“The Animal Club”

So I’ve chosen the name of the forum and I hope you detect the double entendre.

The developers are now working to install and configure. I’ll be using the bbPress platform for its clean and streamlined pizzaz. One of the big reasons I hardly use forums is for all the clutter bullshit.

I also have designers coming up with a cool banner & logo. I’ll keep the concept for that under wraps until it’s done.

Now this is going to disappoint some, perhaps a lot…and some will accuse me of scandalous behavior for having the audacity to actually charge money for anything I spend hours upon hours on…but this is going to be a premium service. It’s not going to hurt the blog, which will always be completely free and open; but in fact, will actually improve the blog—as that will be the chief means of attracting new paid subscribers to the forum in measured doses.

First of all, feedback for the idea was almost unanimously positive. At the time I popped off the post with the idea, it was off the cuff and I hadn’t even considered making it a premium service. When feedback seemed positive, I went out checking around, getting advice. And then I kept running into the same realization: the true quality forums are paid subscriptions. It’s a place where the truly serious can go to commune and communicate free of spam, marketing innuendo, trolls, aggressive harassment and the list goes on.

What’ll it cost? $50.01 per year. Not $49.95, $49.99, or any silly bullshit like that. $50.01. And yes, though I haven’t worked out details, there will be opportunities for free trials, a refund policy, et cetera, et cetera. And I’ll be giving away memberships for the price of jumping through a hoop or two.

Rather than thinking of it as a forum, I prefer to think of it as a club, a pub, or what have you. Serious on the one hand, fun and lively on the other. I plan to choose the top level forum topics wisely and I welcome all suggestions as such. Needless to say, there will be zero moderation.

…So now to drop the other shoe.

For some time I have wanted to host a weekly live video broadcast using VOKLE. The problem is, frankly, it’s too much work to do for free, at least for me. The other problem is that it’s a bit like the blog comments in that they are primarily directed at me, author of 99.9% of the posts. I wasn’t convinced enough people would pay for it. But forums are different as I’ve come to realize. You create the topics, and then replies are directed primarily at you. You get to be a “blogger” on my blog.

But as part of The Animal Club, having a live video show with only club members fielding questions, having co-hosts and special guests…perhaps it becomes workable and viable. We’ll see.

While this is geared toward the role of the host or producer, it’s a good short demo of how this works to take both live video questions and live text questions from the viewing audience. It’s 34 seconds so everyone has to watch it. That’s the rule: under a minute and everyone has to watch.

Here’s a description of the various features.

So, yea, I plan to have co-hosts from the membership—maybe even members as exclusive hosts, sometimes. And I plan to bring in special guests, perhaps 1/3 to 1/2 of the shows. It’ll have some sort of format, like a monologue in the beginning, otherwise known as BULLSHIT!.

To gear up for this aspect of the Club, I’m going to do a minimum of two shows open to all. The first one will stream live next week, and another the week after. I’ll try to have a co-host for one, and a special guest for the other. You all know how forums work, but do you know live video shows?

So there you have it. More info as it develops and I’ll try to do some real blogging as well.

And BTW, book sales are going very well. Thank you all so much. Feedback has been almost uniformly positive. Amazon Reviews are solid 5-star, so far, and I would love to have more reviews—even if that’s not the rating you would give it. For the many of yooz still waiting for it to show up on the non-US Amazon sites, all the settings have been verified as correct, so it’s only a matter of time. I apologize for the delay.

Onward. To Bigger and Better.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More


  1. Jay Jay on January 19, 2012 at 17:51

    This might seem off topic, but trust me, it’s not ( bigger picture).

    Glenn Beck takes on Adam Carolla. And they end up as friends….

    I see the same thing going on here with you, and I applaud it.

    I might try it out, might not. Contrary to the link just provided, videos and podcasts and such don’t usually cut it for me. If it is mostly text based, I’m much more likely to get sucked into it. But that’s just me.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 19, 2012 at 17:59

      Jay Jay:

      You need to steal “HeMan’s” handle. It’s an injustice that he has it and you don’t.

      Yea, what’s the big deal? It’s an add-on, not something that will in any way change what’s already here and open. Anyone can try it, see if they like it, they do or they don’t. Of course, the video stuff will be for those who like that sort of thing.

      I would never do podcasts, and I do way fewer videos. Recording stuff and publishing is somewhat cool, but _live_ is an whole other dimension.

      • Jay Jay on January 19, 2012 at 18:13

        Oh, yeah, the live factor could be HUGE. I should have mentioned that.

