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Forum: open or subscribers-only?

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

Let's hear from those of you who have participated in the strawbale threads up to now.

Currently this forum is subscribers-only. (The threads that we moved here were in subscribers-only forums, so it seemed only fair to make this one subscribers-only to start with.)

But there is a lot of interest in strawbale gardening outside of the DG subscriber community, so we're opening it up for discussion and input.

Do you think the forum should remain subscribers-only?

Or should we open it up for a while to help it become better established, and then reconsider whether it should remain open or become subscribers-only?

Wake Forest, NC

I'm all for opening it up.


Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)


Is that why Donna can't get in to this forum?

First of all Kent, I do NOT like the format for the new Dave's. I know that has nothing to do with our forum. But, it is bad enough that I'm thinking of dropping out. I will give it a little time but from what I can see, I don't like it.

How do we know who is a subscriber and who isn't? I think this is a bad time of year to start limiting this as to who can and who can't participate because winter is on the way and there isn't much going on to discuss. That might just kill it.

So far, Russ and I and maybe a few others have been the only ones on here since they changed it to a forum. Maybe if they had told us they were going to do this and that they were going to limit it to subscribers, they might have had people actually sign up. What were they thinking of?

Plus with the new format, the non-subscribers just might figure to heck with it and drop out anyway. I think this whole thing was handled in a very arrogant way.

Sorry if I sound perturbed, but I am.


St. Louis County, MO(Zone 5a)

Please open it up. I haven't written in, but I've read all of it recently. I don't think it will overfill like a large group such as roses might, and the information is very good.

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)


The existing threads were in subscribers-only forums before I moved them here. There have never been any non-subscribers participating in these threads, so the only question is: do we now open up those threads to non-subscribers, or leave this a subscribers-only forum?

What were we thinking of when we created this forum?

Ummmm, well, actually we were thinking of the best interests of those who are involved in this type of gardening, and giving you one place to find all the threads pertaining to strawbale gardening. We had received a few suggestions to create a dedicated forum. Coupled with the proliferation of the strawbale threads, we agreed it was a good idea and set it up.

(BTW, as you can see by this post, we do actively participate in the forums, so if you have concerns about this or any other changes, I hope you'll address those directly to Dave or me, rather than talk about us as though we're not here or responsive to your questions and concerns. ;o)

And....who's Donna?

Pelzer, SC(Zone 7b)

I'd like to see it open to everyone, too. I've learned so much being here, but any new input could only help. I've been quiet lately only because my bales are essentially dead, except for the tomatoes that seem to be in a holding pattern. I'm working on hardening off my broccoli, and deciding what else I can do this fall. It all looks so sad and bedraggled up there....
Most of my bales have decomposed to just kind of lumps of what used to be hay. I'm willing to try planting in that, just to see what happens. I'll let y'all know how it goes. Any hints from anyone who's planted a "second crop" would be welcome.

Wake Forest, NC

Jeanette: it looks like Terry answered most of your questions/concerns.

The "new" look did surprise me because I have been so busy on other issues that I haven't spent much time in our bale gardening threads lately.

There may have been an announcement and I just missed it.

You and Russ have indeed been the ones keeping #16 active.

It took a little getting used to, but I can see where creating a FORUM for us would help in keeping the threads together because I noticed some separate threads with bale gardening topics and members that I've never seen before.

I'm not sure how much longer we can/will keep "our" threads going, i.e., #17, 18...

As for making the Bale Garden forum OPEN, that's a business decision that DG is going to have to make.

I would love to see it OPEN to everyone, but if it's a big draw I can see where DG would want to make "hay/straw" while the sun shines! :-)

For the cost of a subscription, the info here at DG and the quality of the website is WELL WORTH the price.

I still say DG is the "gold standard" for gardening websites.

As for Donna, have you heard from her?

Have you tried to DMail her?

This message was edited Aug 31, 2007 11:32 AM

SARANAC, NY(Zone 4a)

Perry votes to limit the thread to subscribers only - If someone is unwilling to pay the cost of a subscription - they ain't got no business participating........ my 2 cents

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Perry/Kent, I see where you guys are coming from, but so many of these people are retired, on fixed income, have families that need shoes? i.e. higher priorities. Are feeding their families.

