"Ante up!"
January 2, 2001 6:33 PM   Subscribe

"Ante up!" Say the good folks at Pyra, as Blogger goes to telethon mode and asks for New Server donations. And they really suckered me in, too, because sufficient donations yield free stickers!
posted by anildash (136 comments total)
Of course, Ev's got a picture of the stickers, and being such web-savvy little Pyrates, of course they take PayPal.
posted by anildash at 6:36 PM on January 2, 2001

Another good reason for me to stick with Pitas ;)
posted by Mr. skullhead at 7:04 PM on January 2, 2001

They're a great company doing great work. Why make fun of them? The only thing this donation system proves is that they don't have a solid revenue model in place yet. Give it time. Blogger is tremendously popular, for good reason.
posted by waxpancake at 7:11 PM on January 2, 2001

Just in time for Organizine.
posted by corpse at 7:29 PM on January 2, 2001

what we've all got to realize is that even the strongest revenue models are failing these days. the thing is, blogger is doing something good, and people care about it. if someone wants to say, "hey, it's time to jump ship-- they're asking me for something in return for all their free, hard work!" then go ahead. but if you actually realize the worth of blogger, even if you don't donate, at least recognize the current web climate in which we're residing. this isn't a case of pyra being "out for blood," y'know.

thanks to those of you who have continued to be supportive of what pyra is doing with blogger. your words are the most encouraging part.
posted by jacksaturn at 7:34 PM on January 2, 2001

Thanks, guys.

It's only been up a couple hours, and the response so far has been inspiring. Lots of people have donated.

As for Pitas and Organizine, their fine tools, as far as I know (I haven't used Organizine, but I think the people who built it do good work). If they serve your purpose, use them. Blogger's not going away, though, and there is no requirement to donate. In fact, I won't name names, but some wonderful people have even helped cover those unable or unwilling to contribute by sending in $100.

What's more, we *are* working on building a sustainable business behind Blogger, and I'm sure we'll get over this hump. After which, we'll have the resources to continue to innovate and serve a much wider user base.

Happy new year.

[edited after posting]
posted by evhead at 7:47 PM on January 2, 2001

I used Blogger for all of three weeks, and I loved it. My problem was that I could not keep up with my blog... Pyra got my $10 a few seconds ago.
posted by DragonBoy at 8:04 PM on January 2, 2001

Evhead and Megnut are really honest, hard working terrific folks who are basically busting their chops for folks who want to blog. They get a donation from me for sure and I'm hoping a lot of MeFi folks join in.

It's definitely worth the price of a few Hollywood movies to support something as cool as Blogger.
posted by mikojava at 8:19 PM on January 2, 2001

If 1000 people go over to Paypal and take the 5$ they get for signing up, and give it to Pyra, they will have the server.

Having said that, I don't think it's fair to categorize people for whom this raises red flags as folks who don't appreciate the work the Pyra has done.

Pyra is offering Free Blogger as part of a bigger plan that (hopefully) includes some sort of revenue generating models (Newsblogger, Blogger Pro, Blogger Corporate or whatever they call it). What this call for donations indicates is that the other revenue streams have not and/or will not be able to generate enough revenue to subsidize Free Blogger in the near future. While I do believe that Pyra will go on to successfully develop and market pay-for-use blog tools, I think this event foreshadows the end of Free Blogger.

Here's why I won't be donating money to this cause: Pyra is a private company (with investors) whose goal, despite their noble intentions, is nevertheless to make money. The companies who have invested in Pyra to date are not willing for fork over five thousand dollars for a new Free Blogger server. This means that either (a) investors know that Free Blogger is not important to the big picture, so why spend any money on it, (b) investors don't have any faith in the big picture, (c) investors are simply clueless dweebs who the pyrites are milking to further their good work.

In any case, if Pyra wants my 10$ or 20$ or whatever, they should release Blogger Pro, back it with an acceptable quality of service agreement, and we're off to the races. Or, reposition Pyra as a non-profit organization, raise the funds to buy back the parts of the company that have been sold to investors, and then use fund raisers such as these to support their operations. Until then, I'll take my chances with a slowing Free Blogger and the goodwill of all those bloggers out there who think I'm full of crap and are will to help Pyra get through these troubled times.
posted by Calebos at 8:21 PM on January 2, 2001

I don't use Blogger in favor of a home grown web diary. But if there was one dot com out there I would like to see make it, it would be Blogger. Count me in.

Go Blogger, Go!
posted by y6y6y6 at 8:29 PM on January 2, 2001

In regards to the comments about "making fun of Pyra" above, I hope it wasn't directed at my original post, as that was the furthest thing from my intention.

But as far as the concept of making donations to Pyra goes, the reason I donated willingly, even eagerly, is because I used to have my own company, and I know that companies are made of people.

I get great satisfaction out of running and maintaining and tweaking my blog, and that became easier to do once Blogger came along. Will my donation to Blogger help Pyra along until someday the Pyrates and their investors get rich? I would certainly hope so.

As everyone on MeFi is so willing to criticize the overbearing role that megacorporations have in our lives, one would think they would be just as eager to support small, benevolent, beneficial minicorporations.

I just wish I weren't in the midst of a job search, so that I could give a payment back that is more commensurate to the value I've gotten from Blogger. Of course, they could just hire me and deduct it from my pay... :)

posted by anildash at 8:36 PM on January 2, 2001

I'm with Anil, bad timing here (job search!), otherwise I might be on that "more generous" list as alluded.

Actually, I'm happy to pay $10/yr for Blogger, but I'd almost rather do it formally -- i.e. $10 gets me ON that new server exclusively with other paying customers, or something. It's not like it isn't worth it, it's just the tragedy of the commons.
posted by dhartung at 9:02 PM on January 2, 2001

Yes, I'd be happy to pay $10 a month, or whatever it takes to keep Blogger going, and don't mind doing it informally until I can do it formally, with Blogger Pro. I've been using Blogger for the better part of a year, and have had excellent service from them until recently, what with the latest influx of users. I'm happy to support them in whatever way I can, and will continue to do so sporadically even after this server push is over, via PayPal, until a paid service goes live.

posted by aniretac at 9:32 PM on January 2, 2001

Jeezuz, I'm looking a job myself (about to get hired). Are we all feeling the effects of the dotcom drop-out?
posted by capt.crackpipe at 9:34 PM on January 2, 2001

I was so close to calling up my paypal account, until I read Ev's comment. I would have hoped that donations would be a private matter, and now, knowing that they are not, I wouldn't bother. What is next? A list on the index of blogger, with names, and URL's, and exact amounts of donations?

posted by kristin at 9:39 PM on January 2, 2001

Wow, sorry if I was out of line by linking to a couple of the generous souls. The donations are private. I was just flabbergasted and humbled by their generosity and wanted to give them some recognition.

A list on the index of blogger, with names, and URL's, and exact amounts of donations?

Come to think of it, people do beg an awful lot to get in the directory... hmmm... ;)
posted by evhead at 10:02 PM on January 2, 2001

Well...no, the donations aren't private, are they - because you are announcing who was 'generous'. How gracious to remind other donors that they were not generous...enough.

posted by kristin at 10:10 PM on January 2, 2001

I'm gonna pay as soon as I get my fershluggin password is snailmailed to me. I cannot believe I can't even answer my own hint questions. My password is uncrackable if I know me, and my memory is starting to fail. sigh.
Many hands make for light work, I hope anyone who enjoys the service would not balk at a one time payment. Some of you might know I am not so fond of taxes, but I do like to pay for what I use, and I use Blogger. I have 10 people posting to my site, $100 bucks is a small price to pay for the chance to keep in contact with my friends throughout the day, and have new content waiting for me on my own page.
Doesn't Metafilter run off Pyra's server too? Is the goal to buy several servers? I have so many questions.
posted by thirteen at 10:14 PM on January 2, 2001

correction: MetaFilter runs in pyra's offices. Blogger's servers run in a cage at Exodus.
posted by mathowie at 10:26 PM on January 2, 2001

Paypal password that is.
Sorry for spreading false rumors.
posted by thirteen at 10:39 PM on January 2, 2001

First off - that's good to hear, Matt, about the different server facilities used for Blogger and this site as well as others. I assumed that was so - but at the same time I wasn't sure.

Second - paypal doesn't yet seem to allow Canadians, so I'll have to send a cheque or a money order or something. And I will do that for sure, no question about it.
posted by mikel at 10:46 PM on January 2, 2001

kristen, I'm not sure how you read that from Ev's post. He mentioned a few people who, in his opinion, were very generous in their donations. Any problems with that are between Ev and those folks, where I'm assuming none exist.