        But that also touches on the problem I have with video and audio stuff. The way my life works, I only have time to partake of this stuff in snippets here and there throughout the day/week, as opportunities present themselves.

        Text works great for that, because I can read a little, move on to something else when I need to, and then when I come back, I can skim the previous material, and then jump into where I left off. Video and audio make that very difficult.

        If it is something live, then I can set an appointment for myself. But that’s harder and harder to do these days. So it really has to be worth it.

        But again, I admit, that’s just me. And people like me might be 1% of the market. I applaud your attempt at this!

      • Richard Nikoley on January 19, 2012 at 18:16

        I’m going to do every show in intermittent day/time, so that at some point, it hits everyone sometime.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 19, 2012 at 18:15

      That’s a cool video on many levels.

      Way back when, I used to listen to Beck on radio sometime, before he was really anyone. I always imagined him as kind of a long haired, hippy libertarian in my mind’s eye because most of what he used to do was ridicule idiocy.

      I was surprised when I finally saw him on TV.

      • Jay Jay on January 19, 2012 at 18:37

        HA! Same with me. I couldn’t stand to watch his TV show, but I’ve never quite figured out why.

        Still like him on radio (about 25 minutes a day), although he has gone more religious/Moron.

      • Jay Jay on January 19, 2012 at 18:49

        Oh my god, I meant that to be “Mormon”.

        Freud has to be smiling down on me.

      • Richard Nikoley on January 19, 2012 at 22:59

        I always write it like that with a straight face and on purposel

        …And I was blessed in the Moron Temple in Oakland before I was old enough to tell people to fuck off. Eventually, we got excommunicated, because my parents went fundie Baptist.

        Frying pan to fire..

  2. Primal Toad on January 19, 2012 at 15:56

    Are you going to have a monthly subscription available for the forum or just yearly?

    • Richard Nikoley on January 19, 2012 at 16:04

      It will have to be yearly, as a monthly deal increases the accounting load by 12x, and I’m only one person. However, I will definitely have a pro-rata refund policy so if someone cancels a month in, he/she will get a refund of 11/12 of the price.

      • realLife on January 19, 2012 at 18:27

        Once every six months is probably a more appealing balance to attract people and be of less of a burden. You could make this automatic renewal until cancelled, as done in other forums.

        I already belong to the TrackYourPlaque forum which is more costly but is not moderated but the members have been known to trash unruly members to the point that they disappear, such as Grace from AnimalPharm Blog who they gave a hard time when the well informed people some doctors and other professionals trashed arguments. The level of debate and the helpfulness of people is unbelievable.
        I think you will personally have great benefits and enjoy it.

        Try for Loren Cordain as he has a new book out.
        There is also Jimmy Morre and his podcasts type shows.

      • Primal Toad on January 19, 2012 at 19:10

        Richard, I would consider going this route. Once every 6 months. You must make the ultimate decision of course but do think about this for a few moments.

        I would personally love to sign up for the forum. As it stands this moment I can’t afford it. But, when I can, I will most definitely be in it.

        In all honesty, I think it can be something special.

        With it being paid there will be less fluff. I love the MDA forum but there is A LOT floating around that I don’t care about. Perhaps a paid forum will make more of the posts relevant.

        Just some thoughts.

      • Richard Nikoley on January 19, 2012 at 23:07

        So you’re saying I should make it a half year subscription?

      • Txomin on January 20, 2012 at 00:34

        And I thought the diet book thingy was a practical joke.

        I say do annual subscriptions but charge ONLY half the first year. This way, the six-month-doubters get to try out the awesomeness of it all before committing for real.

      • Primal Toad on January 20, 2012 at 05:42

        I say you just think about it. You would definitely get more people to sign up. And, it seems as if you still wouldn’t get any trolls. Of course with your refund policy you still might anyways and then they will just ask for a refund.

        I dunno. You decide what is best for you. I think either way will work well.

      • Richard Nikoley on January 20, 2012 at 07:40

        Interesting idea, Txomin. Constructive.

      • Uncephalized on January 20, 2012 at 08:13

        I think pro rata refunds is more than adequate protection for tentative joiners.

        If you don’t have $50 of discretionary cash in your wallet or bank account, why would you consider spending $25 on a 6-month sub? There are more important places for your money to go. Like, you know, food, clothing, shelter, to name a few.

        I don’t think shortening the term is going to gain you much, Richard. You should definitely make sure there’s an auto-renew option, though. That should be less work for you and your members!

    • Craig on January 19, 2012 at 18:42

      I tried to purchase the book on Amazon today to discover that it is not yet available in Canada. Any idea when that might change?

