Thank you for helping NT donate $7,000 to the HSUS' End Dogfighting Campaign!

Methodical Management

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Tonight, Michael Vick is expected to make his debut with the Philadelphia Eagles and throw his first pass in the NFL since his now infamous 2007 arrest fordogfighting and gambling charges.

Given the sudden surge in public interest, it's an opportune moment to mention that an estimated 40,000 Americans engage in dogfighting. It would be convenient to brand these 40,000+ people asmonsters for inflicting such unspeakable cruelty on other living, feeling, caring creatures - yet doing so only ignores the root cause. Caring about our fellowspecies doesn't require us to be unfeeling toward the plight of our fellow human beings. Compassion is not a limited resource.

Considering the number of Michael Vick fans who've frequented the site over the years, some of whom continued to stand by him even after his arrest anditeration after iteration of ugly and underwhelming signature sneakers, we considered it our responsibility to devote our resources (which, in contrast tocompassion, are decidedly limited) to a program that combats cruelty without being cruel, a program that exemplifiesempathy toward animals both human and nonhuman alike.

Today, we're thrilled to announce our support of the Humane Society in the United States (HSUS) and their innovative End Dogfighting campaign through acommunity donation of $7,000 (Vick's number x 1,000).



The End Dogfighting campaign reaches out to young people in our communities through an empowering series of educational programs. Rather than barging into acommunity in paternalist fashion and attempting a top-down, "one size fits all" approach, these programs utilize peer-based leadership from withinthe community. Developing a sense of empathy and respect, both for other creatures and for ourselves, can do far more to prevent these crimes than brutalizingoffenders after the fact as means of crude and selective retribution.

You can learn more about their efforts here: http://www.hsus.org/acf/fighting/dogfight/programs/

Check out this video of Michael Vick speaking to kids in Chicago as part of the HSUS campaign. You'll also get a peek at some of their local outreachefforts their as well.



The program is currently in Atlanta and Chicago, but will launch soon in Los Angeles.
If you want to help the program launch in LA, expand to another neighborhood in Atlanta, or come to your city, I hope you'll consider offering a donation of your own.

Also, if you live in Chicago or Atlanta and you'd like to donate dog food to the program, you could be a big help. Countless pit bulls die in shelters.Helping people care for them who might not otherwise be able to afford it can improve their lives as well as save the life of a dog that might otherwise bekilled. If you're interested, send me a PM or send an email to our staff account and I'll put you in touch with somebody at the HSUS. (I can't posttheir email address here without subjecting them to spam.)

Thanks so much for supporting our donations, everyone. As you probably know, we donate 100% of our ad revenues beyond the basic cost of hosting to charity. Ifyou participate with our advertising, even just by allowing them to load on your computer, you're helping to contribute. We're working hard to improvethe ad quality and we appreciate everyone's patience. I hope that, when you see the results in the form of these donations and the incredible work peopleare doing them, you'll consider it well worth it.

For those keeping score at home, this puts our total donations to date at over $93,000. With your help, we canbreak $100,000 in total donations by NikeTalk's 10th anniversary on December 10th!
 

Methodical Management

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Since someone always asks, here's a list of our previous donations:

Thank you for helping NikeTalk donate$19,000 to build a library in Nepal!
Thanks for helping NikeTalk donate $10,000to the WWF to join the Amur Leopard Conservation Society!...
Thank you forhelping NikeTalk donate $4,056 to Habitat for Humanity!
Thank you for helpingFree The Children build a school in Kenya! ($17,204)
Thanks for helping NikeTalk allocate $6,820 to Kiva.org - now YOU can decide who we loan it to!
Thank you for helping NikeTalk donate $5,000 to Green For All! www.greenforall.org
Thank You for Helping NT Donate$2,768.60 to JDRF!
NikeTalk Donates $2,553 to the American CancerSociety
Thanks for helping NT donateover $2,000 to Operation Smile
Thanks to you, NikeTalk hasjust donated $3,656 to the UNCF!
Thank you for helping NT donate over $4,000 to Access Books!
Thank you for helpingNikeTalk donate over $2,500 to UNICEF!
Though the announcement posts have since been lost, we also donated $2,907 to Gawad Kalinga and $3,908 to Ettie LeeHomes.

Again, that's a total of over $93,000 ($93,372.60 to be exact.) We still have enough time to break $100,000 by our 10th anniversary - but we'llneed your help to get there.

Here are some additional updates regarding the End Dogfighting campaign I received today:
Recent News - Chicago

Michael Vick tells Chicago youth dogfighting is a dead end street: Watch our video.

Jeff's Pit Bull Training Team Journal: Read how some of Chicago's toughest men and dogs turn their lives around.

