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The future of CADTutor


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Those of you who have linked the PayPal button issue to the the future of CADTutor are absolutely right to do so. It is just part of a wider debate I have been having with myself for the past 12 months. While some may feel that CADTutor is (almost) perfect as it is, the truth is that the world of the web is changing rapidly and a site like ours may be great now but is likely to look a bit under-specified in a few years time. Expectations continue to grow and I do not have the resources (in terms of time or money) to satisfy all those expectations. For example, the tutorials section of the site, although still well used, is now very much out-of-date and in need of a shot in the arm. Increasingly, people expect video tutorials - there are lots available on YouTube - this site should be keeping up with that trend. The site needs more up-to-date, professional content - that's what the web community now expect and (most importantly) they don't expect to have to pay for it.

 

Now, as far as I can see, the only way to steer CADTutor into a successful future where the site continues to deliver quality free content is to make some ethical compromises.

 

For example, I have been approached by a company that produces and sells training CDs for AutoCAD. They are prepared to let us publish a number of their video lessons for free on this site, providing they get a name-check and a link back to their site.

 

To me, this sounds perfectly good sense. The most important point being that our users get access to some free (and good quality) video tutorials. If you feel that no element of commerce or commercial relationship should be a part of what we do, then our users miss out.

 

Whether we like it or not, the ethically pure, early, floksy web has now become a commercial marketplace in which CADTutor has a value, just like all other successful sites. We can use that value to our own advantage and make relationships with people who can provide excellent content in return for exposure. This is a model that seems to work and one that I think we should explore.

 

In a very real sense, the strictly non-commercial ethic disappeared from this site when I first added Google Ads. At the time it caused debate and people didn't like their introduction. The simple truth is that if it weren't for those ads, we wouldn't be having this debate right now, because the site would have been unsustainable and would have been taken down long ago.

 

So, lets plan for the future, lets be smart about it and make the site better and more useful to more people and if that means making some commercial friends along the way, is that such a bad thing if we continue to do what we have been doing for over 10 years - helping people to help themselves, for free?

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David- I'm short on time right now, but would like to quickly respond. I agree with what you're saying- you did include Google ads which largely went unnoticed due to how well they blend in with the site. Personally, I would have no issue with you utilising the traffic numbers for adding company linked tutorials. I agree that the site needs to be maitained in one way or another and for that we are all very grateful to you for creating and running such a site. I do however feel that it's a rather separate issue to the PayPal one as it is for keeping the site running rather than paying direct to the individual.

 

I do like the ideas of the payment going through CT where a % could be skimmed off, but again I think it should be kept to another site. Advertising is one thing, but the ability for everyone to charge for information (I'm not saying everyone will!), is very different.

 

Further, the Tutorial area is one that will largely be bypassed by members like myself who just head straight to the forums when they login.

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Further, the Tutorial area is one that will largely be bypassed by members like myself who just head straight to the forums when they login.

 

I'm sure that's true of most regulars on this forum but the truth of the matter is that it's the tutorials that keep the forum running. How's that? Well, if you look at a breakdown of the AdSense revenue from different parts of the site, the forum brings in very little whereas the tutorials bring in by far the biggest proportion. So, you see, if the tutorials fail to attract traffic into the future, the forum will fail through lack of funding. In terms of hosting, the forum is the biggest overhead and if you like to see things in commercial terms, the tutorials are subsidising the forum. That's why it's so important to attract good content - even if most forum members don't even look at it.

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So in essence, it's the newest visitors to CADTutor who are subsidising the more frequent and longevitised visitors/members?

Interesting

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Yep sorry I think I didn't explain myself very well I was meaning that it will fund the site without having too much of an effect on the forums.

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Bob Dylan sang "For the times they are a-changin'..." Change or cease to exist. I'm for anything that keeps CADTutor available for another ten years. This valuable resource should not succumb to short-sightedness. My 2 cents worth.

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CADTutor
Yep sorry I think I didn't explain myself very well I was meaning that it will fund the site without having too much of an effect on the forums.

 

That is probably true. I see no need to fundamentally change the forums. But I have to have the bigger picture in mind when considering how we move forward wheras most peole here think of CADTutor as being only or mainly the forum. It's certainly the "engine" of the community, but as we've seen (above), it cannot exist without the rest of the site.

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I have nothing much to object about advertisement - as long as it's obvious that it is in fact commercial. And a trade off between good video tutorials and exposure does souns like a farily good idea.

