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Flash Country Club

If I make this post, I may never be on a beta team at Macromedia, or speak at FlashForward, and will be blackballed from the Flash "Community". True? Well, we're about to find out.

I just found this in my inbox, and can't resist posting about it:

"Branden Hall has started a Flash community website that charges its members
$25 a month. ... Bad, bad, bad. I'm getting more and more disillusioned with the
"community." Your thoughts?

http://www.communitymx.com"

My first thoughts are:

1. The flash community, though young, has a tradition of freely sharing knowledge.

2. It seems to me that the term "community" has been high jacked. This sounds more like a club to me.

3. The "free" content they offer, looks mostly entry level. Targeting corporate in-house workers, and calling it a "community" for branding and marketing?

Updated (June 10, 2003), additional text follows:

Another question comes to mind...

4. What is the editorial process? Most subscription based information sources have a clearly defined editorial process and staff.

Comments

We're not selling content. We're selling fresh content.

Once a week, I write a new article for the site, as do everyone else. That's at the very least 1 to 2 articles a day.

I just recently wrote my first newb article as I'd never known it was ok to write those. After the editors asked specifically for us to relax the content's level a bit, I lowered it. So, there is a wide-range of articles, and some of the free ones are advanced as well. That, of course, depends on your definition.

Additionally, your not just purchasing a subscription, but access to forumns and knowledge bases all stocked with knowledgable peeps and writings.

Every person at Community MX is devoted in some way, shape, form, or fashion. They are sincerely want Community MX to succeed and put their heart into whatever they do for it. It's a little different than someone writing an article for Flashkit just to say he did, or in his/her spare time. It's almost like a job for me, except, I know that people are expecting premium content because of they are paying for it, so it helps me make my articles a little more professional and thought out rather than my rants on my blog.

Hope that clears it up a little bit. Please peruse the guidlines on the site, and feel free to email the site's admin with any questions about what the site offers. We are well aware we are being highly scrutinized, and I personally am curious about the Flash Community's reactions.

1. I still share knowledge for free. It's not a club, but a business.

2. You pay for content, and you get content as well as professionals in forumns there to answer your questions.

3. Again, I try to write more advanced articles as does Branden and Matt.

Try the trial; tell us what you think.

Jesse,

Thank you for your thoughtful response. I will do my best to be equally thoughtful.


.....We're not selling content. We're selling fresh content....

In essence, you're selling a service of early delivery? Once the content is no longer "fresh", is it then available for free?

That would fit with a traditional mode of knowledge publishing, where research is published in a journal to which people subscribe. The content of that journal is usually available in many ways, including 1. paid subscription to a delivered personal copy or 2. free access through a library (which purchases the journal from the publisher). You don't have to buy a subscription for access to the information, but you do pay for the service of delivery.

....1. I still share knowledge for free. It's not a club, but a business....

Since it is a business, and most likely a useful business, why call it a "community"?

....2. You pay for content, and you get content as well as professionals in forumns there to answer your questions....

The existing "community" is accustomed to these same services, without being charged for them. How will you compete with the open forums currently available?

....3. Again, I try to write more advanced articles as does Branden and Matt....

And will this ease the transition from intermediate to advanced skills? Will we see less and less discussion of advanced topics in the open community, where innovation blossoms?

Kristin, everything cannot be free all the time. I think if they feel their services are work charging for, they will be looked upon under a different set of lenses than if they were offering it free. Which means that the content there would have to be much better than what is available online elsewhere...

If they can manage that consistently, it would work, else it would be tough as there is so much of information available out there already...

Anyway, good luck Branden, Jesse and guys...

Nav, thank you for contributing to this discussion.

In response to your comment that "...everything cannot be free all the time," nothing is free. Why am I questioning Branden's project? It illustrates, very nicely, a turning point in the developer community (that use Macromedia products). The deep pockets of clients are gone. Even the most talented, skilled, and business savvy developers are facing difficulties. So, what do we do now? We can horde our knowledge, remove ourselves from the developer community, and turn our peers into clients; or we can share our knowledge with our peers and develop new markets to apply our skills to, together.

True dat, hence the Contacts Component I made for you, hehe!

You make some tough and good points, and I'm not sure how to best respond.

1. I think that is for marketing terms: It makes people feel welcome. Everyone there is nice, so I agree with it... sort of. Honestly, I pretty much just went along with it. When were-here was announced coming out, all the fan fare was lost on me. I spend enough of my time on blogs and the Flashcoders lists among a few others. Forums are too slow for me, have mad usability issues that I don't enjoy deadling with, and are just one more arena for me to spend my time on that I would much rather treat as a reference archive.

...were-here does have the best forumn usability next to PHPBB derivatives, I must admit, though.

Anyway, I was approached, and if I were to get paid by it, I didn't mind spending a little time there. I mean, I was at my limits of free time... but not paid time, know what I mean? I've tried to contribute as much as I can; writing my articles, patrolling the forumns, but there are a few master minds there that are very proactive, so I don't feel bad just doing my 2 cents and nothing more.

There are a few things I disagree with, but because I only contribute as much that is asked, I keep my mouth shut... it may open if I don't get paid here in about another month or 2.

2. People I guess feel that if they are spending money on a forum:
- ALL of their posts go answered in some way. I ignore a lot of leech posts on the list nowadays, and repeat posts I just give up on. You can only answer the same question 1000 times before you question do these people even know wtf a search engine is? Even the leechers have to have their posts answered.
- They expect timely responses. However, this isn't working out for me, because I only go every few hours. With email, it's different; your informed by a sound, icon, and bolded folder names in Outlook. With forums, it's a proactive search which I hate. However, most questions are web based, and Branden & Matt have been getting most of the attention which I'm perfectly happy with.
- They can expect content. They don't have to hope guru Branden just makes something soon... they know he, Matt, or I will write an article that applies to them with source code.
- Only professionals are on the team. Granted, I know squat about ColdFusion, but that's not my job. My job is Flash, and I try to do it well. Therefore, people answering you and writing articles usually know what they are talking about.

Think QA.

3. Actually, I was told to write beginner articles too, so the full gamut is there. However, not sure about innovation. I mean, I truly treat it like a job, and not one I devote my heart into. WHen I write, I do so, but that's it, "Here's my article." I say with a smile. I don't stick around to fix site errors or do marketing in newsgroups if you know what I mean. I love to rant and do my own thing on my blog and other lists, so I doubt it'll stifle my innovation. Granted, those articles are no longer public domain (most of them), but I'm not writing for my blog as often as I would unless I had to every week (like I do at Community MX). Again, you make a good point and I have no clue... that's just my thoughts on it.

As far as the fresh content, I don't get it either. I mean, EVERY week, sometimes every day we're pumping out new content to the site. As far as content getting old, to me, it has a shelf life of 2 years. I don't see why a year old article could be given away for free to a member, or even a non-one. I'll bring it up with the bosses and see what they say.

I'll tell you this, though, which may help it all make sense.

I'm stretched in both work, contract, and side proejcts. But, if someone were to offer me cash to write an article a week and/or patrol a forumn, I'd do it. I work hard to be a beastly Flasher, and as an American, I see nothing wrong with getting paid for my efforts. I believe in that if you work hard, you'll be rewarded more so than those who don't. So, if the slackers aren't going to take the money, I will.

...still not rich, though, hehe. My goal is the craft, not getting paid for it.