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Salon.com Editor Looks Back At Paywalls

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 4 years ago | from the shooting-yourself-in-the-foot dept.

The Internet 246

Techdirt pointed out an interesting retrospective by Scott Rosenberg, former managing editor of Salon.com, about their experiments with paywalls and how repercussions can last a lot longer than some might expect. "More important, by this point the public was, understandably, thoroughly confused about how to get to read Salon content. It took many years for our traffic to begin to grow again. Paywalls are psychological as much as navigational, and it's a lot easier to put them up than to take them down. Once web users get it in their head that your site is 'closed' to them, if you ever change your mind and want them to come back, it's extremely difficult to get that word out."

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What? (5, Insightful)

KefabiMe (730997) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328456)

You don't have to pay to go to Salon? News to me. I haven't visited that site for at least a couple of years.

Re:What? (4, Insightful)

cashman73 (855518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328530)

I think Salon's business strategy is like this:
  1. Put content on web.
  2. Put content behind paywall.
  3. Remove paywall and go with advertising model.
  4. Post article to Slashdot about doing this, hoping that some sympathy by a bunch of nerds will get them some increased traffic.
  5. ????
  6. Profit!

Re:What? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30328654)

Does the New York Times still do it? I just assumed it did. Maybe I'll take another look.

Re:What? (0, Redundant)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328722)

You had to pay to go to Salon? News to me. I haven't visited that site for more than a few years.

Re:What? (5, Insightful)

V50 (248015) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328796)

Yep. Last I remember of Salon.com was sometime in 2000 or so, they had some decent stuff. Then the paywall went up ages ago, and I forgot they existed. Except for a few times throughout the decade where Google led me to an article of theirs, only to end up being blocked of by the paywall.

Half of me thinks this is just them screaming "LOOK WE DON'T HAVE A PAYWALL ANYMORE". That is, assuming they actually don't.

Re:What? (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 4 years ago | (#30329066)

He's probably right in assuming that the potential Salon readership overlaps with the Guardian's american readership.

Re:What? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328838)

I don't think I've ever visited the site, but I remember reading about them becoming payer-only on El Reg a few years ago. Since then I've not bothered clicking on links to Salon because I didn't want to go to a site and then be told I couldn't access the content. I don't know how long they've been ad supported for, but he's right about one thing: the paywall experiment drove at least one potential reader away.

Re:What? (3, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#30329226)

That was the biggest point in TFA -- it's easy to put a paywall up, it's hard to get readers back if you then take it down.

Did Salon drop their paywall? (4, Interesting)

Bieeanda (961632) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328464)

I wouldn't know, because after dealing with the fucking thing several times I just gave up on the goddamn site. Seriously-- when they started gating their bloody comics section, and the second half of already pretty poor articles vanished behind 'day passes' and interstitial video ads, my interest in dealing with them as a site vanished.

Re:Did Salon drop their paywall? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30328850)

You!
I wanna take you to a pay wall,
I wanna take you to a pay wall,
I wanna take you to a pay wall, pay wall, pay wall.

I've got something to put in you,
I've got something to put in you,
I've got something to put in you,
At the pay wall, pay wall, pay wall.
Wow!

Re:Did Salon drop their paywall? (2, Interesting)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 4 years ago | (#30329184)

The link for the daypass cookie was easily found for anyone who cared to look
http://www.google.com/search?q=salon+cookie756 [google.com]

Re:Did Salon drop their paywall? (4, Insightful)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 4 years ago | (#30329334)

The point is that the overwhelming majority of people don't care enough to look. They just leave, and never come back. Unless Salon is streaming lesbians, nobody's going to go even minimal effort to get around a paywall.

Did not RTFA (-1, Redundant)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328468)

Did salon remove their paywall? I thought they went paywall in 2001 or so.

Salon is free again? (-1, Redundant)

AK Dave (1459433) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328484)

Salon is no longer pay-only? Wow, when did this change? I haven't browsed them in years.

salon.com? (4, Funny)

bl8n8r (649187) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328490)

Is that a hairstylist blog or something?

Re:salon.com? (1)

runyonave (1482739) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328556)

That's what I thought, never heard of it.

