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View Full Version : (open discussion) State of BL 2011 (Ownership, Finances, Direction)



TheLoveBandit
27-05-2011, 21:59
Friends, members, lurkers, and staff, here is the state of BL as of 2011:

Due to member donations and partnerships on research studies, the site was able to meet it's debt for 2010 by late January. Then our focus turned to a new contract for 2011 with our host, and for us a new management. We extend our thanks and appreciation to johnboy for all he's done for the site over the years and wish him well in his future endeavors with Enlighten and PillReports.com (for now we continue to host their discussion forums for them).

Ownership
As we enter 2011, we are moving the site under new management, which to a large degree is no real change for site operations or user experience. The principals behind the new ownership are Sebastians_Ghost and TheLoveBandit. Our intent is that the site continues to be governed by the admin team who make the policies and manage site evolution, while these two principals tend to the off-line or behind-the-scenes work of keeping the site afloat such as handling donations, server payments, hardware or software upgrades (with the engineers), public relations with research and the harm reduction community globally. The point here is that all your day to day concerns with staff or forum functionality should continue to be directed as it always has been, to your mods and sr. staff, with the admin holding the collective responsibility for these areas. Meanwhile, concerns over who is legally responsible for the site and charged with the handling of monies is in the hands of these two principles under the advisement of a larger team. This board of advisers will be comprised of the principals, the admin group, and the engineers for now. We'll take a moment here to also point out chr1.5 and thank him for agreeing to comeback on staff as an engineer to work with hoptis on the technical side of things. Those wondering who he is, and if he can be trusted, ought take a look in the "Thank You Staff" of BoBL for his background ;)

Financial
We are keeping our servers in the Netherlands under a new contract which has provided us improved hardware and lower billing. Under the new arrangement we owe our host 1050 euro per quarter. Between the Inflexxion survey and our member donations, we managed to pay not only for Q1 of 2011, but also Q2 while having a little in the bank to be ready for Q3 when the time comes. Our donation bar and web page have been updated accordingly.

Going forward, we've stripped out the donation methods tied to johnboy and enlighten, and are working to implement new payment systems. We hope to have these available to you soon, and you'll see this thread updated when these become available. We are fortunate to have the luxury of some time in getting this addressed.

While we hope to have member donations available again soon, we would like to share that we have secured a contract with Inflexxion to run several more surveys over the course of the year for set amounts which will help with our hosting needs. As mentioned in the earlier version of the SUPPORT donations thread, we'd rather not specify how much they give so as to not influence our negotiations for other research opportunities. Every bit of money helps, but we also will remain loyal to our membership by not selling out, and remaining sensitive to the frequency of survey's being run (we wouldn't want to fatigue the members in this way).

As donation methods become available, you can access them on our DONATIONS page (http://www.bluelight.ru/vb/bl-donate.php?c=nav)

So What's the Big Picture?
Someone was wise enough to ask


What exactly is the goal for Bluelight?

Are we trying to maintain and enhance the current system we have, a discussion community based around HR?

Are we going the "legitimate" (non-profit?) HR route, where we publish HR material online and perhaps even IRL, among other things?

To answer the question, we say "both."

You could read back to the the FAQ (http://wiki.bluelight.ru/index.php/Bluelight_FAQ) on what we are, and that's still the main goal - building unbiased information about drug use and sharing it with the worldwide community. We're seeing two branches where this can be addressed - one is supporting research that can lead to recognizable facts about drug use beyond bias. The other is to continue the current system of a discussion community, but enabling it to act on the ideas that have been raised.

Legal policy is not the agenda, never has been and shouldn't be now either. We want to be the best we can at gathering this information, getting it into a factual context, and getting it available to everyone. Becoming legitimate, this will help our goals so we can seek to be cited in research work (this draws more our way, both researchers AND people wanting the facts) and can be done also by providing a reference point for people wanting the anecdotal the published or both.


