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A note from your editor

Benefits for LWN subscribers

The primary benefit from subscribing to LWN is helping to keep us publishing, but, beyond that, subscribers get immediate access to all site content and access to a number of extra site features. Please sign up today!

By Jonathan Corbet
May 31, 2010
Running a subscription-oriented publication on the net is an interesting challenge, to say the least. Here at LWN, thanks to the generosity of our readers, we have actually made a qualified success of it. Even more challenging, though, is asking those readers to pay more in uncertain economic times and in an industry where prices normally fall. Please read on for a discussion of what we're doing and why.

But first! Let us try to distract you with shiny stuff. We have added a few new features to the site:

  • The much-requested comment filtering feature has been added for subscribers at the "professional hacker" level or above. When filtering is enabled, comments posted by selected readers (and any replies) will be replaced by a small placeholder indicating how many comments have been hidden. Click on the "+" icon to expose the filtered subtree. Please note that JavaScript support is required to un-filter specific comment subtrees. JavaScript was really the only way to support that functionality well; please rest assured that we remain as determined as ever that JavaScript will never be required to read LWN's content.

    Filtering options (including the list of readers to filter) are managed in the My Account area.

  • Subscribers at the "project leader" level can now request email notifications for comments posted anywhere - including all comments posted to a given article. These subscribers will see a new "receive comments as email" button below each article which can be used to populate their inboxes with LWN discussion. Note that comment filtering, if active, is applied to comments sent via email.

  • Tired of advertisements? Subscribers at or above the "professional hacker" level can now turn off all ads on the site.

LWN moved to the subscription model in September 2002, well over seven years ago. The basic individual subscription rate was established at $5/month then, and has not changed since. Over that time, baseline inflation in the US has added up to just over 20% (according to the US government, which would never lie to us about a thing like this), so that $5 buys rather less than it did then. The value of the dollar has also declined significantly since 2002, so the large portion of our readership which pays in other currencies has seen a nice price decrease. That's even still true for people in the Euro zone.

Additionally, official inflation rates become totally irrelevant when it comes to large expenses like health insurance, which went up 40% last year alone. Much to our surprise, the current US administration has not actually fixed that problem for us.

All this explains why LWN lost an editor in March despite the fact that our readers have been incredibly loyal to us during the whole economic roller coaster ride. We have stabilized our finances, but we find ourselves in a position of working at a pace which will certainly lead to eventual burnout. Something needs to change to enable us to address those problems and not only keep LWN alive but continue to make it better in the coming years.

So we will be increasing our subscription rates as of June 14, 2010. The new individual "Professional Hacker" rate will be $7/month, with the other rates scaled accordingly. This increase, we hope, will offset the increases we have seen, enable us to rebuild our finances, and, eventually, allow us to bring staff back to its previous level. But that only works if our subscribers do not leave in disgust; needless to say, we will hope you will stay with us. In return, we'll make the best of the increase and, with any luck at all, not do it again for a very long time.

To answer a couple of anticipated questions: prepaid subscriptions remain valid for the purchased period; the increase only affects subscriptions purchased on or after June 14. Monthly subscriptions are a bit more complicated. We have never believed that our readers wanted to give us permission to charge their cards forever, so monthly subscriptions have always had a maximum number of authorized charges associated with them. All monthly subscribers will continue to be charged the old rate for the number of months they had authorized before this announcement was posted. Only when those subscribers explicitly authorize further charges will the new rate come into effect.

Rates for group subscriptions will change by a roughly proportional amount; we will be contacting our group subscribers at renewal time to discuss the new rates.

We're a little nervous about this change; it's hard to ask for more from the people who have already supported us so well for so long. But we cannot really find a way around it. We very much hope that you will stick with us as we work to build an even better and more interesting LWN in the future.

(Log in to post comments)

A note from your editor

Posted May 31, 2010 14:14 UTC (Mon) by jhs (guest, #12429) [Link]

I have no problem with this whatsoever.


Posted Jun 1, 2010 6:45 UTC (Tue) by kmself (guest, #11565) [Link]

Long overdue IMO to boot.


Posted Jun 1, 2010 7:52 UTC (Tue) by jhs (guest, #12429) [Link]

The longest continuous thread in the discussion is about the health care reform bill.

A note from your editor

Posted May 31, 2010 14:16 UTC (Mon) by Baylink (guest, #755) [Link]

You put it down, Jon...

We'll pick it up.

A note from your editor

Posted May 31, 2010 14:20 UTC (Mon) by kay (guest, #1362) [Link]

Can I renew my prepaid subscription earlyer and pay a difference fee for the already payed month?


A note from your editor

Posted May 31, 2010 14:32 UTC (Mon) by johill (subscriber, #25196) [Link]

Yeah, I wondered about that too. Unless you're already at "project leader", I guess you can move your level up for some time to adjust, and then back down...

A note from your editor

Posted Jun 1, 2010 8:43 UTC (Tue) by kay (guest, #1362) [Link]

Good Idea!

I've just upgraded to project leader ...


A note from your editor

Posted May 31, 2010 14:22 UTC (Mon) by fuhchee (guest, #40059) [Link]

"Much to our surprise, the current US administration has not actually fixed [rising health care costs] for us."

A good reminder to be more sceptical of politicians in the future.

A note from your editor

Posted May 31, 2010 14:49 UTC (Mon) by (✭ supporter ✭, #52701) [Link]

You know, over a year ago when work on the legislation started, lowering heath care costs with a single-payer system was on the table. It was only raving lunatics (comparisons to Hitler notwithstanding) at town hall meetings that caused that to be utterly and completely removed from any public discourse on reform. Later, giving competition to insurance companies in the form of a "public option" was torpedoed by the moderate senators in the Democratic Party responding to pressure from the right. To blame Obama for the mechanizations of the influence of right-wing protesters on the legislative process is beyond naïve. It may be difficult to keep track of what was only the most significant piece of legislation passed in two generations but to revise last years history is just stunning.

A note from your editor

Posted May 31, 2010 14:58 UTC (Mon) by corbet (editor, #1) [Link]

Strange...I don't think we tried to "blame" anybody. I simply noted, perhaps in an overly snide manner, that the problem has not been fixed. I'm sure we could try to analyze how that whole process went in great detail, but it's pretty far off-topic for LWN, so maybe we shouldn't.

