This may be a bit long and somewhat of an emotional exorcism for me. Please bear with me. I just drew the July movie drawing. It is August 10th. My phone has been alerting me for a week to do the August newsletter. I haven't. I'm not interested in doing it. I know many people are happy with the forum the way it is, as a hangout for guys that have managed to not drift off in the last ten years. On one level, I know I wouldn't want to deal with the drama and expense of a huge forum but I've made it clear several times that I'd like to continue to bring in some new members amd grow the forum, just to have some new blood. A lot of my recent efforts with respect to changes to the forum have been in this vein. Specifically, all of the following have been efforts to attract new members or bring back old, previously active members: The software upgrade (to get better SEO, hoping to drive some organic traffic, and allow seamless registration via Facebook) Setting up the YouTube channel The monthly movie drawing Joining HT related Facebook channels and periodically announcing things like the drawings Installing the chat module Installing the weekly digest module The monthly newsletter The system of the month The top posters module and badge I've asked on a couple of occasions for members to try and attract new members either IRL or from other forums or social media sites (respecting the owners of those platforms) TTBOMK only one person ever did anything I've PMed previously active members to see if they're interested in coming back and pretty much to a person, they're not. Many of them never even saw the PM. I've gone on new thread binges sometimes posting a dozen stories from various trade sites multiple days in a row All of these efforts have completely failed if you ask me. This is something I've probably felt for a while, but I had a bit of a reality check recently. Allow me to digress for the purpose of explaining where my head is at. The owner of another forum I check in at every now and then has passed away. This forum operates quite a bit like HTL. A more mature user base, really no infighting, they don't even allow swearing on this forum. The forum has many more registered users but actually similar post numbers to HTL. They have no sponsors or ads and don't even have an affiliate program so the forum generates zero revenue. Despite that, the widow got some bad advice that the forum is somehow worth some fairly large amount of money. Two very dedicated, long term moderators have made her separate offers that she's refused. Maybe eventually she'll come back to the highest offer and figure something is better than nothing. Anyway, the situation has created a lot of turmoil and discussion about the actual value of the forum and even its future. One point that I actually made and many agreed with, is essentially that internet forums are dying and have no real future. Everything is going to the large "topic-neutral" social media platforms. Facebook and Reddit both have groups (sometimes multiple) for every hobby you could imagine and some you can't. With younger people especially, it is way more logical to search reddit and find r/hometheater or find the Home Theater Enthusiasts facebook group than to find a forum and register (and if they do, they'll go to AVS or HTF because they can't find this one). We know these formats are terrible for relationship building and for having content be indexed and findable by others at a later time, but most people either don't recognize that or don't care. They live their lives on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Instagram, Tumblr, etc... Another example is an IRL friend of mine is a mod at nesubaru (a Nebraska Subaru forum... talk about niche) and they're dealing with the same thing. Everything is moving to the nesubaru Facebook group. He hates it but there is nothing he can do about it. On top of all these system problems that traditional internet forums face as a whole, the home theater and audiophile hobbies have been in decline for decades. Audiophiles are a dying breed and have been for a long time and the home theater boom seemed to bust when the 2008 housing bubble burst and appears like it will never recover. I've spent time on all the aforementioned things trying to swim upstream. Trying to grow HTL. To see some trend over 2 or 3 or 6 months that people are registering post counts are up, new people are participating, etc. Time spent at work sometimes (when I shouldn't have) and probably more importantly, at home. The moderators on this forum, absent the refereeing and reprimands required on most sites, (IMO) lost a sense of ownership and connectedness. That means that any sense that anyone else had any interest in the success and growth of this site was lost (again IMO). The moderator titles and permissions were stripped away in February with the software upgrade. I'm not sure anyone noticed. I'm not calling out any former moderators. I never asked any of you to do anything more when the forum was slowly dying and its probably too late now. So what is the point of all this? I'll tell you what it isn't. I'm not trying to create a sense of guilt. I actually feel like I've toed up to that line a few times in the past, trying to get members to bring friends, coworkers or people from other communities over to HTL and it didn't work anyway. Either you (although, I include myself) have no friends, or you don't want to put in the effort, or you actually don't want those people to be on this site. I'm not threatening to shut HTL down. I'm not asking for money. I don't need it, and none of this has anything to do with money at all. I can see no measurable metric that indicates HTL is growing. In fact members drift away every month. Unique visitors, page views, post count** and new threads have just been in a downward trend since the day the doors opened. So here's where I'm at... and please know that I'm not angry, none of this intended to be "punitive" or trying to guilt you all in any way at all. I'm just a bit tired of jumping through hoops to no avail. I'm going to stop the monthly movie drawing. There are two kinds of people who enter, active members who I believe don't care if they win or not, and inactive people who only post in that thread and offer no other interaction on the forum at all. No one needs to win a movie from this site and it is doing nothing to attract new members. I don't need to be spending another $25 a month with no return. I'm going to drop the monthly newsletter (and the system of the month). I thought it might draw in some of those previously active members back but it hasn't. It's not like it takes 8 hours to pull together but it is real time and its not accomplishing anything. I'll keep the weekly most popular topics digest because its automatic. I'm going to uninstall the chat module. The first week there were maybe 6 people. The average has been 0-3 the last month + There's no point in having the clutter with no purpose. I'm going to go back to kind of pre-upgrade posting mode. No more months where I post 2-4x more than the next highest poster (not exaggerating). Essentially I'm giving up on making HTL anything more than what it is. Every day it will be less than what it was and someday it will be nothing (maybe it already is). Maybe its all ego. I sit here and think, "would your life be better if HTL had 500 new registrants a month and 20x the traffic?" It wouldn't. But it does feel like I failed. Mike had something really special going and I tell myself that all those things I described about the hobby losing steam and topic-neutral social media steamrolling the entire landscape are the reasons why HTL is what it is. But I don't think anyone else here wants to put in any effort to make this site more when there is understandably no real self-interest in doing so. OK with all that said [/drama queen mode] I really appreciate the group that is still here. I consider all of you friends and I wish I could meet more of you in real life. Hell I appreciate those of you who have moved on. I get it. Its been 10 years here and 10 before that on HTT for those there from the beginning. I couldn't legally drink when I joined HTT and now I'm pushing 40. I've got kids nearly as old as Nathan P and Drew Mitten were when they first started to post. The good times were really good. We'll see what the future brings but I need to not tie myself up so much in the "success" of this site. I know you guys well enough to know everyone will understand.