Other
We'd like to thank you all once again for your past support for the site in terms of research participation, monetary donations, and general site content with the support you all provide for one another in our many forums. We look forward to the change in management which should energize the site with direction and purpose, creating opportunities for learning, sharing, and bonding with many more members while keeping our home the cozy community that so many of us have grown to love. We'll keep you updated with our financial situation, our plans for growth, as well as where you fit into all we've got going on. Thank you, and we'll see you for a long time to come! <3 :D

TheLoveBandit
27-05-2011, 22:11
This SUPPORT thread is intended to be for discussion over the course of the year for any of the material referenced above. For those with donation ideas, please give a read to last year's thread (Donations Discussion thread (http://www.bluelight.ru/vb/showthread.php?t=367195)) to see if it has been suggested, and what response it garnered then.


We will continue to give public ANNOUNCEMENT on plans for our upgrades as we get closer to realizing them. For now, we're still completing the pruning process of the database in preparation for this endeavor (Spring Cleaning 2010 and 2011 - down under style (http://www.bluelight.ru/vb/showthread.php?p=9682336)).

Any updates to our financial situation will be mentioned here, and we intend to keep a public ledger of expenses for the sake of transparency on our DONATIONS (http://www.bluelight.ru/vb/bl-donate.php?c=nav) page along with monthly updates on the donation bar progress towards our needs. This will keep our members informed of what we intend to spend money on, as well as how much more may be needed from donations and survey compensation.

Lastly, SG and I are struggling for proper titles. He has none for now, while I'm still acting as an admin to a large degree (and will do so for the foreseeable future). Any suggestions are welcome ;)

Coolio
28-05-2011, 01:24
Bluelight should get someone to manufacture old EZ Test Extreme style reagent test kits and sell them to raise funds for the site.

Damien
28-05-2011, 01:33
Thanks for the update and Welcome back Chr15! :)

amapola
28-05-2011, 01:55
Lastly, SG and I are struggling for proper titles. He has none for now, while I'm still acting as an admin to a large degree (and will do so for the foreseeable future). Any suggestions are welcome
Assuming you want to be taken seriously (though that may be a bit of a stretch ;)), I think Director would be nice. On the staff contact sheet you could then have Director of...and list each of your individual areas of responsibility (assuming they are divided). I understand that you'll probably be working together closely but this better defines who to first refer to for what even if there is overlap. Furthermore it provides room for growth if you want to add someone at that echelon with more limited specific duties without giving them an all inclusive Overlord-type title.

Director of producing nudie paraphenalia for example :)

Chaos Butterfly
28-05-2011, 04:36
Thanks for all your hard work behind the scenes TLB :) I'm really glad to see this update, and also to see how much better we are doing now.

Sincere thanks for everything you do mate :)

CB :)

kaywholed
28-05-2011, 04:41
Can I buy shares?

Raw Evil
28-05-2011, 05:56
So what happened with AlertPay? Did they use the same BS excuse as PayPal?

Cutless
28-05-2011, 07:39
Assuming you want to be taken seriously (though that may be a bit of a stretch ;)), I think Director would be nice. On the staff contact sheet you could then have Director of...and list each of your individual areas of responsibility (assuming they are divided). I understand that you'll probably be working together closely but this better defines who to first refer to for what even if there is overlap. Furthermore it provides room for growth if you want to add someone at that echelon with more limited specific duties without giving them an all inclusive Overlord-type title.

Director of producing nudie paraphenalia for example :)

Not sure why reading that made me think of what I'm about to propose, but it did. :? How about adding a liaison position? For staff from other forums, sites, etc. It may do well to create inter-community cooperation and speed up the information flow. Just a thought. 8)

modern buddha
30-05-2011, 06:08
TLB, you're awesome. Thank you for your continued support of our growing community!

I also approve of the idea of a "Director" position for each handling that is done for Bluelight. Something almost like having a president, vice president, treasurer and secretary. Each director handles different portions of the overall management.

theotherside
30-05-2011, 06:11
I also think the term director would be a solid choice. Director of Operations has a nice ring to it. Director of Finance for the financial person. just bouncing ideas off of ama and others.
Thanks for the update.

Captain.Heroin
30-05-2011, 18:48
Can I buy shares?

If it was a company I don't think it would be publicly traded, to be honest.

I don't believe Bluelight is a company though.

Infinite Jest
30-05-2011, 18:59
I'm glad to see this information out here :); it used to bug the hell out of me that it wasn't clear who actually owned Bluelight.

