Why is GearFetish.com not online?
First of all, you are probably wondering if this is legit. Yes, this is Chris...owner and operator of GearFetish.com since April 2002 for over a 11 years now.
A simple question that has quite an in depth response. The simple answer is due to financial constraints.
Financial constraints have plagued myself and GearFetish.com (GF Multimedia) for the past four years. These financial constraints are a direct result of over a year of ownership rights disagreement of GF with my former partner of 10 years. As a result of the disagreement, a lawsuit was filed in 2009 which then proceeded to take nearly two years to reach closure. The reasoning behind my ex-partner dragging the lawsuit out was a failed attempt at trying to financially and emotionally drain myself my making numerous false claims. Such false claims required response during the discovery process. Unfortunately, any claims, true or false, are not admissible in court during the discovery process. If they were, he would have lost by a land slide due to the outrageous nature of the falsified claims. As much as most would like to know the details surrounding the situation, I requested that the settlement agreement submitted as a consent order to court be kept confidential. Therefore, I, myself can not breach that agreement.
As you might can imagine, the costs to protect GearFetish.com have come at a very high price. Looking back....perhaps it all has come at too high of a price. The other option to fighting to preserve GF would have been simply to just have given it away to my ex-partner. If that had been the case, GF would had been sold to the highest bidder. That highest bidder would have had to offer in the high six figure range or greater. It's highly unlikely that would have ever happened. At some point, GF would have been taken offline once word was out that I, myself, were no longer operating GF.
That brings GearFetish.com to where it is today. The settlement agreement was of a monetary nature to be paid out over the course of 24 months. There are now only 9 months remaining. I can't give an exact figure, but the total sum nearly equals the average amount that an American would make in almost one year. Needless to say, I have suffered tremendously through this whole experience that has lasted well over five years. If the remaining amount is not paid as agreed, the consequences are to be executed by the court. You can use your imagination on the rest of that.
What is to become of GearFetish.com now?
This question can only be answered by you; the members of GF. When I checked this morning (June 12th), there were over 23,000 active members that had visited in the past 30 days. If each and every one of these active members were to just donate $1.50USD, the remaining balance of the settlement agreement would be met and be a thing of the past. It would be a burden that GearFetish.com and myself would no longer have to face after all these years of trying to preserve this online community. Let's be honest, at best, I would be surprised if 20% would actually step forward to make a donation to help save GF's future. If that were to be the case, the more likely figure of 20% would have to donate $6.50 each to bring this dark chapter to closure.
Chris, you've made promises about improving GF and have consistently failed. Why should we, as members of GF, care to help you?
You're right. I have. Guilty. I have carried the flag for GF for over 11 years. From the first day I put GF online back in 2002, it has since financially cost me. I never intended GF to be treated as a business. It was a past-time to bring the website back and reunite all those that once rallied around GF in the mid-1990s. It has never, truly, been a business that produced any measurable profit. Has GF provided me with a salary? Yes, and I make half of what I made 11 years ago which was a modest salary at that time. Doesn't your job provide you with a salary? Sure it does. However, does your job require you to endure thousands and thousands of dollars of legal expenses, trolling through years of documents/records to defend your arguments and positions, loss of personal assets and the emotional upset of not knowing your future for years on end? Most likely not. I don't know of anyone in their right might that would work to endure what I have for the so little amount of a salary.
I need your help! GearFetish.com needs your help right now!!! Without it, this is most likely the end of 11 years of GF running constantly, non-stop. The only way GF will survive this period in its history is with your financial contribution. Will you please donate what you can afford. When you donate, please keep in mind that others may choose to not donate. For that, some will have to carry the weight of others. When you reach the donation page, PLEASE enter your GF Member Name so I know who donated what to save GearFetish.com.
It's your decission on what is to become of GearFetish.com. Please make a donation this very moment. PayPal is our best option in receiving a donation. You do not have to have a PayPal account. Simply click on "continue" under the section "Do not have a PayPal Account?". From there, you can checkout using a major credit card.
Any amount you can donate is not only greatly appreciated, but will help me keep GearFetish.com running.
I am presently working to restore GearFetish.com and should hopefully have services restored within the next 12 hours. Presently, this page is running on an Amazon hosted server. I will continue to post updates on the progress of restoring the original GearFetish.com web services.
I've been very careful to couch my opinions about gearfetish.com in forward-looking optimism, just as I did last August after the introduction of the lower-cost "Sponsor" membership. I'm a well known critic of both Recon and FetLife for representing only the gross extremes of social interaction — in the former case, a cruisy, dank environment rife with safety risks and naïve folks; in the latter, intentionally crippled search capabilities, making it difficult to make new, nearby friends having similar interests, and funneling users into difficult-to-navigate discussion groups that go off on tangents all the time.
So, for a long time, I still favored gearfetish.com because it was a truly friendly place, with most people not afraid to talk about their interests openly and honestly. Flawed as it was, it was a place where I could get in touch with people I understood, and who understood me.
Apparently, not anymore... so I'll let my long-stifled opinions go public.
I'm angry, and not because the site is offline. I'm angry because these same financial issues mentioned above (often cited in conjunction with the operational cost of running the site) could have been fixed, years ago. Several times since the mid-2000s, I offered tips and plans describing how the site's operational costs could be reduced by a factor of 10 or more — to the point that today, it wouldn't cost many hundreds of dollars for dedicated co-location, plus dollar and time costs of hardware maintenance. In today's money, it could cost as little as $50 or less per month to maintain the site's operations, thanks to the proliferation of virtual machine services.
My offers of assistance went much farther than simple cost reduction; I offered technical (and personal!) help to degrees I've never offered to anyone else, and without ever wanting a cent in return. I certainly wasn't the only one offering, either. Every time, these offers to assist with the site went into a black hole, rarely even acknowledged with a reply.
Money only goes so far, and I fear that simply "throwing money at the problem" here will suffer the same fate of the site simply treading water with decade-old concepts and technology. If GF is to survive, it's going to take willingness to accept that the whole site needs an overhaul, the concepts need updating, and the necessary work requires the help of technically proficient, optimistic users who are openly willing to work for free.
Pretending that the only issue all along has been money is how the site got into this state in the first place. Continuing that façade won't help anything at all, and it will just get the site's devoted community further frustrated and lost in the mess.
(Postscript: Full disclosure, I did donate money to Chris to help with the current situation, and you should absolutely feel free to do so too. However, I'd really like to see a change, not just in attitude, but in action, to show that there's a real desire to keep it going rather than just limping along.)