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End of the Free Internet 581

Posted by michael
from the where-the-sidewalk-ends dept.
efedora writes: "The End of Free keeps a list of the various transitions to paid services from free net sites. The list is getting longer. When I think of an individual site that's really worthwhile I say to myself, "Sure, that site is worth $4.95 a month". The problem is there are going to be lots of sites at $$$ a month and it sure adds up." Of course even Slashdot is planning on rolling out subscriptions-for-no-banner-ads sometime soon, so I suppose we're not entirely immune to the subscription bug either.
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End of the Free Internet

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  • by JPawloski (546146) <jpawloski@gmail.com> on Friday February 22, 2002 @01:20AM (#3049756)
    this is the first i've heard of this and this is the dumbest thing Slashdot can do. No one will pay. I don't care about the banner ads at the top. I ignore them anyway. Have you done any market research to back this up? Is there an official announcement that I missed?

    Get in touch with reality. Jesus.
    • This was in a wired article (brief mention) or something like that from at least the end of last year. It's not new, but it's not exactly talked about a ton, either.
    • by NewtonsLaw (409638) on Friday February 22, 2002 @01:34AM (#3049841)
      What? Do slashdot users actually surf with their graphics turned on?

      I don't -- and, as a result, I haven't seen a banner in ages. All I get is the outline of the rectangle where the ad should appear.

      Believe me -- when you're still using a dial-up connection, turning off the graphics makes all the difference in the world as far as surfing speed goes.
      • by Chris Burke (6130) on Friday February 22, 2002 @01:40AM (#3049884) Homepage
        Dial... up? I think... I remember that. Something is coming back to me... Ahhhhgh!... Bad memories... surfacing... Ah! No! Download... so slow! It hurts, Mommy! It hurts! Make it faster! AAAAAAAGH!

        • by NewtonsLaw (409638) on Friday February 22, 2002 @01:58AM (#3049962)
          Dial... up? I think... I remember that. Something is coming back to me... Ahhhhgh!... Bad memories... surfacing... Ah!

          Hey, I'm not from the USA. Thanks to a very effective market-monopoly by our largest Telco who has exclusive rights to the copper, there are less than 25,000 DSL subscribers in the whole of New Zealand.

          And then, even if you are lucky enough to live in an area where DSL is available, you face the prospect of paying by the megabyte [telecom.co.nz] for data sent/received (including traffic generated by DOS attacks, spam etc).

          But wait -- it gets worse!

          This large telco also appears to have placed severe throttling on P2P traffic such that some people are reporting speeds as low as 1KB/S when using the cheapest DSL accounts.

          You guys in the USA should think yourselves lucky!

      • by Anonymous Coward
        I don't see ads or empty boxes, even though I surf with graphics on. And I hardly ever see pop-ups or pop-unders, I'm not tracked all over the place by doubleclick and friends, etc. IOW, I use a filtering proxy server [sourceforge.net] which strips all the useless crap out of the webpages I visit.

        Every now and then I use someone else's computer and I just can't believe how awful the web has gotten. How can anyone stand it?

        This website supposedly caters to geeks--that is, people who supposedly can control what comes in through their browsers.

        How is this supposed to make money again?
    • this is the first i've heard of this and this is the dumbest thing Slashdot can do. No one will pay. I don't care about the banner ads at the top. I ignore them anyway. Have you done any market research to back this up? Is there an official announcement that I missed?

      If you think nobody will pay, then why do you care? You can still browse Slashdot to your heart's content, with banner ads, just like now. If nobody pays, things continue as they are, and nobody loses by this additional feature being available to anyone who might want it.
      • well the problem might be that this is a gliding scale

        when /. started, it was unthinkable that there would ever be corporate involvement. i remember a lot of people complaining about slashdot being bought by andover (IIRC). i hear no-one about this anymore.

        next they start asking fees to watch /. without ads. okay, it's an option, but the ads shouldn't become an annoyance then. it's been 1 banner max since the first time a banner showed up at /., and i think that's a Good Thing. the way things are now, prolly no-one will pay 5 bucks just to see that one banner add disappear.

        let's hope it stays like this. a further step might be that some marketeer decides that the "paysite" is not bringing in enough money because the service hardly differs. in this (worst case) scenario, /. is going to provide extra services for the paying customers, and extra banner ads for the non-paying visitors.

        let's hope this never happens and that i'm just too paranoid. still, i think a site that often stands for freedom and openness, shouldn't discriminate users on financial criteria. but that's just IMHO
    • And if the ads -really- bother you, you can just right-click on them in mozilla and select "block ads from server". not to mention ad blockers, but I'm just saying that's the easiest way for a mozilla user to do it. :)

      Though maybe this will make /. start taking on more obnoxious/intrusive ads... Though again, with Mozilla's ability to prevent pop-ups, I can't see how that's possible without having 1024x768 banner ads.
    • It's been very evident over the past years just how mercenary the Internet has become. Many great services have been killed off because of lack of funds for bandwidth or server space, and existing sites remain because of the introduction of subscriptions for 'faster downloads' or 'no ads' - it's very sad. There's more ads than information, now. What I really can't stand though, is the popup shockwave ads that appear slap bang on the browser window you're reading, and you have to wait for the ad to finish before you can close it. I don't know if I'd pay for any sites - generally I just ignore the ads. But the queue times at fileplanet are really annoying. Still, there are the ftp servers, although finding files on them can be a bit of a task.
      • by Tackhead (54550) on Friday February 22, 2002 @10:57AM (#3051569)
        > There's more ads than information, now.

        No shit. For good laughs, cut-and-paste the text of a news article into a text editor, then save the HTML and compare the difference.

        I believe the current record for lowest S/N ratio (ignoring tomshardware.com's practice of putting one sentence per page ;-) for a mainstream news site is http://www.theglobeandmail.com [theglobeandmail.com].

        Ad-laden CNN serves 22,700 bytes of HTML for a 1400-byte story.

        The Globe and Mail delivers a staggering 90,587 bytes of HTML for a 3082-byte story.

        Those numbers are for surfers who surf with images off, by the way. The bloat is Javashit, banners, towers, stock quotes, polls, and navigation to every section of the newspaper. I don't even want to think about what it'd be like with graphics on.

        And these jerkwads wonder why their bandwidth bills are so high.

    • This will be interesting to see how it is taken. I mean, many of us don't care about the ads, but maybe some people do follow the links to get some money for /. However, don't you think that some people will pay either for no ads or just to support /.?

