I realized recently: I have a ton of Microbadges on Boardgamegeek.
The contest microbadges are from a time when contests were significantly less-common than they are today. And I've never won a single contest, there, either. Some day. If I'm very lucky.
Most of the rest of them, I've paid for by using 8 "GeekGold," which is a currency for the site. A few of them were purchased with Microbadge Coupons, which the site gives out on Christmas (or has for the last few years, at least).
But there are a couple of categories that don't fit into either group. "Award," which is given for contributions on the site; "Special," which are given for a variety of reasons, most of which are for the 'Geek's occasional charitable events; and, finally, "Support."
The "Award" category is one where I should be doing better. I'm only a Copper-level Session Reporter (where people write up game sessions), a Copper-level File Uploader (for people who upload helpful files), and a Copper-level Geeklister (for people who put together lists of games grouped around a theme). I'm a Silver-level Image Uploader (and this will be getting better soon). But these are all awards given for simply contributing to the site and making it a better place, because they all require that you not only contribute, but also that people give you "thumbs" for your contribution, meaning they think it's a good contribution.
The "Special" category is one where I never know when something will pop up. There are annual auctions for the Jack Vasel Memorial Fund, but I don't always participate. And I don't know if the latest ones have included a microbadge, either. So I'd do better, there, but I really can't.
The last category is the one I want to talk about today.
BoardGameGeek is an important community for me, these days. It's where I learn about upcoming games, and download FAQs and other useful files. It's where I interact with "my people" more than anywhere else - including Facebook and Google Plus.
But the site isn't free to run. They have to pay for their servers and a small staff. They run ads on the page, but that doesn't pay all of the bills, especially with the decreasing amount of money online ads are making.
Right now, every page on the site has a banner ad that leads to their Support Page. It's quick, it's painless, and it supports one of the best sites on the internet. It's even possible to set up a monthly donation via PayPal or your credit card (which is what I've done). If you donate $25 or more, you can even turn ads off.
I encourage you to support the site. I've been giving $10 per month since sometime in 2007, and I have more than received my money's worth in community, and that's even before I mention access to files and discussions with designers and publishers and the like. Yes, free users have that same community access. Yes, free users have file access. In fact, that's anotherof the really good things about the site: Unpaid members aren't treated as second-class just because they aren't paying for the service. They just see more ads.