As most of you know,I’m the person responsible for wiseNeedleand its on-line yarn review collection. That collection is now nine years old. It began in 1995 as a round-robin text file I collected then circulated among members of the old KnitList mailing list (back in its pre-Yahoo days).The databasehas grown to fully searchable index of basic info on more than 4,800 different yarns, and contains around 2,000 reviews detailing more than 1,300 products (many yarns have more than one review).
I provide the forum, knitters world-wide write in to report their experiences on real knitting projects. No yarn maker or distributer subsidizes the site in any way, nor is it backed by any magazine, publisher or yarn retailer. It’s a 100% volunteer consumer-to-consumer info sharing effort in the best tradition of the early Internet.
It’s been fun, but now I am wondering if this all-volunteer effort has outlived its usefulness. There are now other commercial forums that provide yarn reviews. While foot traffic through the site has remained more or less on the same level, the number of reviews being submitted is way, way down. Plus the majority of the visitors are now coming for free patterns rather than to the yarn review collection. People just don’t seem to be interested in providing info, although there still seems to be limited interest in obtaining it.
So, I’m in a quandry. Do I continue to shell out to support the tenth year of an effort that isn’t earning hearts and minds in the greater community? Do I pull the plug? Do I muddlethrough for another year or sohoping that the idea will someday catch on?
Or do mutatewiseNeedle in some way so that it becomes self-supporting? If the last option is pursued, what can be done? Charging for membership? Accepting paid advertising from the yarn industry? Selling patterns or collateral material? Flogging the whole site to an interested buyer, providing some entity could be found?
Ideas and suggestions are greatly appreciated.