01 May 2016 marked Swapfig's third birthday, and we're wondering where the time has gone. It's a significant milestone, along with over 10,000 items traded through the site - all coming from what used to be an experiment.
So what better way to celebrate both achievements than by... complaining. There were no "happy birthdays", nor any acknowledgement on social media, on May 1st: the only peep we'd heard from anybody on the day was some form of complaint.
Complaining in itself isn't a bad thing: significant problems were brought to our attention as a result, and we've been able to address them. But here at Swapfig, we've seen that the results match the studies: people are 3-15 times more likely to spread bad news than good, and use 3-25 times more words in doing so.
Cooler heads have prevailed, and we've avoided turning this series of posts into a full scale rant. We realise our focus and attention should be on people who actually support Swapfig, because they are the site's future.
With that said, please give us a moment to address something that's gotten on our nerves.
"You're running a business"
Along with the hours (and we mean hours) of work, we've had to deal with opposition from those whom, for all intents and purposes, don't contribute anything to the LEGO community. Our personal favourite was the "logo is horrible" smear on Brickset, but we've also had threats to badmouth the site, threats to leave, as well as a few personal attacks. One person (who at one point had 10,000 supporters) wanted to call us "weird". All this means is we must be doing something right, otherwise we'd be ignored.
Those things are part and parcel of running a successful site, but by far our biggest concern is with entitlement, best summed up by a shaming tactic used against us a few times: "you're running a business".
When someone tries to shame you by saying "you're running a business", they're in no uncertain terms telling you:
"You do what I want for free, and I get it for free."
When we've had complaints to (and about) us for running crowdfunding campaigns, having ad banners on the site, and our request for a donation when they block those ads, the underlying sentiment is that Swapfig isn't supposed to make any money at all. We've heard that's not a great way to run a "business".
Those people know who they are (and will never admit it), and we can't stop them using the site, but we think they would make Swapfig and the LEGO community a whole lot better by disappearing.
Something has to give.
Although we've enjoyed building and running Swapfig, even when things have gone wrong, it's become more of a burden. It's gotten in the way of other hobbies and activities, with last year's rebuild in particular putting other endeavours in jeopardy.
Please don't take any of this series of posts as a call for donations. In fact, someone pointed out a few weeks ago: people who feel entitled to use Swapfig (despite violating our first House Rule) aren't going to contribute anything, no matter how or how often we ask.
Realising that something will eventually have to give, we've identified six possible options for Swapfig's future. Stay tuned for Part 2, where we'll go over those options.