Though I could say that I wish we could evolve our legal system with lots of small, sensible changes rather than doing everything with massive, non-reviewable megapatches :)

A note from your editor

Posted May 31, 2010 17:27 UTC (Mon) by nix (subscriber, #2304) [Link]

Still, forty percent in a single year? 'Dear holy crap' is the only justified response to that. (Just checking, you haven't caught a horrible disease in the last year, right? Some disease perhaps caused by proximity to kernel hacking? ... actually, if it were a disease caused by proximity to journalism, that might explain what's happening to so many US newspapers.)

HMO Costs.

Posted May 31, 2010 18:49 UTC (Mon) by smoogen (subscriber, #97) [Link]

No 40% per year is pretty standard for the last 4-8 years for small business/individual payments. For larger businesses its been more like 10-20% per year. Part of it is because Insurance companies are using the money to pay off losses in other businesses and some of it is because they are expected to show a 12% growth per year to Wall Street or bond holders.

Some of it is because many Insurance companies undercharged for a long time trying to become the largest broker etc and then found out that Healthcare cost a lot more than expected as it was not an Insurance but a Service. Two completely different business models.

HMO Costs.

Posted Jun 3, 2010 19:18 UTC (Thu) by malor (guest, #2973) [Link]

Part of it also is that insurance is a loss-making business.

Traditionally, most insurance companies actually pay out more, over time, than they take in from insurance premiums. But they get to use the premiums until payout, which lets them invest their money in, say, the stock market. This money is called their 'float'. The amount they pay over the premium they take in is the 'cost of float'. And they have to try to extract a profit above and beyond the cost of float. Warren Buffett gets very pleased indeed with his subsidiary managers when they give him a negative cost of float, where he's actually being paid to hold money. That just makes his year.

In essence, they're paying you a very, very tiny interest rate to take your money and guarantee that certain bad outcomes won't happen.

Well, with all the financial jiggering over the last few years by the Fed and government proper, interest rates have gone to zero, and the stock market has gone nowhere. So the typically very-low-risk activities pay almost nothing. This means that there's not much profit in carrying float, so premiums have to go up a bunch.

A note from your editor

Posted May 31, 2010 19:15 UTC (Mon) by yokem_55 (subscriber, #10498) [Link]

I tend to think that a fair bit of that 2500+ page 'patch' is pure legislative code bloat. The original "Chairman's Mark", the plain language description of the bill that the Senate Finance Committee put out last September, was 'only' 223 pages. The translation from high-level plain language to legislative code is highly inefficient and a more careful drafting process could probably dramatically reduce the amount of code to implement the same changes. Unfortunately the highly adversarial nature of congressional politics tend to make the drafting of legal code patches heavily burdened by cya-ism, and thus produce worse results.

A note from your editor

Posted May 31, 2010 20:46 UTC (Mon) by Wol (guest, #4433) [Link]

Maybe you should have a "House of Lords" :-)

I'm not happy with the mess our "constitutional reforms" are making of it, but its primary purpose is to review legislation and make sure it makes sense. And it does a good job!

I've heard on Groklaw that quite often a massive tome of law is presented to congressmen on the Monday, and passed into law on the Tuesday ... AT PRESENT that couldn't happen here, and one reason is the House of Lords :-)


A note from your editor

Posted Jun 1, 2010 9:22 UTC (Tue) by jcm (subscriber, #18262) [Link]

Massive legislation is months in the making, if not years. It usually sits in committee for a while, has to get passed through one (but often more than one), then can possibly come up for debate on the floor(s), before being voted on, then voted again by the other branch, then reconciled between the two. At that point it's on the US Statues at Large. And then it's actually codified into law in the United States Code (USC) - possibly also subject to regulation via the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). So nothing gets dumped at the last minute. The US system isn't fundamentally any less complex or less advanced than the old English Westminster system.

What does happen is that general pandering happens at the last minute in the form of amendments to bills, though similar things happen in the UK (although the notion of tacking on unrelated issues - such as student loans onto a Healthcare Bill in this case - would not fly as well outside of the US). OpenCongress and other sites provide a good level of information on ongoing activities (I generally shy away from reading comments on OC due to their often uninformed and Right-Wing nature). I get the Federal Register each morning (delivered to my Kindle via cron). I don't read it every day, but it is a good way to see exactly what the US Federal government did yesterday, similar to the Hansard in the UK. If you're *really* bored, you can even read the Rules of the House, etc. I have for the current Congress because I like to be anally overinformed.

A note from your editor

Posted Jun 1, 2010 9:04 UTC (Tue) by jcm (subscriber, #18262) [Link]

The Administration doesn't introduce new legislation (they don't have the legal authority to do that - in spite of what the media often say). That is done by lawmakers themselves, who have their own interests. So even the best laid plans can be screwed over by special interests, Republican opposition to general progress in the world as a whole, and so forth.

A note from your editor

Posted Jun 3, 2010 17:45 UTC (Thu) by Alan_Hicks (guest, #20469) [Link]

The Administration doesn't introduce new legislation (they don't have the legal authority to do that...


Yes and no. Technically the President can't introduce legislation, but in practice it happens this way all the time. Usually it's in the form of the President meeting with the big whigs of his party in one or both chambers of Congress and handing them his idea on what they should do. Often this is in the form of a drafted bill. This draft is then typically introduced to Congress on the President's behalf by one or more members of Congress who sponsor the bill.

Obama more or less did the above with health care. Bush 43 more or less did it with Social Security Reform and the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit bill. Since the President has veto power (except in rare cases when Congress has a super majority sufficient to defeat a veto), he is essentially the chief legislator of the United States. Members of his party like to introduce bills in Congress that he has "pre-approved" by giving them a rough draft in advance. This ensures his support for the bill, no matter what it may look like after Congress is done amending it.

A note from your editor

Posted May 31, 2010 14:25 UTC (Mon) by johill (subscriber, #25196) [Link]

You forgot to update the UI for ads -- it still says that only project leaders can turn them off.