      • Richard Nikoley on January 19, 2012 at 22:52

        Continual burden , Craig. Everything is set as supposed to be for the Internatinal sites ans it has not yet shown up.

        I will be pinging people again tomorrow.

        I apologize, even though I stand helpless in the thing.

      • realLife on January 20, 2012 at 14:01

        try setting up a USA account, I do it.

  3. LXV on January 19, 2012 at 16:07

    More than I can spend right now. :/
    Maybe in six months…….

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  5. Steve on January 19, 2012 at 16:41

    I will be watching with great interest to see how this works for you, well hopefully. I will however be shocked if that turns out to be the case given the number of quality forums already available and also given the real draw to a good forum is a large, informed community contributing to it.

    Love the blog, but don’t foresee myself paying for access to any forum. I do wish you well though for sure!

    Just my $0.02, adjust for inflation if you wish!

    • Richard Nikoley on January 19, 2012 at 16:50

      There’s not little doubt, but zero doubt that most people, even big fans and regular readers of this blog who won’t opt into paying for that. There’s even zero doubt about some people being willing to ever pay for anything.

      The name of the game and I don’t begrudge that in the slightest. Hell, in a way, I consider all the comments and email I get payment in a certain respect anyway, one reason I keep doing this.

      But I think there must be people out there who meet a couple of conditions:

      1) They are not very price sensitive. Whether it costs 5, 10, 50 or 100 bucks, they’re in if they feel they want to be.

      2) They, like me, like the idea of forums, but loath the huge number of wankers on them.

      Wankers, spammers and trolls aren’t going to pay. Hell, I won’t even need a filter or moderation.

      But we’ll see.

      I might end up doing far more live video streams, maybe even many days, like: morning coffee, happy hour (everyone must have a drink in hand), etc. How about cocktail hour, where everyone has to have a buzz on?

      ….Just thinking out loud.

      • Steve on January 19, 2012 at 19:38

        You’re missing two very important things to be a video chat superhero, breasts!!! 🙂

      • Richard Nikoley on January 19, 2012 at 23:16

        Well, I disagree. Darya of Summer Tomato, who may not have impressive breasts (I prefer small and firm myself), did live shows for a while, and I sat in, even called in a couple of times.

        Even though she’s hot and adorable, she didn’t make it work, in my opinion-probably because she’s a phd and has to be sciency.

        I will entertain.

      • Neal Matheson on January 19, 2012 at 22:27

        HEY! you guys aren’t allowed to use “wanker” it’s ours it’s our special treat for putting up with all the rain (or flies in Aus).
        Sorry mate back to “jerkoffs for you. “I loathe the huge numbers of jerkoffs”

      • Richard Nikoley on January 19, 2012 at 23:10

        Neil. I have stood in bars in the Roppongi district of Tokyo listening to expat Brits sing “I’m a Wanker” while drunk.

        I have special dispensation. 🙂

      • Neal Matheson on January 20, 2012 at 05:42

        Ha ha I have noticed that ‘wanker’ and ‘mate’ are the brit words most commonly used by my American friends. I’ll just stick to giggling whenever I hear Americans talking about their “fanny”

      • Uncephalized on January 20, 2012 at 08:16

        For what it’s worth (which is $50.01 I suppose! :-D), I am seriously considering joining. It would be nice to have a more-exclusive alternative to the MDA forums, which tend to be a giant clusterfuck most of the time.

  6. Alex on January 19, 2012 at 16:44

    After seeing Art De Vany paywall himself into irrelevance, I’m surprised that you would go that route. Good luck with that.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 19, 2012 at 16:51


      Do you have any idea how many super popular open and free blogs there are with vibrant premium services people pay for?


    • Richard Nikoley on January 19, 2012 at 16:57

      …Also, I knew someone was going to bring this up but I’m shocked it was you. You always draw good distinctions, but boy did you ever miss it there.

      Putting a paywall in front of your blog is just plain stupid. That is the farthest thing from what’s happening here. I’m adding something that does not already exist, and charging for it. Those not interested remain totally unaffected.

      And it will actually enhance the blog as, from time to time, I’ll post recordings of some of the video shows, as well as post dialog from the forum. That’ll be free, and it’ll always be valuable info in its own right. And if it entices some to shell out, well that’s good too.

    • Chris on January 19, 2012 at 18:59

      Value added services *are not* paywalls.

      You want more storage from Dropbox? Pay more.

      You want more of [X] from [Y]? Pay more.

      I will never see why people think everything must be free just because it happens to be on the internet. Richard could start charging for his rants, speeches, et al. He is adding something of VALUE while still giving you something for FREE. If you do not think it is worth the pennies in your pocket, keep them there.

