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Announcing Slashdot Subscriptions 2332

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the dropping-a-few-bucks-in-the-guitar-case dept.
For some time now we have been developing a unique subscription system that we hope will make our users and advertisers happy. Please hit the link below to read an explanation about how the system works, and why it works that way. Also you will learn what a subscription will give you, and what our future plans are for it.Update: 03/01 16:38 GMT by Hemos : A lot of people are asking about the only Paypal option. In answer to everyone: Yes, we are aware of the problems with PayPal.. And, yes, we're currently working on other solutions - read the full copy below, as Rob already states that.

To understand why the system works like it does, you need to first understand that Slashdot is about to start accepting new ad formats. The large ads that you see on many other sites are coming here. We really don't have an option: these are what advertisers want, and if we don't provide them, we won't be around much longer. But we want to give you an option to see Slashdot without these ads. Second, you need to understand that Slashdot readers fall into a variety of types, and charging the same flat fee just isn't possible.

Slashdot subscriptions will essentially let you buy a thousand pages to be viewed without banner ads. And you will have some flexibility to decide what types of pages (Comments, Articles, The Homepage) you want ads removed from, and what types of pages you just want to see the ads.

The rates are currently set at $5 per 1000 pages. To put this into perspective, $20 (typical magazine subscription) will be enough pages for 82% of our readers to view Slashdot without ads for a year. Another 15% will need to spend $5 a month to accomplish the same thing. 3% of our readers would need to spend more than $5 a month- but they could choose to see ads on comments and in almost every case, still pay around $5 a month. (As an aside, it's also worth noting that more than half of all comment posters fall into this 3%)

We realize that this system is more complex, but Slashdot has a third of a million readers per day with different reading habits, and this is the best way to accomodate everyone fairly.

Currently we only accept payment via paypal. It was simply easy and fast. We intend to offer other options as time permits and readers request.

Eventually we intend to offer additional features to subscribers. Exactly what those plums are remains to be decided: Access to the rejected submissions bin? A 'Gold Star' in your comments header? Karma? (I think that would be hilarious) We really don't know. We'll decide and implement what makes sense as we have time to do it.

We are doing our best to learn from the mistakes made by other sites that have started charging for subscriptions. We won't create subscriber only features that cost more to maintain than they generate. But we do need support from you if we are to continue. So anyway, here's that link again if you forgot it ;)

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Announcing Slashdot Subscriptions

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  • PayPal??? (Score:3, Informative)

    by liquidsin (398151) on Friday March 01, 2002 @12:22PM (#3090661) Homepage
    I wasted thirty precious minutes of my life trying to jump through hoops for them so I could sign up with a Canadian credit card. At the time I was trying to sign up for a PayPal acct. to purchase webhosting. In the end I found a host that didn't require me to pay with fucking paypal. Get the idea?

  • by Skim123 (3322) <mitchell@NosPaM.4guysfromrolla.com> on Friday March 01, 2002 @12:25PM (#3090698) Homepage
    You should check out kuro5hin.org [kuro5hin.org]. It is a site where the users post the stories to a queue, and the community votes them to be shown on the site or not. Also, since the overall traffic is lower, the quality of postings/discussions is much higher than at /.

    I still like reading /., though, b/c it's more news for nerds while k5, while it has it's technology and nerd news, also has a lot of political and social discussions. Oh yeah, and k5 also has subscriptions before /. did, but "subscribing" does nothing for you, really, since even if you don't subscribe you don't see any ads. (Although when k5 showed OSDN ads in the past, subscribing hid these banners...)

  • by Svartalf (2997) on Friday March 01, 2002 @12:29PM (#3090775) Homepage
    ...that the annoying ad campaigns don't work and never did? Has anyone told them that bigger, longer ads in the way of the content is the cause of the demise of network broadcast television?

