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Why so few subscribers?

By seebs in Meta
Fri Nov 02, 2001 at 10:41:15 PM EST
Tags: Kuro5hin.org (all tags)

"Be one of us", the ad-box tells me. "90 subscribers so far." Ninety subscribers? On a site where a new story can have a hundred votes in half an hour, why are only ninety people willing to pay?

I have been thinking about paying for kuro5hin since I first saw the ad box, so I guess the first person to ask is me. Well, seebs, why didn't you pay for this a month ago? Two months ago?

One factor is the "soon no longer part of OSDN" issue; K5 is going to have to make or break itself on its own merits, soon, and I'd like to think that it'll make it.

Another factor is watching the story queue in action. I used to like Slashdot, but K5 does a much better job of tolerating differing opinions. Sure, there's occasional groupthink - I admit that I vote a lot of war stories down just because they're about the war - but it's not nearly as bad as giving Jon Katz a permanent "+5, We Like Him" on anything he writes, however insipid. K5 is a much happier place for me.

What about the rest of you? It's only five dollars! Do you read K5 for as long every month as you watch a movie you rent and then forget to return on time? I do. Do you read K5 every month for as long as it takes you to read a single cheap paperback? I do.

So, tell us. Why aren't you subscribing?


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure


Why haven't you paid yet?
o I already paid 14%
o I paid when I read this story 1%
o I can't afford to pay 32%
o K5 isn't worth $5 18%
o K5 isn't worth $1 7%
o I didn't "subscribe", but I donated 3%
o Other (please explain) 21%

Votes: 119
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Kuro5hin
o Slashdot
o Also by seebs

Display: Sort:
Why so few subscribers? | 109 comments (108 topical, 1 editorial, 1 hidden)
I paid mine (4.87 / 8) (#1)
by Arkady on Fri Nov 02, 2001 at 04:20:27 PM EST

in cash ;-)

I think the most likely explanation is that most people don't really think of personal responsibility (in general) and are actually raised to see ducking responsibility as a positive thing. Think how many TV shows and movies revolve around someone avoiding taking responsibility for their actions or getting away with something. The culture conditions you to try to get away with things.

From that perspective, the general populace has been conditioned to see using a service without paying for it yourself as a generally admirable action.

The fact that the Net has generally been free for readers probably has something to do with it as well.

-robin </->

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.

Personal responsibility... (4.00 / 4) (#3)
by seebs on Fri Nov 02, 2001 at 04:23:40 PM EST

That's a good point. I play a lot of RPG's, so I'm used to thinking of personal responsibility. It sounds weird, but there's something about playing at saving the world that makes you start thinking "gee, what if I *could* make a difference".

Anyway, I'd count you either as "already paid" or "other". :)

[ Parent ]
Which movies? (2.75 / 4) (#21)
by snowlion on Fri Nov 02, 2001 at 05:31:41 PM EST

As much as I think my culture is deeply flawed, I don't know where the movies tell us that disregarding personal responsibility is a good thing.

Let's see... There's Ferris Beuler. But I see that as more of a case of "The things that society tell us are valuable are not really valuable." And Ferris does offer to take responsibility for taking the car out. Camren takes responsibility for it, in the end, and for his life.

There's a lot of general rule breaking in movies, but I don't think that's a message about "ducking responsibility." In Repo Man, Auto's friend says, "I blame society" right before he dies, but the movie is mocking his belief.

Star Wars... I'm trying to figure out where it suggests ducking your responisibility.

Maybe I'm just watching the wrong movies?

The Net isn't generally free for readers; I pay good money for my connection and bandwidth, as well as paying good money to put up my web pages.

Maybe you're some sort of Republican wing-nut who stamps his or her fist down and says, "The problem's wid' kids 'dese days is 'day don't do what 'der told!" I don't know... That's sort of the immediately conjured image. Somehow I doubt that someone who links to something called "kulture.org" is like that.

Map Your Thoughts
[ Parent ]
I'm paid up too (4.60 / 5) (#23)
by ucblockhead on Fri Nov 02, 2001 at 05:51:31 PM EST

Still, in the past, Rusty has sold this mostly as a way to get rid of the ads, not as a way to support K5. I haven't really gotten the sense that there was any real "responsibility" involved.

Perhaps that's changed now that OSDN is gone.
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

Because (4.00 / 4) (#2)
by Vladinator on Fri Nov 02, 2001 at 04:22:29 PM EST

I am waiting for Credit Card processing...
LRSE Hosting
Probably.. (4.20 / 5) (#4)
by Danse on Fri Nov 02, 2001 at 04:27:30 PM EST

I haven't paid for a subscription because I guess I just don't find the banner ads to be very annoying. I'm used to them. I see them everywhere and don't pay much attention to them. Every now and then one will catch my attention, but big deal. So I look at it for 2 seconds and then move on. No big loss to me. Sometimes I even find them interesting and click on them. Banner ads just aren't annoying enough to force me to make a decision about whether K5 is worth my money or not. Now if it used those damn animated ads that cover up the page when you're trying to read, that would probably force a decision on my part. I'm not sure what the outcome would be though.

An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
Is it really about the banner ads? (4.00 / 3) (#5)
by seebs on Fri Nov 02, 2001 at 04:29:25 PM EST

I didn't realize until I had already done the payment that subscription *replaced* banner ads. I was subscribing because I wanted the people running K5 to have the time (and thus, the cash flow) to keep doing it.

