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Will Internet Users Pay for Content?

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the in-a-word-no dept.

Media 419

securitas writes "One of the most challenging business problems is trying to figure out how to make money on the Internet, especially with content. Louis Borders believes that Internet users will pay for online content and explains in an interview the how and why. He is founder of Borders Group, a $3.4 billion company that is the second-largest bookseller in the USA, as well as the billion-dollar online grocer and dotcom flameout, Webvan. Borders thinks he has found the answers and has just launched KeepMedia, an online newsstand subscription service. As someone who has had spectacular success and failure in his career, Borders' latest venture will be an interesting one to watch."

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ramblings from a subscriber... (4, Interesting)

sweeney37 (325921) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634091)

As a /. subscriber I guess I'm proof positive they will pay. Not only do people need to feel that they are actually getting something for the money they're paying, the price also has to be right.

With /. being one of the largest content delivery systems on the net, I'd be curious to find out how much revenue they generate based upon subscribers alone.

Perhaps Taco or one of the other "powers that be" would like to weigh in on this issue?


Re:ramblings from a subscriber... (4, Interesting)

alaric187 (633477) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634125)

Yeah, I think the problem is size. You need to start small and work your way up. That's what worked for ./ Most of the .coms started with $1 billion dollars and couldn't figure out why they didn't instantly have a huge customer base.

Yeah, I love Amazon but I'd say 1 slightly successful company out of a thousand, probably doesn't make a good business model. Unless you are the Underpant Gnomes(tm), of course.

Re:ramblings from a subscriber... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6634173)

"I love Amazon but I'd say 1 slightly successful company out of a thousand, probably doesn't make a good business model."

Amazon sells books, music etc on the internet. Like people have done with ads in magazines etc. They were/are cheap and convenient. Not a new business model.
Micropayments IS a new business model. I'm not a slashdot subscriber, as i wouldn't get anything (of value to me) extra for paying.

Re:ramblings from a subscriber... (3, Interesting)

garcia (6573) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634132)

I subscribe. I don't do it for any of the "features" that subscribers get. I do it because I have freeloaded here forever. I use the site daily, all day, almost everyday.

I need to give them something back. /. still allows you to read the content, post on the content, etc, w/o having to pay.

This guy wants you to pay to read 140 titles of shit that you are most likely only going to read 5 or 6 of anyway.

Re:ramblings from a subscriber... (5, Insightful)

worst_name_ever (633374) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634191)

I need to give them something back. /. still allows you to read the content, post on the content, etc, w/o having to pay.

Hmm - Maybe you should log in as a non-subscribing user and check out the huge .NET ad in the middle of the page! Somebody sure seems to be making money from my browsing...

Re:ramblings from a subscriber... (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634400)

ok and you don't think that advertising revenue is necessary? You think that you should just be able to goto any MAJOR website and use it w/o ads for free?

Bandwith, time, etc, all cost money. It has to be funded in some way.

I have my advertisements cut off at 5 per day and believe me, it's not hard for me to use that 5 up in a half hour or less.

Like I said, my money goes to the fact that I use this site daily. I have my gripes with it, but I feel that I get my $10 (so far) donation worth.

That's my worthless .02

Re:ramblings from a subscriber... (5, Insightful) (463190) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634338)

If you post, you make the comments that make the pages that carry the ads. Even if you don't post, you read the ads and maybe click once in a while. You're not freeloading here if you don't pay.

Re:ramblings from a subscriber... (2, Insightful)

brokencomputer (695672) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634366)

In addition, we are the ones who are providing a lot of the content. The people who run this site *need* our input or it would just be google news. even if the site didn't have ads, we still woulndt be freeloaders.

Slashdotters are the exception..... (3, Insightful)

eyegor (148503) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634156)

While I believe that micropayments or subscriptions are likely to be more commonplace in the future, it will be difficult to sell to the end user.

We've been accustomed to free content and will tend to avoid payment whenever possible. Most people (especially AOL users) will figure they've already paid and shouldn't have to do so again.

Salon Magazine has been forced to modify its subscription model in order to survive (if you call that surviving).

Perhaps one model that might work is a monthly credit from your ISP that will go to pay for initial usage of pay/view content.

Given how few people will even pay for Slashdot content, we're not likely to see this widely adopted anytime soon.

Re:Slashdotters are the exception..... (1, Informative)

brokencomputer (695672) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634269)

I think aol users are more likely to pay for more things. They already pay extra for proprietary content. There are add on extra things for aol that subscribers have to pay for. The article already mentioned the time magazine example.

Re:ramblings from a subscriber... (4, Insightful)

swordboy (472941) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634158)

As a /. subscriber I guess I'm proof positive they will pay.

But you are the wrong demographic. Most people could give a shit if they lost a site because it couldn't pay the bills (for slashdot, that would be me).

IMHO, people will never pay for content unless a system of micropayment is developed and *bundled* with their PC. For example, lets say that Microsoft packaged $10 of micropayment into their next OS... Users would have already paid for it so there would be no reason not to use it. So they would.

And then they would see the content that would be available in a pay-for world. If good enough, then I'm sure that there would be renewal. But you'd have to make that process easy, as well.

Re:ramblings from a subscriber... (1)

Alan Partridge (516639) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634364)

"But you are the wrong demographic. Most people could give a shit if they lost a site because it couldn't pay the bills (for slashdot, that would be me)."

What do you mean? Do you mean that most people COULDN'T give a shit or that most people could?

I'm totally baffled as to the point you're trying to make here.

Re:ramblings from a subscriber... (4, Insightful)

ramzak2k (596734) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634180)

I think you are comparing apples and oranges. Slashdot is different from content provider like the one mentioned in the article. Content aggregator would be a better definition. People subscribe to show an appreciation of that service other than the fact that it is largely a channel of expression.

"Content Delivery"? (2, Funny)

JZ_Tonka (570336) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634185)

"With /. being one of the largest content delivery systems on the net..."

That's a very ambivalent way of phrasing "channeling thousands upon thousands of simultaneous connections to your website, reducing your servers to a pile of flaming wreckage".

Re:"Content Delivery"? (1)

Alan Partridge (516639) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634380)

Has a server ever ACTUALLY caught fire or physically broken due to an excessively large number of requests that were made of it?

Re:ramblings from a subscriber... (0, Redundant)

grug0 (696014) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634187)

Slashdot is nowhere near one of the "largest content delivery systems on the net", you idiot. It's a news site with a bunch of comments. It's basically a big-ass bulletin board.

Re:ramblings from a subscriber... (3, Insightful)

slittle (4150) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634202)

Just because you pay for one site that you likely sit on all day, doesn't mean Internet users in general will stand for being nickle-and-dimed to death by every site they visit only a few times per week/month.

The pay-for-no-ads/extra-feature model seems to be the best that they can hope for, IMO. If the content isn't spectacularly unique, people will go elsewhere. The idea is to get 'em hooked on free content, then probe for a few bucks for some extra features.

Re:ramblings from a subscriber... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6634243)

As a /. subscriber I guess I'm proof positive they will pay. Not only do people need to feel that they are actually getting something for the money they're paying, the price also has to be right.

As a long-time Slashdot reader (my other userid is triple digits) I'd have to say I disagree. Slashdot is proof positive that offering nothing of value for your money is reason #1 I wouldn't subscribe. I can easily get rid of the ads with Mozilla these days without even bothering to setup a junkbuster proxy. So you get to see articles 10-20 minutes before they go to the main page. So what? I've usually read them the day before on or some other news site.

I think the popularity of peer-to-peer networks alone is overwhelming proof that people will NOT pay for content if they have an alternative. I'm just as cheap as the next guy and would prefer to download songs off of Kazaa before I spend any money on a CD. The only exception with me has been movies. I feel a DVD offers a good value at the $9-$15 for 2 hours of entertainment and bonus material. Plus I don't have to worry about buying a DVD burner or saving 5 gigs of data somewhere (afterall, the whole advantage of DVD is quality and surround sound, etc. which I would lose if I used DivX or encoded to SVCD).

divx can do ac3 sound no prob. [nt] (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6634346)

nt he said

Re:ramblings from a subscriber... (1)

Neophytus (642863) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634309)

I also subscribe to Gamespot for its video content, fark & penny arcade for its community.. what else. If I think its deserving, and I get a perk, I'll pay.

