The Future of Elsewhere Cafe

Here’s a link to a good conversation that starts here:

about the site and where it is now.

And a detailed response from @LockeCJ

An option

One of the ongoing conversations is about financially how this might turn into something more. I’d like to share now what I’ve been working on for some time, and I can see ways to tie this discussion board into that.

There is always a tension here between the privacy of being in a place where we are cloaked from the wider Internet, and that there is no way for the board to generate traffic to bring in some new members and fresh ideas.

If we wanted to develop a way for this site to move to a more public space in a way that is safe, I have a business that we can integrate the site into. For me, the value of bringing Elsewhere Cafe to my business would be to bring in an ongoing group of people to the discussion board side, which is just now launching. Most of the current course creators don’t have experience driving online conversations, and having this group would help me to quickly show what a great conversation space can be.

This issue of creating a space where people are motivated to participate in conversations in positive ways was the main driver of my creating my business. I helped to create this long running discussion board for my yoga teacher and it was an incredible example of the web at its best. People who were regular participants there are still good friends to this day - many people have travelled internationally to be together in person.

A few factors were at play there:

  1. There was a clear owner and he had a lot of respect
  2. There were financial incentives for people to be on good behavior, because many of the people there had yoga businesses.
  3. People met in person. We all shared the same teacher and could meet up at his workshops. There actually were 4 gatherings just for discussion board members.

One of the big problems with the site was there was no mechanism for long time participants to make a business either through our teacher’s program or the site, and there was a clear need and desire for that.

My business
This is my site for my business. I started this as a way to counteract a lot of the issues I see with participating on the Internet.

My site also has a discussion board, hosted on Circle. (I’m currently troubleshooting a lot of the issues with the site in advance of beginning to advertise and promote it. That board will be at as soon as I finish getting domain issues resolved.)

My site is set up with a catalog of online courses. This page of the site is my main project for next week BUT I do have 6 Course Creators launching courses in the next few weeks (if they are not already launched) and I have my own signature courses.

The site has this structure:

Business incubator
The heart of this site is a course called The Organized Business Startup System which teaches people hands on how to startup a business and how to create online courses (there will be additional courses inside of the program on creating physical products and developing services).

It’s not a requirement for people to take the program; it’s a mechanism for those who want to create businesses to do it and sell to the audience that is already gathering.

Imagine that instead of Boing Boing’s blog being for the owners profit, the discussion board participants have a mechanism to also post and make money in a way that can be controlled, without it just being a public forum like Reddit or Medium. That’s what I’m making.

The controlled mechanism is the Organized Business Startup System program, which trains people in how to participate and create products and services.

I’m currently working on:

  • Finalizing the website pages
  • Developing an advertising strategy which I can replicate for every course creator - I have 2 professionals hired that are helping with the ad campaigns
  • Helping my current course creators finalize their courses in advance of Black Friday
  • Promoting and preselling The Organized Business Startup System, which launches Feb. 1 but will have all the on demand materials available prior to that for people to begin working through on their own.

This whole thing has taken me many years to put together - not just all the online systems for the online courses and the discussion board, but also figuring out how the generate money from it.

So what?
If we want to try to make this a more public but also safe space, I’m open to integrating this into my business, and I am open to discussing ways for this site to evolve as part of that, if people here are interested.

(sorry for all the edits - my browser is being whack and it’s causing me to have to go in and clean up stuff that isn’t posting correctly).

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I’m not in a position to respond to this proposal in detail at the moment, but I’ll try to write something up later tonight.



I’m keeping it all open ended.

The TLDR is I have an online business that has some mechanisms in place for online discussions and for monetization.

There’s lots of ways to add elsewhere cafe in to the model. I’m already spending the money to create this.


I have put a significant amount of thought into how this community might become broader and deeper. Very little of that has been spent on financial issues.

It’s clear that you have spent a lot of time and energy working on this business. I genuinely hope that this venture is both successful and fulfilling for you and any others who are involved. I do not, however, see any way that this fits with the spirit or the intent of why I created this site. That has zero to do with any specific incompatibilities with your proposal. I can not conceive of any way to integrate this site, and the associated community, with any profit-seeking enterprise. I make that statement with full awareness that it may come back to bite me in the ass later. I want it to bite me in the ass so I can remind myself that I never created any of this to make a profit.

I apologize if that came off as harsh. I feel, correctly or incorrectly, that the members of this community have placed a great deal of trust in this site, and I want to do what I can to avoid undermining that trust.


It’s an interesting proposal, and I wish you well with both your business and your site, but it doesn’t seem at all in line with what we’re here for or the original purpose of this site.

I originally envisioned this as sort of a mini-BB, but without the assholes in charge there. It doesn’t seem to have gone in that direction, and that’s fine. It’s CJ’s system, and they will do with it what they please, and that’s perfectly fine. Social media sites come and they go, and that is the way of the world.


It’s not that I don’t want something like that, I just haven’t figured out quite how to fit that into my life yet.


I just think of here as the old lounge on the BBS, which is what it was created to house. the ideas floated at the beginning, of us actually blogging and having outward-facing content, is also cool but not at the expense of losing the lounge atmosphere. as long as Locke CJ says we are financially solvent, I see no problem with the site as it is.


It’s no problem to me. I still enjoy this as it is. I saw the conversation about how the site isn’t growing and wanted to share one option.