      Maybe that is something that /. can do once they do impliment the pay thing. They can run a poll for users who do subscribe, and ask them why they are paying - no ads or to support this site.

      RonB
      • by Anonymous Coward
        I'd like to see that poll

        Would you pay for /. -
        Yes, I am addicted
        Yes, I feel we should support the developers
        Yes, Get rid of the commercializism
        Maybe
        No, information should be free
        No, I don't pay for anything on the net
        No, I'm paranoid about giving my credit card to CowboyNeal
    • Uh, ok.

      Don't pay, and keep ignoring the banner ads

      Pay, and I don't have to ignore the banner ads.

      we are becoming immune to baner ads, therefore thsi business model will fail.
    • by detritus. (46421) on Friday February 22, 2002 @01:47AM (#3049926)
      The big question is, will all the non-paying users have to deal with more annoying and intrusive ads if they don't subscribe? I don't care about the ads at the top either, because for one simple reason: Slashdot (OSDN) has managed to keep their ads to the point, and for the most part, advertise legitimate companies that are directed towards geeks. (Rackspace, ThinkGeek, etc..). I'm not subjected to "pre-approved visas" and "punch the monkey" type bullshit ads. I also like ThinkGeek's new products that come through on the ads - it saves me time from browsing through their site to see if anything is new. Advertising can be a good thing if utilized appropriately. I have no doubt if there's any truth to this Slashdot subscription thing, that it will fail miserably.
      • That's the Salon model. Banner ads became pop-ups, interstitials, and pop-unders, and some content became subscriber-exclusive. I pay for Salon, because Salon has a large staff of very good writers who create original material, and some good investigative journalism. Slashdot has, um.
    • by AaronBaker2000 (480581) on Friday February 22, 2002 @01:48AM (#3049929) Homepage
      I'd pay in an instant. Any site I visit 4 times a day deserves my money.
    • by singularity (2031) <nowalmart@@@gmail...com> on Friday February 22, 2002 @01:49AM (#3049932) Homepage Journal
      Let me see something:

      Money Slashdot gets from readers under current system: $0
      Money Slashdot gets from readers under proposed system: $0 (if, according to you, not a single person pays)

      How is this a stupid idea?

      *It does not cost Slashdot anything, and might bring in money.*

      I would probably pay even though I currently block about 98% of the banners that Slashdot shows.

      Why?

      Because I get a lot out of Slashdot. I am willing to pay, or even donate, to a cause/service that is offered for free that I get something out of. I have disposable income, like most of Slashdot, and I am willing to give some of that up for things that I like (like Slashdot)

      I have contributed monetarily to FSF, EFF, and CPSR, as well as the Red Cross and the Salvation Army.

      I am not under the impression that I deserve everything for free, nor that these services can rely on others for support. I realize that Slashdot does have income from advertisements now, but I am willing to give up a few dollars to make sure that Slashdot continues even if this dries up (have you checked how much less people are paying for ads these days?)

      I bought a Slashdot T-shirt from CopyLeft pre-Slashdot buyout in part to support Slashdot.

      I think you are the one that needs to get in touch with reality.
      • ThinkGeek (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Decimal (154606) on Friday February 22, 2002 @08:16AM (#3050720) Homepage Journal
        You know, I actually kind of like those ThinkGeek ads common at the top of Slashdot. Sometimes I even click on them to learn more about the product. ThinkGeek has some really innovative ads.

        ([x] feet up, in freezing temperatures with wind... and rain. Hey, can I get a light? Sure can. ThinkGeek Delta Shockproof lighters!)
    • OBJECTION! Keenspot has this for it's own comics plus it's KeenSpace service, PLUS WarpKeen (fast viewing of comics all on a few pages, w/no ads). It also has auctions and a store.

      Slashdot offering no-banner-ad subscriptions? I'd say try it -- but for all of OSDN.
    • by cperciva (102828) on Friday February 22, 2002 @03:14AM (#3050104) Homepage
      Have you done any market research to back this up?

      Well, you'd be insane to use this for anything important... but yes, they have [slashdot.org].
    • by CrazyDuke (529195) on Friday February 22, 2002 @04:03AM (#3050180)
      For the record, I do pay attention to slashdot banner ads and have clicked on them before when I was interested in what was advertised. This is one of the few sites where I actually do click on ads because they don't go out of their way to annoy the fuck out of me by trying to:

      1. Popup
      2. Popunder
      3. Resize to full screen and hide all buttons
      4. Spawn even more ads
      5. Move around the screen so I can't click the close button
      6. Eat up 90% of my system resourses and often crashing windows by using some shitty flash/java advertisement
      7. Attempt to autoinstall spyware repeatedly
      8. Play sound at the loudest posible volume and keep the distortion just low enough to where you can understand what is being said.
      9. Follow my mouse around
      10. Reset my homepage/searchpage
      11. Flash bright, highcontrast colors and jitters.

      Am I forgetting anything? ;P

  • by SamBeckett (96685) on Friday February 22, 2002 @01:21AM (#3049766)
    I supposed I would expect..

    (A) Quality Journalism. Not Katz. Not Taco spelling things wrong or Hemos missing commas.

    (B) Moderation issues fixed. See "The Post."

    That is all.
    • That is all?

      Why do all the slashdot heads use these lame end lines? End Communication? That is all?

      I want a filter if I'm going to pay for /. And pie, yeah pie.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 22, 2002 @02:33AM (#3050029)
      Actually, here are some things Slashdot could offer as real incentive to subscribers:

      * The ability to vote on articles in the queue, a la Kuro5hin, instead of being at the mercy of the editor's whims as the non-subscribers are.

      * Extra moderation points

      * The ability to turn off ads (as is already planned), and maybe be optional for a discount on having one's own ad displayed on Slashdot

      * Priority for articles that are submitted. That is, news items submitted by subscribers will be considered first.

      * Some damn spell-checking on things that _are_ posted. :P

      Just my 2 cents
  • by thelenm (213782) <[mthelen] [at] [gmail.com]> on Friday February 22, 2002 @01:25AM (#3049790) Homepage Journal
    Dang, I never noticed. I guess I can keep my money then :-)
  • by grinwell (138078) on Friday February 22, 2002 @01:28AM (#3049802)
    There are a lot of sites you would pay $4.95/month for???

    The problem with that kind of model is a lot like the problem with Slashdot moderator points--you only have so many go around. If you spent $5/month on slashdot, would you have the inclination to spend another $5 for cnn.com or another $5 for espn.com?

