user response on keeping tribe alive

we have received some great supportive comments regarding ways to keep tribe alive. i wanted to repost one here from shannon

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Hi Mark, I don’t
know how closely you follow tribe, or if you have enough to hang out there. But
you have a very dedicated user base. Last year at this time, we were willing to
put up money to maintain our community, and we followed through. We are just as
dedicated, and just as willing to see things continue. It seems as if, from
Darren’s various posts, that tribe was at least self-sustaining if not
profitable, between user subscriptions and ad revenue. Tribe has growth
potential. There’s still huge word-of-mouth interest, and it has a serious following.
It’s not going to become the next Facebook–nor should it be. Your users are on
average older, more intelligent, and more independent-minded than the average
social network user. People are buying, selling, trading, looking for and
finding jobs, developing professional communities of scholars, writers and
artists–all pretty much on their own. It is working. But it needs technical
support–not a huge team, just a couple of people with the time and expertise
to maintain and upgrade it. Many users have volunteered to help. My suggestion?
Actively solicit the assistance that’s being offered. Make an announcement, run
an ad, whatever it takes. You _will_ get a response, and tribe _can_ thrive.
But please don’t just let it go to hell. It’s too important to too many of us.
Best, -Shannon

25 thoughts on “user response on keeping tribe alive

  1. I agree with Shannon that Tribe is an amazing network. It is why when Tribe put out the call for premium memberships, I signed up immediately and plunked down $60.00 for a year.
    However, in that simple transaction many things changed. I went from being a user to a customer. In that shift I had expectations I didn’t have before. I expected to have the promises offered by Tribe when I paid for my premium membership to be fulfilled. And now I want a pwnie!! 😉
    Shannon’s suggestion is right out of the Burning Man playbook. Unfortunately, asking for volunteers in addition asking them to fork over money is getting old. Tribe is neither a charity nor a not-for-profit. :\ If it were, than putting a hat out for a donation would have been better than asking users to become premium members.
    You told me in a recent email that Tribe is not profitable. I’m truly sorry to hear that. I wish it were. I would think that with the Google AdSense alone it would be. Add in the memberships and there you go! As a businesswoman myself, I want nothing more than to see it succeed.
    You also told me that Tribe is not a business. I feel that this statement is disingenuous. Doesn’t Tribe Networks, Inc own Tribe? The site claims Utah Street Networks, so it’s a bit confusing. Nonetheless, Tribe smells like a duck and it quacks like a duck.
    Practically everyone I know on Tribe is wondering: would it take to make Tribe continue to flourish to grow? In my own small ways, I’ve promoted Tribe through word of mouth and even through podcasts. I also paid a premium. More than anything I believe in Tribe, I value it highly and I hope you can figure out a way to make it work. But please decide if Tribe is a business that serves its customers, or a personal project that requires the volunteer efforts of its users to continue. Bottom line: for me to continue contributing Tribe — whether by volunteering or making donations — you’re going to have to earn my trust back by answering this question: Is Tribe a community or is it a corporation?

  2. I agree with Shannon that Tribe is an amazing network. It is why when Tribe put out the call for premium memberships, I signed up immediately and plunked down $60.00 for a year.
    However, in that simple transaction many things changed. I went from being a user to a customer. In that shift I had expectations I didn’t have before. I expected to have the promises offered by Tribe when I paid for my premium membership to be fulfilled. And now I want a pwnie!! 😉
    Shannon’s suggestion is right out of the Burning Man playbook. Unfortunately, asking for volunteers in addition asking them to fork over money is getting old. Tribe is neither a charity nor a not-for-profit. :\ If it were, than putting a hat out for a donation would have been better than asking users to become premium members.
    You told me in a recent email that Tribe is not profitable. I’m truly sorry to hear that. I wish it were. I would think that with the Google AdSense alone it would be. Add in the memberships and there you go! As a businesswoman myself, I want nothing more than to see it succeed.
    You also told me that Tribe is not a business. I feel that this statement is disingenuous. Doesn’t Tribe Networks, Inc own Tribe? The site claims Utah Street Networks, so it’s a bit confusing. Nonetheless, Tribe smells like a duck and it quacks like a duck.
    Practically everyone I know on Tribe is wondering: would it take to make Tribe continue to flourish to grow? In my own small ways, I’ve promoted Tribe through word of mouth and even through podcasts. I also paid a premium. More than anything I believe in Tribe, I value it highly and I hope you can figure out a way to make it work. But please decide if Tribe is a business that serves its customers, or a personal project that requires the volunteer efforts of its users to continue. Bottom line: for me to continue contributing Tribe — whether by volunteering or making donations — you’re going to have to earn my trust back by answering this question: Is Tribe a community or is it a corporation?

