This is a second post focusing on the commercial aspect of wikileaks-forum.com. The first you can find here: http://wp.me/p2MRYW-j4
Searching in the website https://forums-digitalpoint.com for more clues as to the commercial objectives of the owner of the wikileaks-forum.com I have stumbled onto a total of three advertisements for the Sale of the forum, References 1-3 below. The table I made based on the information on the adverts clearly indicates that Mark kept putting the forum up for sale since September 2011, testing the water for responses and offers, probably exploring to monetize its value. That is to say he was dipping his toe in the market to see what the market wants and how much it was prepared to pay. As time went by, his offer was enhanced through higher number of posts, a blog, Facebook, Twitter supporter pages/accounts and VPN hosting to obtain,it seems, a better monetary value.
Summary of the three advertisements
|7th September 2011||14th November 2011||26th August 2012|
|No of Posts||17,500||21,000||34,000|
|Daily new members||60-70||50-60|
|No of moderators||30||20|
|New Daily posts||100-150|
|Hosting Costs||Owner||Owner||Paid through Community|
At the same time as these adverts were going up on the web, he was considering other offers of Finance including WikiLeaks financing the site , or raising money to cover the high VPN charges (estimate $129/month) through direct donations from membership .
Selling Advertising space at the forum through Footer links
But these were not the only options for consideration open to Mark. On the same day as he asks assistance in determining why wikileaks-forum.com with established PR6, shows no Google ranking at all in SSL, he advertises Selling 2-3 Advertising Footer Links to finance the site .
This is an example of a Footer Advertising link at the Forum back in May 2013 :
if you pressed on the link ‘Techical Advisor’ it would take you to http://www.sawz.com/ a link submission website. Sawz was the name of a Forum Admin throughout the time that I was a moderator (31st Oct 2011 – 22nd Aug 2012). Mark had explained that since he was helpful to him he put his link there. He said he was not earning anything from that Footer Link. I also recall a second Footer link there at the time when I was a mod linked to ‘a throat, ear and nose specialist Consultant’, again Mark had plausibly explained that his presence there was due to the fact that he had built this doctor’s website, so this doctor was helping him cover some of the hosting costs.
At the time of writing, no footer advertising links appear at the Index page of the wikileaks-forum.com.
The Many Questions that must be asked
So the questions we have to ask are: why was Mark running the forum if he no longer had the time to do so as mentioned in the advertisements? Why did he advertise as early as September 2011 to sell it? Why he never told any of the mods/admins at the time of his attempts to sell but he was keeping it a secret? Why was it so important for a political discussion forum to have a PR6 Google ranking, why was finance an issue when there were early offers from WikiLeaks to cover the costs as long as the forum was hosted with a safe hoster away from the US?
What is the value of a WikiLeaks Forum (endorsed or not)
But would Mark make a fortune commercially by selling the forum? I am not acquainted with the commercial value of a forum. Some advertising revenue could be made in general by forums/blogs that openly solicit advertising. But, I would say that as a commercial venture I can’t see it turning someone a millionaire overnight. Still, the advertisements are clear proof he was looking for money in the open market as if it was a commercial venture. If someone can provide some insight, it would be very much welcome.
Also, the ‘For sale’ advertisements could act as a negotiating tactic with whoever he was talking to, in relation to the future of the forum. He could just want to recover what he spent. It could also be an exit strategy for Mark. He may no longer wished to have, openly, the responsibility for the role that the forum would play as the anti-WikiLeaks, anti-Julian Assange ‘Supporters’ Forum. A team of disaffected ‘Insiders’.
In fact, I would say that the real value of a WikiLeaks related forum would not be monetary. Whether endorsed or not it could only be of real value either to members of the WikiLeaks Supporters Community (as a supportive site) or to those who wish to undermine it by using it as a tool to misdirect, spread misinformation, create uncertainty and doubt, do harm to the cause.
What do the Sale Advertisements tell us
One thing is for sure. The three Advertisements offering the Forum for Sale are telling of Mark’s perception of the website as something that has a monetary value for him, an asset to be owned, to be sold, to be milked using the WikiLeaks brand. As he used to say to me ‘Google likes “WikiLeaks”‘.
Such approach comes into direct conflict with the picture of the idealist WikiLeaks supporter, flying the banners high and rallying the troops for this worthy cause, that he trumpeted to the world for so long, as “the owner of the WikiLeaks-Forum.com, the owner of support-julian-assange.com”. This was the picture that he presented to the world, unchallenged, for the entire 18 months I was a forum member. He dropped the mask for me in August 2012 and I left. Since then he presents himself as the disaffected WikiLeaks supporter. With this new evidence we can learn that his intentions were not sincere already from September 2011.
Our learning continues…
 First Sales Advert posted 7th of September 2011 http://archive.is/OZrM9
 Second Sales Advert posted 14th Nov 2011 http://HpQ62
 Third Sales Advert posted 26th August 2012 http://archive.is/E155v
 Conversation with Mark 29th of December 2011 about Forum Hosting costs http://wp.me/p2MRYW-gv
 Conversation with Mark Fundraising for wikileaks-forum.com for VPN costs 20th September 2011 http://wp.me/p2MRYW-js
 Page Rank and SSL Enquiry posted 15th December 2011 http://archive.is/Q3Hq9
 Selling 2 to 3 Footer Links on well known PR6 Forum with 11,000indexed Pages http://archive.is/vFCn9
 Example of Footer Advertising Link at the WikiLeaks Discussion Forum May 2013 http://archive.is/bOyh3