[ Parent ]
It's all about the banner ads (4.33 / 3) (#16)
by spacejack on Fri Nov 02, 2001 at 05:08:53 PM EST

I have an interest in how internet media works, ad-sponsored or otherwise.

Until Rusty starts putting up regular 'begging' articles a la PBS, I'll continue to let the ads pay for it. Anyhow, he said he's implementing those text ad thingies; I want to see how those work out.

The real question is, are banner advertisers ever going to come up with ads that don't suck? ThinkGeek's about the only one that puts out banner ads I actually remember, as well as remember who they're for. Not that I buy anything from ThinkGeek.

[ Parent ]
But that's not really the point ... (4.00 / 2) (#6)
by aphrael on Fri Nov 02, 2001 at 04:29:39 PM EST

especially now that OSDN is going away, subscriptions are the easiest way for K5 to stay afloat enough that rusty doesn't need a day job and can devote the entirety of his professional life to keeping this site running. don't people who like the site, and spend hours a day reading and posting, have some responsibility to help keep it going?

[ Parent ]
Well... (none / 0) (#28)
by Danse on Fri Nov 02, 2001 at 06:21:11 PM EST

If it's a PBS or NPR-like system we're after, that's another thing altogether. I happen to be a contributor to my local NPR station, so it's not like I'm opposed to such a system. Right now it seems like Rusty is still experimenting with various forms of advertising. I'm interested in this. I may end up subscribing anyway, but I really don't understand the financial side of K5. Which generates more revenue for K5, me as a subscriber, or me as a non-subscriber subjected to ads? Perhaps it depends on how many page views and click-throughs I generate. I wonder if he'll offer an option to let us turn ads back on even if we subscribe.

An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
I'm a poor college student. (4.54 / 11) (#8)
by dram on Fri Nov 02, 2001 at 04:43:21 PM EST

And I know that $5 doesn't seem like much but when you look at all the other memberships I pay for it starts to add up. I am a card carrying member of the ACLU, I am a founding member of the Mars Society, and I just started donating to KPCC, my local NPR affiliate. All these things start to add up. If K5 starts to have financial problems I will start to subscribe, because I like the site, but until then there are needier places to funnel my money into. Sorry, rusty.


With these payment options? Are you kidding? (4.77 / 9) (#9)
by WWWWolf on Fri Nov 02, 2001 at 04:46:18 PM EST

So, tell us. Why aren't you subscribing?
I commented of this when the system was initiated, but here's it again: Yes, it's only five dollars - if you're not a feeelthy foreigner who doesn't have a credit card. You see, I am.

Foreign money transfers are always very costy in my case. I'm not going to order anything - or pay anything - to foreign organizations unless it's relatively costy (the transfer fee being just a fraction of the total price).

Now, if K5 would set up some way to pay via bank transfer in Finland, I'd definitely pay the 33 mk subscription =)

(This is the same reason banner ad folks don't get my money! I rarely visit Finnish pages that banner-advertise anything interesting, and foreign sites will never see my money because most of the time it's too darn expensive to order anything from far away lands. Just sticking "We Accept Major Credit Cards" is not the way to ensure "global business". <accent>Silly amerikans...</accent>)

-- Weyfour WWWWolf, a lupine technomancer from the cold north...

At the risk of sounding cheap... (4.81 / 11) (#10)
by maveness on Fri Nov 02, 2001 at 04:54:33 PM EST

It's the cost. It's not just $5.00 -- it's $5 a MONTH, $60 a year. That's substantially more than I pay for any publication except for my daily newspaper.

Getting rid of banner ads is not an incentive for me; I've long since learned to ignore them -- and if they were significantly more intrusive, I'd be long gone.

The trick is to find the financial sweet spot. For me that's likely to be at about $25 annually. That would be just for a goodwill membership, no special frills (although maybe subscribers' names could be indicated on screen in a different color, so you could know at a glance who was contributing to the community with their wallets as well as their words). If you want to add bells and whistles (ad removal, IMs, email, whatever) make 'em add-on a la carte options that bump up the cost.

Just my 6.85 cents a day.

Latest fortune cookie: "The current year will bring you much happiness." As if.

Monthly/yearly (4.00 / 2) (#19)
by seebs on Fri Nov 02, 2001 at 05:23:17 PM EST

Keep in mind, $50 gets you a full year. Anyway, $50/year is more than a cheap magazine, but I use this a lot. I read this daily...

[ Parent ]
The New Yorker (4.00 / 2) (#45)
by FuzzyOne on Sat Nov 03, 2001 at 12:20:30 AM EST

The New Yorker magazine is about $44.95 a year, with damn good content. With gift and renewal rates, it's closer to $30/year. I spend about as much time a week reading New Yorker as k5, so $30 wouldn't be out of the ballpark. $60 is just a tad high.

$60 with a free t-shirt and a hat, maybe. But as long as the t-shirt is a color other than black.

[ Parent ]

I get the New Yorker too... (3.00 / 1) (#70)
by maveness on Sat Nov 03, 2001 at 02:19:06 PM EST

... and I'm almost always able to renew it for about $15/year. It is an unbelievable value for the quality and quantity of material. And I don't have any sweat equity invested in exercising editorial judgment on that material -- it just shows up in my mailbox. (Of course, on the other hand, they're not publishing my stuff either. Although I did get a handwritten very nice rejection letter, once.)