Maybe you guys should be 'Owners' - it seems to carry a clearer statement of responsibility than 'Director' - with the latter, I'd be wondering whether a Director was higher than an Admin, or not.

Good news about the funding, reminds me I should donate.

kaywholed
30-05-2011, 19:40
If it was a company I don't think it would be publicly traded, to be honest.

I don't believe Bluelight is a company though.

It doesn't need to be public for shares to be issued and sold.

Sebastians_ghost
04-06-2011, 09:16
Although I'm enjoying the lack of a title for the time being (minimalism can be so mysteriously sexy, can't it?) I think TLB and I may have had a breakthrough tonight talking on the phone. What do people think of this:


TheLoveBandit
Co-owner
Director of Ones



Sebastians_Ghost
Co-owner
Director of Zeros



In this way, both TLB and I convey our principal ownership in the organization as well as the duality and reciprocal nature of our roles. He is facing inwards, overseeing internal politics/tech issues/human resources, whereas I am facing outwards overseeing financials/PR/research. I also like the geeky binary reference, which is certainly an intrinsic part of the Bluelight culture. (It also keeps us from sounding too pretentious or too big for our britches!) ;)

These roles and descriptions would not be exclusive or inclusive by any means. As a matter of fact, I think he would agree that he and I work particularly well on things together (a welcome benefit) and enjoy getting input on important matters from each other. However, some things such as Admin and Moderator oversight would be best left to him, and legal issues would tend more to be more my cup of tea. Furthermore, I know that he also wants to be involved with research, and that I may at some point have input regarding tweaks or upgrades to our software. As you can see, we definitely see the importance of remaining flexible, with the ultimate goal of ensuring that STUFF GETS DONE. :)

Anyway, please let us know what you think, and thanks as always for everyone's hard work!

Best,

SG

purple_cloud
04-06-2011, 10:05
I really like the sound of Co-owner + binary director idea. Someone mentioned "director" alone may lead the Bler to wonder whether or not it's higher than moderator, but a title like that certainly displays both ownership and the fact that you generally have different responsibilities but are working together perfectly as a team. Just an opinion :)

Enki
04-06-2011, 10:42
Proprietor instead of owner perhaps. Maybe not.

Grand Poobah is straight out because whether taken from The Mikado or The Flinstones it would seem like you don't take titles very seriously. Boss is simple and authority laden. Boss and then Grand Poobah would seem like yes we are the law but we are not taking ourselves all that seriously.

lovelyavacado
05-06-2011, 13:58
TheLoveBandit
Co-owner
Director of Ones



Sebastians_Ghost
Co-owner
Director of Zeros

i love those titles, i say go for it. i also love mysteriously sexy, though.

but in all seriousness, us BL'ers are just a bunch of druggie nerds, so the binary reference is perfect, and demonstrates the partnership you guys have goin'. also, co-owner is clear as a bell as far as distinguishing your roles from regular admins, etc.

anyway, these are by far my favorite titles suggested, and you guys came up with them "all by yourselves"!! brilliant.

lostNfound
05-06-2011, 14:16
Although I'm enjoying the lack of a title for the time being (minimalism can be so mysteriously sexy, can't it?) I think TLB and I may have had a breakthrough tonight talking on the phone. What do people think of this:


TheLoveBandit
Co-owner
Director of Ones



Sebastians_Ghost
Co-owner
Director of Zeros



In this way, both TLB and I convey our principal ownership in the organization as well as the duality and reciprocal nature of our roles. He is facing inwards, overseeing internal politics/tech issues/human resources, whereas I am facing outwards overseeing financials/PR/research. I also like the geeky binary reference, which is certainly an intrinsic part of the Bluelight culture. (It also keeps us from sounding too pretentious or too big for our britches!) ;)

These roles and descriptions would not be exclusive or inclusive by any means. As a matter of fact, I think he would agree that he and I work particularly well on things together (a welcome benefit) and enjoy getting input on important matters from each other. However, some things such as Admin and Moderator oversight would be best left to him, and legal issues would tend more to be more my cup of tea. Furthermore, I know that he also wants to be involved with research, and that I may at some point have input regarding tweaks or upgrades to our software. As you can see, we definitely see the importance of remaining flexible, with the ultimate goal of ensuring that STUFF GETS DONE. :)

Anyway, please let us know what you think, and thanks as always for everyone's hard work!

