The future of Life After Mormonism hangs in the balance: Feedback Needed

Up until now, my expenses for running Life After Mormonism has been about $5 per month plus domain registration once per year at about $50, totaling about $110 per year.  Starting in July, Ning (networking host) will be raising the monthly cost to $19.95 per month ($199 per year if paid in a lump sum) which will increase my costs to about $250-$290 per year.  While $19.95 isn't that much of a monthly expense for web hosting, it does squeeze this single income family of 5's budget enough to raise the questions below.  So let's get to the feedback portion.

My question to you all is, does "Life After Mormonism" provide a unique enough experience to the Ex-Mormon online world to merit its continuance?  If you answer in the affirmative, is it unique enough that you would be willing to donate $0.50 to $5.00 to help share the load?

Here's an overview of features I believe to be unique to LAM in the Ex-Mormon online world(excluding some of the facebook groups perhaps):
  • Customizable Profiles 
  • Friends list
  • Private (except for the main page)
  • User privacy settings (hide your profile from all users except friends etc)
  • User Search by location, age, name, gender, relationship status (makes finding other exmos in your area easier)
  • Post/embed videos
  • Post photo albums/make slideshows
  • Events Calendar with RSVP
  • 24/7 Live Group and Private Chat
  • Threaded Forum Discussions
  • User Blogs
  • Twitter/Facebook friendly (post to twitter/facebook from LAM)
  • User managed Groups (Exmo & Single, PNW'ers, SLC Postmos etc)
  • Birthdays in Calendar
Aside from these uniquenesses, the increased costs will be beneficial in that the google ads will no longer appear and neither will the Ning branding at the top.  Further enhancements will also likely come about due to these changes at Ning.  You can review the new Ning pricing/plans for services here: http://about.ning.com/announcement/plans.php

Again, please post whether you think LAM fills a unique niche in the Ex-Mormon online world, maybe explain that answer, and whether you think it is unique and worthy of donations (even if you're not currently in a position to donate etc).  The pricing/plan changes don't become available or enforced until July so we have some time to think this through and then raise some money depending on what feedback this discussion results in.

Regardless of where this all ends, I want to thank each of you for your participation and for being a member of this community.

Sincerely,

Micah

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Micah,

Although I participate very little here, I think that we should do all we can to keep it going -- the exmo community needs a variety of places to communicate and connect. I will be more than happy to help with the costs, and I'm guessing most people here would also. I think it would be appropriate to ask for $10 from everyone who wants to see your site continue.

Sue
If you don't feel comfortable answering here, you can also message me your thoughts (click "Send Message" on my Profile page).
Micah, We all know you aren't in it for the cash. Set up a pay pal account ask folks for a ten dollar donation. That's totally fair.

This is a good site.
I like this idea. Set up a paypal account. I'd chip in a few bucks a year. If 20 of us chip in $10, we're there. I don't make much use of the profiles, but I do love the secure access to the chatroom. I don't know of other hosts who have that feature AND charge less.
Mustering as much seriousness as I can (I think you know how difficult that is for me), my suggestion would be to find some other format. I don't think I take much advantage of the social networking features of this site and use it essentially as a discussion board. So, profiles, connections to Facebook/Twitter, birthdays, friends lists, etc, and most of the other stuff I don't personally use. I do visit the Friday night chat regularly, and I post videos, but those are basically links to YouTube videos, and I've never uploaded a video directly here that I didn't also put on YouTube.

I also belong to another group that uses IP.Board by Invision Power to host a community that has what sounds to me like similar features, and I think it is somewhat less expensive. But, again, even there, I mostly take advantage of the discussion forums.

I'd hate to see Life After Mormonism go away altogether, but in the face of spending more money on it, maybe there would be an option to figure out the most used features and look for a way to provide those services without increased cost.
That is certainly a viable option too Flat Lander. That's why I am looking for feedback now as I'll have to look into a migration path to another site if that is seen as a cheaper path. As social networking sites go, Ning is generally accepted as one of the easiest and most feature rich products out there. My worry with migrating to a different vendor is whether any users will get lost in the transition etc. But let's keep this option on the table for discussion purposes for now.
The domain is registered with someone else so regardless of which host we stick with, the URL will stay the same (exmormononline.net).
Micah, disculpa; escribo este mensaje en español porque no tengo demasiado tiempo y estoy en el trabajo; lo traduciré luego con google.

Yo también pienso que este lugar debe permanecer; mucha gente ha encontrado aquí un buen lugar de encuentro y, lo que es más importante, permite mantener una privacidad a los miembros que otros lugares no permiten. Por tanto, me ofrezco a colaborar con dinero. Ceunta conmigo. Lo que me gustaría saber es cuándo habré de hacer el pago y si puedo hacerlo a través de tarjeta de crédito. La verdad es que nunca he usado Pay Pal, pero si decides hacerlo así supongo que todo es empezar. También podría hacerse con una transferencia bancaria, no?.



Un abrazo.

Micah, sorry, I write this message in Spanish because I haven't too much time and I'm at work, then I'll translate it with google.

I also think that this place should remain, many people have found here a good meeting place and, more importantly, this place keep members privacy than other places do not allow. So I offer to contribute with my money. What I would like to know is when I shall make the payment and if I can do that with a credit card. The truth is that I have never used Pay Pal, but if you decide to do so I suppose everything is started. Could also be done by bank transfer, no?.
Hugs.
I agree that it is important to keep the site running. I'm more than willing to contribute to help it do so and will send you my little bit from Canada if you tell me how to do it (i.e. a snail mail address?).

Jeanine
Does Godaddy have a social network product/platform? Ning is not only the host, but they are the programmers for the site layout/code just as you see it.
Mike, you might check this app out : http://www.elgg.org/
I would be willing to chip in. I think the site is important.

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