Re:ramblings from a subscriber... (1)

Styros (144779) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634378)

I agree. People will pay for content if they feel it's worth the money. For example, I pay to view the online version of the Wall Street Journal. For my subscription fee, I get access to the WSJ and Barron's. And the fee is less than half the normal print subscription fee for just WSJ! In a situation like that, I'm actually saving money by subscribing to the online content.

Re:ramblings from a subscriber... (2, Insightful)

cHiphead (17854) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634381)

as a non subscriber but long time reader of slashdot, I guess I'm proof positive they will not pay. Thats also a testament to the number of linux users (and warezed windows users) that read the site.

slashdot is far from one of the largest content delivery systems, but it is probably one of the majors as far as the 'friendly' revenue model.

the simple fact that they have to think about the money involved must take a lot of the fun out of running the site.

I don't buy into any of this... (5, Interesting)

garcia (6573) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634102)

Do you think the freeloader mentality on the Internet is ready for change?
I think it's at the turn of the hockey stick, because it's at about 15 percent of the Web population that's paying for content right now--that's still a low number. Very soon, you'll see that the content that's left to be free is content that will not be trusted; content that has a bias. Just like when you pick up a magazine that's free, and you don't trust it.

Umm, I don't trust sites on the web that I have to pay for. The only sites that I see on the web that have pay-for content are porn sites and I would MUCH rather use free sites like sublimedirectory or just to avoid paying for stupid content. At least when I know that it is free and I am disappointed it's fine.

Will you get cooperation from some of the big media conglomerates that already own a collection of big-brand magazines, such as AOL Time Warner and Conde Nast?
Oh, we don't have them at launch, but we're thrilled to have 140 titles. We've had a lot of meetings with them--extremely positive meetings--and I'm sure they'll come into the platform in short order.

You are thrilled to have 140 titles because no one is buying into your dotcom bullshit. If anyone is going to want to pay to read stuff online they are going to do it on that site only. Perusing the titles made me think, wow, this sucks hard. I will stick to for now. At least I get free news that is basically interesting, and if it's not on the front page, I know I can quickly search for it.

I see the Googles of the world like the freeways, where you're going from one place to the next, and that's the place to go. They have a very viable business being the main artery across the Internet. Our approach is to be a walled garden, where we bring in this very high-quality content. As a consumer, you would certainly want to use the freeway and the walled garden for different needs.
I (and plenty of others, including NON-GEEKS) see Google as God of the Internet. If I want to find an article, I search google and it finds it fast (including newspapers, magazines on the web, etc). Why in the world would I want to search your index of pay-for stuff (and limited to 140 titles currently) when I can use google to search 140+ titles on a SINGLE TOPIC in seconds? This idea is going back to Library's and making you pay to use them. I don't think it's going to work.

I just think that Google has cornered the market on this type of crap long before this guy could. provides what everyone needs for EVERY media type.

I will stick to free content thank you.

Just my worthless .02

Re:I don't buy into any of this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6634230)

I think the parent is a perfect example of why current subscription content systems do not work. The problem is that content on the internet has been free for so long that people have begun to expect it as the norm.

Imagine if sattelite TV had been free for 20 years, then a company came along and said "if you pay use $20 a month, you can get what you've been getting for free all this time" people would laugh.

The only way that I see these subscription systems taking off is if you can get something to which there is no free alternative and to which there cannot be a simple free alternative. until then, subscription systems will continue to fail.

The current feeling in the internet community appears to be "information wants to be free" and unless that changes, these systems will never succeede. personally, I love freedom of info and hope that this change does not occur.

Re:I don't buy into any of this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6634262)

Umm, I don't trust sites on the web that I have to pay for. The only sites that I see on the web that have pay-for content are porn sites and I would MUCH rather use free sites like sublimedirectory or just to avoid paying for stupid content. At least when I know that it is free and I am disappointed it's fine.

Hell, I especially don't believe in paying for porn sites. The most abundant material on the Internet is pornography! That'd be like arabs paying for sand to fill their kids' sand boxes. All I have to do is open my inbox and I've got tits staring at me in 20% of my messages.

Re:I don't buy into any of this... (5, Interesting)

glesga_kiss (596639) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634298)

Umm, I don't trust sites on the web that I have to pay for.

Hell, I don't even trust sites that require a login. It's fair game if you post messages/articles on the site, or when you head to the checkout, but if they want me to log in just to read the content, then I'll be hitting that back button.

And as Garcia says above, the chances are that the back button will be taking me back to a Google search, and I'm sure the next site in the list will be much more accessible. Their loss.

Anyone remember The Romp? (2, Informative)

ShadeARG (306487) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634300)

The problem with this model is that when the users start paying, the users start demanding. They demand better content and more of it. When the content is free nobody cares if it is excellent or crap, and they have no room to complain. Anyone remember The ROMP? They kept calling their user base free-loading wusses. Users liked their content, so they obliged. After about a month they had to call the entire operation quits because they simply could not keep their new flash content out on their release schedule, and it all collapsed around them. All that's left is the hype of a movie called "When Booty Calls" that is pretty much vaporware.

Re:I don't buy into any of this... (2, Insightful)

Dr Tall (685787) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634359)

Do you think the freeloader mentality on the Internet is ready for change? Have you noticed the way whenever a /. article is from the NYT, a google link pops up within the first several comments?

Could this be.... (0)

QLNESS (524995) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634108)

On the "Border" of another dot com fallout..?

Shut the fuck up, Donnie. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6634147)

Shut the fuck up, Donnie.

Re:Shut the fuck up, Donnie. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6634285)

Donnie, you're out of your element!

Dude, the chinaman is not the issue!

For me, the answer is "no." (1)

fudgefactor7 (581449) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634121)

Other's will, but I won't simply because (for me) the Internet itself is the content that I'm after, if I wanted hallow content I'd use AOL or something.

Re:For me, the answer is "no." (2, Insightful)

Trigun (685027) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634399)

My piss-poor website is funded out of my own pocket, and realistically, that's the way it should be.
I put up some banners for shirts and posters, but to date I have not had a single purchase. It really doesn't bother me too much. I realize that I'm making only a couple of hits a day, and as of late, have not been updating as often as I'd like to. Even so, I do not consider my site to be operating at a loss. My bandwidth is a fixed cost, which I pay anyway for net access. Any sales that I would make off commissions would be considered pure profit. The fact that I haven't made anything yet does not mean a loss.
Once more people can do this, and more bandwidth becomes cheaper, the big, pay-for-content websites will fall by the wayside. Anything that they put up will be mirrored in one form or another, new, fresh opinions with less business-centric morals will replace the need for 'organized content'.

Who wants the internet ordered for us anyways? I thought the whole point was that we were to sift through information and opinion and *gasp* make an informed decision!

Okay.. here's SCO's business model (-1, Offtopic)

jkrise (535370) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634126)

1. Offer 'free' software.
2. Get 'downloaders' to make it better.
3. Reach critical mass - a million users, say.
4. Sue them for IP violations
5. Charge them $700 for each instance
6. Profit

If all else fails, ask RIAA...


Ask the right person (2, Funny)

marmot1101 (663704) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634133)

Why doesn't someone go ask Salon if people will pay for content?

Re:Ask the right person (2, Insightful)

Kibo (256105) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634360)

And the answer they'd get back would be a "Yes" with caveat. People will pay for something, if its more valuable than the money they're paying out and isn't available elsewhere (google's cache included) for less. They've chosen to compete in a marketplace where most of the content is free, and already encompases nearly every fine gradiation of the human experience. A tough way to make money to be sure.

Unless they're planning on going the SCO route, and intend to sue other content providers for "dumping."

No, we will not (5, Insightful)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634134)

We are exceedingly cheap. We expect FREE on the internet. It's been burned into our heads since the dot com boom. At one point, "free" topped "sex" in web searches. We think if it's digitized and non-physical, we should have access to it and be able to copy it. We can't grasp the concept of monetary value for digital things. We can't wrap our brains around the idea that those digital things took work to create, and people that made them want to be paid for them. Since we can get it so quickly and easily over the internet, we just cant comprehend that.

