to operate Cubits.org as I have for the past 18 months.

Q: Will I ever sell the site?

The short answer is a solid "No". My experiences with selling past sites has been mixed and I am now at a point in my life where I don't ever want to lose the control that you have when you are independent. There are definitely positive aspects to bringing in a larger corporation as a partner. They can provide legal assistance, they pay the bills and provide a regular income with benefits. But the downsides are that you lose control and ultimately you can even lose your job and then you are no longer involved with the site that you built and cared for for many years.

So, I'm wanting to build something that is sustainable for the long term, and I want to pour my energies into something that I know will last for a long time, and I want to be involved from here out. The only way to ensure those goals are met is to decide ahead of time that I'm never going to sell, no matter what.

Q: Isn't Cubits growing?

A: For the first couple months cubits was growing lightning fast but that growth suddenly stopped and hasn't really grown since then. As I said earlier, I believe that much of that is because Cubits is trying to be a gardening site but it wasn't designed to be that.

My hope is that by my creating a new gardening-specific site, that'll relieve some of the gardening overflow on Cubits and let cubits be what cubits is - a diverse collection of various communities stretching across numerous topics.

Q: Will you still make features for Cubits?

I am open to the idea, but I do consider Cubits to be a mostly feature-complete site that doesn't need a lot of continuing development.

I was asked about blogs for individuals. Blogs are a personal level feature that individuals publish. Cubits is a community-oriented site where the features are on a community-level. Things like databases, forums, articles and so-forth. Writing applications that are intended to be used by individuals rather than a community working together is something that Cubits was not designed to handle.

I am planning a user-specific blog feature for the new gardening site but I don't think I'll have one for Cubits because Cubits wasn't designed to have those individual user-specific features.

The people with non-gardening cubits are welcomed and encouraged to stay right where they are and continue to try to drive the growth of their communities. They will continue to receive my support and encouragement and I will continue to develop features for Cubits that are consistent with the original vision of this website.

Q: Will any Cubit owners feel abandoned?

A: If people feel like I'm abandoning them, I can't stop them from feeling that way. My actions (continuing to maintain cubits) will be the only reassurance I can offer those folks.

Q: Will Cubits ever generate revenue for myself and the Cubit owners?

Due to restrictions of how Google allows that to be structured, we have to grow to a certain point of traffic before that will be possible. Among other metrics, we will need to have over 100,000 pageviews per day (of content pages) before we can place ads on Cubits. We currently average around 35,000 pageviews (across the whole site, not just content pages).

I'm not expecting Cubits to make any income at all for the foreseeable future until our traffic quadrupels.

Having said that, Cubit owners are free to explore possibilities of monetizing their cubit on their own.

Q: Will we have a revenue sharing plan for the new site?

A: The short answer is yes, but the longer answer is that this is not set in stone and I'm not certain what kinds of long-term commitments I can make regarding sharing revenue.

The concept of Cubits is that as a cubit owner, you are essentially the owner of your own website. You are responsible for bringing in traffic, prompting visitors to become joined members, managing all content that is contributed, figuring out how to grow your community, and keeping the cubit looking good with nice graphics and various colors.

The new site, on the other hand, places all of these burdens on me. I will be dedicating my full efforts to this project and am expecting to eventually bring in an income for my family. The expectations on any moderators of any forums on the new site are therefore vastly lower than the responsibilities that are inherent with managing a cubit.

I do want to be able to give people an opportunity to generate income for themselves, and I am exploring all kinds of ways that this may happen. I would like to be able to compensate people for writing articles and perhaps even managing areas of the plant database (should we decide to do one).

This is an area that will require a lot of thought going into the future. For now, my higher priority is getting the site launched and getting a member-base built up.

Q: If a Cubit owner decides to move their stuff over to the new site, what happens with all the other sites that are linking to their cubit?

