Q: What is ‘The 300′ all about?
A: That’s a long answer, but in a nutshell, ‘The 300′ represents my core fanbase who have been following what I do these last few years. While the majority are financial supporters who help keep me solvent, many volunteer their time to help make my ambitious projects a reality. This includes editors, writers, artists, web developers, and organizers.
Think of ‘The 300’ as a modern equivalent of patronage during the historical period known as ‘The Renaissance’. When the middle class started emerging in Florence, Italy in the 15th century, these wealthy patrons would pay artists full time for unique works of art. It’s the same basic idea, except I ask for a lot less from a much larger pool of people, thanks largely to the Internet.
Q: How much does it cost?
A: Anything you want, so long as it’s either a monthly plan or a yearly one. That way, I know that members are still active (hey, this will fill up pretty quickly, so I do want to make space available if there’s enough demand).
Q: Why limit the number to 300?
A: There are many reasons, the most important being that groups which get too large have a tendency to get out of control. I would rather a small and dedicated group than a large, ambivalent one. It avoids stagnation: because we encourage members to leave if they no longer feel excited about membership, the group remains filled with enthusiastic members.
Q: What are some of the benefits?
A: Usually that question is a sign that you might not understand the concept, but there are actual benefits to membership. The most obvious is that patrons get to chat in the forums, and the entire website is generally geared towards their enjoyment. They also get a private messaging system, and only they can earn “achievement” points and declare themselves true fans.
Q: Why are members encouraged to pick a number?
A: I always felt numbers were fairly arbitrary, and they might even become a bit of a problem in creating a false hierarchy based on a person’s number. So I decided instead to overcome this problem by allowing people the opportunity to pick numbers which would mean something to them. While it’s true it’s being limited to numbers between 1 and 300, I never said they had to be whole numbers or even rational numbers, so there’s luckily an infinite amount of choice.
Q: This sounds a bit like a cult to me
A: That’s not a question, but you’re right, it could be viewed that way. Honestly, I don’t fear the label because I think we define the term too narrowly. ‘Cults’ are nothing more than gatherings of like-minded people. Sometimes they converge around something innocent, like science fiction fantasy. Sometimes it’s harmful and destructive. It depends more on the purpose of your group. From the get-go, the whole purpose of this exercise is to form the least harmful cult in the world, a sort of in-joke for what is essentially a pretty simple economic model (tithing works great with churches, but I don’t think they do anything of value).
Q: How do I join up?
A: Assuming there’s enough room, it’s as simple as emailing me and setting up your personal subscription so you can decide how much it costs for you to be a monthly member.
Q: I’m already a hard-core member of The Good Atheist. Does that mean I’m in the 300?
A: Not necessarily. Some hard-core memberships have expired, and only people on the monthly (or yearly) payment plan are eligible. If you are already a hard-core and want your member number, email me and I will set your account up right away on the member-only site. You’ll be able to leave comments in forums (more to come later) and we invite all members to introduce themselves.