If MS ever started selling Office exclusively as a download, they'd lose millions of dollars. Because Office just wouldn't feel like a real product to them. Put a CD in that consumers hand, though, and they're more willing to pay for it.

With the exception of Apple users, who will do whatever Stevie tells them to (buy music at the Apple Store! On your Ipod! Now!), most denizens of the internet are, let's be blunt, cheap bastards.

Disagree (3, Insightful)

bnet41 (591930) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634258)

I have to disagree with you. The reason is people will pay for content if it's worth it. People pay for dating and meeting sites all the time, and I heard ESPN Insider does well. The problem is people don't want subscriptions. If I see an article I want to read, then I should be able to buy that article, and not a months worth for $9.95 or whatever. In the long run people will pay for quality sites, that are well run, well moderated, and deliver interesting content.

Re:Disagree (2, Insightful)

SugoiMonkey (648879) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634376)

People will pay for content when they feel they know the author and/or creator and want to be a part of his creations. Popular comic sites are able to reel in $1-2 thousand a month from their own 'little' clique. ToastyFrog [] has been able to get money by providing content well worth purchase, and a forum for people to gather.

In order to make money (IMO), you have to make the people feel as though they're getting something unique. You have to connect to your audience. If you expect to rake in millions from subscriptions you're going to have to have a big audience that relates to what you have to say; and, quite frankly, that would be very hard to accomplish, especially using impersonal (and therefore widespread) content like this story suggests.

Re:No, we will not (0)

brokencomputer (695672) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634323)

I disagree. The internet should be a method of SHARING information. I have posted information that I am sure other have found valuable without any expectation for any compensation. I have used the content of others who i am sure did not expect anything in return. There are some people who are cheap but you implied that you represented the whole internet when you said "We are exceedingly cheap"

Re:No, we will not (5, Insightful)

dnoyeb (547705) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634331)

I disagree. I am not cheap. I am more than happy to pay for content. I will pay for it what its worth. And as of today, I can get the best content for free. So why would I pay for less than the best when the best is already free??

You have to offer something better than what is being offered for free.

As for the digital thing. I imagine it was equally as hard when the government said, "This green piece of paper is worth 5 sheep." I can imagine the farmers having a hard time seeing he value of that piece of paper. Similarly I think is people seeing value in digital content that you cant touch.

Backup to protect my investment (1)

Neil Watson (60859) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634343)

We think if it's digitized and non-physical, we should have access to it and be able to copy it.

Not so much copy as backup. If I pay for information from the web I want a guaranty that it will not disappear later on when I need it. The only way I be can sure is by making a local backup.

Free (1)

Mark_MF-WN (678030) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634398)

No one calls people cheap for expecting to make local telephone calls for free (after paying for the phone line). No one calls people cheap for expecting to use their cable line for free (after paying for the cable line). So why is the internet different, after you've paid for the internet connection? What's so cheap about expecting to be able to use something that you've paid a pretty hefty amount for (more than cable and phone lines, in fact).

Pardon me... (2, Insightful)

PakProtector (115173) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634136)

...but wasn't one of the original ideas behind the Internet and the World Wide Web the spread of knowledge?

Doesn't making people pay for ideas kind of make people not want to *have* ideas?

Re:Pardon me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6634391)

Any asshole can have an idea. Very few people can have good ideas which have been crafted such that they find a quality audience.

Re:Pardon me... (1)

Daniel_Staal (609844) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634397)

No, it makes then want to have them (that is: generate them), assuming they get some of the payment for the ideas they generate.

But it does make people not want to *get* ideas. If I have to pay for an idea (especially if I don't know if it works) then I'm much more likely to rely on myself for ideas, instead of using tested ideas of others.

In other words: paying for ideas generates lots of mediocre similar ideas, whereas free ideas promotes the spread of the best idea.

Please don't use "content" (4, Insightful)

CausticWindow (632215) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634139)

Quoting ESR:

If you want to describe a feeling of comfort and satisfaction, by all means say you are ``content'', but using it as a noun to describe written and other works of authorship is worth avoiding. That usage adopts a specific attitude towards those works: that they are an interchangeable commodity whose purpose is to fill a box and make money. In effect, it treats the works themselves with disrespect. Those who use this term are often the publishers that push for increased copyright power in the name of the authors (``creators'', as they say) of the works. The term ``content'' reveals what they really feel.

As long as other people use the term ``content provider'', political dissidents can well call themselves ``malcontent providers''.

really sure this is from ESR? (2, Informative)

Sardonis (596687) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634235)

you can find this quote here [] , it appears to me that it is written by RMS.

Will Internet Users Pay for Content? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6634142)

Judging by the pathetic drooling slobs that have paid for this awful website, it looks like the answer is yes.

uh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6634145)

Who is this "internet users" person and why are you asking him this on slashdot instead of just emailing him?

Never (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6634146)

I would never, *NEVER* pay for "content". There is nothing that important that I *need* badly enough to pay for it. The nature of the internet means I can just go somewhere else and get the same "content" (God, I hate that word) for free.

Possibly. (3, Insightful)

CaptnMArk (9003) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634149)

1) only once (unless it's cents - micropayments)
2) no DRM copy restrictions
3) open file formats

2 & 3 are essential for fair.

I only started buying DVDs when 2 & 3 were true (playable under Linux).

A minority will pay... (1)

mopslik (688435) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634150)

...but the majority of people will find other free sites if their choices start charging. The Net's already got more content on it than you can ever hope to get through, and most folks I know are content with the free sites that are currently available. Have exclusive content on your site that you're thinking of charging for? Chances are that someone's already got something similar posted for free.

Of course, it always helps when a clueless webmaster forgets to set up their site to exclude Google's caching too.

On-the-side (2, Interesting)

TheTomcat (53158) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634155)

I believe Web Content is much like Music when it comes to "making money".

Bands rarely make cash by selling their CD, but often in side-offers like t-shirts, stickers, etc ("merch"), and ticket sales to shows.

Web artists/authors/etc, rarely make (enough) cash by selling memberships/content, but often on side-offers, like ads, merch [] , etc.


Help (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6634160)

I'm a singe gay black male looking for others for late night fun and online chats. Is their some sort of group out there that I could join?

please send info to

Of course people will pay... (1, Insightful)

heironymouscoward (683461) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634163)

But there are certain obvious conditions that one seems to forget:
1. People have to want what's on sale
2. It must not be available anywhere else (cheaper)
3. Profit.

AFAICS everything comes down to 1 and 2, and if one does the job sem-decently, 3 as well. So, yes, people will pay for "content", but they must want it and it must be unique (or perceived to be unique, since perception is as good as, or possibly exactly the same as, reality.)

Short answer - yes, but no; no, but yes. (1, Interesting)

SUPAMODEL (601827) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634164)

The problem is that you need to actually provide something that's worth looking at for the price.
I read my newspapers and shit online now, cause I don't want to pay AU$1 per day for a paper. I'd be interested in buying online newspapers etc and payng a lower fee every day, and one that represents the value that I am getting out of it. Just think about it - sure, you gotta have reporters and stuff. But all the stuff is typed into a computer, so it doesn't particularly cost much more to produce than it costs for the paper bit, and I ain't getting $1 worth of paper with it.
iTunes has shown that at least apple people are prepared to pay for songs online, as long as they reflect their true value.
Could it work for other things? Sure. Seems to work for some of the more major porn sites - some people don't want to have to troll (literally) thru usenet to get their daily fix. And as someone above pointed out, slashdot subscribers show this.
The problem occurs when stuff is done online for the sake of doing it online, or published, but then charged exhoribitantly, and piracy is too easy. The pricing is the issue; users will only pay for what they think they are getting value for - and piracy becomes a more attractive option as the cost rises.

Might as well say it... (1)

jkrise (535370) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634168)

If the content is porn, and the price is right... wel.. Users will pay!

BTW, users will shortly pay for Service Packs from MS, apparently. Does that count for content??

Users pay to get contented, not for content actually.


Re:Might as well say it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6634264)

"users will shortly pay for Service Packs from MS"

Have a link?

