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The Media

LWN in Trouble 193

DanDan writes: "It seems that Linux Weekly News may be on the rocks. Tucows has cut support and they have lost their Senior Editor. It would be sad to see them go." Anybody who has bright ideas or cash burning a hole in your pocket should check out their discussion list.
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LWN in Trouble

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  • Sell Stuff (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Bonker ( 243350 ) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @09:45AM (#2415092)
    Not content, mind you, but souvineirs, t-shirts, hats, CD's, maybe even LWN branded generic hardware or media.

    "See, this isn't just your everyday average spool of CD's, it's a Linux Weekly News spool of CD's."

    Seriously, I hadn't been to the LWN website before this, but it doesn't look like they have a goodies section like any other geek website who tries to stay afloat, /. included with all the 'Thinkgeek.com' stuff.

    • I read LWN ever since it was a popular site.

      I got to "know" Mr. Corbet thru his participation on a Linux-Biz list, and believe it or not, that was before LWN was LWN as we know it today.

      I have seen my share of failure on the online thingy - lots of friends got burnt in the process - and I think one of the main problem is the lack of Cost Management.

      What do I mean by it?

      Used to be that running a site was a hobby, then someone figure out that running the same site as a BUSINESS may make some bucks. And once the money starts rolling in, people think BIG, and they want MORE, and next thing you know they start to FLY HERE AND THERE, in the name of "gathering information".

      Used to be that "news sites" were by a group of good buddies, and when they do "news reporting", they often do it guerilla style - that is, they don't have chauffeured limosines to carry them - and their guests - around town to attend plush dinner/cocktail functions, just to get the "interview" done.

      All those fluffy stuffs cost lots of dough.

      Used to be that the LARGEST PORTION of the total cost for a news site on the lean is the bandwidth, not any more.

      We see "reporters" pulling in six-figured salaries, with stock-options, AND that is not counting what they got from their "allowances".

      Please tell me, how can such "news site" survives?

      Look at how AP and/or Reuters are running their business, and compare that to the high-tech "news organization" you will see a HUGE discrepancy in cost-structure.

      Until the time the "high-tech news organization" practice the news-industry cost conscious way of news gathering, I will say that more and more of the "news site" as we are so fond of will disappear.

      Oh well.... But I digress.

  • This shows again that the Open Source community is not immune against the current economic situation. It is really sad to see more and more of the sponts in the net vanish. Although they weren't even trying to make money out of it, they suffer, too.

    I really hope lwn will go on with their good work!
    • by Anonymous Coward
      They are gone _because_ they weren't trying to make money out of it. Don't you see the recurring pattern? Companies not making money (or organizations without generous sponsors) die.
  • Subscriptions (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Red Aardvark House ( 523181 ) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @09:48AM (#2415116)
    Just a quick glance at the discussion list showed a good number of posters suggesting a subscription. Though it seems obvious, just pay for the product, subscriptions also offer another benefit: Payment in advance. This will ensure a steady stream of cash for production of the magazine.
    • The problem is that we're long on talk, and short on cash. How many "information wants to be free" geeks are gonna pay for a scrip to LWN when they can get other linux news for free?
    • Re:Subscriptions (Score:3, Interesting)

      by blakestah ( 91866 )
      Just a quick glance at the discussion list showed a good number of posters suggesting a subscription. Though it seems obvious, just pay for the product, subscriptions also offer another benefit: Payment in advance. This will ensure a steady stream of cash for production of the magazine.

      Few people think it could or would work that way. Most people will go somewhere else if a subscription model is used.

      The most obvious solution is for someone who would benefit from a solid linux news site like lwn to pick it up. IBM could fund it. Or HP. Or VA linux. Or Red Hat. Or some combination of them. Their expenses basically mean paying four people full-time.
      Unfortunately, it is more likely they will be going under. I wonder what will happen to /. when the same thing happens to VA Linux in another year?
      • Few people think it could or would work that way. Most people will go somewhere else if a subscription model is used.

