December 1st, 2010


Always a little dangerous to experiment while one is in crisis

So the SCA, citing its current legal and financial woes, is apparently going to raise membership fees fairly dramatically ($8), more or less immediately (Jan 1, so if you plan to re-up, do it now).

It should make an interesting experiment in feedback loops. I think it's a certainty that this will cost them some members: lots of people have been toddling along, keeping up their membership despite having mostly dropped out. This will make them wake up and take a look at whether they really care enough, and some will decide not. Some others will simply decide that, in these days of economic woe, they can no longer afford membership. OTOH, plenty of people will simply grumble and pay up. (Including me and msmemory.)

So the question is, will the gamble pay off? That is, will the gained income from the price rise be significantly more than the amount lost from lost members? I suspect it will be, but I don't think it's certain, and I'll be very interested to see next year's books.

They do, fortunately, admit that they need to restructure the business to make more sense, but I'll be quite surprised if they restructure it *enough*. In particular, it's very hard to admit that the current crisis is a direct result of the centralized nature of the corporation: put simply, there's enough money in the middle to be worth suing. (They cite a current lawsuit as the push coming to shove financially.) A more decentralized club has its own challenges, but tends to not have enough money in any one bucket to be really worth suing. (And even if someone does sue, they can't damage the entire club, just an arm of it.)

In the long run, of course, this is just plain nuts: it *will* cost us a fair number of paying members, and probably at least a few participating ones, and we can't afford to lose participants. (I don't give a damn about who pays for membership, but I absolutely care about participation levels.) But I do have some sympathy for their plight -- when faced with the crisis, they had to do *something*, and this was the obvious choice. Hopefully the long-term price won't be too terrible...