A: I will set it up so that anytime someone moves their stuff over to the new site, all the pages on their cubit will automatically redirect over to the appropriate forum or article copied over to the new site. So all those links pointing to their cubit will still work.

Q: Will stores be a feature of the new site?

That is not currently planned, but I see absolutely no reason why we couldn't one day soon have a stores feature where members can publish items for sale. Until that day, members can certainly maintain a store in a cubit at cubits.org and link to it from their signature line at the new gardening site.

Q: Some Cubits have stores with an active base of customers. What will they do in this new scenario? Will they lose customers?

A: I don't think they'd lose any, in fact I think they have much to gain. I think they would want to be a part of both communities, both at cubits and over at the new gardening site. Having their store linked in their signature line at both sites will continue to drive members to go visit their store here at cubits.

The other thing is that a website devoted to gardening can be awesome. I'm a good programmer and a passionate gardener, and I know that I can produce an outstanding gardening site that will attract a lot more members than we would ever be able to get here at cubits.

So because of that, and because of the store owners' reputation in the community, I think simply being an active member at the gardening site would ultimately hugely benefit your sales in your cubit here at cubits.org.

Q: If you upload our existing threads to your new site, will they also disappear from Cubits?

A: Yes, if you choose to move some or all of the content in your cubit, it will not be copied but actually moved, and then anyone who hits the old pages (via bookmarks or links or whatever) will automatically be redirected over to the new location at the new site.

Q: What do you have in mind for a membership fee for the new site?

A: I have no plans or desires to charge any subscription fees for the new site. I think I can produce sufficient revenue through advertising alone.

Q: Will the ads on the site be tasteful?

A: Of course. They will all be ads that are relevant to gardeners. Sometimes ads slip through that don't belong and I will have the power to disable those specific ads. My desire is to only have ads that I myself would like to see.

Q: What kinds of freedoms will the members of the new site have? Will there be strict rules like I had over at DG?

A: It's true that the new gardening site that I'm going to create is going to be more traditional in that I will reserve for myself the ultimate authority across the entire site. However, I think that the freedom concept on Cubits has worked extremely well and the individual communities have demonstrated a capacity for self-policing well above and beyond what I was expecting. I want to replicate that on my new site.

As I mentioned earlier, my plan is to have the forums be setup so that individuals can take them over as the official admin/moderator of that forum and have full power to edit, manage, ban, and so forth. They would have a badge by their name that appears wherever they post, that identifies them as a Moderator. They would set the tone and the rules for their specific forum and they would enforce those rules.

Q: Would forum moderators have to do their own artwork, banners, forum info boxes and such?

A: There will be a consistent look through the whole site and no forum moderators would have to manage any of that stuff. There will be an opportunity for an infobox along the top of each forum but that's optional and intended to simply to serve as an introduction to the forums.

If some forum moderators wanted more features for their forums I would consider that, of course. One example might be if a certain forum wanted to maintain a FAQ about their subject, then I may write a FAQ system that they can use. But as with any feature like that, they would be optional.

The best and most active forums would likely be simple forums without a lot of features and customizations.

Q: Would there be any self promotion on your new site? For example, all of the different plant vendors that are on Cubits? Would those folks all have to do their promoting over here on Cubits?

And related:

Q: What about religious and political debate? Will those be allowed?

A: I made the rules on DG over 10 years ago when I had to react to a relatively few number of people who were making a big problem for me. Rather than banning them outright (which is what I should have done) I instead made very strict rules and enforced them to the letter.

That made enemies out of people who didn't have to be enemies. And it only prolonged the pain for those people who didn't want to follow the rules yet I didn't ban.

The lesson on cubits is that the majority of people are good decent people and don't need strong fences built around them. I like personal freedom and I've enjoyed giving the cubit owners full power over their domain.

The new site will be similar. The moderators will have full power over their forums. I will, of course, want the site to be relatively clean (my own children visit my sites, too) but I'm not going to enforce it like I did at DG.

