tl;dr - "I'm ready to donate - quick, link me!" Here we are again folks. This time last year my intent was to run an abbreviated Spring Drive, and then have our 'normal' push in the Fall. My thinking was that the Summer is always lean because of a precipitous downturn in traffic and ad revenue after NSD, and that pain extends into the Fall until the uptick in ad income starts to roll in (we generally get paid 30-90 days after the end of a given month). So the thinking was/is good, but who wants to think about the drive once football is actually underway? Not me. Not you. So let's carry forward as we have in years past. The goal over the years as the emergent nature of the drives has waned was to be increasingly low-key. We've definitely accomplished that, and to the credit of the community, total donations over the whole of the year haven't fallen off as much as one might expect. So why fix what's not broken, at least in the case of a mechanism that is meant to be as benign and passive as reasonably possible. I told Deety (who has done an absolutely outstanding job writing up the drives from year to year) that I intended to do the write up this year because there are a few things to talk about and this seemed like a good time and place to do it. Certainly about the drive itself, and yes, Longwood will be adding 2013 banners today and/or tomorrow -- but I always want to talk about the site and how we move forward. The nature of the game online, in terms of fan communities, has changed a bit, mostly in good ways. But with that environmental change has come a little bit of a vacuum here at BP. Where and how do we fit in? More on that, and how the drive and this discussion fit into that discussion, below. I've broken this down into sections, so pick and choose what you like OR (and this may be what I recommend) skip the boring wall of text with several instances, of bad comma, usage, and scroll down to the bottom to read about all the vcash you'll get for participating! Faster, more fun, fewer words! Me: For those who follow along with my health issues, no news is mostly good news. I still have the same battery of issues we've discussed in the past. The Lupus, Scleraderma, COPD, organ and tissue damage, "Mixed Connective Tissue Disease" cocktail that we learned a couple (a few?) years ago was the product of toxic water exposure in utero in 1971 when I was all up inside my mother down in junior officer housing, Tarawa Terrace, in Camp Lejeune, NC. Many of you have seen "Semper Fi: Always Faithful" the documentary that was made about exactly that situation, and the good fight led by a man who lost his daughter to that exposure named Jerry Ensminger. Others have seen recent coverage on NBC's Rock Center, or even local coverage about the issue. This is all terrific, because it's exposure and pressure (one hopes) that will get the Marine Corps away from their "not our fault our Marines, Sailors, and their families think they've been hurt by the contamination" and *towards* "always faithful", taking care of their own. A report, said to be damning, from the CDC is overdue, and that's likely going to go a long way towards what will still be a protracted and difficult fight, and I'll be flat surprised if any real relief comes to those actually impacted -- which may well be the whole point. Reduce cost and exposure, the 'enemy' is suffering steady attrition. But enough about that. 2011 was my best year, from a health standpoint, since 1998 or so; at least for a few months over the Spring and Summer. 2012 was a bit of a step back. I'm cautiously optimistic about 2013. We'll see how it goes. The key point here, and what makes this little stroll though my situation relevant, is that Jo (Longwood) and I remain eternally appreciative to our friends here, and this community as a whole, from quite literally rescuing us from what was shaping up to be a bit of a tragedy pre-diagnosis when the world was collapsing in on top of us. Those early drives, and support from folks here, got us through a period that was bad enough that I didn't rationally see realistic paths out. So as I have before, I thank you again, and BP stands today because of your friendship and support. The Site: BP, as I suggested above, lives in an ever-changing environment. When it launched, there were few sources of quality and timely information for fans. And these sources (at times) did two things with that information; (1) they lorded and dangled it over people with winks and nudges, tantalizing and teasing, and in some particularly unfortunate cases used their knowledge to elevate their own standing or sense of self worth in the community - "I know something you don't, and maybe I'll tell you if you fawn enough!", (2) they charged money for it, but knowing that they had a bit of a monopoly, the bang for your buck was pretty limited. Note carefully that this is NOT a condemnation of any site or their past or present practices, we have a tremendous