  • by bartok (111886)
    Well I sure hope that for whatever fee you guys are gonna charge, you're gonna provide spell-checked and fact-checked submissions. Otherwise, I doubt a lot of people will pay to be anoyed. Banner-ads are far from the top of anyone's list of "thing that anoy you about Slashdot".
    • And yet you're still here... Reading, posting and Karma-whoring in the worst way. Go figure!
    • Well I sure hope that for whatever fee you guys are gonna charge, you're gonna provide spell-checked and fact-checked submissions. Otherwise, I doubt a lot of people will pay to be anoyed. Banner-ads are far from the top of anyone's list of "thing that anoy you about Slashdot".

      People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones -- bad spelling in comments is something that annoys me. :)

      Fact checking? Slashdot? I think you've taken a wrong turn somewhere, this is just a linkfest gone wrong...
    • And only charge for user ID's greater than #3088, and have incremental weights based on this number for payments, so those of us with lower numbers get paid to surf slashdot.

      A happy troll is a paying troll. Or is that a toll?
  • Eventual (Score:5, Insightful)

    by interstellar_donkey (200782) <(pathighgate) (at) (hotmail.com)> on Friday February 22, 2002 @01:31AM (#3049819) Homepage Journal
    I suspect we'll eventually see editorial services that combine a large group of websites under one payment plan. For example, slashdot would have a hard time going pay, but, say if all andover's websites went to a subscrption, costing $2/month for unlimited access for everhting, they would probably fill a few pockets.

    Also, I'll bet money that after people begin feeling comfortable with paying for content, the ads will come back. It's just the nature of the beast.
    • Re:Eventual (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gad_zuki! (70830)
      Just like cable television, though its a payment plan I hate. I get 70+ channels with AT&T and only really watch eight or nine cable channels at most, not including local channels. So right now my money goes towards networks that I consider crap and worse pays networks that engage in hate speech like some right-wing political shows or some religious programming.

      I would much rather see an affiliate program that lets me pick 4 or 5 websites on my own for the $5 a month and dynamincally change them as my tastes change. Lets say I get sick of slashdot in the middle of the month, then they get a prorated check and I can subscribe to something else.
      • Re:Eventual (Score:3, Interesting)

        A simple business model for this:

        Or, why this doesn't have to be like cable.

        It would really be an inexpensive business to get into, and would only require a great deal of time and editorial restraint.

        Here is an example.

        You find 100 websites, each with high quality content that would be of interest to the group of people you're targeting.

        You build a subscription base. Look for a target audience that would really be interested in the sites you're contracted with.

        You charge $3.50 a month (something that's not too unreasonable). You take $.50 a month from that for your self. Your subscription base is 10,000 people, giving you $5,000 monthly operating revenue. Allot yourself $2,000 for bandwidth/financial services, and you have a nice bit of income.

        You employ some sort of counter system on each of your member sites that reports in real time to your server. The remaining $30,000 in fees are divided on a percentage bases among those websites. Granted, the smaller (less visited sites) would receive a small revenue, it's still more then they likely get now.

        There are a few issues with this that would have to be worked out, including marketing, preventing cheating with member sites.. but it's something that could work (and be profitable) even on a small scale.

        The advantage of this model is that it allows smaller websites to make a profit, it encourages and keeps alive independent content of value, it helps filter out a lot of the noise (and there is a lot of it on the Internet), and most importantly allows editorial decisions to be made with an emphasis on pleasing the end user, instead of advertisers.

        If there is anyone out there with a bit of startup capital that would actually be interested in hearing the details, I wouldn't mind chatting via e-mail. pathighgate@hotmail.com
    • Isn't this what has already happened in the pr0n industry with the so-called adult verification systems? I wonder how successful they've been at it and who gets a piece of the action, so to speak...

      -- Shamus

      Bleah!
    • Re:Eventual (Score:4, Interesting)

      by squaretorus (459130) on Friday February 22, 2002 @02:59AM (#3050073) Homepage Journal
      I think this is correct. Just like buying Cable or Sattelite TV you sign up for a 'package' of content.

      The other end of the spectrum are the new sites launching with a pay element from day one. These are of high value to the user, offering information on stock prices, access to a valuable network, or some other information. They will often replace a telephone or paper based service that was charged at a premium previously.

      The pay does model work, even paying thousands a year, if the content is of genuine value to the consumer and hasn't been freely available in the past.

      Paying to remove banner ads is simply not going to make anyone money - why? - I can better spend the money upgrading to DSL or buying coffee. I don't get anything new.

      Paying to 'support' a site could work. But only if a large enough minority actually put in some money. For something like a cancer patient support site this will work, for /. it won't as we all assume the guys running it are well off already. No one will get rich through a voluntary support system.

      And as another poster points out - Google style ads are the way to go. When I read a mac story on /. show me mac ads, when I'm reading a book review link to the book on Amazon and get the (I think) 15% commission. There are genuine revenues to be earned out of these things - WITHOUT plastering the screen with monkeys to slap.
    • yep + unasked advice (Score:3, Interesting)

      by poemofatic (322501)


      One key is to charge people as indirectly as possible. Some other ideas:

      pay for more bandwidth

      micro ads (mentioned below)

      personalization: xxx@slashdot.org email, rdf headlines sent to your pda.

      pay for more functionality: message your friends. A more customizable moderation system: ignore the mods of your foes/ ignore "offtopic" mods, etc.

      subtract free functionality but only for the hardcore users. I.e. best set up is if the average user didn't notice a big difference (no huge page filling iframes). Say the typical user could only post 15 comments a month. Then you'd have to pay {small amount} for unlimited postings. Note that by logging in as AC this still lets the po' folk post, but it's targetted at the hard core guys who are more likely to pay.

      How these changes are done is often as important as what the changes are:

      I think this would be a good "Ask Slashdot" topic. Seriously. Why not lay out the finances, what's needed and how soon, and then let's bandy about some ways to make a subscription site like this work. Why do it behind closed doors? You might find some pretty clever ideas from the user base. Aslo, I for one, would have great respect for any company that honestly dealt with its users and included them in the decision making process. Or at least made some gestures in this direction. It would bring you so much goodwill. And we know you gotta pay the bills (little taquitos might loom on horizon. Somebody has to feed Katz.). But instead of making us feel like we are being led by the nose to a more and more annoying site until we pay (i.e. the Salon approach) -- be upfront about what's needed and we'll help you make slashdot work.

    • Pay for Advertising (Score:3, Interesting)

      by _Sprocket_ (42527)


      Also, I'll bet money that after people begin feeling comfortable with paying for content, the ads will come back. It's just the nature of the beast.


