OK, I helped develop and market a few sites in my time, and really put some thought into this.
We know that Steve must make money to make this his dream. He can't sit at home, take care of a future family, and run this site off of wishes. But, more and more ads are getting terrible. We already have a "main" page for this part of Govloop. I think one thing needs to be added on Govloop, especially as it grows, is landing page.
Here is a very basic description of what I have in mind.
Imagine this...the Govloop landing page (basically a “front door” to the home of all of GovLOOP). On the landing page all the sponsors can be listed, even a link to all the sponsors could be listed (maybe some conference specials for "special" members). You can have a paid member section and a link to the pay area. The paid area could have some top notch videos, interviews, and speakers. On the landing page, there could also be pay per fee services. For instance, you want to see, or do something special, you have to pay a small fee for it. You could also have links to free areas. The wikis could be placed in a different area, and a link straight from the landing page could lead new people to that information. There a number of things you can add to the landing page to the “front door” of Govloop.
Our area would remain free and we could still have our little world here. But, the great thing about it, we could join pay for fee services, and then talk about how great they were on the free site, and more and more free members would start paying for the services. Steve could even set up a super GOVLOOP membership, where a member could pay one flat rate per year and be able to do everything on the whole site. Also, the paid members could enter drawings from your sponsors; books on CD, t-shirts, cups, all fun stuff that is also cheap to ship.
I have lot’s of other ideas for the landing page, but the main idea of a landing page is you can change the front of your store as often as you want to. Run specials, announce all kinds of stuff…but the people in each area will not have their activity affected. If you can imagine a Mall, it follows the same concept. I come up to a mall, and the sign and specials may change everyday, but my favorite store remains the same (except for the items directed affecting that store).
Again, I have done this a time or two, and that is the way I would go.