    The business model they're operating under isn't in touch with reality and isn't sustainable.
  • Opera users (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 01, 2002 @12:30PM (#3090782)
    Press G now!
  • Re:I like ads (Score:3, Informative)

    by YaRness (237159) on Friday March 01, 2002 @12:37PM (#3090881)
    are you a free loader if you change channels during commercials?

    or don't read the ads on the bus/subway/billboards?

    or don't click on the ads? or move your window up so the ad is off the screen? or just ignore them?

    are you a freeloader if you use lynx, or don't download images?

    to me, it's like with the credit card companies: i don't pay finance charges, but i'm damn glad for the people that do (especially the retards that only make minimum payments) because they support the service for me. until they start doing something to keep me from using their service, i assume they have no problem with "freeloaders".

    so save your freeloaders bullshit for 5 years down the road when 1337 d00ds have to steal CC numbers or passwords to get on so they can troll the latest jon katz story, or only read posts from some underground mirror of slashdot built by a subscriber. freeloading is still the de facto standard here, and on the internet in general, for a little while longer.
  • by CowboyNeal (4) <pater@slashdot.org> on Friday March 01, 2002 @12:42PM (#3090954) Homepage Journal
    We already use it. It's a noticeable amount of bandwidth that we save, but it's far from half.
  • by DocSnyder (10755) on Friday March 01, 2002 @12:43PM (#3090966)
    Mine is called "lynx".

    I wonder if ads could be rendered on-the-fly through aalib... ;-)
  • Re:PayPal? (Score:5, Informative)

    by CmdrTaco (1) <.malda. .at. .slashdot.org.> on Friday March 01, 2002 @12:44PM (#3090972) Homepage Journal
    As mentioned in the article, and on the subscription page, we will support other payment methods. Paypal was just quick and easy, and we knew a lot of readers use it anyway.
  • by CmdrTaco (1) <.malda. .at. .slashdot.org.> on Friday March 01, 2002 @12:47PM (#3091025) Homepage Journal
    I'd like to do a flat rate, but we have a tiny percentage of users that load thousands of pages a week.

    This system works well for 82% of Slashdot readers- for them the cost is the same as a typical magazine.

  • Re:PayPal? (Score:3, Informative)

    by the phantom (107624) on Friday March 01, 2002 @12:54PM (#3091138) Homepage
    Taco,

    My other question is then: Do you want to deal with PayPal? Did you actually read the article that was on /. a few days ago? Have you seen the way that PayPal abuses customers, especcially those with large accounts?

    I would hate to see /. and /. readers get gyped out of a great deal of money because PayPal is corrupt. They are not FDIC insured, and if something should happen, you have little recourse.

    I egarly anticipate other means of paying. However, I think you should seriously reconsider starting a relationship with PayPal. Just my two cents.

    zander
  • by the phantom (107624) on Friday March 01, 2002 @01:07PM (#3091319) Homepage
    In print and spoken media, the advertising model works. You are taking a sample from a population of print and spoken media, then applying inference from that model to a population that also includes the internet. Your statistical inference is invalid.
  • by CmdrTaco (1) <.malda. .at. .slashdot.org.> on Friday March 01, 2002 @01:13PM (#3091379) Homepage Journal
    Frankly we doubt that 3% will really pay us at all. Notice the venom posted in this discussion: this comes largely from that very 3%. Its ironic that those who profess to hate us the most also load the most pages ;)
  • Re:PayPal? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Krellis (19116) <slashdot@nOSpaM.krellis.org> on Friday March 01, 2002 @01:13PM (#3091390) Homepage
    dyndns.org [dyndns.org] has been accepting PayPal for the donations that keep our service running for years, and never had a problem. We've processed hundreds of thousands of dollars through PayPal, and accept more each day, and we've never had a single problem like those described on PayPalWarning.com and other sites. Those problems account for a tiny fraction of all PayPal users, and PayPal is actually improving service to big customers like us, because of these problems - people are getting scared off, and they're trying to keep the big players from running away, too. They'd be very stupid to kill OSDN's account, and they know it.
  • by CmdrTaco (1) <.malda. .at. .slashdot.org.> on Friday March 01, 2002 @01:17PM (#3091440) Homepage Journal
    Here's the thing tho. It sounds like you want to subscribe. Put in $5, and set Slashdot to display ads on comments & the index. You'll still have the big ads on articles suppressed (and any other benefits of subscribing) and it'll take awhile to chew through those pages.

    We don't expect everyone to subscribe. And we know that most people won't subscribe to suppress ads. We just want to give people the ability to pay if they want to, and to give them something in return.

  • by Micah (278) on Friday March 01, 2002 @01:18PM (#3091452) Homepage Journal
    hmm.

    could have fooled me... [slashcode.com] (see reply)

    If you're NOT saving more than half, there are possible explanations. POST requests cannot correctly be handled by Slash and mod_gzip. I host Slash sites, so I know this. :) Of course that will only account for a tiny bit.