  3. Here’s my two cents as a founding employee of Mark’s at Tribe.net and his friend:
    It might make sense to let the community know how much the operation costs are every month. If people aren’t in the Internet industry then they probably don’t understand things like server costs, bandwith, co-location–let alone upkeep costs of DBAs, System Engineers and customer service. Being more transparent about the costs might help members understand why Google Adsense doesn’t pay all the bills (unless members click on the ads and buy products) or why getting only the smallest portion of the community to join as paying members isn’t a sustainable business. In fact, most members won’t even be aware of the venture capital that was raised or the equipment loans that were taken out.
    Operating Tribe as a non-profit might be interesting but that still requires funding to operate the business so the basic needs wouldn’t change.
    I suggest that Tribe is both a community and a corporation. It can work–look at Craig’s List as a successful example of a for profit company that provides valuable community services.
    I’m not sure of the best solution for the near term health of Tribe, but if we can find a way to continue to support it, and even fix things that are broken or add new features (periodically) then maybe it can grow like Craig’s List did over time with limited upfront funding and limited costs. If Tribe.net could grow to the size of some of the other social networks many of these problems would take care of themselves. In the end, maybe the best thing you could do for Tribe.net is to get all your friends and their friends to join the community, use the service regularly and maybe even click on a few ads…

  4. I totally agree with Darian, that some information with regard to actual operating costs may go a long way. I don’t think 90% of the users on Tribe have any idea about the costs of operating, nevermind developing, a site.
    I can’t say I would blame anyone for pulling the plug at this point. I was among the first to pony up for a subscription, when they were enabled out of my appreciation for what Tribe has been in the past and my hope for what it could be in the future. I met my spouse on Tribe, so for this I am most grateful. 🙂
    That said, when I saw the product ideas coming out in the days following the launch of premium memberships, I knew we were in trouble.
    A complete rewrite of the site in Ruby is pretty ambitious without a complete rockstar developer (or team) and a top notch product person to keep the features in check, along with a someone keeping the site from going down while all this other work happens. I have only rarely seen one person who can rock the product / site admin / engineering all on their own. It generally isn’t a one man job and getting a team behind it would be very expensive. Not impossible, but expensive and at this late stage…well…

  5. We would be sad to see you go…the strength of tribe is not in the platform, it’s in the people. A complete ruby rewrite would be a magical gift from the sky but doesn’t seem realistic without those rockstars ready to keep it going, and premium memberships were a little pricey when I pay less than half that much for more efficiency with other services.
    Mark, can you build us a Tribe facebook app so we can keep our tribes and groups and help us find a way to migrate photos better with an open app into another social network? This seems less work long term than trying to build and maintain Ruby without a funding stream.

  6. I think people are missing the point here. While new features (like embedding video and photos within a thread, connecting photos to other sites like Flickr, and allowing more customizable homepages) would be “nice”, all we really need is to keep the site UP.
    In reality there have been precious little “upgrades” to site functionality since I first joined tribe back in 2003, and that’s ok! Tribe gets out of the user’s way and allows for communication, which is what a good social networking site should do (I don’t consider “throwing sheep” to be communicating).
    Tribe will NEVER be the biggest, but it might, if managed correctly, end up being the best.
    Of course Venture Capitalists only care about the numbers and the next big thing, which is too bad, because I think Tribe is the little engine that “could”.

