To all forum users...

Discussion and topics about BeerTools.com online calculators and other tools.

Moderator: jeff

To all forum users...

Postby jeff » Mon Jun 30, 2003 3:09 am

The new forum has been online for a couple weeks now. Has anyone had any problems posting messages? Are there any issues that need to be addressed? If so, please mention these here and we can work to polish the new forum. Your feedback is greatly appreciated ;)
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Jeff...buddy

Postby jayhawk » Mon Jun 30, 2003 1:09 pm

Jeff, I have my first beef with this site. I have been here for almost two years, and yes, I have been using only the free services here at Beertools. I just accessed the Recipe Calculator for the first time in a while, and I was disappointed to see the number of hop additions available in the free version reduced to three. This reduction, combined with the reduction in malt choices represents a significant erosion in the quality of the service provided (free) here at Beertools. I understand that recruiting new members to the paid service is a high priority for you, but I believe that following the method of racheting back free services is counter productive. This site has propelled me from a green newbie to a competent brewer in under two years, and I know for a fact that if I hadn't had this site as a resource I would still be twiddlin' my malt extract covered hands in brewing purgatory, or worse, I may have gone back to buying overpriced so-so beer at the local beer & wine. A crucial stage in my development as a homebrewer was the recipe calculator. It allowed to "brew" experimental batches without actually having to fire up the kettle. By seeing what malts created what colours and how they affected gravity, as well as how different amounts of hops and their boil times affected bitterness, I was able to quickly learn how to create really good recipes without having to waste a lot of time with experimental batches.

I really believe, that the erosion of free services is bad for the overall health of this site.(and yes, I am speaking from self serving motives here, but I do feel I have a valid point. Once I stopped being a fly on the wall and got involved in the site and started learning things, I explored the other parts of the site and really began to love this place. I admired the availability of useful, free services, and the lack of in your face pressure to "buy in". For me, I have no room in my budget for a membership to a brewing forum, or to any website for that matter. I get very perturbed when I use the net I am constantly being harassed (by various methods)for money or to subscribe for this or that. For the internet to work, websites have to be willing to add to the web with free services and info, thereby causing the web to grow. On the other side of the equation, internet users who have the means have to be willing to give back to the good sites through subscribtions etc, in order to support the quality sites that are contributing to the overall knowledge that is available online. There are far too many sites out there that are merely trying to get their paws on a piece of the information capital that has been developed over the life of the web. These are sites that offer nothing of value to the user, but expect users to subscribe for their service.

Beertools has certainly done its share to add to the info pool of the web. But that does not mean that the site should now start to revoke its services. A newbie brewer just discovering this site now has far fewer tools available for his/her development as a brewer. In the long run, Beertools would benefit greatly from a vibrant, knowledgable homebrew community. I am example of one person that this site has helped add to that community. I am a lifer. I will brew for as long as I possibily can. I teach anyone who wants to know how to brew. Ultimately, its is by growing a larger audience that this site will excel. The provision of quality free services is one of the best ways to achieve this growth. Currently, the recipe calculator is not a quality service, as its format now severly limits the type of recipes one can create there.

I may not be able to provide you with monetary support, Jeff. But if you are looking for insight in to a users pysche, which all good businesses have a healthy grasp upon, I think I have given you a good look. I am more than willing to provide this site with information that may help marketing the site, but I simply do not make enough cash in a year to pay for what is here. I think I represent a decent portion of your target market, so getting to now the free users may help in the long run.

My kettle is almost boiling...gotta go.

Chris
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The other side of the story...

Postby jeff » Mon Jun 30, 2003 3:25 pm

I appreciate your thoughts; user feedback is very important to us. I have a few things to say about your comments.

Limiting free services was not an easy decision. It was necessary though; it was either that or pull the site off the web. If the site comes off the web, then free members don't have anything at all, and we spend a lot less money and have a lot more time on our hands.

Maintaining a web site involves hosting fees, domain registration, secure certificate renewal, customer service, feature upgrades, tech support, marketing, advertising, etc. If the site is completely free, where do you suggest we aquire the funds for such expenses?