Slideshow of Our Pit Bull Training Team Stars: See the faces of End Dogfighting in Chicago's Austin and Englewood Pit Bull Training Teams.

Spotlight '10 - Save the Date - Chicagoans mark your calendars early for Spotlight Humane: Chicago 2010. This fabulous fundraiser for End Dogfighting in Chicago will take place on February 27, 2010.

Recent News - Atlanta

Dog Days of Summer: End Dogfighting in Atlanta's community event inspired and educated local pit bull owners on how to keep their dogs cool and happy in Atlanta's heat.

Amber's Pit Bull Training Team Journal: We're going on our second PBTT session. Watch us grow!

Spotlight Humane: Atlanta: Get your tickets for our October 17[sup]th[/sup] event while their hot! Atlanta's first annual gala will benefit the End Dogfighting in Atlanta campaign. Special guests include Hal Sparks, Wayne Pacelle, and Victoria Stillwell of Animal Planet's It's Me or the Dog.

*Like what you see? Help us help dogs and kids by donating to the End Dogfighting campaign. Every dollar counts!

I've been told another video is on the way soon. I'll share it with youas soon as it's up.

I thought our funds was on its way to the 100k mark? Or did you mean cumulative?

I was referring to our total donations to date. I wish we had 100 grand stored up, but we tend to issue donations every few months andunfortunately the ad units we have in place aren't terribly high yield as we lack dedicated sales personnel. There have been a few occasions here andthere where revenue reporting issues has created a backup. We try to turn that into a positive by using those funds to finance large projects like the schoolin Kenya or the upcoming library in Nepal.

Ad revenues being what they are, we're hoping to build interest in the apparel line as there's far more fund-raising potential there. Obviously 100%of your donation would go to charity if you simply gave directly, and that's what we encourage first and foremost in each of these threads. Noteveryone's interested in doing that, though, so the apparel helps fill that void. You get something tangible out of it, it's totally voluntary andunintrusive, and one t-shirt allows us to make a far larger contribution than we could raise via advertising if you visited the site dozens of times per dayfor an entire year.
 
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Meth, I appreciate this donation good sir. I know we've donated to a vast amount of charities, but this one caught me by surprise.

I know that revenue is collected through ads, and I have never had a problem with the ads until recently. Through NT's ads, my computer got infected withsome very annoying malware, and I resorted to using an ad blocker. I don't know if the problems with ads has been addressed yet, but I've seen recentcomplaints in the General forum. I want to get back to helping NT donate to charity, but I can't take off the adblocker until I'm 100 percent sure thatthis problem has been addressed. I'm sure you all have done all you can to address this issue, but I'm sure others have resorted to using adblockers aswell, and I think if we can regain confidence in the ads, we will be able to increase revenue. I would say PM me your response, but I'm sure that there aremany others who feel the same way I do, and they need to read the response as well.

Peace
 

lrrr

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Is it safe to turn off my no-script yet? I really don't need a virus on this PC
 

Methodical Management

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I know that revenue is collected through ads, and I have never had a problem with the ads until recently. Through NT's ads, my computer got infected with some very annoying malware, and I resorted to using an ad blocker. I don't know if the problems with ads has been addressed yet, but I've seen recent complaints in the General forum. I want to get back to helping NT donate to charity, but I can't take off the adblocker until I'm 100 percent sure that this problem has been addressed. I'm sure you all have done all you can to address this issue, but I'm sure others have resorted to using adblockers as well, and I think if we can regain confidence in the ads, we will be able to increase revenue. I would say PM me your response, but I'm sure that there are many others who feel the same way I do, and they need to read the response as well.

I could sit here and craft a very diplomatic statement out of respect for our partners at Kickapps, who are responsible for our advertising at the moment,but you should know by now that I keep it 100. We're not satisfied with the current advertising situation and I can't imagine the people at Kickappsare either. Ideally we'd have better optimized advertising that's more secure, better targeted, and higher yield - so we could raise more money forwonderful causes like the End Dogfighting program.

It boils down to an efficiency issue and, since people are curious, I'll explain how our advertising works and where the problem comes from.

Static online advertising (text based ads, still images, etc.) tends to be easily ignored. As Internet users become more experienced, their ability tovisually differentiate between content and advertising reaches the point where one could literally put "click here and we'll send you $20," in anad unit, leave it up for a solid week, and be out no more than $100. Place that same message within a post and you'd be running up a deficit faster thanGeorge W. At present, we're dealing with clickthrough rates so minuscule they'd be considered statistically insignificant in most applications. Advertisers seek to generate clicks - that's the whole point. They want to attract your attention and lead you to their website. Where conventionaladvertising has failed, marketers attempt to up the ante with multimedia ads and as the units become more complex the opportunities increase for unscrupulousor downright malicious individuals to exploit security vulnerabilities to force automatic redirects (which attempt to fraudulently manufacture clicks andtherefore make far more money than the ad costs) or even embed malware on users' machines.