As I said, I'd cough up $25 a year for kuro5hin without blinking. But if there's going to be a T-shirt, I'd like it to be black!

Latest fortune cookie: "The current year will bring you much happiness." As if.
[ Parent ]

In one word (3.83 / 6) (#11)
by BehTong on Fri Nov 02, 2001 at 04:54:58 PM EST


I know, I know, rusty wouldn't mind a cheque or money order. Actually, I think I will send that :-)

Beh Tong Kah Beh Si!

Paypal (4.00 / 3) (#17)
by theantix on Fri Nov 02, 2001 at 05:13:13 PM EST

I signed up with PayPal right after the OSDN article came out. But I am still waiting for them to verify my credit card! I think because I am a lousy foreigner they make me go through an extra process: you have to wait until they bill you $1 on your card... then you have to check your cc statement to get the special code. Well, it's been several days already and they have yet to bill me! I can check my statement online and there is no registration of any payment to PayPal... and PayPal claims they have already billed me. WTF? Oh well... either I'll wait for PayPal to come through, otherwise I'll have to wait unit the cc processing system becomes available.

You sir, are worse than Hitler!
[ Parent ]
You aren't the only one (4.50 / 2) (#30)
by simon farnz on Fri Nov 02, 2001 at 06:33:17 PM EST

I'm in the UK; I signed up to PayPal in August, specifically so I could subscribe; two card bills later, they haven't billed me. Further, although the card is valid (and has had a 2 = $1 + processing transaction from a US website who refuse to be identified until transaction complete...) and has 211 of credit left (on an 500 limit), PayPal will not let me spend until I have verified the card.

If Rusty gets a better system sorted, I'll cancel with PayPal for incompetence (I can repudiate a transaction for this sort of delay according to my contract with a VISA reseller), and pay him directly. At least he acts honest...
If guns are outlawed, only outlaws have guns
[ Parent ]

Paypal - my 2nd try (none / 0) (#76)
by tzanger on Sat Nov 03, 2001 at 08:32:31 PM EST

I signed up with PayPal right after the OSDN article came out. But I am still waiting for them to verify my credit card!

This is my second try with PayPal, after they told me that they have "fixed" whatever international problem they had. Still no charge on my CC. I mean for fuck sakes, either do it or don't, but don't say you do and then don't!

[ Parent ]
At least they accepted your cc# as real... (none / 0) (#78)
by janra on Sat Nov 03, 2001 at 10:38:53 PM EST

I wouldn't even mind waiting a while for the charge to come through, but Paypal says they can't verify that my cc# is even real, and therefore won't charge the $1 to set up my account. When I asked them about this, their solution was to 'get another credit card'.

Rusty, are you going to get an account with e-gold?

Discuss the art and craft of writing
That's the problem with world domination... Nobody is willing to wait for it anymore, work slowly towards it, drink more and enjoy the ride more.
[ Parent ]
google search: paypal dispute (none / 0) (#94)
by Boldra on Mon Nov 05, 2001 at 09:31:31 AM EST

On three seperate occasions I've gone to the paypal site, begun reading the 'terms and conditions' and chickened out. I did it three times because I keep forgetting why I don't like it.

Last time I looked, it was the dispute resolution system that worried me. What can I do if I pay for something with paypal, but do not recieve it? According to the paypal EULA, there's a procedure, but paypal itself denies all liability.

So after reading that, I tried some searches on google, and hit sites like www.paypalwarning.com, which have completely put me off. I've had my own bad experiences (Sony) with customer service complaints, and clearly paypal has a reputation.

That being said, I would love to hear that paypal has improved - Kuro5hin is one of at least four sites I would donate/subscribe to if I had a paypal account (perlmonks is another).

- Boldra
[ Parent ]
Five dollars / every month / (3.00 / 4) (#12)
by mami on Fri Nov 02, 2001 at 04:55:59 PM EST

Who the heck wants to pay five dollars a month ? No, it's not the money, it's the hassle of thinking to pay each month.

I want to pay maximum once a year (whatever amount of money that may be), everything else takes too much time away from formulating my precious comments for the pleasure of trolling evildoers and my valuable psychiatric services I render to delusional script kiddies.

And of course Rusty has to get a decent shop for that too into scoop, because I am going to start charging for any hilarious answer I squeeze out to beat a troll over his head. Profits go to K5 mental health medical plan trust fund to help us bored out of our mind users to get the treatment we all need.

Read the subscription page (or faq, I forget) (4.25 / 4) (#15)
by theR on Fri Nov 02, 2001 at 05:08:01 PM EST

You don't have to pay monthly. If you want three months, pay $15 and you have your three months. In fact, I believe rusty is still having his "buy five months and get one free" firesale.

[ Parent ]
What!? (5.00 / 2) (#79)
by /dev/niall on Sat Nov 03, 2001 at 10:48:18 PM EST

In fact, I believe rusty is still having his "buy five months and get one free" firesale.

What!? Has rusty gone crazy!? Doesn't he realize that at those prices subscriptions will not last! Quick, everyone to the subscription page before Crazy Rusty regains his senses! At prices this low, every one must go!.

"compared to the other apes, my genitals are gigantic" -- TheophileEscargot
[ Parent ]

I'd be willing to pay $1/month or $15/year (3.80 / 5) (#13)
by Anonymous 242 on Fri Nov 02, 2001 at 05:06:18 PM EST

$5/month is too steep for my tastes.

