"Might you PAY to be a user here - just asking!"

dejayM asked this question a while back, and I’ve been thinking about it on and off. It’s worth discussing, perhaps.
My short answer is “maybe”. But I can see a few drawbacks. The main one is simple: it might drive away some of the excellent contributors, who have either remained faithful, joined more recently, or returned; and who are persisting in supporting the site despite the desperately slow progress with the still-significant problems.
Another issue is one of implementation. For people who post images in the hope of an identification (for whatever purpose), then a fee for that service might be reasonable. But would it be a “flat fee”, or banded, dependent on the number of posts? And would they be charged for posts that weren’t identified?
There is also the issue of reliability/difficulty in identification, which I’ll come back to.
In the case of those who provide identifications, often at least as many of these as original posts; surely their effort and expertise is worthy of reward. Would they get a “discount” from their joining/posting fee - and maybe end up in “credit”? If someone like the estimable Chris Brooks, as an example, put in a good week’s work; could he end up with free membership in perpetuity? (Tongue in cheek here, and absolutely no offence intended.) Agreements might also need to be rewarded, at a lower rate.
Chris’s identifications are reliable: I always feel more confident of one of mine if he adds an agreement. Some others (and I include myself here) are less so: it’s part of the learning curve to try to put a name to an organism, and possibly discover what features have been overlooked or misinterpreted.
And this leads me back to the issue of reliability/difficulty. It takes more skill to (f’rinstance) identify some hoverflies or brassicas, and almost any fungi, than it does a robin. But who would decide the scale of reward? More to the point, who would arbitrate on the accuracy of identifications?
In short, it might simply be unworkable. But if it speeded up the gremlin hunt, I’d at least consider it.

I think the short answer (for me) is NO. But yes I did pose the question.
There is another Site, not very far from this one (actually next door my Chrome Bookmarks), that is smooth, reliable, constantly being updated and supported Worldwide by many thousands of very active users. Adding an Observation there is as easy as here and far safer if you are impatient. It displays well, with few delays and a good facility to enlarge illustrations. It is not as ‘cool’ as here in many ways and the community not, quite, as helpful (as it used to be here). The forum, in that site, is very well attended but questions sometimes do NOT get responses. It is the site of preference now for Google searches and often comes up with the goods far more regularly.
Why am I saying this? It’s free and it has ALL you want and more.
Why am I still here? Hard to explain but I might be in a rut. I like it here but I am liking less and less as the difficulties mount and promises die.
To pay for anything, means value for money.

Just to reiterate then (not a single direct response from Admin) -
This is from New year 'solutions?
SOME IMPROVEMENTS needed to make the site much more pleasant to use.
In no special Order of importance then -
1 Improve Track Changes - REMOVE our own entries from CHANGES TRACKER, which are duplicated in ACTIVITY TRACKER. Only display the last change to the same Observation (if there are several) 1a. Retain Yellow marker until the specific post has been visited
2 Allow Edit of Comments - until locked by Reply
3 Refresh the Home Page - Add a running Welcome banner which changes when ‘things’ are not right. Add strong links to RECENT OBS and START HERE (New Pages?). Tidy up and remove stale notices. Add a large Picture of the Month (NOT competitive?).
4 Update all Help Pages - create an Index
5 Rationalise Global - currently, it means two things in iSpot, ALL Communities or those not UK.
EXCLUDE Other named Communities from GLOBAL or include them all - make it plain which.
6 Retain Locations somehow - allow users to creature their own Index (Home, Mill, Foxton Wood, etc) thus saving the laborious need to enter location details every single time.
7 Allow HTML Text to be retained in descriptions (projects mostly) through Edits. Allow restricted HTML text in comments and Ob. descriptions, but particularly <a ref and so avoid terribly, sometimes over-spillingly long, URLs
8 Improve Search - allow a specific search for Observations (find all Obs (only) of Phytolacca acinosa for example) And for precise occurrences like “gooseneck”
9 Update dictionaries - this is imperative as we observe more and more rare varieties
10 Bring back Social Points shows those who engage with users or the system or add agreements to be seen as ‘valuable’ as those with high Score Icons
11 Sort Enlarge Picture remove Zoom? Allow Cycling through Observation pictures when enlarged
12 Next & Previous buttons - bring back Next and Previous clicks when browsing Carousels
13 Fix the Reputations algorithm. Where sometimes the score rating is not balanced - may apply mostly to Experts and Knowledgeables
14 Modify quizzes, REMOVE, test, revise and replace the Quizzes
15 Allow Pages search in Gallery view - ;‘Go to Page 9’, say. Some galleries have 40 pages. We must start only at the beginning and then allowed only First, Next and Previous
16 Allow us to Follow (and UNfollow, a user
17 Allow PREVIEW of Observation detail before ‘publishing’
18 Devise ways to nurture newcomers - linked to Items 3 and 16 (above)
19 Review the way Changes links take us to Comments, so that the link takes us TO the comment.
Perhaps Colour the relevant Panel in the old way.

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Also, partly (I hope) because you’re aware that your efforts are much appreciated. The generally hospitable nature of the site, including the freely-given advice, encouragement, and bonhomie provided by yourself and others, is one of its better features.

I think Amadan is quite correct in all points. I have greatly enjoyed using ISpot and continue to post on it BUT it is clearly struggling with resources. Despite this I’ve had some really good interactions over particular IDs, all conducted in a spirit of goodwill and willingness to be proved wrong where that’s appropriate. I hope the site will be able to continue but charging could just be the last straw, and almost impossible to administer.

i’d be happy to pay an annual fee, but not based on level of activity (else it would cost me a fortune!)

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Yes, I’d consider paying but there is, of course, a catch: I’d expect an improved performance from the site. A bit chicken and egg perhaps.

As I understand it the original idea of iSpot was to provide support for people starting out learning about natural history, the idea was it was like the ‘friendly uncle’ who would take a young person out and help them learn to identify things. If that is still desirable (as I think it is) then I think a pay barrier to entry would put such people off.

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It’s fun, so I’d pay to belong. However, - there’s always a catch - it’s run by the Open University. Would they have the facilities to receive money?

Probably. You have to pay to take OU courses.

There are various models for financing internet services.

There are advertising-supported services.

There are subscription-supported services.

There are grant-supported services.

There are donation-supported services.

iSpot was designed as a grant-supported service, and I think that this is an appropriate model.