Is the “Buy letterpress aprons & gifts & support Briar Press” post an actual post by the folks that run this site?
It seems a bit odd to come out of the blue to ask for money to support a site that has remained effectively unchanged for 7 years. My other theory is that this post is just someone (a bad actor) pretending to be the people that run BP, taking advantage of the fact that this site is on autopilot…
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It’s been a periodic campaign to help fund the site — server time and electricity costs still accrue even if no changes are made, but there is also maintenance. It’s a worthy cause!
Just because there aren’t any visual changes doesn’t mean the “site is on autopilot”…
For one, its main feature is the classified section which has manual approval of every entry, there is also anti-spam/scam cleanup which can be sizeable for a community of this nature.
And obviously, this site being the de-facto centre for online letterpress knowledge and discussion, it probably sees a significant amount of non-posting traffic which requires a lot of bandwidth even though the site is relatively low impact.
Running a site like this is no joke, and considering how much money the average posting member has made and saved through the knowledge of the community it has created, I say its fair to ask for donations.
I worked in the web hosting industry for years, and I’m well aware of the costs associated with running a site like this. Yes, it’s no joke, but it isn’t a full time job either.
There are parts of this site that are broken. Some of the problems are relatively easy to fix, but have been left broken for 7 years. Try uploading an image with an ampersand in its name. Anyone that has been around here long enough can tell you what will happen.
I don’t care if the site continues to look exactly the same, I only mention it because it’s a symptom of a general lack of maintenance. This website is running on a version of third party software that was End-Of-Life’d in 2011. That means no security updates since 2011, and the list of vulnerabilities that might affect this site fill a few pages.
I don’t have a lot of sympathy for the spammers and spam cleanup argument — those problems are actually symptoms. This site is using captcha technology from 2009, and the spammers figured out how to defeat that years ago. If you build a house out of guncotton and it keeps catching on fire, the solution isn’t to buy more firehoses.
If the owners want to ask for money, that’s fine, but is it too much to ask to see some kind of commitment to improving the site?
Maybe someone with free time on their hands will volunteer to give them a pro-bono tech-upgrade.
Until then, I don’t really see how it is constructive to throw snarky jabs at someone who has managed to keep this community running for over two decades by volunteering their free time.
If you have suggestions on how to improve BP, it is pretty easy to fire off an email to Elizabeth and Eric to point them in the right direction.
I actually corresponded with Elizabeth last year when I encountered a small bug when trying to post a new classified ad. She was able to resolve the situation and I thanked her and also offered my team’s services to help update the site. Hopefully she doesn’t mind me sharing her response:
“Thanks for your kind words about Briar Press and your donation. Our son, Eric, designed and built it as a gift to me. It is a lot of work, and always nice to know the work is appreciated.
Thanks also for your generous offer to help build the site. This is our 20th year online and we are working on our 6th version, but we have yet to raise the funds to go in the direction needed. Also, as Eric has his own company, his paying clients get first dibs on his time. I will pass along your comments and offer to him.
Thanks for taking time to write.”
Perhaps the community here can help either collect the funds or find another way to help.
Keelan, That post has been a sticky for quite a long time. It looks as though it was recently updated however. Previously it only had an option for the apron. Now there are other items as well. So someone certainly is at helm.
It’s constructive in that it gets us talking. This is a discussion forum after all. Elizabeth and Eric are more than welcome to participate in this discussion as well. I very much appreciate what they’ve done for the community, and this site played a big part in converting my passing curiosity in letterpress into something more.
I think my frustration partly stems from the silence. The owners of this site aren’t a part of the community they’ve created. Elizabeth’s last comment on a thread was in 2015, and Eric’s last comment was in 2013.
gregory willis & Lammy,
If funding is what is needed to breathe life back into BP, then great. A plan with some deliverables are all that are needed to persuade me to open my wallet.
Thanks for your words of support and your concern.
I hope my comments can shed a little light on Briar’s mysterious operation!
Elizabeth, my mother, does what she can to keep Briar Press running every day. She’s in her late 70s and continues to improve her skills as an admin. In recent years she has focused on managing the ongoing spambot blitz, which requires a careful review of each new user account and classified ad posting. She also addresses email questions when she can.
Besides that, you could say that the site does run on autopilot. More accurately, members keep it running by contributing content and thoughtful dialogue. We made this site for you and are happy if it can still serve a useful purpose.
The BP merchandise for sale through Zazzle is something my mom enjoys doing. We earn enough to cover our hosting fees, and are also grateful for donations that members choose to send along with their classified ads.
The site is definitely running on an ancient platform. Briar Press has been in continuous operation for over 21 years!
My dream is to rebuild Briar Press again. As my life takes different turns, opportunities to do so come and go. But I remain as eager as ever to bring you version 6 — and a little more ready every year.
In the meantime, you won’t hear much from us. But know that we take seriously our responsibility to keep this place operational. Like an old workhorse, it could really use a complete overhaul; for now, we just keep adding oil, hoping it will get us through the winter.
Is there a way to contribute directly to the site without buying something? Briarpress is part of my morning routine. It’s my portal into the greater letterpress world. I would like to show my support with a contribution.
Thank you, Eric and Elizabeth, for starting and maintaining this wonderful site.
Thanks, Eric! You and Elizabeth are providing a very much needed and appreciated service to the letterpress community; even though there are detractors they are much the minority. I also would contribute if there were a link that is separate from classified ads and purchases. If via PayPal it would be easiest, but there are many ways to pay. I am with Heather — this is one of the first websites I go to in the morning and I revisit it throughout the day. I also enjoy being able to help others solve problems and learn more about this wonderful and important craft.
I just donated via paypal; very easy and worthwhile to a website community I appreciate more and more.
Read this thread.
I didn’t realize there was a direct way to make a donation, but I just did. This site is invaluable for people like us.
I also bought the letterpress apron some time ago, because I’m cool like that.
I just donated - its easy
Let’s get everybody on board!
To all the BP readier,
Donated yesterday, hey jump in the pool,
thanks, E & E,
I just donated again.
Lets try to keep this posting near the top of the column.
Thanks for the great job.