A note from your editor

Posted May 31, 2010 14:26 UTC (Mon) by omar (guest, #18331) [Link]

$7 is more than fair for the quality provided by LWN. You guys rock.

A note from your editor

Posted May 31, 2010 14:27 UTC (Mon) by jdub (subscriber, #27) [Link]

No worries at all!

I wonder if adding a little "Subscriber" note or icon to commenter posts would be a nice way to show support... and establish a mild form of peer pressure. :-)

A note from your editor

Posted May 31, 2010 14:34 UTC (Mon) by johill (subscriber, #25196) [Link]

"Posted May 31, 2010 14:27 UTC (Mon) by jdub (subscriber, #27) [Link]"

Not good enough?

A note from your editor

Posted May 31, 2010 15:03 UTC (Mon) by mgedmin (subscriber, #34497) [Link]

The editors went back in time and fixed it retroactively! Cool!

A note from your editor

Posted May 31, 2010 15:20 UTC (Mon) by jdub (subscriber, #27) [Link]

Zing--HFSNW! That's awesome... I had not noticed! (and wow, #27!)

A note from your editor

Posted May 31, 2010 16:07 UTC (Mon) by cesarb (subscriber, #6266) [Link]

If this was slashdot, I would say "You must be new here." ;-)

A note from your editor

Posted Jun 2, 2010 6:50 UTC (Wed) by rusty (subscriber, #26) [Link]

Hi #27! I'm guessing this is a timezone thing not a cosmic destiny thing?


A note from your editor

Posted May 31, 2010 14:34 UTC (Mon) by cdamian (subscriber, #1271) [Link]

I just increased my subscription to project leader and added another 12 months.

LWN is the only paper I pay for on the net and it is the only one which seems worth it.

I look forward to read it on some ereader in the future.

A note from your editor

Posted May 31, 2010 14:35 UTC (Mon) by da4089 (subscriber, #1195) [Link]

This is more than reasonable.

I'm sorry to hear that an editing position was lost -- I'd much rather pay a little extra each month than lose resources from LWN.

A note from your editor

Posted May 31, 2010 14:49 UTC (Mon) by hendi (guest, #36257) [Link]

Not the slightest problem given the high quality of LWN. FWIW, I've just increased my level to project leader.

A note from your editor

Posted May 31, 2010 14:50 UTC (Mon) by glikely (subscriber, #39601) [Link]

No worries here. $7/mth is just fine.

A note from your editor

Posted May 31, 2010 15:13 UTC (Mon) by Cyberax (✭ supporter ✭, #52523) [Link]

After you've added ability to turn off adds, I've noticed that AdBlock is already blocking ads on LWN.

So I turned AdBlock off for LWN.

A note from your editor

Posted Jun 3, 2010 10:26 UTC (Thu) by dion (guest, #2764) [Link]

I bought a bit of ads for you to watch, mainly because I was already at the project lead level:)

It's an inoffensive ad for our new hackerspace in Denmark:

A note from your editor

Posted May 31, 2010 15:44 UTC (Mon) by cuboci (subscriber, #9641) [Link]

It would even have been okay with me if you had shortened the remaining subscription time for prepaid subscriptions. LWN ist certainly worth the money.

A note from your editor

Posted May 31, 2010 18:08 UTC (Mon) by niner (subscriber, #26151) [Link]

With you and with me but not with the law. That would be like saying "Thanks for the money, but I just changed my mind. You won't get the house for it but only the shed." Deal is deal. You cannot change it later to deliver less than was offered.

A note from your editor

Posted Jun 1, 2010 3:04 UTC (Tue) by mrshiny (subscriber, #4266) [Link]

I'm not sure it's against the law to increase the monthly price for something that is billed on a recurring basis as long as there is no contract to the contrary. For example, my cable bill is billed monthly and they see fit to increase their fees at will. I am certainly not locked into any prices with them. So depending on how words their purchase agreements it may be legal to increase the price. I'd say with sufficient notice it would also be ethical. After all, that is what they are doing here... except that the notice period is at the max length it could be, and I'd argue they could reduce it lower. Plus if billing monthly I think they could rebill forever, if the user opts into that, without too many ethical quandries. Lots of newspapers or magazines will happily bill you forever and keep sending you the paper. I don't see why shouldn't do the same.

A note from your editor

Posted Jun 1, 2010 10:10 UTC (Tue) by niner (subscriber, #26151) [Link]

But we were not talking about monthly bills (where were I live if the company raises the prices, you get the right to refuse and cancel the contract) but prepaid subscriptions. And if I pay in advance for a year, the company cannot suddenly say that I only get half of that.

All that notwithstanding LWN is definitely worth this slight increase in price.

A note from your editor

Posted May 31, 2010 15:49 UTC (Mon) by zooko (guest, #2589) [Link]

Providing filtering of specific posters is a good step. Now consider the importance of *feedback*. People who are getting filtered out would benefit from knowing that they are, and the rest of us would benefit from them knowing that they are. Perhaps make available to them, privately, a count of how many subscribers have filtered them out.

A note from your editor

Posted May 31, 2010 21:17 UTC (Mon) by davi (guest, #18853) [Link]

That is a very very good idea!

It is a so much good idea that I would volunteer to develop it.

Feedback should be positive only

Posted Jun 2, 2010 18:55 UTC (Wed) by hamjudo (guest, #363) [Link]

Negative feedback is a bad thing.

Compare the quality of the discussions on, which only has positive feedback, vs the discussions on, slashdot, or any of the gazillion other sites with both positive and negative feedback.

The better the discussion interface, the more it will be used. With more usage, comes more management overhead. I've got a bunch of suggestions for improving the comment system, which I will share after lwn starts raking in the big profits.

Feedback should be positive only

Posted Jun 3, 2010 15:35 UTC (Thu) by tialaramex (subscriber, #21167) [Link]

+/- feedback schemes work when it's likely that there's a common scheme behind the ratings. For example Wowhead has a comment thread attached to every item, skill, creature, zone and so on in the game World of Warcraft. People give positive ratings to comments which helped ("check the cottage, sometimes the Blacksmith is there", "the equivalent Alliance quest is <link>") and negative to those which didn't help ("the Blacksmith is only there at night" (no he isn't), "this game sucks" (so what?), and so on). The system automatically hides comments with a negative overall score.