I don't see how someone else getting some form of recognition would somehow diminish your own contribution (which, if greater then zero, are infinitely more generous then my own...)
posted by Calebos at 10:46 PM on January 2, 2001

Mike, paypal is international now, from what I can tell by the site...
posted by Calebos at 10:47 PM on January 2, 2001

Okay, I had Matt take out the links (the benefits of having the MeFi God work for you :). For the record, several people have given much more than we asked for, but I'm not saying who. I consider anyone who gives anything very generous -- and more $$ doesn't necessarily mean more generous, because it depends greatly on your means, your current situation (best of luck to you job-seekers!), and the value you feel you have gotten from the service.

Anyway, no hard feelings. Give if you want. Don't if you don't want. Peace.
posted by evhead at 10:52 PM on January 2, 2001

Oh my god!
posted by CrazyUncleJoe at 11:25 PM on January 2, 2001

calebos, paypal is international -- if international means "extends coverage to 30 countries apart from the US." i'd donate money myself, but sadly i live outside the coverage area, as do plenty of bloggers and denizens of mefi. bad paypal, baaaaaaad.
posted by lia at 12:50 AM on January 3, 2001

i donated, b/c i think blogger and all the people that work on it are pretty nifty.

paypal, however, SUCKS. i was extremely displeased by the form, it's lack of persistence from page to page (isn't it a standard rule of thumb that you persist form data from page to page in a multi-page-form, even if the data's missing some stuff?), and the overall unfriendliness of the app.

[predictable whining about not-being-directorized]
posted by tatochip at 5:29 AM on January 3, 2001

Weird situation.

My personal opinion is here, but I just don't know if I'm right or wrong.
posted by kchristidis at 6:05 AM on January 3, 2001

This is a baby step, meant to get the bloggers used to the idea of paying for Blogger. A bit of homeopathic medicine, if you will.

Although it's weird that there's this thin veneer of guilttrip going on. "It's such a good product, you should pay..." "The people are working really hard..." It's a product. It's a company. Pay the money for the service! But you always run that risk when it's a donation service, since it's all based on shame of not "doing the right thing."

I'll pay for Blogger once Blogger starts finding links for me. :)
posted by solistrato at 7:39 AM on January 3, 2001

I'm on the fence about this one. I use Blogger and enjoy it. It's a tool that I find valuable. I'd be willing to pay for Napster too if I thought the money would go to the artists instead of the record companies.

Maybe they should just call it "Freeware" and put in a little "If you like this product, send $10.00 to..." notice like most freeware products.

Who's to say, though, that if I donate money today Pyra isn't going to go under tomorrow?

posted by bondcliff at 7:48 AM on January 3, 2001

mikel, PayPal allows Canadians, but you have to have a credit card to secure your account to. My account's currently in hiatus 'cause I haven't yet activated my new card. (Old one expired and not activating it makes it a whole lot easier to not build up debt. :-)

Solistrato, doesn't NewsBlogger find links for you? :-)

I mentioned this in the Blogger discussion forums this morning and haven't been back to see a response, but I'd much rather buy Blogger-related merchandise (t-shirts, coffee mugs, mousepads) as opposed to a donation.
posted by cCranium at 7:59 AM on January 3, 2001

actually, this is a soild revenue model. why not ask people to contribute as they're able?

for my part, i love Blogger.
posted by Sean Meade at 8:03 AM on January 3, 2001

now i'm curious who did give more, but i came to the discussion too late to see. drat. no problem with their recognition.

i like that title for Matt: MeFi God
posted by Sean Meade at 8:04 AM on January 3, 2001

cCranium: "I'd much rather buy Blogger-related merchandise (t-shirts, coffee mugs, mousepads) as opposed to a donation."

But with a $10 "donation," aren't you, in a sense, buying yourself some Blogger stickers?
posted by LeiaS at 8:05 AM on January 3, 2001

From about a month into using Blogger, I'd decided I was willing to pay a monthly fee for this excellent service. I donated what I could, and I hope some sort of PayPal link stays up permanently, because I'll continue to donate.

There is so much garbage on the web. So many things that don't work and so many that encourage mediocrity (::cough--geocities, aol--cough::). While Blogger makes it easy for everyone to jump on the weblog bandwagon, the community they've created encourages anything but mediocrity. Blogger has made the web a better place, not just by a little bit, but by great leaps.

Damned right I'll pay for that.

posted by frykitty at 8:05 AM on January 3, 2001

Bah. I'm amazed at the cynicism out of some of you. I don't use Blogger, never have, and don't expect to, since it would be a blow to my irrationally inflated geek-ego not to roll my own ;) But for what they've done in giving a boost to *community on the web*, in a time when it's so easy to whimper, moan, and gripe about Corporate America usurping the entire internet---they've got my ten bucks.

also, I want cool stickers.
posted by Sapphireblue at 9:20 AM on January 3, 2001

LeiaS yes, I am, but to be frank I'll get a lot more usage out of a t-shirt or coffee mug than I would out of stickers. I could put a Blogger sticker on my monitor at home and one on my... uhh... umm... that's about it for sticker usage for me.

I realize that with a pure $10 donation straight to Pyra they're getting more of the money, but that doesn't change my preferences.

Blogger's a free service. It's always been a free service, and hopefully will always be a free service. I'm quite certain that's Pyra's intent, I've no worries about underhanded motives on their part; as long as they're capable of providing it, it will be free.

I'm going to be lambasted for being petty here, but I've recently upgrade my asbestos suit to include a kevlar layer, so what the hell.

You cannot offer a free service and expect payment for it. I'm reasonably certain that Pyra's aware of that, and I'm not really even talking to the Pyrites here. I'm talking more to the people who say "Pyra's offered this for free, you owe it to them to donate."

I take serious issue with the guilt people are tossing about on behalf of Pyra. Partially because I don't think the option to donate is intended to guilt, and partially because I was raised catholic with and have more than enough guilt already. :-) I'm also not trying to bash people who've spoken up about their donations. Explaining why you've donated is great, and helps Pyra by encouraging others to donate.

Whether I choose to donate is my business. By offering Blogger-branded merchandise (especially if all profits from it are dedicated to server improvements), Pyra creates a profit-earning method that gives something tangible back to the person buying it.

A free service is not a tangible good. I'm sorry, but any (monetary) value you would place on it is gone when you give it away to thousands of people for free. Once you start giving something away, you cannot expect it to continue to be used by the same number of people if you charge for it.

Again, I'm not referring to Pyra, they obviously realize this which is why Blogger isn't a profit-making product for them. It is a phenominal advertisement though.

By adding value (borderline Marketese, I know, but run with me for a bit) either through physical merchandise or through additional features that you can charge for, you're then able to make money from a free service. It's an astoundingly common business model, and will undoubtedly serve Pyra well.

That being said, some people don't need or want tangible merchandise, and many of those people have already sent their $5 PayPal bonus (and more, apparently) to Pyra, but Pyra stands to get even more money from a slightly different demographic (ie, the people who don't want to donate for free software demographic :-) by offering merchandise.

It's just a new revenue stream is all.

posted by cCranium at 9:20 AM on January 3, 2001

I have recently watched from the inside another dot-com run out of money. Asking users of a free service to contribute was, in that case, the last desperate step after all the serious investors had refused to part with money. Despite all the warm fuzzies and reassurances from the Pyra folks, from a business standpoint this is a sign that either (a) something needs to change about the way they do business [ie, no more free Blogger for everyone] or (b) they'll be out of business before the end of the year.

Of course, I could be wrong about this. But if the supposedly smart money won't bet on Blogger, why should I?
posted by ffmike at 9:23 AM on January 3, 2001

blogger rocks. a few months ago, deepleap.com rocked but they went under from lack of funds. so really, it's up to the individual users. do you enjoy blogger and want it to stick around? then you should probably "pony up"; if you're more interested in riding the free wave, then you should refrain from crying if this wonderful service does go under.
posted by bliss322 at 9:37 AM on January 3, 2001

Seems to me that Pyra's investors should be reading this thread.

They should be encouraged that Blogger has many enthusiastic users who actually care about the Pyrites and what they do for the web, and are willing to pay for value-added products or services.

They should be concerned that their unwillingness to part with enough funds to buy a much-needed server is leading to speculation and unease which could undermine their initial investment.
posted by Tubes at 9:55 AM on January 3, 2001

Actually now that the "pay for schwag business model" meme has come up, wasn't the Sock Puppet one of the more profitable items at Pets.com? I'd love to buy all kinds of Blogger crap and pay for the server that way. Do they even have a Cafe Press link up anywhere?
posted by anildash at 9:59 AM on January 3, 2001

There is a business model that Blogger is following. It's called the PBS business model. Basically, there is some guilt involved, and you do get schwag if you kick in enough money. There's also shareware...

