The recent discussion on improving LWN's readership led to one clear action
item: the addition of a feature which would allow subscribers to create
special links which they could use to point out interesting articles to
non-subscribers. These links would bypass the normal subscription gate,
allowing articles to be read while they are still current.
That feature has been implemented, and is now active. There is no limit on
the number of links a subscriber may create, and no limit on how many
people may read an article via a given link. A few caveats do apply,
- For the time being, only "project leader" subscribers have the ability
to create subscriber links. This restriction is meant to be
temporary; its main purpose is to slow the initial use of the new
feature while any remaining bugs are shaken out. It would, however,
be interesting to hear what people think of keeping subscriber links
as a differentiating feature for the high-level subscriptions.
- Subscriber links can be made for individual articles; just look for
the "send a link" line in the left column. These links cannot be made
for entire Weekly Edition pages, however.
- We reserve the right to turn off the subscriber link capability for
specific articles; the annual timeline is a case where we might do
that. No decisions have been made on that point, however, and the mechanism
to implement an exclusion policy has not yet been implemented.
- We reserve the right to turn off the whole thing if it looks like the
feature is being abused and hurting subscription sales. We do not
expect things to go that way, however.
Privacy stuff and details: for each link, we track who created it and the number of
hits it receives. That information will go away some time after the link
expires - which happens when the relevant article becomes freely
available. The links are constructed in such a way that they will continue
to work forever. Currently, following a subscriber link leads directly to
the article in question; in the future, we might throw in some sort of
encouragement to subscribe.
We are most interested to see how this new feature - which was driven by
requests from our subscribers - works out.
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