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MJ DeMarco

I followed the science; all I found was money.
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Jul 23, 2007
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Fastlaners,

The time has come.

Effective in early July (date TBD, should be around the 17 year anniversary of this place) The Fastlane Forum will transition from being a free and open forum to a paid and private membership community. The cost to become a Fastlane Forum member will be $5/mo or $47/year. This change should not impact MOST current members.

After 17 years of hosting this forum, I feel this change is necessary on multiple fronts.

Here’s a brief overview.

1. Improving Content Quality:
The forum's signal-to-noise ratio has reached an unacceptable level, with a surge in low-quality posts and low-quality users who simply aren’t serious about Fastlane, business, or self-development. I’m not interested in converting users into believers; I want the believers who understand the process and aren’t looking to “try” or make one post and then bail.

Period.

Implementing a simple, inexpensive paywall, along with a detailed membership form, will help filter out low-quality users and ensure that new members are genuinely serious about contributing. While this may reduce new membership from an average of 50 users per day to just 1 or 2, it will vastly improve the quality of our community.

No payment, no access, no registration.

  • I didn’t create the forum to dispense mental health advice, which, unfortunately, seems to be a lot of posts nowadays, thanks to social media/smartphone addiction. While we can help here, it really isn’t our purpose.
  • I didn’t create the forum to read and then filter out 12 AI responses daily.
  • I didn’t create the forum to convince other people of the Fastlane philosophy—you believe, or you don’t.
  • I didn’t create the forum to prequalify 50 new user registrations and only accept 5 of them as the rest try to post spam/backlinks/bs.
  • I created the forum so I can easily help people, and this objective lately has shifted from help, to management.

2. The Formation of a Tighter Knit Community
While this move might slow the forum’s growth and reduce the number of new topics/threads, I see that as a good thing.

Actually, a GREAT thing.

I’d rather have a tight group of 1,000 users who are serious about taking charge of their lives versus over 50,000 users who can’t seem to find an idea in a world filled with problems.

Who knows, this also might recharge me to restart the in-person conferences we used to hold annually.

3. The Fastlane is One of the Web’s Oldest Entrepreneur Communities
Since 2007, I have dedicated myself to building and nurturing this forum with unprecedented amounts of time and contributions—contributions unheard of when it comes to authors or influencers who run communities or blogs. Since starting this forum in 2007, I’ve contributed over 38,000 posts. Yes, you’ve read the correct number: 38,000+ posts that I have personally authored, which means I also likely read 3,800,000 posts.

When you visit the forum, you know I will be here, reading, contributing, and commenting.

Can you say that about any other forum, much less a FREE forum?

Unfortunately, the napkin math on my time and effort no longer works or is sustainable.

Examining the amount of income the forum generates (ads, sponsors, INSIDERS memberships) and comparing it to the time I invest—both administratively and as a contributing user—is a dismal $1.76 per hour. Yes, you read it right. In the last 17 years, if I was paid an hourly wage for my effort here, $1.76 was my compensation. I made more per hour as a Sears stock clerk in 1989.

But MJ, I thought you didn’t need the money?!

I don’t.

But I need my time to be valued and respected. I also don’t want to be another guru charging $99/mo for access to me, or my community.

4. Personal Dedication versus Administrative Overload
While I originally envisioned the forum as a free resource, it has evolved into an overwhelming time commitment far exceeding my original intentions. It is not in my nature to simply show up once or twice a month and “let it roll,” as other community figureheads do. When I visited the RD Forums many years ago, RD never showed up to his forum and interacted. NEVER.

This is my home, and I’ve been here every single day for the last 17 years.

You simply won’t get this ANYWHERE.

Period.

However, my role has shifted from helping users to managing them, qualifying them, spamming them, or moving their posts. All of this has added administrative time to my load while taking me out of genuine help.

Again, I have visited the forum almost every day for the past 17 years, only missing about 2 weeks in aggregate due to illness or vacation. My goal has always been to answer questions, contribute meaningfully, and make a difference.

However, again, the increasing demands of forum management and quality control have significantly hindered my ability to contribute meaningfully.

Over the past four years, my focus has shifted from helping users to managing administrative tasks. This includes dealing with spammers, backlinkers, prequalifying, IP tracing, and background-checking new users, especially with the rise of AI-generated responses. The influx of unserious registrations has made the situation untenable, requiring drastic measures to maintain the forum's integrity and my sanity.

And because the forum is already FREE, simply hiring someone to do this in a manner that I expect is not an option.

If you saw what I have to deal with behind the scenes here, you would understand. Here’s just a sampling of BS that I deal with daily, 20X a day.

Screenshot 2024-06-21 at 8.25.36 AM.png

The membership fee will be $5/mo, or $47/year.

- Paid INSIDERS Members: If you are a paid INSIDERS, nothing changes for you. You will not be subject to the new membership fee, and the INSIDERS forum will remain a premium, private section of the community walled off to regular users. If you let your INSIDERS membership expire, you also will not be subject to the regular access fee. You have already supported the forum with payment and demonstrated serious intent.

- Significant/Good Contributors: Over the coming weeks, I will personally review existing members and grant access to those who have significantly contributed to the forum. Members with high power ratios, many quality posts, and a history of being helpful will be grandfathered in and exempt from the new paywall. No payment will be required; ever.