Terry, I wasn't talking as though you could not read what I wrote. I know you can and do participate but you can't be everywhere all the time.

I think you just took us all by surprise. Maybe you meant it to be a good surprise, but we lost people, like Donna. And you say you participate, but Donna was very active off and on and you don't know who she is? And, if we lost her, how many others have we lost? Donna is an 80 something lady living alone and trying the strawbale gardening for the first time this year.

Terry, you say you have moved other's threads, but how about all the people that just asked questions etc. were they all subscribers? Or were non-subscribers blocked out all together?

Maybe it was doing both at once that I have a problem with. Making it into a forum, and the new format. The first one I don't have a problem with. It is the new format. And, maybe it is the "you can't teach an old dog new tricks", attitude? There is something about this format on the Strawbale forum that isn't right.

I can look at other forums and don't have a problem with them. But with this one, I can't tell whether I have read the "new" posts or not. I am on dial-up, and re-reading them because I can't tell is very frustrating. Maybe it just takes getting used to?

As I said before, with winter coming on, maybe we need to get as much participation as we can or our forum will die.

OK, I have given my 50 cents worth so I will be quiet.


Houston, United States(Zone 9b)


WOW, thank you for starting threads and including pictures of this method of gardening! When I saw this thread pop up on "the latest posts at DG" my curiosity was peaked and then I saw there is a whole forum dedicated to this type of gardening---granted I'm relatively new to gardening but in all my time on Dave's I'd never heard of this method!!!! This is really interesting stuff!!! I am going to discuss this idea with DH who loves a veg garden to.

I personally love that subscribers have more gardening privledges on Dave's. I would think that anyone interested in the hard work that goes into strawbale methods and can afford to have such a garden exsist at all might be interested in logging into the best gardening resource on the web, Dave's! I've wasted to much money on gardening books that just weren't enough before I found Dave's. And I'm a penny pincher myself---those gardening books were all from a used book store. I find that with the research I'm able to do on Dave's I am able to grow and sell a few plants from home which more than pays for my subscription.

I agree with you Perry. Gardening isn't free and for some it isn't even cheap so to not be able to subscribe to a low-cost endless supply of gardening information and get feedback instantly I don't know other gardeners are managing! I made a lot of expensive landscape mistakes BEFORE I knew about Dave's. It's actually SAVED me money now because I don't make near as many mistakes. :)

Since I do pay I like to see more of Dave's for subscribers only.

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

Jeanette, I think you are talking about Rutholive when you refer to Donna, yes? If so, I think she's got it figured out. You haven't lost her - she posted this today:

Jeanette, thanks, think I am okay with new way to get to Straw Bale gardening now. Must go outside soon as another hot day in the offing. Was 93 degrees here yesterday and windy, now quite smoky outside.

In the "Melons" thread here in the Strawbale forum:

(So why did I ask who was Donna? Well, we have over 200 forums and around 7,000 subscribers. Off the top of my head I can easily list a half-dozen women whose real name is Donna. ;o)

I haven't actively participated in the strawbale gardening threads, in part because they were scattered across 3 or 4 forums. Now they're all together, and that should make it easier for everyone to find.

All of the posts in the threads #1 - #16 were made by subscribers. Those threads have never been accessible to non-subscribers. You haven't lost any participants because the threads were moved to another subscribers-only forum.

I'm trying to understand how this forum would look any different than any others to you. The format is identical to every other forum at Dave's Garden, and nothing about the format of the forums has changed.

Your "Home" tab should still have:
1) a list of your new/unread dmail messages (when you have one waiting);
1) a list of all new post alerts to your watched threads (when you have any new posts);
2) a list of all your favorite forums; and
3) whatever else you have chosen to have on there (most recent posts across DG, random picture, voting booth, etc.).

The summary page to all the forums is now under one tab: "Communities" instead of in two tabs ("Home Talk" and "Garden Talk") However, that shift was announced and discussed for well over a month before Dave made the actual change. It is an excellent example of why having the Dave's Garden forum: among your favorites is a really good idea - if it is, be sure to check there regularly for announcements and discussions.

