Freedom of Speech Isn't Free


Freedom of Speech Isn't Free
by bahmani

Recently the ugly head of funding this invaluable site has reared once again, with the same discussion and debate surrounding how best to fund the ongoing operation and overhead that a site like this requires. With the arrival of yet another fresh and well intentioned "team" who intend to help, and put a few shekels in their pocket along the way, I simply cannot watch the same train hurtling towards the cliff once again. to Jahanshah Javid has become, the Spruce Goose to Howard Hughes. If it ever could fly, it would be awesome. And the amount of time JJ has been away on mysterious soul searchings, obsessively photo journaling his way through Budapest, Venice, Paris, and Mexico, rivals Hughes' final proclivity to buxom actresses and motels and hair and finger nail growth.

In absence of the typical Dickens benevolent benefactor, the "Great Expectations" we have had of our many billionaires, that have been promoted, honored, worshiped, and given a free ride to infamy (and Space!) on this site, apparently still haven't gotten the hint. Either that or the Prada, Gucci, and Ferrari catalogs are simply too irresistible this month. Or they are simply that dumb (and lucky) to not know what they need to do.

Having been a writer, supporter, and devoted worshiper of this esteemed (esteamed?) site for over 15 years now, I think I have seen every cockamamie funding idea you can think of, float by this "Taj Mahal", bobbing up and down like aimless turds on their way out to sea, selling us down the (Ganges) river.

Donations by the many “Ardalan” family members with real jobs, PBS style fund raising campaigns, pass the hat weekend barbecues by the stylish pot smoking Palo Alto set, clever sloganed T-shirt shops, and yes, many well-wishing Technologists armed with CPK and an equally eager (and surprisingly naive) venture capital investor in tow. Or Two! All of these have been tried, to no avail. At least twice!

The reason? Well, that should be obvious. If you are trying to fund a site populated by the most cynical, suspicious, angry, vocal, and skeptical element of a society (and God bless every single one of you!), why in God's name, would you ever expect them to click on a Moslem Dating ad, or worse, one accidentally placed by the US Army!

You see, Moslem Dating is an oxymoron. You see even if I was a Moslem, I couldn't actually click on the face of the women in the ads because that's like touching them, and my religion would prohibit that. Even virtually. Never mind the last place you would come to find Moslems, is on I mean have you even read any of the overwhelmingly anti-Islamic content on this site?

To us fans of this site, when we see the worlds, "Be ALL you can be!", the word ALL means TRAITOR. When you say, "Army Strong", we hear "Army WRONG".

We know how banner ads (don't) work, we are here to engage in debate and discussion. Not buy stuff. We get our gadgets from our cousin in Dubai, or Costco. Because the prices are better, and while you are there, you can pick up Anar's the size of your kids' head. And everyone knows you don't need to actually buy tickets to Iranian concerts, because if you wait long enough, you can get into pretty much any Iranian concert for free. Including Googoosh!

So get it through your heads advertisers, we aren't going to waste our passion, anger, ideas, and commentary-time on your ads.

BEST FIREFOX PLUGIN EVER: If you don't want to become angered by ads you see on this site, do what I do. Install Ad Block Plus on your Firefox browser. And you're welcome.

The only link we will ever actually click on is YouTube. Mostly for the latest issue of Parazit, or videos of cats. And the day YouTube pays for watching videos, that day JJ will almost be as rich as people claim he is now.

Now, nothing against the latest batch of saviors to arrive on the scene, "Saeed" is a great kind benevolent guy and obviously knows a lot about online dating. But some of the ideas being discussed about making the site more social networkey, or adding this or that feature to emulate Facebook, are simply wrong for what we need, but Hey! If Saeed’s buying, then I’m certainly trying! Go for it.

But here’s my why.

First off, Facebook and social networking sites aren’t covering their costs either, so making this site more like them isn’t all that compelling. And certainly regardless of what PAAIA or NIAC is telling congress, there aren’t 500 million of us.

