Idea: VIP Members Area

Hey everyone,

The idea of introducing a paid membership for the forums has been proposed lately. The concept would be something like this:

[li]A person can become a “VIP Member” by paying a certain amount (probably $5 or $10 monthly).[/li][li]VIP Members have access to all the regular forums, plus a private members forum.[/li][li]This exclusive forum can be a place to share ideas with a small group of the most dedicated developers.[/li][li]VIP Members would also have a badge (like “Official Rep”) for extra street cred.[/li][li]The regular forums would continue to operate as normal (entirely free & publicly accessible).[/li][/ul]

What do people think of this idea?

I like to keep things “open” as much as possible. This is very much the spirit of Android and the open source community. So I’m really keen to hear your feedback here. Do you thinking providing a “VIP Membership” is a good idea, or would it be detrimental to the spirit of the site?

There is of course precedent for this. Many high profile internet marketing sites have subscription memberships of some sort. I can see two main benefits:

[li]Speaking to a small community of dedicated individuals can actually give you more freedom. In particular, freedom to put forward ideas which are sometimes wasted in public.[/li][li]VIP Memberships would provide a good reputation indicator. Most people don’t create fake accounts or post spam when it costs money. So people with the VIP badge would have a certain degree of credibility.[/li][/ol]

Let me know what you think!

I am not personally in favor of closed discussions - if I want that I would direct message or e-mail communication or create the same type of group on skype or some such thing.

I like the forum for airing ideas/discussing things of a wider nature - of general interest - or where a large funnel needs to be cast to gather the knowledge (and intelligence) of people (regardless of their monetary nature or success in the business). Those with pre-established success in the business will be the most tight-lipped - so they are not the people I would want to address or expect anything from them (since most exchanges with them will always be in terms of money or “what can you do for me” - though all social relationships are more or less of that nature - with the vip member types it is more blatant).

I have some experience with forum dynamics in an unrelated field (i.e. from participating etc.) - and general sense there was that a closed forum RAPIDLY loses it’s “dynamism” or vitality - as it winds up being populated by a few - and the power of a forum is EXACTLY that of REACH - i.e. there maybe a junior developer in Korea who has an excellent response.

However a VIP area maybe valid for members here who wish to exchange ideas for $300 - that type of thing - perhaps a specific incarnation for that may be for example when mrkisss or affliate or some of those sell their idea for $500 - they may actually want THAT sub-group to have a place to talk - so creation of THREADS which are hidden may have some value for that.

The negative of such sub-areas within a forum is that it creates a sense of “what are people talking about here” (as “those in the know” will be talking some other language) - and this will hurt the “open” nature that people expect of such forums - precisely the reason people are willing to share some ideas (which may in some instances be worth money as well) - is because they now they have gotten similar help without strings attached in the past - so that creates a warm feeling for such forums. Once a forum starts experimenting with sub-forums that are “exclusive” - that will begin to harm the “niceness” factor - with a result that you will get less open participation.

Given the needs expressed for such a VIP forum - does it have to operate as a sub-forum of this forum ? Or could it be a completely different forum/website (better to not harm the environment of this forum) ? The value of having an “joint” forum - maybe that “VIP members” from one forum can express their superiority on the “plebes” in the open forum - however I am not exactly sure how that will be received - I suspect that type of dynamic would suit an possibly accomplish a mission where the VIP forum is the MAIN forum - and the supposedly open forum is just the “funnel” to get people to become paid members. Again this completely changes the nature of the forum - to essentially a paid forum. So it could be argued that the actual rationale for a VIP forum seems less to cater to the “special” needs of the super-rich - than to create an environment for a paid forum.

I do not have experience with such private forums - so the example cited i.e. marketing forums etc. - may have merit (I don’t have a sense for that).

But one advantage I can see for a private forum is that it would keep the discussion out of reach of Google search - which could be valuable (but would also remove much discussion from getting an audience - as some of the participants/new blood on this forum may have arrived precisely via Google search for issues that were being discussed “in the open” on this forum).

So in conclusion - my own sense is that making a forum “private” immediately reduces it’s visibility and vitality. If the purpose is to have “profitable” developers only discuss between themselves - then what is to prevent further subdivision between them - for the uber-profitable wanting a super-profitable group. You can see this is very similar to how Scientology works.

Worse - the VIP nature of a closed forum - may give some a false sense of privacy - when there is really none (all discussion will be archived).

The forum moderator also has to accept the responsibility of hosting such a closed forum - where discussions will more readily turn towards a “black hat” nature - i.e. legal and illegal means of manipulating Google etc. will be discussed.

The context for this thread is:

Where a member asked if a separate section could be created for discussion between the super-rich - or between people he likes.

Essentially it is an appeal for creation of a sub-forum FOR that person (I think he even suggested he would be willing to pay for it - since he earns $70K/month).

One option maybe for David to create a sub-forum for “followers of XXX” i.e. that VIP member - so they can have their discussion - maybe charge the developer $2K/month for that (which he might be willing to pay).

But that is very similar to that person essentially asking to buy this forum. And that is another thing you could consider - i.e. operate a forum dedicated to the needs of that person.