My $.02 - why I no pay (2.66 / 6) (#14)
by sasha on Fri Nov 02, 2001 at 05:07:07 PM EST

First of all, I would like to asy that I second all the generous comments portraying K5 as a relatively tolerant and interesting discussion community.

I agree. And I approve warmheartedly of the fact that it's extended itself naturally from its niche in "technology and culture from the trenches" to a more broad and argueable "social and political issues that affect the technologically inclined" mantra. I think that's great, and I support K5. I certainly would never want to see it go, and paying for it is something I am, in abstract, quite willing to do, even though I don't actually have an income.

The logistics of paying the $5 are what turn me off to it. I do not have a credit card, and do not wish to have one at any point in my life, so consequently PayPal is not an option. Sending a $5 bill by mail to Rusty is not an option I particularly favour either. You can do it a few times, but eventually you realise it creates enourmous operating loss. Together with stamp, envelope, etc. it costs enough that I'm essentially paying more than $6. It's dreary and somewhat annoying, so I'd be inclined to neglect it.

At the same time, I can't produce $60 for a lump sum/annual fee. I don't have that kind of money. :)

If there was a better way, I'd probably be less inclined to generate all of these excuses for why I have not contributed to the almighty beast.

--- Signal SIGSIG received. Signature too long.

PayPal (3.00 / 1) (#22)
by J'raxis on Fri Nov 02, 2001 at 05:33:57 PM EST

I have a PayPal account. I do not and will also never get a credit card. My PayPal account is connected to a basic checking account with a debit card. I also do not have to worry about spam from them; I have my own domain and specific and unique email accounts set up for nearly every online service I use.

— The Corrective Raxis

[ J’raxis·Com | Liberty in your lifetime ]
[ Parent ]

Thanks (2.60 / 5) (#35)
by sasha on Fri Nov 02, 2001 at 08:21:26 PM EST

That's useful information, but I don't have a checking account or debit card either. ;)

--- Signal SIGSIG received. Signature too long.
[ Parent ]

MOOSE! (1.00 / 14) (#42)
by raaymoose on Fri Nov 02, 2001 at 10:33:21 PM EST

that's chequing you little troll. I know you know better.

[ Parent ]
Heh. (2.50 / 6) (#44)
by sasha on Fri Nov 02, 2001 at 11:07:49 PM EST

Yes, but the man said "checking" .. in replying to his statement verbatim, I felt compelled to use the same word he did. The thought that I should really observe orthodoxy and put "chequing" did cross my mind.
--- Signal SIGSIG received. Signature too long.
[ Parent ]
This begs a question (none / 0) (#50)
by twodot72 on Sat Nov 03, 2001 at 03:34:29 AM EST

You don't have a credit or debit card, nor a checking account, and you don't want to mail cash.

So how do you pay your bills?

[ Parent ]

The Internet (none / 0) (#52)
by PresJPolk on Sat Nov 03, 2001 at 06:21:35 AM EST

You know, the life of everyone on the internet isn't exactly like yours. Everyone isn't the same age as you are, with the same circumstances.

[ Parent ]
What? You must be kidding? (none / 0) (#56)
by twodot72 on Sat Nov 03, 2001 at 07:10:27 AM EST

Seriously, you're right of course. I was just curious, since he(?) seemed to start out complaining about PayPal, as so many others, but in the end there seems to be no alternative left that would work (or is there?)

[ Parent ]
Bills (3.00 / 1) (#58)
by PresJPolk on Sat Nov 03, 2001 at 07:45:04 AM EST

He might not have bills, being a student or even a minor. :-)

[ Parent ]
Because K5 is a Disease (3.44 / 9) (#18)
by snowlion on Fri Nov 02, 2001 at 05:19:11 PM EST

I don't pay because K5 is comparable to a disease or a narcotic. I don't want to support it economically, for the same reasons that I don't feel like developing a cancer, funding the spread of AIDS, or giving money to the federal government.

Sure, there's a sort of pleasure to posting here, a momentary euphoria when hitting the "submit" button, and the joys of fighting for what is right (or left, or whatever), even though for all our fighting, no victories are made on any sides. If we were really interested in sorting out right and wrong, we'd have a giant argument-counter-argument database, not a posting board.

I don't find any real value in being here. I wish I were doing a million better things, like doing the dishes, sweeping the floor, or playing with my daughter. If I'm feeling political, I should be making T-shirts that hundreds, if not thousands, of people will see, or taking a trip down to the local indie media center- not devoting a ton of energy for some jerk who think that "Right is what the majority thinks," or that might makes right ("market conditions").

Unfortunately, somehow, K5 has taken advantage of my motivational tracks, and burned itself into my life. For better or for worse, I find myself stuck here, arguing over various points with idiots, disease-ridden or otherwise here by choice.

If Rusty really wants to extract some money from my crack habit, I would recommend that he make some kind of icon that sits next to my name if I contribute. If I'm contributing, I want to be recognized: "Lion Kimbro pays for his crack and your crack." That way, I at least get something, even if it's just a smidgeon of respect that I don't deserve. I heard one person complain that they'd be ostracised for not paying. Sort of a valid complaint, but I think it's unlikely that they'd be completely ostracised. Probably a little bit, though, like- "I see you posting and you haven't paid yet- what's up with that?" Which, I don't know.. Seems actually kind of reasonable to me. Another complain't that he didn't need no stinking gold star. Okay, so make the gold star (or smiley, or whatever) optional.