Or consider Stack Overflow, the answers supplied can be downrated, an answer which is wrong, or unhelpful gets a bad rating. But comments attached to answers can't be downrated, only positive feedback is allowed for those.

Slashdot is actually a very interesting example because of meta-moderation. In my experience this is actually pretty effective, but it requires a vast community because you need to be able to rely on a randomly chosen participant being unlikely to know any of the people whose comments they're meta-moderating. LWN is too small a community to try that.

A note from your editor

Posted May 31, 2010 15:50 UTC (Mon) by leonid (guest, #4891) [Link]

Just upgraded my subscription and extended to another 12 month. You guys are awesome and worth way more than every penny of that subscription. Keep it up! :)

A note from your editor

Posted May 31, 2010 16:24 UTC (Mon) by harlekyn (guest, #9207) [Link]

That change is fine with me - although I took the chance and renewed my account at the current price.

A note from your editor

Posted May 31, 2010 16:29 UTC (Mon) by anamana (guest, #2787) [Link]

Again, no problem with the fee. Possibly a 'just plain donate' link for those already at professional hacker?

Plus I wanted to see my account number :)

A note from your editor

Posted May 31, 2010 16:31 UTC (Mon) by anamana (guest, #2787) [Link]

Maybe we can have an auction where lower subscriber numbers can choose to donate their slot - proceeds to to LWN...

A note from your editor

Posted May 31, 2010 19:10 UTC (Mon) by nowster (subscriber, #67) [Link]

Hands off! Grrr!

A note from your editor

Posted Jun 7, 2010 5:27 UTC (Mon) by nas (subscriber, #17) [Link]

Settle down there. ;-)

A note from your editor

Posted May 31, 2010 16:38 UTC (Mon) by ahoogerhuis (subscriber, #4041) [Link]

I'm very happy about what I get for my money here, so I would suggest another level of subscription, "Bling, without more bling" for thos feeling we want to add more to's coffers. :)


A note from your editor

Posted May 31, 2010 16:42 UTC (Mon) by tseaver (guest, #1544) [Link]

A big +1 from me. I know that raising your price is a tricky proposition, but this seems eminently reasonable.

I would modify my current recurring subscription to pay the new price, if it were easy to find the UI knob for that.


A note from your editor

Posted May 31, 2010 16:47 UTC (Mon) by johill (subscriber, #25196) [Link]

Come to think of it, I suspect it will be possible starting June 14th, by changing your level and then changing it back again? :)

A note from your editor

Posted May 31, 2010 17:28 UTC (Mon) by alogghe (subscriber, #6661) [Link]

No problem, it's been a very quality publication for many years.

A note from your editor

Posted May 31, 2010 17:54 UTC (Mon) by mduregon (guest, #3792) [Link]

I think the rate increase is manageable (for me). LWN is one of a handful of opensource-related projects I support. You do quality work and fully deserve it. Keep up the good work.

A note from your editor

Posted May 31, 2010 17:55 UTC (Mon) by xeno42 (subscriber, #6980) [Link]

For some reason LWN dropped off my radar in 2004 when my subscription last expired - Great to see it's still producing quality content; consider my subscription renewed :-)

A note from your editor

Posted May 31, 2010 18:38 UTC (Mon) by miekg (subscriber, #4403) [Link]

No problem. LWN is the only site I current pay for and well worth the money.


Posted May 31, 2010 18:56 UTC (Mon) by smoogen (subscriber, #97) [Link]

To be honest I would expect that the minimal costing would have moved to $10.00/month to keep up with not just inflation but quality of service. I believe that what I get out this company is quite good and worth $120.00/year at least.

A note from your editor

Posted May 31, 2010 19:06 UTC (Mon) by rilder (guest, #59804) [Link]

No problems. LWN is awesome in content. Perhaps the best in linux content. Ads are not a problem since the site itself simple in accordance with KISS principle.

Money spent on LWN is well spent. Maybe you can also add a paypal (or something like flattr) link for donations etc.

A note from your editor

Posted May 31, 2010 19:21 UTC (Mon) by pebolle (subscriber, #35204) [Link]

> We have never believed that our readers wanted to give us permission to
> charge their cards forever, so monthly subscriptions have always had a
> maximum number of authorized charges associated with them.

It could be a "cultural" thing (ie, people in my part of the world tend to handle their financial transactions with third parties differently from the way people in the US tend to handle those transactions) but I'm perfectly fine with the "every month, until I unsubscribe" model (and so seem lots of people over here in lots of situations).

A note from your editor

Posted May 31, 2010 19:28 UTC (Mon) by aryonoco (guest, #55563) [Link]

Back when I subscribed for the first time, I was a student and I joined as a starving hacker (which I was).

Today's post reminded me to check my subscription, and I just changed it to project leader. LWN is definitely worth $10 a month.

Thanks for the reminder, and we hope LWN can build its finances pretty quickly.

A note from your editor

Posted May 31, 2010 19:35 UTC (Mon) by vblum (guest, #1151) [Link]

Yes yes, upgraded to project leader. Got distracted by the shiny stuff.

Well worth the increase

Posted May 31, 2010 20:13 UTC (Mon) by denials (subscriber, #3413) [Link]

That's a totally reasonable increase, even without the shiny. Keep up the good work, LWN.

A note from your editor

Posted May 31, 2010 20:55 UTC (Mon) by butcher (subscriber, #856) [Link]

I have two auto deductions from my primary checking account:

1) my VPS (gotta have root somewhere...);
2) LWN.

$7 is such a deal for so much useful information, and the monthly deduction fits well with my cashflow (allowance from wife, yeah, whatever you think...). I wish our local NPR affiliate did a similar thing; they'd then be my third deduction.

A note from your editor

Posted Jun 9, 2010 3:13 UTC (Wed) by jzbiciak (subscriber, #5246) [Link]

I wish our local NPR affiliate did a similar thing; they'd then be my third deduction.

I know my local NPR affiliate has something they call a "sustaining member," and as a matter of fact, I am one. :-)

As for the increased rates here: I'm all for it. I'm already at the "project leader" level myself. Even though I'm not actually leading any projects that have to deal with Linux, I feel I've learned enough here that's helped me in my job (perhaps in surprisingly indirect ways) that I can more than justify it.

