As you know, we’ve kept SoxProspects.com 100% free to the public for about eight years now, and we hope to do so for the foreseeable future. As you may have also noticed, we’ve branched out quite a bit in recent years in terms of content and new features on the site. But with some of these new features have come increased costs – while revenue has generally remained steady because the site itself is free.
As we’ve done over the past three seasons, we're reaching out to the community for donations to help keep the site free for everyone. Donations help cover site costs in three primary areas: (1) scouting costs; (2) web hosting fees; and (3) Yuku “Gold Community” forum costs.
In the first area, your donations from the 2010 season helped send Chris Mellen to Ft. Myers last Fall to scout the Instructional League, helped covered the costs of Mellen's and Chris Hatfield's week-long "Southern Swing" to scout Salem and Greenville earlier this season, and helped defray the costs of travelling up to Portland on nearly a weekly basis throughout the season. In the coming year, we hope to continue more regular scouting throughout New England, but we also hope to branch out with more regular coverage in Salem, Greenville, and Ft. Myers, as well as more first-hand amateur scouting. We anticipate that most of the donations will go to improvements in this area.
In terms of web hosting costs, the site resides on four servers, each with their own set of annual fees that tend to get more expensive each year.
Regarding the Yuku forum hosting costs, many of you long-time readers will remember that Yuku offers two hosting programs: (1) pay-per-visitor, ad-free “Gold Community” hosting, where the site is required to pay a certain dollar figure per 1,000 page views; and (2) ad-based hosting, whereby the message board is hosted for free, except Yuku places advertisements within the actual posts on the Forum. We tried option #2 on two occasions in each of the last two years, but the readership universally rejected the intrusive ads. However, the Community generously agreed to chip in to collectively cover the costs of upgrading to a Gold Community. Several readers made donations ranging from $6 to $200, and that helped cover the Gold Community costs over the last year. Thanks to everyone who chipped in!
One thing I’d like to note is that while we’ve remained free, other baseball sites charge for content. For example, Scout.com costs $69.95 per year, Baseball America charges $66 per year, and Baseball Prospectus costs $39.95 per year. I think those sites are outstanding in their own right, and worthy of subscriptions, and I in fact have been a subscriber to each of these sites. I’d also like to think we’d be worthy of comparable rates if we ever decide to go that route, but we’ve decided that we want to keep the site free for as long as we can. Donations from regular readers go a long way towards making that happen.
Ultimately, over the next two weeks, we are asking our readers to donate what they can to help keep SoxProspects.com free to the public. If you want to donate, first, we would like to thank you profusely – it’s truly appreciated. To donate, visit our Donation page. All payments are secured through PayPal, although you don’t need a PayPal account to contribute. All of the funds will go directly to our costs – none of the owners have taken out a dollar of profit out of the site's tills over the last four years (obviously we’re not doing this to get rich!).
Last, to any of our regular readers that are not members of the SoxProspects Forum, please sign up! We’d love to get some new members in on the discussion and some new ideas floated around during our peak season! And to all of our current forum members out there, don’t be afraid to start new discussion threads – especially threads on specific players. It would be great to get more player-centric discussion going on the board in addition to the other topics already being discussed.
As always, thanks to all of our readers for visiting the site and all of our forum members for posting!