What happens if I/we don't pay? K5 goes down. I'd go through K5 withdrawl if K5 went down, but I can't say I'd be terribly upset. I'd either pick up a new life sucking habit, or actually do something that takes advantage of the precious gift of life. K5 is particularly out of favor with me lately, given how pro-war K5 has been lately. (Their crime? Asking for evidence and a trial! The nerve, the gall!) I hope that it disgusts me enough to get me off of it entirely, and actually get me to do some work beyond just the marching.

Map Your Thoughts
Good idea (4.66 / 3) (#25)
by Shpongle Spore on Fri Nov 02, 2001 at 06:08:03 PM EST

I like the idea of having an icon by the names of subscribers. It gives people some recognition, and I think any elitism that ispires could be a good thing--I'd be a little more inclined to listen to people who value discussion enough to pay for it.

I have a few refinements that might make it even better. For one thing, instead of just an icon, how about a customized icon, either multiple choice or just whatever 10x10 .gif you care to upload. Also, only show the icons to people who are logged in, since such an overt indication that some users have special status may dissuade some people from registering. Deceptive? Maybe, but probably useful, too.
I wish I was in Austin, at the Chili Parlor bar,
drinking 'Mad Dog' margaritas and not caring where you are
[ Parent ]

No Icon (3.50 / 2) (#99)
by Kellnerin on Mon Nov 05, 2001 at 04:29:28 PM EST

Ugh, please no. I can think of a few reasons off the top of my head why a "donator" icon would be bad:
  1. Cheesy.
  2. Bandwidth.
  3. In the case of user-provided .gifs, security, if you are the paranoid sort.
  4. Most importantly to me, though, I don't want it to be possible to judge anyone -- positively or negatively -- based on whether they have donated/subscribed or not. A post should stand on its own, and readers' opinions of it should not be influenced by the presence or absence of little doodads attached to the comment, or the color of someone's username. In my opinion, if you contribute money to K5, you should do it because you want to support Rusty & Co., or because of one of the other nifty extras they're offering, not because you want the status. And as this discussion shows, there are plenty of good reasons for people not to donate -- lack of money, international issues, and so on -- not just because they don't "value discussion enough."
If there is some kind of concrete, visible reward, I'd rather it be a t-shirt or coffee mug than an icon, because at least that is something you can enjoy, but is "out of channel" -- i.e. it doesn't affect anything here or create a division between subscribers and "freeloaders".

it's under my skin but out of my hands
I tear it apart but I won't understand
I will not accept the greatness of Man
--tears for fears

[ Parent ]
Not paying (4.16 / 6) (#20)
by twodot72 on Fri Nov 02, 2001 at 05:27:27 PM EST

I'm not paying because, when subscriptions were introduced, Rusty told us all it wasn't necessary to subscribe. That is, provided we didn't object to the banner ads. I don't mind the ads, so I decided not to waste my money only to get rid of them. I think I'll sign up when the OSDN agreement runs out in a couple of months; the subscription revenue is probably going to become more important for K5 post-OSDN. But I'd like to see a lite-subscription which is a bit cheaper that $60 a year, I do think this is quite steep for a single website.

I can see why people hesitate to pay. If you're regularly or semi-regularly visiting many community-sites, the prospect that they're all going to charge a few bucks a month in the future isn't very appealing.

Also, I don't know if I agree with 90 being such a low number of subscribers. I assume the people who might consider paying would be regular posters, and maybe a few long-time lurkers. How many fit that description? I might be wrong, but I don't think we're more that a few hundred active users, say maybe 500. That would mean more than 10% of the target group for subscriptions are already paying, despite the fact that Rusty said it's not necessary to subscribe at the moment.

And now, from the Southern Hemisphere (4.80 / 5) (#24)
by ecc on Fri Nov 02, 2001 at 06:04:53 PM EST

Living in New Zealand as I do, I must admit one reason I'm not paying is because of the exchange rate, and the "value" offered by Kuro5hin compared to my budget and other publications/sources.

The $60/year USD basically turns out to be roughly $120/year NZD here, and for comparison, PCWorld New Zealand goes for $80 NZD for a yearly subscription here.

Granted, ComputerWorld is more expensive, but I'm sorry, Kuro5hin just isn't worth over $100/year NZD for me.

Always look on the bright side of death,
Just before you draw your terminal breath...

excuses. (4.00 / 1) (#26)
by Surial on Fri Nov 02, 2001 at 06:17:00 PM EST

I really don't think the banner ads are the problem. As rusty has said before, just use JunkBuster or The Proxomitron to filter them out.

I already have The Proxomitron running and I don't have US$ capital, yet I did get a subscription when I read that OSDN is leaving.

My guess would be that until a new ad system or other way of getting cash is set up, the kuro5hin income will be pretty low, so now is a good time to subscribe for a couple of months. for 25 dollars you support k5 for half a year. By then the cashflow from ads or otherwise should probably be 'back up'.

I think that extra goodies will help a lot of people 'go for it'. Goodies along the lines of a @kuro5hin.org mail address, for those not endowed with their own domain name and with it an endless supply of mail addresses,.
"is a signature" is a signature.