Best,

SG


I think these titles are more than apt.

I'm glad to hear you two do work ell together, it's important that you both have defined roles and know what each others strengths & weaknesses are in terms of running the site.

SG, all you do goes largely unnoticed working behind the scenes so thanks for all that you do do.

TLB - thanks for the update and thank you also.

Simon12
06-06-2011, 07:31
I would be glad to make an (unfortunately small) donation to help keep this site running.
I am almost ballsy enough to think of Paypal. Is law enforcement really interested in me and my happy "flutters" with the poppy?

Enki
06-06-2011, 07:50
Thanks for your interest and willingness to donate Simon12. Paypal has turned down working with us before by my recollection. Many mainstream avenues have been tried in the past and turned out unusable. Maybe new management and fresh approaches could possibly lead to different results.

I don't think most LE are opposed to or all that interested in a Harm Reduction website but we have a hard time even convincing some members that we are more of an HR venture than a drug venture. Potential partners on processing donations might not even be able to conceive of a difference between an HR website and a drug website. Lots of education on many fronts might dispell some of the not uncomprehehensible frequent first impression that we are a druggie forum.

Sebastians_ghost
06-06-2011, 11:10
Thanks for your interest and willingness to donate Simon12. Paypal has turned down working with us before by my recollection. Many mainstream avenues have been tried in the past and turned out unusable. Maybe new management and fresh approaches could possibly lead to different results.

I don't think most LE are opposed to or all that interested in a Harm Reduction website but we have a hard time even convincing some members that we are more of an HR venture than a drug venture. Potential partners on processing donations might not even be able to conceive of a difference between an HR website and a drug website. Lots of education on many fronts might dispell some of the not uncomprehehensible frequent first impression that we are a druggie forum.



We hope to have this issues sorted out in the near future. :)

Skateboarding
07-06-2011, 10:57
Love this site. Had some run in's with some mods in the past but everything is good, it was mostly because I'm very blunt and thought a mod was being a prick when he was actually just doing what he was supposed too lol. (my bad and sorry which ever Mod that was lol) .


Anyway, I'd really like to help Bluelight stay alive and I'm sure the monthly/yearly cost of keeping it up isn't exactly cheap.

Before donating I do have a couple questions.

1. If I was to submit a large donation in excess of over $5,000.00 (five thousand U.S. dollars) how much of that would be going directly to keeping bluelight alive (the servers up- and the website not shut down?)

2. Not sure if Bluelight does this- haven't really heard anything about it, but does bluelight recognize people by making a post about them thanking them for the donation, send them a shirt , etc. for members who donate a large amount ? (I'd love a bluelight t-shirt LOL, a post thanking me would be nice too lol)

3. Is there a maximum donation amount bluelight is willing to accept? (Some websites will not accept donations largers then a few thousand.)



Thanks, look forward to contributing to BL to keep the site going for as long as possible.

-Skateboard (Aka Ryan)

TheLoveBandit
07-06-2011, 15:02
Merged.

For a really good picture on how we operate (in terms of donations, rewards and thank-yous, etc) you can see our older thread where a lot of this was covered - (Donations Discussion thread (http://www.bluelight.ru/vb/showthread.php?t=367195)).

To answer your questions quickly and directly:
1. ALL of it goes to BL. All of it.
2. We have hopes of an opt-in Thank Yous system, but will need to wait until after our upgrade.
3. No maximum on donations. Though, as noted in the beginning of this thread, we're still working out the 'how' of getting those donations brought in and banked.

Stay tuned...and welcome back?