Basically, if people are respectful of each other, then we have no problem. When there is a problem, I expect bannings to occur pretty quickly and then things can go back to the calm normal.

I have no problem with religious and political discussion. The problem only comes up when people become uncivil toward each other. But that is the fault of the individual, not the topic. Some people and groups of people are unable to be civil, and for those groups you sometimes have to set rules, but I foresee those on a forum-by-forum basis.

Q: Will you be able to move our existing Databases to the new site? If so...will they remain a separate entity or will they be lost in a new, larger database of plants?

A: I don't have any immediate plans to create a database feature for the new site, so for those Cubits that have a database but they still want everything else copied over, we can do that. You can then leave your original cubit up with just the database feature enabled, and link to it from your forum at the new site.

That doesn't mean that we'll never have this feature at the new site, though. It's quite possible that we will put together a plan to have a large plant database that is sectioned off into areas that are maintained by different people. But that would be a highly ambitious project that I think is better handled once we get the rest of the site matured.

Q: How will the new site differ from DG and the many other Gardening sites out there already?

A: There are many very large and popular websites out there, but they all suffer from a common problem, which is that they are run by non-gardening businessmen and developed by non-gardening programmers.

This is what differentiates me from everyone else, and is a major reason why I have been successful in the gardening community in the past. I listen to my users and develop applications both for my own use and for theirs. This results in an ability to develop websites vastly better than those currently out there.

I believe that my new gardening site will become the best one out there, and the primary reason will be because of the great apps that I will be writing for it.

Q: Is it going to be strictly a gardening site? or can non-gardening Cubits make the move too? Will the new site be strictly about gardening or will it stretch out to cover the many subjects that DG covers from Apartment Living to Woodworking A to Z.

A: It is difficult to predict the future, so I hesitate to make a firm statement that it will be dedicated exclusively to gardening.

The reason why I added so many non-gardening forums to DG was that the members wanted it. And I plan to be equally responsive to the members of my new site.

Having said that, my desire is to set the tone on the site as a very serious gardening site, and electrical repair isn't very gardening-related. I don't expect we will delve too deeply into the non-gardening aspects of life.

Besides, if someone wants to form a community around woodworking, that is exactly what Cubits.org was designed to accommodate!

Q: Will there be co-ops allowed on the new site?

I absolutely see the value of co-ops. I participate in them myself quite frequently, and I hope and expect to have them at the new site. Mamajack does a great job with her co-ops, and I believe that we can accommodate her as well as anybody else who would like to host co-ops.

As always, it'll be "caveat emptor" and I'm not planning on having a lot of rules surrounding co-ops.

Q: Since such a large percentage of Cubits are garden related, traffic here will be greatly impacted if they all migrate to the new site. What can be done to encourage the other 20 percent to stick around and continue to make Cubits grow?

A: Without knowing the future, I don't know what will happen, however I do think that there is a strong possibility that without such a top-heavy focus on gardening, Cubits will be able to flourish under the design that I originally made it for.

Something else to consider is that Cubits was designed to be a series of self-sufficient standalone communities. That was the design. So if one cubit exists and is successful, then that is a success even if it means that the site itself isn't bringing in huge numbers.

Q: If I move a cubit over that also contains private forums to the new site, what happens to those private forums?

I am planning on a "private forums" feature on the new site, where any member can create a private forum that they then can invite and permit only certain members to have access to.

The private forums in that cubit, then, can either stay where they are, or you can create private forums at the new site and I can move your threads into that private forum.

Q: Are the areas/forums going to be "owned/run" by individuals like Cubits, or will there only be moderators? If this is indeed a gardening-only site, is anyone going to be able to start their own area/forum, or will there be some type of request process to create a new one?

I will be the "owner" of the site and will operate and be ultimately responsible for everything that happens. Within each forum, if there is a moderator of that forum, then the moderator has the power over what happens there. They will be able to edit, delete, and ban people from that forum, etc.