Stephen King also tried this model recently. And he faced the problem of having too many freeloaders, so he didn't publish any more chapters.

I like the idea someone mentioned before of letting paying customers use the faster servers. Put all the other free Bloggers on one server.

posted by timothompson at 10:12 AM on January 3, 2001

I'm glad someone brought up Deepleap. I miss Deepleap all the time, and would have gladly forked over some cash to keep them going. Backflip doesn't really compare.
posted by owen at 10:17 AM on January 3, 2001

[Sapphireblue] Bah. I'm amazed at the cynicism out of some of you. I don't use Blogger, never have, and don't expect to, since it would be a blow to my irrationally inflated geek-ego not to roll my own ;) But for what they've done in giving a boost to *community on the web*, in a time when it's so easy to whimper, moan, and gripe about Corporate America usurping the entire internet---they've got my ten bucks.

Darn it, Sapphireblue! I was going to be the kind soul who lambasted the overpowering cynicism on this thread, and despite the fact that he rolls his own weblog tool, donated to the Pyra cause anyway, just because he appreciates what they are doing and understand how hard it must be to raise money of late.

But you beat me to it. Pyra got my donation anyway. ;)
posted by daveadams at 10:37 AM on January 3, 2001

Can I throw in another idea about the much-loved Deepleap as I too miss it dearly.
I guess it's one that only Ben Brown can answer, but When might HappyNetBox go live? Any beta testers know this?As for the Blogger server fund, I'm unsure about whether to donate. This sure indicates some semblence of uncertainty in the financial backing of Blogger, but I'm not sure to what degree? Blogger PR has long since been faultless, with the characters of Ev, Meg, Paul, Matt, Jack all providing an extra dimension to the service, with news/features being commented in their personal blogs along with the main site.There's something about Pyra (that Deepleap didn't quite have) that makes the company really personable, and in my view, this could be their first hitch thus far.Long may Blogger continue, and roll-on Blogger Pro!
posted by williamtry at 11:15 AM on January 3, 2001

timothompson, I don't think they're really following that business model though. The impression I get is that the donations aren't going to help keep Pyra running so much as they're going to help improve the current service.

Every indication I've seen tells me that Pyra has a non-donation based business model for actually turning a profit, they're just looking for a way to improve the free service.
posted by cCranium at 11:19 AM on January 3, 2001

"Do you enjoy blogger and want it to stick around? then you should probably pony up"

I'm more them willing to give money to Pyra, but not under this donation model. Pyra is a for-profit company (not a non-profit like PBS), and as such has a variety of ways to make money. For example, they can sell products and they can sell shares in their company.

If I paid money for a product, I'd expected to be refunded if they went under and were no longer about to provide the product/service, or if that product/service did not meet the quality of service stated in the contract. Before I invested in the company, I'd want to know a lot more about their business plan.

This donation model bypasses that kind of scrutiny and commitment. You give your money and take your chances. The fact that so many people are willing to do that says something. I'm not sure what, but it's something. It's quite amazing, actually. In a "shaking-my-head" kind of way.

posted by Calebos at 11:22 AM on January 3, 2001

I'd buy some Pyra action figures! (preferably in scale with the Star Wars line.) Sit Meg next to your Iron Giant toys, Have Matt duke it out with Black Jesus, sit Ev in front of your webcam while you take Jack to punk rock shows. uh... and the rest, here on Pyralabs isle. (send 2 proof of purchase and a money order in the amount of $2.00 for exclusive translucent "ghost of Derek Powazek" figure)
posted by thirteen at 11:27 AM on January 3, 2001

williamtry, so far as I know there aren't really any HappyNetBox testers, though BB's mentioned (on today's uber) that he wants to get it up and running. I think Adam's launch of Organizine put BB to shame. :-)

In regards to financial uncertainty, well, every tech company is undergoing financial uncertainty. But, more importantly, this doesn't indicate to me that Pyra's worried. It indicates to me that they just can't afford (or more likely can't convince the investors that it's a good idea) to throw money at something they're giving away for free.

Blogger still works perfectly fine for me. Slow? Perhaps, I didn't really ever notice, since when I update I minimize the Blog This! window, forget about it completely, and it eventually disappears off my taskbar. Obviously it's not quite at the level Pyra (and probably many of it's users, since it does seem to be becomming a reasonably common topic) wants it to be at.

One of the problems I can see with a pay-only server is what happens when a ton of people donate and they all start bogging down that server? Or perhaps 1000 pay users hit the pay server at the same time and end up slowing it down? That's pretty poor service for something you're paying for, and if you add value by promising the faster system then bog it down, you're reneging on your part of the contract. It's a much more powerful upgrade mechinism to throw another server into the mix and balance out the load evenly among them, so one user who makes 4 server requests gets each one handled by the server with the least load.
posted by cCranium at 11:32 AM on January 3, 2001

Well, I've been thinking for several weeks/months about Pyra and how they would adapt their revenue model due to Blogger's popularity. I wondered if a yearly or monthly subscription rate would work, and I think this is what they have in mind for Blogger Pro. I so desperately want to see them succeed. They are nice folks who work hard on something that is useful. That description doesn't fit too many in the "new economy." If anyone deserves to succeed, it's Pyra. If my "donation" can help, then it's on its way. As another Canadian, though, it will be a few days until Paypal activates my credit card.

Interestingly enough, yesterday, before I was aware of this initiative, I posted a link to Jakob Nielsen's December 24 Alertbox column, with an eerily prescient comment.
posted by jmcnally at 11:33 AM on January 3, 2001

Personally, I think Blogger should instate a mandatory charge. Sustainable business model? 30,000 users x $2 a month = a few salaries.

Regarding HappyNetBox, I've finally resumed development and I'm hoping to beta this weekend. It's been so long since I looked at the code, it's taking me a while to figure myself out.

But it's looking pretty good. And my plan, like my suggestion for Pyra, is to have a monthly fee attached. Neither my time nor my bandwidth comes free anymore. heh.
posted by benbrown at 12:17 PM on January 3, 2001

I just made my "donation," just as I have given some cash to Spamcop.net and DynDNS.org and Atomz.com and various other Web sites, quasi-commerical and non-commercial. Blogger is a good enough service that I am willing to pay for it; if I can choose the amount, all the better.

And as with Atomz, I would not mind paying for a more feature-rich service... specifically one that allowed me to back-date blog entries. How much is that worth to me? Just make an offer!

posted by tranquileye at 12:19 PM on January 3, 2001

I'm with Calebos, Jmcnally and Ben on this one. Pyra is trying to move beyond Blogger, but Blogger is Pyra's greatest asset, and it's no fun watching a for-profit company get on its knees and look up at its user base with hopeful puppy-dog eyes.

I'm in favor of a free/pay dual model (figured it was better to self-link than repost). Think Eudora. Do it right and Blogger loses nothing but gains a ton.
posted by werty at 12:20 PM on January 3, 2001

Who wouldn't pay $2 a month to keep their blog running? That's less than your average espresso drink, 2 or 3 of which I drink a week.

Ok, not everyone, but I think a vast majority of people would be willing to ante up a bit of cash once in a while. Like I said, that's what I'm counting on. I hope that the utility I add with my application will be worth skipping one iced double mocha a month.
posted by benbrown at 12:26 PM on January 3, 2001

My sense is that the advertiser-funded Web apps may not long be with us. Yahoo has so many page views that they will be the last to feel the price pressure, but just about everyone else might well be doomed. The sooner Blogger starts charging me some sustainable amount, the better I will feel.

As far as Pyra "getting on its knees," that's the market, baby. Sell me the product or I won't buy it. As I said above, I am happy to pay for Blogger if the price is right.
posted by tranquileye at 12:31 PM on January 3, 2001

Hey - Blogger people! Get your butts over to www.cafepress.com, upload a few graphics and slap a few "powered by blogger" logos onto some t-shirts, sweatshirts, mugs, and mousepads, and then charge $5-$10 over cafepress's baseprice (about $10.99). It won't cost you a thing, will give people those t-shirts they've been wanting, and will bring more money in! Only one problem is that it takes at least a month for the money to be handed out once sales start, but it could still be an ongoing thing for more revenue. And we bloggers would have fun sporting around in our new clothes and drinking out of blogger mugs, makes us look good too. :)
posted by thunder at 12:33 PM on January 3, 2001

Great news Benbrown... thanks for that response, I simply can't wait to have a box on the net which is happy!

