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The gift of light
by Eliot York in News    Jul 4, 2015
Hello, hello,

I've finished reviewing all of your comments including the results from the most recent survey and I've been astonished by the response. Thank you so much for sharing your humour and opinions with me.

As you know, Hello Poetry needs funds to operate. In November, we raised $1500 in 4 days to cover six month's worth of server costs. That was an incredible achievement and a powerful display of support from you all. However, in the months since then, my time remains committed to a full-time job and as a result, many issues in the community continue go unresolved, bugs are left unfixed, countless messages and emails unanswered, and new features (like an iPhone app) aren't developed.

I'd like that to change this year.

In order to do so, I've been considering ways to earn a basic living from Hello Poetry as well as cover its costs without advertising or asking for more donations. I'm deeply inspired by the principles behind gift economies and the power of individual generosity within communities.

In the survey, I asked you: Would you donate to Hello Poetry in order to promote someone else's poem? Somewhat nervous to analyse the 410 responses, I was delightedly reassured to find that just over 50% of you responded 'Yes', and many more said they would consider it if given more detail. Really?!

That was a hugely encouraging sign to me that gifting could keep Hello Poetry afloat for the years to come, so I hurried off and built what was needed. But before I tell you about what I'm releasing today...

A Brief History of the Front Page (or, How to Trend your Poem)

Getting a poem onto the front page is an opportunity to have your poem read, receive feedback and get wider recognition in the community. So far, the sole arbiter of that privilege has been The Trending Algorithm, which--in spite of my best intentions--is highly imperfect. Most obviously, a computer can't (yet) judge any inherent qualities of a poem. Even more, the algorithm tends to serve long-term members with large followings and those well versed in the art of trending.

I've been working on improvements to the algorithm based on what I've learned over the last few months, but first I'd like to introduce a more fundamental change to the front page by giving you, the human members of the community, more direct control of what gets there.

The Gift of Light

The icon symbolises a trending poem's blazing temperature as it generates feverish levels of activity. Today I'm introducing the first of two new symbols you'll be seeing on the front page: the . You can now put a poem directly on the front page by "giving it some light" in exchange for a small payment to Hello Poetry. Here's how it works: you pay $5 to shine light on to a poem and then it goes onto the front page along side the trending poems. The writer receives needed exposure for their work, Hello Poetry receives financial support and you have direct control over the front page and are able to support others' work by ensuring it sees the light of day.

A few caveats:

- you can shine light on one poem per day
- there is only so much sunshine available each day
- only active members in good standing have access to the light
- light can be given to your own work just as you can stare into the sun, but it isn't recommended

I'm excited to see what work you consider worthy of the light and would like to thank you in advance for supporting Hello Poetry and its writers. This is the start of many great things.

Looking forward to your feedback.

Eliot xx

p.s. check out the new FAQ section for answers to your questions.
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