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Edhat Needs Your Help
updated: Sep 28, 2012, 5:46 PM

By Peter Sklar

Hello. This is a plea for money, so if you don't like these kinds of notes don't read it, and please don't judge us.

As you may know, Edhat has been around for almost 9 years. It started out as a local community website urging people to learn more about where they live and who they live with. Traditional local media was reporting things no one was interested in. And Santa Barbara is full of interesting things that we didn't even know anything about.

Originally, our tag line was "questions to answers you never asked". A funny little saying that applied well to our website. Every weekday, I would ask questions of readers like how many palm trees are there along the waterfront, or how many planks are on the wharf. Or I would post a picture of a place in town and ask where it was. I often didn't know the answer myself, and I was always curious. Then that day I would do the count, research the history, take some pictures, and write up a quirky story about the contest. Then we would award the contest winner a free T-shirt. If there was a tie, the Edhat Dog would perform a trick to pick the winner.

It was a lot of fun. It was a full-time job for me, although I didn't have revenue stream from it at that time. If I had received a dollar every time someone asked me that question, "how do you make money?" I would've made lots of money. Luckily, I kept going, partially funded by my old company, coolmaps.com that was eking out a revenue stream of its own. And I had a very supportive wife. I still do.

In 2005, I found myself standing in the right spot at the right time. The owner of the Santa Barbara News Press went on a firing spree and had the whole community up in arms. I had a small loyal following for my local daily newsletter. I realized I could transform my website into a news website by linking to articles on traditional media websites and inviting subscribers to post their own news. Because of our cool model and a group of wonderful contributors, we quickly expanded our readership five-fold. It has been growing ever since. We were compelled to hire some help.

When we first started Edhat, every time there was a beautiful sunset I would take a picture and then rush home to post it. The telling moment for me was the first time I saw a sunset, and knew that I did not need to take the picture. There were six pictures in my inbox ready to be posted. I was no longer the reporter, just the conduit. Selecting content was no longer up to me. On that front, the people in Santa Barbara, not the media executives, could decide for themselves what was important.

The fires in Santa Barbara provided a great test case for the citizen model I intended for the website that I created. After merely posting a story that said "There is a fire!" we received tons of citizen-based content that allowed us to follow the story at a high level. And after the fires were out, citizens united on Edhat to demand that local government provide better information during emergencies. I believe that we have made a difference in this regard. In recent smaller scaled emergencies, information has been more free-flowing and there are regular discussions as to how best to proceed.

So this brings me back to where I started this message. Edhat can change Santa Barbara. It has changed Santa Barbara. And I feel that I have proved time and again that we have no other agenda than to facilitate the citizens of Santa Barbara to communicate better with each other.

Due to current circumstances, it has become hard on me and the small but Dedicated Staff of Edhat.com, to maintain, improve, and monitor the website. I would like to upgrade our software and server, hire more full-time personnel, and make my personal role less prominent. But of course, that takes money. Currently, we have a couple hundred paid subscribers and a few businesses that buy advertising. I should also mention the handful of people who have stepped forward in recent months to provide valuable assistance with the site. To those faithful folks, I can't say thank you enough. But it is just not enough to justify the unpaid hours that my wife and I give to Edhat each day.

I'm not threatening to pull the plug on Edhat at this time, but some financial support sure would be appreciated. A paid subscription to Edhat costs one dollar a week - which is far less than you pay for cable TV or a newspaper. There are a few benefits to being a member that you may enjoy - like free tickets, a color banner in the comments section, and being able to play the contest. But the main motivation, hopefully, is that you appreciate Edhat, and you would like it to run for a long time without creating too much stress for the people involved.

I personally have given a lot of time to make this thing work. I have done computer programming, server maintenance, writing, photography, graphic design, brainstorming and accounting. I think Santa Barbara has benefited greatly from it. I hope that you agree. So please purchase a paid subscription today.

Best Regards,

Peter Sklar
Edhat Online Magazine
Santa Barbara, CA

Click here to upgrade or extend your Edhat Membership.



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