But you can see that it will instantly change the nature of the forum from an open one - to one that is captive to the monetary goals of a single developer. It still is captive to YOUR goals and constraints as forum moderator (spending for server costs etc.) - however in the hands of a non-developer it will take on a different tone.

So a possibility you could consider is to consider SELLING the forum to that VIP member.

But you can see that taken to that extreme - EVEN HE will know that the forum will lose it’s vitality. The same thing can be accomplished by that VIP member spending time on this forum - perhaps even in direct message with users - and then bootstrap that social group to his own website/skype etc. However, evidently since the VIP member is so busy making money (is not a developer but knows how to move people to get his overall goal done) - interacting with people is naturally NOT worth his time (he has no time for people and wants results now) - so he will pay for this access now. For him it is a business relationship.

Much of what this VIP member wants can be achieved using Skype - so why would he want to create that as a sub-section of this forum ? If not to leverage his sense of accomplishment in his business into an immediate social circle - essentially to buy a golden throne on the forum - to leverage his success outside the forum into a “special place” on this forum - as open discussion with the developer minions is just not his cup of tea.

I think we are talking about 2 very different universes here.

Just to clarify - the idea of a VIP Members area is not only related to this thread about the “Big League”. It has come up in a number of discussions I’ve had lately, so it’s more a general idea for the forums (and not a response to one particular user’s request).

Thanks for the feedback though @adforandroidapps! Lots of ideas there to think about. And I do agree with much of what you’ve said regarding “open” forums and the risks of exclusive groups therein.

Would be great to hear from some others too :slight_smile:

David, I’ve thought about a similar thing (even for my site, provide the book for free with one month subscription to forums) and it does work really really well for some niches. See The issue is people probably won’t pay just simply to discuss with each other. This model makes more sense if people get some info (guides and pointers) as well as consultation from the payee. And of course, the consultation can be open to read for other members. Of course, the fee would have to be increased to at least 50 bucks a month or more, depending on the resources and consultation available.

The idea is this: Provide more value to users than it costs them. An example is my eBook. If it is followed to the T you can 100x the cost.

Just my 2 cents!

Oh and it makes sense to charge butt loads because our business is so lucrative. Just like is 99 bucks a month but its a small investment for an affiliate marketer. I’m pretty sure they make about 70k a month or so, and that’s only 700 users.

I have posted some possible solutions to what is being demanded in the thread by ProfessorDD:


I think what Baksai may mean is that a “forum” already makes it a place for discussion - suggesting a public place of discourse.

What you are asking for a narrower interpretation of it - which is still possible on this forum via “Direct Messages” between members. In addition some users have previously offered restricted info (only revealing ideas for $300) and they have taken that discussion off this forum.

So restricted discussion will necessarily take place in some restricted place.

Given the mobile space is so fluid - and ideas can quickly be incorporated by many - closing the opportunity window - what is the value of a LARGE private discussion forum ?

In addition, in the type of transactions you are envisioning - where info is exchanged between members (and that info is worth a lot of money) - HOW do you envision those 5 or 10 people in that private forum will feel comfortable discussing anything ? In addition when such high stakes are in play - it would seem the discussions would require 1-1 privacy - so your discussion with member 1 of the private group does not get seen by members 2 to 100 of that private group - which necessarily is demanding a 1-1 solution. That is, EVEN within the private forum you WILL NEED further restrictions of info flow. How do you propose to do that. What you are requiring is a special channel outside the public or relatively public forum that will exist in an open forum and a private forum respectively - in essence you are requiring a SECURITY infrastructure that allows seamless integration of a forum to a skype-like channel - so members can easily be added (and you know they are the same member as on the forum).

To me it seems the real functionality in demand here is ability to integrate video conferencing into the forum. Sort of a skype-for-makingmoneywithandroid etc.

It seems a possible way for David to make money from this forum WHILE keeping it free - maybe to offer ADDITIONAL functionality - a linked videoconferencing feature for PAID accounts.

Those people would have the benefit of having AUTHENTICATED users - so a David here would be David on the videoconference (and I wouldn’t have to setup a Skype tryst and the “are you that David” and all that that perhaps ensues in such out-of-channel meetups).

This seems to be to be the type of one-to-one interaction that ProfessorDD seeks - since the purpose he has outlined (to discuss confidential trade secret marketing etc. ideas) - may not fit the “everyone knows” nature of an open forum but it ALSO DOESN’T fit the nature of a slightly-smaller-only “private members area”.

Because inevitably when ProfessorDD will want to communicate with folks - it will be a smaller group - perhaps WITHIN the private members area - so he essentially wants ability to have restricted discussions.

THis is doable in skype etc. - however it will not be possible to have it like chat (so 5 people don’t need to be online at the same time).

So maybe a solution is a “Direct Message” facility or chat facility (logged do it can be read later) that can be setup like a thread discussion.

