The recent understandable loss of the Discrete Edit forum drove home the fact that the COW is a valuable tool for broadcast professionals. There is SO MUCH INFORMATION HERE it's unquantifiable.
Looking at the public web stats for the COW I see millions of hits a month, so I'm not alone in saying that visiting the COW is a valuable part of my day.
I actually felt guilt on the awesome new mobi.creativecow.net. COW developers are creating a new, valuable tool that I'm getting for free.
Here's what I propose:
FREE: same as now, with ads, restricted mobile access (as now)
PRO: greatly reduced ads, full access. I'm earmarked as a Pro user, like Flickr and Pounce. Very important.
The web 1.0 is way over, web 2.0 is generating real dollars, and the COW has survived it all without charging a dime to the end users.
If this was Digg or Reddit I would hesitate to pay, as it's clearly ad-supported entertainment. But the COW is something I use every day to accellerate my business. Inasmuch as I pay for the TWiT podcast via a monthly subscription, I would pay for the COW.
To get the conversation started, I'm going to start the bidding at $49/year. If you've ever paid for tech support you know that's a bargain, and remember I'm suggesting a few ads to augment the cost.
Let's open this up to a discussion, remember the COW is a business we all want to see succeed, just like you want to succeed.
PixelCorps. I love their podcasts and actually paid for a trial membership subscription, but it was way too inside and when I stopped paying I fell off their planet. I never heard from them again, and lost 100% of the access.
digitalweddingforum.com. I love the site, or what I'm allowed to see. I love the teaser banners for content. It looks like a group I want to join ... but the sign-up was onerous, elitist, and my trial membership was actually DECLINED because I wasn't an actual Photographer (despite holding a degree at Ryerson Photo Arts, and shooting cinematic wedding videos). A standout as how NOT to run a community. I'm sure I could have contributed much to their web forum.