Not a bad idea.. (4.00 / 1) (#38)
by DeadBaby on Fri Nov 02, 2001 at 09:07:10 PM EST

If I actually got something useful I would consider it. A k5 mail address/shell sounds good to me. I'd consider it at that point.
"Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us." - Carl Sagan
[ Parent ]
shells... (5.00 / 2) (#39)
by hurstdog on Fri Nov 02, 2001 at 09:28:29 PM EST

Is stretching it a bit. Mail redirects are rather trivial to set up, and mostly secure. But setting up shells? We have no way we could afford that, or secure that, on our budget. Sorry to burst your bubble :)

[ Parent ]
sql prompt (none / 0) (#40)
by Anonymous 242 on Fri Nov 02, 2001 at 09:41:10 PM EST


I'd be more than satisfied without update or create permissions.

Ain't gonna happen anytime soon, though.


Lee Irenæus Malatesta

[ Parent ]

Is that realistic? (4.00 / 1) (#89)
by theboz on Sun Nov 04, 2001 at 08:30:42 PM EST

I have always thought the same thing. The "Search" page is tremendously lacking when it would be much easier to use a select statement to find something...for example if I wanted to search all of my diaries for the word "monkey" with the current scheme I would have to open each diary seperately and look, or look through all diaries of everyone.

I don't know much about the security of mysql though, and they would need some security to prevent people from overloading the database. I could see someone writing a select statement like:

select * from stories, comments where 1 = 1

That would not be a good thing. If they were to make some sort of expanded query options, they would need to make sure that it would limit the searches people are able to do and prevent large things like that. You can't allow unqualified searches, searches of particular tables (easy enough based on user permissions), and limit the total amount of results returned in a query by a specific user. I don't know if mySQL has that ability.

[ Parent ]

I haven't subscribed because... (3.00 / 1) (#27)
by quartz on Fri Nov 02, 2001 at 06:20:44 PM EST

...it will no longer be free speech if I start paying for it. :)

Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke, and fuck 'em even if they can.
I haven't paid (yet) (3.00 / 1) (#29)
by ennui on Fri Nov 02, 2001 at 06:32:52 PM EST

mostly because I can't remember my PayPal information and I think I cancelled the cc I used there anyway, if rusty had a cc merchant account (unfortunately starting at aboot $50/month) I'd pay right now.

Also unfortunate, as one who does quite a bit with cc merchant services and cnp transactions, they really, really suck.

"You can get a lot more done with a kind word and a gun, than with a kind word alone." -- Al Capone
i've been a subscriber for almost 3 months now (2.00 / 2) (#31)
by Justinfinity on Fri Nov 02, 2001 at 06:59:39 PM EST

and i still have 1.5 months left. i only paid a grand total of $10 too. i'll let rusty explain why, if he wants.

i'll have to say that without banner ads, i probly won't be subscribing anymore.

instead i'll be buying a batch of text ads every month or so. helping out k5 while helping out myself. everybody wins. rusty gets more beer and i get hits :-P

i gotta get cracking on my site though :-P

Got water?
BSD. Perl. GCC. Vim. Apple. Rox!

Price point sweet spot is $3 (4.80 / 5) (#32)
by onyxruby on Fri Nov 02, 2001 at 07:25:57 PM EST

Right now I'm out of work due to getting my car rear ended by some guy 60 MPH. That means I have to watch my money very carefully until I get reimbursed by the other guy's insurance company. However if the price dropped down to $3 a month I would subscribe right away. I think $5 is too high for subscription compared to other subscriptions. I think the number of subscribers would also increase dramatically if the price was dropped to $3. I have also already contacted K5 about running ads once the OSDN thing has run out, so I'm certainly not opposed to the idea of helping K5.

One more thought on the many many foreign (to Rusty in the US) readers would be for Rusty et al. to get a merchant account that accepts credit cards for Europe, another for Australia etc. That way he only has to pay a foreign money exchange once a month when he gets his money instead of the readers having to pay it every single time.

The moon is covered with the results of astronomical odds.

Credit cards. (3.50 / 2) (#67)
by ambrosen on Sat Nov 03, 2001 at 01:10:25 PM EST

It only needs one credit card handling account in the US to handle applications from all over the world. And the user bears a small (3.5% all told for me) charge for the currency conversion, while as far as I am aware, there is no reason to charge the owner of the card terminal, so when the CC processing system comes through, it'll work worldwide.

Procrastination does not make you cool. Being cool makes you procrastinate. DesiredUsername.
[ Parent ]
Informative (2.33 / 3) (#72)
by onyxruby on Sat Nov 03, 2001 at 02:30:30 PM EST

The moon is covered with the results of astronomical odds.
[ Parent ]

It's too expensive (3.50 / 2) (#33)
by delmoi on Fri Nov 02, 2001 at 07:29:09 PM EST

If I had to pay $5/mo for k5 or leave, I'd leave. $60 a year is just way to much to pay for this site. I mean, I spend a lot of time here, but damn, that's quite a bit of cash.

As someone else said, I'd consider subscribing for $1/mo or something like that. I'll probably just get some text-adds though.
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
What do I get? (2.00 / 1) (#34)
by stuartf on Fri Nov 02, 2001 at 07:54:49 PM EST

For me, if I pay, I don't get anything that I don't already get from Kuro5hin.org. Kuro5hin is really just like the "letters to the editors" page in a newspaper - I wouldn't pay just for that either.

And I'm sure as hell not going to pay to "be one of us".

