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A DBR Update & Request For Opinions

As most of you know, if you've been reading here awhile, one of our challenges has been to fully fund the site. A while back we asked what the best way to do that was and you thought that the PBS fundraising model was the best option, and you've been terrific about supporting us through donations. But we again face a dilemma which our growth has forced upon us. In a nutshell, it's not getting any easier to do the basics, much less to try some of the more ambitious ideas we have.

And while we've taken pride in providing what we think is a pretty good service at a great price (basically whatever you think it's worth to you), economic reality, like Flannery O' Connor said about William Faulkner in a different context, is a train which requires you to move or be run over.

In recent days, we've concluded that our new situation requires us to think of DBR in business terms, because if we don't, if we continue to take it day by day, we will certainly get run over by that big train of expenses. We have to start thinking strategically and thinking ahead.

Here's our situation. Across the board, our costs are going up. Last spring, for instance, as tournament fever rose, we began for the first time to get days of million+page views on a consistent basis.

Not entirely by coincidence, our server died this summer. As we had mentioned before, the sharp spikes in traffic will no longer allow us to use just a simple server and a firewall. We are in the process of installing an array of machines to more properly distribute the load.

And our traffic has grown to the point where we can now start considering various ways to improve our content. We don't want to talk too much about this right now, since we don't want to say we're going to do this this and this, and then later not be able to do it, but we would very much like to do this, this, and this if we can afford it.

We're always considering our options in this regard, and we have been approached many times by people interested in doing deals with us. As a matter of fact, we've recently been approached with a possible arrangement for advertising.

Our dilemma then is this: while we haven't made any decision on the most recent proposal, if we did do it, we will face a difficult transition with no certain outcome. In other words, our fear is that we'll lose the wonderful support we've received, and not make it up quickly enough in advertising revenues to offset it, which would pretty much do us in.

So what we're asking you guys is: what do we do? The financial train is coming, even if we just keep things as they are - nothing's getting cheaper. And if we add in new features, or new writers, they won't be as homegrown as most of what we've done so far has been, and we'll have to pay for it - and it will add to the traffic as well.

So what do you think? Have any of you come across this situation before? Any ad wizards who want to share their wisdom? Interested in naming rights for a DBR machine? ;)

Please take a few minutes and let us know what you think of what we've discussed here and how you think we should proceed. We'd really, really appreciate your input.