I know some of you have been frustrated with the ad experience and I'm frustrated, too. My vow is that I will attempt to address everyone's concerns to the best of my ability, as it's literally my job to provide all of you with a quality experience on Brewer Fanatic. The following is not an excuse for a bad experience; I simply want all of us to understand and operate with the same knowledge base. I will continue to refine and tweak the ad experience until all (or really "most") of us can reach a happy middle ground.
I'm going to pull back the veil a little bit and show some numbers that explain what was happening not only on BrewerFan.net, but across the internet to almost all independent forum sites. The reality is that Reddit and Facebook are killing independent communities by the truckload and BrewerFan.net was no exception. Here is the user traffic from April of 2017 through the day the site was relaunched as Brewer Fanatic.
As you can see, traffic was accelerating toward terminal velocity and this graph is actually the norm today in the wake of the assault from social media giants. From the outside, forums often look like they're stable until they're suddenly not and a quick death usually follows. Even during the Brewers 2021 postseason run, BrewerFan.net attracted only ~60% of the users it attracted through 2017, 2018, and 2019. I haven't been exaggerating when I said BrewerFan.net wouldn't make it another 3-4 years at the rate it was atrophying. There are the numbers and you can see I wasn't exaggerating.
I've talked to several forum owners over the past year and this kind of graph is alarmingly common. It saddens me to no end to see all these great communities withering away but it's the reality of the situation.
Now let's compare that user graph to the same time frame on Twins Daily.
You probably see where I'm going with this.
What makes Twins Daily different - and where Brewer Fanatic is now - is that we pay our creators. By protecting the forums with high-quality content on a daily basis, people don't naturally drift to Facebook or Reddit and instead, we keep attracting more users. The forums get bigger, we have more volunteers to create great daily content like the game threads and debate forums; the Twins Daily community is exceptionally vibrant. None of that would exist without all those paid roles wrapping the forums in a protective envelope. Which is why we need to run ads and why ad blockers genuinely hurt a community. The people running this site don't pocket advertising money, we consistently reinvest it back into our writers, video creators, and even our moderators.
You'll notice a big jump in Twins Daily's traffic starting in 2019. I'll give you one guess when we finally "figured out" how to implement advertising well and started paying our content creators much more money than we could afford before that point.
And it's working for Brewer Fanatic, just as it worked on Twins Daily. In April of 2022, Brewer Fanatic is attracting 50% more people than BrewerFan.net did in April of 2021.
Again, none of this is an excuse for all of you to have a bad, jumpy experience on the site. I'm going to keep working diligently to improve the experience and I use the site, too. If something frustrates you, it's probably frustrating me as well. I'm here and I will always listen to your suggestions because without users, a community is an empty shell.
But I hope you now realize why keeping things as-is on BrewerFan.net wasn't really an option, either. If this community is going to persist, it needs a stable, robust revenue source and ads are really the only way to achieve that goal.