Those of you who read my blog probably know we use Sonlight for our curriculum. To be honest, I'm really really rethinking that and it has very little to do with the actual curriculum. My hesitation began when when they changed their forums a couple years ago from being open to having to pay for them unless you bought X dollars in merchandise each year basically. I think they shot themselves directly in the foot on that one. I personally visited their forums because they were a vibrant community, full of advice and chatter regarding homeschooling. Um, let's just say they are not as active now, but still some decent threads so I visit periodically.
Oh, and let's not forget that even if you spend $150 or whatever it is for your curriculum and board access you have to pay if you want to sell used curriculum on their, a monthly fee. Nope, sorry. I'll sell anything I have locally or other (multiple) free sites.
Now you may say it costs them server usage, bandwidth and of course the used curriculum takes away from people buying new, right? That is true, there is a cost to them. However, I would have never started on Sonlight at all if I hadn't chatted with ladies on the forum (back when it was free), who encouraged me with their wonderful advice on how wonderful Sonlight was working for their families. Sonlight has lost a lot of word of mouth advertising by closing the forum to general population, and word of mouth advertising is hard to beat.
Then today I go to log in and change my board signature to update the ages of my kids and learn that nobody can put links in their signature that are clickable. Hell, let's just all go back to the dark ages and forget the internet!! On searching the boards I can see it is a new change but not why. I presume so people can't advertise or what?! I have my blog link in my sig, and I LOVED visiting other blogs of moms from the boards. If I read an interesting post, well thought out or just interesting, I would often check their sig to see if they had a blog in there and browse it. I seriously doubt I will be copying and pasting titles (you can still put text in your sig just not links) and hunting for blogs.
So, Sonlight, you just gave me a very very good reason to visit your forum even less now. I guess I should look on the bright side - I'll save lots of money because I won't be tempted by people raving about new IGs, new LAs, new products you offer and so forth!
As an aside, I also gave up on the Mothering.com forums too for a similar reason - so heavily policed and restricted in signatures and content. I just don't do well with Big Brother sites and prefer to spend my time on sites where free flow of ideas AND LINKS flourish. No renewing my subscription to their magazine either.
The attitude and business sense of companies means a whole lot to me. I buy handmade, support small business and look carefully at my choices. The restrictive "big brother" feeling sites really are a turnoff to me, and I will not use my money to support an attitude like that.