      • Alex on January 19, 2012 at 19:38

        Any online content that requires a paid subscription is, by definition, behind a paywall. I’m not saying Richard’s forum must or should be free, but the Internet is chock full of free online forums, so of all the web features that one could put behind a paywall, a forum makes the least sense to me.

      • Richard Nikoley on January 19, 2012 at 23:03


        You don’t get it. This will be my forum.

        Now I think you’re dense.. But not because you won’t subscribe.

      • Alex on January 20, 2012 at 06:16

        I get that it will be your forum. What I don’t get is why you think it would be worth $50 per year to use. Your blog entry comment sections are also your forum, and while they’re a lot of fun, IMO they’re not worth paying for. I can only think of one forum that I would pay to use: eGullet, and that’s because it is filled with high-end culinary talent. If I needed to interact with those people, I’d sign up in a heartbeat.

        And, no, I am not ideologically against monetizing content. I think it’s great that you put out a book. I actually bought two of Sisson’s cookbooks, in hardback no less.

  7. Bobbi on January 19, 2012 at 17:21

    Dunno. $50/yr to talk about how silly vegans are?

    Can’t people do that here (& elsewhere) for free?

    Also, Richard, I think _you’re_ the one people want to engage with. I can’t think of a single commenter here that I would care to have a dialogue with. (let alone pay to have a dialogue with.)

    Also, I can’t figure out how you’re going to overcome the problem of critical mass. People are going to pay their 50 bucks, log in, see there are only 20 posts in the entire forum and ask for their money back.

    I could be wrong, though. Good luck with it.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 19, 2012 at 17:27

      Now Bobbi:

      Do you really think I’d have a forum with only 20 posts in the entire thing, and charge people for that with a straight face?

      And, if people really want to engage with me, I will be there in spades. Not at the expense of the blog, of course, but to devote more time than I already do, it’s simply going to have to be compensated because there are only 24 hours in a day and I have to make a living, because more time here means less in other paying endeavors.

      I think what people are not getting, at least so far, is that this is going to be nothing like a free forum. It will be tons better and it will leave people wondering why they ever bothered with them.

      • Bobbi on January 19, 2012 at 17:30

        My bad…hadn’t realized you would be participating heavily.

      • Richard Nikoley on January 19, 2012 at 17:41

        No, not your bad.

        I understand this will be a shock for some. In the first public video stream next week, I’ll give more reasons why I’m doing this.

        But yes, I will be very active in the Club and, I am so very looking forward to the video get-togethers.

  8. HeMan on January 19, 2012 at 17:32

    Seems like someone’s falling victim to the “pay me” bullshit.

    Boring. How about trying something new that actually works?

    • Richard Nikoley on January 19, 2012 at 17:44

      “HeMan” never asks to get paid.

      Good luck with that, liar. Hear me? You’re a liar by implication, and a hypocrite.

      You need to change your handle, instanter. A quick suggestion: “HypoMan.”

      You’re one of those “HeMen” who goes years sucking in all that’s free, never ponying up for a singe thing ever, huh? “HeMan.” You’re probably one of those guys that when the tab come in a restaurant, always heads to the head, hoping for some RealMan to have grabbed the check when you’re gone.

      You make me laugh.

      I’m loving the negative energy. Makes me want to do this even more.

      Keep it coming.

      • HeMan on January 20, 2012 at 07:37

        Liar? Nah, I volunteer my time to things I believe in freely. Things that I’m passionate about — done freely. I don’t charge anyone to go out and take care of the trouble coyotes, or help my neighbours on something I’m knowledgeable in.

        I do shit work for money. That’s straight up front, you see. Step into my consulting office, then there’s an expectation that it’s a service. No issue with anyone charging for consultations — but for discussion? That’s hilarious and pathetic – especially on the Internet.

        I’m a real man in ways you California doughboys will never be able to be. So let’s not start on that, and get over yourself.

      • Richard Nikoley on January 20, 2012 at 07:59

        So let’s see. You don’t make a living pursuing your passion, but do shit you hate to make the money you require, and this makes you superior to someone who does or attempts to make their living pursuing a passion?

        Got it.

        Thanks for the advice.

    • Primal Toad on January 19, 2012 at 19:05


      Do you have a job? If so, why? Is one of the reasons to make money? Correct me if I am wrong, but someone had to start the business that you are working for if you have a job. Right? Perhaps that person followed their passion. Because of this you have a job. Maybe you don’t have a job. I guess I am assuming.

      Richard is following is passion. We need as many people as freaking possible to follow their passion in this world. Especially folks who are passionate about primal living.