Tonasket, WA(Zone 5a)

When I joined Dave's Garden around 5 years ago I did not realize how important names were so I just chose my Mothers name Ruth Olive, now I wish I had asked Dave if I could be Donna_WA, I would have asked for a change but remembered Dave at that time at least did not like to change names, so I remain RuthOlive, but am actually Donna.

The change over to a forum of our own was confusing to me, I don't know why as I have seen other changes, I remember when we were allowed to have a seperate forum for Coleus a year or so ago, and had no problem following that change.


(Maggie) Jacksonvill, FL(Zone 9a)

Dear Terry,

Thank you for putting everything in one forum. It makes it easier to keep track of different subjects such as melons, tomatoes etc. I'm just too darn distractable to keep track of 3 or more subjects in one long thread. I've not posted because I'm still reading all the original threads. Would never have seen this on Veggies if it hadn't been mentioned on Florida. So I thank you for making this a real forum.


(Maggie) Jacksonvill, FL(Zone 9a)

OOPS- Open is fine with me. Funny, I like most of my forums closed, but I like this one open.


Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Well, Terry, Kent, Perry, etc. It appears that possibly it is 50/50 split whether to make it open or just subscribers. Actually, I think it looks like more want it open. I have stated that with winter coming on, we may need the additional input from more people.

Winter might be a good time to get new ideas. I just wish that these people that lurk out there and read what the rest of us are doing would participate and give us their ideas. They have a lot to add.

(Maggie) Jacksonvill, FL(Zone 9a)

I look forward to being able to contribute to this forum in a useful way. Once I've read the threads and have questions that haven't been answered a hundred times before or have something of my own to contribute, you won't be able to shut me up. Meanwhile, I'll try humbly to learn from the rest of you guys who are still light-years ahead.

What I'm trying to figure out is if this kind of gardening can be used to jump start a raised bed of perennials. So far, only annuals have been discussed but if my goal is a raised bed, then perhaps starting with a bale is easier. But as I said, I still have to go through the threads. I for one appreciate all the info those of you who have gone before have contributed to inspire the rest of us.


This message was edited Sep 1, 2007 5:40 AM

Rose Lodge, OR(Zone 8b)

Terry, I read the strawbale threads but don't participate much ... my only question would be whether there is some set of protocols that decides whether a forum is open to subscribers only.

There is always grousing over Web site upgrades. I suppose that there will always be folks on dial-up & folks who can't figure out where to find stuff when the color scheme changes, but as a computer-literate gal on broadband, I get tired of being held back by that, so please keep bringing us new stuff.

Olympia, WA

A LONG time subscriber here - and an absolute newbie to straw bales concepts, I will add my 2 worth!

I think it is great to have a forum - I would imagine that the title alone is going to draw in new folks who will see that and wonder "what is THIS".

I accept that change is hard on folks - harder on some than others - but as w/ all things, we adjust.....(although I still can't program the VCR-LOL). Most of the forward movement has LOTS of advantage - but the learning curve for some is slower to hit the rise.

I have no issue one way or the other to whether this should be "open" or a members only forum. I am happy to support the DG enterprise. I know that not everyone can do that. I remember when I absolutely would not visit ANY forum or website if it cost money to "join up". Again - time changes things - and my attitude adjusted as I came to see the efforts made to have some very incredible websites. DG is certainly all of that!

So - thanks for the forum - and I look forward to my learning a new trick!!! This old dog is quite capable of that!

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

To answer the question, "What is the protocol?" We don't have set of hard and fast rules, but our philosophy is this:

If we start a new forum, it is most likely free to begin, especially if the subject matter lends itself to an open forum (and a subject like strawbale gardening certainly does.) However, if a forum is created to consolidate threads from other (subscribers-only) forums (as this is/was), then we have to consider the expectations of those who posted to those threads.

We respect that the participants had a certain expectation of "privacy" when they posted. (I use the term "privacy" loosely, since an audience of 7,000 subscribers isn't really "private".)

So this is kind of an odd situation:

One one hand, the subject matter has the potential to pique the interests of many new members, so making it open would probably create more activity and bring in a broader array of ideas and questions.

On the other hand, if the core "founding" group here would prefer that it remain closed to subscribers-only, we will respect their wishes ;o)

Wake Forest, NC

I'll recast my vote for an OPEN forum.

