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Unread 2010-10-11, 9:06   #1
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Ved
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Feb 3 2003
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On Monday, November 1, Mecha+ (or "M+") will become active on the site once again. This is a necessary step in order to keep Mechapixel running and healthy. M+ allows us to cover operating expenses such as annual fees (i.e. domain registration and forum software license), as well as the monthly hosting and server upkeep.

The existence of M+ has always been difficult for me personally because our community is so relatively small, and so many of you already contribute a great deal to the enjoyment of others around these parts. However, I'm not ashamed to ask for a little financial help if it will keep the site running, and hopefully for a long time. The new Google ads are not even making a dent, but that is quite understandable given the low visitor/anonymous traffic the site currently sees. That should change over time, but for right now most of the daily site hits comes from the same 25-30 wonderful people.

Here are some details on the new M+ plan, which will take effect on November 1st:

Cost
As I have mentioned previously, Mechapixel's hosting is cheaper than it used to be, and as such M+ will be reduced from the previous $7.50/month to $5.00/month. There will only be one kind of M+ service at this time; no "Gold" or "Silver" packages. If two options become available in the future, the Gold version would remain at $5 monthly, and Silver would be less.

The only official payment option will once again be Paypal, but long-time trusted site members who cannot use Paypal will be able to mail it in. Snail mail will not be something that will be advertised however, since Mechapixel is not a business and I'm not going to post my home address publically. Perhaps a P.O. Box in the future, when I can manage it.

Entry Hosting
One of the old benefits of M+ was the site hosted your entries for you. This was a very convenient perk, but problems arose when members without M+ hosted their own images and they would not load. As you can tell by the contests dating back to 2003, we like to archive all entries in all contests for all of eternity. This was difficult to do when a contest participant used an image host that was unreliable, and the entry was never even cached here on Mechapixel. As such, entry hosting is no longer going to be a M+ advantage -- it will be offered to everyone in all contests.

Contest Previewing
Perhaps the biggest benefit of the previous M+ was previewing contests before they went live. For me personally, this is an agonizing step in bringing back M+, because contests are just now getting back on their feet, and I don't want to detract from the 3-5 entries we are currently seeing in the Graffitis. Nonetheless, it is simply the strongest and most attractive benefit Mechapixel can offer our primary crowd (digital artists) for helping to support the site.

So here is the compromise. M+ will allow you to see all contests as soon as they are approved and set up. If you don't have M+, you will still get a 1 day preview of Graffiti contests, and 2 day preview of Slag contests (when they return). There used to be no preview of Graffiti contests before they went live, so this will still give anyone without M+ a little time to create an entry before voting opens, and of course during the 3 days voting is ongoing if you wish.

Stash
Many of you know we used to have a dedicated server, and as such the site ran a bit faster and we had a ton of storage space, so I set up personal file storage ("Stash") for all Mecha+ subscribers. In fact, we used to have 80 gigs free to play with, but now we currently only have 2.5 gigs free, which will be needed for storing entries and logs and everything else. Due to this, Stash will not be offered right away.

If the site picks up traffic, then it is quite likely we will be able to upgrade our hosting account for more flexibility in this matter. I know Stash was convenient and wonderful, and I do apologize. As a compromise, I might set up a way for M+ members to upload their entry source images, which would be particularly useful for Slags and their sexy detailed entries.

Arcade
Arcade games don't take up most of our bandwidth, but they do use a decent chunk, and I'm going to put a little extra frosting on the M+ pudding cake by giving those members unlimited daily plays in the arcade. This means that for the first time, I'm going to do something that is actually quite common in online arcades; employ a limit on number of plays per days for site members without M+. I haven't decided on a number yet, but I promise it will be very generous, perhaps 50 game plays per day. This shouldn't affect many people regardless of M+ status, but it still adds a small incentive to support Mechapixel.

Here is a brief summary of the above, and other benefits M+ will provide:
  • Early contest previewing; all contest types
  • Suggested contest queue access and voting
  • Unlimited arcade game daily plays
  • Special M+ usergroup, and light blue username
  • Option to completely hide banner ads on every page
Without entry hosting, Stash, email and a subdomain, the list is a good deal shorter than it used to be. However, the ability to be fully involved in which contests run on the site (and enter those contests up to a few weeks in advance) was always the strongest point of M+, and we think it remains the most attractive benefit.