      Indeed. It already happens in other environments.


      My wife occasionally manages to drag me out to a movie (or I go otherwise willingly on the rare occasion when there's one that seems worth going to). I tend to have her pay for the tickets to avoid the sinking feeling as the majority of a $20 bill disappears in to the vortex that is the box office (and we haven't even come near to the snack bar yet).


      But what the heck. I eventually get a comfortable stadium-style seat in a nice theatre with a good screen and decent sound. I'm all set to watch the movie. And, of course, I might get a chance to see the trialer of another movie I'm looking forward to. Or I might have to suffer a string of Hollywood drivel and note what I may (or most likely) not rent if I'm really hard pressed for a movie at home. But what do I get?


      20 minutes of commercials. Not movie trailers. Commercials. For soda. Cars. Washing detergent. You'd almost think I'm home watching television. Except I paid a premium price for the privilege.

  • by EricKrout.com (559698) on Friday February 22, 2002 @01:33AM (#3049831) Homepage
    I've said before that I wouldn't mind paying for a Slashdot subscription, but I have a few reasonable (in my opinion) requests that would probably have to be fulfilled if I were to pay around $60 a year (assuming ~ $5.00 for monthly access):

    - You can keep Katz. I don't hate the guy as much as most people around here. He's not a moron, and he writes interesting articles. BUT, please ask Robert Cringely to write an article or two every month. I'm not sure if this would violate his contract with PBS, but he would be a nice addition to the Slashdot staff (perhaps he could even write an open-source/free software slanted column in addition to his PBS gig).

    - No banner ads for subscribers, of course.

    - Some "free" item every six or twelve months, perhaps. I'm talking small here, like a travel coffee mug of a relatively aesthetically-pleasing t-shirt with a slash and a dot on it.

    - Ability for more customization than non-paying users. I'm thinking of some nifty themes, perhaps (everyone loves the apple./..org gfx, let's get some more good looking stuff). Also, subscribers should be able to moderate more often. I probably earn at least five karma points a day on my two accounts but haven't been able to moderate for MONTHS.

    - Perhaps a general forum with a few different categories where subscribers can post questions, etc. I'm imagining an "Off-Topic" room, a "General hardware" room, and a "Software" room right now. Of course, this would all be OSS/FS-related chit chat for the most part (except for silly OT posts).

    Eric Krout
  • Some day... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Utopia (149375) on Friday February 22, 2002 @01:34AM (#3049842)
    Soon End of Free [theendoffree.com] will start charging users to see the list of free net sites transitioning to paid services.
  • Ads are everywhere. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by rcdncn (302245)
    /. is one of the few sites I use regularly whose ad server is not redirected in my host file. I see them, and occasionally click on them in order to support financially (and indirectly - none of my money involved). I'd rather let some company's marketing budget support these sites than out of my own pocket.

    My 0.02$ anyways.
  • by RzUpAnmsCwrds (262647) on Friday February 22, 2002 @01:37AM (#3049864)
    It seems like the latest trend in 'net advertising is larger, flashier banner ads. When are the advertisers going to get the idea that THIS DOES NOT WORK! Pop-Ups, Pop-Unders, "Intersicials" (between page ads), Ads that make noise, Ads that flash and blink. It's all just detracting from the real message of th ad. Look at Google. Reports say that they may be profitable, and most of their revenue comes from... guess what... ads! But when do you see an ad on Google? No pop-ups, no banners, just "Sponsored Links". Non-intrusive and relevent to your search. Bigger banners don't get more clickthroughs. Learning what the user wants and targeting banners to them does (Yes, there are privacy concerns - but you don't have to track users to find out what they may be interested in.). The solution is to cut costs and make banners less annoying - and more informative. Instead of poorly done marketing, how about a simple link. Imagine this at the top of Slashdot: "P4 2.2, 1024mb DDR, 120gb HDD, 17" TFT, DVD-RW, Radeon 8500 - $1600 from X Computers". This is targeted. Most people wouldn't understand what this says - but I bet that 95% of the /. crowd would. Advertising is about getting the message accross to the righ people and giving people what they want. A P4 2.2 with a TFT and DVD-RW for $1600? Who wouldn't click? It's a good offer that makes you want to learn more. It's advertising that works.
    • Contrary to your belief that net is composed of well educated people who see pressure and are not subdued by it, you are wrong. Advertisements DO work, like spam, capturing small population slice.

      This is unfortunate, and i think most major providers must attempt to block such nonsense.
      I do not mind unobtrusive ads, like on google, that actually flow along with your query, and sometimes help find extra information!

      I think barrier will be broken once ads will offer something to user in exchange for paying attention to it. Have you seen shoot, zap smash the monkey ads?(duh!) Well that ad provides entertainment for web user that surfs very rigid content.

      Ad that offers something to the user, may catch attention of one , pass the threshold of filtering and annoyance ad dismissal, may bring magnitude large set of audience than otherwise large square pop up ads about sun and oracle bits they are willing to sell for a small fortune.

      Ad must say, here is something free, that you might need, in return of taking it(enteratinment, info), learn about our product and maybe have a deal.

      As for websites turning to subscription models, they have clearly have not grasped what the net, is. Perhaps they will capture some people who transalete from newspaper world into webworld, but those are not the futre of the net.
      New media distribution models will be coming to lower the cost of distribution, such as multicast(I assume with IPv6, cuz one for IPv4 is dead). Once that is everywhere, one may be able to cast from garage to everyone in the world, and take exactly 1 times bandwiths, as unicasting to a buddy. Leveraging smart ways of technology is what internet is all about. Its about being able to take new stuff, maybe make your own and do one man show that will make drone megacorporations silly.

      If you do that though, you might fall under many laws promoted by corporations into power, that attempt to raise barrier to market entry trying to cut out joes with super cool ideas that can embarrass their multimillion IT departments, with flick of a finger, few key strokes and some ingenuity.

      Fuck isn't it whats all america was all about, not a pathetic piece of (s.h*i-t), manned by mighty dollar and interest for profit. Not even a human being! But I digress.
  • Banner Ads War (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    The problem real comes down to popular sites having to cover their bandwidth costs. Unfortunatly with the drop in impression / click thru pay offs even this is hard to do without adding 5 ads to every page. Sites try subscription based deals and some people do go for that but it usually cripples their user base.

    The fact is this: You have content I like, GREAT! You want to charge, I'll just go to another site that offers the same thing you do for free.

    The internet is not designed to support subscription based sites really other than porn and a few other exceptions.