Re:salon.com? (-1, Flamebait)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328728)

Are you 13 years old or something? It is one of the more famous and influential online journals. It would be pretty difficult to have not heard of it, unless you just play video games and don't actually read anything intelligent online.

Re:salon.com? (1)

Loomismeister (1589505) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328768)

I'm 20 and it's before my time. I have heard of it, but feel no desire to investigate what it really is.

Re:salon.com? (1)

ground.zero.612 (1563557) | more than 4 years ago | (#30329206)

I'm 20 and it's before my time. I have heard of it, but feel no desire to investigate what it really is.

Just so you don't get flamed, everyone with mod points should note there is a difference between not having a desire to do something, and being apathetic.

Re:salon.com? (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#30329272)

Mea culpa... I guess I am getting old. It's weird though, I don't feel much different than a 20 year-old, but it is getting more difficult to see history from the perspective of someone who was born in 1989!

Re:salon.com? (2, Funny)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 4 years ago | (#30329356)

I find banging girls in their early 20s helps.
Well, actually it doesn't help me understand their perspective any better, but it sure is fun!!

Re:salon.com? (2, Informative)

Z1NG (953122) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328886)

I'm 26 and didn't know what it was either. Just because you know about something doesn't mean everyone else does. From other comments it looks like they put up a paywall around 2001 or so, and I expect fewer people have paid attention to it after that point. Before that not nearly as many people were online. Is there a reverse "get of my lawn" meme to direct at crotchety old people?

Re:salon.com? (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328926)

I assume most Slashdotters over the age of 20 were online by 2000 though?

Re:salon.com? (1)

bennomatic (691188) | more than 4 years ago | (#30329040)

Yes, but the ones under 30 weren't reading Salon.com by 2001.

Re:salon.com? (3, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#30329166)

By 2001, sure, but it had a bunch of hype in 1999 when it bought the WELL and had an IPO. I'm under 30 and remember that!

Re:salon.com? (1)

coolsnowmen (695297) | more than 4 years ago | (#30329258)

It was possible to be online in 2000, and not remember what salon.com was.
^^This guy

Re:salon.com? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30329010)

I'm not 13 years old (much older) and haven't heard of it. I'm also not acting like a complete shit sack like you are.

Re:salon.com? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30329082)

It is one of the more famous and influential online journals. It would be pretty difficult to have not heard of it, unless you just play video games and don't actually read anything intelligent online.

Unless, of course, you came of age after the paywall had gone up.

(I was a reader during their pre-IPO phase. At least the founders got something out of it -- at the time, it was an experiment worth running, even though we now know the paywall to be a broken business model. I, too, had forgotten they'd existed some time after the delisting, and was surprised to see the site was still up.)

Salon fell into the Web 1.0 trap that Gawker Media's falling in2.0 today. Used to browse 'em daily, then they made the comments require Javascript to be visible, and I grumbled, but kept showing up, then they made it so that multiple mouse clicks were required to view more than a handful of comments on a page, plus another mouse click for "show me comments from all registered users, not just the ones blessed by the site's owners", and finally I just gave up on 'em. *sigh*. I still miss Jalopnik...

Re:salon.com? (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328864)

Probably not in their target audience. A "Salon" is a gathering of intellectuals [wikipedia.org] . Salon.com falls (well) short of that, but most sites do. The closest it comes, in style, is when Camille Paglia "holds court".On the other hand, seeing Paglia's courtiers prostrate themselves in fawning display is... an acquired taste ... at best.

It's sort of like Slate. More bookish, more liberal.

Sshhh! (5, Funny)

dswensen (252552) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328494)

Keep it to yourself, will you? If Rupert Murdoch gets wind of this, he might change his mind about cordoning Fox News off from the rest of the Internet!

Actually, probably not.

Wait, does this mean... (-1, Redundant)

turthalion (891782) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328502)

... Salon no longer has a paywall?

: )

I got tired of them when they went too far to ... (1)

NoYob (1630681) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328504)

the left. I like to read about both sides of an issue, but sometimes, some of their columnists can be a bit over over the top and just as bad as some of the commentators on Fox - only on the left.