Now, why can't we just cancel that one bad ad? That leads us to the heart of the matter. Unless you individually book every ad that appears on yourwebsite, you'll need to rely on one or more ad networks. Ideally, adsense and other networks would responsibly screen EVERY single ad they accept 1) forany harmful or intrusive scripts 2) for legal violations (e.g. counterfeit merchandise, copyright violations, etc.) Where their screening methods fail, wehave to track down the ad ourselves. This is a complicated process, especially given that ads are often contextually generated based not only on the postyou're viewing but, often, based on your recent browsing habits. In the past, it's boiled down to isolating the ad network responsible for serving theoffending ad and then simply pulling the whole network from our rotation. That negatively impacts our bottom line in the short term, yet it's worth it tous not only because your experience is at the heart of everything we do (we started NikeTalk with the singular goal of creating the best possible onlinecommunity for our fellow sneaker fans), but because we can't allow intrusive, offensive, or exploitative advertising to cause our users to block our adsentirely. Advertising isn't just how we finance our donations - they're the reason we're still online. While we can volunteer our time to managethe community, which represents a service that many companies pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for each year, hosting costs a tremendous amount of moneyand that's not something we can do ourselves. We need to pay those bills somehow.

As far as I'm aware, currently there are NO ads being served in our rotation that have launched any malware scripts, etc. We recently had an issue withmultimedia ads playing audio by default, but I believe that's been resolved. The problem, of course, is that at the moment it's impossible toguarantee that the ad providers we utilize will NEVER allow a malicious ad to slip through. I wish I could, but it's not, at the moment, under our directcontrol. I have to trust AdSense and several other networks, and they operate largely on the basis of automation. Their screening is impressive given thevolume of ads they serve, but it's imperfect.

There is an alternative, but it's a radical one. We'd need to move toward individually arranging every single ad that runs on this site. Thatrequires the services of professionals. There are costs and benefits to this. The immediate benefit is that we'd have the ability to accept or deny allincoming ads - meaning we'd never have another ad for counterfeit merchandise appear on our site. We'd also be sure to deal only with trusted,reputable companies to minimize the possibility of any viruses etc. being transmitted through our ads. As if this weren't enough, individually arrangedads can also be far more lucrative than the types of ads we're running - it just takes far more work to arrange and implement these deals and, if theydon't perform well, values can drop since we cater to a specific niche and our array of prospective sponsors is somewhat limited. If webstore X publishesan ad campaign through NikeTalk and it doesn't perform well or it experiences burnout over time (the more our users are exposed to an ad, the less likelyit is to generate clicks), they're less likely to publish through us again. The greatest drawback here is that we'd be performing without a net. Ifthe ads don't at least generate more than hosting costs, the site loses money - and given the way we've traditionally operated we have no stored assetsto draw from as a buffer stock. We'd at the very least need to hang on to the online equivalent of two months' rent just to limit our exposure, whichrepresents a short term loss of donations. Then you have to deal with the accounting issues we're currently shielded from with our existing partnership. NT would have to be incorporated at some level. We'd have to compensate the person or agency responsible for booking and implementing the ads. Odds arewe might also have to change our forum platform - which would mean we'd lose all of our existing posts, user stats, etc. We'd be relaunching the sitefrom scratch. It would be an enormous and risky undertaking, but the potential upside would be improved ad quality and increased charitable fund-raisingcapability.

So, that's the dilemma we're facing at present. Normally, this is the sort of thing that takes place "behind the curtains," but we considerNikeTalk a community and we try to include our fellow members in those decisions that affect us all. Collectively, everyone was behind us when we chose toimplement advertising a means of keeping the site going, upgrading our forum platform, and raising money for charities. If we make a major change, it'ssomething we'll do with you, not something we'll do to you.
 
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An informative wall of text indeed. Thats a very interesting dilemma the community is faced with.
 
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Methodman, why not bring back the old voluntary donation chest? It did generate a few thousand and that was before the charitable giving began. With morepeople and the understanding that donated money would go to various charities, we could hopefully expect a similar yield. I know that technically the moneyfirst has to go to running the site but since cash is fungible, every donated dollar is as good as donating to charity. Furthermore, with so many questionableand fraudulent charities out their, NT could essentially and in a costless manner (since the research and selections selections are already being made anyway,the marginal cost of directing an extra dollar is basically zero) become both the agent of aggregation and the escrow agent for those who want to contributebut who feel that their donation is too trivial (even in a recession many want to give even if the individual amounts are unimpressive and are too embarrassedto give anything in that case) and/or their knowledge of charities is too limited to make giving worth while to them.