        Sure, and they'll keep on doing that until there's no independent places left without subscriptions...
  • Remember when... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nijika ( 525558 ) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @09:50AM (#2415126) Homepage Journal
    ...these types of pages could support themselves with four guys and a rackspace co-lo? I don't see why they can't again. I don't understand why they need the backing of Tucows to survive. If they've changed so much that they need the backing of a dot bomb to continue, maybe they should start fresh.
    • Re:Remember when... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Dicky ( 1327 ) <slash3@vmlinuz.org> on Thursday October 11, 2001 @10:52AM (#2415375) Homepage
      They are 4 guys (and gals) plus some hosting. The problem is that they need some way to pay the 4 guys and gals, and pay the hosting bills. Until now, that's been paied by advertisers, first directly and then via Tucows (5 points to anyone with a 5-digit or more Slashdot ID who knows what Tucows stood for). The advertisers are no longer paying enough of the bills, so they've had to let two people go, and the continued operation of the site is in question.
      They need non-advertising based revenue.
      • Volunteer work (Score:3, Insightful)

        I think the point was that it used to be that these kind of news sites could be run by enthusiasts as a not too expensive (except in time) hobby.

        If the professional Linux news sites fail, hopefully amateurs will step in to fill the void. Unless something changed so this is no longer possible.
        • That's one reason they're as good as they are - they're run by skilled and experienced full-time professionals. Take that away and you lose a big chunk of their value.

          I can get a lot of the stuff that LWN covers from LT, /., whatever. What I /can't/ get is the filtering that LWN does, and the perspective they give. I can (and do) read bugtraq and lkml, but I end up getting most of my important security news from LWN, and I learn more from reading LWN's kernel page than I do from reading lkml. That's what's so valuable about it.

      • that was involved in a fake posting snafu not too long ago, or have I got them confused with someone else ?
      • The Ultimate Collection of Winsock Software.

        I went their all the time to find the latest and greatest software to make Windows for Workgroups 3.11 actually usable on the net. Only five-cow rated newreaders for this geek!
    • *sigh* Those were the days, but the problem is bandwidth. Back in the *old* days when the internet wasn't quite so popular, a news(or other free info) page could afford the bandwidth, now I'm sure the costs are prohibitive to have a large number of hits on a non-commercial page.

      Bandwidth costs are the biggest problem for small independant websites. They get too many visitors and cannot afford to serve them all without income, so they shutdown. *poof* Many good websites have shutdown due to this, as there are only a few ways to pay for the increased bandwidth: get donors/investors, get bought out by a larger company(ie slashdot), win the lottery, or various illegal things.

      Imagine if slashdot lost all financial backing right now, how long do you think the site could survive?

      • Bandwidth is far from LWN's biggest problem. Our bandwidth costs are significant, but a very small piece of the overall picture. What costs is paying people to write high-quality content.
      • They could always go with a "mirror" system, a lot like Tucows but without the heavy overhead on bandwidth that Tucows now occupies.

        Basically they'd have mirrored affiliates who in return get some banner space on the page of thier own. When you connect to LWN, you initially select your fastest or closest mirror, and a (shudder) cookie is set so that the next time you visit, you get the same fast page without having to go through the selection process.

        Problem: keeping the latest content on the mirrors. I can see how that could be done as well, I don't know how foolproof it would be.

        LWN staff: if you're reading this, thoughts?

  • Tucows and GPL? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by warmcat ( 3545 ) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @09:56AM (#2415148)
    Hm, I wondered if Tucows was in trouble a couple of weeks ago. I submitted a GPL Windows app I wrote (Nographer [nographer.com]) in the hope they would include it on their site, and it was rejected without explanation.

    As I think the app is pretty neat (it is a HTTP NNTP bridge, effectively turning USENET into a website), and they later sent a couple of emails boasting about how I could pay to improve my visibility on their site, I had a sneaking suspicion maybe GPL software was not quite what they had based their business plan on.

    Actually there seems to be something of an impedence mismatch althogther having Windows and GPL in the same sentance.

    • Yes they are laying off.. Couple of perl programmers let go last week.
    • Re:Tucows and GPL? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by chrysalis ( 50680 ) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @10:53AM (#2415380) Homepage
      Tucows has a new "exciting offer", for software authors. They can now get "new customers", watch "competition's software" and "purchase keywords". Submiting software now means buying one of their "bronze, silver or gold accounts". The more you pay, the more visibility you get.
      This totally breaks free software rules.
      Have a look at this post [geocrawler.com] .
      What authors are now seeing when they want to submit something to Tucows is this page [tucows.com] .