I'm starting to side with Ed Bilodeau (Calebos) on this Blogger pricing issue.
posted by williamtry at 12:38 PM on January 3, 2001

What else does Pyra do besides giving away a blogging tool? That sounds snider than I wanted, but I'm genuinely curious what Pyra is offering besides, well, something for free. Not that they have to answer, since they're a private company, but it would be nice to know that they plan on bringing revenue in at some point.

And on another note, it seems like Blogger's more a refinement than a revolution. IMHO, of course. Not that it's not helpful, but it's hardly the printing press.
posted by solistrato at 12:44 PM on January 3, 2001

Here's some added incentive to pay:

It won't cost you a thing.

Well, provided you're a new PayPal customer. They give you $5 free when you open an account. If someone referred you, then *they* get a bonus $5 as well.

I'm currently waiting for Ev to get me a referral email I can pop in so that I can give Blogger $10. And what's it cost me?

Nada. Paypal is doing all the donating.

When I hear back, I'll post the referral email to use - unless you'd like to go ahead and post that info here yourself, Ev? So if you know people that don't have PayPal accounts (which you do, I'm sure), get them to sign up.

And if you've already got an account with PayPal, then ditto to the inestimable Ben Brown.

Vive la revolution.

PS: I'd gladly fork out for Metafilter as well, Matt. Just tell me where to send it.
posted by dgallo at 12:46 PM on January 3, 2001

I certainly agree that the people who run Blogger are nice folks, as far as I can tell at least. I also wish them well in their business and in their lives.

It's great that Pyra provides this tool. It's too bad they can't support it as free. Donating money to Pyra is like donating money to your local bookstore. Sure you like them and want them to succeed, but in the end you're just giving money to some one else whose sole purpose is to make money from an endeavor. Not feed the hungry or fight for human rights or shelter the homeless, just to make money.

And no, I don't view any of the folks at Pyra as greedy shifty money hungry corporate tools, but I seriously doubt they started the company just for kicks. And that's fine! That's great, I am not condemning them for that. But I'm not going to donate to their company either.

I won't give money to use this free service because I would rather give five dollars to any number of non-profit organizations such as PBS or NPR. Or Planned Parenthood or the Humane Society.

I'd rather use another service and free up the server space for those who feel more passionately about the product.
posted by jennyb at 12:59 PM on January 3, 2001

Addendum -

Here's the referral email I promised:


Now send them money that's not yours! :)
posted by dgallo at 1:00 PM on January 3, 2001

Let's see... "good people providing good tools." How original.

I've seen lots of good people providing good tools to the online community bite it because of the market or because of ridiculous expectations. Pyra is no different than any other for-profit company and if they want money for something they've decided to provide for free, that's their choice but it speaks to some bigger problems/issues down the road.

You can't indefinitely fund a free service's growth on donations. And if funds for necessary server additions in the future for the free service aren't forthcoming, the whole infrastructure will again be wanting in a few more months when they've reached 250,000 useless blogs.

Has anyone looked at so many blogs these days? A tool that allows people to update crap is...??


Whatever. I'd just as soon send my "donation" to a company that can prove it can make money, like Amazon.com or Yahoo! I call it "buying some stock."

I get tired of the love fest here. Grow up and take responsibility for what you've created. Didn't anyone think of the future and funding and the like when Blogger was growing? "Gee, ya think that Pentium Celeron server can handle 500,000 transactions a day?"

If you can't handle (expected or unexpected) growth, you should put the brakes on the service until you can. It's being responsible to your current customers, the ones that matter most.

posted by yarf at 1:01 PM on January 3, 2001

solistrato: What else does Pyra do besides giving away a blogging tool?

They charge for blogging tools too. That'll presumably bring in more money once Blogger Pro gets off it's feet, but you can already pay for the right to ditch the Blogger link-back and various other options.
posted by cCranium at 1:01 PM on January 3, 2001

Here's the referral email I promised: paypal@pyra.com

Wow. This brings to mind a conspiracy theory that someone else floated by me today... ;)

posted by Calebos at 1:07 PM on January 3, 2001

Perhaps some people have been living in a hole, but money has dried up for a lot of dotcom ventures. Even the succesful ones.

People are being cautious with their money these days. And that's fine. But I do know that this is no different from any other organization - profit or not - asking for my money.

I can't count the amount of times that I've bought a product simply to support the person who was doing it. Hell, if a friend of mine is my waiter at the restaurant I'm eating at I'm going to leave a good tip. Not because the service was better, but because I know the guy.

Giving money to the Blogger fund is no different.

And yes - we could be doing so many more worthwhile things with our money. But do we? How many times have you given money to a non-profit organization? And how many times have you requested a look at their books to see where your money is going? Just because they filed some paperwork does not automatically bestow altruism. And why not just give the money directly to someone that you see on the street everyday?
posted by dgallo at 1:12 PM on January 3, 2001

This may be obvious, but I think the problem people are having with this donation thing is there is no guarantee here. You aren't paying for a service. You're giving money to people.

Now, that's fine and good. If you want to give your money to the folks at Pyra to do with as they please, be my guest. These are my friends, I want them to have money.

But, as has been said here, if you aren't paying for the Blogger service, what are you doing? Investing in Pyra? Owning a piece of the new server? Owning a piece of Jack Saturn's sexy, sexy behind?

This is the problem. I want to pay, yet I want to know what I'm getting. What if the $5,000 limit isn't reached? Do I get my money back? What if the $5,000 limit is reached, but Pyra runs out of money for hosting?

All these questions would be null and void if the statement was "Pay by Jan 15 or your account will be terminated." Then, with your $10 payment, you are guaranteed another month of service. Pyra can buy a server, they can pay themselves, or they can buy hookers and coke for all I care. But for as long as my contract says I am owed service, I get service.
posted by benbrown at 1:29 PM on January 3, 2001

Well, I was just going to keep it to myself but since the only thing worse than this sad situation is a companion conspiracy theory, I confess I wrote the following :

"Maybe we should spread a rumour that the whole server thing is just a cross-merchandising hack by Pyra to get people to sign up for PayPal. Maybe that is Pyra's business model : we have 70 000 trained monkeys, give us your money and we will make them do your bidding."

Anyway, you know what they say if you can't take a joke.
posted by aaronofmontreal at 1:32 PM on January 3, 2001

Donating money to Pyra is like donating money to your local bookstore. - jennyb

Not really. You can support your local bookstore by buying all your books there. They make a profit on their sales.

Right now, we can't all upgrade to a paid Blogger Pro service.

So if we find Pyra's products useful and want to try and ensure their availability to us in the future, we can donate/buy stickers.

Maybe if enough Bloggers donate, the investors will feel more confident in the for-profit potential of the application and fund continued development.
posted by Tubes at 1:40 PM on January 3, 2001

no one has mentioned the money they've raised yet, so if you aren't checking out Blogger.com, I'll do it for you. According to Ev's post on Blogger.com it's over 3 grand (he points it out to the penny, I'm too lazy) from 206 people after PayPal fees. That's pretty damn impressive for something that's only been going for a day now, 'grats Pyra folk.

I wanna see an image of a server that gets filled up as they get money. :-) Better than those wacky telethon thermometers.

I imagine the money will continue to trickle in as people get their PayPal accounts up and running.

I still hope Pyra releases Blogger merchandise. I want a "I helped speed up Blogger and all I got was this lousy t-shirt" t-shirt, dammit.
posted by cCranium at 1:57 PM on January 3, 2001

I've used blogger for several months, and my miniscule donation was much less painful than sitting down and hacking out a journaling system for myself or searching for a freeware one. My god, as IT people we're all supposed to be making enough money that $5 ain't no big thang!

Oh, yes. The above discussion make me realize why micropayments aren't working.

A gift economy requires faith. Faith that you can give and that you may receive in return. Pyra gave a us a fun toy. I give them some money. No guarantees. No worries. When my wife was sick and I was at work, her friend gave her medicine. When she watched our house while we were on vacation, we gave her a southwestern scented candle. It's all about giving, and (he said in sermony voice) gifts should be given freely and unconditionally. Damn.

As my grandpa used to say, "Money is the cheapest thing you'll ever have".
posted by hurkle at 2:09 PM on January 3, 2001

Businesses, on-line or otherwise, cannot be quasi commercial or quasi noncommercial. Neither of these terms means anything. A business is either for profit or not for profit - try registering with the Secretary of State, they make you chose a box.