I already pay (4, Informative)

isorox (205688) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634178)

Most of the places I go to are

  • Companies I buy, or potentially will buy, products from (my custom)
  • The BBC which is a public service broadcaster (taxes)
  • Government sites (taxes)
  • Friends sites (which we do for fun)
  • Slashdot (I dont subscribe at the moment, but I dont block the ads, and have bought from thinkgeek)

I dont go to many sites that employ staff, I might drop a few quid to a site I really like that is struggling to pay hosting bills, but the best sites in life are free. Charge money, and I'll go elsewhere. I used to run a 2000 visits-a-day site back in 99, I did it for fun. One of the biggest sites I goto now is trektoday, with no paid-for staff. Once you start charging by the page, I'll think "Is this really worth it?", I'll stress over every click, doesnt matter if its 1 cent a page or 0.001 cents. Its akin to paying per minute, or byte, for internet access.

The SLASHDOT TROLL HOWTO 0.65 (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6634181)

This is version 0.65 of a troll HOWTO. As a draft, comments and criticism are always welcome, if not appreciated :) By version 0.7, sections on karma whoring, conning the Slashdot users in to clicking your links, and how to beat those crapflood flamebaits such as GNAA to the punch. If you would like to work on the ./ Troll HOWTO, please by all means modify it as you see if, please post the new version of your howto as Unofficial until I can come and pick it and merge the the two together. Make sure to make your version a minor release, as I will be in charge of posting all new major releases.

Section 1 - Trolling techniques

There are techniques used by successful trolls to elicit the maximum amount of responses from unthinking /.ers. This section is dedicated to explaining how to use these in the course of your trolls. Remember though, a great troll can break any or all of these and still be successful..

* Timing

Because you're posting as an AC, your troll will generally be ignored in favor of posters using their accounts, and so getting in early is essential. A good guideline is to get into the first 20 posts, so that people reading the article will see the troll before it is swamped out. One way of increasing the speed with which you get your troll into play is to prepare them beforehand, and then quickly customize them for the current article. This is easier than it sounds since /. typically repeats stories with small variations and runs lots of similar stories.

Note that this is why Jon Katz stories are pretty worthless as trolling material - by the time you've found the article and prepared a troll there's already 50+ posts on it, most of them flaming Jon Katz anyway :)

* Exposure

Once you've got your troll in, you need people to actually read it. You also want replies - /.ers are more likely to read your troll if it starts a large thread. You also want to remember that some people have set their comment thresholds to values higher than 0 - to get the attention of these you either want to get your post moderated up (see Style, below) or get a reply which gets moderated up to 4 or 5, in which case your troll becomes visible to all.

* Accounts

An alternative to the time-honored tradition of AC trolling is that of creating a troll account. This gives you the advantage of posting at 1 rather than 0, and slashbots are more likely to take you seriously, especially if you at least sound reasonable. If you do this, try to avoid posting stuff where it is obvious you're a troll under the account - post it anonymously instead - some slightly more canny readers actually check your user info before they reply. Not many though :)

The ultimate goal of the troll account is to secure the +1 bonus, which is currently received once you hit 26 points of Karma. To get there, employ the techniques of karma whoring that we see every day on /. and watch the karma roll in. And of course once you get the +1 bonus, the world is your oyster in terms of /. Posts made at a default of 2 hit even those people with the threshold of 2, are more likely to get moderated up even further if they are at all coherent, and people tend to lose their critical thinking abilities in the face of the +1 bonus. Milk it for all it's worth.

* Layout

To get people reading it a troll needs to be easily readable. Make sure you break it down into easily digestible paragraphs, use HTML tags where appropriate (but always make sure you close them properly) and use whitespace appropriately.

* Size

Generally a troll shouldn't be too short, otherwise it'll get lost in the crowd. A workable minimum is a couple of medium paragraphs. Conversely, it shouldn't be too long, or no-one will bother to read it. Keep it to a happy medium.

* Spelling

Whilst spelling is important if you want the troll to be taken seriously, key spelling mistakes can draw out the spelling zealots, especially if you mis-spell the name of a venerated /. hero, like Linus Torveldes or Richard Strawlman (thanks dmg). Related to this is the use of the wrong word, explaining an acronym as being something it isn't or making a word into an acronym even when it isn't.

* Subject

The subject line needs to draw attention to your post without making it obvious that it is a troll. A simple statement of the main point of your argument can work here.

* Style

Once you realize that most moderators don't bother to read past the first paragraph or two, you can use this fact to craft trolls that can be moderated up as Insightful (note that I mean this in the /. sense rather than the real-world sense). Start off fairly reasonable, making statements that are /. friendly and not being too controversial. As the troll goes on, make it more and more controversial, building it up for the coup de grace in the final paragraph.

* Linking

As we all know, a post with links is considered informative by the /. crowd. Moderators love it, and they rarely check the links, so be sure to include as many as possible. And make them wrong - a link to the Perl website should instead point to the Python website instead, and vice versa. The other alternative to incorrect links is useful links to places like and i.e. places /.ers could never have found on their own :)

* Feeding

The ideal troll requires no feeding - it runs on its own, generating flamewars between clueless /.ers for your amusement. But often a troll requires some help and so you should consider feeding it. Feeding is best reserved for people making either completely clueless responses, people making responses with holes in, or those wonderful people who write a 2000-word point-by-point rebuttal of your troll.

* Know your audience

Always keep in mind the kind of things advocated on /. so that you can play on and against them. This is why anti-Linux, creationist, gun-loving, pro-corporation trolls work well - the vast majority of /.ers hold the opposite viewpoints. And if a few people agree with you, so much the better - it merely validates your viewpoint in the eyes of readers.

* Arrogance

Be arrogant. You, as a troll, know that you're right. No other explanation could exist. The more wrong the fact, the more assertively you should state it. Make it clear that you are better than everyone else - you know the truth and they are just too stupid to realize it. Use plenty of sarcasm, and use quotes to show it to people too dumb to realize.

* Offensiveness

Being offensive in your initial troll can be counter-productive - it causes moderators to mark you down as flamebait in general. But if you're feeding, then you can get away with calling /.ers all kinds of things. Make broad generalizations about /. readers - call them long-haired Linux zealots, socialist open-source bigots or whatever. Stereotyping is encouraged - people always want to think that they're an individual, and will point this out to you given half a chance.

* Indifference

Great for articles with a political or social bent, this kind of troll expresses complete indifference to the topic at hand, wondering who on Earth cares about it. An alternative method is to say that the topic only concerns a certain group of people - criminals, idiots, hackers (always use this instead of crackers) or whatever group you want to offend.

* Sympathy

Appear to take the same stance as the people you're trying to troll - claim you're as much a fan of Linux as the next man, but... This way you can make all kinds of claims in the sure knowledge that you actually know what you're talking about. A great phrase to use here is In my experience. Remember to act like all the things you're pointing out are unfortunate but true.

* The common touch

Always accuse /.ers of being elitist. This is an easy thing to do seeing as a lot of them are. Claim that is their grandmother couldn't use it, then they are just into it to feel better than Joe Sixpack rather than doing it for the average user. This is always great for working into anti-Linux trolls - attack command-line tools and poorly designed desktops.

* The 31337 touch

The opposite of the above. Claim that technology or whatever is only for the elite of society and that any attempt to open it up for everyone is wrong, an attack on intellectualism and possibly even dangerous. If people were meant to understand these things then they would, and it's their fault if they're too stupid to learn.

* Contradiction

Never be afraid to contradict yourself, even in the space of a single sentence. The phrases I am a top programmer who codes in VB or I am a supporter of open source who uses NT at work and 95 at home will be sure to get a response from some weenie smugly pointing out the contradiction. Confuse the issue more by engaging in contradiction when you are feeding - this will confuse /.ers who will then make even more stupid replies, leaving them even more wide open for response.


If you're feeling brave, give the reader clues that this is an obvious troll. The classic example here is dmg's stock phrase I am often accused of trolling (whatever that is), but also feel free to use phrases like I have not read the article, and I don't know much about XYZ but I feel I must comment. If anyone responds to a troll with these kinds of clues in it, feel free to bask in the glow of knee-jerk /. responses.

* Denial

If you're unlucky someone will accuse you of being a troll (surely not!) and try and ruin it for you. If you don't want it all to end there, then be sure to counter it by accusing them of being small-minded and petty, saying that it's easier for them to say it's a troll than to accept that people have different opinions. Be sure to say this in the subject line, especially if their subject was the infamous YHBT. YHL. HAND.