amount of respect and appreciation for ALL Buckeye fan sites, commercially driven or not. Much of what was sold in the earlier days wasn't much different than the type of post or speculation you'd find in the regular forums. Fast forward to now, and consider the likes of Eleven Warriors, Land-Grant Holy Land, Buckeye Banter, The Buckeye Battle Cry, and all of the other blogs (I'm omitting lots of good ones, but the list could go on for lines and lines and an inventory isn't my point, apologies to the fantastic efforts left unsaid). This is EXACTLY what I envisioned back in the day, the community serving itself. Passionate people with the time and opportunity to step forward and deliver top notch content without dangling, without teasing, and without charging. I never suggested that would wipe out the opportunity for pay sites to charge for premium content, what I did suggest is that it would raise the quality bar in terms of what those who were willing to pay would get. And let's, of course, not forget the O-Zone where John Porentas and his crew have been fighting that same battle as a full-featured site covering ALL OSU sports, bringing quality original content to the community, with no strings attached, for 18 years. Add to this what's available (if one has exceptional filters) on Twitter and other forms of social media -- it is a *fantastic* time to be a fan. Quality information is free, accessible, rich in quality and quantity. So where, oh where, does BP fit in? We're a community. Some say a quirky community given how tight a grip we maintain on our respect-the-kids philosophy. We don't and never have worked as a destination for certain posters, the sort that need to rage petulantly at a given player because something didn't go according to our plans as fans. That's good. That's great, actually. So we're that. But what else are we? What's our ongoing purpose in the community, what keeps us relevant? I think in many ways it's more of the same. Encouraging people to step up and contribute what's inside them, even (especially?) if that means they move on to launch their own products or bring their expertise to other sites. It doesn't matter where people take it, it matters that we remain a place for people to find their voice in whatever way they desire. So as much as this is a call for a discussion about what BP should be doing going forward, it is also a strong call to action. Step up and get involved. The amazing mods and admins around here, the people who drive the great recruiting information, who used to do the absolute best (bar none) game previews on the net, the people who drive the bookie, and contribute to discussions WORTH having -- they all started out by registering, making their first post, and involving themselves to the degree in which they were comfortable. So many sites casually say "by the community, for the community." That's all we are. BP is what BP's community brings to it. In 2013, we need to get back to innovating and bringing more to the table. Do you like to break down games the way mgoblog does? Do you like to do statistical analysis about recruiting ranking accuracy? Do you just like to get into MS Paint and make Hoke look like a joke? Whatever it is, within reason, there's probably an audience for it and a place for it here. One of the things BP needs is a static vehicle/front-end to present content (that's coming), another one of the needs is the content itself. On that front, sadly, we've taken (understandably, given the demands and the fact that it was the same people year after year) a step backwards. So step up, be heard, and make this place better. We are much like a football team. As much as we sometimes have outgoing talent who made their mark on the site but then move on (although some of you are NEVER allowed to leave, you know who you are - BLOOD IN, BLOOD OUT), we have to bring in and promote new talent who will continue to take us forward. That's what my call to action is about. BP hasn't run its course, it simply needs to see the emergence of newer voices to bolster the old. We need those great conversations -- which means we have to be able to entertain challenging ideas and positions and handle that with grace, whether that's in the football forum or the poliboard. I think BP needs to continue to grow, that new people need to stand up and take on an idea or a role that they think will add to the community. Miss the game previews (I do!!), find out if you can help contribute a section to it. Want more (insert some sort of feature that would be a positive here)? Have a passion for basketball, rugby, baseball, wrestling, or any other OSU sport and would like to build more content and awareness here for those? Reach out to a known contributor and find out how best to approach that. Our standard philosophies apply, of course. Attrition without commensurate addition, I think that's one of our issues. What are the others? I need to hear from you. BP