What I am trying to say here is that Pyra is either out to make money or not. It has investors who are looking for a return on their money, therefore it is a for profit company. The people in charge maybe really, really nice and work really, really hard, but they need make a profit to stay in business.

It is a strange day when coporations ask for donations. Blogger seems like a great tool, I haven't used it before, but I like that it gives the average computer user the ability to get their own weblog up and running. It seems like eventually they are going to have to charge for the service, unless they can make enough money selling t-shirts. Hell, if I used it, I would pay a fee, either one time or monthly.

But asking for donations, seems a bit backhanded, and it seems to be taking advantage of its popularity with this and other on-line communities. Yes, they are all really nice people, but I would rather pay for a product and give a donation to the homeless.

posted by birgitte at 2:42 PM on January 3, 2001

Still, I just love the innocence of it. It's clear that the Pyrates are closer to their community of users than to their investors.

If you analyze the capitalism behind everything, sure it's weird to ask for donations for a for-profit enterprise.

But if you just unfocus a bit, it feels like friends asking for a few bucks so they can keep making ever-cooler stuff for us.
posted by Tubes at 4:16 PM on January 3, 2001

It is a strange day when coporations ask for donations.

But not really. Not in the computer industry.

Freeware's become something of an outdated concept, but the idea of developing something, giving it away and saying "If you want improvements, shoot a little money our way" isn't completely unheard of.

It may have been better for Pyra if they'd had such a thing from the start, but considering the facts that a) PenPal didn't exist when they first released Blogger, and b) Blogger wasn't part of their original business plan then, it's easy to see why it's taken a while for them to put that little note up.

And, really, as far as business plans and profit making schemes go, why not try the donation model, at least for the stuff they're giving away for free anyway. If they don't get the money, the users don't get a faster server yet. The money they raise through the donation system is not to run the company. You just plain can't run a company with 8 (a guess) employees in San Francisco office space using a hosting service on $5 grand, that isn't their intent at all.

Whether or not you care to donate is your business, but Christ, suggesting that they're doing something inherently wrong by saying "Hey, toss us a little coin if you like"? That's just silly.

I'll say it again. It isn't a Save The Pyra fund, it's a Make Blogger Faster fund. Two completely different things.
posted by cCranium at 4:19 PM on January 3, 2001

There are two things you're forgetting. A) Freeware isn't created by a company with 8 employees (and their associated overhead). B) How do you know this isn't the Save Pyra fund?
posted by benbrown at 4:25 PM on January 3, 2001

What I meant by that is, the average shareware or freeware program is coded by someone in their spare time for fun. Blogger, regardless of it's community base, is a product of a company which must make profit to survive.
posted by benbrown at 4:26 PM on January 3, 2001

I agree that Pyra makes cool stuff, but "analyzing the capitalism behind it" isn't out of line if a company with private investors at the same time accepts donations.

The money isn't going to run the company, that is obvious, but it is increasing its value and improving an existing service.

Why not just charge for the service? It sounds like people are willing to pay.

posted by birgitte at 4:43 PM on January 3, 2001

we will now pause for a quick statement of the obvious: there is nothing stopping anyone from saving the whales *and* saving Blogger.

also, and unrelated: sure, Pyra needs to be able to make money, but since Blogger ain't doing it, I don't see any problem in finding alternative means of supporting *the free service*. if they were buying a new server for *Blogger Pro* and they wanted "donations", that would be A Bad Thing. however: this is not that. the distinction seems perfectly clear to me.

Pyra doesn't have to be doing this fund-raising drive. They could very well have left all you Blogger users out there in the cold, with the attitude that none of you are making them a dime, in fact are costing them. But instead they decided to try to find a way to keep the service good *without* taking money away from their efforts to build stuff that *will* pay the bills. I see nothing wrong with that. At all. Lots of companies put out free products for the PR value---and then when the supply is exhausted, when the promo budget runs out, the free stuff goes away.

as much uproar as this is causing---imagine if they *had* come out and said "it's too successful, we can't support it as a free service anymore, as of right now, you all owe us five bucks". you'd all be screaming for blood! ditto if they'd shut down the free service. ditto if they ignored the current problems. ditto if they stopped taking new users.

i ought not be surprised, really. back in the day, when i spent much too much time opping in a web dev IRC channel, it was *amazing* the ingratitude people had toward their free service providers. every other person who came in wanted to know how they could cheat their free webspace provider or their free guestbook provider or their free email provider or their free subdomain redirection service. i suppose the warmfuzzies of the Weblog Revolution only apply as long as no one's asking you to even *consider* helping support the cause? egads.

[the first version of this post was about two lines long, but a little *too* to-the-point... sorry the niced-down version got so wordy.]
posted by Sapphireblue at 4:45 PM on January 3, 2001

My point (admittedly obfuscated) was that Blogger was a little teaser feature they put out to pump the fires for the Pyra groupware software, and because it was a neat little utility they figured people would like. I don't think it was intended to explode into the driving force behind the company, at least not according to any of the history of Blogger I've been around to see. Admittedly, it's been under a year, but I remember a time when pyra.com was more than a blogger.com splash page.

I know this isn't the Save Pyra fund because it's just not possible to keep a company like Pyra in existence for more than oh, a day, with the kind of money they'll be getting from the donations.

The company's history also has indicated to me that if it were a Save Pyra fund, they'd post a message saying "Look gang, we're fucked. There's no way we can keep Pyra in existence long enough to release Blogger Pro unless we get some cash. Think you can help?"

OR they would say "Look gang, we're fucked. To continue providing this service to you we're going to have to hit you up for 2 bucks apiece by January 15th."

There isn't nearly enough desperation evidenced by anything I've seen on any of their blogs. To return to the example of Deepleap, shutting its doors came as a shock, but to be blunt to the point of rudeness, mid-summer your writing became a lot more fucked up, it was evident to anyone who'd spent a few houes wandering your archives that something was going on in your life. Bryan's entries discussed a shitload about the difficulties of finding VC funding after the spring downturn.

What's going on with the Pyra employee sites? Well, aside from all of the redesigning, pretty much the same as has been going on for the past year. They may be really really good at hiding the fact that their getting desperate, but there's no indication of it.

Blogger Pro's fees are being discussed as around $10/month or so. If they were really hard up for cash they could release with slightly less functionality then they'd planned and add as they go.

Oh, not to mention the fact that I've never had a problem with Blogger. Even before the new server got put in, my blog didn't miss a single update. Pyra's ISP going down was a bit of a pain in the ass for a variety of reasons, but they had little or no control over that.

There's absolutely nothing about this that indicates to me that they need this money to keep things going. I'm certainly not someone Ev calls up to discuss financial matters with, but from where I'm standing I just can't see it.

It's quite possibly my brash idealism showing through, but Christ, the companies out there that Get It are few and far between, and Pyra's one of the few left on my radar screen that do. Something good has to come from this downturn, and one of the pieces of software written by people I admire has to do well.
posted by cCranium at 5:03 PM on January 3, 2001

God, SapphireBlue said that so much better than I could have.
posted by cCranium at 5:04 PM on January 3, 2001

this is exactly how i think of it-- the words could have been taken right out of my mouth. i know many of you might be outside of my perspective, but this kind of reminds me of how the punk rock community felt when i was 15.. here were all these people making music and putting out records and barely breaking even, and the minute that a label charged a little bit more for an album, just to cover their costs, they were scorned as capitalist pigs.

yeah, it's easy to say, "pyra is a company who is out to make money; why should i donate to them?" but i don't think the line between for-profit and for-the-good-of-the-community is so easily drawn in our case. we're offering this free service (and still will continue to do so, which is what a lot of people in this conversation are forgetting), and that's a great thing..

but when a company like ours has yet to make a cent, and the economical climate that we're in now is not exactly going to sustain the slow growth we've been able to manage over the past year and a half, i don't think it is so horrible to ask for a little help to get some of the nuts-and-bolts stuff taken care of while we focus on rolling out our truly sustainable plans.

it's like tubes said-- we're not faceless here. i'd like to think i'm your friend, even if i've never seen your blog before. i'm a fairly cynical person about a lot of things, but the blogger community is one community which i'm proud to be a part of. even though i come into the office every day and this is my job, it's really pretty hard for me to think of it as just that.

oh, and to address ccranium's statement: we spent a really long time debating our options before going with the donation thing. we didn't want to just come right out and say, "hey, we need some help here." we didn't want to be rash with an announcement like that. so we decided to wait and make a formal statement about it, rather than hinting about it. i mean, i could go and point you to all the entries on saturn.org that allude to what has been going on, but i won't. my point is that people don't always post everything they are thinking on their websites, even if they are the folks at pyra.
posted by jacksaturn at 5:22 PM on January 3, 2001