  7. KEEP TRIBE UP! Do it, because you made an obligation to the premium members when you took their money. Do it, because you are responsible to a large community of amazing people, and have played a pivotal role in their coordination and communication.
    Do it, because you’re a douchebag if you don’t, and a hero if you do.

  8. I love the community aspect of tribe. When tribe looked like it was going down, I promoted the idea of subscriptions and pwnie’ed up (sorry 🙂 right away when subscriptions were offered. When we got nothing for that money (other than keeping tribe alive as claimed by Darren) I was mostly OK with that, as long as it kept running.
    > In the end, maybe the best thing you could do for Tribe.net is to get all your friends and their friends to join the community, use the service regularly and maybe even click on a few ads…
    I don’t think I would do that at this point due to the instability of late. IF at some point the upgrades are made and stability returns, then maybe you can work on rebuilding the image of tribe and bringing new people in.
    It’s about expectations and communication, both of which have been managed poorly. Even a little communication – on tribe – would go a long way towards placating people. Most people are not going to go through the msg boards that I went through to find this.
    Thank you for listening and highlighting tribe here. I hope that you do see the positives here that make tribe worth saving.
    >Do it, because you’re a douchebag if you don’t, and a hero if you do.
    What a great tagline…

  9. As Greg said, promoting Tribe would be nice, if, and I mean IF, we knew it were going to be stable. I tell my friends about – intelligent, active social networks who Facebook/MySpace/Tweet with the best of them. Then they go to try out Tribe and it’s not working. It’s down or it’s kicking them out or it’s just not available. It’s embarrassing to promote something that doesn’t live up to what it could be.
    As Chai, said, Tribe is the little engine that “could” and it could be one of the greatest networking sites around! I’ve met some of my best friends ever through Tribe. One of my friends on Tribe and I even co-wrote an article on how a bunch of us got together to meet in Colorado last year. We’re submitting it to several places to see about getting it published. It would be nice if, once it were published, Tribe were not only still AROUND, but also ACCESSIBLE.
    I also had get information from all sorts of different places just to find out what was going on. I’m not a premium member because I’ve been unemployed for 10 months and was broke before then, but if I could be, I would be.
    You’re a business person. You know what a business plan is. Did you write a business plan for Tribe? Did you do a SWOT analysis? Have you figured out how to best market tribe to bring new people in who will click on those ads because they aren’t tired of seeing them everyday?
    Just sayin’.

  10. I am not sure why but the fact that this is being discussed somewhere besides tribe makes me feel pretty hopeless about the whole thing.
    I will always be overwhelmingly grateful for all that tribe has given me and so many people I grew to love there. Thank you Mark and Brian and Wendy and Gary and Jenni and Pete and Darian and everyone who really cared about tribe and worked hard for it along the way.
    I don’t know what it would take to keep tribe alive, it’s hard for me to believe that there is no way, that with all of the brilliant creative magic people who love it that no one can come up with a way. But I guess things don’t always work out how it seems they should.
    I hope you guys will keep working on it and that you will let us know what we need to do to keep our community.
    ~SV

  11. Choice:
    1. have a millionaire fund tribe for $10-$30 mm to subsidize the community. We built a 10 story steel skyscraper in the desert in 5 days… this IS possible 🙂
    2. move your asses and your communities right quick to other more stable sites: facebook, flickr, etc etc.
    Thats my $0.02
    G$
    aka +h30ry
    http://www.transformus.com

  12. Mark Said: “we have received some great supportive comments regarding ways to keep tribe alive. i wanted to repost one here from shannon”
    Great job Shannon, so is this an interactive blog? Wheres your two cents Mark? is Tribe just the toy that is broken and no longer interests you or are you going to try and fix it.. quit dickin us.