    • Re:Tucows and GPL? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by BlueUnderwear ( 73957 ) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @11:09AM (#2415438)
      I submitted a GPL Windows app I wrote (Nographer) in the hope they would include it on their site, and it was rejected without explanation.

      Same thing happened to me with a Linux app. I replied, asking for a reason (just in case it was something silly, which would be easily correctible). No answer.

      However, the funny thing is that they still kept sending me spam, about how I could upgrade the placement of my app by sending them $500... and boasting about their some zillions of hits per month. Then another mail apologizing the first was wrong, that it was actually zillions of hits per week. I replied to the spam saying there was still the issue with my app. No answer (predictably).

      Then somebody contacted me with a question about another application that I already had on tucows... and I brought up the subject of the new app up again. Eventually, after a couple of e-mail exchanges the guy suggested me to resubmit it, and lo and behold, it got accepted this time. Persistence pays ;-)

  • by mystery_bowler ( 472698 ) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @09:56AM (#2415155) Homepage
    This...isn't...Linux News?

    Coulda sworn....*grumble*

    (ducks behind asbestos wall)

  • It's a shame (Score:1, Redundant)

    by stevew ( 4845 )
    LWN was one of the first news sites (if not THE first) to cover linux at all! Back in the early days of the net being popular, LWN was the a great place to get a good summary of ALL the happenings in the world of Linux.

    If they went to a subscription service, I'd probably be willing to get a subscription. They still do a good job of coverage.
  • by SurfsUp ( 11523 ) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @10:09AM (#2415209)
    Consider this comparison of tipping services [squarefree.com]. Would you donate? How much? How often? Which is the best tipping service, does anybody have experience with these? What's better, subscription or tipping?
    • What's better, subscription or tipping?

      I say subscription. It's clear as water : I want your service, you ask me X money: if I value the service enough, I pay. Otherwise, I don't.

      I've always felt strange when I have to hand a tip. It's less streightforward.

      • "What's better, subscription or tipping?"

        I say subscription. It's clear as water : I want your service, you ask me X money: if I value the service enough, I pay. Otherwise, I don't.
        I've always felt strange when I have to hand a tip. It's less streightforward.

        Some people tip, some don't. It's those who do tip that matter.

        There are only a small number of web publications that have been able to survive on a subscription model: Wall Street Journal, some financial services, some stock quote services, and... ??? LWN does not have the resources of a Wall Street Journal, and it does not have a profitable paper edition to get itself through such an experiment. It might instead see its readership decimated, the subscription revenue not even able to make up for the decreased advertising revenue.

        One more question: do you feel strange when you tip in a restaurant?

        • One more question: do you feel strange when you tip in a restaurant?

          Yes, I do. Or at least I did when I traveled for the first time in USofA (here at home, the gratuity is part of the regular bill; tips are only used in extra-luxury places, where I don't have the money to go).

          Anyway, back on topic, I would pay a small amount (say up to $100 per year) to get someting like a newsletter containing LWD html pages, even though they are published on the web the same day. And, maybe, an yearly summary on CD.

  • Archives (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Boudewijn ( 51982 ) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @10:11AM (#2415218)
    If LWN goes, where go their archives? A lot
    of Linux history has been recorded in issues
    of LWN, to say nothing of the penguin gallery.
    • Good point. I had a knee-jerk idea:

      Google caches web pages it indexes. It might be nice if the good folks at google created something like archive.google.com - basically an historical reference to what was up on the web at the time google happened to spider. Maybe with queries by date. With hyperlinks rewritten to correspond to google's own saved cache of pages. Is the price of storage coming down faster than the volume of pages is going up?

      There's a _lot_ of important stuff on the web. It's such a shame when information gets lost.
  • ideas for survival (Score:5, Informative)

    by t482 ( 193197 ) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @10:13AM (#2415235) Homepage
    I have worked for a couple of firms restructuring - and they are always difficult. I will list a couple of suggestions regarding restructuring and then some general strategy notes.


    1. Do it as fast as you can.
    If you need to reduce your overhead by $10,333 a month, which may not be easy but sure beats the alternative (chapter 11). The longer you wait, the more drastic the cuts will have to be. If you wait too long, cuts alone may not be enough to save the site.