A note from your editor

Posted May 31, 2010 21:05 UTC (Mon) by csamuel (✭ supporter ✭, #2624) [Link]

Not a worry at all Jon, LWN is well worth it and I have no issues at all with the increase, long overdue!

I'll echo the comments from others that a way of making an ex-gratia payment would be great (assuming that doesn't complicate things from a tax point of view!).

A note from your editor

Posted Jun 5, 2010 11:50 UTC (Sat) by jospoortvliet (subscriber, #33164) [Link]

yep, another "good idea" here. Maybe even the ability to set your own subscription level in $. I'd be OK with moving to 7 or 8, maybe even 10 - but 14 is just a tad too much for me, financially. But I don't get to choose 10, it's 7 or 14...

A note from your editor

Posted Jun 5, 2010 11:58 UTC (Sat) by dlang (subscriber, #313) [Link]

this idea has been proposed many times over the years, the main reason why they don't implement it is that it runs the risk of the banks who process the credit card payments deciding that something is fishy and syspending all payments to LWN while they investigate.

they had a problem along these lines early on, and as such they have been very careful to avoid doing anything that may raise flags with the banks.

given the extreme reactions that banks are taking nowdays, I would sure not want to risk triggering anything myself.

A note from your editor

Posted May 31, 2010 22:23 UTC (Mon) by novemberain (guest, #53942) [Link]

LWN is totally worth $7.

A note from your editor

Posted Jun 1, 2010 0:47 UTC (Tue) by PaulWay (subscriber, #45600) [Link]

You know, your high subscriber number made me think - I wonder if there are interesting statistics to derive from the subscriber base? How many have never renewed? How many subscriptions are current? What's the proportion of different subscriber levels? Or is that bad marketing?

I wouldn't want it to be a measurement ("your opinion counts less because you're not a subscriber | higher numbered | lower level | use CamelCase in your name") but I think having the subscriber status and number is a good thing.

Have fun,


A note from your editor

Posted Jun 1, 2010 9:21 UTC (Tue) by rmv (subscriber, #48328) [Link]

As a subscriber, one of the things I always respected about LWN was the way that the content is made available for free to everyone after a fairly short period of time.

I'm know that I'm in a fortunate position to be able to afford subscriptions and there are many people around the world with a real thirst for knowledge but no disposable income. Obviously, I'd encourage anyone who can afford a subscription to help support LWN as much as they can; but I'd hate to see subscriber numbers being used as a kind of status symbol.

I'm sure that's not what you want either, and I think LWN's done a great job so far of encouraging people to subscribe and keep it afloat, but at the same time keeping it open to people who can't subscribe.


A note from your editor

Posted May 31, 2010 22:23 UTC (Mon) by phubert (guest, #2972) [Link]

just upgraded my subscription, however since I made the ANNUAL payment, I don't know how it will be implemented.

A note from your editor

Posted May 31, 2010 23:15 UTC (Mon) by garloff (subscriber, #319) [Link]

The amount of time I save by reading well-researched articles dar exceeds the price of the subscription in value for me. So no worries...


Posted Jun 1, 2010 4:44 UTC (Tue) by eru (subscriber, #2753) [Link]

I totally agree. In addition, the selected news items save me from trawling other Linux and F/OSS related sites (except maybe Groklaw, an old addiction). If some item is not linked-to at LWN, it is very probably not worth bothering with.

Keep up the good work

Posted Jun 1, 2010 0:53 UTC (Tue) by pr1268 (subscriber, #24648) [Link]

Even as a (currently) underemployed and poor Linux enthusiast, I still find that LWN is worth every penny spent. Keep up the good work!

A note from your editor

Posted Jun 1, 2010 1:10 UTC (Tue) by rweir (subscriber, #24833) [Link]

+1, totally reasonable.

A note from your editor

Posted Jun 1, 2010 1:42 UTC (Tue) by jre (guest, #2807) [Link]

To my shame, I'd allowed my subscription to lapse. Fixed now.

A note from your editor

Posted Jun 1, 2010 12:27 UTC (Tue) by jordi (subscriber, #14325) [Link]

I wonder how many times this happens and LWN loses a subscriber that actually wanted to remain subscribed. Something should be done to avoid this!

Missing variable - No of subscriptions

Posted Jun 1, 2010 3:33 UTC (Tue) by nikanth (guest, #50093) [Link]

LWN is definitely worth more than what we are paying. Thanks.

But in your equation, though the price has been the same despite inflation etc.. didn't the number of paying subscribers increase? I hope it did and wish it increases more and more.

A note from your editor

Posted Jun 1, 2010 5:37 UTC (Tue) by ctg (guest, #3459) [Link]

Exchange rate fluctuations make more of a difference.

7 years. Wow. So much has changed since then, but the weekly pleasure of Reading the ever high quality lwn has been a constant. Thanks!

A note from your editor

Posted Jun 1, 2010 5:42 UTC (Tue) by b7j0c (guest, #27559) [Link]

no probs on the money

but with all your new dollaz, could you buy a better color of peach to use on the site? the color scheme of lwn is kinda gross. actually the site itself could probably stand a little bit of a refresh (not too much, i do like the KISS layout)

Site color change

Posted Jun 1, 2010 6:07 UTC (Tue) by frazier (guest, #3060) [Link]

If you go to:
My Account > Account customization

...and then look under the "Display preferences" heading, there's a field called "Left column background". I have mine set as #ffffcc which is the old 1990's LWN color:

Of course, you can go with whatever color you'd like.


Posted Jun 1, 2010 13:53 UTC (Tue) by corbet (editor, #1) [Link]

But...that color came straight from the Netscape color cube! There were no better ones to choose from!

We do intend to put some time and thought into the look and feel of the site. I wouldn't expect massive changes, but we can always try to make it more attractive and easier to navigate. Meanwhile, as noted in the other reply, you can always pick your own colors if you want. LWN looks kind of sleek in a dark forest green...