    Sux though that adcritic went belly up :(
  • by kryptik_79 (238375) on Friday February 22, 2002 @01:38AM (#3049874)
    Ok so banner advertising with the cpm / click through model is failing... so we need to find other sources of income so now we charge a fee to our user base for them to browse our wonderful site without the banners.

    Somewhere else in the office someone says... "Why is our banner model not working again? ... Oh right, no one sees them..."

    But really, that model stopped working a while ago so now most sites run "house" banners, advertising partner sites and various sections / products within their own sites. /. for instance has almost entirely OSDN banners. I would never pay to remove these, I like the OSDN sites and love the thinkgeek banners. So how exactly would this model bring people to subscribe?
  • $4.95 a month is probably a bit much. Compared to the cost of a magazine subscription, for example, it is very expensive.

    Monthly billing is probably unnecessary. Quarterly or annual billing would bypass the "minimum acceptable credit card charge" problem, and still provide a reasonable rate. I think $24/year might be ok.

    Somewhere, somebody has to pay the freight, and bandwidth *isn't free*. How come nobody complains that they can't have 10TB of free downloads a month? How come people don't say "nobody will pay for internet access?"

    Then there's the other inevitable costs of running a business, like taxes, equipment, etc., and suddenly there exists a need for revenue. That's just the way it is. As long as the price is reasonable, people will pay for a good product.
  • Talk about serendipity!

    I touched on the subject of paying for online content today in my Daily Aardvark [aardvark.co.nz] column when I suggested that ISPs might start collaborating with content providers to organize a micropayment facility.

    The comments from readers make interesting reading -- it looks as if there's still quite a bit of resistance to paying for online content.

    So long as there's someone offering equivalent content for free, those who want to charge will find it very hard going to squeeze people's wallets.

    • So long as there's someone offering equivalent content for free, those who want to charge will find it very hard going to squeeze people's wallets.

      As long as it's equivalent. The commercial content provider has an incentive to provide a better product, promote that product, etc., while the free content provider usually provides a better product "when they get around to it."

      Professionally-produced content is worth paying for, as long as the prices are reasonable, and it is a quality product.
  • by flogger (524072) <non@nonegiven> on Friday February 22, 2002 @01:41AM (#3049892) Journal
    This is crazy. I'd pay for sites with content that is important to me. (Can anyone say MorningStar [morningstar.com]?)If anyone wants to not see banner ads, there are solutions all over teh place. I'm sure that the /. crowd knows hundreds of different ways. Personally, I'd just set my firewall to keep out anything from "http://images.slashdot.org/banner/*" or "http://ads.*" or "*X10*".

    What I'm really saying is: Pay for content. Don't pay for ad removal.
  • Yes, there are lots of for-pay sites. Yes, they probably make up a larger proportion of the net. But, in absolute numbers, there are probably more free and interesting sites than ever before.

    Let sites like NYT or Disney charge; who cares--you don't have to go there.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 22, 2002 @01:43AM (#3049903)
    The good thing is that there will always be some free amateur sites worthy of attention.

    The bad thing is that bandwidth isn't free. When amateur sites are good, they get popular, and their bandwidth cost increases without bound.

    The solution. It'd be nice if the bandwidth costs were paid by users. We already pay money to our ISPs. In an ideal world this money should pay for the bandwidth costs of the http requests that we send *and* the contents that we receive in return. Fan sites would no longer fear the bandwidth costs of the slashdot effect. They would only have to worry about the server not crashing. And for that we have prayers.
  • by JWhiton (215050) on Friday February 22, 2002 @01:45AM (#3049912) Homepage
    I'm going to go out on a limb here and explain why I'd be willing to cough up some cash for a Slashdot subscription.

    My view is this: It's like subscribing to a magazine. Except the magazine is updated very frequently and covers a much broader spectrum of news than any print magazine.

    Yes, it's not perfect. Sometimes I don't agree with what editor X says, or what comment Y says, or what comment Y is moderated as, but it's the same as any other aspect of life: there are good and bad parts. It's an imperfect system, but I like it anyway.

    I like /. because it points me to a lot of interesting news stories, and because it also provides a lot of different opinions on said news stories. Stories that I would probably miss if I didn't read the site. Some people seem to come here expecting a grand bastion of journalism, but they're definitely looking in the wrong place.

    Since /. provides me with a magazine-like service, I'd be willing to pay a magazine-like subscription fee. Something like $10/month would be too much, but I would seriously consider something in the neighborhood of $20-$25 per year, which is what I am used to paying for magazines.

    Anyway, that's just my ignorant, pigheaded opinion. I do suppose it's a wee bit off-topic but I figure that a lot of posts on this thread will be talking about this very issue.
  • Network needed (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rabtech (223758) on Friday February 22, 2002 @01:45AM (#3049914) Homepage
    What is needed is a subscription network. As many will no doubt point out, paying $5/mo to a bunch of sites adds up.

    There needs to be a network. Users who want to subscribe to sites can go into the network and click a checkbox for all the sites they want, at a low price per site (more along the lines of $1/mo or something.) Then the total charge is added up and run through their CC once. This would help reduce credit card and processing charges for the individual sites; they'd just get a check every month from the network for all their subscribers.

  • by m_evanchik (398143) <michel_evanchikATevanchik DOT net> on Friday February 22, 2002 @01:47AM (#3049925) Homepage
    Going through The End of Free, I found one site, Netsurfer, that posted a pretty good explanation [netsurf.com] of why they were shifting to a subscription model.

    To recap my understanding of the issue, regular print periodicals are either completely paid for by users (mostly books, and your more distinquished journals), or by a combination of user fees and ad fees (most magazines and newspapers). A few periodicals get by purely on advertising (Village Voice, for instance)

    It should be noted that in the mixed fee case, advertising provides the vast majority of revenue. Subscription fees pretty much are just used as a signal to advertisers that people are actually reading, and therefore willing to pay for, a magazine.

    Since online pubs can completely verify readership, the signalling aspect of subscrber fees should have been rendered unnecessary. Also, since distribution of online content is cheaper than regular paper pubs by several orders of magnitude (though certainly not free, as was once touted), online pubs were thought to have an advantage over offline pubs in that regard.

    Somewhere along the line, this new paradigm has, at least temporarily collapsed. I suspect a lot of it has to do with poor understanding of market forces and implemantation rather than the ultimate unfeasability of ad-supported, free online content.
    • by gnovos (447128) <gnovos AT chipped DOT net> on Friday February 22, 2002 @02:13AM (#3050008) Homepage Journal
      Somewhere along the line, this new paradigm has, at least temporarily collapsed. I suspect a lot of it has to do with poor understanding of market forces and implemantation rather than the ultimate unfeasability of ad-supported, free online content.