    The biggest reason why you wouldn't save half your bandwidth is that most of your pages are served to clients that can't take it. And nearly all modern browsers can. That means.....

    you're serving lots and lots of pages to spiders or spambots. Ouch!
  • by erasmus_ (119185) on Friday March 01, 2002 @01:21PM (#3091485)
    .org is for non-profits; it seems to me that as soon as you start charging for admission, you're moving into the for-profit sector. Of course, the whole idea of non-profits is a joke to begin with - the CEO of the typical non-profit makes very nearly as much as the CEO of the typical for-profit. The for-profit/non-profit distinction is just an accounting fiction that allows marxists to pretend that they're superior to the rest of us. Nevertheless, the hypocrisy of charging admission to a .org is startling.

    Well, first of all, they own the .com domain as well. Secondly, I don't see the .org being a part of the name anywhere, certainly not in the logo, nor anywhere on the front page, nor in the headline of this article. Lastly, I'm not sure I see them raking money hand over fist with this scheme, perhaps breaking even or losing less is more likely for as much page views as this site gets.

    So although your comment is interesting, I do not believe it to be valid.
  • by CmdrTaco (1) <.malda. .at. .slashdot.org.> on Friday March 01, 2002 @01:24PM (#3091530) Homepage Journal
    If you load 100 pages a day, then as I said before, you are in the 3% of users for whom the subscription is not ideal. Its really targetted at the other 97% of readers who read less then 30 pages a day.

    I'm sorry we don't have a system in place to tell you your activity in advance, but those realtime updates are DB hogs and we don't do them for everyone.

  • That's one of the greatest things I've ever read.

    In case people care, it's from Mark Driver [blindwino.com]. (Found it on google, don't know anything about him or the site.)

    And I'm out too. My first thought, upon seeing any ad whatsoever, is 'Now do I block this?'. Advertising counts against companies when I make purchasing decisions.

  • by CmdrTaco (1) <.malda. .at. .slashdot.org.> on Friday March 01, 2002 @01:56PM (#3091901) Homepage Journal
    No doubt. But we're not doing anything that makes them "Go Away". We're just provided ad-free pages to those who want it. We're not punishing people who choose not to subscribe... well, they will see the new ad format, but thats just an inevitable part of trying to survive in the post hype net.
  • Re:Here's an idea (Score:1, Informative)

    by RAD Kade 1 (12) on Friday March 01, 2002 @02:06PM (#3092020) Homepage
    I may not be leet, but I sure am sexy. ;P
  • by AT (21754) on Friday March 01, 2002 @02:06PM (#3092024)
    The do indeed (at least for the uncustomized top page). Try this:
    $ telnet slashdot.org 80
    GET / HTTP/1.1
    Host: slashdot.org
    Accept-Encoding: gzip
    [blank line]

    You'll get back a page with Content-Encoding: gzip.
  • Re:hypocrites... (Score:4, Informative)

    by CmdrTaco (1) <.malda. .at. .slashdot.org.> on Friday March 01, 2002 @02:08PM (#3092043) Homepage Journal
    Currently it breaks down by Index, Article, Comments, and "Other". By default, we leave ads on Comments and suppress ads on Index, Article, and Other for subscribers. THe bulk of page views for the hardcore reader ends up being comments, so the only negative is that they will see ads on those pages.

    We hope people will give it a try- the system has enough options to let a hardcore two-hundred-page-a-day user chip in $5 a month to suppress ads from Articles and maybe the homepage... but again, this group is by far a minority. 82% of Slashdot readers read 10 or fewer pages a day.

  • Re:Careful though... (Score:4, Informative)

    by CmdrTaco (1) <.malda. .at. .slashdot.org.> on Friday March 01, 2002 @02:10PM (#3092073) Homepage Journal
    By default Comment Pages leave banner ads on. So they don't count towards your page views. We did this for exactly the reason you describe.

    Someday we may in fact give free pages for accepted story submissions. As always, one step at a time.

  • Wrong! (Score:3, Informative)

    by sulli (195030) on Friday March 01, 2002 @02:11PM (#3092086) Journal
    I sound like John McLaughlin: Wrong!

    You can't make money giving shit away when it costs you money. Hence, the dot-com crash.

    ISPs sell flat rate service and have for years. Yet we have thousands of ISPs still in business. Bzzt, try again.