The paywall didn't bother me at all - it gave me time to get a cup of coffee or eliminate a previous cup of coffee.

Re:I got tired of them when they went too far to . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30328718)

Wow, you found Salon too far to the left? Not surprising you didn't mind the paywall.

Re:I got tired of them when they went too far to . (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328814)

I like to think of FOX and Salon like Wikipedia: Occasionally they point you to something interesting but you'd better verify what they say elsewhere.

Re:I got tired of them when they went too far to . (3, Insightful)

iamacat (583406) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328910)

People keep saying that, but can you point even a single article on wikipedia which is outrageously incorrect and has been this way for more than a month that it might take to notice vandalism. Fox news on the other hand...

Re:I got tired of them when they went too far to . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30329234)

How would I know where to point unless I'd done what the previous poster suggests, and verified the information elsewhere?

For important things I can't think of any single source I would trust without seeking a second opinion.

Re:I got tired of them when they went too far to . (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30329244)

Take a look at the more politically focused pages.

Re:I got tired of them when they went too far to . (2, Insightful)

iamacat (583406) | more than 4 years ago | (#30329294)

So, can you link to a politically focused article which is factually wrong in the key facts presented?

Re:I got tired of them when they went too far to . (2, Interesting)

megamerican (1073936) | more than 4 years ago | (#30329288)

If you can get past the left-right paradigm then you'd see that MSNBC and CNN are on just as bad as Fox.

As for Wikipedia I've seen a peer-reviewed scientific article deleted from an article because it gave "undue weight" to a "fringe theory."

The Franklin Scandal, according to wikipedia was a "hoax" because one state senator called it a hoax. I was banned from wikipedia for simply pointing out that the person pursuing the case was also a state senator and thus changed it to "controversy."

Re:I got tired of them when they went too far to . (1)

iamacat (583406) | more than 4 years ago | (#30329328)

The Franklin Scandal, according to wikipedia was a "hoax"

[citation needed]

Re:I got tired of them when they went too far to . (1)

dmadzak (997352) | more than 4 years ago | (#30329346)

Andrew Sullivan used as a reference on Sarah Palin. How can he be considered a credible objective source for her wikipedia article after his Trig meltdown?

He's correct: bootstrap to survive (1)

ewe2 (47163) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328522)

The money's going to run out, paywalls won't save you. I make the same argument about energy risk management: unless you spend the resources now to transition, by the time you need an alternate source, you can't exploit it. Someone else will take that opportunity for you.

Re:He's correct: bootstrap to survive (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328766)

The money's going to run out, paywalls won't save you.

But slashdot still has one [slashdot.org] .

Re:He's correct: bootstrap to survive (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30329156)

That's really more of a pay hedgerow.

Re:He's correct: bootstrap to survive (2, Insightful)

rjstanford (69735) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328900)

Actually, if you ever read TFA, you'd see that the paywall - while it made their future success a lot more challenging - was the only thing that did save them when the money ran out. It was basically put up a paywall and live, hurting, or don't and die out due to lack of revenue (which makes future developments moot). They did what they thought they had to do to survive, and survived, giving them the chance to painfully recover once they were able to drop the paywall.

Re:He's correct: bootstrap to survive (0, Flamebait)

ewe2 (47163) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328998)

Actually, I did read the TFA and you're missing my point completely. Learn to read.

viewers weren't stupid, they were pissed off (0, Flamebait)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328542)

More important, by this point the public was, understandably, thoroughly confused about how to get to read Salon content. It took many years for our traffic to begin to grow again. Paywalls are psychological as much as navigational, and it's a lot easier to put them up than to take them down. Once web users get it in their head that your site is 'closed' to them, if you ever change your mind and want them to come back, it's extremely difficult to get that word out.