      No, it has to do with clickthrough. A magazine ad gets paid for wether or not you look at the ad or just flip to the next page. Nearly 100% of web ads are based on people actually clicking on the ads. If the original ad monkies had had thier heads on straight, we would have kept the OLD system, and subsequently seen 90% of the ad-revenue models succeed and we'd still be living in paradise.
  • Something you're all forgetting: when you consider paying $4.95 to Slashdot, you're not just paying to get rid of the banner ads. You're also making a donation because you like the site and you want to support them.

    When I bought a Slackware Linux CD set and polo shirt, I wasn't paying $90 for the convenience of the extra discs (I'd already downloaded and burned install.iso) and a nice shirt to impress people at work (my boss loved it). I was making a donation to the guys who put together the distro I've been using since 1998, and that powers the web hosting company [slickhosting.com] my friend and I run. The Slackware team has managed to survive after being acquired and fired by WindRiver, and still produce one of the nicest, cleanest distributions out there - and it keeps getting better.

    Current uptime on my Slackware box at home:
    10:45pm up 110 days, 4:26, 2 users, load average: 0.00, 0.00, 0.00

    Free beer and free speech are NOT the same thing. Support free speech - pay for stuff that's cool, whether you're required to or not.
  • by mattkime (8466) on Friday February 22, 2002 @01:50AM (#3049937)
    I wouldn't pay $4.95/month to have ads removed from slashdot.

    ...but I would put a $5 bill down CowboyNeal's g-string in exchange for a lapdance.
  • It all adds up (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jcwren (166164) on Friday February 22, 2002 @01:52AM (#3049944) Homepage
    What these sites that want to charge for content fail to realize is that (as others have mentioned), it all adds up. I'm already appalled at my "communications bill" every month. $70 for DirectTV. $90 for telco/ADSL. $150 for two cellular phones. $99/yr for Tivo. Luckily, I don't have a pager, or that'd be another $7 a month.

    We're getting nickle and dimed to death on all the stuff, and after a while, people are going to stop being willing and/or able to pay. *I'm* not paying $4.95 a month. And in SlashDots case, unless the ads suddenly start taking the whole screen, I don't even notice them. Some sites are in my firewall database so I never see the content anyway.

    And incidently, how effective are these ads? It appears that ThinkGeek advertises a lot, but I never click through to them. I can probably count the number of ads I've clicked through on.

    Now, for one time fees, like Opera, it's worth paying the $$$ to get rid of the ads. THOSE types of ads use screen space you can't get rid of, since it's integrated into the browser. For SlashDot type ads, they scroll right off the screen.

    So does SD really think anyone will pay $4.95 for ad free, *other* than as a method to support the site (ie, they'd pay anyway, but this way they feel like they're getting something for their money?)

    And speaking of nickles and dimes, anyone check their phone bill recently? New charge: Infra Structure Upgrade for disasters. Greaaat. And I'm not even done grousing about paying for 911 service on a line that I never (in fact, can't) make a voice call from.

    --John (running out of nickles and dimes)
  • Is this a probe? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jmerelo (216716)
    Is somebody testing the audience to see how would we react to a change of policy from slashdot?
  • I would be willing to pay for /. as it is today, but inevitable charging money would drive a certain portion of the demographic away and then it's value as a level-playing field debate venue would be diminished.

    Of course, I come here because it is simply the best place to get well-informed views about geeky topics. The question is could it maintain its top-ranked position if it started charging?

    Depends on too many factors to be sure, but I'll say one thing, if /. can't secure funding and maintain its grassroots democratic feel in today's economy, then it makes a pretty compelling argument against capitalism and 'free market' theory for supplying people with what they want.
  • by PotatoHead (12771) <doug.opengeek@org> on Friday February 22, 2002 @02:00AM (#3049968) Homepage Journal
    Take a look over at arstechnica. They are trying some interesting things to keep the site free.

    Basically what they have done is package some of their content and index it in a way that is worth some money each year.

    The casual browser can still stop by and catch the news or discussion, but the interested user can subscribe and get nicely made PDF's of various articles and other things.

    So much of what ./ is happens to be discussion, but maybe there could be more... Anyway something to think about before just throwing up the ads while hoping readers can deal with them.

    I find it hard to believe that all the brains concentrated on this site a couple times a day that we cannot come up with something worth paying for.

    Whadda think?

    • I think that I would pay for something that would give me really good offline reading on a palm pilot or even *gulp* wap.

      I think they could also setup advanced search functionality through the messages. Whenever I need to make a strong architecture decision or have development questions, first newsgroups, second slashdot.

      Slashdot is not what makes slashdot neat, but it's the people that come here and add comment. If they closed users out, or made it dificult for the causual user to add content, their userbase will slowly die.. and migrate to someone elses basement slash site.. or who knows where.

  • by Seth Finkelstein (90154) on Friday February 22, 2002 @02:01AM (#3049971) Homepage Journal
    Hmm - if you asked me "What would I want from a Slashdot subscription?", no-banner-ads would be way down on my list. Let's think of some things the user population might really like (ranging from the realistic to the ridiculous ...)

    • Purchasable karma - for a small additional fee, of course ...
    • VIP chat with (insert your most-loved Slashdot editor here)
    • Voting-out of (insert your most-hated Slashdot editor here)
    • Priority consideration in the story-submission queue
    • Higher rankings in comment submission
    Suggest a few of your own! (I've kept my ideas non-obscene, since this is just meant in good fun).

    Sig: What Happened To The Censorware Project (censorware.org) [sethf.com]

  • I think the question that needs to be asked is what is the ultimate underlying reason websites are being forced to charge for their services?

    Advertising is what used to pay the ISP bill, but lately i've seen many virtual webhosts and colocation providers put limitations on traffic, and charge by the gigabyte when you go over. Are the ISPs getting charged more by their ISP's?

    Can anyone offer some insight on who's getting greedy here?
  • Be careful about charging for slashdot, becuase you'll be shooting yourslef in the foot. Even losing a few thousand readers means a few thousand less people to submit, which means less content, which makes even more people leave. It will spiral down faster than you can say "Slate".
  • by Faile (465836)
    Of course even Slashdot is planning on rolling out subscriptions-for-no-banner-ads sometime soon, so I suppose we're not entirely immune to the subscription bug either.