* Claiming credit

Given that /. has its community of regular trolls (hi guys!), it's only polite to publish your troll on one of the so-called hidden forums for all to see and admire. This way, you get to bask in the praise of other trolls, they get to contribute to your's if they want to, and you get an easy way to find the troll later on when you want to check on its progress :)

As for when to post it, that's a matter of opinion really. You can either post it straight away or leave it will after people start biting. Remember that the troll forum is also frequented by non-trolls, and sometimes you may get a self-declared troll-buster try and expose you. But remember, /.ers always post before thinking, and often it doesn't matter at all.

There is no real current forum at the moment thanks to various spammers hitting the sids, but try trolltalk, the original troll sid started by 80md and osm way back in the day. Generally all postings are done there as an AC, with your name at the end of the post. Include a link to the troll somewhere in the text, which ideally will be directly to the post and its replies - click on the #XX link in the thread to get there.

* Ending the troll

Sometimes you just get bored with a troll, or people start posting genuinely thoughtful stuff in reply (it does happen). When this happens it might be time to own up to the troll with a helpful YHBT. YHL. HAND. post. Sometimes people will carry on a discussion of the issue, and if you're really lucky (and it was a great troll) they will completely fail to believe you and carry on arguing. If that happens, pat yourself on the back for writing a great troll :)

* The cheap $3 crack

Finally, when all else fails and your troll gets moderated down to (-1, Troll) within ten seconds of you posting it, the only honorable thing to do is to accuse the moderators of smoking the cheap $3 crack (again) and give up :(

Section 2 - Types of troll

1. The Maniac

Probably the most popular kind of troll, the Maniac holds an opinion on something, and won't budge from that opinion no matter what evidence to the contrary is presented. If challenged, the Maniac will simply get more and more agitated and abusive, deriding his opponents as idiots, wrong-thinking, dangerous and subversive. Generally the Maniac takes a position that opposes the prevalent /. beliefs, but a similar effect can be achieved by taking a typical /. viewpoint and pushing it to ridiculous extremes.

Maniacs can be crafted for practically every article /. posts, although some are more obvious targets than others. Civil liberty articles, especially on things like censorship, DMCA, UCITA that really get /.ers riled up, are usually extremely fruitful grounds for a well-crafted maniac. The other obvious type of article is anything which could possibly involve religion, especially evolution :)

Here are some fruitful avenues to explore:

* The Right-Wing Maniac

Always popular, the right-wing maniac (RWM) is a God-fearing, gun-toting, flag-waving American, and proud of it. They don't care about the rest of the world, unless it's to prove that America is better than everything else, and they cannot stand liberal whining over civil rights. They hate the moral decay of America and want it to revert into a nation of heterosexual, Christian whites like it was meant to be. Woe betide anyone that dares to suggest otherwise.

* Religion

There are two ways to approach this kind of maniac. The harder to pull off is the militant atheist, but this is quite common amongst /. posters and you would have to be very offensive to get this to work. Of course with religion trolls, the argument can go on for ever once it's started... The more common approach is the Christian fundamentalist. They are ignorant, intolerant and bigoted in the extreme. For them the Bible is the inerrant word of God revealed to man - it contains no flaws and no contradictions. Thus they are strict Creationists - mentions of evolution or cosmology will set them off on vitriolic rants. Flaming denunciations of anyone daring to contradict the Word of God are the way to go, and any kind of proof can always be ignored by appealing to secular humanist brainwashing. And let's not forget, the USA is the greatest nation on Earth because it has the righteous power of Jesus Christ behind it.

* Ideology

Pick a philosophy, any philosophy. This troll is a troll with a cause - they have found some kind of ideological truth, and are out to expose every other philosophy as a sham. Whether it be libertarianism, objectiveness, communism or capitalism, this troll will point out the obvious flaws in any other philosophies, whilst spouting dogma about their own. And the best thing is - you don't even need to know that much about what you're spouting - making doctrinaire mistakes will get both sides of the argument flaming you, adding to the fun.

* Software

This is an old favorite and crops up in many forms, covering the gamut from OS maniacs (Linux zealots, MS-apologists or embittered BSD fanatics), language maniacs (Pascal vs. C, C vs. C++, C++ vs. Java, Perl vs. Python, VB vs. everything), application maniacs(GIMP vs. Photoshop, Netscape vs. IE, vi vs. emacs) and also includes people who complain about how technology should only be for the 31337 hackers.

* Guns

Americans love their guns, and will always fight passionately for their Constitutionally guaranteed rights to bear arms and shoot people. Even the slightest hint of criticism of this will bring down the wrath of a thousand and one enraged gun-owners on you, so it's always a great point to work into a troll :)

2. The Expert

The Expert is someone who is savvy in their particular field, and is perfectly willing to give their opinion on any topic even vaguely related to their field. The Expert is most likely to be from a field which /.ers as a rule despise - the classic example is dumb marketing guy, but try consultants, lawyers, politicians, lobbyists, executives, journalists (just think Jon Katz). With this kind of troll sweeping statements with little content are the norm, along wire dire portents of future catastrophe and dark hints of insider knowledge.

Some possible angles to exploit:
* Industry knowledge

The expert knows the computing industry from the inside - as a long-term pro, they can dispense knowledge knowing that they can speak for the industry. Their smug self-satisfaction is bound to annoy, as is any suggestion that things aren't the way that /.ers would like it - saying Linux requires the rock-solid guarantee of a trusted company like Microsoft or Apache cannot be trusted for mission-critical enterprise platforms is guaranteed to get you denials explaining exactly why you're wrong, in excruciating detail.

* Helpful hints

With their tech-savvy (or law-savvy or whatever) experience, the expert is obviously the best person to point out what's wrong with things or to give out useful factual information. In fact this probably works best with lawyer trolls - for all that /.ers protest IANAL, they certainly seem to think they could be, and any mistakes you make will send them rushing to prove themselves by correcting you.

3. Offtopic Trolls

Not really a troll in the strict Jargon File sense of the word, but they certainly should be included here :) This category includes parodies, offtopic weirdness any all kinds of amusing stuff. Not really my area of expertise, this stuff is mainly done by gnarphlager and opensourceman. Thanks to gnarphlager for this section.

Offtopic trolls, like any other, come in almost as many colours as an iMac, but generally not as cute. But then again, a good offtopic troll can affect more people than a repulsive little gumdrop on your desk, because you need to have someone SEE your desk before they can react. Simple? Moreso than even my overblown prose could indicate. Some basic examples:

* The serial troll

Write a story. Keep expanding it. It doesn't matter what article you post it under, so long as it's high up. If you want people to recognize you, pick a couple themes or symbols, and carry them on throughout the story. Other alternatives include back linking or including the entire story, but adding more each time. Be funny if you want. Or if you don't feel like being funny, just be really weird. Someone will react.

* The random troll

This has nothing to do with anything. Be it a stream of consciousness rant, or a description of the corner of your desk. Another favorite is a monologue, read as if spoken from any one given entity to another. The more outlandish, the better (a pair of socks talking to a mousepad, for example). If you really wanted to be artsy, work in an actual metaphor or legitimate meaning behind it, but it's not necessary.

* The vaguely related troll

Start out with a comment about the article. Have a definite opinion of it. Then, after a little while, disintegrate into randomness. All roads eventually can eventually lead to cheese (yum), Natalie Portman, cannibalism, toasters, squirrels, futons, you name it. All it takes is a little bit of creativity. Oh, and feel free to use other trolls' motifs. Open source and all that ;-)

General tips:
* If it's funny for a fleeting moment, then it's worth posting.
* Puns. Puns are only less vile than mimes, but it's hard to mime on /. So feel free/obligated to litter your offtopic and random bits with puns. Hurt the bastards. And if they're sick enough to laugh at them, then they'll eventually end up here ;-)
* Obscure cultural references and in jokes are always good. SOMEONE will get them eventually.
* Several drafts of a serial or random post are common, but true elegance is being able to come up with something on the spot that still makes the top 40 posts (on a post-heavy article)

Section 3 - Useful trolling links

The following links contain background information useful for trolls needing quick quotes and expert opinions to include.

