Note Unfortunately Stitchin Fingers no longer exists as the site closed late 2016 so I have removed the links in this post
As many people are already aware, over the weekend (in Australia) the news broke that NING were no longer going to host free networks. The story is covered on the Blog Herald as well. Since Stitchin Fingers is a free NING network most of my time was taken up wondering what I would do. Even the Lifeline Book fair did not take my mind off it!
I feel I need a post to communicate what the state of play is.
I did email all members but if for some reason you missed it or you want the back story and for those that want to track mine and the community reactions, here is the discussion on Stitchin Fingers
All weekend Jerry and I have had long chats as we hope Stitchin fingers will still be standing after the dust settles
Provided that, when Ning announces the changes on May 4th the cost of the new structures are not too high, or prices creep higher in the next 3-6 months or so, we plan to try paying for the site via calling for sponsors (ie advertising) and add google adsense, and affiliate programs such as amazon books etc I don’t want to plaster the network with ads, definitely not flashing distracting horrid things but since Ning have had advertising already on the site it should not be too offensive to members.
At first I was not too optimistic about this option as people in the fiber/textile community do not readily click on advertising. Many people don’t know that it is only when they click does the site that hosts the advert get paid and even then it is really only in cents. So you need a lot of clicks to make a site pay. Jerry however talked me around.
I will be a little more hands on and perhaps add more content like shifting my stitch dictionary to stitchin fingers. Hopefully this will mean more things in one spot for members, provoking more traffic which is more value for advertisers. So members stand to gain by this change.
These ideas are of course based on the idea that Ning will not shift their pricing structure too high. I thought we would try this for 12 months and then re-assess the situation. In the mean time I plan to watch how other communities migrate to other places online. I plan to watch carefully those services so if NING hike their prices too high or fail completely we have more options and the waters have been tested by others.
Please be aware that this decision is not yet set in concrete but it is fairly solid. The final decision will be made when NING announces their new policy.
For those that are worried that Stitchin fingers will become a subscription service, I see that option as a last resort. I know many would pay a little for it but also I know many would not. Some people can afford it and some can not. People are too used to free things online and many have as yet not understood that someone somewhere pays.
But I have another reason for not wanting it to be behind closed doors. It is philosophical. I am online is to promote working in fiber as a valid creative activity. I believe one of the reasons textiles as an art form is forgotten is because the majority of textile work was done in the domestic sphere. In other words the textiles are appreciated behind closed doors. People don’t see the work, understand the process or creative descissions involved in making something by hand in fiber. As a result of this invisibility many people dont value the activity or the piece created.
Let me put it another way. As I see it, if a practice such as embroidery is to stay alive we need ways to expose people to what is possible. I use my blog to do this because I want the practice of hand work to be alive and kicking at the end of the 21st century long after I am gone. The only way to keep the practice alive is to expose people to it. If a network of people constantly does this, it means that this subculture of stitching is alive and healthy. The implications of this is that this new medium can shape and maintain the aspects of our culture that we value.
For that reason I do not want to put stitchin fingers behind virtual closed doors online. I dont really want to hide the activity and pleasure textile people share. I don’t want to hide the skills displayed or skills shared. I just don’t want to hide – full stop!
Textile people are great people and make a wonderful community online and off. I want people who may have just a little interest in the subject to find and see this and feel welcome. Subscriptions services do not lend themselves to people stumbling across the community and joining in.
That said, being part of an online community can stimulate creativity. In my online classes in every class there is always a point in the forums where I am really reticent to let go. Usually, it’s the energy and positive stimulation of discussion and it’s a bit like leaving the party too soon, so I can see that there may be a role at some stage for premium membership to have some part to play in the site. However I do not see this as an immediate option. To be honest I want to know NING is still in business in 12 months time before I start down this path.
Hopefully as I say all will be OK and Stichin Fingers will be even better after the dust settles. We can only try.
Have you seen my Stitchers Templates?
As someone who loves crazy quilting and embroidery I designed these templates with other stitchers in mind. With my templates you can create hundreds of different patterns to apply to your stitching and crazy quilting projects. They are easy to use, totally clear so you can position them easily and they are compact in your sewing box.
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