Skateboarding
07-06-2011, 17:15
Thanks for answering, quickly at that.

will def stay updated- and thank you.

jspun
10-06-2011, 23:37
How does having a mechanism for making anonymous cash donations in place sound. As for governance- I think their should be a board of trustees. I know the server is based in Holland and the site is registered in Russia, but does the sites governing body or owner reside in a particular place or is correspondace decentralized- occuring through electronic means? But anyway, as mentioned previously a chairman, director of operations, dir of fundraising/community oureach/public relations, treasurer, secreatary, ect... a paid office manager might be a good idea. However, if Bluelight, policy decisions should be made by the bluelight community as a whole. God willing, maybe annual conventions or coventions every other year where elected repressentatives, maybe one from each region- dividing the world into several regions- or maybe even have a convention of mods/ admins because establishing residency would be problematic. I feel that we should have some kind of elected representation, were membership is the criteria to vote. The delegates can then vote for a board of directors responsible for the day operations and management and more importantly have the authority delegated to them to make descisions without having to consult the delegates or the People of the bluelight community.

Enki
11-06-2011, 00:03
Community as a whole is an interesting concept. Is someone with 3 posts in September 2007 going to get an equal vote with people who are here day in day out? Are people who post meme photos going to be accorded an equal voice with people who contribute to FAQs on drug safety?

Would we end up with a campaign season and a get out the vote type of thing?

Does anyone have any examples of forums/web communities that have survived for a few years as a representative democracies so we can gauge pitfalls and benefits?

I tend to think it would be a disaster but am interested in data on how that has worked elsewhere. Would a person desiring to be in leadership be allowed to recruit people from outside Bluelight to join in order to create a constituency? Would they have the vote immediately?

If a board were ever created I'd not want election from online accounts. They are fickle, to easily fraudulently made, don't represent in and of themselves any sort of real community involvement, etc. I do understand a democratic sentiment about things though and respect it.

jspun
11-06-2011, 00:14
Actually after looking over the ownership, operational administration, and the securing of funds through inflexxion contracts the system in place looks sound. Having a mechanism for making cash donations if possible might be beneficial- if there is a way through a payment system that accepts cash or a PO Box.

jspun
11-06-2011, 00:30
Enki I see your point. One person can have potentially multiple accounts and more than one vote.

Again I appreciate the work you are all doing and there is an open door policy here (unlike opiophile that has difficult membership policies, for instance, and the staff is intelligent enough not to turn us into a bunch of SWIMers). Alt.Drugs is just annoying- an example of anarchy on the web derailing serious discussion. And we don't want to go the way of the Hive hence the rules devised I'm sure are wisely and carefully considered taking the individuals laws of nations and international conventions/ past experience with LEOs during BL's formitive years.

Sebastians_ghost
19-06-2011, 11:09
Love this site. Had some run in's with some mods in the past but everything is good, it was mostly because I'm very blunt and thought a mod was being a prick when he was actually just doing what he was supposed too lol. (my bad and sorry which ever Mod that was lol) .


Anyway, I'd really like to help Bluelight stay alive and I'm sure the monthly/yearly cost of keeping it up isn't exactly cheap.

Before donating I do have a couple questions.

1. If I was to submit a large donation in excess of over $5,000.00 (five thousand U.S. dollars) how much of that would be going directly to keeping bluelight alive (the servers up- and the website not shut down?)

2. Not sure if Bluelight does this- haven't really heard anything about it, but does bluelight recognize people by making a post about them thanking them for the donation, send them a shirt , etc. for members who donate a large amount ? (I'd love a bluelight t-shirt LOL, a post thanking me would be nice too lol)

3. Is there a maximum donation amount bluelight is willing to accept? (Some websites will not accept donations largers then a few thousand.)



Thanks, look forward to contributing to BL to keep the site going for as long as possible.

-Skateboard (Aka Ryan)

Ryan,

In lieu of the ability to answer in unison (at this very moment) with TLB, I'd like to reply to your questions in general, which I imagine will suffice for the sake of this thread:

1. Unless you're planning to donate WELL over $5K (meaning $10K plus) I am confident in saying all of your donation would go towards "keeping the lights on," which I define as paying our server fees and any upgrades to software. There has never been an excess at the end of the year. Neither TLB nor I have ever taken a penny in payment or reimbursement for our personal efforts. Ever.

As a matter of fact, both TLB and I share the same conservative attitude towards Bluelight's financials -- which is to say that we see Bluelight as a labor of love, and maintain a sincere respect for each penny donated by our members or paid by our partners, (such as Inflexxion). Recently, TLB travelled up to stay with me in Boston for a "Bluelight planning weekend." We "Brainstormed Bluelight" virtually every waking hour of each day, and Reed paid for his plane ticket (as we do every other expense) out of pocket. I will be doing the same when I travel down to work with him. It didn't even occur to us to do things any differently.