By taking care of the information problems with charitable giving and considering the power of bringing together thousands of small donations we couldpotentially raise a lot more money and whether we raised an extra dime or an extra thousand per month, there could be virtually no extra costs in terms ofmoney or staff member time spent. I think that you could cajole and/or guilt people, especially those who use adblocking, to donate a few dollars.

Also, it would be good to consider making announcements regarding problems with the ads. Many have shied away from the ads after the viruses got spread (I hadno problems with that BTW) and even more so, after those loud ads came on a few weeks ago. I have not switched to ad blocker because I have been here for awhile and as soon as those annoying and intrusive ads appeared, I was confident that you and the rest of the staff would do something about it and do somethingquickly. I was right, those shrieking, fake pep filled ads are nooooooooooooooooooo more! Others are newer and/or not as patient and do not know thissite's reputation for taking care of its users and while I knew you would move quickly to deal with the problem, formally addressing some of the problems,could hopefully change the behavior of users, who are less familiar with the site and who assumed that NT was like a typical website. In other they might wellhave assumed that is consisted of enjoyable content that is protected by a shell of hideously invasive ads and administrators with an ambivalent, at best,regard for the site's users.

Doing that would hopefully bring a lot more eyeballs back on the screen and onto the ads and having an e-donation plate here in our e-church could very wellgenerate at least a few hundred dollars per month and with a good charity that does work in very poor regions of the World, a few dollars can obviously make avery big difference in the field of operation.
 

Methodical Management

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Methodman, why not bring back the old voluntary donation chest? It did generate a few thousand and that was before the charitable giving began.
The old community chest you're referring to generated about $2,000 per year at peak. It wasn'teven enough to cover basic hosting costs, which is why the ads had to be implemented to begin with.

If users are interested in making direct donations, I'd greatly prefer that they learn about the charities we've selected via these announcement postsand offer donations themselves. Someone just contacted me recently to ask how they could donate to the HSUS End Dogfighting campaign, and rather than saying"well, you could buy a t-shirt and we'll donate the proceeds to charity," it's far more efficient to simply direct them to the donation pageat the HSUS website. They even have a donation page specific to the End Dogfighting campaign, which I linked in the topic post, so I believe donations of anysize can be earmarked for that program, which is somewhat unique among large charities.

That said, I know that often times, particularly when making modest contributions to large organizations, people can feel a certain "drop in thebucket" effect, which can inhibit donations.

Perhaps we should hold a charity raffle.

Rather than simply adding a $5-$10 drop in the bucket to a community chest or making an equally modest donation to charity, we could give users the option ofbuying raffle tickets for $5 or $10 each until we clear a pre-established fundraising goal - let's say $5,000. It would take a lot of work on our part,but the advantage over the community chest is that we're not relying on a tip jar but, rather, actively giving users a great reason to chip in. First,they'd be working toward a clear goal. Let's say people felt so strongly about this cause that they favored the idea of raising more money for theHSUS and we set a target of $5,000. Each ticket brings us one step closer and users can see the progress we're making collectively via a progressbar/thermometer. We'll share a feeling of accomplishment when we reach our goal as a community and those who participated will likely feel more directlyconnected to this accomplishment than they currently do with donations raised via advertising (though we'll continue to make those donations as well.)

Second, and most obviously, they'd have a chance to win prizes. In addition to a "grand prize" (say, a dinner date with Dirtylicious atApplebees or a pair of rare sneakers), we could certainly put up some NT-shirts. Users could donate prizes to us, shoes from their collections, for example,if they'd like to help, online sneaker stores could offer a gift certificate or product, and we could get up and coming apparel brands to offer, say, 10-15t-shirts in exchange for the exposure they'd receive as a result. So, rather than just having a 1:1,000 chance of winning a grand prize with each ticket,we could potentially offer users a 1:100 or even 1:50 chance of winning something. That's a nice little bonus considering the money is actually a donationto charity, not a greedy boutique's attempt to milk exclusive releases, and their customers, for all they're worth.

It can't replace ads as a means of subsistence, but it does strike me as a way to raise a substantial amount of money for amazing causes like the onewe're celebrating in this thread with virtually no overhead. We donate our time to run the raffle, get the sponsors to ship out their own prizes, and thenall we're stuck with is the cost of shipping out the prizes we put up ourselves.
 
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Nice, as a responsible American Pit Bull Terrier owner, I applaud your choice to donate to, not to take away from the other places NT has donated to.
 
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