And it's just possible that we've stumbled onto something here - people don't really want to pay for content on the web.

Um (1.50 / 2) (#36)
by DeadBaby on Fri Nov 02, 2001 at 08:56:53 PM EST

Ok.. I should PAY for a site that 100% of the content comes from users for free? If you discount the stories, you're left with the comments and they also come 99.9% from the users.
It sounds to me like the USERS of K5 are the ones who should be getting $5/month.

If there are people who really want to pay, fine... but no one should try to pressure anyone else into doing it. It's a very, very stupid idea in the first place given how this site works.

"Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us." - Carl Sagan
You're missing something. (4.33 / 3) (#41)
by kwsNI on Fri Nov 02, 2001 at 09:49:21 PM EST

What about the expense of running this site? Rusty and Inoshiro spends their time keeping this site updated with new features, fixing bugs, and keeping that "100% free" content coming to you.

I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they'd never expect it. -Jack Handy
[ Parent ]
Sure.. (2.00 / 2) (#47)
by DeadBaby on Sat Nov 03, 2001 at 12:37:30 AM EST

And the people who write the stories for this site spend time working on them too. Combine that with some free hardware given to the site and mix it in with the fact scoop is an open source project and I think $5/month is insane.
Obviously the vast majority of users agree with me given the 90 subscribers number.
"Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us." - Carl Sagan
[ Parent ]
So what isn't insane? (4.50 / 2) (#61)
by baptiste on Sat Nov 03, 2001 at 10:16:14 AM EST

Even though scoop is OSS and they have some donated hardware, bandwidth is still expensive! Yes, users contribute to make the site what it is, someone has to pay for the infrastructure.

So if $5/month is insane, what is a reasonable amount?
Top Substitutions For 'Under God' In The Pledge Of Allegiance
[ Parent ]

However.. (none / 0) (#101)
by DeadBaby on Tue Nov 06, 2001 at 05:44:31 PM EST

Rusty himself very recently has said there's no money problem. (Look at the OSDN story) So that's really not a problem.
"Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us." - Carl Sagan
[ Parent ]
Why pay? (3.50 / 2) (#43)
by seebs on Fri Nov 02, 2001 at 10:35:05 PM EST

Why pay for any public service?

[ Parent ]
Do you pay for your telephone? (4.60 / 5) (#54)
by MugginsM on Sat Nov 03, 2001 at 06:29:55 AM EST

> Ok.. I should PAY for a site that 100% of the content comes from users for free?

You could say the same of the telephone

I think with any user-content site, just like the phone network and, indeed, the internet - it's the infrastructure you're paying for. Bandwidth isn't cheap. Wiring isn't cheap. Paying someone to look after it all isn't cheap.

Someone has to pay for it.

I don't count "viewing ads" as being free, by any means. I'd rather pay cash than have my brain washed by salespeople. So I do.
(yes, I'm a subscriber)

The hardware k5 is on isn't "free" either - we're all paying a tiny amount for it every time we look at the sponsorship ad.

I do find $5/month a little high - as someone else mentioned, US$5 is actually quite a lot to a New Zealander. But I like the principle. And it's certainly better than ads.

- MugginsM

[ Parent ]
It's even more expensive for some people... (4.00 / 1) (#55)
by tekue on Sat Nov 03, 2001 at 07:08:42 AM EST

...like me for example. The $5/month I could pay for K5 is not that little considering I make something like $350/month (yeah, less than I would make at McDonalds in USia, and I'm a webdesigner) and I have to support myself with that. Now, if I made $3500/month that would be another story...

You think I _should_ pay for K5? Well, I'll stick with the banner-ads.
Humanity has advanced, when it has advanced, not because it has been sober, responsible, and cautious, but because it has been playful, rebellious, and immature. --Tom Robbins
[ Parent ]

Exactly the point... (5.00 / 1) (#60)
by baptiste on Sat Nov 03, 2001 at 10:09:39 AM EST

Its OPTIONAL. If you don't mind ads and don't have the $$$ and/or desire to contribute to K5, thats fine. If you do, you have options. nuff said. I think its great when sites do this - it just allows users to customize their experieince further.
Top Substitutions For 'Under God' In The Pledge Of Allegiance
[ Parent ]
Currency conversion (3.50 / 2) (#37)
by Pseudonym on Fri Nov 02, 2001 at 09:00:49 PM EST

Converting currency costs money. In many cases (e.g. PayPal), the cost of converting can dominate. To be economical, you must buy a lot at once, which may be more than many can afford at a given time.

sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
Let's see what Rusty says (4.75 / 8) (#46)
by mbrubeck on Sat Nov 03, 2001 at 12:37:03 AM EST

Actually, we're doing fine. Ever since we started running ads, a few people have suggested this as a good way for people to support the site, and still enjoy ad-free K5, like the good old days... This is just an option, for people who'd like to take advantage of it.
-- rusty, Subscribe to K5

An important message from Rusty's article was that the subscription service was a response to user demands. Rusty and Inoshiro don't need the dough, but several users wanted a way to donate money; ad-free subscriptions provided a way for the site to say "thank you" to users who choose to donate.

rusty himself wrote in a comment:

FWIW, I probably wouldn't subscribe, myself. Ads don't bother me that much. And it's completely ok if anyone else doesn't want to subscribe either.