    Layoffs can do serious, long-term damage to a company's culture, but sometimes they're necessary. First think about freezing salaries, eliminating perks, postponing company parties, and so on. And if it turns out you can't save jobs without laying some people off, don't allow the process to drag on. Make all the necessary cuts at the same time, and then let the remaining employees know their jobs are secure. You will destroy morale--and lose good people--if everybody is wondering who will be the next to go.

    2. Marketing is hit first in a recession
    In a recession companies cut back on advertising first. In an effort to conserve cash, they cut back in the one area they should be expanding -- namely, sales and marketing. So get ready for the long haul.

    3. Check your cash flow.
    You need to look at your cash flow over the next 90-180 days and determine how much you need to survive.


    Here are some personal suggestions that may or may-not work.

    1) Put a donate button on the website. Suggest a small fee - say $5.00. Make it secure and give the users the option of saving the credit card numbers so they can re-donate frequently and easily.

    Small amounts are easier for users to swallow than $100 subscription fees.

    2) Focus on your core competencies.
    Main page - Core
    Security - non-core
    Kernel - core
    Distributions - core (maybe)
    On the Desktop - non-core
    Development - core
    Commerce - non-core
    Linux in the news non-core
    Announcements core - ( I would call it events calendar and market it as such)
    Linux History - non-core
    Letters - core (inexpensive)

    My feeling is that the real strength of the site is in reinterpreting the different mailing lists(kernel etc). - Not in re-posting press releases like linuxtoday.

    Target technical information for programmers. Programmers have money and create trends - and thus get attention from advertisers.

    3) Require registration so that you can prove the quality of your readers to the advertisers. Then market yourselves to those who want to get developers attention such as IBM, Microsoft, Borland and Sun.

    4) Get a mailing list going with the info. - more fodder for marketers - "Push marketing"

    5) Look at relicensing opportunities for sections of the website. For example license ibm developerworks the content of the kernel section. Don't sell the all your content though - get the users to visit your site for the full overview.

    check inc magazine for more: www.inc.com

    Anthony Barker

    • LWN provides a valuable service to me. I grow tired of sifting through ~100 messages/day on the kernel list, and regularly unsubscribe. I resubscribe when I have some trouble later.

      Anyway, the point is, I would pay to read LWN. Maybe up to $15. And I would prefer if I could pay with paypal, rather than a credit card.

      Good riddance to Tucows. They're a bunch of windoze trolls anyway, and their goals are orthogonal to free software.


    • So true, my only comment is that the On the Desktop page is core to the acceptance of Linux and therefore also core to the value of LWN.

      I'd happily pay 10 bucks or so for a year of LWN though

    • Here are some personal suggestions that may or may-not work.

      1) Put a donate button on the website. Suggest a small fee - say $5.00. Make it secure and give the users the option of saving the credit card numbers so they can re-donate frequently and easily.

      Amazon has a service that will collect donations for a fee taken off the top. Its called the honor system [amazon.com] and it meets all your suggested requirements.

    • Oh, and the security page /is/ core - it's one of the main reasons a lot of people read LWN.

  • Very sad news indeed (Score:2, Informative)

    by Chrimble ( 7748 )
    I've been a regular reader of LWN for years - it's the only site I *always* remember to visit on a Thursday. The quality of the editorials are generally excellent, and thought-provoking at the very least.

    On a personal level, I would happily subscribe to the publication if I could - $5 per month would probably be about right - about the same as a subscription to a monthly magazine.

    It would be a genuine loss to the Linux community to see it go away.
  • LWN and /. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FortKnox ( 169099 ) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @11:02AM (#2415409) Homepage Journal
    Question: since this is a news site, just like LWN, how much profit does /. make?
    Enough to survive the Economy? Do the advertisements really pay for the bandwidth (I can imagine the /.'s bandwidth is gonna cost tons!).

    How long until /. needs to make adjustments to keep afloat of the falling economy?
    Are the editors reading the comments on how to survive and taking notes, just in case?

