To answer a couple points:
We've been told that the custom HTML will not come back. This wasn't something we were aware of before the preview site went live, and ozoneocean in particular is very unhappy about this. However Wowio do not seem open to negotiation on this.
Instead they are telling us that they want to provide as much of the same functionality as possible, but with a set of customization tools. So please see my list above, trying to organize “what users need out of page customization.”
Ideally a set of templates, with the abilities to change colors and image elements, coupled with a series of drop-in widgets and layout tools will provide a huge amount of functionality. But I don't know what the programmers have planned. That's just me hoping.
BUT, the main thing is, I want to be able to put my OWN ad banners on MY webcomic… just as I can right now.
I'm not defending Wowio's decision, but removing the ability for users to put up their own ads does make sense on a few levels.
- User ads reduce the impact of the ads which are paying for space on DD, which is what pays for the “relibaility and faster servers” that benefit EVERYONE on the site. Those ads now have to compete for visitors' attenion and, if enough competition exists, may drive down clickthrough rates. (Additionally, letting users customize their html freely might give preferential placement to their own ads, or move the paid ads to undesirable areas of the page.) Some ad networks even require that they are the sole source of ads on the site, to ensure their dominance.
- Getting free hosting AND being able to make money off it with ads is kind of like double-benefits. It doesn't make business sense for Wowio to let people have that double dipping. Not only would they be paying for ALL hosting and support costs associated with your comic (as well as intangible elements like hosting a community your comic takes advantage of), they'd be letting you make money off that privilege (and at the same time, potentially reducing THEIR sole source of profit as mentioned in the first point). Yes, sure, it's nice for people to be able to make money off of webspace they get for free, but I can see how that would be considered too much. Perhaps you can't have both. In that respect, different levels of subscription might be a solution.
- A comic needs to be of a certain level of popularity to make any money off ads, the vast majority of comics on DD do not hit that level. Perhaps business-wise they realize they are alienating a small percentage of users (albiet one which brings in traffic and contributes to the community at a generally higher level), but the numbers may be in their favor here. Upsetting a smaller number of people to ensure provision of service for everybody could just be a pragmatic decision.
- If a comic is able to turn a profit from ads then perhaps it should have its own webspace anyway for a variety of reasons. I realize that argument means that it drives DD further down the road of “small comics, amateurs and mirrors” but that was already a giant percentage of DD's userbase.
I believe Wowio is also hoping they will be able to open up more opportunities for users to monetize on their comics themselves- a better-integrated DD Store, publishing at Wowio, etc. A good place to start looking might be WeVolt, their other comic hosting site. Those pages provide a lot of functionality layout wise as well as ways for readers to ‘subscribe’ to comics with small levels of donations, etc.
As ozoneocean said, he is pushing to get Project Wonderful back on because it provides networking benefits beyond just making people a bit of scratch. Wowio is not able to budge with the main ads though. Part of the reason we got such awful ads before was because with the non-exclusive adpsace and the poor website name, they were stuck using questionable ad services and a bunch of ads that other sites were rejecting.
I have one foot out the door (like almost everyone else in the top 100)
Please don't throw in statements like this about other people that you can't possibly speak for, it reduces the strength of your argument. Stick to your own experience and don't try to enlarge your point by saying things you can't back up.