  13. I sent you a PM on Tribe, but I have no idea whether you view Tribe at all anymore. Your last blog there is ages ago.
    It also seems like you’re an observer here. OK, so you’re getting lots of supportive comments. No surprise; you’ve had lots of loyal users for years. But, and this is the gist of my PM, what is the plan? Is there one? People are packing up like crazy at this point because the only sound is crickets from Tribe management. If it’s true that no one is minding the infrastructure anymore, then the next time yet another piece of hardware blows, there’s no one to fix it, and we’re down, rather ungracefully, forever. So is there a plan? Is this actually what will happen?
    There’s no question, Tribe is hands down THE best site. I have no idea where to go when it’s over. I agree that new features and widgets aren’t a high priority (I remember wondering why, when server response was abysmal, there was such pride when a new pink profile scheme was announced.) People haven’t gone to MySpooge and FecesBook for the widgets; they’ve gone (usually reluctantly) because a) Tribe response was slow and b) the repeated downtimes made it look like it was all over.
    So give us a sign: is anyone minding the store? Thanks!

  14. I would love some actual regular communication between management and the users. I don’t want or need any widget or applications like they have on facebook and myspace. I hate those things, and hate the people who keep sending me those damned ” crazy panda or whatever it is called” all the goddamned time.
    I don’t want to be on any other social networks, I want to be on tribe. I want to tell people about tribe and get people to use tribe.
    You have a jewel of a community here, full of educated, smart, and a relatively older demographic than many other SN’s have. We also have a fair amount of money to spend, as evidenced by all the blinky crap we seem to buy each year and stuff for Burning man. Many businesses would kill for a niche demographic like us.
    Tribe could become the feather in your professional cap if you treat it right and give it some love. Facebook applications and all that run of the mill hoo ha is nice, but anyone could do that. Creating and nurturing a community like tribe.net is something special.

  15. I’ll volunteer some time………
    About 10 years ago I started working on servers as a contractor, and the past few years I’ve been managing my company’s server installations, maintenance, and repair in various colocation sites along the west coast……
    Just let me know how I can help & I’m there…….I frickin hate myspace & the other supposed “community” based sites, so Tribe hasta stay alive.
    DAMN IT!

  16. FACTS: (1) The magic of Tribe.net is in the discussion forums. (2) People generally don’t care about fancy bells and whistles that would make it more like Facebook and MySpace. (3) Even the simplest of message board software that incorporates the look and feel of Tribe is perfectly acceptable to those of us who use it.
    SUGGESTIONS: (1) When there is downtime, please explain why — a server crashed, a hard drive burned out, whatever. If you’re going to keep people on your side, being candid is the best way to make points. (2) If cost is an issue, then please post something about the income and expenses so that people have a realistic view of what’s going on. Right now, many people feel taken advantage of because they felt that their $60 was going toward making Tribe solvent. If it’s not solvent, then please explain the income/expense side. Again, being candid goes a long way toward making friends and getting support.

  17. Hi Mark:
    There is plenty of user response to the backend events that are happening with tribe. We are all looking for some kind of response from you, or whoever is the financial decision making position, aka management. So far we have seen 2 posts from you: this one that is beaming from the ‘user response’, and another one asking for help from the user base. What’s the next step on your end?

  18. I love Tribe. I tried to pay you for membership. For whatever reason’s Tribe is no longer accepting payment.
    What if a Millionaire on Tribe would want to donate a Million dollars to you today, and it can not be done…
    Tribe is Transformation from the inside out. Please Choose. Please Choose a Co-op Tribe Community, Non Profit, membership participation… like a food co-op, this would be the online community version. I support Tribe.
    What do you need?
    This community will step up! Please give it a shot.
    (((You Rock! For Having created this in the first place))) It truly has made a difference in My life and many Others… (((Thank You))))

