Site Owner Disclosures

Discussion in 'Site Information, Help, and Feedback' started by Amin Sabet, Jan 27, 2013.

  1. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    795
    Jan 31, 2013
    Boston, MA (USA)
    As the owner of this site, I do my best to be open and transparent about our use of affiliate links, advertising, products received for free, etc. Whenever I write a review or do a test, I disclose any relevant information. From here on out, I'll keep it in this central location where members can feel free to ask questions or comment.

    The following comments generally apply to all of my sites (Mu-43.com, SeriousCompacts.com, TalkNEX.com, FujiXspot.com), although not all portions apply to all sites. For example, TalkNEX and FujiXspot currently cost much less to run and therefore use very few ads.


    Section 1: Disclosure of Sources of Income:

    -This site makes use of affiliate linking. These are programs where we partner with stores like Amazon, Ebay, B&H Photo, etc. If you click a link that is tagged with our affiliate code and then go on to buy something, we get paid by that site (usually 2-4% of your purchase price) for referring you. Your price is unaffected.

    -Links to some stores are automaticaly "affiliated". For example, if you post a link to B&H, Amazon, or Ebay (or certain other stores), we have a script running which automatically adds our affiliate code to that link. We feel that our practice of affiliating links does not degrade user experience in any significant way. It takes a tiny bit of time for the script to run, but the revenue helps us pay for a fast server, which currently costs us several hundred dollars per month.

    -This site uses direct advertising from paying sponsors. We are very picky about who we'll accept as sponsors. Past and present sponsors such as DSPTCH, Lensbaby, and Nik Software are all companies whose products we are genuinely proud to have as sponsors, and we have turned down sponsorship offers for more money from companies we feel would not benefit the site members/readers.

    -We also have sponsored subforums from selected companies, including B&H and DigitalRev. B&H is a particularly important partner for us - they supply us with gear for testing and reviews, and they are an important source of our revenue via affiliate sales. DigitalRev pays us a flat advertising fee per month in exchange for the right to make a limited number of posts in a sponsored forum that includes their banner ad. Again, we think both companies are great and have limited the number of sponsored subforums to just these two (turning down offers from some other stores).

    -We use Google Adsense. Google chooses ads based on the content on the page, so we don't have direct control over which ads are shown. However, the Google ads shown on our discussion thread pages are visible only to unregistered guests, not logged in members. There is one adsense ad on the front page which is also shown to members (except for donors).

    -We accept donations from members.

    -Because of the diverse sources of revenue above, we are able to avoid popups, contextual links, and other onerous forms of advertising. Many of our ads are shown only to unregistered visitors and disappear from sight as soon as a member logs in. I also try to keep the site as ad free as possible for donors.


    Section 2: Disclosure of Intentions with Regards to Profit:

    None of my sites were created for the purpose of profit. I participated on photography forums for many years (see my DPReview profile here), and started these forums because of genuine enthusiasm for photography, gear, and because of the belief that we could make better communities - the types of photography forums I wanted to participate in. These sites have been a genuine labor of love.

    For the majority of these sites' existence, they have been considerably net money-losing, after accounting for the cost of software, server space/bandwidth, giveaways, etc. I always viewed them as providing me with enough personal enjoyment that I would keep them going as long as I wasn't losing more than an acceptable (to my wife) amount of money per month. However, I have never ruled out making a profit from these sites, and I do not rule that out now. One of the sites (Mu-43.com) is now profitable, and I am using most of that profit to pay for and improve all four sites while putting aside the remainder of profits in a "rainy day" fund. Many forum-based sites die sudden deaths when sources of revenue dry up and/or costs take a sudden upswing. I am doing my best to save for this possibility, not wanting to shut down or be forced into a pay for membership model like Nikonians.org.


    Section 3: Disclosure of Freebies Received:

    I have paid out of pocket for an estimated 99% of my stuff (cameras, lenses, software, etc). Here is a complete list of things I've been given for free:

    -Olympus gave me an E-PM1 as part of their "Pen Ready" promotion
    -Ricoh ultimately let me keep a GR Digital II that I had on extended loan
    -Nik Software gave me software for review/testing as well as to give away for promotion
    -Alien Skin gave me software for review/testing
    -Phase One gave me free software for review/testing
    -Think Tank Photo gave me a Retrospective 5 to giveaway for promotion
    -B&H gave me an E-PL2 for promotional giveaway (other cameras given away for promotion such as the NEX-5N and Fuji X20 were purchased out of pocket)
    -Richard Franiec has given me two of his custom grips

    All of the above was disclosed in the relevant posts/reviews/etc and are disclosed here again for completeness. In addition, I was a paying customer of all of those companies before they gave me freebies. Lastly, none of those freebies were given as compensation of any kind.


    Section 4: Disclosure of Personal Equipment and Biases:

    I have purchased with my own money a ton of cameras and lenses in the past 10 years, including many Canons, Fujis, Nikons, Pentaxes, Olympuses, Panasonics, Ricohs, Sigmas, Zeisses, Leicas, Sonys, and Samsungs. I consider myself a "fan" of all of those companies, but I don't have any special allegiance to any of them to the exclusion of any others.


    Section 5: Disclosure of Personal Gear-Headedness:

    It probably goes without saying, but I'll say it: I am a gearhead. I love gadgets and technology. I like pixel peeping. I like meaningless technical comparisons.

    I also love photography. As Ray Sachs once said, "gear and photography are two separate hobbies". And they're not mutually exclusive.