What Is The Project?
A little over 6 and a half years ago, I registered the web site ForgottenWeapons.com and created my first online repository of firearms information. It was a pretty small site at that time, with mostly archival photos from the Aberdeen Proving Grounds.
About 5 years ago, I took the next step and relaunched the site as a regularly-updated blog. This then became a more significant endeavor, posting new content 6 days/week. From the beginning, the focus has been on rare and unusual firearms, the more mechanically diverse the better. I have touched on common guns as well intermittently, as it is essential to have an understanding of the common guns in order to understand the development that went into them and their offshoots.
The content I maintain includes a wide spectrum of media:
- Written articles
- Detailed photographs
- Original manuals
- Trials reports and other primary-source documents
- Video showing disassembly and function
- Video showing practical competition use
My private goal from the very beginning of this project has been to create a comprehensive encyclopedia of firearms development. That is such a Quixotic goal that I don't generally mention it, but the project has grown so far beyond any of my expectations in the past years that my impossible goal looks a bit less impossible these days. It is still a lifetime's work at least, but I can't imagine anything I would rather be doing.
Dollars, Clams, Onions, Bucks, Dubloons, and Greenbacks
Of course, it takes money to do. From basic things like paying for food and rent and insurance to supplying obscure ammunition for shooting to the much more significant costs of traveling to the museums and private collections where the rare and unique guns are housed. Thus far, I have funded my work with video advertisements on YouTube and Full30, and with the help of a couple sponsoring companies. However, my work is distinct from the vast majority of firearms media in that I rarely look at guns which are actually in production - and that really limits the possibility of finding corporate sponsors.
On the other hand, that limitation is also a blessing in disguise as it prevents me from coming under the editorial control of any corporate overlord. On those occasions when I do discuss modern guns, I can say the truth as I see it without looking over my shoulder and worrying about the consequences of not properly buttering up any company. I cherish that independence, and I will not give it up.
So what is the best way to fund an endeavor like Forgotten Weapons in today's world? Advertising has been the standard answer for a long time, largely because of simple carryover from places like television and print media. The Internet changes things, however. The Internet allows us to find any information we like without the overhead of printing presses or a finite number of cable channels. The potential audience for any information is unlimited, and that offers the prospect of sustainable micropayments. Having our daily lives flooded with advertisements is not a good thing, it's just the system we are most acclimated to. I think that a tiny amount of support from a huge number of people is a far better system, and Patreon looks like a way to achieve that model.
From the very first HTML web site, I have had a policy that there will never be a paywall in front of Forgotten Weapons. First and foremost, my goal is to create a public archive of this information, and a paywall is anathema to that.
If you enjoy what I am creating and curating at Forgotten Weapons, this is a way you can contribute a buck a month to ensure that it keeps happening. If you want to contribute more that's wonderful - but a buck a month is all I am asking for. If there are enough people who find value in the work, that will be plenty sufficient to keep it alive and vibrant.
Most Patreon creators offer a handful of different perks to entice people to donate more, and these usually entail special and exclusive content. I am not doing that, for two main reasons. First, I don't want to make special content accessible only to people who have paid - that goes against the "free and public" foundation of the endeavor. Second, I want to focus my time on the guns and history which are the whole point of Forgotten Weapons, rather than devote time to what are basically marketing gimmicks. You came here (presumably) because you like what I am doing already, so more (and better!) of that is what I am offering you. The perks that I have are about access to my time directly, while the entirety of the content I produce will remain freely and fully accessible to everyone.