I would respectfully like to request that the Way Off Topic lounge be made available to all visitors of the fourm (including unregistered visitors), and the Image lounge be made available to all registered members (including those on the free membership).
The reasons I would like to see this are as follows:
1. The WOT lounge is a real success story for AO, and a big part of the reason we attract (and keep) so many new members. Any internet forum lives or dies on being able to attract new membership. Without WOT, I don't think there is enough content to keep a significant portion of the "casual" visitors interested enough to keep returning. Without this, they will not sign up and the forum will decline.
2. We also need to keep our existing members, whether or not they choose to pay for club membership. I think restricting them from accessing the WOT lounge is detrimental and we risk losing some very valued friends. It is my belief that we should not take anything away from existing members.
3. If we restrict the WOT lounge, all that will happen is that we will start getting more Off Topic threads appearing in the General Alfa or Tech lounges.
4. I think we need to keep the Image lounge on the same footing we had before - i.e. restricted for un-registered visitors, but open to all registered members. This will eliminate the copyright issues that some people have quite rightly pointed out, and also maintain more interest for our existing members.
5. Even if we make the above changes, I still think that the package that Ian & Co have put together for club membership has enough interest to justify a charge and will still attract subscribers. We have to remember that the club is still in it's infancy, and as it matures I'm sure there will be many more benefits on offer to justify the price.
I genuinely believe that most people who have already subscribed did not do so for the "added benefits" of club membership, but did so in order to thank Ian and the team for what we all agree is one of the best forums out there, and to put something back into it. I know that is the reason I signed up.
As the club develops, I'm sure the income will be used to provide a package with some real benefits and attractions. This will then attract new club members in its own right, without relying on the loyalty of long-standing members.
I do not wish to undermine the work and effort that Ian and the team have put into AO and the new club, and I would like to thank them for providing us with such a brilliant resource for help and entertainment. However, I do sincerely think that my suggestions would help ease the transition to the new club and (hopefully) improve our long-term prospects.
Thank you for listening.
(I hope this was the right place for this suggestion