A note from your editor

Posted Jun 1, 2010 14:24 UTC (Tue) by kfiles (subscriber, #11628) [Link]

It looks pretty great for me in my "Greenscreen Terminal" settings. Fits nicely with the rest of my desktop theme. Personally, I find the 90s and 00s too fashion-forward for my tastes. ;-)

A note from your editor

Posted Jun 1, 2010 6:21 UTC (Tue) by stormerider (guest, #62558) [Link]

I have no problems with this, although I do wonder what the hike is going to be for (my current) starving hacker level, if any? Once I get health insurance and my finances stablize I do intend to upgrade, but for now the starving hacker plan is all I can reasonably afford.

Subscription page

Posted Jun 1, 2010 6:29 UTC (Tue) by franczena (guest, #66974) [Link]

The subscription page should be updated to reflect the fee change.


Posted Jun 1, 2010 6:44 UTC (Tue) by jbw (guest, #5689) [Link]

You could raise your price more than that. I have no problem with $7 per month. LWN is worth more than that. Keep up the good work.

By the way, can I please have the feature that LWN will remember that I want "print" format so I can get as much text on the screen as possible? It is too much of a pain to access the print format right now. You could tie this feature to the highest payment level and that would motivate me to increase my level.

A note from your editor

Posted Jun 1, 2010 7:13 UTC (Tue) by ber (subscriber, #2142) [Link]

Jon and the whole LWN-team: thanks for your good work! We at Intevation stay proud subscribers.

I really like the ads-off-option, well done!

A note from your editor

Posted Jun 1, 2010 8:23 UTC (Tue) by Siggen (guest, #27603) [Link]

I'll gladly renew my subscription at the new rate. As other readers have already said, the quality of LWN is worth it.

International Readers

Posted Jun 1, 2010 9:42 UTC (Tue) by leonov (guest, #6295) [Link]

It would be nice if you had an optional international rate. I'm a subscriber at the 'starving hacker' level, which is right at the limit of what I can afford right now.

Here in New Zealand, even professional salaries are rather less than those in the USA. That, in combination with your favourable exchange rate makes one of your dollars worth at least two of ours.

I am happy to continue to support LWN, but I'm sure I'm not the only international reader who sometimes finds it somewhat of struggle to do so.

International Readers

Posted Jun 3, 2010 7:17 UTC (Thu) by ekj (guest, #1524) [Link]

Indeed. And the oposite is true too. Here in Norway, there's essentially no professionals in the LWN target-demographic with a income much under $70K/year. (there's students offcourse, but there's "starving hacker" for those)

That makes $120/year, which is the maximum current rate, fairly cheap it's literally the salary of 4-hours-work.

I'd welcome a "pick your own rate, anything above $3/month" option.

International Readers

Posted Jun 3, 2010 12:12 UTC (Thu) by zmower (subscriber, #3005) [Link]

I have suggested a variation on this theme before (Professional Hacker level subscribers pick their own level over and above whatever they charge now). It seems like a no risk solution to increase revenue. The level of support shown on this page clearly shows a loyal fan-base who are willing to pay. How rare is that on the Internet!

A note from your editor

Posted Jun 1, 2010 10:02 UTC (Tue) by wackou (subscriber, #51464) [Link]

+1 from me too.

I'd much rather pay that (or even more if necessary) than lose LWN. It's the only read on the internet worth it, quality-wise. Keep up the great work!

A note from your editor

Posted Jun 1, 2010 11:14 UTC (Tue) by gelma (subscriber, #13823) [Link]

The quality of your work is great.
Nobody could complain for 7$/month.

Thanks a lot,

A note from your editor

Posted Jun 1, 2010 11:45 UTC (Tue) by Zero_Dogg (subscriber, #31310) [Link]

Increasing from $5 -> 7$ is perfectly reasonable. +1 from me.

A note from your editor

Posted Jun 1, 2010 12:00 UTC (Tue) by Stephen_Beynon (guest, #4090) [Link]

I just renewed for a year at the old rate before seeing the price was going up. If I had known I would have waited and paid the new rate !

LWN is worth far more to me than you charge for the "Project Leader" rate.
I would also be quite happy if you did not give the 10% discount for purchasing more than 10 months.


A note from your editor

Posted Jun 1, 2010 12:07 UTC (Tue) by christian.convey (subscriber, #39159) [Link]

I'm game. You guys do a good job, and I don't have a problem with you guys keeping pace with inflation.

A note from your editor

Posted Jun 1, 2010 12:34 UTC (Tue) by hein.zelle (guest, #33324) [Link]

I've just renewed my subscription after having cancelled it for quite some time, as I found I wasn't reading LWN as much anymore. The legal issues were not so interesting to me, and there seemed to be less linux-technical-related articles at that time.

That has changed, and for some months I've been following LWN closely again. I think the quality of articles has gone up overall, and there's a lot of interesting topics being written about. Good work!

The new prices aren't activated yet, but I hope an extra subscription helps as well.

A note from your editor

Posted Jun 1, 2010 14:22 UTC (Tue) by ghayes78 (guest, #4454) [Link]

This may be a little out there but ... What if LWN had a way for international/starving hacker subscribers to be subsidized by other subscribers. Suppose that a potential subscriber could publish a short list of project contributions or whatever. Then people wanting to subsidize a particular person could pay for part or all of there subscription. Sorry if this has already been suggested.

A note from your editor

Posted Jun 1, 2010 15:31 UTC (Tue) by danieldk (subscriber, #27876) [Link]

Your work is very much appreciated. If a raise of subscription fees is required to maintain the quality of LWN, so be it!

A note from your editor

Posted Jun 1, 2010 15:40 UTC (Tue) by dennisdjensen (guest, #25165) [Link]

Hello Jonathan Corbet and co.

You are the only online news forum I pay for, and you are worth every cent. LWN is my primary news feed for all things about software, inside and outside mainstream. You do a good job, and I appreciate your high professional level: The news is objective, accurate, fast enough and has a perfectly balanced level of detail. LWN is quality where usually there is none.

I've been expecting this, but I must say, I am very impressed that you've been able to hold the prices at such a low level for such a long time (I am from Scandinavia). I am sorry to hear you had to let an editor go. To make up for it, I've just raised my subscription level to "project leader". I am also very impressed with how you've chosen to handle the needed price increase, and how you communicate this.

In short, I am happy and pleased with your efforts,
and hope to see LWN continue like this.

Best Regards,
Dennis Decker Jensen

A note from your editor

Posted Jun 1, 2010 16:29 UTC (Tue) by linuxjacques (subscriber, #45768) [Link]


Value-wise probably the best money I spend.

Please do what you need to stay viable.

I'll be a subscriber for the foreseeable future.

A note from your editor

Posted Jun 1, 2010 17:12 UTC (Tue) by Quazatron (guest, #4368) [Link]

This is the only site I pay to read, and that isn't going to change.
Keep up the good work!

A note from your editor

Posted Jun 1, 2010 17:32 UTC (Tue) by tack (guest, #12542) [Link]

Sorry to hear about the financial stress. I too joined LWN back in my starving hacker days. I had since updated it to Professional Hacker.

Now I have a well paying job and a healthy amount of disposable income, and there's no reason not to be at the Project Leader level.

So I've upgraded it, and will continue to stay at that level after the price hike to support LWN. I've always admired LWN's model of letting the subscriber individually choose how much we want to pay (and for the same content), and I think it should be rewarded.

A note from your editor

Posted Jun 1, 2010 22:50 UTC (Tue) by liljencrantz (guest, #28458) [Link]

$7 per month, with roughly 4 issues per month means a price of ~ $1.5 per issue. Money well spent.

A note from your editor

Posted Jun 2, 2010 2:05 UTC (Wed) by rusty (subscriber, #26) [Link]

Still not enough, Jon. Can we have a $500pa "Supporter" level please?

Maybe supporters should get lower member numbers, too :)


A note from your editor

Posted Jun 4, 2010 15:51 UTC (Fri) by a9db0 (subscriber, #2181) [Link]

Give it up, Rusty. Jon's keeping his #1 spot, with good reason. :)

And Jon, worry not. I too will happily re-up when my subscription expires. LWN is well worth the $7.

A note from your editor

Posted Jun 2, 2010 6:36 UTC (Wed) by spaetz (subscriber, #32870) [Link]

Hi John,

may I join the chorus? LWN is the only onine news source I am paying for (besides, erm, The Economist :-) ). And I am very happy with the way it is run.

While I enjoy the bare-bones no frill layout, I tried to fix up some of the things that would improve LWN aestetically for me. But TABLES! OMG the whole page is one big table. That is where I stopped :-).
Let's use some easy <div> which enable layouting with a few easy css rules rather than an early 1990's format (using divs people can easily customize their layout with greasemonkey and whatnot).

Minor improvements in the Sidebar:

-Sidebar headers in sans-serif

-Do away with "Logged in as spaetz" text. It is pretty long, wraps ugly and if I am logged in, I don't really care about as who I am logged in. The "my Account", and "Log out" should remain. If that is deemed to be to crass, the header line should at least only show just the user name, not the "logged in as" blurb.

- Rename "printable page" to "print version" which is shorter and seems more in line with other sites. Ideally, this would just be a small printer icon someone on the fringe of the page.

- The only other suggestion (but which goes beyond aestetics) is the navigation. A static sitemap page might help. The navigation as is, is a bit weird: e.g. why do I need a "subscribe" header when I am logged into my account. You know that I am subscribed! :-). Other functionality is well hidden on the other side. I just love /Comments/unread for example, but finding that requires you to dig deep in the FAQ.

A note from your editor

Posted Jun 2, 2010 14:19 UTC (Wed) by pjtait (subscriber, #17475) [Link]

Still great value, keep up the good work.

Forever... please?

Posted Jun 2, 2010 17:46 UTC (Wed) by kena (subscriber, #2735) [Link]

Hey, Jon -- as one or two others have noted, I'd be freakin' fine with you charging my card as long as it'll let you. I understand -- fully -- that you don't want to be grouped in with sites of, shall we say, "questionable morals," and hard-to-find-and-opt-out renewal options... but you clearly have no intention of doing this.

If you could, please add an (opt-in) option to allow us to be billed forever. If anything, it's inconvenient to have to go re-up every now and then. I suppose you could even have a checkbox (again, opt-in), which says, "And, yes, I agree to continue paying forever, even with the occasional price bump."

Bottom line: the huge majority of us (or, so I believe) want to support you, but sometimes, we just lose track. Letting us opt in for continuous payment is convenient for us, and no doubt would be handy for your finances, too.



Worth every cent

Posted Jun 3, 2010 8:14 UTC (Thu) by tsr2 (subscriber, #4293) [Link]

I only pay for a handful of sites online. LWN is probably the most valuable of those sites and I will continue to support it with my money.

A note from your editor

Posted Jun 3, 2010 10:04 UTC (Thu) by andreashappe (subscriber, #4810) [Link]

another np.

Just keep up the good work!

A note from your editor

Posted Jun 3, 2010 11:26 UTC (Thu) by eskild (guest, #1556) [Link]

Go for it! I just hope the "disable ads" feature won't pull advertising revenue away.

A note from your editor

Posted Jun 3, 2010 22:34 UTC (Thu) by Tobu (subscriber, #24111) [Link]

Most likely there are an order of magnitude more visits from non-subscribed people, and the perk doesn't cut into much ad revenue. OTOH, it could bring a bit more people to subscribe.

A note from your editor

Posted Jun 3, 2010 11:59 UTC (Thu) by smitty_one_each (subscriber, #28989) [Link]

Thank you for your efforts at delivering a unsurpassed product.

A note from your editor

Posted Jun 3, 2010 12:04 UTC (Thu) by scglwn (subscriber, #1245) [Link]

You can count on my continuing support.

Keep it up!

Posted Jun 3, 2010 15:56 UTC (Thu) by Bayes (guest, #52258) [Link]

I'll add my voice to the rest in saying that you guys provide a service nobody else does and I'll be happy to keep supporting you (price hike or not)!

A note from your editor

Posted Jun 3, 2010 17:34 UTC (Thu) by theICEBear (guest, #23193) [Link]

I want to echo everyone and say: Don't worry about it. The LWN provides too good a service to suffer from being too cheap. I use the information here to guide my research into all things Linux and to allow me to provide informed choices for the company I work for as I am sure do many others. That is certainly worth a subscription increase.