But the biggest reason, is that potential monetization is simply not what this site is about.

This site is one big giant at once beautiful and ugly ongoing poem. Dedicated to our sad and unfulfilled existence. Not much of a business plan to project cash flow from is it? But a hugely priceless return on our collective investment.

OK, so by now you're thinking, "OK Bruce, big words, cynical sure, funny... eh? sort of, but you've merely stated the obvious. Do you have a better idea?"

And to you, mes miserables, I would say, "Maybe".

Maybe, "Freedom of Speech" isn't actually "Free". Maybe, all of us who have been served and saved by this site, need to give something besides our heart, soul, and blessedly obscene commentary, back to it.

Maybe this is our Sputnik moment.

Maybe we should be asking not what can do for you, but what you can do for

Maybe, like Obama, we need to raise taxes.

According to the best estimates, or at least the numbers being claimed to get yet more useless funding, 300,000 unique (talented and quite good looking!) visitors like you, visit every month.

And the best estimate for what it takes to run a site like this, is in the neighborhood of $50,000-$150,000 a year. This includes JJ’s salary. No really, I just checked with Kayvan!

If only half of us could pay, that’s less than $1.00 per year, less than $0.05 per month!

If only 10% of us could pay, that’s less than $5.00 per year, still a mere $0.50 per month.

If just one of us with a really low Google employee number could pay, that’s $150,000 a year or less than $12,000 a month. (Can you blame me for trying?)

So a $1.00 a year from 150,000 of us, or $5.00 per year from 30,000 of us, or $150,000.00 from one of us, to fund the site that has enabled more Iranians to express themselves freely, than any other publication in our entire 2500 years! A site that has published more free speech than all the Iranian publications in history, combined!

Including the Cyrus Scroll!

$1.00 or $5.00 a year seems fair to me. Even in tomans. (Actually, this is far less than I usually give!)

Now, I’ll admit that some of this, especially "the numbers", might not actually be exactly true. But so what? Who cares? This site deserves to be supported solely by us, the random ugly collective. We who are not corrupted by greed and profit, or by a single entity private or political, trying to control us. The random ugly dirty collective average of all of us, that’s what will keep this site free, and more importantly, ad free.

Join me this NoRooz season and through the month of April, let’s all donate $5.00 to keep and our Freedom of Speech, ad and investor free!

Since this is also a site for skeptics, conspiracy theorists, and outright paranoid schizophrenics, of course we will need independent verification of the tally, so someone come forward and offer to count de money already.


more from bahmani

in economics: Been there and done that

by bahmani on

As I said, for the past 15 years EVERYTHING has been tried! To no avail! When I say everything yes, fun raiser, fund raiser, concerts, ads, EVERYTHING!!! Still the kitty is shirt of the costs to run the site.

So, secret admirers, family members and the occasional well wishing 20k donor or 2 arrive and shell it out. Always quietly. Meanwhile you and the others who don't know, keep reading and blogging and commenting, thinking that the site is doing just fine.

It isn't. It never has.

The paradigm we are dealing with here is that the current status quo is status fictus or fake. The site with ads does not cover it's costs from the ads. The difference is ponied up by people.

I'm saying, let's take it out of their hands and pony up ourselves at $5 per pop. Keep popping until we get to $150k, then we can stop knowing that the site is funded and free of ads for another year.


Not suggesting this site become Fee-Based

by bahmani on

There is a difference between funding this site and making it fee-based.

Fee-based to me means if you have paid, you get to come in and read. If you haven't paid, you can't. I don't think that should be the plan.

I am talking about individuals (not corporations or advertisers) paying for the site to be up and running as a free site for all to enjoy for free.

We should have some sort of counter that tallies when we hit $150,000, once that is achieved, everyone can relax and enjoy the site for another year. A month or 2 before the $150k runs out the tally appears again and we start making $5 donations again until we reach the $150k for another year's worth of ad-free reading.

I think that will work. If I am right no more ads will ever be needed again.

