It was back in around 2002 when I first started
this site. I knew nothing about website authoring (and if I'm completely
honest, I still don't). I picked up a free copy of website program
called Dreamweaver from a CD that came with a PcPlus magazine, skimmed
over the help file and set about creating my first web pages. I
had two simple aims in mind; to share what knowledge I had and to
build a repository of reviews from the perspective of a repairer.
I also made the decision to remain independent.
For the most part this is to do with building a resource which people
can, hopefully, trust. Review sites for consumers goods are ten
a penny, and the big problem with the vast majority of them is that
it's often hard to tell whether the reviewer's approach is tempered
by the need to not step on anyone's toes...particularly if they're
supplying the items under review. In some cases the reviews might
be little more than a jazzed-up version the manufacturer's blurb
- and it may even be the case that the reviewer has never even seen
or used the product in question.
It also meant that I wouldn't carry advertising
on the site.
To be fair this is something of a grey area; many sites that carry
advertising have little or no control over what gets advertised
- they simply sell the space and an agency decides what to put in
it. But as much as most reviewers can't afford to upset the people
who supply them with products, they also have to be mindful of keeping
their advertisers happy...otherwise the revenue soon drops off.
It wasn't a difficult decision to make anyway, because I loathe
adverts and wanted to create a space which felt more like a congenial
club than a shopping centre.
People have told me time and again that I ought
to 'monetise my resource' (especially my bank manager) to which
my answer's always been an emphatic 'No', because I feel the worth
and value of the site comes not from the pennies it might bring
in but from the integrity of the information it puts out. It may
be possible to do both, but it's a very fine line and it's one that
I'm uncomfortable about treading.
But some folks said "Why not put a donate button up on the
site?". I hadn't really given the idea much thought, but I
took the time to seek out opinions from some of my regular clients
and readers, and the unanimous response was " Yeah, do it!"
- so I did.
It takes a great deal of time to put the website articles together.
A single review can take days of solid work, both in terms of writing
and photography. Some of the technical articles can take even longer
(the octave mech article took four years), and often require tests
to be carried out - which in turn can require tooling and jigs to
be made up. There's also a lot of off-site work that goes on. If
you've ever emailed me to ask advice on a potential purchase or
sought an opinion about a repair procedure, that takes time to respond
to. Sure, some of it generates work - but the majority of it is
just me passing on information to folks who request it.
But here's the thing- I'd do it anyway. I do it all because I love
it - the site, the reviews, the articles, the emails, talking to
you folks about horns...it's what I do. It's what I've always done
and I think it's pretty clear that I'm going to keep doing it for
as long as I possibly can.
The donate button is entirely optional - if no-one ever pressed
it and sent a quid or two my way, the site and my work would carry
on just as before, and I would still be happy to hope that you all
find my articles and emails helpful and interesting...if not occasionally
amusing. But if you do press the button and make a donation, it
goes towards offsetting the costs of keeping the articles coming...and
it's very much appreciated.
And if that sounds a little too grand, you could always just buy
me a pint - you'll find a Paypal button like the one below at the
bottom of every page.
If you wish to send a message to accompany your
donation, please feel free to do so. I've been genuinely touched
by the comments people have left, and while I won't normally reply
to them (copy them by a separate email if you want a response) you
can be assured that they're very, very welcome.
If you've enjoyed this article or found it useful and would
like to contribute
towards the cost of creating this independent content, please use the button