Hello hikr users!
(Sorry, I write in my poor English because I don't speak German, but if you don't understand something, please ask me (i speak French too))
chaeppi and RomanKoch did some interesting propositions here and that made us think a lot.
Clearly, hikr.org is a community powered website, like Wikipedia. Even if it is not a wiki, all content come from users. That means you. And our content is good. Also, like in Wikipedia, there are some people that work to develop and maintain the site. For Wikipedia it's the Wikimedia Foundation (budget $4'000'000, all from donations) and for hikr.org that's me and Anna (budget CHF 36'000, source not found yet)
Another common aspect is that both websites are non-profit, non-commercial projects, made for their utility and for fun.
Less than two years ago we started to search how to auto-finance ourselves. The website was small and we had less experience that now. Also, we had a lot of illusions and false theories.
I explored some statistics yesterday and found that we have a lot of frequent readers (a.k.a "loyal visitors"). Statistics says that there are about 4000 people that come on hikr more than 200 times and even more people that came here 100-200 times. I don't exactly know who they are (country, which pages they look, ...) but however that's a lot of people!
Two years ago we created the Pro account and put ads. Pro account works well, we have about 50 Pro users now. Ads work not very well and I think they are not very good for the image of the community website like hikr.
Something that we didn't think two years ago is to suggest a donation to passive readers, because this number of those readers was too small. But now it's different. Even now we didn't think about this until Chaeppi and Roman Koch wrote their messages.
Something that was not very clear to us two years ago is what hikr.org will become? Well, it seems that it became much more than a collection of personal journals of private interest. Instead hikr is becoming a hike-report encyclopedia or a "guidebook" useful to much more people that just you and me (actually, I'm still against to call it "guidebook", you can read about this in our new FAQ). Even from a technical point of view, it seems that Google recognized us like a "quality website", that means that hikr is on a priority list of Googlebot. Reports appears on Google few minutes after they are published.
Well, I arrive to the point of this message: why not to ask for donations also from our passive readers, exactly like Wikipedia does?
Every year Wikipedia puts a banner on their website asking for donations and it works, I donated something myself. Hikr is also a public utility non-profit website and it become more and more like that with the time, so why not try?
As our budget is very small we can probably have at least a significant part of it this way. We was also thinking to ask for sponsoring in the same sense (not ads) from public service companies like RhB, SBB, ...
Will it work? We probably cannot say before we try. If it works well we can get rid of ads forever (dream...), otherwise we will have both for some time. We probably should run some "poll" from our passive visitors... but first of all we would like to know your opinion:
What do you think about the idea of transforming Hikr in community-sponsored website?
It's very important for us to know your opinion, because you are that people that created all the content here. The opinion of our old users is very important for us!!!
PS: I should say that in few last mounts we feel a lack of interaction with a part of our old users. That's very sad for us. We start thinking that we probably did something wrong or there is some misunderstanding. We really don't understand it.
Is it about money, sponsors and ads? Well, now we published our budget and even this is our goal, not the reality yet. In the reality we didn't earn this even in two years. Different prices of ads that you can see on the web are either not for mountain websites, either not realistic. As I already said, the "segment" is anti-commercial. It's really like Wikipedia! That's clear to us now.
Is it about something else? Please don't be shy, let me know, even in private, so we can clarify all our misunderstandings. Otherwise we sometimes feel like strangers here, lone, sad and depressed...