    This isn't a troll, just compairing LWN to /.
  • by The Pim ( 140414 ) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @11:05AM (#2415424)
    LWN is in the narrow category of truly worthwhile things. Good selection of topics, nice organization and length, lucid writing, thoughtful opinions, attention to detail, good taste, and deep knowledge of, and clear passion for, the subject. These qualities are attributable to the awesome people involved; they are not commodity parts. LWN is not replaceable.

    They indicate that the problem is funding the staff, not hosting the site. If new sponsorship can't be found, I think we need to find out how much effort the staff can affort to spend on a volunteer basis, and then look for ways to spread out their talents. See if we can find a way for the community to provide some of the raw material, legwork, and editing, with Liz and Jon providing coaching and putting the pieces together.

    For starters, there is a great quantity of raw material in the comments on slashdot. A lot of the high-rated posts are really good stuff, even if they're not polished. Many of them could be turned into stories with some revision, fact-checking, and proofing. Perhaps slashdot or a parallel system could even provide the infrastructure for doing revisions of high-quality comments.

    I don't have the time or imagination to come up with a full solution now, but I really think there is some promise along these lines.

    • For starters, there is a great quantity of raw material in the comments on slashdot. A lot of the high-rated posts are really good stuff, even if they're not polished.

      I think that it was at that point that I literally burst out laughing in the computer lab. Man, oh man. Any text about current events just needs "some revision, fact-checking, and proofing" before it's publishable. But that is precisely where all the hard work goes. The devil is in the details, as the saying goes.

      Now, I don't mean any disrespect. I truly agree with your first paragraph... LWN puts out very high-quality material. But Slashdot comments are closer to rants, often informed, sometimes accurate and rarely both. There are many reader-operated Linux news sites, none of which compare with LWN for quality commentary.

      (Slashdot posts as quality journalism. Damn that's funny.)

      • You are essentially correct. The last ten percent of any job takes ninety percent of the labor and resources. As much work as goes into writing a professional, one page, article, at least as much, and likely much more, work goes into making it fit for print.

        As an object lesson here one need look no further than the Reg's recent announcement of a "Secret Meeting" of ip industry higher ups.

        That article probably took the original author about an hour to write. It would have taken the Reg four or five hours to check it. They didn't.

        The article was a hoax.

        Somehow the time and money MUST be made available to do such basic editorial functions, or the resultant articles are quite literally worse than useless.

        Compound this with the fact that journalism always runs that gauntlet of trying to be first to print, AND accurate. Somtimes one side or the other gives way. Sometimes the side that gives way is accuracy. That can bring disaster. On the web this effect is compounded many times. The web is all about being able to *publish right NOW, dammint!* Accuracy almost always suffers. Particularly in those arenas where the author self edits.

        I will, however, take a moment to defend the other side. I think the original poster has some point, although he is missing a key issue.

        The fact of the matter is that there ARE some rather good articles posted here on Slashdot now and again, *considering what they are.*

        What they are are quick little notes written without much thought for the process or end result. I am typing this right now strictly train of thought, without revision or much contemplation of what I'm writting. Hell, I'm not even bothering to spell check, ( as some of you will no doubt take the bandwidth to point out to me in 'pithy' terms).

        This is the nature of the *medium*, not the author. Slashdot is public forum, and one that anyone inclined to post well written and thought out will tend to avoid for such. It is a quick and dirty site. News items get posted. News items scroll off. I frequently find that I post an article, quite admitedly quick and dirty, and thus wide open for rebuttal, get rebutted, and then don't bother to come back and defend myself with better written piece.

        What's the point? Who's going to read it a week later? In this respect Slashdot is even less serious and "professional" than usenet, where one can spend weeks positing and defending a thesis.

        So, the point is that many articles posted here on Slashdot DO show the makings of professionally publishable articles, if their authors had any real inclination to take the time and trouble to make them such.

        Ok, THAT brings us back to the point that the original poster may have missed.

        Just what would induce such authors to take such time and trouble? Well, for most it would be *getting paid for it.* So we're right back to square one, arn't we?

        Now some of you are already whipping your keyboards into a froth to tell me that that people will write to scratch an itch, and you're absolutely right. Once. Maybe twice. Who knows, maybe that would be enough to help LWN. Are there enough Slashdot posters with the actual skills and willingness to do so, to the extent that it would create a financial boom to LWN? I don't know.