needs your input, drive, and contributions (pecuniary and not, alike). What the Drive is FOR this year: We, like a lot of other bigger vBulletin sites, stayed on vB3 when vB4 launched a few years ago. The transition from 3 to 4 was a bit of a disaster, and I (for a lot of reasons, my actual well-being one of them) require stability within our production environment. So we sat tight. There came a point when vB4 was finally ready for us. Stable, feature-rich, and ready to go. And at that precise moment, vB5 was announced. vB5 was the core rewrite (mostly) that really had been needed all along, and so despite the slippery slope that always looking to the tech horizon represents, we've set our sites on the 5th gen, not the 4th. The 5th is a work in progress. It's approaching a true release candidate after a long beta period. It still lacks features that we would absolutely require, but it's on its way. I hope to move to 5 before kick-off in the Fall. If it's not ready, I'm going to take a long hard look at 4. We're licensed for both. Either way BP will gain options for mobile users: Everything from a simple mobile skin, to one or more mobile apps (Forum Runner is now built in to vBulletin, and a dedicated branded app is also an option). In some ways, more importantly, it also means a much more robust front end. BP has had (but has more recently lost) some truly outstanding user generated content. Content that was seen and embraced within the relatively limited confines of our community, but never quite got the mass eyeballs that can be generated by being in a static paged format with the sort of socially driven promotion so common to the net these days. That can, and will be, accomplished with either 4 or 5, and I can only hope that we'll see the rebirth of some fantastic old efforts, and the generation of new bits as well. I am simply not qualified to take BP from vB3 to either 4 or 5. The simple days in the past where I'd shut the site down for 4-6 hours, recoding hacks by hand and troubleshooting to deal with the inevitable errors are simply no longer an option. BP is bigger, it's more complex, it's more demanding, and as it has moved forward on those lines, my ability and capacity has diminished. A good chunk of the drive this year is going to go towards hiring a vB expert to transition the site from 3 to 4/5; taking our modifications with it, dealing with the bit of URL rewriting magic we do (how we rewrite URLs from ?f=4 to /buckeye-football/, for example) which will no longer be handled the same way in the next generation, and so on. I would be just as out of place trying to remove someone's spleen as I would be trying to accomplish some of those technically driven endeavors, so we will bring someone in. So beyond our expenses, there's the transition (whenever that happens, hopefully before the new season kicks off). I also intend to unscrew our ad situation. Doesn't have much impact on you guys, but I've not put it together well. Deety had it working nicely with OpenX, we had to move away from that, and my cobbled together solution has been less than efficient and ideal behind the scenes. That will need to be addressed by someone capable as well. So this year, like last year, the drive is about keeping the lights on, and pushing forward. Because of past drives we're on a great box. One that didn't even flinch during national signing day. So THANK YOU to past donors, and THANK YOU to future donors as well. You keep the wheels turning. Finally, drive income STILL makes the difference between red and black months for Longwood, myself, and the two pups (down from three, sadly) during the lean months. So a deeply personal thanks there as well. While one-time donations are great, recurring monthly efforts are a known quantity that allow us to forecast and plan for the future. To those who have and/or continue to give that way, my sincere thanks. It's been the difference here and there (particularly over the Summer and early Fall) between making our colocation fees and not. Something EXTRA this year: BP is about promoting and driving the community. And a member of the OSU fan community intends to make a documentary about this upcoming season. I'm providing the link to his crowdfunding campaign below. Anyone who contributes to this effort, and provides Longwood with some reasonable bit of proof, will be considered a BP donor this year and get a donor badge, even if you don't give to the site itself. http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/333472/ It's looking pretty grim with only 11 days to go and (as of this writing) only $965 of a $50k goal raised. But it's worth at least bringing it to your attention and offering some small amount of incentive. NOTE that the funding effort ends Mon 11 Mar 11:59PM PT, and that if they don't hit $50k they get none of the funding at all. Have a better place to give? Want to do something for the community but don't want to give to BP? Any