C'mon Blogger folks, how much money would you really be willing to pony up on a per month basis?$1? $5? $10? $20? More?I'm sincerely not trying to be a cynic here, but in my experience talk is very very cheap and people on the web won't likely pay for something if they can do it some other way for free. Also, I'm a little annoyed by all of this 'Blogger improves the web community' stuff. Blogger is a web page tool and as such can be used for making high quality pages and crap pages as well. . .
posted by Mr. skullhead at 5:26 PM on January 3, 2001

Ah well. I was wrong. I shouldn't be suprised.
posted by cCranium at 5:36 PM on January 3, 2001

That would be about $1.50 iced double mochas.
posted by benbrown at 6:17 PM on January 3, 2001

Or, 150, if you care about things making sense.
posted by benbrown at 6:17 PM on January 3, 2001

I have a crush on benbrown. Wait — no-one is reading this anymore, right?
posted by sylloge at 7:05 PM on January 3, 2001

Mr. Skullhead: no one said every webpage that uses Blogger is a gem. I think the point is, it makes personal webpage publishing easier for a lot of people, and as such, I've got to love it. Maybe I would never be caught dead using GeoCities, but I'm glad it's there for people just the same.

Like GeoCities, Blogger is strongly identified with personal (or, if you like, just "non-corporate") websites, and anything that encourages online individual expression, of whatever sort, of whatever value, is a good thing by me.

If this was Vignette or Broadvision or something we were talking about, no one would care. Built for big faceless corporations, by big faceless corporations. Blogger's the polar opposite of that. And that's why it's more than "just a tool".

watch me now avoid the entire question of what, if anything, Blogger Pro will do to Blogger's indie cred.
posted by Sapphireblue at 7:32 PM on January 3, 2001

Even though this has already been said fairly eloquently, I think people need to distinguish between corporate entity Pyra and those guys/gals who make Blogger. Blogger is essentially free - if you can't handle putting a link on your homepage, you have some serious problems - and Pyra is simply asking for some money to help with Blogger. If the money were going to Blogger Pro, as Michelle said, I think everyone would be upset. But money you donate goes help a tool you use, so it's a pretty clear benefit.

As for the issue of guarantees for your donation, think of all the things that cost less. Pyra isn't asking for $50/person. If you donate $10, you're guaranteed stickers from a fairly cool web company. If you donate $5.00, and Pyra suddenly explodes, you've lost $5.00. Remember the hype over micropayments, and people sending each other $.50 for good blog content? I would guess that most people on Mefi read Evhead, Haughey.com, Megnut, etc, so consider the $5.00 micropayments for that content if Pyra dies.

On a kind of related note, I'd love to hear the rationale behind $195 for no-branding Blogger. I know that we've considered using Blogger for corporate news pages at work, but people balk at the $195. Rolling a simple content system in ColdFusion to just do news updates (which is all many people want) and archiving takes maybe 3 hours, at which point paying $195 makes no sense. I think, without any knowledge of Pyra's finances or the popularity of the program, that no-branding Blogger would have more appeal if it cost $50 or $100/year.
posted by jed at 8:03 PM on January 3, 2001

The comparison to freeware, etc doesn't hold. Same goes for the "tip jar" model. In both those cases, the product/service/whatever happens at the highest possible quality, regardless of the donation. When Courtney Love went on about the "tip jar", she didn't say, "I'll put out some so-so music for free, but if you tip me, I'll start putting out some really great music."

Implementing the original "tip jar" model would have been a better move for Pyra, IMHO, then tying the issue to the degrading server performance.

The reason why this attempt at micropayments is not being applauded by everyone (it will probably still work, btw) is not because people don't have faith in the pyrites. It's because the request for micropayments was combined with a threat (or suggestion) of effectively discontinued service unless payment is received.

Another idea: why not limit the tip to 5$? You only need 1000 users to put in 5$ and the problem is solved, (especially since that money is going to come from Paypal anyway). And there's no issue of how much is enough and who gave more.

posted by Calebos at 8:03 PM on January 3, 2001

On a (somewhat) related note, Open Letters is shutting down, but have set up a PayPal link so that any donations received can be spread among their 74 contributors. Jakob Nielsen's prophecy is coming true, only days into the new year: 2001 is the year we start paying for stuff on the web.
posted by jmcnally at 8:30 PM on January 3, 2001

Wow I've never seen so much useless discussion. Give money or don't. No big whoop one way or another.
posted by @homer at 8:31 PM on January 3, 2001

What is wrong with donating money to help to pay for a *free* service? Most companies must charge money. Can you imagine a company starting to sell a new brand of milk and giving it away for free forever? Ok, sure this is the internet, but companies still need to make money.

Look at it rationally, Blogger doesn't make you put ads on your page, you pay nothing. What do Pyra get from having so many people using blogger? They get publicity, more people are aware of the blogger brand. Then what happens, more people sign up. The money is not coming in from providing a product for free. Publicity is great, but it doesn't help pay the bills. There must come a point where they question putting a lot of time and money into providing a free service when it provides no revenue. Can I ask people, what is better? Asking for donations or blocking new subscribers. Surely, the donations option is better.

This could also be a bit of a test to see how well people respond to paying for Blogger. Blogger Pro with 10,000 users @ $5-10 a month would pay quite a few salaries. Remember this is also only one source of revenue. Ultimately, this is the best option and the donation one seems like a one-off test.

I personally would also go for the T-shirt and mug idea. It is an easy way for Prya to make some money and no one can really feel that they are cheated, like they could with a donation, but I don't think it would stop some people jumping down their throats for having the audacity to charge money for something available on the internet.
posted by jay at 9:49 PM on January 3, 2001

The tchotke idea is a very workable one and I know several businesses that use it profitably. Even if you're a commercial outfit, people who support you will be happy to put a little extra money into your pocket as long as they get something in return. The stalwart Mac e-pub TidBITS is a great example -- they're advertising-sponsored, but they sell mugs and mousepads and shirts too, and loyal readers buy them just to show their support.
posted by kindall at 11:13 PM on January 3, 2001

Jakob Nielsen's prophecy isn't going to come true unless some company comes along that's willing to process micropayments for free and try to make their profits off the float. Nobody's going to pay 10 cents to read a daily web page if they have to pay another 10 cents, or 50 cents, or $1, just to send the 10 cents. And anyone who then decides to try to charge a lot more, like $2 a day, to get around that fact, still won't get any hits because nobody's going to pay $2 for a few hundred words.
posted by aaron at 11:20 PM on January 3, 2001

What about the idea of say $15 for six months. The problem with micropayments is the cost of each single payment is high. Simple, don't do by day or month. Companies will like this as well because of the cashflow benefits.
posted by jay at 12:20 AM on January 4, 2001

It sounds like this server upgrade may turn out to be more expensive than anyone thought; Pyra may be able to raise a fair amount of money this way, but it seems to be costing them dearly in goodwill. I've just read a couple of pages (no links) by users who have become afraid of losing their accounts for having dared to criticize the "donation" model. While I don't feel that way -- yet -- it has rather shaken my faith in some sort of Blogger-using "community", which was likely never more than an illusion.
posted by harmful at 7:13 AM on January 4, 2001

I can't see Pyra cancelling accounts because people are criticizing them. Is there anyone who's had their account cancelled by Pyra who has a story about it from their (the cancelee's) side posted somewhere?
posted by cCranium at 7:42 AM on January 4, 2001

For god sake people. Give money or don't. That's it. There's nothing more to it. Personally, I think spinning weird conspiracy theories about getting the ax if you criticize the effort doesn't have any basis in fact. There are no lists of good and bad here. No one is going to remember who gave and who didn't. It's a personal choice. I chose to donate. I don't think any less of anyone who doesn't.
posted by heather at 7:43 AM on January 4, 2001

Silly question:

If Pyra's servers are so bogged down by blogger users, why can't they release a stand-alone version that I can install on my PC? I do almost all of my posting from work or home. The web-based feature is nice but if I had a stand alone version I wouldn't even need to access Pyra's servers other than to say "I've updated my page"

I'm not a programmer but it seems to me Blogger is nothing but a glorified FTP client. It's a *great* glorified FTP client that I use almost daily, and a stand-alone version would be nice.

I might even pay a few bucks for it.

