It's an exciting time to be part of Steel City Underground. As the Pittsburgh Steelers hold the top seed in the AFC, we too are on top of our game.
I'd like to personally announce some of the ongoing changes here on our website and various platforms moving forward, beginning with a revamp of our commenting system.
Previously, all of our site's comments were housed by Disqus, a service which helps moderate discussion and funnels website activity through their platform. While there was technically nothing wrong with Disqus, we felt it was time to move on to a more "community" style approach with our website.
Having started development a long time ago, we put the wheels in motion last week on our new vision which puts fans in direct contact with our writers as well as one another. You'll notice we now require our visitors to register on our site in order to leave comments. That can be done one of two ways with our new, free SCU Black and paid SCU Gold memberships.
While a work in progress, you can begin to see the changes today.
Why did we opt to make those changes?
As more and more sites enter the news and editorial space to cover the Steelers, we realized we needed to separate ourselves from others out there. When we developed our current tagline of the "Black and Gold Standard for Pittsburgh Steelers Coverage" it wasn't a catchphrase so much as a mission statement. Our team works hard, often tirelessly and with little compensation, to provide what we feel is some of the best Steelers-related content on the web. We pride ourselves on acting as professionals and not falling into the trap of "clickbait" articles (using that term lightly) designed to drive traffic to a website. More traffic means more clicks and more clicks means more ad revenue.
While generating sizable revenue from ads would be a dream, without a corporate parent, it's not a "be all, end all" situation. Many sites within our space are owned by larger entities such as CBS Sports, USA Today and Vox Media to name a few. Those sites often resort to different tactics in order to meet the demands of their corporate overlords. Rather than sacrifice our integrity by creating multiple page articles (click here for page six) or sensational headlines (You won't believe what this Steeler was fined for) we believe in staying true to our audience by remaining professional and not bowing to pressure for the sake of competing with those larger sites.
At the same time, we have seen subscription pay service sites sprout up overnight. As fans, we understand there's an infinite amount of information, much of which is rehashed around the web, for Steelers fans to digest. We recognize you may visit websites other than SCU, and that's okay. What we didn't want to do is mimic the strong-arm tactics of gathering clicks or force users to pay to view our content.
We already have to fight the image of not being one of the "big boys" or just another "blog". We also fend off copycats and plagiarists in this digital era while giving every effort to credit those who deserve it. Besides, why would we charge for something readily available elsewhere for free? And what of password sharing or piracy? Those sites who fight these battles fail to understand their audience, and to be completely honest, I loathe the necessary evil of having to force what ads we do have in front of our visitors.
Hence our decision to move to our new Black and Gold memberships, which were created with the premise of the fan in mind while giving those who feel compelled to, an opportunity to support and help us grow.
SCU Black accounts are free to sign up for, while SCU Gold accounts require a small monthly charge. Currently, Gold members can browse our website ad-free, further doubling down on our belief of making a better user experience. Gold memberships act as a patron-style subscription: if you feel we're worth it, all we ask is for a few dollars each month to help offset revenue generated by ads and our own operational costs. It's a win/win for all involved, as our hard-working staff earns a pittance for their effort while users no longer have to hassle with advertisements.
With the new membership tiers, we hope to build a community like no other, while also generating resources to help us continue to grow. With no large corporate backers and no big-name corporate sponsors, SCU is a labor of love propped up by passionate individuals.
We hope you enjoy and continue to support our work now and in the near future.
Steel City Underground
Note: you may register for a new SCU account by clicking here.