    That's not the same thing, you're still offering the people who doesnt want to pay to freely use your site;
    - people paying will a) feel good about themselves and b) help support slashdot
    - people not paying can still access everything but will have to live with the ads and (possibly) support slashdot that way

    It's a fair deal, someone's got to pay the bills.
  • not one page, never, nohow. If you want me to pay for your content, convince me that it's worth it, then send it to my by email, if I sign up that is.

    Otherwise, they can all go "invoice" themselves....
  • by Animats (122034) on Friday February 22, 2002 @02:36AM (#3050036) Homepage
    Using my free financial data extraction engine [downside.com], we get, for VA Software, that as of 2001-10-27, they had $51 million in cash left, and lost $55 million in the last quarter. So they have about 3 months of life left, and should have died around the end of January, 2002. Drastic downsizing is keeping the few remaining bits of the company alive.

    The way Downside [downside.com] views this data, it's not when the company dies, it's when the stockholders die. And they're already dead; the stock is down 99% (yes, 99%) from its peak. There are ways a company out of cash can continue to operate, (dilute, take on debt, sell off assets) but they're all terrible for the stockholders.

    Charging for Slashdot looks like a last-ditch effort to give that asset some value for resale.

  • by Restil (31903) on Friday February 22, 2002 @02:40AM (#3050043) Homepage
    The problem with free sites is that the economy of the internet isn't currently capable of handling them. If we look at a parallel to normal society, the content sites would be like TV and radio stations and the ecommerce sites woudl be like the brick & morter retail and wholesale stores. Typically, brick&morter pay advertising fees that fund the media. However, on the internet, this is skewed. There is a far greater ratio of sites dedicated to content than ecommerce sites that find it profitable to advertise on the media sites. Many successful ecommerce sites advertise on more conventional radio and TV formats as they get better response than from banner ads which the bulk of the users of the internet have chosen to ignore or block out completely.

    I have chosen to avoid ads alltogether on my site. If I get to the point that I need revenue to fund my site, I'll sell products from within to fund the bandwidth. Sure, I wouldn't get THAT many sales if the purpose of my site isn't to promote the products but rather content, but any sales are 100% mine I'm not feeding off pennies from banner ads purchased by other companies.

    -Restil
  • They are tasteful, unobtrusive (no fscking pop-ups, etc.), and more importantly (hey, marketers, listen up!) they're about stuff I'm interested in!

    I guess that's a novel concept, but hey, even as I sit here typing in this post I see the ad at the top for the Sharp Zaurus that I'll probably click on to because I'm a Geek and that looks interesting. And, if that helps Slashdot stick around, so much the better!

  • You can have the most annoying banners of any site out there. Because so long as I am in a text browser, links, all your banners look like this: [IMG]

    Add to that browsing in light mode and I would not even notice if you had a full page banner advert between every post/comment.

    Now if you offered a nntp.slashdot.org then I would gladly pay $5 a month. Then I could take fixing the moderation system into my own hands.

    Who would not love to have a ~/.Score file built with a slashdot section?
  • I would pay $19.95 for the chance to throw baseballs at a dunktank filled with wet Cowboy Neal gummies and Jon Katz sitting on the plank. Hell, I'd pay $49.95 for that opportunity.
  • This is not surprising. The net has grown way faster than bandwidth costs have fallen. This means that for any given level of bandwidth, the percentage of the net population required to consume all your bandwidth has fallen.
  • Use Reptile.... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by burtonator (70115) on Friday February 22, 2002 @03:10AM (#3050098)
    For example, slashdot would have a hard time going pay, but, say if all andover's websites went to a subscrption, costing $2/month for unlimited access for everhting

    I think this is a good thing. It would require us to have a REAL revenue stream without having to rely on VC. People have to get used to the fact that someone needs to pay for the bills.

    With Reptile we are going to integrate payment systems (paypal, merchant, etc) so that you can subscribe to content based on reputation..

    This way you can subscibe to your favorite sites like slashdot or kuro5hin and and at the same time get access to a very high rated Salon article.

    Of course a lot of this is still under development but we would love to get your help! [openprivacy.org]
  • Currently, Slashdot banner says in ascii [click here!] on my mozilla browser. :)

    Ive been using ad filters for over a year now, and its speeds up surfing by turning off ads. I love it. CNN and MSN have about 10 ads per page filtered. Thats 10 pictures or swf files I dont download. If you want it, its free for windows, its proxomitron [proxomitron.org] and a nice forum [yahoo.com] where people design updated filters. A nice new filter I just got closes the "This site is supported by Ads, click here to continue" ads. I never see them. :)
  • Micropayments? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    What ever happened to micropayments?
    That is the only sane way to charge for web site
    access mainly because you may not need a site
    every single day.

    Take windrivers.com. Great site but unless you're
    big business, how often are you going to access
    it?

    Ah, there, I said it... big business.
    So /. is encouraging subs for people whose
    companies either don't care or don't mind throwing
    money around. And I always thought you were on
    the little guys side :-(

    Well, I've gotten used to banner ads, heck even
    popups don't bother me as I just don't visit those
    sites as often as I used to. As for 4.95 a month
    to stop banner ads? No way. Sorry dudes,
    you're gona have to make those ads a damn sight
    more annoying or go to popups before I even
    consider paying that much.

  • Here's a thought. I have two pay sites.

    www.airwindows.com [airwindows.com]

    www.ampcast.com/chrisj [ampcast.com]

    The deal is, the first is my web hosting and the second is my music. If you visit them, YOU do not pay- it's like a printed fanzine or something, I pay for the hosting.

    I understand that bandwidth costs muchos, but I still dislike the idea of being charged solely for information- particularly if I'm not keeping it around. I pay for paper magazines- MacAddict, Cinefex- but those are kept. Someone had to print 'em up. Even then, they're heavily paid for by advertisers...

    I just think some people are imagining a heavenly land where everyone on the Internet is paying them a penny because they're so wonderful, and this is wishful thinking... in order to charge people you gotta really be GIVING them something, and it's not enough to just have good information. There's tons of information, everywhere. What else ya got?

  • by toriver (11308)
    What people confuse with "free" is in reality "paid by others". Do you trust the advertisers/investors/whomever to not try and influence the site's contents to be more to their liking?
  • by Tazzy531 (456079) on Friday February 22, 2002 @04:33AM (#3050238) Homepage
    Come on guys. Nothing is ever free. There is always a cost. Whether it's a financial cost, opportunity cost, or others, in the end, someone has to pay for it. We have to realize that the last couple of years has been a fluke in the whole economic cycle. There is no possible way that that cycle could have continued.