  • by FooKuff (562303) on Friday March 01, 2002 @02:28PM (#3092274) Homepage Journal
    If you like that (which is from blindwino.com I've just learned), try also the books "Temporary Autonomous Zone" and "Semiotext(e) USA" (somewhat rare). Personally I found the piece a little too hostile, and somewhat derivative... but then I've been reading stuff like that for about 20 years. Or maybe I'm just fookin' cranky that I didn't write it myself.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 01, 2002 @02:34PM (#3092337)
    as noted above, it was probably posted AC because it wasn't posted by the original author, or even written about slashdot subscriptions. Though it does seem pretty on-topic. Bravo for AC posting.

    http://www.blindwino.com/driverjunk15.html

    now you can have your email dialog.
  • Re:Careful though... (Score:3, Informative)

    by CmdrTaco (1) <.malda. .at. .slashdot.org.> on Friday March 01, 2002 @02:37PM (#3092388) Homepage Journal
    I'm not opposed to doing this. But such a decision needs to be carefully thought through. There are many problems with the moderation system when all that is involved is words and karma. I'm sure you can understand that this would only get worse if people started thinking that they had an economic incentive to karma whore.

    That said, while I don't mean to dismiss the value of comment posters, the percentage of readers that read comments is small. Yes comments draw readers, and keep them coming back. But half of readers don't care! An accepted story submission provides a benefit to hundreds of thousands of Slashdot readers. A Score:3 comment is read by 1/50th of that. So if we decide that an accepted story submission is worth 1000 page views, you would need to post perhaps 50 Score:3 comments to affect the same number of people :)

  • Re:Subscribtions (Score:3, Informative)

    by CmdrTaco (1) <.malda. .at. .slashdot.org.> on Friday March 01, 2002 @02:40PM (#3092413) Homepage Journal
    > If you actually wanted to make money, you would go with simple, text based ads

    If only that were true, believe me we would be doing it.

  • Re:Careful though... (Score:3, Informative)

    by CmdrTaco (1) <.malda. .at. .slashdot.org.> on Friday March 01, 2002 @02:42PM (#3092440) Homepage Journal
    I'm not saying we won't do that. I'm saying that "This is how it works for now". We broke things down by perl script. Comment viewing and posting happens in the same script.
  • by AtariDatacenter (31657) on Friday March 01, 2002 @03:01PM (#3092651)
    With 1000+ comments, the chances of this being read with any attention is small. And it is likely to be redundant. But here goes.

    With a Slashdot subscription, I had hoped for something a little more. In fact, something even innovative. Instead, it is asking people to pay money to keep what Slashdot is currently like. Even worse, it has metering tied to it. How many times have we seen how popular an unmetered service is, versus a metered one?

    GIVE us something for our money. And if you can be a trendsetter and do something new and innovative, all the better.
  • by istartedi (132515) on Friday March 01, 2002 @03:37PM (#3092972) Journal

    That's my question too. Several months ago, /. was altered so that IE will not cache pages. And YES, I did go through all the IE settings and YES, /. is the only site I deal with that does this. Yahoo! and everything else is fine. In fact, in an attempt to fix the /. problem I had everything caching so much that I had to hit reload on Yahoo! and Monster.com just to make them work right.

    I won't even consider signing up until I can hit "back" on /. and NOT have the page dynamicly regenerate. Also, fix the page widening/lengthening problem so that I can catch the *good* trolls that sometimes appear at -1. Maybe then I will consider signing up.

  • by tessellation (133537) on Friday March 01, 2002 @04:27PM (#3093504)
    ...from http://www.blindwino.com/driverjunk15.html [blindwino.com], as two seconds with Google will show. The title is "Market Target" and the byline says Mark Driver.

    Did you really think anyone on Slashdot could pull out a polished monologue on such short notice?
  • by Linux_ho (205887) on Friday March 01, 2002 @04:58PM (#3093797) Homepage
    The day before yesterday Hemos posted a link to Piro's insightful analysis of why the #1 dot-com strategy didn't work. Diluted to it's essence, "There's an inherent part of human nature that just makes you bristle at having to suddenly pay for something that you didn't have to pay for before." I would like you to know that this new policy does makes me bristle a bit. I won't pay for Slashdot; I feel that I have given nearly as much as I have received. To the decision-makers behind this advertising move, I respectfully recommend you read this article [megatokyo.com], toward the bottom left of the page.