  19. I agree that Tribe is the best community site out there, precisely because it doesn’t have the idiot gimmicks of the other social sites and because of the maturity and intelligence and interesting minds and nice vibes of its devoted citizens. Unlike some, I don’t have much time to be online and when I can, it’s Tribe I want to go to and literally, outside of e-mail, nowhere else but that and getting music. The only feature I’d like to have would be being able to have music, but obviously it’s not a dealbreaker. We don’t want toys–we want connection, and the feeling that the owners/employees of the site care about it the same way we do. It’s been made so clear that that isn’t the case and that you’ve moved on, long ago, and have perhaps even less than zero interest in it now. When you were interested, apparently it did much better. Since you don’t care about it, and it’s not making any money, and in general appears to be a major pain in the ass to you, I’d like to know what it would take to take it off your hands (minus current staff)in some way that would enable cooperative ownership (shares, anybody?) by people who love it.

  20. The user interface and the members are terrific…but whenever i have endorsed tribe to friends, people complain about the bugs and slow speed, so no one stays.
    i think you could mobilize the community and make things happen because there is very strong and loyal group of people who love tribe.
    if you were to start a blog on tribe and call for solutions, maybe one hundred of them might not be feasible, but maybe ten would be.
    it is worth a shot…and if tribe were to work as bug free and as speedy as facebook or myspace, you WOULD start making money!!!

  21. Okay, really, if you guys at least kept it running I’m sure as hell Tribe would get an immense qtity of new users and that could be used to get money from investors. Over the past few months, I made about fifteen ppl join tribe: three deleted their accounts and the rest gave up on the website because everytime they try to log back in, it’s not working. I understand that it’s hard to get the green stuff to hire a proper team, but it’s gotta be at least kept up. Online. Available when we type www dot tribe dot net and hit enter. If you guys can’t do that with what you have now, better be honest and warn us so we can back up our stuff, create alternative networks on Ning and invite our buddies.

  22. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:
    The best feature of tribe.net is the users themselves. It is a unique community within the internet and worth keeping around.
    My only suggestion is to simplify everything. Perhaps get rid of all features that aren’t used by at least 50% of the members? Anything to reduce maintenance and server load.

  23. Thinking that you won’t read remarks this far down on the page, but I’ll try, anyway …
    Mark, part of Tribe’s problem is that you’re using Google Adsense to generate ad revenue – at least, so I was told over on the Brainstorm tribe, with Shatter not disagreeing.
    Count to thirty, please, before yelling at Shatter. You’ve already lost Darren.
    Google Adsense might be a great program for the individual webmaster whose sites, in total, probably see only a few thousand hits per day, if even that. But Tribe, even in decline, still has over 20,000 users. You’re not an individual webmaster.
    If I go out and try to hire a salesman to find people to pay for advertising space on my little blogs, and ask him to work on commission – which salesmen generally do – his commissions are going to be so low as to not be worth his time. So when Google comes by and offers to find advertisers for us and let us have 50% of the ad revenue, that’s an excellent deal. For us. For you, it’s garbage.
    20,000 users means enough content to bring in enough traffic for the commissions to pay that salesman a decent income, and hold onto his interest in working for you. 20,000 users means enough diversity in material posted that your salesman isn’t going to have to find the needle in a haystack that is the advertiser who feels that his prospective customers would be best reached by advertising on any individual blog or site. Less scrounging and more profit to be made – your position as you try to get that salesman interested isn’t going to be even remotely comparable to ours.
    So what do you do?
    You continue to use the program designed for individual webmasters and, unless you’re getting a much better deal than we are, flushing 50% of Tribe’s ad revenue down the drain in the process. I pointed this out on Brainstorm, and got the trippy response that the salary of the salesman would probably exceed the company profits – showing that somebody didn’t understand what the word “commission” meant, because that’s an arithmetical impossibility. Less than 100% of a total is less than the total, no matter what the total may be. I might add that the salesman who sees a 20% commission will probably be worshipped as a deity by his colleagues, some of whom may find this a little hard to square with the Sh’ma, but a little money can open a lot of minds.
    I just kind of hope it opens a few at Tribe some time before the bankruptcy proceedings commence. Preferably without any gratuitous deification occuring. 🙂

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