Your statement that you enjoy some of the ads, would be fine except these ads don't cover the $150k needed to keep the site running.

That's my other point, not only don't the ads work, they also aren't generating $150k/yr to cover costs.

Anahid Hojjati

How about ads, voluntary contribution, and concerts

by Anahid Hojjati on

Except couple complaints, most people are not complaining about the ads. Even though we hear about dating ads, but there are many other kinds of ads too like for telecomm services, educational institutes, health care. Also it seems that some people are ok with paying some money. So people can pay voluntary, meanwhile ads are kept and concerts are also held in various "noghate Jahan"  with majority in San Francisco Bay area and DC. that should do it.



We all love to be SURPERISED.

by comments on

Individuals who really use and benefit the content of the website will certainly care and pay.  I believe when someone pays, one appreciates the value of the product. 

Almost all fans are Iranian ESL speakers (i.e. immigrants), and I don’t think there is any other site providing such a tailored comfort for these individuals. provides a shoulder for men and women to love, curse and express their happiness and angers because of their immigration.  Is there any other website that you could go and keep saying that we are so proud of having no religion or all Iranians who live in Iran are IRI agents.  If we express such a thing in other places they definitely think we are so shallow or crazy. 

I individually benefit from the subjects that I chose in this website.  I believe everything in this website is appropriate as well as basic needs including variety in advertisements.   

But, whether there are places for improvements I certainly agree.  And, I am sure JJ knows better and where to start.  I heard when you are younger you are more daring to take new challenges, which was certainly true for  I don't totally agree with what I heard because I found myself more daring and innovative when I got older.  What about a big revolution on this website?  Perhaps on someone's birthday.  I am sure all fans love to wake up a day and be SURPERISED.   


آقا بهمنی، اینهم نظر این جانب


In today’s environment, the fee-based internet is a kiss of death!

Nowadays, free internet is a right, not a privilege; people expect it and you cannot change that. Also, paying for will create a set of expectations such as “I pay, therefore I have a right to be featured!” even if I don’t have anything interesting to say.

The business model has been established by the big boys like Google and Facebook and that is “Advertisers Pay!” So let’s focus on increasing the clicks on Iranian Personals and other advertisers. I for one, am not the least bothered by who is advertising on this site; US Army, AIPAC, Zoosk, Russian Babes, Namak Sadaf, etc. I actually check the good looking girls who are posting on Iranian Personals! Their descriptions of their dream men are so funny, so are their views of themselves! I especially admire the ones that keep showing up month after month. It is like, ‘Hello, I am still available!”

What makes unique are at least two things; the content of the blogs and commentaries, and the timeliness of the news and other noteworthy items (you generally see it first on before you see it somewhere else.) As long as my favorite bloggers are around and interesting exchange is taking place, I am in and has my attention. But, the second the “do-gooders” and the “morality police” steps in and wants to regulate my thoughts, no matter how crazy they are, I am out of here!

hamsade ghadimi

esfand, the way bahmani is

by hamsade ghadimi on

esfand, the way bahmani is going about it, the fee matters.  forget about how difficult it is for you to give your money away.  let's say that's fixed.  if you want to raise $x amount of money, the summation of dues (taxes) should at least be equal to $x.  this is just like a tax levy that a community passes or rejects to do a public project (road, school).  the difference with a tax levy is that the majority requires the minority (anti voters) to also pay.  something that you cannot do under bahmani paradigm.  i'm just trying to illustrate the futility of the schemes that is offered with the "if...." scenarios (i'm willing to give $x, if everyone....).  in real world, hypothetical compensation does not match actual compensation. and also the dynamic nature of different paradigms (new does not equal old that's the moral of the story!

Esfand Aashena

Hamsade fee is fee. $40 = $1 doesn't matter.

by Esfand Aashena on

JJJ doesn't even have a place where we can send cash donations.  I've asked this everytime there is a fund raising and when they give an address to send donations they send an address with mennat!  Doghorto nimeshoonam baghiyeh!

