Nice freakin idea there! Now when I want to further my knowledge on things, I need to pay for it!! I feel that this approach will have the effect of STIFLING online learning!! When you did this it cut off THOUSANDS of firefighters from the best source of accurate online information. The forums are great for getting information, but there is the possibility of getting bad info. Just look at beer boy!! His ignorant ramblings may have caused damage if he had not been jumped on with both feet by the other users(primarily the IACOJ). Especially since the webteam was slow to act in that case.
Furthermore, by restricting payment options to credit cards, you cut off unknown numbers of people who either can't or won't get a credit card!! I myself have managed just fine without one and will continue to.
The memberszone, despite its name, is actually a kind of elitist group inasmuch as not all members of this site have access to it. Is this attitude conducive to the free exchange of information and knowledge??
I think not.:(
Please see the FAQ and MembersZone section posts for specific information on why there is a fee for the MembersZone.
Generally, all of the content, services and interactive features in the MembersZone are NEW services and take NOTHING away from the base Firehouse.com Site. If we didn't charge a modest $2/month fee, we just wouldn't be able to offer it. Staffing, technology and other things cost money and advertising dollars can only support the main site. Where many Web sites have gone by the wayside, we continue to grow by finding new ways and new services to offer.
We're not sure what your comments are about the forums, etc. which have nothing to do with the MembersZone. The base site is still free, including the main forums.
Additionally, a credit card is NOT required for payment. Within the FAQ link (http://cms.firehouse.com/launch/faq.jsp), there are instructions about paying offline as well as on the checkout page.
The MembersZone is no different than any magazine or premium service subscription. If we didn't charge the minimal fee, we just wouldn't be able to offer the service. Everything cannot be free, if it could, we'd offer it. But to grow our staff, resources and the amount of information we offer, advertising only goes so far.
Again, its just $2/month and users get an incredible amount of information, free e-mail, jobs, searchable services and more.
And, more importantly, everything you've always enjoyed on Firehouse.com is still FREE.