This is an important distinction between Cubits and the new site. On Cubits you are considered the owner of a self-maintaining community. On the new site, you are a member who also has an opportunity to be a moderator of an area.

Nobody can create their own public forum, but I'll be happy to create any forums that are desired by you and the other members.

Q: Can an owner of a cubit have the information in both domains? Or is it one way or the other?

It'll be one way or the other. They will be two separate sites and you'll be able to decide where you want to post stuff.
[Last edited Jul 7, 2011 9:57 AM CST]
Quote | Post #710398 (1)
mamajack
Jul 5, 2011 9:49 AM CST
Name: barb allison
Fate, Texas zone 8a
you never cease to amaze me davey boy. now i have to decide which way to go. Big Grin

i get that i can stay here on cubits. and it would be ok. but tell me something................do you foresee something wonderful that you are going to create for co-ops on the new site?

i love it that you make me think. keep up the good work dave. I tip my hat to you.
Imagedave
Jul 5, 2011 9:53 AM CST
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas
Resident cubit-master
Barb,

As I mentioned above, I love co-ops and you know that we can't resist them. Big Grin I'm all for doing "something special" with co-ops on the new site, but I don't have any ideas at the time but I am certainly willing to listen to your ideas and implement the ones that are feasible!
Imagevalleylynn
Jul 5, 2011 9:54 AM CST
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR zone 8
What is a gardening site without co-ops? Big Grin
Imagebitbit
Jul 5, 2011 9:56 AM CST
Name: bit
Eastern VA and NC
Zone 7b/8a
Thank you for keeping us all posted. I'm a fairly new Cubit-er, and don't know yet if I'd want to move my Cubit or not, but I really appreciate being kept abreast of these developments.
ImageKim
Jul 5, 2011 10:17 AM CST
Name: Kim
Pennsylvania
Very Well written and I support any endeavor you decide to do Dave. I actually have been thinking about closing my cubit. All for the same reasons you mentioned above. I believe since 80% of us are doing the same thing... with having gardening cubits we should just collaborate I tip my hat to you.
Imagestarlight1153
Jul 5, 2011 10:25 AM CST
Name: starlight1153 Zone 8a/b
AL.
Quoting:Q: Can an owner of a cubit have the information in both domains? Or is it one way or the other?

It'll be one way or the other. They will be two separate sites and you'll be able to decide where you want to post stuff.


I am sure somebody else may be thinking this, so I'll ask. What about folks who are not sure if they want to move everything to the new site from their cubit. Can they have only certain parts/forums and information moved to say contribute to the new site, but still maintain their cubit until they fully decide which way they want to go? I can understand not having folks come here and read something and than go to the new site and find the exact same information copied and pasted there.

Some folks have cubits that have garden related stuff, but they also have different areas of interest, so will they be able to move what they want to the new site and keep what they want in their cubit to see if maybe they can develop those other areas?
ImageTrish
Jul 5, 2011 10:27 AM CST
Name: Trish Whitinger
Jacksonville, TX
Helper and Wife of the Cubit Master
Kim-

The quote "The sum of the parts is greater than the whole" kept creeping into our thoughts months ago when we were taking a hard look at the numbers.

Certainly the synergy created when a group of people who are focused on the same idea come together is hard to beat!!
My little spot
NOW SHIPPING: soy candles, mango body butter, and peppermint foot cream
Imagedave
Jul 5, 2011 10:30 AM CST
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas
Resident cubit-master
starlight1153, yes, an owner of a cubit can choose to transfer some or all of their cubit's stuff over. If you have some forums you want to keep, but want to move over some other forums, that'll work perfectly fine. It's not an "all or nothing" thing.
ImageKim
Jul 5, 2011 10:33 AM CST
Name: Kim
Pennsylvania
I think it's a wonderful and will be a Prosperous Venture Big Grin
ImageAguane
Jul 5, 2011 11:22 AM CST
Name: Susie
Phoenix AZ
Oh goodie! I'm anxious to see Dave and Trish build a new site! Lovey dubby Love your entrepreneurial nature! AND, one must be flexible in this world and economy to be successful!

