Posted Sep 29, 2005 21:07 UTC (Thu) by GreyWizard
In reply to: Some reactions so far
Parent article: An LWN status update
Some way for subscribers to pass out "read this article free" tokens. That's a new one, we'll have to think on how it would be implemented. Not sure how useful it would be without the ability to post to a mailing list, though.
I have a suggestion to address both these concerns: give each restricted article a link with an embedded token that only LWN could convert back to a subscriber account number. A subscriber could right click, select "Copy Link Location" (or equivalent) and then paste into an email client. Anyone who clicks such a link would get the article, even while the restriction is still in effect. How many times can such a link be clicked? As many as bandwidth and server capacity allow, so mailing lists present no special problem. How many of these could an individual subscriber issue? As many as he or she wants to use.
Why bother limiting these things? Would having a token link accepted by Slashdot really be a bad thing? Sure, one could post such links for every article to some public place. But one bent on mischief could also post the article contents instead. At least when a subscriber abuses link tokens the editors can easily detect it and take disciplinary action such as suspending the privilege for that account. The point of restricting content at all is to give casual readers an incentive to pay. Do they lose this incentive just because one of us occasionally sends links to the most interesting and timely articles?
Actually, getting links from friends who subscribe is a better incentive than access to undifferentiated week old articles. Subscriber links will be sent right away by people in a position to know what that particular reader is likely to find interesting. Doing things this way empowers subscribers to be better evangelists. Considering the torrent of replies every article on the status of LWN recieves many subscribers are eager to do this kind of work. When subscribers have the power to decide which articles should be more widely read the editors can remove themselves from pointless marketing discussions.
Where is the downside? This could be done on an experimental basis. Repealing the feature if subscriber totals begin to decline would be simple. Do you trust us enough to let us try?
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