Oh man, that's rich. So, users are just "stupid" and "hard to reach"? I think "pissed off" is more like it. Let me reword that for you, Salon:

"More important, by this point the public was, understandably, thoroughly confused and annoyed as to why they had to pay for Salon content or watch ads when they didn't have to anywhere else. It took many years for our traffic to begin to grow again after we finally realized Paywalls are like trying to charge people for air or sell refrigerators to Eskimos. Content is plentiful and none of our articles were special or unique enough to justify the cost or trouble for viewers. Once web users find your site requires them to do more than just read content, if you ever realize you were completely stupid and want them to come back, too bad, because they already found other free content they like, and you already pissed them off."

Re:viewers weren't stupid, they were pissed off (5, Informative)

Maestro485 (1166937) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328678)

Read TFA. (I know, I know, slashdot). He isn't blaming users. He said that after the 9/11 attacks, no advertisers were paying because they didn't want their ads next to 9/11 stories. Salon, after rounds of layoffs before the attacks even happened, was hurting for cash. They used a paywall for some content, which brought in new cash in the short term. However, there wasn't much room for growth since nobody but the current subscribers could see the content to decide if they wanted to subscribe.

You cherry-picked the summary in your little tirade. They put up the 30 second ad "day pass" thing as a way to bring in new eyeballs, but it was so convoluted and poorly executed that users just quit coming to the site. He didn't blame the users, he blamed the paywall.

Re:viewers weren't stupid, they were pissed off (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328960)

Sorry, the GP is correct. Salon's decision to go behind a paywall pissed me off to the point where I wouldn't even bother thinking about going. The generally poor quality of the articles and editing didn't help, either. They're sort of a amateur-hour Wired.

Re:viewers weren't stupid, they were pissed off (1, Insightful)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 4 years ago | (#30329198)

You. aren't. reading. accurately. Your .sig ("Please read and at least attempt to understand comment before replying, kthxbye.") is extremely ironic here.

Re:viewers weren't stupid, they were pissed off (1)

dcollins117 (1267462) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328744)

Oh man, that's rich. So, users are just "stupid" and "hard to reach"? I think "pissed off" is more like it.

Or apathetic. I'm just speaking for myself here but there's nothing on their site so compelling to me that I'm willing to open my wallet for it. Another way to look at it is there is a foreseeable downside to giving my payment information to any site on the internet and this case it's just not worth it.

Nice putting words in his mouth... (2, Informative)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#30329262)

He never said the users were stupid, or even implied it. What he said was once they left, there was no way to let them know it was free again.

Re:viewers weren't stupid, they were pissed off (1)

ground.zero.612 (1563557) | more than 4 years ago | (#30329312)

Once web users get it in their head that your site is 'closed'

I think stating it like this makes it obvious to me that the it's not the users who were out of touch. The whole "get it in their head" bit... as if Salon.com wasn't the one that told them. No, in fact it just magically popped in with unicorns and pixie dust.

What! Salon took down the pay wall? (0, Redundant)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328636)

Man! I never knew. Went, there once back in, what 1999?, and got slapped in the face and never went back. Coulda knocked me down with a feather! Fancy that! Salon, no pay wall! Why I never heard about it before?

Do women need affordable botox? (0, Offtopic)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328676)

I go to their homepage only to see headlines such as "do women need affordable botox?". Yeah, I think I'll still avoid salon.com.

Re:Do women need affordable botox? (1, Insightful)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328786)

Yeah, god forbid they run stories about topics that you personally aren't interested in, or acknowledge the existence of women.

Re:Do women need affordable botox? (2)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328858)

Yeah, god forbid I say I don't want to read a website that runs stories I'm not interested in.

Re:Do women need affordable botox? (1, Insightful)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#30329296)

But why do you need to say that publicly? Slashdot isn't twitter. Are you also going to post here to say that you don't like apple juice, you prefer orange?

Re:Do women need affordable botox? (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328916)

Some of the health care proposals tax elective cosmetic surgery. Since women elect to have cosmetic surgery more often than men, it's could be argued that the burden of paying for national health care will fall disproportionally on women. If you don't care for Feminism, don't read broadsheet. If you don't care for serious feminism, stick to Jezebel.

Irony (1)

ojintoad (1310811) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328688)

Everyone here is surprised Salon had dropped the pay wall and is reacting to that. It seems the solution is to have a meta discussion about the effects of dropping your pay wall as a means to spread knowledge that it was dropped in the first place.