There's a great pride we both take in "giving" to BL without having to take from it, and I can tell you it has surprised and impressed many of our other friends involved in the online psychedelic/harm reduction community that we choose to operate so bare-bones and refuse to take any sort of a salary.

So, in a nutshell, your donation (like any other) would be applied directly to operating costs, and we would have no problem with providing you with an accounting trail to that effect. Such a donation would go through MAPS.org, a federally recognized 501c3 (non-profit) which you could also deduct from your taxes.

2. Ryan -- if you were to personally make a sizable donation to Bluelight, we would be happy to recognize you however you like. If you are serious, and I hope that you are, it would be a nice way to launch a "Bluelight Benevolent Sponsors" page, in which we could list your inaugural donation along with your real name (or BL name if you prefer) and year. It might also encourage others to donate. Want a T-shirt? Consider it done. Heck, send me your size and I'll make you one from scratch.


3. No, there are no limits on the total amount of a donation -- it may be as large as your heart is generous.

If you would like to discuss things further, I encourage you to send a private message to both TheLoveBandit and myself. I'll be happy to speak with you by phone about the donation (as I'm sure TLB will also be) as well as potential mechanisms by which you can be assured your donation will go towards operating costs.

Best,

SG

Sebastians_ghost
19-06-2011, 11:18
TLB, I somehow missed your original reply to Ryan/Skateboarding, posting my reply just now without seeing it. That being said, we seem to be on the same page in both of our replies (not surprising there). :)

Let's talk the beginning of the week.

Best,

SG

charcoal
30-06-2011, 00:51
I see many discussions I would love to participate in at The Lounge but have not yet reached 50 posts. Obviously I'm not just going to post a bunch of shitty ass posts to try and get to that number, but I would like to have posting access to that forum! I'll happily make a monetary contribution to this fabulous community to be granted access to that forum but I see that the donation options are all on hold at the moment....is there ANYTHING I can do other than just slowly raising my total posts?

:)

much love,

charcoal

36979999_acb
30-06-2011, 02:17
Sorry right now we're not accepting donations until its been sorted out with the admins that should be soon.

As for paying to use th lounge I doubt that will happen soon. Although who knows what the future may bring, but for the moment its a no.

qwe
30-06-2011, 22:52
Bluelight should get someone to manufacture old EZ Test Extreme style reagent test kits and sell them to raise funds for the site.i have the glassware, chemistry knowledge (one course away from a 2 year degree), and time to do this for the summer... just saying, if bluelight needs a chemist.

kaywholed
08-07-2011, 02:04
I'll buy 51% of BL for $10K(CDN).

koneko
10-09-2011, 04:47
I'd really like to donate, help me out please.

GlibJab
10-09-2011, 09:42
It's great to see that the owners of Bluelight are so open and honest about the status of ownership and what is going on with funding. Considering the actions that were taken after XTCXTC died to keep the website afloat it is great that everything has been done so well. I think that everyone who donated and worked towards that goal deserve a HUGE round of applause.

Dave
08-10-2011, 17:18
It's true. TLB and sebastians_ghost run a tight ship these days. The transparency among senior staff is both refreshing and appreciated!

I was just wondering how the progress of the nuts and bolts of payment processing are working out? From SG's reply, it looks like we may have an agreement to process our payments through MAPS, which would certainly be advantageous with respect to stability of payment processing. Are there plans to re-open the donations page soon then?

TheLoveBandit
30-10-2011, 04:07
^^Yes, we're still looking to open up donations again, and they will most likely be funneled through MAPS on our behalf. We're working to get our engineer addressing this with the right contact(s) from MAPS so that we are able to accept member donations relatively soon.

Additionally, we are working on other things to bring in site sustaining revenue such as merchandising (like the calendars that were done last year) and several other options. All this and a free set of knives for only $19.99 ;) But seriously, yes, it is still our intent to accept donations. Fortunately, we're not pushed to begging as yet so the pressure hasn't been there to have the donations available....but it's an option many members want, and we need to utilize, so yes, we're still pursuing it.