One reason are the many hand-written letters I've received from elderly folks who read some of my stories about bale gardening from other publications, and how they now have "a new lease on life" with this method of gardening.

They had given up gardening, mostly for health reasons or tired of dealing with terrible soil conditions, but can now resume a hobby that they love with a passion.

Some have written me to say how bale gardening "gives them a reason to get up in the morning."

Many had neighbors/friends/family pull up the magazine articles off the web for them since many didn't have a computer at all.

With an open forum, other people like them can do the same.

I doubt if the computer owners would subscribe just to get some info for others.

Someone who would use all of the site are probably avid gardeners who can greatly afford the cost of becoming a member of DG.


SARANAC, NY(Zone 4a)

OK - I have a question: If this is to be an open forum, does somebody monitor the postings & if it becomes overwhelmed with spam like so many other so called "open" sites seem to - is there any way to curtail the spam - if not, I still would like to see the forum remain closed - If someone cannot afford the subscription to DG - then they probably cannot afford the bales or fertilizer to use this method of gardening anyhow.

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

Perrylawrence, we absolutely monitor ALL the DG forums for spam and remove it.

In fact, if you ever see any post (in any forum) that seems like an "ad" of any sort, please report it to us so we can take care of it.

Rose Lodge, OR(Zone 8b)

yeah, it sounds as if there is nothing to be gained by making it private. do you have the ability to see what types of people view the threads, such as the percentage of non-subscribers & just visitors?

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

That's something we can't easily do (I know I can't do it, and I don't think Dave tracks the movements of members and visitors in that way...)

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Terry, didn't you guys in admin used to keep track of non-subscribers and what they were doing? Maybe I didn't make that clear. I think I remember subscribers in the "plant and seed trading" forums complaining about non-subscribers begging for seeds etc.

How did those people know these others were non-subscribers? Was it an individual thing? Like was there a list they could look at and see that a person was a subscriber so assume that if they weren't on that list they must be a non????

BTW, I would challenge any of these computer-literate gals to come out here and wire our rural county for Broadband so that we don't hold them back.

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

Occasionally a subscriber has complained that they are being pestered (via dmail) for plants and /or seeds by non-subscribers.

You can tell if someone is subscribed or not by going to their member page - that's how they knew they were non-subscribers.

But we have never really monitored subscribers or non-subscribers' activities as distinct groups. So I can't tell you how many non-subscribers posted to the [insert the name of any free forum] on [x] date, versus the number of subscribers' posts to the same forum.

Wake Forest, NC

Terry: I'm a member of another forum where they track how many posts you make and that number appears and is updated in each person's posts under their name.

It gives each member a "ranking" so to speak, Jr Member, Member, Sr. Member, based on the number of posts of that person.

I also like the use of avatars in other forums. They're fun and gives each person an added "personality".

As for others being able to afford the cost of DG if they can buy bales, etc, the hand-written letters I get are from folks who don't even have a computer such as my 93 years young friend I mentioned in Part 14. They are totally dependent on others to help get the info to them. A minority group, for sure, but I still have a soft spot for them. Just call me a push over.

Jeanette: you go girl!


Edited to add this P.S. - how about rigging DMail up so if we receive DMail it would automatically show if the sender is a member or not.

This message was edited Sep 1, 2007 10:07 PM

Raeford, NC

I personally do not care one way or the other but I subscribed to DG because you had to be a member to post a reply and getting certain info from certain forums.If it had been completely open I would not have joined (subscribed). Which brings up another question if we open it up to all, we who are members will we pay a higher membership price to renew because all this is not free someone has to pay for the site and all the upgrades Dave does and isn't this part of his lively hood.There is alot more info here than most sites I have been to that are free. Maybe we should ask him what he wants.I'm easy so whatever. Deanna

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

You can see the number of posts you've made on your member page. We've shied away from things that establish a pecking order based on number of postings or duration of membership. (There are a whole lot of really silly and one-word posts among our 3.9 million posts, and having a lot of them to your name doesn't necessarily mean you're a "senior" member ;o)

We don't do avatars, either but that's a whole other story - you're welcome to check out the DG forum for old posts on the pros and cons of them.