So we're talking pulling the credit cards out and paying the fees.  That by itself removes many from being even able to pay the fees!  Then you'll lose many who won't even want to pay for something that is free elsewhere.

So bottom line fee based isn't the way to go.  Fund raisings, having concerts (all over the world, not just San Francisco :-) is the way to go.  Having said all of this JJJ himself is too lazy to do anything!  I'd love to have a life like him!  Free at last!  Free at last!  Thank god almighty I'm free at last!

Just leave it as is!  I have no more comments on this subject!

Everything is sacred

hamsade ghadimi

esfand, that's a good

by hamsade ghadimi on

esfand, that's a good point.  also, the concept of "willingness to pay" (wtp) is much different what people will pay when they have to.  for example, i may be willing to pay $40 bucks/year.  but if i found out others are members by paying only $5/year, then i would reneg.  different people have different wtp.  to come up with a uniform cost, one has to attract an amount of members based on those willing somewhere between $min and $max, basically shutting out people who have a positive wtp below the set price.  at the end, the new paradigm will consist of smaller number of users, smaller number of contribution, and smaller number of discussion.  during this stage, those who have become members re-consider.  this is much more complex than it looks at first glance.

more on this subject: difference between public property, private property and community property.  the payment scheme would fall under community property.  i think the site should be free with voluntary payment.  the ads don't bother me.  and i've actually used one ad: maz jobrani concert tickets. but everyone has their strong likes/dislikes and any restrictive scheme will shut out a portion of potential users.


Regarding Dating sites

by Iranian123 on

The blog has already been done by this gentleman

The Inappropriateness of Many Websites for Singles

I think noone has problems with Iranian Personals, as far as I know, is a reputable agency who check their members. But it is the other ones where scantily clad Asian and Russian women may be inappropriate.

Excluding all except Iranian Personals would be a small step in the right direction. Perhaps someone who knows IT knows if that is difficult to do or not. Only tiny things like that can make a lot of difference.  



by ComraidsConcubine on


Esfand Aashena

Monda jaan would u pay $48/yr if 75% of users were to go?

by Esfand Aashena on

You like this website because many come here and contribute and we read and share and learn and enjoy.  Now if this were to become a fee based website you and I may pay for it but I can assure you more than half the users would spend their time elsewhere where it is free.

So imagine you come here and see one blog per week or worse!  One article per week or worse!  One comment every 5 hours or worse!  Would you still pay $48/year? 

Everything is sacred


Sensible proposal, Bahmani

by Monda on

Being a long time reader (not as long as you) - I do see a need for membership fees. The other day, I even agreed to the $48 per year figure which was calculated by an affiliate of the new investor. Because I do believe improvements to this site cost money. How much? I'm not a high-tech accountant, so i have no idea. All these years I have lent my trust in JJ's judgment with my daily educational visits here. And I have paid my dues more than many. However, what "immediacy" or other improvements to IC actually serve for me, is another story. I don't need a social networking vehicle. I really think that IC serves much bigger cultural purpose than FB on any day, for Iranians in diaspora, hands down. So, I'm willing to pay the dues, whatever JJ decides, between $5 and $48 per year. If I know that I can get the valuable material without JJ's personal financial worries. We do want JJ's happiness, so he can feel open and content enough to focus on this site. (The new investors may have even convinced JJ of the virtues of online dating vs flying to various places to search for an ideal woman. Only JJ knows :)

And Bahmani, I agree with you on ads. They have truly cheapened the look and feel of the site. (Is everybody out there really So Desperately looking for a mate these days, or is it the industry's effort to make it seem that way?! Please somebody blog about that!)


