Okay, folks, here's the deal. As we threatened previously, the pimpification really starts here. We've always tried to play things moderately straight with our readers, so here's the situation, straight up:

Needcoffee.com has always been a non-profit organization. This hasn't exactly been a matter of principle, it's just that we've never really taken it upon ourselves to figure out how to take our blatant and obnoxious disregard for tact to the next level and make money off of it. Others have done so, leading them to great careers (translation: jobs that pay) as radio talk show hosts, journalists, and even comic book writers.

One of the things I've resisted since we actually started to--rather explicably--gain a following is making money off of the site. A lot of this has to do with the nature of the beast: the last thing I wanted is to litter the site with ads. We've all been to sites that have been taken over by ads, slowly, maliciously, like some weird kind of technovirus. One day you show up and...Jesus, where the hell did the content go? Oh, there it is under that freaky snake with all fifty states' abbreviations on its heaving back.

Man, I hate that shit. Especially when it's animated. God.

I've actually turned down offers to run ads on the site, especially back when we were in Version 3, because...well, where would we put them? I didn't want the first thing you saw when you clicked on a review to be a giant banner. It's just extremely distracting, in my opinion. Even now, when WordPress gives us much better control over the look of the site, you may not even have noticed that we added ads to a lot of our pages.

Good. You weren't supposed to. They're supposed to be unobtrusive. I haven't even used graphics ads (even though they make more money) like a skyscraper or something except on either really high traffic pages (like Dog the Bounty Hunter--who knew that would be one of our most popular reviews ever?) or over in the Contests area, where we have a lot of folks who just show up to enter for free shit and go on their merry way. Which we're cool with. Thanks for the hits, folks.

However, the cracks in my resolve began to show since last year's DragonCon made clear a few things to even my hard headed self. As you recall, first part of September--that was when gas prices went through the roof. So I'm looking at my staff coming in to take part in running our ever-expanding gig there...and it costing them a small fortune. You see, DragonCon has been very good to us over the years, but the truth is we pay our own way to get there. It amazes me how many people think that because we're guests we get a free ride. I can't tell you how happy (and confused) it makes us that you think we're that good. But anyway, gas prices were up, and most of my folks are coming in from all over the southeast and beyond. So yeah, forget profit: we just don't want to be operating at a huge loss. This and the amount of dough we put up to try and get some refreshments into the hall for the Film Fest woke me up to: well, yeah, we should do something. Hence we put out a tip jar. And hence, we added a tip jar here on the site.

Once we--okay, I--made this realization, it became clear that there were things we needed. And as long as we've got as huge a readership as we do, why not come right out and ask for donations so that we can make the site and the weird shit we do better?

Let me give you an example. Ken "Boss" Plume puts together the Film Fest. About the only thing me and the rest of the staff can do is help put together ideas for what to include, but the guy who sits down and compiles everything, transfers it, edits it, burns it to disc, and the whole nine--that's all Ken. He literally--I shit you not--put in at least 100 man hours last year to get the content that we had in the Film Fest ready for prime time. And it's stuff you might not even notice, sitting in the audience. The maniac remasters audio and video both so that it's the best experience possible. Levels off the sound so we don't have to ride a fader all night long. It's professional quality work.

And while we love the irritable bastard for being so giving of his time, Christ, there's got to be a better way. So here's the deal. Things would be a lot easier for this year's Film Fest if we could get a video converter for Ken so he wouldn't have to spend so much damn time getting things moved over for us. Granted, he's such a perfectionist, he'll just reinvest that time in some other aspect of the video, but so be it. It all makes things better for you.

Why am I telling you all of this? Well because I'm about to hit you up for donations. This thing isn't cheap. It costs $250. But we need it to make the Film Fest this year less painful to create.

Now...realizing that we have readers in 76 countries, and I think maybe we've had people from 2 show up for the Film Fest (one from the UK...sorry, any Canadians...if you came down for it, I didn't know you were there), why should the rest of you give a shit about what Ken does or does not have to do this Film Fest thing?

Realizing this, I'm throwing some swag into the fight to make it easier for you to cough up some coin. For anybody who donates $5 or more in the month of February, we'll throw your name in a hat from which we will draw a name and that person wins five figures from the first series of McFarlane's Dragons. We've got everything but the boxed set and I think between the five of them they're worth $50. And they look sweet. So at least a $5 donation, you get a chance to win cool shit, and you help us out in the bargain. What a deal, right? And if we get a great response, I'll throw more prizes in the hopper.

So that's the deal. We want to make this site better but to get it any better would take two things: talent and money. Since we're not overflowing with talent, we'll have to go for Plan B. And we'd appreciate your help. In fact, we have other ideas for improvements we could make. Hell, I'd like to start an online Needcoffee radio station for one thing. But one giant flailing leap at a time. Here's that link again. Thanks in advance for your help.

Update: While still not selling my soul to net ad Satan, I have moved an ad above the fold just to see how well it does. In addition, the Amazon ads are animated, but that's just because it's either Amazon ads or public service ads which make us no money. And we're bastards. So. Just so you don't read this and go, "Well, that lying son of a bitch." At least...not for the wrong reason.