1. General purpose links

* [] - How to deal with USENET trolls - learn your enemy :)
* [] - A List Of Fallacious Arguments - Learn them and use them liberally
* [] - USENET troll HOWTO
* [] -
* [] - Fielding's DangerFinder - A guide to what and where's dangerous

2. Religious links

* [] - God Hates America
* [] - The Creed of Christian Reconstruction
* [] - How to cast out your demons and do spiritual warfare
* ngs.htm [] - Things Creationists hate
* [] - Institute for Creation Research
* [] - Operation Clambake - The fight against Scientology on the net
* [] - Citizens for the Ten Commandments
* [] - The difference between Catholics and Christians
* [] - Bible quotes by category

3. Political/economy links

* [] - The Ayn Rand Institute
* [] - Libertarian site
* [] - Right-wing stuff
* [] - Excellent site for all kinds of right-wingery
* [] - Web economy bullshit generator

4. Crackpot science links

* [] - The Earth Is Not Moving
* [] - The Journal of Irreproducible Results

Section 4 - Troll Examples to Get You Started

First post
Every time a new story is posted on Slashdot, comments may be posted discussing it. Because of this, there is often competition between Slashdot posters to post the first comment on a story. Some first posters try to make a short insightful comment to avoid being moderated down. The more immature first posts often consist of a subject saying first post! or FP and have no body, and sometimes people deliberately post first post messages a ridiculously long time after the original story has been submitted (Example [] ) as a parody of the first post. There are many other variants of the first post. Example 1 [] , Example 2 []

Natalie Portman, naked and petrified with hot grits
Natalie Portman is a popular target for the affections of many Slashdot trolls. When referring to her, they frequently profess their love for a statue of the petrified actress, preferably covered in hot grits. Naked and Petrified is now such an infamous troll that it virtually epitomizes Slashdot trolling, and is often referred to and parodied in Slashdot comments. Other incarnations of the troll suggest that Natalie Portman pours hot grits into their underwear. Example [] (lengthy)

Comment explaining the origin of N&P []

*BSD is dying
Quite frequently (especially for BSD-related Slashdot stories) a comment will be posted detailing the manner in which BSD operating systems are dying. These comments are generally all identical, following to the letter the form of this comment [] . Parodies of this troll have also been posted, such as this comment [] stating that Slashdot is dying.

Beowulf clusters
When a story mentioning a new gadget is posted on Slashdot, it will invariably be proposed that the power of a Beowulf cluster of the new gadgets would be incredible. Such comments are generally prefaced with Imagine a Beowulf cluster of these things! This type of troll actually began as a parody of sincere posts frequently made in stories about new computers back when the concept of Beowulf clusters first entered the technological mainstream. Example 1 [] , Example 2 []

Stephen King is dead
This needs little explanation. This troll merely posts a comment stating that the author has just heard on the radio that Stephen King has been found dead in his Maine home. A good example of this can be found here [] .

Business plans
This troll is based upon a fictitious business plan concocted on the animated television show South Park, in which a community of underground gnomes have a three step business plan, consisting of:

1. Steal underpants
2. ???
3. Profit!

where none of the gnomes actually knows what the second step is, and all of them assume that someone else within the organization does.

For Slashdot stories where an individual or organization is alleged to have performed some controversial action, an anonymous wag will invariably post a false business plan based on this template, with the controversial action as the first step. Example []

Penis bird
These troll comments consist of a nonsensical or provocative subject line and a body consisting of a crude ASCII representation of a bird perched on a penis by its claws.

Penis bird ASCII art and a picture of a parrot perched on an erect penis are hosted at and can be found here [] .

In these posts, trolls usually begin their comments with the subject IN SOVIET RUSSIA... (all capitals) and typically proceed to reverse the order of words in that story's headline, usually changing the verb slightly to maintain subject/verb agreement and changing the object of the sentence to the second-person YOU!. So, [subject][verb][object] usually becomes IN SOVIET RUSSIA... [object][verb] YOU! Example 1 [] Example 2 []

The phrase In Soviet Russia... is a signature of the jokes of Russian comedian Yakov Smirnoff.

Reigniting flamewars
Popular on software and development articles, this troll tries to explain why a particular operating system, programming language or other concept is inferior to others, in a way intended to annoy. This type of troll will either make an outlandish and obvious claim or subtly use a valid criticism of something in an aggravating fashion.

For example:

* The K in KDE stands for Krap.
* Why would I want a desktop with a smelly foot on it?
* Linux has immensely poor SMP support.
* My BSD machines have much better uptimes and stability than my Linux machines.
* Object-oriented programming is difficult to use and doesn't increase productivity.
* Open source software has poorer levels of QA than proprietary solutions.
* Python scales up for large projects better than Perl.

This type of post is usually moderated down as flamebait, but sometimes causes a flamewar to begin amongst those who reply and the troll gets his 'bite'.

Movie spoilers
This is generally a significantly subtler trolls than most. The spoiler type of troll is usually, for the most part, a genuinely insightful comment split into several paragraphs, with the middle or penultimate paragraph containing a movie spoiler in the middle of a sentence. Example [] (contains what appears to be a spoiler for The Matrix Reloaded, but is actually not)

Homosexuality is one of the most versatile and so common trolling devices utilized. In its simplest form it may be used on its own in the form of a homophobic insult or as a feature of a pornographic troll featuring common Slashdot topics and celebrities.

This can be done manually or via an automated script; multiple copies of the same message are posted many times over with slight variations in order to avoid being filtered. Scripted crapflooding attacks can be very effective: a troll known as Sexual Asspussy has created a Perl script to crapflood Slash sites [] and utilized it with some success in stories such as this [] .

Troll organizations
Periodically, individual trolls will come together and form organized groups. They will usually post common variations of popular Slashdot trolls with their organization's name attached in some way. While somewhat uncommon, these organizations can become quite famous among Slashdot regulars; the most prominent of these being the Cabal of Logged in Trolls or 'CLIT' and 'Trollkore'. The various groups often fight it out in a battle of slander and competition to achieve first posts. In summer of 2003 the most frequently mentioned troll organization was the Gay Niggers Association of America. It boasted its own logo and IRC channel, and encouraged people to join by first watching a Danish low-budget movie Gayniggers from Outer Space or to register their support by upwardly moderating GNAA comments.

Article text trolls
Sometimes considered an effective sanitization of those who post comments consisting of a linked article's text for positive moderation, these trolls consist of the linked article's text with a phrase or paragraph covertly inserted or modified to form a subversive or offensive message not present in the original article. These can be in the form of film or book spoilers, amongst other things. Example []

Combinations of trolling techniques
Various aspects of the above techniques may be combined: []

Changelog -

0.65 - Added Examples Section

0.61 - Cleaned Howto

0.6 - Debut on /.

Quality (1)

The Angry Mick (632931) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634188)

Our approach is to be a walled garden, where we bring in this very high-quality content.

high quality banner ads

high quality flash ads

high quality vb scripting

high quality address harvesting

etc. . . .

Will users pay for content? (0)

magsymp (562489) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634189)

Yes and I will give you the same answer I gave a friend when he asked me :

Q: "Why should I go on living in this unjust, inhumaine, technology dependant world where one marginally sain person can't even delude himself enough to believe that one person can make a differance as nameless, faceless forces seem to conspire against my every hope and dream, leaving me spiritually ravaged and consigned to work at the drive-in window at Wendy's?"

A: Internet Pr0n?

hahah MOD UP! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6634333)


Micropayments (5, Insightful)

chazman00 (321337) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634192)

You'll see people start paying for content, when distributers start pricing it correctly. Sometimes I only visit a site once, maybe twice. Do I want to buy a 20-50 dollar a month subscription to get the article I'm interested in? Obviously not.

However, I would be willing to make a 50 or 75 cent investment in a good article or two. Micropayments could be a huge boon to the net. Paypal or Visa or Mastercard ought to get their act(s) together and make it happen already

Subscription fine. I want a copy, too! (4, Interesting)

imag0 (605684) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634200)

About the only way that I think I would happily toss down a monthly $fee for online content would be to have the content shipped to me on a (monthly, quarterly, whatever) basis on cd as well as the access.