Also, I'm wondering if Pyra will be featured in the next FC Sporadic?
posted by bondcliff at 7:55 AM on January 4, 2001

i sent my check yesterday.

because ev is hot.
posted by eamondaly at 8:14 AM on January 4, 2001

...and Wired News run the story (and in my opinion blow it out of all proportion?)But then again, is it out of all proportion, hmmm, I dunno. This is a tough one.
posted by williamtry at 8:28 AM on January 4, 2001

harmful, there is no such thing as a free lunch. If asking people to support something from which they benefit has a negative impact on "goodwill," the fault is not with Pyra but with the "community."

For the past five years, you've been spoiled by ad-supported Web-based services that you didn't have to pay for directly. We all learned how to ignore the banner ads – some of us even found ways to block display of the banners altogether. Now, those companies are dropping like flies, or changing their business models, because ad-supported sites (except for Yahoo) don't make any money right now.

And harmful, notions that your account will disappear if you don't give a donation are a little paranoid. But I can tell you, with certainty, that unless Blogger gets support in the long term, all the accounts are going to disappear.

If Blogger is important to you, support it before it goes away. Haven't you ever heard of the tragedy of the commons?
posted by tranquileye at 8:32 AM on January 4, 2001

Oh please, no one is going to get their account cancelled if they criticize anything we do. Pyra may appear to be a communist sort of company with our "revolution" slogan and free products, but we're not fascists! If we were going to crack down on content, it would have started when people used Blogger to disparage megnut.com.
posted by megnut at 8:42 AM on January 4, 2001

I am not worried about being cut off, I was just commenting that such concerns are starting to crop up among other userss, and that such dissatisfaction might be of concern to the Pyra folks. Thankfully, none of the "You're either on the bus or you're off the bus" sentiments seem to be coming from the actual Pyrates; I'm sorry if I implied that they were. On the other hand, if the Blogger service is beginning to become such a burden to the company that Pyra will have to start charging fees (for either current or extended service), then I'll be carefully weighing the value of the service to me against the asking price. Which is an entirely separate matter from whether or not I choose to donate to some server fund when I recover from Christmas excesses.
posted by harmful at 8:55 AM on January 4, 2001

Pyra's mother wears army boots

"...and no one ever heard from Bondcliff again."
posted by bondcliff at 8:55 AM on January 4, 2001

A Wired News article? This is news? Companies asking for donations for the software they've produced is not a new thing. It's called shareware.
posted by jkottke at 8:56 AM on January 4, 2001

Harmful, just stop the whining. "Oh, I have to pay! Oh no!" Come on... grow up. Hey Pyra, cut Harmful off now!
posted by johnnydark at 9:04 AM on January 4, 2001

Well, I think we've pretty much known that "Wired News" != "news" for a while now.
posted by bradlands at 10:50 AM on January 4, 2001

Yo Bondcliff:

There isn't a stand-alone version of Blogger. However, if you have cgi-access, you can install Greymatter. Greymatter is also shareware, but in addition to Paypal Noah lets you buy him something off his Amazon wishlist. Brilliant.

I installed Greymatter in about 20 minutes, and I'm absolutely dumb as a rock. If that's not an ad slogan, I don't know what is.
posted by bjennings at 11:28 AM on January 4, 2001

I'm currently looking for blogging software that is a bit more sophisticated than Blogger or its ilk. I intend to post short blog-style entries on my site regularly, but I also intend to occasionally post longer pieces (on pages of their own) in three or four different categories. I want the blogware to automatically link in the most recent ten or so pieces in each category in the main page, as well as maintaining a complete index page of all the longer pieces in each category and posting an announcement in the "main" blog when a new piece is posted.

If necessary I'll just roll my own AppleScripts to do all this (shouldn't be too hard, really) but if I could save a weekend of scripting by using a pre-fabbed solution, I'm all for that. Any suggestions?
posted by kindall at 12:15 PM on January 4, 2001

kindall, check out Organizine. If Blogger's a chunk-based content manager, Organizine proposes to be a page-based one. From what I've heard and read about it, it can do headline updates of your main articles, which is what it seems like you want.

posted by cCranium at 12:35 PM on January 4, 2001

People do not release shareware with a note saying, "I know this software doesn't work that well, but if you send me money, I'll fix it up. Promise!"

Unrelated to that, note the last line from the Wired article:

"The service is too slow to launch a paid-for service, so we've got to solve that problem first," Williams said."

So the donations are apparantly not going solely to fund Free Blogger, but to improve Pyra's overall server farm so that it can it will be able to release a pay-for-use product. I had always thought the two issues were on separate tracks. Does this mean that it's not only Free Blogger, but Blogger Pro that's at risk here?

I'm ready to pay for Blogger Pro, FWIW.
posted by Calebos at 12:43 PM on January 4, 2001

I looked at Organizine earlier but couldn't tell from the site what its capabilities were. Looks like I need to sign up before I can even find out what it can do, but luckily that's free. Thanks for the pointer, cC.
posted by kindall at 12:55 PM on January 4, 2001

off main thread topic
Yeah kindall, I too was totally unsure of the capabilites of Organizine, and then I read this thread and decided to give it a whirl. I signed-up, looking for guides (there are none) and just went along with the notes under the template construction form. It looks to be a powerful package, and I'll be messing further with it this weekend!
/off main thread topic
posted by williamtry at 1:30 PM on January 4, 2001

Calebos, that quote bothers me too, but since I personally wouldn't mind donating with the intent of getting Blogger Pro up and running, I'm not worrying about it too much. That's just me thogh, I can understand where you're coming from.

More importantly though, consider what else the article said. Specifically, this quote:
Curiously, a number of Blogger users complained on Pyra's chat boards that because they too are victims of the dot-com crash, having recently been laid off, they are too broke to contribute.

"chat boards" on Wired links to this conversation in the Blogger discussion boards and I'd like to know exactly where the Wired author got that impression.

No one in that thread mentions anything about the dot-com crash or about how it makes us less willing to donate. I did make a point about investors and their priorities (speed isn't nearly as high as proft), but that's as close as it got.

Considering how apparently willing the author was to either a) make up information or b) not properly identify the sources of that information or c) toss shit out completely out of context, I'm really not terribly inclined to pay much attention to what they had to say.

kindall: that's basically why I was unable to provide you with more info. Check out the Ben Brown Discussion for some more information on Organizine by someone who's used it.
posted by cCranium at 1:41 PM on January 4, 2001

Yeah, by combining Organizine with server-side includes, I think I can sorta get it to do what I want. I treat each section as a separate publication, have it generate headline lists for each, include them in the right spot on the main page. We'll see if it'll do everything I want; I might still end up doing it in BBEdit with AppleScript. Actually this seems like a good project for me to fire up REALbasic and make a bit of shareware.
posted by kindall at 3:11 PM on January 4, 2001

bondcliff wrote : If Pyra's servers are so bogged down by blogger users, why can't they release a stand-alone version that I can install on my PC?

Didn't Pyra say they were going to release a Blogger API or something API-like?

I'm not much of a Frontier hack but in one those funny sort of "the street finds its own uses for things" ironies it probably wouldn't be too too hard to write a "Blogger Tool" for RadioUserland. It's got all the hooks to act as the glue between the Blogger server, a remote FTP server and local files.
posted by aaronofmontreal at 3:29 PM on January 4, 2001

Hi, I am Wired and I have blown things out of proportion. Anyone care to join me, oh I guess you have if you lambasted Pyra earlier.

I have never been so convinced that a company should be funded in my life. Just as jacksaturn mentioned earlier you don't always give up the goods. What I mean is that Pyra doesn't owe anyone anything. They don't need to tell you what is coming next or even what the heck they are going to do with the server.

What I do know is this:

1) Blogger Pro will surely be released shortly. The team has been working on it for a long time and it has some cool features that will certainly be well worth the wait.

2) A monthly fee for Blogger is still up in the air, get your vote in now. How much do you want to pay for it? An odd question but one that I have considered and would appreciate the feedback on. $4.99 a month sound good to anyone else.

3) Blogger Enterprise takes longer to sell, takes up resources and definitely takes the teams focus away from providing Blogger Free and Blog Spot so a little plea to "kick in for the all the cool free crap we have been providing up till now" doesn't strike me as odd.

4) Pyra IS people. Dedicated web people who want to keep providing a cool service while building a sustainable enterprise business. Remember that before you come down too hard on Pyra. I can't remember the last time a larger company started doling out the free services just because their main business was doing well.
posted by jasonshellen at 4:30 PM on January 4, 2001

I'd just like to interject this: Most of the companies created during the dotcom gold rush have been based on stupid ideas (when they had any ideas at all), and deserve to have died. But Pyra isn't one of them. People are obviously using this thing, and the overhead can't be very high. (What is Pyra at this point, an office, a few staff and a few programmers, right?)

