LWN status update
Posted Jul 31, 2002 16:43 UTC (Wed) by pm101
Parent article: LWN status update
Howdy. I'm a graduate student. I donated 30 bucks (in the form of an ad
campaign asking people to donate more money). I've read LWN since it
started. First, I'd like to echo the sentiments of other people who posted:
I'll gladly pay any reasonable subscription fees. At this point, LWN is the
only publication I read on a regular basis. It has a lot of value to me. I
have yet to find a publication in any field with the level of intelligence,
accuracy and integrity LWN has consistently shown over the years. I think
a substantial portion of the readers would be willing to pay the fees as
That said, you need to be careful. First of all, communities rotate. The
community is very willing to pay, but what you may find is that if you
close off the site too much, you will stop getting new readers. Old
readers will slowly drop off, until the site dies. Second of all, a large
value of LWN comes from it being free; I don't want to have to log in from
every machine I visit to access it; I don't want to give anyone the ability
to track what I read and when I read it; I want to be able to forward
links to articles to friends. Again, you can't close too much off.
At the same time, you need enough of a value-add that sysadmins can write
of paying subscription fees as a business expense. At that point, if
someone's job is paying, you can charge very reasonable (read: high)
subscription prices. I might make something where you have three levels
of subscriptions: Student ($30), Personal ($60),Business ($120+) and
Departmental ($500+ for an everyone in an IS department, with price
varying for size of department). You don't actually need to verify this
too much; I doubt the type of people who will want to subscribe will want
to cheat the system.
Finally, you need to figure out whether or not sponsors will be as happy
with a subscription site. A business may be willing to donate to keep
free LWN alive, but not willing to donate for commercial LWN.
A day or two of delay is fine. A crippleware site, on the other hand,
would mean marginally higher short-term profits, but long-term death.
Of course, I've watched you guys for many years, and I have complete
confidence that you will do the right thing. The folks at LWN have an
overdeveloped level of ethics and intelligence, and I have no doubt in my
mind you won't do anything stupid (like many of the things suggested).
If you ever do go under, please maintain a skeleton LWN; a much shorter
version that you can do in your free time. That way, the site won't die,
and if the economy ever pops back up, you can return to full-fledged
operation. Ideally, you'd do consulting half-time and LWN half-time (the
exposure of LWN would bring in a decent amount of work), but even working
full time, and posting a brief site over the weekend would at least mean
you'd have the option of reopening the site at a later date.
Three more jobs for your todo list:
* Let subscribes get the thing ("One Big Page"-format) by e-mail, if this
can be implemented quickly
* (Probably #92737 on your TODO list) tie in so I can log in with my
advertising password to post comments. One account instead of multiple.
Several passwords for the same site are a bitch.
* Fix whatever cookies f-age you have. I had a painful time logging in
from Netscape for Linux with full cookies enabled. If what people are
writing is correct, this may be as simple as having www.lwn.net always
refer the user to the same page on lwn.net.
One more point: the site already takes me most of the week to get
through. I find the front and kernel pages invaluable. Skimming
through security to see if anything on my system has a bug is useful.
Distributions, Development, and the old On The Desktop pages were nice,
but a bit long. Linux in the News is way, way too long, but I still
skim it. Linux in Business, Announcements and Letters to the Editor I no
longer bother with. I'm not sure if trying to expand the site is the right
approach. In the end, it means the site takes more labor, and is more
expensive to produce. At the same time, it's already big enough (a bit
too big, actually), and most of the value comes from how well you
summarize everything in Linux news; I know I'd personally find a tighter
summary even more valuable.
Y'all are in a tough situation, but we're with you all the way, for
whatever it's worth.
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