I didn't even know.. (2, Interesting)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328736)

..that Salon had come back. When I see 'em in the status bar, I don't bother clicking because I assume the article isn't really there.

And that's kind of interesting. Their name got known. That's half the battle. Too bad they got known in a bad way.

BTW, you know who actually got me to pay? Phoronix.

Re:I didn't even know.. (1)

schon (31600) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328808)

Their name got known. That's half the battle. Too bad they got known in a bad way.

So much for the old adage "there's no such thing as bad publicity", huh? :)

Good frikkin lord... (3, Funny)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328742)

If I have to read another “funny” comment saying “what! salon.com dropped their paywall?”, I think I’m going to scream.

Re:Good frikkin lord... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30328804)

I didn't read the article or the rest of the comments, but are you telling me that salon.com no longer has a paywall?? What!

Re:Good frikkin lord... (0, Offtopic)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328810)

sigh...

I should’ve expected that.

Re:Good frikkin lord... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30329220)

Now that you mention it, it does look a lot like a coordinated SEO gambit.

I think we've been had.

Re:Good frikkin lord... (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#30329300)

I didn’t mention it, but I thought it, if that counts.

Makes me wonder... (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328774)

If www.ExpertSexChange.com dropped their paywall, how long would it take for anyone to start using that?

(I’d never even heard of salon.com, but expertsexchange is something more along the lines of what a geek would understand, I think.)

Re:Makes me wonder... (1)

gregarican (694358) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328866)

Just refer to their Google cache, as all of the content is wide open for reading, although 9 times out of 10 a problem you're googling for just has threads similar to yours...but without a solution...

Re:Makes me wonder... (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328918)

Or scroll all the way to the bottom of the page. ;)

Re:Makes me wonder... (2, Informative)

shog9 (154858) | more than 4 years ago | (#30329144)

Actually, ya gotta use both. They check the referrer, and put the real answers after the ads/fake answers if the referrer is Google.

If you bookmark a page and visit it later, the answers are gone.

Re:Makes me wonder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30329038)

not to mention that they get most of their content by scraping the net. You can also usually copy and paste their messages into google with some quotes and find the original source.... often with more replies than EE

Re:Makes me wonder... (0, Redundant)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30329188)

Or just scroll to the bottom of the page.

Re:Makes me wonder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30328870)

That is some dubious capitalization in that domain.

Re:Makes me wonder... (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328948)

Yeah... they re-registered as www.Experts-Exchange.com when too many people noticed.

Re:Makes me wonder... (0, Redundant)

Jimmy King (828214) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328968)

Not to mention that's not even the domain for the site he's referring to. Sadly, the real one has a hyphen which solves the reading problem.

Re:Makes me wonder... (0, Offtopic)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#30329016)

I was under the impression that it still worked. Apparently not. :‘(

/me sheds a nostalgic tear

Re:Makes me wonder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30328962)

There is no paywall. Just scroll right to the bottom of the page.

Re:Makes me wonder... (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#30329044)

Yes there is, and I know. There just happens to be a way to get around the paywall, which they created because Google got pissy over them giving Googlebot different content than it gave other user agents.

Re:Makes me wonder... (1)

Ash Vince (602485) | more than 4 years ago | (#30329130)

Incidentally, you can sign up for experts exchange and get access to the answers without paying. You just need to sign up as an expert and post some useful answers that help other people regularly.

The paywall only applies to people who only want answers without ever giving any back. I know they make you dig a little on the site to find out how to sign up for free, but real experts generally are quite good at digging out answers so should not find this too hard.

Filtered them a while ago (1)

CrashNBrn (1143981) | more than 4 years ago | (#30329212)

I use a custom google search. Experts-exchange.com is one of the domains I have permanently filtered out of any of my search results.

A significant amount of their content is lifted directly from Microsoft's KB articles, technet, etc. Other answers can usually be found elsewhere on reputable sites.

Re:Filtered them a while ago (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#30329278)

Meh. If you’re coming from Google, the answers are way down at the bottom of the page, so I usually just hit it anyhow to see if there’s anything worthwhile.