If you have any questions, concerns, hate or praise, feel free to post about it here.
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Unread 2010-10-11, 9:33   #2
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Ved
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Another thing I forgot to mention, roughly 22 site members -- most of whom are currently active -- had Mecha+ subscriptions when the old server went down last year. I will be honoring the time you had left (based on number of months) and automatically adjusting your accounts on November 1.

So really, this announcement won't affect very many people over the next few months at least. To help cover hosting costs this fall I will need to spread the word about Mechapixel and try to get some new folks interested in our community. If anyone is able to help in this regard (word of mouth advertising), please do so!
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Unread 2010-10-11, 11:41   #3
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B L
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Jun 11 2005
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a whale's vagina
 



Personally I'm anxious to support and anxious to get some new photoshoppers in here.

Another M+ benefit could be that once every month you get to take one of GJ's arcade high scores and claim it as your own.

Or hell, just jack GJ a dime each time he plays a game and you won't even need M+ to finance the site. That business plan could take this thing to an IPO rivaling facebook's!
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Unread 2010-10-31, 20:28   #4
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Ved
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This will be delayed a week. I've been extremely sick over the past few days, and the planned implementation and testing this weekend just didn't happen. I'm now aiming for next Monday, November 8th.
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Unread 2010-11-01, 11:48   #5
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FulanoDeTal
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Jul 25 2006
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Hope you feel better, Ved!
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Unread 2010-11-08, 15:48   #6
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Ved
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Thanks FDT, it was a nasty one but I'm finally over it.


Update on Mecha+:

It isn't fully automated but I need to get it going in some form because site bills are coming up (hosting and domain registration), so Mecha+ will be activated tonight. I worked on it a good deal over the past week and especially yesterday, and it's taking a lot more than deleting a few lines of code to go from 2 packages (Gold/Silver) to 1 and reflecting that all over the site. Interaction with Paypal seems to have changed too.

I will post again later when the M+ page is ready, but basically for now it will just be a Paypal button and the package prices listed. When you click the button to go to Paypal you will need to type in the amount, like a donation. Put your username (or sponsored username) in the notes field. Prices will the same options as the old M+ Silver; $5 per month, $13 for 3 months, or $25 for 6 months.

The two differences between this temporary solution and the old automation are: no recurring subscriptions for a bit, and when you sign up it will not automatically give you Mecha+; I will need to do it manually. As such I will be checking it as often as I can (at least hourly during the weekdays) to give you your access.

Reminder, a number of you (15 or so) will have at least 1 month of Mecha+ already turned on when I flip the switch tonight because had an active Mecha+ subscription when the site went down in May 2009.

- Tonight I will also reenable the Mecha+ tab of your user history page so you can see when it expires.
- Some upcoming contest pages may be wonky tonight at first.
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Unread 2010-11-10, 14:32   #7
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Ved
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Feb 3 2003
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I am sorry this is still not active; I keep finding holes and things that need fixing around the site that are tied to Mecha+. The signup page is ready but many of the contest and page display checks around the site are not. It is extremely important that I activate it soon though, since as I mentioned, some annual expenses are coming up in a few weeks, and I literally cannot cover them on my own.

I'm also in the "heavy deadline" season at work (meaning people are ramming projects down my throat left and right), and as much as I'd like to work on Mecha even at home right now, there is no way I can do that for the next couple days. I'm setting aside plenty of time on Saturday to get M+ finished and running.

Thank you all again very much for hanging in there and being patient! When the site is ready, you will notice a Mecha+ box in the adbar in the header (replacing the right-most Google ad), UNLESS you were grandfathered M+ and already have it. In this case the ad bar will be completely hidden, and you will be able to view or renew your M+ subscription via the MyMecha link in the top-right under your name.
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Unread 2010-11-10, 17:28   #8
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Monkeyknife
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May 7 2003
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I can't remember if I'm still Mecha+ or not but I'll definitely be donating something.
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Unread 2010-11-15, 11:15   #9
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Ved
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For anyone who hasn't noticed the new banner ad at the top, Mecha+ is now ready and active on the site. Learn more about it here!
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Unread 2010-11-15, 17:25   #10
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kokopelli
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Feb 4 2003
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If I could, I'd never leave the house...
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Unread 2010-11-15, 18:49   #11
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Dinahmoehum
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Nov 1 2004
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I'm Oprah Rich!
 



Just wanted to say the mechamailer went to the spam box in my gmail. I marked it as not spam last time too.
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