EDIT: but whose members/recipients are setup ahead of time by the thread starter - so a thread on the forum but where the starter of the thread identifies the users he wants to target

Only one thing:
If that VIP part of the forum, really will be useful, why not?.
I bet, no one is going to share any useful ideas in that VIP area if they will not get paid. Like now, they want to have some 300$+ for some shtty ideas, really I know some and they are too shitty to be sold. So, imagine that people with “great”, "super f amazing 10000x boost to revenue", “100kkk in/ week” will share them just for some 5$ or 10$… and will not get paid anything… WOW))

The whole idea of VIP forum is to get something useful, something really useful( maybe some source codes, some bonus books, and etc)… Currently I dont see any point of it.
It might work, if every VIP member will HAVE TO share some of his “great/super” ideas, then the VIP membership could somehow grant its value( even a little bit).

That’s my opinion…

If you want to make some premium content then this is a wrong way in my opinion. There is a right way too.

Create a lot mini tutorials, for example: “Set up GetJar in your app”, “Set up meditation via Appbrain sdk”, “Rate my app” etc. every tutorial cost a 1 dollar, 2 dollar or 3 dollars they are cheap for peoples who do not need technical assistance (just idea how to do something) but there is also a premium part of forum where you can pay 5 dollars/monthly and you can get technical help about implementation from author and other members of that area. Also in premium area they can download PDFs with more commented code with some tips when is right time to implement ad, appwall, rate my app etc.
There can be a lot tutorials like starter kits for games, starter kits for utility apps and so on.

I love this forum but putting it on that commercial level would hurt a bit.
Dave, you did some really good job in creating this forum and I can understand that you want to get more out of your work (no backtalk, everyone wants) but it would somehow change the flair in here …

I would be totally for a forum space that is for verified developers only. From some of the rants and insane posts i have seen here there are users masquerading as developers. Maybe with a badge that you are verified as a real developer next to whatever username you use.

As for a vip area. Not sure that would be useful because even in an area like that i wouldn’t really be divulging ideas in case they are stolen from me. With the anonymous nature of this site you couldn’t even track down the person that totally just ripped off your idea or way of doing things.

I though a little and found out that hubris mentioned exactly I was thinking about recently.

Having a verified developer / VIP / whatever you name it, badge provides a huge credibility.
Ideally, people can earn it either by granted from administration of the forum, or by buying it (one time or monthly) and supporting the project. In both ways, people contribute, have something to lose and, correspondingly, have much more credibility.

Thus, selling / buying ideas / software and similar stuff becomes more real and less fraudulent.
Also, like Dan mentioned, some people would be interested in having access to the premium content such as his e-book and it may be an additional stimulus to enter the club. I am not sure though how to get this content efficiently.

I like the anonymous part of this site. Hell i was reading it long before i registered. Having an admin verify me as a developer is ok but doesn’t mean i want others (even if they are other devs) to know my developer name for my apps. I don’t come here to lose something so having a system where more than a ban or temp ban could happen would pretty much make me not come back. Not saying i am looking to get banned lol.

Not sure i would pay for vip access to get a book really either. I bet it has some good stuff in it. Probably things that i have found in the last year or so on my own as well. I definitely know it is missing things that i have encountered. But not going to pay for forum access to get it.

You don’t need content to bring verified developers to a closed area of a forum. It will create its own content very quickly. There is a lot that i would say there that i won’t in a public forum filled with the mix of devs and non-devs. Not going to give away the farm but i would be way more apt to help others with bugs, testing, etc in a private area.

Guys don’t you think that when I would start an ad-company I had not $20 per month to fake reviews?
Or if I want to “steal” an app idea, $20 are too much for a chance to be faster in developing it than the original author to get $20k+ (that would be premium for 83.3 years)

Money doesn’t cut off the “bad guys”, some of them are surely richer than you!

“users masquerading as developers. Maybe with a badge that you are verified as a real developer next to whatever username you use.”
A “real” developer? If some 14 y/o kid made a game that has just 500 installs after 2 months, is not a “real” developer?

I liked it in here that people who are just new to the app developer scene can talk on the same level like the ones who already live very good from their apps.

A link to their developer page would indicate that they at least seem to be serious about that.

Paying money is like a prostitute that gives your $50 for instance just to show you she is serious with you. After the act you have to give $100 back lol

I have to agree with @alecman here.
Besides, if you are turning over several K a month then you probably have a good system going. Your time is probably best spent strengthening and growing on that system.

I come here to keep up to date on the industry, see what’s working and what isn’t and to exchange general information with others.

Thats the only part i dont agree with. If anyone wants to belong to certain private section by paying a fee or subscription it is perfectly fine, but that does not give you the right to be shown as superior to the rest of the forum. At least not when that badge is bought.

Badges should be earned according to the contribution to the forum (number of posts, likes, times mentioned, etc) not by spending money to become VIP.

A1ka1inE exactly what I thought, but somehow you just expressed it better xD
@BaksaiApps cool idea, like the ranking system that many boards have, that calculates your rank on certain factors.

Again to Dave, I don’t want to block your income, these are just my thoughts.

I wouldn’t mind paying $5 or $10 at all, but I only worry that it wouldn’t be popular enough to reach any type of critical mass, or that it would take away too much from the public forums.

It is better to add ranking and badge system to this forum. Maybe only official reps shpuld have to pay $5 on time fee.:cool: