From listening to the SO podcasts, I personally get somewhat of a feeling that there is a bit of a conflict between Joel and Jeff in terms of the revenue model for SO. Joel seems much more willing and concerned (relatively) about the revenue end of things, whereas Jeff seems to very much have the spirit of free and open source. For example, Jeff had initially been in favor of open sourcing SO, but Joel argued it would drive the price of hosting some flavor of a SO site down to essentially the cost (which I think is true).
The benefit of this of course is that you now can have the stackexchange business model retain some pricing power, which is good, and more power to you. However, imho, the price is a bit steep for someone that wants to run a site moreso as a hobby than as a business.
So here's where my idea comes in. I think there should be a paypal (or whatever is appropriate) link where SO users can donate to Joel and Jeff. So obviously this seems like a political hot potato, and I'm quite sure Jeff will be scared to touch the idea. But as far as I'm concerned, I would personally be more than happy to send $20 towards you guys, entirely as a gesture of thanks for the great resource you have built. I've gotten at least several hunderds of dollars of value out of it, likely well over a thousand. So in my opinion, Joel, and especially Jeff, should have some more $ in their pocket.
Or, look at it another way. There are some other feature requests here on meta that seem perfectly reasonable and logical, but have been seemingly declined. For example, inter-user communications. Now, several good arguments can be made for legitimately not wanting these features....but also, I can also see a motivation for not doing them as it could harm a revenue stream, such as the job board. It is my belief that there are more than enough people that would willingly send you money, in exchange for nothing more than they are getting now, that it would totally obliterate any worries you have about harming revenue streams.
What does everyone think of this??
Many are posting that SO doesn't need the money, and no, they probably don't. Some have said they must be doing ok, they've hired more developers, and others have pointed out that they are making more than enough on job postings. And this may be true...but think about it, say they're looking at $40k plus/month in job postings...thats a LOT of money. But then think, if they have 4 developers....a moderately good developer makes $10k per month, so that pretty much takes care of the jobs board revenue.
After years and years of seeing people making frickin millions building crap or useless websites, it would make me feel good, like maybe there actually is some justice in the world, if I could hear on the SO podcast that they got a million bucks in donations.
And if Jeff feels bad about this idea (which I'm sure he will), make the donations fully public....so if some people would donate money, but only until J and J have, say, made a million off of SO, then donations will slow at that point, consistent with the values of the users. Personally, I'd send $20 a year in just cuz I love the site.
Even better justification
Use the $ to hire more programmers and implement some of the things that have been approved and made it onto the todo list. Maybe some things that were turned down because they were too intensive....one thing I know Jeff would love to spend some money on some day is a monster server so he wouldn't feel so jealous of plentyoffish!