      If you don’t want to pay Richard don’t. It is the same with Mark. You can read valuable information daily from Mark for free. If you want organized information or a cookbook then buy one of his books.

      There is NOTHING wrong and EVERYTHING right with trying to make a living from your passion. As I said above, we need more people doing this.

      Especially in this case where Richard has been blogging continuously for years. He has changed hundreds, if not thousands of lives for the better without payment.

      I applaud Richard and anyone else who is following suite.

      • Richard Nikoley on January 19, 2012 at 23:05

        Thanks Toad.

        Your passion has been shining through for a long time and you just went for it from day one, too.

      • Primal Toad on January 20, 2012 at 05:45

        You’re welcome and thank you. My passion has been strong but has fell through in certain times. It has been lost in the past month but I’ve gained it back over the past few days and will now never look back. Sure, we all say this a lot. I guess time will tell.

        Once again, the world needs passionate people to take risks and try and make a living from their passion. Most hate their jobs and are afraid to do anything about it because they feel comfortable.

        I’ll be done.

      • DB on January 20, 2012 at 13:38

        Well not to be completely pessimistic but not everyone could, or should, follow their passions. Not everyone can be an astronaut, or famous rock star…and we need street cleaners, garbage collecter, bus drivers. In fact the later jobs are far more important for our day to day lives but I doubt many people are ‘following their passions’ on these ones.

        Anyway besides the point. Richard this is your blog and what you want to do with it is up to you. If you monetise it in way that forums become valuable to a person i.e 50$ valuable then its all good. If people don’t want to pay and it all falls on its head you lose nothing and continue with the blog as is. I don’t see how you can lose. My only suggestion would be to let the forum etc be free for three months and then charge (of course let people know that this is always going to be the plan to avoid horrible surprises). In other words get them hooked first, get a vibrant community, and then threaten to take it away unless they pay:)

      • Richard Nikoley on January 20, 2012 at 13:51


        I think passion exists on a spectrum whereby when you are young you go with the outlandish, high risk ones (rock star, astronaut, jet pilot, movie star, pro sports, etc.). If it succeeds, as it does just like some win the lottery, good for you.

        As you get older, you go with more realistic passions. I’ve done a lot of things but the one thing I seem to be able to do just about every day is write and be real.

      • Richard Nikoley on January 20, 2012 at 13:53

        …Oh, and thanks for the constructive suggestions you and so many have given.

        Absolutely, there will be a free period for all. What I’ll probably do, just to make a few hoops to jump through for spammers and trolls is to make everyone go through the PayPal hoop, but with a coupon code that makes the subscription free, along with the option for auto renewal in whatever time period.

      • Primal Toad on January 20, 2012 at 14:53

        I like this idea. Go for it.

        About passions… it can take years to find your passion and then many more years to make a living from it. We will always have cashiers, janitors, etc.

        Not everyone will follow their passion. We need more doing this however.

      • DB on January 20, 2012 at 15:38

        I agree. I didn’t mean to sound pessimistic just trying to play devils advocate. The world absolutely needs passionate people!!! Both Richard, and you Todd, are very passionate and I admire that in the both of you!

        I think the paypal idea you suggest is the best solution. It does mean people who are actually serious about joining will go through the effort and your probably going to filter out about 90% of the unwanted rubbish by just doing that. Really good idea.

  9. Kim on January 19, 2012 at 18:05

    Psyched. Does anyone know if there’s an app to watch this live from an iphone? Also, Richard, will the videos be available to animal club members after the live show airs?

  10. Alex Good on January 19, 2012 at 18:05

    Sorry Richard, you aren’t worth more than my daily bacon. And roast. And steak. And the occasional vegetable or two.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 19, 2012 at 18:09

      I wouldn’t expect to be. So I don’t get your point.

      • Alex Good on January 20, 2012 at 11:25

        I spend everything either on food or things to get food (crossbow next month!).

    • Uncephalized on January 20, 2012 at 10:00

      Dude, ($50.01/yr) / (365.25d/yr) = 13.7 cents/day.

      I’m guessing that’s less than 1% of what you spend on food.

      Math. Learn it.

  11. halibetlector on January 19, 2012 at 18:07

    This is something I’ve thought about in the past and it’s interesting to see somebody going this route for a forum. I used to frequent content aggregators like Slashdot, Hacker News and Reddit, but they all have the same problem: the quality of the community deteriorates over time. When one of these sites eventually fall into chaos, another one picks up the old members and increases in popularity until it too is unmanageable and so on and so forth. Even these sites were originally created largely to provide an alternative to forums and IRC, which quickly fall into chaos, even with heavy moderation. It’ll be interesting to see if your forum can generate enough interesting material while keeping moderation costs down.

