Ask dotTechies: Would you pay to visit your favorite website, and if so, how much?

3-4 months ago the Internet was buzzing with the news that News Corp, a media publication company which owns and operates many popular Internet destinations like The Wall Street Journal, would start charging for the content on its online properties by 2010. Many people were up in arms, some predicating the down fall of News Corp. I am curious to see what dotTechies think of the matter. Think about your favorite website. It can be any type of website: a news website, a blog, a forum, etc. If that website decided to start charging a subscription fee, would you pay it?

[poll id="11"]

Don’t worry. dotTech will never barricade itself behind a subscription wall inshAllah. I am just curious as to what people think. Personally, I can’t see myself paying a subscription for any website at the moment.

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33 comments

  1. MikeR

    Subscription, no.

    Donation, definitely.

    I’m a happy dot.tech donor and a long-time donor to Windows Secrets (from back in the days when it was the Langa List, and the eponymous Fred was single-handedly producing the very best tech info on the ‘Net — and managing to raise money for kids in Third World countries at the same time.)

    The subscription model is 99% unworkable: it’s the World Wide Web out there, not some tiny alley, and that world is so full of information — which changes on a minute-by-minute basis — that it’s impossible for a single, non-specialist subscription service to claim to have the key to a store of absolutely unique knowledge.

    However: I did say, “99% unworkable” (as per Murdoch’s ludicrous model.)

    There’ll always be a 1% where subscription is fully justified, because the information provided has come at a considrable cost to the provider.

    Thus in the UK, for example, providers of ‘family tree’ data (and especially, census records and births/deaths/marriages registrations) have to pay Government a substantial amount in licence fees — and so are entitled, in my view, to charge end users a one-off fee or subscription to access that historic data.

    Other specialist websites with archives of historically valuable information also deserve to be subscription-based.

    But as for general purpose sites like newspapers charging access, I really can’t see the point in paying to look at the back issues of Mr Murdoch’s Sun, notwithstanding the vast amount of intellectual content just waiting to be harvested there. . .

  2. future hacker

    I wouldn’t pay a cent. It’s already enough that we pay for our computers and Internet access. Plus I am only 15,do you think my dad will pay 20$ monthly for me to visit a website (exept for DotTech..it rocks =P), he just bought me a laptop… I say: if your favourite website requires you to pay for it, than it shouldn’t be your favourite website. Are you people with me?

  3. Fred Smith

    I don’t need the internet but enjoy using it as part of my computing hobby. That ‘hobby’ is already expensive enough with having to upgrade my computer and operating system every few years and also ISP charges. If it became common to have to pay to access websites I think I would just give such websites a miss.

    I have noticed that many sites that focus on education offer much more content to those who subscribe, which I understand, but generally I feel that at present it is unnecessary to subscribe unless one desires specific content that is otherwise unavailable.

  4. Leland

    I do not see the option I want so I will not vote. I do pay for the Windows Secrets newsletter which is pay what you think it is worth. To me it helps me in my system administration and I pay $20 per year which is what it is worth to me. More than that and I would have to think about it. Anyway that is my 2 cents worth…

  5. Wheezer

    I wouldn’t pay. Period.

    Our local paper has gone to a policy that requires a payment of $2.50 (US) for any story that was published over 7 days previously.

    We’re not a “big city” here. We’re in the middle of nowhere, where there are more farm animals than people. This new policy of theirs has angered a lot of people, including me.

    Now I either make sure to check the paper right away if I hear about something, or I just go without reading the story. I figure if it’s a story I want bad enough, I’ll just drive to the newspaper’s office. They sell physical copies of older papers for $1.50 each.

    When they put the new policy in place, they did receive an email from me. It pretty much said what Jeffinprov said in his post: “Pictures of the part of my anatomy that they may kiss are widely available online, for free.”

  6. sjamedee

    Does this mean that with subscriptions there will no ads on the site or at least what I’m subscribing too? I would not want to see ads if I’m paying. I click ads on free sites because I understand the need and appreciate the free service.

  7. Jeffinprov

    I had a hard time voting, because there wasn’t a category for “Maybe, but it depends…”

    One of my close friends has just, after 15 years, accepted a buy-out from the NY Times, where she has been a copy editor. (Copy editors are the very last thing the NYT should be dispensing with, in my view, given their increasing trend toward errata and dismal prose, but that’s a story for another campfire.) It troubles me that it, as the Paper of Record, whether one likes it or not, is struggling because of the devastation that the Information Superhighway hath wrought on their advertising revenue.

