Posted Sep 29, 2005 6:55 UTC (Thu) by dash
Parent article: An LWN status update
LWN has a dilemma: Opening the content more, or closing content more.
By opening to far up, you will remove all pressure to subscribe, except for the "feel good" donation aspect. In principle, this is a sustainable model, but it has been explored by LWN in the past without overwhelming success.
By closing up more, you will increase the value of subscription, at the same time as you make recruiting new readers harder (since the open content is the primary advertising channel - sorry Google). Closing up to much also feels orthogonal to spirit of the communites and subject matter that LWN covers.
The current model, with a one week lock-up period for viewing articles for non-subscribers, is trying to strike a balance between the two extremes. There are a couple of problems with the current approach:
- It is hard for subscribers to send links to non-subscribers. This hampers network effects that would be very nice to have: It would make the content more useful for the subscribers (they can share it earlier), and it would work as word-of-mouth-advertising for LWN.
- The regular lock-up period makes it easy for non-subscribers to just stay one week behind the subscribers. (Analysis of the web server logs could probably tell how many readers who are in this category.)
My suggestions would be:
- Add a feature that enables subscibers to send special "opened links" to friends and colleagues. The resulting page would say "This page is recommended to you by subscriber XXX" at the top, but would otherwise be similar to a regular article. This would create some possibilites for abuse, but not greater than sharing accounts pose today.
- Add some random jitter to the lock-up periods so that some articles will be locked-up for two weeks, and some only by, say, three days. This would mainly make things more difficult for "regular one-week-behind-readers", not for random visitors. My guess is that it would create a little more insentive for some non-subscribers to subscribe. If you combine this with withholding the information on when the content will be freely available, you increase the pain to the addicts, but, sadly, you would also inconvenience the random visitors a little bit.
My 50 øre (NOK 0.50).
Linpro - the leading Linux and OSS provider in Norway
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