In the previous part, we identified six possible paths we could take concerning Swapfig's future, in light of the belief that we shouldn't make a dime. Over the last month, while we've been dealing with a bunch of things, we've had a long and hard think about all of the options, eventually coming to a decision.
If you thought we'd go for the first option - to shut Swapfig down for good - you was wrong!
In all seriousness: you have no idea how close we've come to going down this road, and how many times we've been tempted to push the proverbial red button. What's saved the site every time has been the testimonials we've received and the appreciation we've had, which usually comes when we want it most. We like making a [good] difference, even if it's a small one.
Option two - to charge people to use Swapfig - would have been incredibly risky. In hindsight, the best time to introduce subscriptions is when a site is first launched; and any kind of subscription model introduced now would be met with adversity. On the other hand, depending on how big the site gets, it may be a viable option in the future.
We're also not sorry to announce that option three - removing the ads and relying on donations - was never on the cards to begin with. If we think we've been getting grief now, it would only have multiplied if we'd even considered it.
We chose option four - and five.
The first choice was the most obvious, and it shouldn't really come as any surprise: to prioritise people who've donated to Swapfig over those who haven't/won't. It was the only decision that would lead to a win/win/win situation in our view, and we think that's more important than most other things.
What might be a little more surprising is our embrace of option five: to invest less time in Swapfig, at least for the time being, to focus on other endeavours. We're a living testament to the fact that working hard, and putting in thousands of hours of development, is a losing strategy - more hours in front of a computer does not mean more productivity.
How are we going to achieve this?
You might have noticed - but probably didn't - our brand new Suggestions page. We think this is a great place to start for engaging people who actually use Swapfig, whether donors or not, in terms of where the site should go in the future.
There's more information about Suggestions on the page, but the short version of the story is: we can spend time developing things actual users want, but [hopefully] have enough time on our end for other things. We've started the ball rolling with a bunch of our own suggestions, and we're going to be opening things up for Swapfig users to submit their own on 01 July.
Zero-tolerance toward "trolls".
We like being silly as much as anybody, and we've played the occasional practical joke. But in the last couple of months, a bunch of people have engaged in what we call "trolling" (in a bad way), whether as a result of the Brickset post or this news series. Along with posing as spokespeople, deliberately going off-topic and refusing to check our FAQs, some have gone as far as trying to order us around.
Whether it's a different story elsewhere in the online LEGO community, Swapfig was founded on the idea of respect, despite or irrespective of people's differences. It's even part of our House Rules.
We don't want these "trolls" on Swapfig, particularly as they tend to make very bad traders. Unfortunately it would take more effort than they're worth to keep them away, so we're going to do the next best thing.
Swapfig was a simple experiment that became something much bigger than ourselves. Our mission was to reintroduce trading/swapping as an alternative to buying and selling, and that's one reason it's still going to be free to use.
We don't have a problem with people who choose not to donate - after all, they're called donations. Our problem is with those who refuse to donate - or contribute anything - but want to dictate how we run the site. You know: the people who only show up to complain.
We want to say thank you to those who haven't been "trolling", and a huge thank you to those who have donated. Please remember: we might ask for donations, but the only ones we're interested in are the ones you want to give.