- Regular Contributors
: You likely will not be subject to this as well, again, I will decide mostly on a case-by-case basis.

- Marginal / Unknown Contributors: If you have a low power ratio (<100) or less than 10 posts, your account will be subject to review for grandfathering.

- Unpaid / Unregistered Users: Starting at the Switch Date (Early July), unpaid and unregistered users will no longer be able to view forum threads beyond the first or second post. Posting/viewing privileges will be revoked. Access to the full threads will require the paid membership fee.

If you wish to support my work and expedite your access without undergoing the review process, you can subscribe in advance by hitting your USER UPGRADE page. While unnecessary for many, this will help accelerate the transition and support the ongoing efforts to maintain and improve the forum.

Objective: A New Era of Quality and Engagement

I get it. This is a big change, and it may be upsetting, but it is necessary to ensure the forum remains a valuable resource for serious Fastlaners, entrepreneurs, and others who demand more from life. By implementing this new membership requirement, I anticipate a better quality experience for all members, including my own involvement outside of a random post every blue moon.

Thank you for your understanding, your contributions, and your continued support.

MJ DeMarco


The “BUT MJ!” FAQs

#1: But MJ, what about your Google rankings?
Google? Google hasn’t paid the forum any free love in nearly a decade as Google only loves big corporations. Most of the forum’s traffic comes from my personal work.

#2: But MJ, I’m a teenager, I don’t have a credit card.
Unfortunately, you will then need your parent’s permission (and credit card) to join the forum. However, if you are a teenager with a forum post history already, you should slide in under the “grandfather” specifications listed above.

#3: But MJ, I thought you didn’t need the money!
Let me repeat. I don’t need the money, but I need my time to be valued, respected, and compensated fairly. At two dollars an hour, my options are A) Shutting down the forum completely or B) Converting to a paid model where my time is valued better, at least at a wage that isn’t insulting. I won't be the figurehead who shows up once per month. I'm here every single day.

#4: But MJ, I can’t afford $5/month!
If you can’t afford $5/month to be part of a community that I visit every day, along with other millionaires, I understand. I suggest you learn how to make $5/month (or 16 cents a day) as an entrepreneur or in a side hustle, and then come back as you will be better qualified to be a member. If you can’t make 16 cents a day, let me say that you probably don’t have the chops to be an entrepreneur. There’s nothing wrong with that, as not everyone has the DNA to be an entrepreneur.

#5: But MJ, you’re cutting off access to teenagers!
See #2.

#6: But MJ, I’ve been here for years and contributed dozens of posts!
Then, you likely won’t be subject to the membership fee. Ever. Thank you for supporting the forum.

#7: But MJ, I’m from an underdeveloped country, and $5/month is a week’s salary here!
I understand that $5/mo is much more expensive elsewhere. Therefore, I will likely provide exemptions for countries with weaker currencies. Details yet to be ironed out.

Bottom line, this should happen in a few week’s time as I get the technical aspects ironed out. I have a developer working on it now.

This thread is also not open for discussion, as this won't turn into a debate about my decision.

EDIT: Thread opened.

EDIT: If you are seeing the paywall and have posted significant content to Fastlane and would like an exemption, or, you are from an underdeveloped country with undervalued currencies, please message the forum using the Contact Us button with the title, Exemption Request.
 
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MJ DeMarco

I followed the science; all I found was money.
Staff member
FASTLANE INSIDER
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
LEGACY MEMBER
Read Rat-Race Escape!
Read Fastlane!
Read Unscripted!
Summit Attendee
Speedway Pass
User Power
Value/Post Ratio
451%
Jul 23, 2007
38,700
174,422
Utah
I thought I would bring this into this thread as it also clarifies some of the rationale behind this move.

I'm really happy about this change. I haven't been a part of this community for very long, but it pains me to see people come on here, make an introduction, and then never say anything ever again.

The problem with "FREE" is exactly this as you mentioned. And this has been happening for 10+ years. With intros, I often ask myself, "Should I reply? Will I see this person ever again? Will they even read it?"

#1) Person posts a decent intro with decent questions/issues.
#2) 30 people reply.
#3) Person never returns, never bothers to read the 30 replies that others have made, including myself.

If someone respected their membership here and had to pay to write that intro, suddenly those 30 replies mean something.

You'd be damn sure that person is returning to read the replies, much more, maybe comment again.

You don't buy something online for in-store pickup but then fail to pick it up.

----

Some other notes that I will add as I move closer to the transition...

With a paid membership, I will also reduce the # of ads showing up for regular members / non-INSIDERS.

I think there is an ad displayed every 4 or 5 posts in a thread. I'll shrink that up to 1 or 2.
 
Last edited:
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MJ DeMarco

I followed the science; all I found was money.
Staff member
FASTLANE INSIDER
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
LEGACY MEMBER
Read Rat-Race Escape!
Read Fastlane!
Read Unscripted!
Summit Attendee
Speedway Pass
User Power
Value/Post Ratio
451%
Jul 23, 2007
38,700
174,422
Utah
Just a small sampling.. in 8 hours... and this doesn't include the 8 others that were a bit more sneaky and less obvious.

Gambling...

1719588446500.png

AI backlink garbage...

1719588482671.png

Oh look, honest backlinkers...

1719588541364.png

1719588568073.png

Of course, no day is complete without the forum getting links on hair restoration in India.

1719588611652.png
 

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