1. "Gardening" has everything to do with "eating" = "Recipes"????? Whistling

2. Will you have a "app" for Gardeners International??? or whatever you will call the new site? Angel

3. You'll keep the "smilies", right? Big Grin
"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." --Albert Einstein
~ All Things Plants, SOUTHWEST GARDENING ~Cubits.org ENERGY & POWER
[Last edited Jul 5, 2011 11:41 AM CST]
Quote | Post #710508 (11)
ImageTrish
Jul 5, 2011 11:36 AM CST
Name: Trish Whitinger
Jacksonville, TX
Helper and Wife of the Cubit Master
Dave doesn't program in Apple. (seriously, they have their own programming language)

yes smilies!!!

I'll let Dave answer the forums question :)
My little spot
NOW SHIPPING: soy candles, mango body butter, and peppermint foot cream
ImageBoopaints
Jul 5, 2011 11:43 AM CST
Name: Becky Capps
Phoenix, AZ 85022
finding joy one day at a time!
Excitement is building...and I can't wait. YES, please bring all the smilies over!

Okay, Dave: I own the Purslane cubit here. Its not taken off much. Can I leave it here and be a moderator for the new site and start all over, adding the same photos? Or is it better to just send it over to the new site?

Happy Dancing for you and Trish!
Imagedave
Jul 5, 2011 11:54 AM CST
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas
Resident cubit-master
Boopaints wrote:Okay, Dave: I own the Purslane cubit here. Its not taken off much. Can I leave it here and be a moderator for the new site and start all over, adding the same photos? Or is it better to just send it over to the new site?


Whichever you prefer. It's going to be pretty easy for me to move stuff over (I have written scripts to make the process much easier for me) so I can do whichever you like.

Aguane wrote:1. "Gardening" has everything to do with "eating" = "Recipes"????? Whistling


I'm pretty keen on keeping the site dedicated to gardening. I know there is some overlap between cooking and canning and gardening, but I'm not ready to make a cooking forum. Folks can still come to Cubits for those kinds of things. :)
ImageAguane
Jul 5, 2011 11:56 AM CST
Name: Susie
Phoenix AZ
Ah! Thanks, Dave. Just thought I'd throw that thought out to ya. Definitely secures the direction you're thinking toward.
"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." --Albert Einstein
~ All Things Plants, SOUTHWEST GARDENING ~Cubits.org ENERGY & POWER
ImageCalif_Sue
Jul 5, 2011 11:57 AM CST

Cubits.org Site Admin

Name: Suzanne/Sue
Sebastopol, CA.
Zone 9a
Ohh, the Mamjack co-ops and smilies, gotta have those!!

This is soooo exciting and certainly happier news than the stress of that 18 months ago (has it really been that long?!!)
ImageSharon
Jul 5, 2011 12:00 PM CST
Name: Sharon
Kentucky
Can we spread the word???

Publish on FB?
Tell our Cubit members?
Shout it from the roof tops?

Exciting news needs to be shared.
[Last edited Jul 5, 2011 12:03 PM CST]
Quote | Post #710533 (17)
Imagedave
Jul 5, 2011 12:11 PM CST
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas
Resident cubit-master
Starting tomorrow you can. I would request that you not give out the web address, though, until after I have finished it and it is "launched". :)
ImageSharon
Jul 5, 2011 12:14 PM CST
Name: Sharon
Kentucky
Thanks, Dave!
ImageTrish
Jul 5, 2011 12:15 PM CST
Name: Trish Whitinger
Jacksonville, TX
Helper and Wife of the Cubit Master
Sharon,

What you can do is to make sure your Cubit members know about the settlement post here:
http://cubits.org/cubits/thread/view/59944/

My little spot
NOW SHIPPING: soy candles, mango body butter, and peppermint foot cream

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