    Up until now, the common sense was that trying to charge for something that’s been free forever is a bad tactic and is likely to backfire. Then again, one of the very tenants of this site is to question “common sense.”

    • Richard Nikoley on January 19, 2012 at 18:12


      Careful. Way too much independent thought and reasonableness for a single comment in this thread.

      I’m surprised someone hasn’t called for “Occupy Free the Animal,” yet.

  12. AJ Wow on January 19, 2012 at 21:28

    The Animal Club: Great idea Richard.

    After reading many of the comments, it looks as though the Occupy Vermin are setting up camp and squatting here @ FTA.
    Monetization to them is like sun-lite to rats. Fuck em!

    • Richard Nikoley on January 19, 2012 at 23:24


      Exactly what I said to Bea before we headed out for an epic night I’ll be blogging about tomorrow AM.

      Can you imagine it? You add a service, don’t take a thing away, ask money for it and the winners come out in droves.

      It only quickens my resolve.

  13. Jasen on January 19, 2012 at 22:37

    I get a great deal of value from your blog. I will gladly subscribe to the forum. $50.00 for a whole year is nothing. I can’t believe people are bitching about it. One thing I would like to see is some detailed cooking instructions. Such as exact measurements, cooking times etc. By the way I have been meaning to tell you, I made a cesar dressing from a recipe I got here on your blog. It was AMAZING!! I used all organic ingredients and it came out very well. Easily the best cesar salad dressing I have ever had. That is just one example of many of valuable things I have gotten from FTA.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 19, 2012 at 23:34

      But Jasen

      You simple don’t understand. See, while people will pay 130 per month for cable and actually spend more time on blogs including mine and other stuff, we’re supposed to be FREE.

      Seriously, free is the name of the game and I duly recognize that. Donation buttons are bullshit. If you want to begin to make somewhat of a living at it you do what you have always done….no, you kick that up a notch, and then you add things people have to pay for.

      …And then you make that very compelling.

      That’s the plan.

  14. Tin Tin on January 19, 2012 at 23:59

    My 30 seconds of thought on the subject are:

    (1) You’ll need to build up the forum community first. You might like to think about running the “club” for free for the first 6 months to do this.

    (2) You’ll need to keep the knowledgeable people around. How about a scheme where club members are given a set number of points each year or month they can allocate to posts/replies that they like. Members who receive enough points from other members can have their membership fees waived or you could even consider paying some of the more highly ranked contributors.

    (3) You could possibly charge a lower or zero fee for people who just want to lurk on the forum rather than post.

    They are just my personal thoughts. I’ve never run a blog or forum so I know fuck-all on the subject. Good luck though. I hope you work out how to make a living out of this thing you’ve created one day.

  15. realLife on January 20, 2012 at 15:09

    Final thoughts

    It is a trial and you are developing the process.
    Start $25 per quarter automatic renewal until cancelled, no refund. Similar to a private forum I use. This way you have regular income, makes managing easier.
    there is a fair amount of membership dropouts on the paid forum I use.
    keep it private, non public. you might mention what is discussed in the forum on the blog
    Some years ago when a newbie would not pay for Art deVany.
    Offer your ebook as a nominal membership fee or benefit so everyone gets something and a guideline.
    When I joined trackyourplaque I got a guide book and access to a ton of research on site.

    Your forum I predict will be very civilized and have a team spirit with lively debates. New member have oddball questions but the troublemakers will quiet down or not come.

    Just take your time to decide there are a lot of people in the Paleo community that will help you succeed as the members who participate will also expect success.

    Take a look if you had not already at Rob Wolf’s Forum

    the quality of discussion is poor and few participate, low knowledge base.
    So it is a good timely idea.

    It depends on how you start it off and if let the members take to their interests.
    just have fun..

    • Richard Nikoley on January 20, 2012 at 15:38


      Bless you for you very constructive input.

  16. Domagoj on January 20, 2012 at 04:28

    Well I have been in the paleo/primal for a few years now, read almost everything relevant there is and I feel saturated with info. I’m going back to basics: real food, IF/eating when hungry, doing stuff in nature and getting off of computer screen I’ve been stuck at doing my phd. I dropped every paleo blog from rss except this one, mainly because of “what’ll do next” effect, but I do not read commentaries. Bought your book, found it succinct and with adult tone unlike Primal Blueprint, reminded me of my dad’s advice on how to quit smoking: “Be a man, quit!”. Hell, it is short enough I even consider to translate it to Croatian to stop explaining how I stay in shape so effortlessly.
    So, no, I won’t be doing, to use your words, “virtual cock stroking” in the forum. But I would like to buy some MovNat-esque documentary, professionally done.

