Louisville Mojo to start charging to send private messages [Media]

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Today's LEO Weekly relates Louisville Mojo's recent past. And in this message to the site's users, Mojo's chief technology officer Chuck Burke tells where it's going. Or trying to.

Dear Friends, Family and other Locals,

I'm writing today to explain some of the changes taking place on Louisville Mojo.

As you may or may not know, Louisville Mojo came online seven years ago as a community web site. It was launched as a "portfolio piece" to demonstrate what we were capable of as a web programming shop and the hope at the time was that it would help us build that business. In a classic tail that wags the dog scenario, Louisville Mojo took on a life of its own, grew far too fast and large to manage as a side-project and was re-tooled to become a business unto itself. The common element over all these years is that Louisville Mojo was primarily advertising supported with a small but critical amount of the costs being carried by the Inner Circle / supporting members. (You guys truly made it possible when advertising alone wouldn't carry all the water, and for that, we thank you!)

We've tried all sorts of crazy ideas and experiments over the years, so features have come and gone while others have changed and evolved. Most recently we tried an eight month experiment in online news which was wildly successful in regards to growth (page views and visitors). Sadly though, page views and traffic have never been a problem for Louisville Mojo; it started as one of the most popular web sites in the state and remains so today, serving over 20 million page views to over 150K visitors each month. If traffic were dollars we'd have it made but advertising has been significantly softened since the market crash in the third quarter of 2008. The ongoing recession and tough competition for ad dollars, both locally and from the big boys (Google, Facebook, etc.) have given the site's ad-based revenue model a one-two punch.

In order to survive and continue to thrive we have to adapt to the changing environment, and if Louisville Mojo is to sustain itself it will have to be primarily member supported. As part of this, we're re-focusing on our core strengths... dating, entertainment and events. As part of this change we've removed some features and we're adding others. If you get value out of Mojo we're asking you to vote with your dollars and support the site! We know that literally tens of thousands of friendships have been formed on Mojo over the years and that we're responsible for hundreds of happy marriages. We hope to continue to create these genuine connections.

The largest difference is that private messaging and instant messaging will be for paid members only. We're adding a paid member account (the new ~AWESOME ACCOUNT~) to all existing profiles today, but moving forward, new accounts will have to be a supporting member in order to privately message others. In addition to supporting the ongoing costs of the site this will have the added benefit that we're losing the trouble makers once and for all. I think the modest membership costs will also guarantee that we have a more interested and responsible member base. This will be a breath of fresh air for many of us who have put up with occasional harassing behavior in the past.

While I know that change is hard, and a paid site is not where we had intended to go, I hope you'll remain with us as you always have through the years.

If you'd like to see more details on some of the recent changes, and/or join the discussion, click over to the forum topic.

Best,
- Chuck

PS. Should you or your company need a powerful, feature-rich new web site, please let us know. We've recently done some really gorgeous work for the Boy Scouts of America (LHCBSA.org) and Heine Brothers Coffee (HeineBrosCoffee.com) as well as a number of sites for Greater Louisville, Inc.

About Zach Everson
Travel news/travel buzz editor at MapQuest. Previously, I was a freelance writer, contributing to The Wall Street Journal, Air Canada's enRoute, Eater, USA Today, Condé Nast Traveller, BlackBook, Curbed, Gridskipper, Deadspin, and Fox News. I also was the founding editor of Eater Louisville and the director of content and editorial strategy for Louisville.com.
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