Thought this was good, this is part of an article written by Derek M. Powazek In community-building circles, "revenue" is a dirty word. We know that building community online can be a wonderful, enriching process. We know that it creates sites with a tighter bond between creator and visitor, and member to member. We might even suspect that those bonds can sometimes transcend the virtual realm and cross over into the real world. But at almost every talk I give on community online, eventually someone asks the question: "How does this make money?" In truth, my answer is usually: "It doesn't." And it's not just me being glib. It's that, in truth, community is like love: hard to find, impossible to engineer, and priceless. Money can no sooner buy you love, than community can bring you riches. Still, in this post-boom web world of 2002, it's time for websites to start earning their keep – especially community sites which cost more money to create, host and manage. Gimme gimme money Many big league websites with community features have been reassessing their community involvement this year. In early 2002, CNN examined the return on investment (another dirty phrase in community circles) they were getting for their web-based discussions and decided it wasn't worth it. So they shut down their community features abruptly, promising to bring them back from time to time for "hot topics." So far, they haven't, and it's not like we've had any shortage of hot topics in the world. Motley Fool, the financial site, did a similar review of its community offerings and decided that they could no longer support its forums for free. But instead of closing them down, they went pro: now you have to pay a monthly fee to read or post. In doing so, they join Salon's Table Talk and The Well in the for-pay community space. It's a play that makes sense: If the community is getting value from the site, and the site takes money to run, then ask the community to pay. In the go-go boom days, this would have been a death knell – a competitor would have just offered a similar service for free and scooped up your precious market share. But, lest we need reminding, these are not the go-go days, and market share is not the one and only goal anymore. In fact, the more members you have in a community space, the more expensive the whole thing gets. On the other hand, asking users to pay for something they're used to getting for free is sketchy at best. A recent survey by Jupiter Media Metrix asked web users what they're willing to pay for. Sixty-three percent said, "nothing." Community sites are even more problematic, because users are being asked to pay for a tool, not content. There's something intuitively slimy about asking someone to pay for something that they have to produce themselves. We'll have to wait and see how these attempts at for-pay community play out. But it's clear that it would be next to impossible for a fledgling community to pull off the trick. To go pro, you need a built-in memberbase that is likely to survive the switch.