  17. Nick on January 20, 2012 at 05:20


    I like the idea of a paid forum, that is probably the best way to keep out trolls as constant moderation really isn’t feasible, and I’m sure everyone has seen what trolls can do to great forums/threads.

    But even though I think this is a great idea, I do hate to say that I honestly don’t see myself joining the forum. On all of the forums I attend my post count on each is easily under 50, some over the span of a few years.

    So I will echo what Tin-Tin brought up above, how about a lurker subscription? Or maybe just leave all threads and comments open for public viewing (not counting the one or two private “special” sub forums that I am sure will pop up eventually, for highly contributing members, rewards, etc)

    Leaving the forums and threads open for public viewing (posting disabled of course) could even serve to attract more people into paying a subscription to join in, once they see what is going on, and some of the topics, and start itching to share their opinion.

    Just thoughts.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 20, 2012 at 07:48

      Good suggestions, Nick

  18. rob on January 20, 2012 at 06:36

    You could do $30 for six months or $50 for a whole year.

    I’m pretty allergic to automatic renewals, that’s the gym business model, I prefer when I have to affirmatively renew a service.

    • Uncephalized on January 20, 2012 at 10:05

      Easily remedied by making auto-renew an optional feature rather than mandatory at the time of signup. 🙂

      More options, not fewer!

  19. Kim C. on January 20, 2012 at 07:27

    Richard – my questions might have been lost among the naysayers. I was wondering if the video chats will be available to view after the fact on the forum? Thanks!

    • Richard Nikoley on January 20, 2012 at 07:57


      Yea, definitely some of them, which I will put on the blog.

      • Uncephalized on January 20, 2012 at 10:07

        I would assume ALL video chats would be accessible after they end to paid members, no?

      • Richard Nikoley on January 20, 2012 at 13:01

        Yes, absolutely.

  20. pfw on January 20, 2012 at 08:07

    It will be interesting to see if you can keep it interesting. Trolls, morons, asshats etc seem to be necessary components of a healthy online community ecosystem. Without the bullshit, you end up with a sterile and eventually pretty boring echo chamber. The subscription fee should winnow out a pretty large chunk of people, including the ones who were marginally interested and thus much more likely to provide the asshole factor. I’m not sure how you’ll be able to make up for this, but it’s your party and I wish you luck.

    (~5yrs as a moderator on a pretty strictly run gaming forum)

    • rob on January 20, 2012 at 12:38

      I think it’s like professional wrestling in that way, you need a “heel” to get the crowd involved. Look at all the activity that resulted from Durianrider being around, he was the ultimate Vegan Heel. It’s hard to find good Vegan Heels, most of them lack the energy for it.

    • Erika on January 20, 2012 at 15:39

      @ pfw – “[A] sterile and eventually pretty boring echo chamber” is a very apt description. That’s exactly what happened on sites like Livin La Vida Low Cred…er…Carb! Moderate comments to the point where no dissenting opinion can get through – and of course ban speakers of inconvenient truths – and that’s exactly what you get: an echo chamber where a small group of like-minded people agree how smart they are and throw praises now and again to their leader. The decided LACK of these things is exactly what makes this site’s comments so worthwhile and – occasionally – enlightening. That element shouldn’t be lost.

      • Richard Nikoley on January 20, 2012 at 15:47


        You raise an interesting aspect of my particular space. I delete almost nothing, save obvious spam (filters catch 99%) and just gratuitous trolling where the commenter has never commented before.

        I moderate, but I do it differently. I let the comment stand and tell them to fuck off (or words to that effect) in a reply. It actually works most of the time.

        Now we’re getting somewhere. So much constructive stuff coming in now.

  21. Ted on January 20, 2012 at 08:17


    – Under 20 people joining.

    – Under 10 people posting regularly.

    – The people who do join turn out to be far less interesting posters than Richard imagines they’ll be. Forum quality is low.

    – Forum tone is one of a nasty and not very intelligent clique, as people pretend to be Richard but just aren’t smart enough to pull it off.

    – Richard tries to compensate by putting some of his best material on forum; alienates longtime blog visitors. There just isn’t that much Paleo news any more, and there are now 100x the blogs chasing it. Real Paleo news, at this point, is only created by authentic geniuses like Denise Minger, who has the shockingly-rare sense to shut up when she doesn’t have anything to say. (A major post by Richard these days consists of him trying to explain Stephan Guyanet and Gary Taubes’s bitch slapping at ridiculous length, like some Harvard professor limning the history of a fourth-grade food fight.)