What?! (0, Redundant)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328800)

Salon.com is still in business?

What!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30328868)

salon.com had a paywal!?

How paywalls could work (2, Interesting)

cowtamer (311087) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328882)

As much as I don't like it as a user, I believe the "paywall" approach would work if there was one dominant way to pay for a "pass" (or a micropayment account) that would unlock millions of sites.

I have no interest in paying for a Salon (or a Slashdot) subscription, but I could see myself paying $7/month to "Google Paywall" if it unlocked millions of sites for me.

Of course, it is IMPOSSIBLE for anyone to compete with the psychology of "free", and I would hate the privacy implications of having to identify myself to every site I visit, even if it were trivially cheap...

Re:How paywalls could work (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30329110)

I believe the "paywall" approach would work if there was one dominant way to pay for a "pass" (or a micropayment account) that would unlock millions of sites.

It sounds like paying for cable TV to unlock dozens of channels that you don't care about and two that you do. Yet in Slashdot articles about cable companies, so many users post comments complaining that they can't subscribe to channels a la carte.

They opened up? (2, Interesting)

Perp Atuitie (919967) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328898)

I used to go there all the time. Assumed there was still a paywall or equivalent. The psychological thing is interesting -- even if it's perfectly open now I'd have to overcome some kind of habitual negative association to start again. The other thing, of course, is that everybody that didn't want to pay found good-enough alternatives in the meantime and don't necessarily want to put another name on their dance card. Rosenberg has the psychology exactly right.

Re:They opened up? (2, Interesting)

AkiraRoberts (1097025) | more than 4 years ago | (#30329022)

Similar experience for me. Used to read them all the time. When they went pay, I stuck with it for a bit, using that kind of confusing advertising funded day pass thing. Then I just sort of stopped. Back around the election I started checking them out again, and was surprised to find them totally open. But, even with the openness, and even knowing that they actually have some fairly good articles, I'd gotten into a routine of only really checking a few key news-type sites. Salon wasn't in that routine, so I have to make an effort to remember to look at it. Says more about my own laziness, I suppose, but I doubt I'm the only one.

Paywalls will fail unless everyone does it (2, Insightful)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328954)

The reason Murdoch doesn't do anything is because doing it on his own would hurt him. The Sun, Sky News and Fox news aren't aimed at rich people, like the WSJ. They're aimed at the lower class who aren't going to pay if they can help it. So the only way Murdoch will grow an balls to lock up his sites is if he can get everyone else to do it and hopefully that won't happen.

paywalls without a sane business model? (5, Insightful)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328958)

What I don't understand is paywalls that seem to have been erected without any sane business model in mind. For instance, here [sciencedirect.com] is a physics paper that I needed to look up today. It describes a particle-physics experiment from 1979 that, as a side benefit, ended up producing one of the classic high-precision tests of special relativity. I teach at a community college, so we don't have scientific journals at the library. My wife teaches at a university, so she has electronic access to journals, but the access to this particular publisher's journal only goes back to 1995. So I find the article online, behind a paywall, and I'm all set to pay $10 for a copy, just to avoid the hassle of going to a university library and photocopying it. I click through on the link to buy a copy, and they want $31.50. That's just crazy. Since the price was insane, it motivated me to get in the car, drive 20 minutes to a university library, and find the article down in the basement stacks where they put old journals.

To me, this seems like totally irrational behavior on the part of the publisher. For any product you want to sell, there has to be a price that optimizes your profit. Price it too high, and you don't get enough volume. Price it too low, and you get volume, but not enough of a profit margin. I simply can't believe that $31.50 is the sane, profit-optimizing price for a single academic paper from 1979 -- especially not when it's electronic, so the marginal cost of distribution per copy is essentially zero. My guess is that some of these traditional print publishers simply have their heads in the sand. They believe that the advent of digital music has decimated the music business, so the lesson they take home is that anything digital is like dog poop -- don't touch it, or something bad will happen to you and your business.

Re:paywalls without a sane business model? (1)

comm2k (961394) | more than 4 years ago | (#30329100)

How true!
For some journals it is even cheaper to order the whole issue than to 'buy' one single paper electronically...