donations made in the community's name to local efforts and philanthropies will also be honored as BP donations. Just send Longwood some reasonable proof and you get your banner as well. My point with these extra options is BP is about the community, and contributions to the community are contributions to BP. Animal shelters, kid-focused programs, whatever and wherever. $X to make life better for a person or animal in and around Ohio State and BP's sphere of influence is, in spirit, $X given to BP. BP has donated as a community to the Red Cross and the Humane Society, I'd love to see us drill down and hit more local efforts, particularly those that help the most vulnerable and/or innocent; kids, the elderly, the disabled, and yes, animals. Take a blanket to a local shelter? Get a donor badge. Wrapping up: I'm going to steal from Deety and include many of the remaining notes from her 2012 write-up below for the purpose of details and information. Thanks for taking the time to read this in whole or in part. Thanks for being part of the community. And thanks, so much, to those of you who feel that it's worth giving back to it. This remains an amazing, vibrant, and unusually tight-knit community in a lot of ways. I don't get 'proud' of many things, but I'm very proud of what how this community has shaped itself (and that has little to do with anything I have done). I'm excited about the future, both on the site and for the football program itself, and I think we have a bright future ahead on both fronts! -------------------------------------------------------------------- Goodies! vCash vCash vCash! Join the High Rollers Club of Virtual Currency! For your vGambling pleasure, we will present all our generous donors with piles and piles of vDough at an exchange rate of 1:10,000! THAT'S RIGHT. TEN FREAKING THOUSAND. For example: $5 donation = 50,000 vCash $10 donation = 100,000 vCash $100 donation = 1,000,000 vCash ... and so forth, without limit. When Joanna (aka Longwoodbuck) receives notice from PayPal of your donation, she will update your vcash amount. BB73 has generously extended his offer to double the vCash out of his personal stash. We'll double the amounts and send him the bill. For this generosity, we say thank you, and make him pay! Reward: An extra v4,000,000 for becoming a monthly donor during the Spring Drive *NOTE* As of the site re-launch, all BP Cash will be rewarded at an exchange rate of 1:100. Amounts will no longer be doubled. Thank you for your continued support! Thank You List Donors will be recognized on BuckeyePlanet's homepage, alphabetically. The list will stay up until the next Spring Drive, at which point it will be available as a link in the next year's list. How to Donate via PayPal, Snail Mail, or Monthly Donations PayPal or Credit Card (credit card use does not require a PayPal account) LINK This link adds your username to the donation, so when we receive it, we know who to credit. BP does not collect or store financial data. Snail Mail Donations Joanna Bryant 669 Sumter Street Galloway, OH 43119-8564 Please add "BuckeyePlanet" to the memo line and make the payment out to Joanna Bryant. Remember to include your BP username! Monthly Donation Program - v1,000,000 Bonus! If you participate regularly here, please consider signing up for $5 a month or, if it fits your budget, a bit more. Monthly donations are the best way to create a stable financial system for BP. The single biggest thing BP can do is to provide a regular source of income that can be used in longer term budgeting. And anyone can help for the cost of a cup of coffee a month. Upon initiating a monthly donation, v1,000,000 will automatically be added to your account by the donation system. How it Works - You Have Total Control Click Paid Subscriptions here or in UserCP. Select the amount you would like to donate monthly, and complete the PayPal transaction. You can set it up to use funds in your PayPal account, bank transfers, or charges to your credit card. BP does not collect or store financial data. Thank you so much!Other Ways to Support BuckeyePlanet Use the Amazon store! This supports BuckeyePlanet at no charge to you. Start your search in the Amazon module on BP's front page, click any of the left-side Amazon ads within threads, or click the BP Store link on the menu for our affiliate store. Even easier - simply bookmark this Amazon link. (This won't work by clicking and then bookmarking the result, because the referrer disappears. Make your bookmark; right-click the link and copy the link location; right-click your bookmark and choose Properties; paste the long link you copied over the old link.) Recruit an Advertiser - Know a business owner, or frequent a place that would benefit from some especially loyal new customers? Have them contact us at email@example.com for rates. We'd really like to get the same sort of sense of community we have in the forums in the ads, and support Ohio's economy. Thank You!