The subscriber limit was originally set due to bandwidth limitations, and a commitment to existing subscribers. We didn't want our service to degrade like so many before, to a virtual halt, memories of hotmail and ISPs at peak times, caused us to impose this limit - before it was too late. Unlike hotmail we have other limitations as well, NERDS> has to be monitored, supported and policed constantly.
In October 98 the limit was meet, and inforced. We promptly started looking at ways to practically extent the limit. We upgraded our internal network, we tweeked every script, and server program to make them more efficient. We even changed our internal working practices, and management requirements of NERDS>.
After all the upgrades, new equipment, staff, etc. We looked at NERDS> and asked, "is that it, are we ready"? We noticed, for the first time ever, the community was really working, everyone was writing back to the mailing lists, writing their own columns, sending in news & events, etc, etc. At first we couldn't understand it, why now, what had changed?
After some quick research, we realised just what happened. Due to the limit, we were using a variety of new practices to remove non-active users from NERDS>, for example, we e-mailed any user who hadn't logged in for over 14 days, asking if we could give their place to someone else, since they weren't using it. We were also far more eager to expel users who abused the network, spamming, advertising, or creating hassle.
This made people realise how much they valued our resource, and they wouldn't risk losing it - for many it was the only resource they ever consulted, it struck hard and the people joined. Our efforts had an unexpected reaction, we realised then, we could no longer just open the gates. NERDS> was for elite people, but we are not willing to sensor the waiting list solely - NERDS> is not a private club.
The decision on membership choice is still being made, the limit stays, but how we choose who is and who is out, is still under debate. A suggestion is to split NERDS> into the 18 different channels, to make 18 different communities - again this is still under debate. We are working to find a solution, NERDS> is too large, we realise that (particularly when I receive 40 e-mails about a spelling mistake) - the problem is at large, your suggestions please.