    The online version of the Times, does, however, offer a variety of features that make it more enjoyable for me than the print version. I’ll pay for it, and not complain too loudly.

    In the case of something so marvelous as dotTech.org, I feel that our beloved Ashraf’s efforts have extended beyond a hobby and labor-of-love for him to become something from which I have materially benefited. This is the first website to which I have donated money. I expect that I will do so again, and would urge others to give the matter serious consideration.

    On the other hand, my terrible local newspaper, the Providence Journal, is thinking of charging a fee for their pathetic online services. Pictures of the part of my anatomy that they may kiss are widely available online, for free.

  8. Orchid

    I wouldn’t pay for any websites. I may donate but that should be by my choice and not mandated by others.

    We have to pay high internet fees and taxes every month already just to get online.

    News and such should be free no matter what site it is. You can go to the library and look at newspapers for free from all over, therefore you should be able to access the same on news sites without paying.

  9. Syed Anjaan

    I wouldn’t mind to pay -But its so scary to puts your personal info over the net -But in other hand there are so many free site like yours Asharf -I think I will stick with the Free site

    Thank You and Salam

  10. chinaguy

    I wouldn’t pay but because of this article I did click on two of the advertisements near the top. Just to help support the site. Maybe I will do that more often with how much this site helps me I can do something to help. But I am not in a position to donate financially. If everyone would just click two or three ads every time they visited dottech then it would probably drastically reduce the cost to the admins and those who donate!

  11. RobCr

    What they should do is make it members only.
    It should be made clear that there will be targeted advertising.
    We should be forced to list a few areas of interest (from selection list of Categories).
    And we should give a valid location in our registration (eg Victoria Australia)
    Murdoch should invite Advertisers to list adverts on Murdoch’s site, and his site will have the capability to match the Adverts, to the members preferences and location.
    When we visit the site we first run the gauntlet of a list of adverts, and we must click through on at least one of them.
    If Murdoch’s site’s content is attractive enough, I could live with those conditions.
    Murdoch gets his income from the Advertisers.

    PS
    Ashraf, I could live with that on your web site as well.
    But I reckon, I should get 5% commission for dreaming up the concept

  12. Mordaunt

    For me paying or donating is not the real issue; the method of payment is, for me at least, a major concern. I am extremely reluctant to divulge my credit card number. A symptom of age or and indictment of the country where I live?

  13. karen

    It would only work if all news sites started up a subscription service at the same time (at least all news sites in a specific country and/or language). Otherwise, everyone would just switch to the free one.

    That being said, if I had to pay for news content, I would probably be more discriminating and pick one favorite (rather than visiting many sites), but I would be willing to about half of what a paper subscription costs for that newspaper. Approx. half is my impression of the cost of reporting vs. the cost of the newsprint, ink, delivery, etc.

  14. Pegi

    The paywall is for news gathering/reporting type of websites… because the print industry is losing readership (subscriptions) to electronics. Someone has to pay the salary’s of the people who gather our news. The news gathering/reporting traditionally has been done by newspaper reporters.. so if newspapers die?.. newspapers are trying to morph into electronic versions of the printed word to go with the changes in how most people these days prefer to get their news. Along with news industry changes will come a change in how we pay/not pay for it.

  15. Mike

    If I paid for all the websites I go to, it would be a huge, insurmountable tariff. It would only work if we were talking microcents, and then it would be annoying. I’d rather support advertising. If websites started charging, I simply would end up elsewhere … There has to be a better business model.

  16. Ron

    I have one paid subscription to a newsletter that I keep only because it swallowed up my two favorite newsletters that I also had paid subscriptions to. I prefer to donate to blogs/newsletters/software authors when I feel like it.

  17. jumbi

    at least for now, I would not pay also, mainly because sites “live” from advertisements.

    Nevertheless I would donate to people I believe they offer us useful information (or software).
    Whatever useful may mean to anyone for himself, peoples effort should be rewarded by “consious-sensitive” readers.

    And yes, I will donate to dottech!
    (havent done so already due to time pressure, sooner or later I will…)

  18. John

    I all ready pay comcast $45 a month thats enough for me. If I had to pay I would not go. You can all ways get the same information someware for free. If you dont beleave that look into torents you can get anything.