If you would provide an option for us to allow subscribers to pay the fee once more for the year maybe as some sort of donate function without having to jostle our subscriptions.

This is a tough call

Posted Jun 3, 2010 18:09 UTC (Thu) by jd (guest, #26381) [Link]

I tend to do a lot of contract work, so lots of time between jobs with zero income. That makes subscriptions difficult at the bad times. However, I have no objections to paying for LWN in better times.

In terms of actual value-for-money, I'd say LWN is worth more than $7. However, it's more a question of optimizing - you're wanting to maximize the number of subscribers AND the income AND the value of LWN.

(And for your next trick, a tightrope walk between all 7 of the highest mountains in the world, backwards. Nobody tries something that complicated, though if you succeed you could be in line for a Nobel Prize in Economics.)

Project leader price unchanged?

Posted Jun 3, 2010 20:29 UTC (Thu) by schwitrs (subscriber, #3822) [Link]

I just renewed at the Project Leader level, and I noticed that the amount ($9/month w/ 10% discount) is the same I paid in 2008. Is this intentional?

Project leader price unchanged?

Posted Jun 3, 2010 20:32 UTC (Thu) by corbet (editor, #1) [Link]

The new prices take effect on the 14th, so, yes, it's intentional.

Project leader price unchanged?

Posted Jun 3, 2010 20:36 UTC (Thu) by schwitrs (subscriber, #3822) [Link]

Silly me. Should have waited a couple of weeks.

Perfectly fine by me

Posted Jun 4, 2010 20:27 UTC (Fri) by juhl (subscriber, #33245) [Link]

The quality of LWN is well worth paying for.

In response to this I've just upgraded my subscription from 'Professional hacker' to 'Project lead' level and also extended it from my remaining 2 months to 12 months.

I'm sure you'll keep the good stuff coming :-)

'Subscribe' page needs improvement

Posted Jun 5, 2010 6:56 UTC (Sat) by Cato (subscriber, #7643) [Link]

No problem with $7/month particularly after such a long time without an increase.

It would be worth your while to improve the subscribe page at - this really needs a clear Subscribe Now type button (not just a link). Having a clear 'one thing to do' button really does make a difference even with a sophisticated audience like LWN's - a small increase in 'conversion rate' can really help revenues. See

A note from your editor

Posted Jun 5, 2010 16:59 UTC (Sat) by walovaton (guest, #57287) [Link]

I just want to say that I'm totally fine with this. I really love to visit and I hope the best for all the team.

I am currently at the Project Leader level and since I can't do anything to pay more it would be good to be able to choose not to get the benefit of the 10% discount for the 10+ month extension... just in case someone wants to give even more support (I would!).

And maybe a donation link would be a good idea too.

Thanks to all the for the excellent articles.

A note from your editor

Posted Jun 6, 2010 11:04 UTC (Sun) by juhl (subscriber, #33245) [Link]

Another option would be to add a new subscription level "Patron of LWN" or whatever that had a minimum rate of the rate from the "project lead" level +$1 and no upper limit - then let people enter their own rate - this way those of us who would like to contribute a little extra to LWN can set our own rate.
Or maybe just add an option to all levels of "contribute $n extra a month in addition to base level".


Posted Jun 6, 2010 0:14 UTC (Sun) by bignose (subscriber, #40) [Link]

This is an outrage! I can't believe you would treat your readers this way.

That is to say: I think LWN is worth every penny, and more, of the new price. I'm shocked that the price stayed so low for nearly eight years while the spending power declined; it's high time the LWN staff got paid what the material is worth.

A note from your editor

Posted Jun 6, 2010 15:43 UTC (Sun) by i3839 (guest, #31386) [Link]

I'd gladly pay slightly more to get rid of non-text ads for everyone.
If there were non-text ads when I started reading LWN I wouldn't have
subscribed, the lack of annoying ads was a major reason to subscribe
for me (I'm usually behind the weekly news anyway). That said, there
seem to be less annoying ads on now, hopefully that's not because I
block them, but because LWN came back to its senses.

Keep going!

Posted Jun 6, 2010 18:05 UTC (Sun) by sergi (subscriber, #117) [Link]

I just upgraded and extended my subscription, thanks a lot guys for providing such an excellent service!

A note from your editor

Posted Jun 7, 2010 20:28 UTC (Mon) by belayme (guest, #2835) [Link]

It's worth every penny!

A note from your editor

Posted Jun 14, 2010 1:28 UTC (Mon) by josephrjustice (subscriber, #26250) [Link]

*Just* (as of ~ 1 min ago) subscribed. Even tho it is ~ 9:20 PM East Coast USA time on 13 Jun 2010 where I am, the subscription form seems to think that it occurred on 14 Jun, and charged me at the higher rate -- well, it's arguable that for the purposes of LWN it's already 14 Jun (I'd say certainly it is in Greenwich, UK), and it's my Own D*** Fault I procrastinated and waited so long when I knew full well the price change was coming, so... So be it. I'm not pressed.

However, the subscription form says you can pre-pay for up to 2 years at a time if I understood it correctly, but the applicable drop-down field for # of months maxes out at 23 months, which is _not_ 2 years. I know, that's at most a minor bug, but even so... *shrug*

In any event. Hope this is of some use, interest. Thanks for your time.


A note from your editor

Posted Jun 14, 2010 23:46 UTC (Mon) by aigarius (subscriber, #7329) [Link]

So there are 26k+ subscribers - NICE!

A note from your editor

Posted Jun 15, 2010 0:03 UTC (Tue) by corbet (editor, #1) [Link]

It would be nice if we had that many, but we're not anywhere near that. Account numbers are assigned when the account is created; they don't really have anything to do with subscription status.

A note from your editor

Posted Jun 14, 2010 19:13 UTC (Mon) by erose (guest, #1452) [Link]

LWN is worth every penny! Keep up the good quality work!

LWN site code

Posted Jun 15, 2010 14:29 UTC (Tue) by phd (subscriber, #952) [Link]

I agree to pay $7/month, LWN is really awesome! I also promise to upgrade to "project leader" level after you publish the source code for the site.

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