Re:paywalls without a sane business model? (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 4 years ago | (#30329170)

I'm not sure that it's in the best interest of the scientific community to lower rates on obsolete papers, and increase them on higher quality, cutting edge papers.

Re:paywalls without a sane business model? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30329282)

I simply can't believe that $31.50 is the sane, profit-optimizing price for a single academic paper from 1979 -- especially not when it's electronic, so the marginal cost of distribution per copy is essentially zero

You think you've got troubles... try finding service manuals for A/V equipment. I'm not doing this professionally; I'm just trying to keep useful gear out of the landfill (and in my living room :)

90% of the links are robot-generated spam pages. 10% of the links are pirated versions of the service manuals... behind paywalls, and the prices vary from $10 to $50 for the pirated copies. Most manufacturers are beginning to make the content available, but their prices aren't much better (yes, the legit prices are usually around $30ish) than those of the pirates.

And then you've got middlemen like scribd -- which is sometimes where the service-manual hosting sites store "their" content. Great, here's a 100-page manual that explains everything I need to know to revive this dumpster-dived flat-screen! But it's not in PDF, it's in Flash. And the "print" button works just fine, but if your print spooler isn't done in 60 seconds, that's all you get. (Seriously -- a 100-page manual, 15 pages of which would print-to-PDF on a slow machine, and 80 of which would print-to-PDF on a faster machine. The only common ground was that there was a 60-second timeout [blogspot.com] in the Flash, which was so rifuckulous that I didn't believe it until I googled it and found that link. Scribd isn't even in the business of charging for content -- all their content is user-uploaded. The YouTube analogy would be that you can watch any video you want, as long as you consume fewer than 10 CPU-seconds of system time to render it. WTF?)

Try me (5, Funny)

fulldecent (598482) | more than 4 years ago | (#30329064)

let the paywalls go up.

i'll be the one to write a firefox extension that double underlines all paywall sites. And we all know by now... you don't dare even mouseover double underlined text.

It's not the problem with paying for news (1)

iamacat (583406) | more than 4 years ago | (#30329078)

It's the problem paying for each news source separately. What people definitely not want to do is get all their news from one site, like they did in the days of newspapers. And $5/month subscriptions to 20 different sites are not going to be cost effective. Come up with a system where one pays a flat fee, has access to practically everything, worldwide, and the money is distributed in proportion to time spent on each site and people will not be averse to paying. In fact most ISPs would probably bundle the access fee to simplify life for an average user who just wants the site to work with no extra steps.

Why WSJ Paywall Works (1)

geoffrobinson (109879) | more than 4 years ago | (#30329090)

1) their site is specialized enough
2) it is probably a business expense for a lot of people

God as my witness, I didn't know they were free (0, Redundant)

kriston (7886) | more than 4 years ago | (#30329140)

God as my witness, I didn't know they were free.
It really is that long-lasting.

Salon thought they were the Wall Street Journal.

Re:God as my witness, I didn't know they were free (4, Interesting)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 4 years ago | (#30329290)

Part of the problem was also part of Salon's strength: they were started and run by writers. Old-school, ink-and-paper writers.

And their writing was and is very good, some of the best online. They raised the bar on the quality of online writing in the late 90's. I still regularly read some of their columnists (especially Glenn Greenwald, and their film reviews are among the best anywhere.) The intersection of the literati who would follow Salon and the tech-geeks who populate Slashdot is pretty small, so I don't expect this to resonate with many of them. They haven't fallen off the web; they've largely recovered from the hemorrhaging of readers from the paywall-period, but they won't get back the revenues they've lost in the meantime.

fast forward 10 years (5, Insightful)

digitalsushi (137809) | more than 4 years ago | (#30329236)

Fast forward 10 years to the present. I would gladly pay 30 dollars a month if all the stuff I read online was written by a professional with classical training in english or journalism. This web2.0 junk means we're all crappy authors who, as I am right now doing, stream their consciousness into textarea boxes, never a second glance at the same sentence for proofediting; rushing to the submit button to beat my peers in the subtle effect that I will feel smarter than everyone who posted thereafter.

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