The LWN status update
two weeks ago generated quite a bit of feedback. We have also received
quite a bit of mail; it has all been read, though we have not had a chance
to respond to every message. Once again, we offer our thanks to all of
you, who clearly care about keeping LWN going and making it better.
One of the most commonly-suggested ideas was a "send a link" feature for
subscribers. Using this feature, a subscriber could generate a link which
would enable a non-subscriber to access an article which is still behind
the subscription gate. The idea would be to let our readers spread limited
access to subscription content, thus helping to hook more readers. We will
probably implement this idea, though the specific shape of it remains to be
worked out. Stay tuned.
Other promotional approaches are being looked at and tried out. Ad
campaigns run on That Big Search Engine have been disappointing so far,
though we have not yet given up on that approach. What seems more
effective is targeted trial subscription offers; a trial offer sent to the
GnuCash and KMyMoney lists (so they could read the recent Grumpy Editor
article) got quite a few takers. LWN does not need a reputation for
spamming developer lists, however, so much care will have to be taken with
The idea of extending the subscription period did not inspire a great many
replies, one way or another. We may try a modest extension (to two weeks,
perhaps), maybe in conjunction with the "send a link" feature.
A few people have asked for a higher-priced subscription option or the
ability to simply make donations. We may eventually add the higher level,
though we expect that the uptake - which would be necessarily less than we
see now for the "project leader" level - would be relatively small. There
will not be a donation option added, however. Those of you who were with
us when we first decided to try subscriptions will remember that we went
through a major hassle with our credit card merchant bank. Donations are a
red flag which, it seems, creates major anxiety in merchant bank risk
management departments. Our current bank has proved to be far more
rational than the one we had back then, but the ability to accept credit
cards is our lifeline, and we cannot do things (like accepting donations)
which put it at risk.
We do have a couple of options for anybody who would like to send more
money LWN's way: (1) buy a gift certificate for a friend, or
(2) buy a text ad promoting your favorite free software project.
A few users have suggested that the site could use a redesign to give it a
more professional look. No doubt that is true, and a site makeover has been on the "to
do" list for some time. Any such redesign, when it happens, will preserve
the core philosophy of the current site: LWN is about high-quality
text without a lot of distracting decorative material. So there is no need
to worry that we'll be going to a frame-based, flash-encrusted, image-heavy
presentation in the future.
Thanks to all of you for your support and feedback. LWN has truly been
blessed with the best group of readers we could ever have hoped for.
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