revise the business model
Posted Jul 28, 2002 17:42 UTC (Sun) by DeletedUser2910
Parent article: On the future of LWN
The lwn reader community can contribute in many ways to the success of lwn. The most pressing right now is monetarily through donations and subscriptions that enable the lwn staff to do their job. A second possibility is by helping with the content (more on this later). Another possibility to help is by proposing a revised business model.
The key points of the following suggestion is that it needs to be clear to subscribers where their money will go --in particular what happens to the money after the needs of the lwn staff have been met. I suspect that if lwn has a clearly stated and attractive plan for what to do with extra money they will have far greater success in getting the minimum necessary. Now, without further ado, I humbly submit a rather vague and preliminary suggestion for a revised business model.
Make the cashflow provided by readers, i.e. donations and subscriptions, transparent. A bar graph for each month would probably be sufficient as long as it is clear what the minimum required per month is to produce the "standard" version of lwn where you are paid at livable rates. Clearly, subscriptions would be spead out over the period of the subscription while donations could be counted immediately.
Publish a plan of things lwn would like to do that are conditional on the availability of extra money. My idea would be special features written by freelance contributors. Let anyone making a donation vote on topics (as opposed to specific articles) that are of interest to them and let subscribers vote with a certain portion of their subscription. (The more subscribers you have the larger this portion available for voting should be).
Let subscribers and those making donations have access to these special features at defined points in the editorial process. The readers who are interested in a topic may have interesting questions, comments, suggestions and insights that would really help ensure high quality content. Of course it would take a lot of work to set a system like this up and a lot of thought to make the social aspects of it function correctly but I think it is achievable (especially if you let the readers help with suggestions).
I would think that having special features with a longer lead time than "the weekly news" should provide considerable help in increasing advertising revenue. I would hope that in the future the advertising revenue would be enough to make up the difference between livable wages and market rate wages for the lwn staff. If the lwn staff does a really fantastic job then hopefully they could get enough advertising revenue to get above market wages (which in my opinion they richly deserve :-).
In summary all "published" content would be available to anyone. Participation in discussions would still require people to register. People making donations and subscribers would have access during the editorial process to special features (as opposed to the current lwn stuff) and would have greater influence on the kinds of special content that is published. Ideally lwn should keep track of the contributions made by readers (through frequency and a rating system maybe?) in the form of discussion and comments and provide some way for highly esteemed readers who are not subscribers to be awarded similar priviledges to subscribers in compensation for their contributions.
to post comments)