hamsade ghadimi

in economics, there's a

by hamsade ghadimi on

in economics, there's a phrase: "there's no free lunch," or "there ain't no such thing as a free lunch" (tanstaafl).  why? a) a product that is offered for "free" to an individual requires use of scarce resources, b) the opportunity cost to use the products, in this case valuable time of the user, can be used to do something else which also has value (actually work, spend time with loved ones, read a book,...), c) a company provides a "free" good to an individual because it can bundle it with another good that the consumer must pay (in this case, advertisement space sold to other companies), d) companies provide "free" goods as a marketing strategy (apple can afford to give away outdated iphones so that the users buy stuff from their itunes and app stores).

now, if an enterprise such as cannot break even with the ads that they sell but see itself viable in the long-run, it can attract investors or have fundraisers as you mentioned (i actually like faramarz's ideas from a previous blog which was actually a fun-raiser).  the author of previous blog about collecting membership dues and cleaning up the site, to me, had a great idea to kill  this site sells ads and sets rates for ads based on traffic. and there's no guarantee that only polite and prolific users will be willing to dish out cash (he was trying to "clean" this site from rude and frivilous postings/comments).  not to mention, each person that would buy into membership would feel (s)he is entitled to run the site and would be hard-pressed to ban the demanding and valuable member.

this site has either reached its max users/advertisement source or it can improve and draw a bigger crowd.  if it's the former, then periodic fund-/fun-raisers are needed such as your suggestion of voluntary payment.  if it's the latter, then they should hop to it and come up with ideas.  at any rate, tanstaafl.



by ComraidsConcubine on


300 thousand visitors per  month?  You mean views or hits as they call them. It is incredibly low. Honestly, there are loads of blogs produced by ordinary people with higher figures - relatively -  and that's without counting the "authors' own editing).


There is no such thing as "free speech" on this private website. Btw where is the webpage displaying the policy(ies), if any,  of this website except totally privately arbitrary? Anywhere visible? 


People contribute FOR FREE to this website, out of sheer reciprocal/ altruistic motives, MOSTLY, you want them to pay as well?



It's beyond funny as it is. Look at the News section. It's voluntary contributions. And you want people to pay for want they can google or twitter for free?  

Why? What for? 


Money talks.

by comments on

Money talks.  I certainly believe that has to think seriously about source of funding.  I think that's totally okay to accept some limitations exposed by the source of funding, but be able to reflect IC key guidelines/points more effectively.  Aren't there any Grants or something to apply?  It worth if other people take care of the site, but JJ spends his full-time on Grant/funding applications, giving speeches and so on.

 However, I have no idea what Bahmani's key point is especially when he refers to JJ's trip.  Am I hallucinated as always?  Oh. Gosh.... How idiot I am.  I just remembered a book that I read in Iran many many years ago.  I think it called Penelope goes to war...or something.  How irrelevant I am.

Esfand Aashena

Internet is free & free means free. Fee based IC will be a bust.

by Esfand Aashena on

Everything is sacred


Freedom of Speech is being paid for by the hosts of this site.

by bahmani on

Yes my dear, we know, you have the right to scream out anything you want. But to post it and have it stay online forever, costs someone (not you) real money.

My point is that this kind of freedom of speech the costs of archiving this comment in particular, is being paid for by people other than you and me.

And those people intend to make a profit on that cost as well as recover it.

I am saying, we should take the costs away from the investors, pay for it ourselves using our large numbers, which will bring the individual cost down to nothing, and then we can not only post freely, but also not worry about censorship, moderators, and above all the motives of the investors.

So again, this kind of speech, isn't actually free. Someone has to pay for it, so who would you rather that be? You and me, or some unkown investors?

Anahid Hojjati

Interesting blog, Mr Bahmani

by Anahid Hojjati on

 Like where you write about how ads for dating Muslims do not make much sense on IC. In any case, hopefully the fundraising will go well. As this blog shows, it does not take much money for each reader to contribute in order to make a difference. This is great snice in life, many times, we contribute to some causes but then we are told it is not enough. Here is a case that if a small contribution is made by each reader, it makes a difference.

Esfand Aashena

Free dom of Speech IS "free"!

by Esfand Aashena on

Everything is sacred