    Depending on how annoying those ads are, I may go elsewhere. I'll probably check back now and then, to see if the new ads have gotten any less annoying. I like Slashdot quite a bit, in spite of the fist prosts and the "dude, what if we made a beowulf of these" comments. It's all part of the fun, part of the culture. I like interacting with other people that have similar interests. Honestly, though, I'm not going to pay for something that I can get for free somewhere else. /. has been successful because it's free entertainment. I honestly hope the increase in income from each page view outweighs the drop in the number of page views /. will receive.

    My "karma" rating has stayed right at 50 for a long time. As a contributor of content which is apparently valued by your other readers, I hope you will at least consider my opinion.
  • What The Ads Will Be (Score:5, Informative)

    by Hemos (2) on Friday March 01, 2002 @05:31PM (#3094125) Homepage Journal
    There's a lot of questions about the ads.

    NO pop-ups, pop-unders, pop whatever.

    NO Flash playing, Java Applet, MID playing ads.

    What it will be is the messaging unit ads (the big square ad in center of page) and sometimes, a bigger banner ad where the current banner is. That's it. Still GIF/JPG ads. That's all. And yes, one ad per page.

  • by mikemulvaney (24879) on Friday March 01, 2002 @06:27PM (#3094590)
    Distributed would be great. If you could get ISP's to run their own local servers, or even regular people running a peer on their own machine, you could reduce the load on a central server to a huge degree.

    After that, you would need to create a protocol that allows people to post messages to their local server, and then make those messages propagate to the other servers all across the land. If you had a simple enough protocol, people could even write their own custom clients, instead of having to use a web browser.

    And since everyone is running their own little server, we could allow anyone to post stories; not just the Slashdot Editors.

    Hmm, maybe we should start up a project on Sourceforge. I suggest we call it USENET.

    -Mike
  • by jpowers (32595) on Friday March 01, 2002 @06:52PM (#3094804) Homepage
    I learned a lot when there were still a lot of techs around. And when that was the focus of the stories.

    I've submitted a few stories (all but one rejected I think, I never said I was GOOD), and I got my karma honestly, back when I cared to spend time in the threads here. I took the karma hits I deserved, too, for being a fool, or when I voiced my (relatively moderate and reasonable) opinion on given subjects and someone disagreed with me and had mod points that day. I have read your site for a long time, I was ALWAYS reading threads at -1, and I have never used any of your author filters, or anything.

    And it isn"t like I can't afford to pay for your services. When OMM had their little "forum naming rights" game I bought two, which is $100, for a site that never even updates. So it's not like I feel like I should be getting the things I value for free. I don't steal with napster or whatever, either.

    But now here it is:

    - For continuing to allow Jon Katz to post stories to this website...

    - For wasting your time half-coding a lameness filter that's yet to work, and would be better off without anyway...

    - For using a fucking phone company "buy shit in advance" model...

    ...you're fired. Clean out your desk, these gentlemen will escort you to your car. Thanks for the GPLd code and the heads up about a bunch of stuff back when I needed a clue. Thanks for defending the anime discussions back when we first started, and eventually branching it off into a whole other website. Thanks for not showing bias against folks at other sites when they clearly called you the enemy (...kuro5hin). Thanks for the moments of clarity when you had people like Clay Shirky or the occasional other good QA post.

    I will now join the ranks of your 1000s of former readers who will not come here unless a link is offered specifically, and even then I'll have to think about it. With or without harsh economics, in the end you and yours are no better than IGN, and no one sucks like IGN.

    /jpowers/jeep/etc/
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 01, 2002 @07:42PM (#3095187)
    What if there was life outside slashdot? I asked myself this question and found the following link:

    http://www.cs.washington.edu/homes/klee/misc/slash dot.html#alternatives [washington.edu]

    Check it out and read it through, this guy makes some good points and gives some good ideas...
  • Re:Here's an idea (Score:3, Informative)

    by autocracy (192714) <slashdot2007@@@storyinmemo...com> on Friday March 01, 2002 @07:47PM (#3095214) Homepage
    Yup, it sure was :)
    The moderators really are on crack!
  • by j7953 (457666) on Friday March 01, 2002 @08:22PM (#3095433)

    Take a look at http://www.osdn.com/advertise/ [osdn.com], you'll find out that for Slashdot they're currently offering 728 x 90, 468 x 60, and newsletter sponsorships (which are a 468x60 banner and text only).

    I think the 728 x 90 is the annoyance thing they're talking about. Well, it certainly does sound like an annoyingly big ad.

    Slashdot doesn't accept any flash ads according to that site, and none of OSDN's sites accept pop-up, pop-under or Java ads.

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