    What I see is that (and it has already started happening in the last year or so) all these little web sites will be bought up by a conglomerate and mergered together. The economics of this is quite smart. I mean, it's not really economical for one small company to have a 10K server and a 1k/month internet connection. If 10 of these sites have been merged together, they would come to 1/10 (maybe a little more) of the original cost. Examples of this are seen here at Slashdot, eVite by Excite, and others.

    Even then, these conglomerates will still not be able to afford to make a decent profit (I mean, that's what companies are there for..making money) So they might in the end look towards a pay for content plan. So it becomes, people will only pay for content that they care about or are interested in. Content that they read frequently. In the end, it becomes a choice for the consumers where demand sets the price.

    Now for the point of this post. I would gladly pay $2-5 (approximately the price of a newstand magazine) for access to quality content. I would definitely pay that much for access to read articles and post on slashdot. In addition, this would be a great raise the quality of the content (ie posting).

    Also, a number of people have posted about using ad-blocker programs. In the end, those programs are only hurting yourself and everyone else on the internet. Company need the small amount of money coming from these advertisers to barely stay afloat. These programs only go to convince the advertisers to pay significantly less for the ads because less and less people are viewing the ads. Think about it this way, would advertisers pay millions of dollars to advertise during the Super Bowl if they found out that there was a technology that a good population of TV watchers are using to block the super bowl ads?
  • by MadFarmAnimalz (460972) on Friday February 22, 2002 @05:06AM (#3050311) Homepage
    If /. stars a subs service, you're not paying for the information, you're paying to support their continued ability to deliver you with responses to your http get requests. That is a service, and services cost money. Ample evidence of the aforementioned to be found in their net losses.

    And since they already do respond to your http get requests, you can safely assume they pay for the ability. This simply means what we've al known for so long but have conveniently ignored for maybe the last decade:

    There's no such thing as a free lunch.

    It's no longer a question of whether /. should charge, it's how their revenue model should look.

    I agree that the technique adopted over at arstechnica seems interesting, but I'm not sure how successful it will be.

    Honestly, I have no idea how /. should be approaching this one, though I do have an excellent suggestion to make.

    /. has unfettered access to the best minds out there currently; use them. Start an 'Ask Slashdot' thread to come up with an appropriate revenue model, then use a poll to evaluate the most likely alternatives.

  • by Mr_Silver (213637) on Friday February 22, 2002 @05:49AM (#3050392)
    I actually posted it as an article to Slashdot, but it wasn't considered news-worthy enough. However, now is probably a good time to mention it.

    AvantGo [avantgo.com] is weeding out what they call "Custom channel abuse". Basically its 8 or more people creating a custom channel to a site that doesn't pay up for a licence. See the Register article here [theregister.co.uk] and the AvantGo announcement here [avantgo.com].

    This means that things like Slashdots own palm friendly version [slashdot.org] and my AvantSlash [fourteenminutes.com] (along with thousands of other non-profit making sites who provide an ability to view their content for free) are going to be left a little out in the cold.

    I've been recommended Plucker [plkr.org] for the Palm and Mazingo [mazingo.net] for the PPC - not tried either though.

  • by linuxrunner (225041) on Friday February 22, 2002 @07:43AM (#3050620) Homepage
    I've finally come to a revelation about banner ads.... of course I came to this conclusion a while ago, but have yet to say anything here:

    Banner ads, the idea behind them, does work. The problem is that people have come to the decision that they will only pay for banner ads that are quantifiable... I.E. Click Throughs.

    This is not, and should not be the case. Banner ads should be sold on the number or visits on a site, and the popularity of the site.
    Just like advertisers want to be seen during superbowl.... Why? Many, many eyeballs. So their willing to pay a hefty price!
    I don't see a comercial during the superbowl and go... "Whoa... I gotta have that!" and then leave to go to the store.... NO! I finish watching the superbowl and then at a later date, with the proverbial commercial seed planted in my brain, I go and purchase that product.

    The same goes for banner ads. It's a form of advertisement. I'm not going to drop everything to go and head over to that site..... I'm here at slashdot or where-ever for a reason. I'll do what I have to, and then later.... When I'm not too busy.... I'll head over to thinkgeek and buy that hat.

    Yes I purchased many a thing at ThinkGeek and elsewhere, because of banner-ads (I would not have known about them otherwise) but I have NEVER purchased anything by means of a click-through.

    So in quantifiable means, the banner ad didn't work. There was a click through but no purchase.
    Ah, but I did purchase. Just at a later date.

    I can't stress this fact enough.... We do not drop everything when we see a tv ad and head to the store... we do it later. Does this mean because we didn't drop anything that TV ads are failing?

    Time for a philosophy change.

  • by thumbtack (445103) <thumbtack@ j u n o . com> on Friday February 22, 2002 @07:53AM (#3050647)
    Maybe we can get back to the good old days when most of the net was free. Seems I remember a time that every site wasn't about making money, but was about someone who had an interest is some particular subject. Almost every ISP offers personal space these days, many up to 20MB. Some people run commercial websites on them but most are still put together by people who want to say something rather than sell something.

    I think our perspective has changed as these sites still exist, and there is still a kind of "undernet" out there, that is often ignored by the search engines (free pages), or are simply not linked to by the "mainstream" net sites because they offer no opportunity to make a buck. It's still a neat place to spend an evening surfing around, just for the sake of surfing.
  • by iansmith (444117) on Friday February 22, 2002 @08:23AM (#3050736) Homepage
    When I decide if a site is worth a few bucks a month, it's usually not because it will get rid of banners or put a star by my name or give some other minor feature... it's because I like the site and want to keep it around.

    Slashdot would be one of those. No banner ads is worth $0.00 a month to me.. I ignore them anyway. But if my few dollars a month helps keep it around and running well, THAT is worth it.
  • by grahamsz (150076) on Friday February 22, 2002 @11:57AM (#3052154) Homepage Journal
    /. works by linking to other sites, and whilst paying $2/mo for /. isn't the worst thing in the world, i'd soon find i couldn't read half the stories.

    Forget the ny times and it's free registration problems - we'd have to pay out for another subscription for every other link!
  • by Preposterous Coward (211739) on Friday February 22, 2002 @01:57PM (#3053255)
    Presumably if you're willing to pay for the site you're a semi-serious contributor and not somebody posting reams of crap. So an extra +1 posting bonus might be justified. Maybe only if your karma is above a base threshold (to avoid letting losers pay their way to higher-rated posts).

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