HTML is small, dynamic content can be shoe-horned into static, and you can always look back on the good old days (think LWN on cd. or Wikipedia, relive your first p0st over and over again on Slashdot the 99-01 collection, whatever).

I think I would even pay a premium for such as service as well (20 bucks a year for online access, or, 40 and we ship you a quarterly cd as well!)

Myself, I see the net being a little too ephemeral to be chucking down cash for something you will never get to touch or keep a library of for your own use.

My 2 cents. Now, time to go read the article! ;)

Yes, if it's worth what it costs (1)

mwood (25379) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634204)

As with most television programming, most web content, while valuable, would not be bought if it were sold, because the perceived value is not worth the hassle of all those little payments. But if you have a concentrated source of high-value stuff and offer it on decent terms, you will have subscribers and I believe you can make it self-sustaining and even profitable.

For the rest of us, a gift culture just works better because you don't have to hassle with all that bookkeeping and settling-up, and if ad.s allow us to break even more often than not then I can stand it. Enduring the advertising is less painful than writing a thousand checks/month or having to fill in a payment form every ten seconds.

Second-rate (1)

Liquorman (691815) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634214)

strongly branded publishers don't like to see their content next to second-rate content.

Have these guys never seen a good sized news stand? Juggs next to Newsweek. I am sure that the publishers of Juggs are well aware that they are displayed next to a second-rate mag like Newsweek.

Yawn (1)

mao che minh (611166) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634217)

These are the same types of people that told you Charlie's Angels 2 would be a big hit, and that America cares about Ben and J'Lo.

In a year no one will even remember this guy's tale to care about his failed business.

It's called competition (3, Interesting)

ewn (538392) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634228)

Every expensive product in human history that faced cheaper (free is just the extreme) competition has at one point resorted to insulting their customers by calling them cheapos. "Freeloader Mentality" is a very hollow word that describes the simple fact that people make many of their economic decisions in a surprisingly economic way: As long as major news sites are free (as in beer), people won't pay for yet another one that charges them. It's that simple and ist's called competition.Get used to it.

It will work... (1)

NetDanzr (619387) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634231)

...but only under one condition: the paid content that's provided is unique and hard to replicate. The only content I can think of is commentary or proprietary articles from journalists that are trusted (what an oxymoron!) enough for people to pay for what they have to say.

It won't work with news - blogs have become much faster and more accurate than any on-line news services. It won't work with any kind of photographs or reviews - there will always be oddballs who decide to provide comparable content for free or with only banner advertisment. And as long as people have the choice, I don't see them willingly switching to services they have to pay for.

they're in a dream world (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6634240)

Will Internet Users Pay for Content?

One Word: No.

People already pay - see itunes / wall st journal (3, Insightful)

acomj (20611) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634251)

I know its music, but apple gets poeple to pay for music. Wall street journal gets people to pay for there services as does bloomberg. Information is valuable. There is no easy way to pay for web pages if you want a little at a time.

Its like newspapers. In boston we have a "Free" daily paper (The Metro) its small but has the days news. The "pay" Boston Globe is much bigger with more depth.

There is a place for both.

I would like to borrow a quote... (1)

yorkrj (658277) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634253)

From the book of Beatles "The best things in life are free."

That is totally out of context. So sue me. RIAA if you are listening, I didn't mean that litterally.

Re:I would like to borrow a quote... (1)

Liquorman (691815) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634402)

Well, The Beatles certainly did record those words, but it is actually a quote from Berry Gordy Jr. and Janie Bradford, who wrote the song. Gordy was the owner of Motown studios/records. It was a hit on that label for Barrett Strong in 1960 - -1028-20744064-0.html

You might also have said that it was from the book of the Flying Lizards, who also had a minor hit with their version -

The song has been performed and recorded by any number of other pop groups, including the Sonics, the Rolling Stones, the Babys and blues guitar great Buddy Guy.

buzzwords (1)

diablochicken (445931) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634254)

He used the word "monetized". It's doomed to fail.

Seriously, though -- he compared old magazines to old movies, noting that Hollywood makes a substantial portion of its money from its old catalog, and thinks he can do the same with magazines. Doesn't he notice that there's a bit fo a difference between movies (entertainment) and magazines (news)? News ain't evergreen, my friend.

used to run a "content" site (4, Insightful)

prisoner (133137) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634259)

and people generally don't pay. We tried it as a last resort before shutting our site down awhile ago. The only way that worked for us to make money was to syndicate our content onto other web sites. We did pretty good business until the .com bust killed that. Another avenue we pursued was advertising but we didn't have many people on staff and chasing ad dollars (at the time anyways) was a full-time salesman's job. We were all techies. Needless to say, we didn't get many ad contracts. We also tried joining "networks" (think Home and Garden "Channel" on something like MSN)and that was a nightmare. Obviously, we weren't very good businessmen either but it was fun for awhile. People just don't expect to pay on the internet, there's simply too much free stuff.

Re:used to run a "content" site (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6634310)

looks like your running a domain squatters site now, cos i cant see the difference between you and

have you thought about offering a service that people actually want ?

Re:used to run a "content" site (1)

prisoner (133137) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634361)

Thanks for pointing that out, the link on my account is out of date. That used to be the site we ran.

I already pay for content (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6634267)

i hand over money to my ISP and in return i get to view all these web pages , download movies/mp3's/chat/im

It worked for cable TV (3, Interesting)

gatkinso (15975) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634268)

We USED to get all TV for free.

THEN we paid for cable - but that was ok because we got out boobs, 4 letter words, and gore... commercial free.

NOW we pay MORE for cable, get twice the commercials, and have to watch edited versions of many movies.

Go figure.

So to those who say we will never pay for content on the net... what are you watching tonight, and how much are you paying again?

RE: Will Internet Users Pay for Content? (1)

Awptimus Prime (695459) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634273)

I don't know about everyone else, but I will stick to whatever free content I can get ahold of.

Not unless I need very specific, proprietary content, would I ever pay to skim most of the web's nonsense. This includes general forum sites, news, link sites, even slashdot. Though entertaining, most of it is not worth paying for. Not when there is someone providing it for free.

I will pay....but.... (1)

Chanc_Gorkon (94133) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634276)

Again, the price must be right. 30 a year is a decent price for most websites and if they could do it even cheaper, it would be even better. For online versions of Time, of course you'd give that to print subscribers, but how about a online version that is cheaper to subscribe to then the dead tree version? This would work great for Time and other print magazines. Less paper going out (lots would take the digital version) and less trees getting killed.

If it's already an online venture (Slashdot, Pocket PC Thoughts) use value adds to push it. Specifically, for wireless users, have a mobile site customoized for the PDA screen. PPC Thoughts does this....the free mobile site does not do near as much as the pay site and I LOVE being able to reply to forums on the PDA. Also, try to work deals with your advertisers to get a coupon or something to give the subscriber. PPC Thoughts also did this with Vaja. There are other things like customizing your online experience further than possible with the free site and lots of things that make reading PPC Thoughts easier to read. Subscriber giveaways are a bonus to do too especially if the sites operators can get those for free. Also, ad blocking is a excellent value add for subscribing. Point is, as Slashdot and several other geek oriented sites have proved, it is possible to make enough to stay alive and even a little above that. But will Joe Six-Pack pay? Make the content compelling and unusual (I WON'T pay for world news) and people will pay. Have a free version available and that will entice them to subscribe.

It's got to more than just content (4, Interesting)

JSkills (69686) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634280)

What I'm saying is that people on the internet are not likely going to pay for *just* content, unless it is something extremely specialized that is not accessible in print. But for the most part, publishing companies only make articles from their publications available online either an issue behind or only publishing some (and not all) articles in the recent issue. They are way too concerned about canabilizing their print readership. And if I have to pay, I'd still prefer the print format over reading from a computer (or any devices screen). Until there's some form of electronic paper I can take to the bathroom, on the train, or to the beach to read, I can't see paying for electronic-only content. And suprisingly, the paying print subscribers of magazines today hold no special priveleges over those who are not paying susbcribers when it comes to viewing content on the correspinding website of a print publication. If you subscribe, you should get the content in any format you want.

