As most of you certainly know, the July 25
LWN Weekly Edition
stated that publication of the Weekly Edition would
cease on August 1, as a result of the fact that we are unable to pay
anybody to write it. We could never have dreamed of the sort of response
we have gotten to this announcement.
We did expect to get a lot of mail and such, and we did. What we honestly
did not expect was the incredible flood of donations. Since the
Weekly Edition went out on Wednesday night, LWN readers have donated over
$12,000. Working with our reader community has always been the best
part of writing LWN; there aren't words to express how gratifying it is to
see you all trying to come through for us now. You people are great.
The big question is, of course: what will we do with that money, and will
we reconsider our decision to stop publishing the Weekly Edition? It will
take us a few days to answer that question, there is a lot to think about
here. What we can do now is lay out a bit more information on where things
stand; a number of you have complained that we have been less than
forthcoming in this regard, and that is true.
There are currently five people involved with LWN:
- Rebecca handles the Distributions and Commerce pages,
- Forrest does Development, Linux in the News, and Announcements,
along with various system admin tasks.
- Dennis does the Security page and all of our administrative
- Jon writes the front and Kernel pages, handles the LWN site
code, and pretends to be running the show.
- Dave handles advertising and donations, and does occasional
front page duty.
...and, of course, Liz remains a director of the company, a
supporter, and a good friend.
Not everybody on that list is working full time doing LWN. But the point
should be clear: producing LWN takes a lot of work. A "daily news ticker"
pointing to external resources is relatively easy to do, especially if you
have software that finds much of the stuff (and readers that send in the
rest). But as soon as you try to take a higher-level view, pull all that
news together, and write something original that, with luck, actually makes
some sense, you simply have to put a substantial amount of time into it.
Writing the LWN Weekly Edition takes far more time than can be expected of
people "off hours" - it has to be somebody's real job. Which means that
those people have to be paid, provided with insurance benefits, etc.
Without that, it's only a matter of time before LWN's authors get fed up,
decide to get a job that pays, and reclaim their Wednesday nights to be
with their families. That point, clearly, has been reached.
So any solution to LWN's problems has got to deal with the salary issue.
While we deeply appreciate the folks who have offered to host LWN for us,
that does not address the problem (and, besides, Rackspace is already generously
donating hosting services to LWN).
The bottom line: with the current LWN configuration, a bare minimum of
about $15,000/month is required to pay these expenses. That level of
funding does not pay the sort of salary that LWN's staff could get on the
market (even the current market), but it is a start.
Advertising, in recent times, has never brought in more than about $3000
per month - and rather less this summer.
In the end, the donations that have come in are great, they are approaching
the amount of money needed to keep us going for one month. If we felt sure
that we could sustain that level for the other eleven months of the year,
the decision to continue would be easy. Back in the real world, we have to
look, one more time, at whether some combination of donations, advertising,
subscriptions, etc. could be built into a sustainable business. We will
get back to you soon. In the mean time, let us say thanks! for your
incredible level of support.
[One brief footnote: if all else fails, we will put up our archives as a
tarball for those who want it. We also have several offers from people who
are willing to host the archives into the future. So the old LWN content
will not disappear off the net anytime soon; there's no need for massive
downloads of the entire site at this time.]
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