Yesterday we launched the new toolbars for free sites, to a mixed reaction. Today we'll be pushing out a thinner top toolbar as suggested by many of you, and looking at reducing the size of the bottom toolbar as well.
The bottom toolbar has already started driving traffic towards pro sites, and one of the benefits of upgrading to a pro account is that you will simply get more visitors. This is the trade-off: those who use Wikidot for free will be helping to promote the sites of those who pay.
We've been accused of "bait and switch" but the reality is this: Wikidot must be based on a healthy, growing business model where people who get the benefits of a fast, wiki based platform for their blogs, web sites, wikis, and other projects, pay appropriately for it. This is essential in order to improve the product and keep the service running so that those of us who depend on Wikidot for our web sites, can trust that it will always be here.
There are, broadly, only a few ways to fund a project like Wikidot. One is to use venture capital, which most startups do, and which is one reason so many of them fail. Another would be to put ads on every free site, all the time. Another is to sell service upgrades, but a "crippleware" approach does not work well.
So the toolbars may be annoying to some people, but they are part of our determination to keep Wikidot healthy, growing, fast, and useful. We will aim to improve the toolbars, make them less intrusive, and more useful. But if you really want your site to be 100% free of the Wikidot branding, just become a pro user. It is not expensive and you will be helping make Wikidot better.
My sympathies to all those who felt betrayed, surprised, or annoyed by the new toolbars. Apologies especially for not warning site owners in advance: we did send out a newsletter but it went out too late. But thank you also to the many people who yesterday voted with their credit cards and told us that it was a fair price to pay for the service we provide.
Now, if I could just stop clicking on those "remarkable sites" and get back to work…