If you're going to charge people for online only content, it's really got to be more that just what's available in print. Slashdot is not available in print and it is more than just news, it's an experience of discussion with a great deal of other like-minded people. I am part of a group that runs a successful non-porn (well maybe some) pay website [] . In talking to our members, the main reason people subscribe to our site and keep renewing their subscriptions is the experience, not just the content. The experience being the activity in the various message forms, the ability to rate and comment on every piece of content, the ability to parametrically search and access all content for the past 6 years (online publicaitons rarely offer that), the ability to see who's currently online, etc.

Sorry for the shameless plug, but it illustrates the point that you really can't charge for *just* content presented in the same way as print. I don't believe Salon executed successfully using this model, and I can't see how anyone else could either.

Just my 2 cents ...

the future (1)

NetMagi (547135) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634281)

Personally, I think in the next 5 years we'll see a switch from paying for access and free content to free access, or incredibly CHEAP access and paid content.

Sure, it works... (4, Insightful)

speleo (61031) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634286)

We built a site for the New York Review of Books [] years ago with an online subscription model and it's been very successful.

The key -- that some folk seem to miss -- is that you need content that people are willing to pay to access. All too often the content provided by a subscription site isn't worth the price even if it was free. It also helps if your publication's demographic actually has money.

As I said before.. (1)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634301)

Micropayments in this system we have WILL NOT WORK. Instead, we need a Xanadu type system where everybody's contents are self-assesed and charged appropiately by the micropayment counter.

By then, if you're juat a consumer, you pay. However, if you actually give something back, you get too. Make enough content, and you make money. Pictre the Xanadu system as a cab fare the rapidly flings back and forth.

Even with micropayments/subscription, my content on Slashdot and tech related sites is worth money (probably .001c - but it's something). If slash and related sites didnt have us users, they'd be a nothing. The best system is where high-quality posters should have free subscriptions, and lowish ones pay.

I think most users would say something like this.. (-1)

InterruptDescriptorT (531083) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634319)


Next question, please.

Already paying... (4, Insightful)

mraymer (516227) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634324)

The problem with this is that people are already paying for the content; they pay for net access, and most people feel that should be all they need to pay.

It's like television, which survives off ads. The only problem is we've learned that advertising on the net doesn't work very well. I think with clever, amusing, and less annoying ads, that could change. Also, I think most people base the success of an ad on the number of click-throughs; this is not logical, especially if you have an ad similar in nature to a print ad, where a click-through is not necessary to gain your interest in the product/service.

The Internet is still pretty young, and the Web is even younger. In time, hopefully, things will flesh out and new business models will emerge. I think for now, though, the industry is still trying to recover from the burst tech bubble.

Yes, I'll pay, but -- (5, Insightful)

mcgroarty (633843) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634329)

I'll gladly pay for better content. No contest there.

But I won't give my credit card number to a thousand different sites. I will not subscribe to a bunch of sites (recurring payments or minimum payments greater than what I'll use on my visit), and I will not enter my personal information over and over and over again. And when it comes to downloadable books, software and music, I want that content downloadable forever, or the deal's off.

Until there's a standard for centralized payments (it's fine if there are multiple payment centers, so long as they all speak the same protocol), I'm going to use Google to hunt for alternate sites for information and entertainment.

Until downloadable content is as loss-proof as a book or a CD (meaning my library doesn't go away if a hard drive goes away without a backup or I run out of space and have to kill a folder of tunes I won't listen to for a few months), it doesn't feel like you actually own anything. If you have a permanent account with permanent access, you feel like you've purchased something, and it feels like your money's afforded you a little certainty. If you only get one, two or three downloads or a 30-day cap and then you're screwed, it's just as fulfilling (and often less trouble) for others to load up bittorrent and grab a few movies and CD images. The whole download-limited purchase thing seems really short-sighted.

prior art? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6634335)

Through my college library, I already have access to several third party content providers. Using the college logon from any computer, I can access hundreds of newspapers, thousands of magazines, and a shitload of other reports and periodicles. All of these are available within days of publication, in full searchable text. The costs in this case are included within the colleges tuition, but many of these same services can be accessed through my local library's services as well. Will their service be able to compete with the comprehensive services of even a public library?

wot me pay?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6634339)

pay for something on the internet? Are you mad. just download it from Kazza

Will Internet Users Pay for Content? (1)

thePancreas (690504) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634344)

-Not unless there is free Cowboy Neal porno filters applied free of charge. goddamned i hat coming across that stuff. What's with the Germans anyway?

Oh wait this isn't a poll? OK thenmy answer is no.

An insightful comment (3, Insightful)

m00nun1t (588082) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634355)

...which I wish I could take credit for :)

I heard a guy speak about this a while ago. He is CEO for a large Australian portal site, and like all portals, is struggling to make money. His comment was that, as a general rule, people are more likely to pay for content that is user created, rather than content that someone else creates - bad news for traditional news sites!

Some examples: Hotmail premium services, dating sites, forums (see EZBoard), and yes, even slashdot.

Sure, most of those examples have many more people not paying, but the key thing is they are all getting people to pay money. Think about sites you pay for or might be tempted to pay for...

I only pay if it helps make me money (1)

ChinaJoe (259673) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634362)

I pay for the content of two websites.
One is a job search site where I pick up new contracts to keep the family fed and the other is a fantasy football site. Both provide information that is very useful and can't be found elsewhere. Or I don't have the time to do the research on my own.

Sure (5, Insightful)

killmenow (184444) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634370)

People will pay for online content with the following provisos:
  1. Same or similar, comparable, slightly lower quality content cannot be available elsewhere for free
  2. They have a meaningful value proposition (people will feel like they're getting what they're paying for)
  3. The economy (and their current income level) allows them to have the disposable income for most online content is not vital to have
A prime example (although it's not "online") is HBO. I pay an extra $10/month for it because its content is (imho) that much better than the rest of what TV has to offer. If an online service can get people to feel the same way (that their content is that much better than the rest of what the Internet has to offer) no doubt people will pay.

NO (1)

Pfhreakaz0id (82141) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634371)

does this need an argument?

Will Internet Users Pay for Content? (2, Interesting)

aengblom (123492) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634389)

Yes, they will when they have to. When they start logging on to sites that just arn't there anymore.

Now, I'm not going to pay for general news today. I can get it at the New York Times, the Washington Post, USA Today, CNN, MSNBC, LA Times etc. etc. etc. I'd pay if they all dissapeared, but they won't.

NYTimes is profitable. The Washington Post's website is it's only real national edition and too strategically important. Others are similarly situated almost all are heading towards profitability. The WSJ is pay only and profitable. Salon is... well it just doesn't die ;-).

But, you know what, I've put some bucks into political blogs I read to keep them moderately healthy. I'd hate to see them go and -- more importantly -- I'd pay a moderate fee if they went pay-per-view.

The New Republic went mostly pay-per-view a couple months back. It gave me the little push I needed to subscribe to the deadtree version, which gives access to articles online.

And I subscribe to ArsTech's forums, since I habitate there fairly often and I want to help keep that site alive.

Finally, I work at a company that publishes $1,000/year newsletters via the internet. (Granted its PDF, not HTML) It content and people certainly pay, even if it isn't the general public.

Yes, I'm ahead of the curve. I'm obviously willing to pay for pulp-based content as well, which many aren't even willing to do.

For those stuck in 2001, believing you are the only one who "get's it" that the 90s were irrational exuberence and everything dotcom was dumb: Get off your high horse. Everyone knows, even those in business and things are improving. Profits are being squeezed out--even in the crappy economic times.

The internet is just a different way to transmit information. There is nothing inherent about it that means people won't pay for entertainment and valuable information there.

Will Websites Continue to Provide Free Content? (2, Interesting)

johnjay (230559) | more than 10 years ago | (#6634394)

There are two general types of content that could be on the web: highly specialized content, and rather generic content. The highly specialized content (wsj analysis, medical papers, etc.) can be sold on the internet because users know there's no other place to get it for free. For the generic content, there are tons of websites that are willing to provide free content just so they have visitors. As long as someone is willing to undersell on content, it will remain free.

Free news sites are an understandable byproduct of this competition. Any news company could charge for access; after all, the information does take research and money to compile. But, since there are many news sites, and they're all competing for hits, they will continue to provide content for free as long as they can. Once you start charging, you'd better have a lot more to offer than just headlines and commentary.
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