Decisions that we make at BeerTools are not made hastily. We have done a lot of market research and collected extensive data on our audience. We knew that there would be a handful of folks that would probably have thoughts like yours about recent changes. But the current numbers suggest that we have made very good choices.

When BeerTools does better, I am in a better position to justify dedicating more resources to improving the site. Site improvements are good for everybody including our non-paying members.

All things considered, the trial membership still provides the finest free tools on the web for home brewing. Most recipes never exceed the limits of the trial membership tools.

I appreciate your loyalty and I hope that you stick with the site. We are doing everything we can to supply our visitors with the best brewing resources the web has to offer. Thanks again for your thoughts.
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Point...counterpoint

Postby jayhawk » Mon Jun 30, 2003 5:53 pm

Jeff, I appreciate this forum, and I put forth my opinions with great respect for the work you and the Beertools staff do. I intend for this post to be purely for the purpose of debate and to elaborate upon my points in my first post and to ask for clarification on some points from your post.

First, I am certainly not arguing for a totally free site. I recognize that hosting a site of this magnitude requires much expense of time and money. I am also not questioning the other marketing techniques Beertools has incorporated to attract more users. I think the whole site is great, and the incorporation of other services like the Beertools store and ingredients kits are great. My only point is that I am concerned that the reduction in quality of the Recipe Calculator, and the resulting impact on the value of the free services, will harm the site and not encourage new brewers nor maintain the number of existing users of the free services.

Second, I have a hard time with the notion that it was either
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Bottom line?

Postby jeff » Tue Jul 01, 2003 12:55 am

You are dissatisfied with the free services you are getting from BeerTools. What do you feel is the ideal solution for you? What would make you happy?

BTW: I think maybe you have bookmarked the old forum. Visit http://www.beertools.com/forum/ to see the new forum (the intended subject for this topic).
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Restore the Calculator

Postby jayhawk » Tue Jul 01, 2003 7:47 am

Jeff, this site once had a really great, free, Recipe Calculator. Now, the free Recipe Calculator has been rendered almost useless because the number of hop and malt input fields has been severly limited. I do not understand why Beertools had to reduce the capabilities of the Recipe Calculator. The site once provided a very functional Recipe Calculator, but now it doesn't. Clearly, this is a service reduction and represents a serious erosion in the quality and value of the overall service package provided by the basic membership. Therefore, Beertools is worse off as a website, which is a shame because I have seen it grow so much over the last two years. Restoring the Recipe Calculator to its previous state would be a small step for Beertools to make, but it would be a step that would help maintain the integrity and value of this site.

This isn't about trying to make me happy. I already am happy. I am just trying to point out that Beertools might have made a mistake when it stripped down the Recipe Calculator.
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Very Satisfied

Postby HardcoreLegend » Tue Jul 01, 2003 10:46 am

I am a Gold Member. That's just fun to say. I only used the free services for a short time before deciding to support the site by getting a membership. Something that I do not have at any other homebrew site. I received a promotional rate of $10.00 for my first year, and a discounted rate for renewal. At $10.00/yr, my membership cost me about 20 cents a week. At full price it is only about 30 cents a week. Super reasonable for the quality of services that have helped me develop as a brewer. Thanks guys. ..Ryan
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Glad to hear it! :D

Postby jeff » Wed Jul 02, 2003 4:05 am

I want to thank you for supporting our efforts. We really appreciate our GOLD members and strive to provide frequent feature enhancements and updates for the premium tools. There are great things in store for you folks! Thanks again.
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Ditto head

Postby Freon12 » Wed Jul 02, 2003 10:35 am

Yep, Hardcore said it well.



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How glad to hear it?

Postby HardcoreLegend » Mon Jul 07, 2003 10:23 am

Glad enough to send me a Beertools.com t-shirt? That would be awesome.
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So far, so good

Postby Push Eject » Tue Jul 08, 2003 8:33 am

Jeff --

New forum is sweet.

As a fellow website designer I appreciate good code and hard work. BT has both.

That's why I signed up for Gold early on and why I bought the first t-shirt from the online store. Still haven't worn the shirt, but I'm an avid believer in supporting the things I enjoy using and want to continue to grow.

Are users aware of the free and discounted ways to get Gold membership?

Thanks for all you guys do!

Charlie
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