For almost fifteen years, CoffeeGeek had some active forums, and one of the more active parts of that forum was our buy and sell forum section. There was a time where as many as twenty new posts for coffee and espresso gear were listed every single day.
In the entire time I ran that website, I never sought to monetize the buy and sell forum. I actually started it up to help our membership avoid excessive eBay fees. I wanted to provide a value added service to our membership (membership on CoffeeGeek was always free btw), and I didn’t want to collect fees for listings myself.
That turned out to be a big mistake, on many levels.
See, by 2015 or so, most of the discussion that happened in the CoffeeGeek forums went to other places online: facebook, reddit, and individual posts on twitter and instagram. But the buy and sell forum was hyper active even up to the last few days of the old CoffeeGeek website. Even in our last year, when we’d average only about 15 new forum posts a day, over half of them were listings in the buy and sell forum.
When I retired the old forums and the old website, I started getting emails. Emails from people who weren’t impressed with me removing the forums and the buy and sell area. At first, they were sort of polite: “you’re planning on bringing it back, right?” “I hope you start it back up again soon – I have equipment I want to sell!”.
But when I made it clear the forums were retired and not coming back, I started getting more angry emails. I won’t print or repeat them here, but the sense of self-entitlement was massive.
Ironically, I never used the forums (or the website) myself to sell any coffee related items. I have a basement and storage locker full of coffee equipment from past reviews and consultations, but never listed a single thing in the buy and sell forum myself. I have sold items locally on Craigs List, and on eBay, but never in our forums.
But many people were able to take advantage of this service I offered (and paid for, through our hosting costs) – thousands of people. And I cannot recall a single one ever offering thanks for the service. Instead, I got anger and hurtful comments when I closed it down.
That’s why I really regret not charging for the service when we launched it. Even if I just made it a dollar to post something in the buy and sell forum, it would have shown people there was a cost to the value they had. And to be frank, I probably would have migrated the forums over to the new CoffeeGeek website if I had made it a paid service, because instead of losing hundreds of dollars a month in hosting costs for the old forums, I could have at least made it break even.
I’m posting this today because again, I got another angry email about how dare I remove the forums. A guy who hasn’t visited the website in years visited today and was upset there was no buy and sell forum to list his $2500 espresso machine in.
Zero. Gratitude. All. Entitlement.