        ESR wrote The Cathedral and the Bazaar to scratch an itch, he didn't need to, or expect to, get paid for it. The fact that he DID end up getting paid for has meant that he can *continue* to write though.

        Here is the issue faced by all such websites as LWN. You start it to scratch an itch. You run a server that someone was throwing out out of your clothes closet. You have a day gig to support yourself. You do * a really good job* and become popular.

        How do you eat and pay rent?

        Well jeez Louise, isn't that what *everybody* has been trying to figure out, without success, for the past year or so? How many times has Britannica.com changed its business model?

        Information is free. Information *delivery* is not! Advertising has been the traditional way to pay the messenger. Cable TV uses it. PUBLIC TV and radio use it. Magazines, newspapers, etc. all rely on advertising to pay the delivery boy. It not only works, but little else has been found * in any mass media* as a viable alternative.

        The advertisers are no longer interested in the web. Well, that sucks for us. Unfortunately the only cure I can think of is to *reinterest* them.

        Has anybody thought of THAT? Every traditional media outlet has a professional sales staff. Do they sell the media? No, they sell the *advertising space.* The web, so far, seems to based on an 'eyeball' model. Sell the site. Get eyeballs. Show the advertisers eyeballs, get check.

        Well, it just dosn't WORK like that. You have to SELL the advertisers, who are the *primary customers of your site, NOT the readers.*

        The reason LWN, and all other such sites, are in the trouble they are is largely due to a fundamental misunderstanding of *who their customer base is.* Treat your customers like a suger daddy or angel and they go away. Go figure.

        So, any advice I have is already too late for LWN. I'll offer it for anyone else who is thinking of starting a professional website though. The very FIRST thing you should do is take a job as a salesman for a traditional print magazine and STAY there for at least a year, maybe two.

        Then you'll have some idea of how the *business* of distributing free information works. NOW start your website. If you still dare.

        (Warning: The above is a stream of conciousness Slashdot post and should not be taken seriously as an actual article. Not even as seriously as a usenet article, and I'm unlikely to spend any effort defending it)

  • by Brian Stretch ( 5304 ) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @11:23AM (#2415491)
    Weather Underground [wunderground.com] has a neat subscription model: pay $5/year and they shut off the ads. Ads are a minor annoyance on my cable modem feed, but I subscribed just because they're my favorite weather site. LWN might want to charge a bit more, and/or make shutting off the ads a user-selectable option (targeted ads can be informative), and definitely offer payment via PayPal [paypal.com] as well as credit cards, but it's the most plausible revenue model I've seen.
  • by jacobito ( 95519 ) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @11:27AM (#2415514) Homepage
    A few issues after I started reading the Perl Journal, it temporarily went under (and now it's back and much smaller). A few months ago, I started reading LWN. And now it's on the ropes. I must have hexed it. Go figure.
  • by BillyGoatThree ( 324006 ) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @11:42AM (#2415594)
    "their Senior Editor" is kind of a dumb way to put it. Hammel wrote one section of their site, a site with only 4-5 people behind the scenes.

    Also, for a site that is driven by eyeballs, they sure don't try to attract viewers very hard. I never knew they had a discussion list or forum or whatever it is. Maybe some advertising of their features to drive up the ad revenue.

    For instance, I've always trusted LWN to cover in a fair and evenhanded manner the Crisis Of The Week that is reported at Slashdot. They could push themselves as BBC to Slashdot's "Channel 4 Action News Team, Film At 11".
  • by SomeOtherGuy ( 179082 ) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @11:55AM (#2415666) Journal
    But why must the model work like this:

    A. Website starts with little or no funding. Is wildly popular. Attracts a large crowd. Website operates as a hobby for the people that run it.

    B. Company buys website and puts big dollars into site. Pays everyone involved a salary.

    C. Money runs out....website dies.

    Why can't a site go from Grassroots, Sugar Daddy, back to Grassroots?
    • Open Source coders also need to eat. Linux is free -- yet Linus does not look like he has missed very many meals. The internet is a great place to voice ones opinion -- and most journalists value their opinions and ego's enough that they trade the demographics and reach of the internet for the ability to actually make money everytime the "pen hits the paper...."
    • Bandwidth costs. When it is a hobbyist site, the co-lo fees are cheap. But when big conglomerate buys/markets site, you get more hits, need more bandwidth, etc. Costs more money.