So ... if Pyra is having trouble getting their investors to put up any more money (I mean, come on, $5000? If they won't ante up that little, then Pyra at this point is essentially unfunded), then it's time to look for other investors, other VCs. Or at least find someone better to pitch your company to such people, because you are not getting good advice currently. Yes, things are much tighter than before, but they're not that much tighter. Get a business plan that contains a way to make money without outlays of $20 mil/month, and get out there. (I'm not trying to say "I could get you funding tomorrow," but I do believe Blogger is an idea that some VC with a brain would give a shot.)

And Wired's story is legitimate news, IMHO, if badly written. If any better-known company were to do what Pyra has done, it would be all over the financial news, and the damage could conceivably be so bad as to kill the company. (If you're begging users for funding, especially for so little funding as to purchase a single computer, you're completely fucked, in many investors' eyes.)

As far as how to make $$$, I'll bet a lot of people would be willing to pay a small amount per month, say $2-3, especially when 2.0 comes around. It ain't much, but it might be enough to keep Pyra afloat while products are improved and new ideas are implemented. But it shouldn't be much more than that, given how many Bloggers are high school and college kids.
posted by aaron at 4:49 PM on January 4, 2001

$5000? If they won't ante up that little, then Pyra at this point is essentially unfunded

Except that the investors (I guess) are also funding six(?) salaries, office space, server maintenance, and bandwidth. None of which is cheap.

I hate to be cynical, and have it be known that I did contribute to the fund (even though I don't use Blogger), but my prediction is that any improvement in Blogger performance due to the new server will be rapidly eaten up with (1) unrealized demand: all the posts that people choose not to make because Blogger is slow and sometimes unruly; and (2) induced demand: fast Blogger will encourage more posting and more members. There's obviously a point at which server capacity would exceed any induced demand, but $5,000 probably ain't it.

Speaking of which, is there any news on the latest balance of the fund?
posted by daveadams at 9:21 PM on January 4, 2001

I bet Slash or Scoop can do what I want, but they look like they require a lot more access to my Web server innards than I currently have. Still, I've got a buncha stuff to check out next time I have a free weekend... which will probably be after Macworld.
posted by kindall at 10:08 PM on January 4, 2001

I meant to say: thanks to all who gave me things to check out.
posted by kindall at 10:09 PM on January 4, 2001

Yeah, can Ev keep us updated on the current balance of the fund? (please?)
posted by kchristidis at 7:00 AM on January 5, 2001

Bondcliff...I was think the same exact thing. It seems to me that a group of bloggers could licence a version of the software (enterprise version? pro? which could function in this way?) for use as a "node" of some sort, with a private server and stuff, thus alliviateing the stress on the pyra servers. But I guess you could do the same thing with greymatter or something similar, anyway. I think.
posted by Hackworth at 11:48 AM on January 5, 2001

Pyra's offering Blogger merchandise via cafepress now. I'd link to the actual blogger.com cafepress info site, but it won't load for you anyway.

I'm glad they aren't offering cafepress t-shirts, they are pretty low quality.

Here's a link directly to the Blogger store on Cafepress, it may be easier to buy something from there.
posted by cCranium at 1:31 PM on January 5, 2001

< off-topic >
I'm glad they aren't offering cafepress t-shirts, they are pretty low quality.

Does anyone know how nice or not-nice Cafepress mugs are?
< /off-topic >
posted by redfoxtail at 2:24 PM on January 5, 2001

The mugs are pretty decent, that's why we decided to do those. Of course, I may be biased. ;)
posted by megnut at 3:14 PM on January 5, 2001

(My fucking useless cablemodem won't load big pages, so it's taken me to revert to dialup to post this. Ahem.)

I like Blogger. I use Blogger. I promise to buy all the Pyrates large caffe lattes (soy, yes, Meg?) when I visit SF.

But. It's like the dot-com that spends a million on a Superbowl ad, but doesn't upgrade its servers to deal with the demand. Were any other company suffering from its own success -- through a good product and even better publicity -- it'd be up on fuckedcompany.com. There's a good definition of a company that asks for donations, and that's "a charity".
posted by holgate at 3:44 PM on January 5, 2001

holgate, I felt the same way for a long time (okay, well, a couple of days) but given some time to chew on the thought, I changed my mind. The longer version's on my blog, hopefully I'll be able to say it shorter here.

What it boils down to for me is that the Internet, the web especially, has become a whole lot more commercial in the past 2 years, and most of what it's become doesn't really jive with my vision of what the Internet should be.

Corporations do influence the public's perception of the Internet, now more than ever, and there are people out there who haven't yet discovered the "public" Internet, the one that matches my vision.

As a corporation, Pyra really really closely matches my vision of what the Internet should be. The people themselves personify it, and what Pyra itself provides is a service that encourages it by making personal expression easy.

Companies that match my vision are few and far between. The only other one I can think of off-hand is O'Reilly & Associates. If I want to encourage companies to maintain that vision, then I'm going to do everything I'm able to to help the ones that are.

It's a highly personal reason, and I'm certainly not going to fault others for feeling differently, but that's why I've decided to donate.

I think I actually said it better here, and certainly didn't stick to that short version I promised, but hell, the thread's already forcing dial-up access anyway. :-)
posted by cCranium at 4:47 PM on January 5, 2001

Your cable modem throttles pages it considers "too big"?!?! Please say what service you're using so the rest of us can avoid it!
posted by aaron at 10:30 PM on January 5, 2001

As a rather run-of-the-mill Blogger.com user, i'd just like to point out a few things that haven't yet been mentioned.

Blogger's #1 draw for me is not ease of posting, because there are obviously a host of other services that do this and can do it on your own server. My favourite thing about Blogger is the community and the free advertising that comes with it. On a busy day fully a fourth of my hits might come from blogger's last10 updated link, and back in the day the search function served a similar purpose (when will it officially return?). Without blogger i'd just be some hole in the wall that no one looks into.

That is the reason i heeded the call of "ante up." Yes, it's a free service. True, it is not the same as a "tip jar" model. I just wanted to show some monetary appreciation for the months of fun i've had so far. I really don't see all the ethical issues you've brought up as a huge problem, only because i tend to expect the best out of people and in that sense i don't think the Pyra folks would spurn us in any way shape or form, even if they really had to.

However, i too have been wondering about what sort of business model Pyra hopes to implement. I wait with baited breath to see what features blogPro might offer and for what price... Pyra has certainly found more of an audience (both personal and media) than they could have ever hoped for, now they've got to use it.

The introduction of a monthly or yearly fee would definitely alter the scape of blogger, and i think you can't hardly sum up the ramifications here. Even a $2 monthly fee would probably cut the blogger population down to 33% just on the basis of how many young folks on free servers use it. Would i pay $5 a month for advertisement (which is what i value blogger as)? No. Not at all. The service would continue to be worthwhile, but it wouldn't balance cost with reward in the same way that it currently does.

So, yeah, i'm late the conversation and i prattled on for a while, but i especially had wanted to mention that first bit. G'nite.
posted by krisis at 7:22 PM on January 6, 2001

More publicity links on the Blogger homepage infer that the server (for which everyone's donated) still won't keep up with new demand for very long.

Blogger Pro surely must be coming.
posted by williamtry at 5:25 AM on January 8, 2001

I find it mildy amusing (though really not that unusual) that people asked if Pyra was still accepting contributions. I can just imagine the conversation...

"Hey, uh, I wanted to send you money, is that okay?"

"NO! No you cannot send us money, we don't want money! Money is bad go away with you and your money!"

Maybe it's just too early still. :-)
posted by cCranium at 6:01 AM on January 8, 2001

We talk about Blogger too much. I'm going outside to play.
posted by spaceplace at 11:18 AM on January 8, 2001

More publicity links on the Blogger homepage infer that the server...

posted by aaron at 2:36 PM on January 8, 2001

A while back while reassuring myself that imply and infer were indeed two pieces of the same coin (The writer implies, the reader infers, for example) I found a really good explanation of usage on dictionary.com. I couldn't find it again, but some various searches turned up this page which says pretty much what I just did.
posted by cCranium at 4:01 PM on January 8, 2001

Ok cheers, yes, you're right... Imply.

The writer implies, the reader infers.
The writer implies, the reader infers.
The writer implies, the reader infers.

I will learn from my mistakes.
posted by williamtry at 7:55 AM on January 9, 2001

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