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Comment Re:A simple proposition. (Score 3, Informative) 380 380

Back when slashdot tried that, people were against paying for subscriptions to websites.

Maybe it's viable to revisit it now. Times have changed.

It would be interesting to see what perks they can make. Especially when the readership plummets as soon as the subscription goes live.

Comment Re:A simple proposition. (Score 4, Insightful) 380 380

Accepted by people everywhere. (Except BBC viewers, but I'll get to that.)

Technically advertising has been around since Survival of the Fittest became the order of the day. So, about the second day after the first amoeba crawled out of the oceanic ooze. But, more relevant to the issue at hand, it's been accepted ever since the inception of mass media. You can draw your line in history where ever you want. Go back as far as ancient Rome. Advertising has been there. "Come see men almost get eaten by lions! Enjoy food while you're there!"

But you probably want a more modern example. Then ever since the dawn of radio. Pumping 1000 W into the air wasn't cheap (the power of the first FM radio station.) Neither is pumping 100,000 W (modern FM station broadcast levels). Again, not to mention staffing and building maintenance, etc. But, in order to get wide adoption, they had to get people to listen. Many people felt that they shouldn't have to continue to pay after shelling out $100 (NOT inflation adjusted) for a radio. So they experimented with various revenue models, because even then, content wasn't free. So, the broadcasters entered into implied contract with the public. You get the content for "free", all you have to do is give up a little bit of attention in exchange.

And it worked fairly well for a period of time. TV came around, and all was good. Newspapers. Whatever other media used a similar model.

The BBC used a slightly different model where people had to pay a monthly license fee for every TV they owned. That license fee went straight to the BBC which paid for the content they saw. There were steep fees if you got caught watching TV without having paid your license fee. (Americans see it as a tax, which it essentially was.) And it worked for a while, until the advent of cable and satellite TV. Then the model came crumbling down.

And I don't know if you remember the early days of the internet (I do, check my slashdot ID#). Many other revenue models were tried. Ultimately, people, as always, are reluctant to pay for content. So, the advertising showed up, and we get to enjoy our content for "free". You just have to exchange some attention. And most people are happy with it.

Side note: Most people's discontent with online advertising is because Flash... blows. Well, that's changing. Within the next year, HTML5 ads are going to become the de facto standard, which will probably break AdBlock, at least for a little while. But, it ought to reduce the resource load. And for a brief shining moment, ads will become less annoying. Until they're not anymore.

As for your targeted marketing, there's a few issues at stake. Many people are creeped right the fuck out when ads get too targeted at them. Target already knows when women are pregnant, even before they do. It scares people enough to receive the mailer. Imagine having a "pregnant" cookie in your browser. It would become inescapable. (I don't want to get into a long discussion about cookies and privacy and what not. Regardless of how it's set, the advertisers would know.) So there's a careful balance that the advertisers deliberately strike between providing relevant ads and being too creepy. Again, be careful what you wish for.

As for your Fluke and circuit puller problems. Running ads targeted like that is expensive. Most of your Fluke vendors aren't exactly rolling in the dough. And they're trying to sell you on a product you're going to buy once a decade. It's not financially feasible for them to do highly targeted marketing. So, instead, you'll be stuck with Amazon's terrible retargeted ads (that are carefully designed to not freak you out too much.) since Amazon knows you'll probably buy something else to cover the costs of running the ads (plus, they get a mass discount due to the sheer volume of ads they run and they have an automated system to generate them that your Fluke vendor can't afford.)

You're not rewarding gross incompetence so much as you are dealing with uncanny valley of what consumers are comfortable dealing with. You're right at the edge of creepy. But, like boiling a frog (not true, I know, but i'll use the myth as analogy), they know that by increasing the relevance slowly over time, eventually people will accept highly specific targeting. Give them 5 more years. Then they'll even advance to recommending the upgraded Fluke from the one you were looking at and tell you why you want it more than the one you think you do. We (as a society) just aren't ready to accept it yet.

Comment Re: A simple proposition. (Score 1) 380 380

Would you pay?

Would you enter your credit card # (defaulting to the most common payment method in the US) for a $.02 transaction?

Would you hold money in a third party account that handles all those $.02 transactions?

Or, more likely, would you just resign yourself to enjoying a slashdot with an empty comments section? I can tell you one thing, with a nearly non-existent comment section, slashdot's operating costs would plummet. Thereby solving most of your advertising problem. :)

Comment Re:A simple proposition. (Score 1) 380 380

True. And then it starts to become a compounding problem.

Your favorite sites start to run ads to cover their escalating costs.

The users semi-revolt, so they run adblocker.

As the site see their revenue go down, they either a) run more ads to make up for it, or b) go out of business.

For most sites (unless you really love those listicle content mills), that's the tragedy. For others, well most of them have chosen A.

Comment Re:A simple proposition. (Score 1) 380 380

Sure. Patreon is an option.

Maybe slashdot could generate enough money in the first year running a patreon campaign to cover its costs.

But what about year two?

Everyone already hates it when wikipedia runs their yearly donation campaign. And they have an order of magnitude more traffic than slashdot.

Then what are you going to do, limit slashdot content to those who have donated through patreon? What's the difference between that and a paywall?

Comment Re:A simple proposition. (Score 1) 380 380

Slashdot sels no product. Sells no service. And wouldn't get enough donations to cover its costs. So they deserve to die?

I'm not arguing that advertising in the second coming. I despise most of it as much as everyone else. But, it is an accepted social structure that allows for the social contract between a content provider and the general public to stay intact. Because people generally don't want to pay for anything. And running these things isn't free.

Again, offer up another solution.

Comment A simple proposition. (Score 1) 380 380

Ok. Everyone hates ads.

What is the alternate solution? Are you willing to pay for a subscription to every site you visit? Do you want more "native content" intermixed with all these articles?

Let's face it, hosting sites and entertainment on the Internet isn't free. Soulskill has to eat and put a roof over his head. Along with the rest of the Slashdot staff. And those colo costs are non-zero.

Which do you want? Your "free" ad-based internet? Or the worse solutions that are coming if sites continue to not be able to cover their costs + profit using banner ads?

Seriously. Think about it. Then reply.

Start with this math. Take your personal salary. Divide it by $.001 (the cost to display a typical banner ad). Figure out how many banner ad views you need to cover your salary + benefits (they're not free either) at a moderately popular website. It's a frightening number. Even if you're just a lowly intern making minimum wage.

Then, think about other ways a site can generate that kind of revenue.

Which is the greater evil?

Comment The Centennial Light (Score 1) 403 403

Like all things, the simplest solution is the best one.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C...

Built to last. No moving parts. Encased in its own perfect environment.

This will be the first thing to power back on. It may burn out immediately after, but it'll fire right up.

Comment Re:ET Phone home (Score 1) 313 313

Apple's default WiFi network behavior is to find an open WiFi access point to jump on, then one the "trusted" default WiFi networks (one you've connected to already, or one the AT&T or Starbucks networks), and if it can't find that, it tried to connect to the one with the strongest signal and bring up the login page for username/pass challenges. Since most consumer routers have that standardized, it knows where to look. That's probably the traffic you're seeing.

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