    – Forum suffers from mission creep. Is it a Paleo forum? Or is it a libertarian forum? The two audiences are not really the same.

    – Richard realizes that to succeed he would have to destroy the village in order to save it. I.e., kill the forum or pull an Art DeVany and fail through invisibility.

    – Forum shutdown (or made free) within three months of launch.
    _ _

    Let’s face it: Richard’s getting bored. There’s very little new Paleo information at this point; most FTA Paleo posts are now just name-calling of hapless victims, like the recent Catholic woman. Like unlucky squirrels, they blunder onto his shooting range, and Richard dutifully blows them up. It used to be entertaining; now it’s just kind of dreary and depressing.

    And even then, they’re so little grist available that another third of the posts are just libertarian rants.

    In other words, he’s turning the blog back into what it was when it was (as he’s admitted) a complete failure that nobody read. But what choice does it have? There just ain’t that much to say anymore.

    Ultimately, what the forum’s _really_ about is trying to cash out… people paying Richard to give him free content that he can turn around and sell to other people. That is the Internet dream, after all. Something for nothing.

    Will it work? Well, they say there’s another one born every minute. Maybe it will.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 20, 2012 at 08:45

      Wow Ted, aren’t you just a bundle of joy.

      You’re forgetting one important factor. It’s actually _you_ who’s clearly ready to move on to other things. Of course all of this gets boring after a time. But I think you’re projecting your own sense of that onto others who may just have discovered the world of Paleo and this who haven’t even heard of it.

      I honestly have no idea how this will turn out, so I just barrel ahead and see what happens.

      • Matt on January 20, 2012 at 15:34

        See, and that’s admirable. You give it a shot and who knows, it could tank or it could change some people’s lives. Hell, it could do both at the same time. But at least you have the sack to give it a go in front of a couple hundred thousand people.

        Fuck you, Ted, and the horse you rode in on.

      • Richard Nikoley on January 20, 2012 at 15:42

        I don’t think Ted deserves that, though I get your drift.

        Ted did a pretty reasonable logic flow in my estimation. The problem is he did it from his perspective of knowing a lot about paleo and pretty much ready to just go it alone, maybe check back from time on happenings.

        That’s a success!

        Thing is, look around to the millions who still need this. That was simply a blind spot on Ted’s part, but since he’s not in this deal as a blogger, totally excusable.

    • alec on January 21, 2012 at 04:20

      I don’t know Ted. $50/year or $25/quarter sounds pretty inexpensive for what looks to all intents and purposes like personal coaching.

      Richard’s pretty committed to helping his members individually. No doubt he’ll bundle some great ADDITIONAL content for forum participants. Sounds like a great place for results oriented people. Not much use for whiners though.

      There are all kinds of these high value low-cost forums flourishing on the internet. They are kind of like a shared space for which the site owner is responsible. I’d look at this kind of communication and low cost education opportunity as enormous progress for humankind. The internet is not just about spam, porn and warez. Can’t you see that?

  22. Uncephalized on January 20, 2012 at 10:11

    A suggestion: make sure people can see clearly what they will be getting for their money. I don’t know if that means the public should be able to view all threads, or only the titles, or what, but you definitely shouldn’t have to pay just to see what the forum has on it. Obviously access to premium content like recorded video chats and stuff would need to be behind the pay wall.

  23. Galina L on January 20, 2012 at 11:43

    “Whole Foods” also create something like Dr.McDugall clubs now – Club time!

  24. BigRob on January 20, 2012 at 16:02

    I would recommend you take a look at Ning for this Richard. It is a fantastic platform for the type of club you are putting together. Take a look at this post and why it may be better for what you want to put together.

  25. Sean Booth on January 21, 2012 at 07:31

    I’ll keep an eye on this and join up once I get out of school and actually make more money than it takes to stay in shelter and food. Would be great to be at least able to page through and read even if you couldn’t post and see videos without paying.

  26. Curmujeon on January 21, 2012 at 07:59

    Haven’t read all the other comments yet, but I sometimes throw some $ out to those soliciting donations to support free Internet stuff. If I join I would then feel compelled to throw some $ to Angelo since I enjoy the fruits of his efforts so much. Maybe I’ll try the book first. I’m sure the video previews will help sell it, if they are good. Not sure about live video unless it’s available for replay if I can’t be on for the live show.

  27. Razwell on January 22, 2012 at 12:30

    The BULLSHIT Videos are my favorite feature. LOL !

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