 

I am one of those that completely bypasses the frontpage and go straight to the forum - however since that part is well-visited after what you say David, it is worth to keep it up to date. And you personally sure don't need more tasks on your plate.

 

If anyone says "but hey mods, you remove all kinds of advertisments, and now you want to endorse it??" - there is a big difference between endorsing ads (and paying for an ad-space) and just advertise yourself without the siteowners permission.

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If anyone says "but hey mods, you remove all kinds of advertisments, and now you want to endorse it??" - there is a big difference between endorsing ads (and paying for an ad-space) and just advertise yourself without the siteowners permission.

 

Of course. Any commercial activity on the site has to benefit the site, either financially or (preferably) in the contribution of quality content. In the unlikely event that the site starts to make lots of money, my objective would be to pay technical authors to publish unique content here. The sort of thing that Michael Beall already does in his monthly Corner. We are fortunate that Michael does what he does for free but it would be great to be able to pay people like that.

 

I'm not sure how many of you look at Michael's Corner but it really is excellent and not just for beginners. That's the sort of content that brings people to CADTutor.

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I'm not sure how many of you look at Michael's Corner but it really is excellent and not just for beginners. That's the sort of content that brings people to CADTutor.

 

I for one don't, its not a very human tutorial - it's straight out of a text book and thats why i didn't listen in school. I think that applies to alot of people as well. :roll:

 

CADTutor will evolve as all sites do, and if that means getting away from text book lessons and into video instruction with easy to follow commentry (which i assume is what is being offered) then i welcome it as a posetive change and applaud your descions to provide rounder, more universal help to all the new and existing members of CADTutor. :wink:

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Two "thumbs up" for Michael's Corner. It is short, informative, to the point and varied. If you're not reading it you're missing out on some very good information and time-saving tips.

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I try to every month, i really do but by the time i've started the second paragraph i've lost intrest and honestly think "Why the hell was i bothered to do this again?" Maybe it just my attention span to instruction. As much as i don't know i do know i'd follow a video 10x easier.

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I must admit, I do visit Michael's Corner quite infrequently.

I get a lot of emails each week about CAD articles on the net and as I don't generally have the time to read them all; I must prioritise and so I end up only reading things that either interest me, or things I feel that I should know for now and in the future.

I have found that once my intrigue level has reached a certain line, I learn more by investigating things myself, rather than reading what somebody else has written about it - but that's just me, I guess.

We're all quite different human beings - and to be anything other than that would be terribly boring

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CADTutor

In a sense it doesn't really matter whether you guys read Michael's Corner each month or not (although I suggest you are bonkers not to). The fact is that the forum is subsidised by people who do and whether it's to your taste or not, we need more of it. However, I see a more integrated mix in the future of articles and videos and... whatever else make sense.

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we need more of it. However, I see a more integrated mix in the future of articles and videos and... whatever else make sense.

 

Aye, this is true, although CADTutor offers more than 90 (is it?) tutorials, i always ask here on the forums ever before looking at them because i dont have time to carry out a lesson on how to do something (which will mean skimming the text) i just ask, wait a while pop back and its there.

 

What im getting at is if there was a range of lessons/tutorials in diffrent formats (without jepordising the quality) people could use them how they needed (i.e. zipping around the video) and get the right knowledge quickly.

 

And yes, i supose i am slightly 'bonkers' for not reading it but it just doesn't appeal! Final word on that one :lol:

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Just my tuppence worth:- I have no problem with ads that are static like the Google ones already on here, I have clicked on several in the past, my really big problem is those that flicker. The ones that change their picture or script quickly.

A woodworking forum that I was a member of had these types suddenly plastered down each side of the forum posts. It makes it impossible to read and digest the information, therefore impossible to offer advice to people who need it. It is like trying to read under strobes in a disco! Well it does for me and a good number of people who no longer post on that site.

If advertising is vital for the continuance of this great site then let it be, just keep the animated ones out, or it may end up self defeating.

Rob.

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I'm 100% with you on that one Rob. Ay advertising on this site will be in keeping with the nature of the site and although advertising has to be seen to be effective, it should not (in my opinion) be distracting. I too hate those flashing things.

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CADMASTER1128
Increasingly, people expect video tutorials - there are lots available on YouTube - this site should be keeping up with that trend. The site needs more up-to-date, professional content - that's what the web community now expect and (most importantly) they don't expect to have to pay for it.

 

What if you pick 2, 3, 4 or 5 people to create quaity tutorials (free of charge maybe) and allow them to upload and accept advice. That way it will free you up from creating the tutorials. Just an idea.

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