I suppose a big part of the answer will center around whether or not Daniel feels the site is accomplishing what he'd hoped it would... to emulate the bar at a con in an online environment.
I've been getting spammed here a lot lately. As a result the only thing I'm doing is deleting garbage and blocking people from sending me messages. I wonder how much of that garbage Daniel has to deal with, and whether he still wants to keep it going? Couldn't blame him at all if he was ready to pack it in.
These days the work I mostly do on CrimeSpace is maintenance, and it's mostly spam related. I switched the network so all memberships had to be approved and I regularly decline a fair percentage. The other thing I do is ban members for spamming or send them warnings. Which I can only do if people let me know because I don't get all the spam messages myself.
Personally, I'd love to have the option to keep CrimeSpace separate from all the other networks and to disable bulk emailing and the friending functionality. CrimeSpace has always worked best as a forum with blogs and photos and other stuff attached.
I think CrimeSpace still does a decent job of the bar-at-a-con vibe, although the bigger it gets, the more people run up to you in the men's room yelling at you to 'buy my book!'. Truthfully, though, it's not a huge amount of effort to deal with this on a daily basis.
The only thing that never really worked how I'd hoped for is the interaction between writers and readers. It's mostly become a writer's site. Which makes sense, I think, as it seems that readers prefer to talk amongst themselves when it comes to books. Writers and readers have a different perspective when it comes to what they get out of reading. At least, that's what I've noticed along the way.
That really is a key issue you hit on - how to make it a site for more reader/writer interaction. I'm not sure there really is an answer about how to design a site like that. most sites with a lot of writers will inevitably have the writers dominate and the readers leave - unless it's something like Scalzi's blog where the visitors are fans of him specifically.
I wish I had the answer - any site that could accomplish that would become an important part of the book landscape.
That blows. Pay-only? What, they can't make enough in advertising?
As for the spam thing--yeah, it's annoying. In fact I've stopped letting ning send me email, and I almost never bother checking my messages here because they're wall-to-wall spam from a few sad, attention-starved souls whose books I will never read.
It will affect me because I like a lot of Ning sites. Yes it will mean the end of Crimespace if Daniel doesn't want to pay for the service. I also understand they say folks will have the option to transfer their Ning sites (whatever the heck that means). I just found Crimespace and it was one of only a few places dedicated to Crime writing. Romance writers can go anywhere, but for crime writers, there aren't many sites like this so this will suck.
Ning had a good thing going. I admit some folks made networks that were a waste of breath, but this was a great option for folks who had good ideas for networks that helped bring together online communities. My guess is that the NIng mods of popular sites might keep there's up and pay, but the majority will not I assume.
Well, you always have Goodreads, Facebook and other sites that still offer free groups, etc. Guess we'll have to deal with it. I'm not surprised. This is what happens when greed comes into the picture.
As for what I'm planning to do, if Crimespace goes kaput, I'll have to go with finding a new group for crime fiction. I am on other groups from other sites so that's okay. Most of the Ning sites I am on don't get much traffic anyway. I enjoyed Crimespace and Writers Digest's Ning site the most. WD might stay since WD could pay, but for the sites run by individuals, you don't know for sure.
Just gotta deal with it. There are other sites. It will be bad to leave something you enjoy but there are still other forums and groups. Won't have a choice anyway if Crimespace is gone.
Crimespace will not go! The other sites are not anywhere near the same. If people think so little of the site, then they should move on.
As for readers: I think they post quite a bit on "What have you read recently". I think all of us should make it a point to post more about our reading. Possibly authors have a slightly different take on this, but I've noted a wide variety of preferences among them.
Furthermore, this site has been extremely useful to "newbies", and it has also been helpful for the more established authors. We all have something to learn.
In fact, on the whole, this hasn't been so much a chatting site, but rather one that is completely involved in the genre as a business, an art, and a pleasure.
Also, I wouldn't blame Daniel if he didn't pay for the service. Times are hard and folks need to keep money in their pocket. If CS is going, it was fun while it lasted. Hopefully we can all get together again somewhere else online. We gotta see what happens. I hope that Ning gets so many complaints that they will second-guess this decision.