The September 26, 2002 LWN Weekly Edition
the beginning of a major change for this publication. Therein, we said:
We will now try to transition LWN into a subscription-based
publication, supported by the readers that benefit from it. If LWN
is valuable enough to its readers to earn that support, we will
continue to produce it - and try to make it better. If not, well,
then we will search for some other way to use our skills in the
free software community.
At the time, we concluded that we needed about 4000 subscribers to begin to
see LWN as a stable enterprise. We're still a bit short of that - there's
just under 3000 individual subscribers, currently - but we're still here.
Things seem to be headed in the right direction.
Much depends on what happens in the next month or so, however. Many of you
went for one-year subscriptions when they first became available. That
money has sustained us over the last year, and we are more than grateful
for that. But those subscriptions are now about to expire. Over the next
month or so, almost one third of our subscriptions will come to an end. If
the renewal rate is high enough, we should get a cash infusion that will
prove most helpful in taking LWN to the next level, and we can continue our
march toward 4000 subscribers (and beyond). If it's not, well...
We're optimistic. We came out of the "mini expiration" last spring (when
the first set of six-month subscriptions ran out) with as many subscribers as we
had going in. With luck, the same will hold true this time.
Please note that, if you signed up for an automatic monthly subscription,
you, too, will have to renew it. Some businesses, once they get your
credit card, feel entitled to keep charging to it until you show up on the
premises with a baseball bat and make them stop. We've never felt we had
that right, so automatic subscriptions include a maximum number of
authorized charges. That maximum was capped at twelve months (we've since
raised it to 24), and will be running
out for those of you who subscribed a year ago. Many of you will have
already received the "last charge" message we send when the authorized
payments run out. Renewing is just a matter of going to the My Account page and enabling more charges.
The rest of you will not get mail from us until your subscription actually
ends and the grace period begins.
Many of you, however, will not get mail from us at all. We have never made
any attempt to force people to give us a real email address when they set
up an account; if you really don't want us to have it, we can live with
that. But, if we do not have your email address, we cannot communicate
with you regarding subscription expiration. Some of you may also lose our
email because your mailboxes are full of SoBig output; we also simply do
not have the time to be feeding cookies to challenge/response systems. If
any of the above situations apply to you, please keep an eye out for the
"renew your subscription" link that will show up in the left column. Or
just head over the the "My Account" page and top up your subscription ahead
Finally, please note that we will soon stop offering automatic monthly
subscriptions at the "starving hacker" level. When we make credit card
charges that small, the processing fees eat up a substantial amount of the
money we get. Honestly, we'd rather that subscriber money (your money!) went to us,
rather than credit card processing companies. The "starving hacker" level
will continue to exist, but subscriptions will need to be prepaid at least
three months at a time. Existing monthly subscriptions at that level will
not be affected as long as they are maintained.
Once again, please accept our thanks for supporting LWN so strongly over
the last year. We will continue to try to show our appreciation by making
LWN the best resource that it can be.
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