People cannot send you a dmail unless they have signed up for an account and logged in. They won't be able to participate in any of our forums until they've signed up and logged in (which means they have to have a computer and internet access, either at home or access via a public computer, such as their local library.

As to the fear of a higher price at renewal time....we had the same price ($15) for five years. We finally increased the price this year (to $19.95.) In those five years, our membership grew exponentially. Our subscriber community also increased very steadily.

Currently we have about 7,000 subscribers and over 320,000 members. We have about 50 free forums and about 150+ subscribers-only forums.

I don't think there's any reason to fear that making one other forum open to non-subscribers will cause the subscription rates to increase ;o)

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

I'm sorry Terry, you lost me. : ( must be that dial-up thing again, what's the difference between a member and a subscriber?


Wake Forest, NC

Terry: appreciate the prompt response to my questions. I'll go back and read up on the avatar issue.


Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

Everyone who signs up for a free username is a member.

- Membership lets you participate in about 50 free forums. However, members can only read the first post in threads posted in subscribers-only forums. (Some forums are completely invisible to them.)

- Members can add reviews to the Watchdog, Go Gardening, Bookworm, etc.

- Members can also participate in PlantFiles and BugFiles (create entries, add photos, comments, ZIP code reports, etc.) They are limited to ten searches per day in PlantFiles, and can't use the Advanced Search feature.

- Members can have a diary or journal, and use the trading tools to trade plants and seeds.

Those who pay $19.95 per year are subscribers. They have access to everything the free membership offers, plus:

- They can read and participate in all forums.

- Subscribers can turn off all advertising if they choose to.

- Subscribers have unlimited use of PlantFiles and all the search/browse features.

- Subscribers can participate in twice-weekly chat sessions.

Rose Lodge, OR(Zone 8b)

Jnette, I didn't mean to sound as if I were taking a swipe at you with your sloooooooowwwwww connection, I just forget about that rural issue sometimes. Technology is funny --- I have broadband but couldn't get a cell signal even if I had a cell phone.

Growing up in the mountains of Montana, we took cable for granted because that was the only way to get a signal bouncing around this peaks. Imagine my surprise 15 years later when I moved to Philly & found that whole neighborhoods of that big city STILL couldn't get cable due to political infighting over who would profit!

Winnipeg, MB(Zone 2b)

As a SB ediface (shed/houses/hobbit houses gardener) maker came racing over here as soon as I saw the name. Should be great for elderlies and far cheaper than raised wooden structures for us guerrilla gardeners to build for our guerrilla garden elderlies.

Didn't make the enclosed Wendy House. My pix are all locked up in picasa and haven't worked out how to pur picasa pics into DG. Learning curve here.

As I've been a paid subscriber for a few years, think this should be a closed (for subscribers only) forum.

my .2 worth

inanda aka Ginny

Thumbnail by inanda
Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Ginny, Love your Hobbit House!! You didn't really give a reason for your 2 cents worth other than that you are a subscriber. Guess you don't need a reason, just an opinion.

I personally don't care since Dave has chosen to have member non-subscribers. Don't know the reason for that either. Guess he doesn't need one since it's his, and the best, show in town.


Oostburg, WI(Zone 5b)

Jnette - Not sure what you mean by member non-subscribers. All subscribers have paid to access the whole site. All members have not paid and have limited access to DG.

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Kooger, you have described it to a "T". Exactly. That is what I mean by a member-nonsubscriber. A member who has not paid the dues of a subscriber. That member has limited access and the subscriber has full access.

What don't you understand? Maybe I should not have used them in the same sentence. Ran afoul of the language police.


Oostburg, WI(Zone 5b)

I guess I thought you meant that there was a new category Dave had created - all's well. :)

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

As much as I believe strawbale gardening is a great idea for everyone, especially folks with a physical limitation or poor soil conditions, I believe this forum should remain subscribers only. Just my 2 worth...

Thomasville, GA(Zone 8a)

Have read most of the strawbale forums, but in South Georgia it is hard to find square bales. Will the round bales work as well and would the seasoning time be the same.? You've heard the joke i'm sure that the Government has outlawed round bales because the cows can't get a "square" meal. Have a good evening. Elaine

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