The Editor's Corner
Carl Bussjaeger


Possibly my challenge to the readers to try to crack my nyms, pen names, was misinterpreted. The fact that I offered you a chance to to guess my secret identities <grin> should not have been taken as a declaration of open season on the privacy of the rest of DF!'s writers. Allow me to explain in more detail...

And here's a fourth bonus subscription issue for our loyal subscribers, as my way of saying thanks. It's also... Read on.

A few months ago I discussed the future of Doing Freedom! Magazine with our publisher, Sunni Maravillosa. This discussion was prompted by a failure on my part to turn DF! into a paying enterprise.

On the one hand, DF! was intended as a resource to help more people become more free. It was a form of outreach. On the other hand, it is also a business. At the very least we wanted it to be self-supporting; preferably it would earn us some money. On the gripping hand*, without income from the magazine, I could only afford to fund it myself for just so long. My pockets have distinct bottoms. I reached them. I can no longer afford to work full-time on a job that pays nothing.

So the gist of our discussion was what to do about the situation. The decision at which we arrived was this: A three month marketing test of Doing Freedom!'s viability. A test of this sort needs standards, thresholds by which to judge success or failure. I set two differing but related thresholds. I determined these by looking at the number of visitors we had in the month before the discussion, and by my own financial needs to support DF!.

  • Minimum total subscribers for the test period: 180.
      This was less than one percent of the previous month's visitors. It seemed a reasonable test to try to persuade such a tiny fraction of our readers to subscribe.
  • Minimum number of subscribers per month: 11.
      This threshold was to test sustainability. If I gained 180 subscribers in the first month, but absolutely none thereafter, that would indicate that DF! had saturated its market, and further growth would be insufficient. The specific number was chosen as being the bare minimum needed to pay my monthly Internet-related expenses and our writers for their efforts.

Sunni agreed that these standards seemed a reasonable test. I made the announcement of the subscription test, attempted to publicize it, and instituted a system of advertising each issue to draw subscribers.

From the server logs, it appears this worked admirably at drawing readers. From a pre-test monthly record of 24,260 visitors, we climbed to a remarkable 54,167; visits more than doubled. Moreover, this is an increase of 728% from the 6,535 visits in the month before I became editor. In terms of web-traffic, this is amazing: Tens of thousands of regular visitors to a site that only updates its content once per month. Certainly other websites draw more visitors, but those are sites which update content weekly, daily, even hourly. Think on that.

So the test suceeded brilliantly and I'll be churning out new isues, right? Let's look at the threshold numbers.

  • Monthly:
      07/2003: 24
      08/2003: 23
      09/2003: 13
  • Total: 60

No, my test did not succeed. Therefore, as I agreed with Sunni, I now step down as editor and return operations to her.

A little privacy note here: As I possessed writers' email addresses in my editorial capacity, I'll pass those addresses on to Sunni (or my replacement) to be used in her editorial capacity. This is a normal business practice. If you do not want your address passed on, let me know immediately; I'll hold off to give writers time to respond.

Likewise, the new issue alert list will be handed over, to be used only as I used it. (And I apologize for the open CC last month; I still haven't figured out why that happened, since my BCC settings appear to be correct, and test mailings went out correctly.)

I'm now trying to find a job (bloody difficult in President Dubya's "recovery economy" that sees more people laid off every day), because the overwhelming majority of DF!'s readers were unwilling to pay for the increased content and service they demanded. No matter how much I want to help people work towards freedom, I can't go on; I'm broke. Most of you wanted free lunches and I ran out of bologna and bread. Go chew on that.

Yes, I'm bitter. I went broke trying to get DF! to a magical point where it could begin earning its keep. I blew my credibility with writers from whom I begged material, telling them that some folks were bound to click their donate buttons. I lost time on this endeavor that I might've put to good freedom use otherwise. I've had to give up more projects to other people because I can't afford them either anymore.


But this hasn't all been bad. In truth, I had a lot of fun putting out DF!. I met (if only virtually in many cases) some interesting people. I'm proud of generating a mostly decent product.

On my way out I want to recognize some good people, even though I can't name 'em all.

  • Sunni Maravillosa and Don Lobo Tiggre, who gave DF! life, then graciously allowed me to adopt it.
  • Samuel Paine, without whom DF! would not have survived my early attempts at files maintenance, and who kept us going month after month.
  • John Hoffman, who saved the domain name (and Simon Jester's too).
  • All our writers, who made DF! worth reading in the first place.
  • The handful of supporters, through donations and subscriptions, who kept me going as long as I did. I hope you'll be as generous with my successor.
Thank you all very much.

Carl Bussjaeger

* From The Gripping Hand, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle

Copyright © 2003 by Doing Freedom! magazine. All rights reserved.