      The site becomes a victim of its own success.

      • That makes sense. "The site becomes a victim of its own success." is about the best answer possible.
        • It's actually a well known phenomena: as a business expands, cash-flow becomes absolutely crucial. That's why many businesses flounder in the middle of an expansion.

          Anyone with an MBA (yours truly) should have learned this somewhere along the line. See, we do occasionally serve a purpose:)

      • If it's a news site, why can't they survive on daily email news instead of a fancy web site? All News, No Filler.

        Spammers seem to be able to send millions of emails a day for nothing, I think a resourceful geek can figure something out..
    • Why can't a site go from Grassroots, Sugar Daddy, back to Grassroots?

      It's called intelectual property. When Sugar Daddy buys the cool site, he expects, errr, returns. This typically involves modifications that annoy everyone. When they complain, he slaps them around a little. When his new toy doesnt put out, well, he fires all those folks who gave him all the trouble about the changes. But he keeps the mangled results, thinking that they may have value to someone. Sugar Daddy might not ever use those cool ideas again, but he thinks he owns them and has a pimp^H^H^H^H lawyer to keep things honest.

  • by jd ( 1658 )
    LWN is not really a "news" site, in the way most people would think of the term. Rather, it is a meta-news site, which is far more useful and much easier to read.

    The fact that it is based on meta-data makes it, IMHO, a prime candidate for corporate sponsorship by some of the bigger players in the Linux world, where their Linux news is simply being drowned in the sea of press releases that are churned out daily.

    It also means it's a prime candidate for volunteer "relief" work. You do NOT have to be a skilled author to check an e-mailed link, then cut & paste it into the daily updates. Sure, that's not all LWN does, but every paid hour freed to do something that might generate revenue, or make the site ever-better for readers, is a paid hour that has increased in value, ten-fold.

    There are plenty of other things which are important, but which are also fairly "mechanical" and don't need a Masters degree to complete -- sorting out which category a story is for, for example. Sifting through letters to the editor, for selection. Checking for duplicate story entries. Maybe doing some cross-referencing.

    For those who live in LWN's neighborhood(s), I'm sure the staff would not object to LWN readers bringing them snacks, cups of tea/coffee, penguin mints :), etc. Something that would give them a feeling of being appreciated AND a boost of energy.

    For those with even fairly slow, but permanent, connections, maybe you could do co-location, or (IMHO a better solution) run a squid Accelerator, so that the load on LWN can be spread out a bit. This could make a big difference, if enough people did this. Enough parallel servers could reduce the speed LWN need for their link, and that would reduce the costs. At the very high-end, the difference in costs can be massive.

  • Maybe they should combine operations and work out sometime to keep both of them afloat.

  • Well, here are my ideas which I guess are simple to implement, though I doubt they will save LWN for a long time.

    1. (Not exactly mine, but) I will defenetely buy a t-shirt AND a coffee mug with "LWN" or "I read LWN" sign. Hell, I might even start wearing a cap with LWN stamped on it.

    2. Hosting costs might be decreased a lot by destributed mirroring. I have to different locations and will to mirror LWN. None of those is exactly T1 connection, but I am not alone :)

    It will be sad to see LWN go, and I really hope there are solutions to the problem. We are a community at the end of the day :)

  • by Bill Kendrick ( 19287 ) <bill@newbreedsoftware.com> on Friday October 12, 2001 @03:06AM (#2418783) Homepage
    I just learned today that FAQS.org [faqs.org] is in financial trouble, too! More here [faqs.org]...
  • I'm honestly not trolling and I like the site but is it that much work to create a few web pages each week?

    I'd guess that most Linux users already know most of what they find there and wouldn't find it an impossible burden to produce an equivalent.

    I'm not denigrating their efforts - it's a cool site, etc - but if the community really wanted an equivalent to survive it doesn't sound too difficult.

    Get Alan Cox (or whoever) to write the kernel page
    Get the KDE team to produce a page
    Get the Gnome team to produce a page

    Do that once a week and that's not far off what the good people at LWN do now, is it?

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