In the beginning, it was a blog, and it was good:
And as you can see above, in 2007, this good blog moved to SB Nation.
That logo! It’s so lovely. I found the new circle redesign launch post from the Vox overlords the other day, and it’s this blather dripping with branding talk, like that’s how normal people see the world. The big image they posted of all the same-looking site logos actually contains the PPP version with two blockers if you look really closely.
We are at the cusp of change again.
On Friday, January 20, SBNation’s parent company Vox Media laid off a lot of salaried employees and announced the closure of all of the hockey sites (save six) that were being run by independent contractors. They had already absorbed those sites based in California. At that time they also cut off the MLS sites, and many in other sports. I don’t know of anyone outside SBN who has a list, but it was and is a big change in the marketplace with a lot of fans losing their communities at the end of this month.
Over the last few weeks, a company that does sports media approached SBN with a plan to buy up the hockey sites. The proposal wasn’t fully fleshed out, but suffice it to say, it was a request to jump out of the frying pan and into the fire. Most sites said no.
Through this process SBNation has repeated their desire to transfer the site name, branding and URL to site managers that wanted to keep the blogs going as independent operations. That has been my plan since about five minutes after I got the email on January 20. I didn’t know much right away, but I did know I wanted to cut the puppet strings. The fruitless negotiation with this network took so much time, that SBN have extended our ability to operate on their platform through to the end of March if we choose, and so we shall.
I consider what comes next a multi-faceted — process, to steal Kyle Dubas’s word. It’s not really a problem, although there will be some. But this is how I approached the decisions I had to make.
My first thought was for the archives of this site, articles that stretch back to the days when the Teacher’s pulled the strings and we danced. I feel a great responsibility to keep that alive and stable on the web. SBN has offered to give that data to us, and we will get that up and running.
I want to say this will be seamless, and come April 1, you will get up and read PPP and go about your day. I hope that happens, but there will be hiccups along the way.
Once the archives are secure the next step is to just carry on dancing. This is where many things will change, however. The site won’t look the same, but I sure am tempted by that teal, sage and turquoise colour scheme. The splash of orange is what makes it.
We aren’t going to have access to the wonderful catalogue of photos on the site, and they will be removed from archival posts. The reason for that is, frankly, cost. Getty Images think photographers should be paid, and they think people who use their photos should pay enough for the rights to them that everyone prospers. Such old-fashioned ideas! But the truth is, at first, and maybe forever, we can’t pay that cost.
Another cost, as yet not quite nailed down, is commenting. It’s free, cheap or expensive depending on the features you need. And I don’t expect free to work, and life rarely gives you what you really want cheaply.
This is going to cost money. So let’s talk about that.
If all I was willing to do was preserve the site’s history, that’s inexpensive, and can be done cheaply and maintained basically forever, if I planned it carefully. I would do this as a matter of honour, no matter what.
The cost for a site like PPP is in handling the level of traffic, providing robust commenting and doing all the other things that are involved behind the scenes. This takes money. And I’m not kidding myself or you when I say that Vox didn’t dump these sites out of capriciousness. The ad-chasing business is a tough one, and ad sales are dwindling — it wasn’t working for them.
I’d love to say I don’t want any advertising on this site ever. But I don’t think that’s realistic, and for a time, there will be. The goal will be to generate some ongoing operating income, not to destroy the user experience and degrade performance.
But on top of that we will need some start-up funds and we’re hoping to see some subscriptions from people who think PPP is worth a few bucks a month for the laughs and the friends you met along the way.
I’ve talked now about this for 800 words, so that’s enough for today. We can come back tomorrow when I’ll have more information on our fundraising strategy.
PPP continuing as it is right now through the end of March
The future will then begin.
I will ask you for money, just not today.