To expand on that (none / 0) (#95)
by rusty on Mon Nov 05, 2001 at 11:26:49 AM EST

Yes, that's exactly it. Subscriptions, right now, are rather expensive for what you get. I'm actually kind of surprised that it's up to more than 90 subscribers. I didn't expect that many. :-)

That said, after January, subscription income will become more important, and we'll be doing a lot more to encourage it. The price of a "no frills" subscription will probably drop some, and we'll be offering some nifty perks for people who want to pay for them.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Upsetting.. (none / 0) (#102)
by DeadBaby on Tue Nov 06, 2001 at 05:51:57 PM EST

It's quite upsetting to see there are people asking what your "excuse" is for not becoming a member given this information. It really makes me wonder why this story is even here in the first place.

Maybe it would be best if people left the K5 backend issues to the people who actually run the site instead of trying to scare monger people into subscribing by demanding your "excuse" for not joining yet.

"Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us." - Carl Sagan
[ Parent ]
It's Simple (4.25 / 4) (#48)
by Nater on Sat Nov 03, 2001 at 12:57:55 AM EST

Personally, I'm waiting for some other payment option than PayPal. In fact, I would be perfectly happy to just mail rusty a check if I had any idea where to mail it. Of course, right now probably isn't the comfortable time for anyone to receive a piece of mail from a complete stranger. I think it was hurstdog or Inoshiro who commented on the "B-bye OSDN" story that they were looking for reviews of credit card handling software. That works, too. I don't really even know why PayPal doesn't sit right with me... it just doesn't.

When something does come around, I do plan on donating to make up for the months I haven't subscribed, and I think I might just round it up to the nearest hundred dollars.

i heard someone suggest that we should help the US, just like they helped us in WWII. By waiting three years, then going over there, flashing our money around, shagging all the women and acting like we owned the place. --Seen in #tron

Because Kuro5hin is getting worse not better (3.83 / 6) (#49)
by jbridges on Sat Nov 03, 2001 at 02:15:49 AM EST

I don't mind PayPal

I do think the $5 a month is steep, but I was considering it.

Why did I decide to not subscribe?

Because I have less interest in Kuro5hin than a few months ago, and in particular since 9/11, I rarely find much I want to read or comment on.

Oddly, while I thought Slashdot was turning far too political with the majority of stories on DeCSS, Acrobat hacking, or evil Microsoft, all that is nothing compared to what has happened to Kuro5hin.

I wouldn't be suprised if the ratio of Kuro5hin stories that are political in nature has hit 95%, that certainly seems true about the article submission cue. Just check out the moderation for the posts in these little political battles. You have a mixture of 5's and 2's for the same message based on political leanings.

So no offense, but I'm just not all that interested in subscribing to what Kuro5hin has become.

(look at my uid before you assume I don't know what Kuro5hin was)

The worth of kuro5hin (3.00 / 2) (#53)
by PresJPolk on Sat Nov 03, 2001 at 06:23:46 AM EST

Hmm.. the site is suddenly of less value to you, but it's still of enough value to to make a multi-line comment.

No, I'm not subscribing yet... but I'm eager for the day Kuro5hin, Inc. gets it together and doesn't rely on a contraversial service to take payments.

[ Parent ]
Answer (none / 0) (#81)
by jbridges on Sun Nov 04, 2001 at 01:21:29 AM EST

Hmm.. the site is suddenly of less value to you, but it's still of enough value to to make a multi-line comment.

yes (not suddenly, although it's moved more quickly away from my interests after 9/11, in particular the right vs left arguments that flood the message base).

[ Parent ]
I may not have your user number... (3.50 / 4) (#71)
by ghjm on Sat Nov 03, 2001 at 02:20:14 PM EST

...but I agree with you. In my case, it's not the increase in the number of political postings; actually I quite enjoy politics as a topic. The problem I have is the rapid decline in the thoughtfulness of both comments and moderation. I honestly think Kuro5hin would be better off simply scrapping comment moderation at this point.

Also, I am left of center, and at this point contributing money to Kuro5hin would feel a bit like donating to a right-wing PAC, which makes me uncomfortable. I know that Rusty and the rest of the staff are editorially neutral, but taken as a whole, the site has been taken over by some pretty seriously right-wing viewpoints. I don't begrudge right-wingers a forum and a meeting place, but if that's what K5 is going to become, don't expect me to pay for it.


[ Parent ]
Right-wing?! (4.00 / 3) (#77)
by Kalani on Sat Nov 03, 2001 at 10:31:07 PM EST

Like what?

"I [think] that ultimately physics will not require a mathematical statement; in the end the machinery will be revealed and the laws will turn out to be simple, like the checker board."
--Richard Feynman
[ Parent ]
You had me till you started using labels (4.50 / 4) (#82)
by jbridges on Sun Nov 04, 2001 at 01:36:39 AM EST

As soon as I saw "like donating to a right-wing PAC", your arguments about carefully crafted, well thought out messages missing from Kuro5hin didn't carry much weight.

I think the arguments over Noam Chomsky, and other recent favorite topics are certainly carefully composed. Members spend hours writing their thoughtfully crafted response to "fight the good fight", and finally convince those stupid "right-wingers" or "left-wingers" the error of their ways. It's sad that many of the best are rated "1" or "2" by those who disagree (with whatever side).

It sounds like you would enjoy it if only all those awful right wingers would leave Kuro5hin to the enlightened left wingers. And I'm sure many of those right wingers certainly feel the same way about you.

I'm just not interested in reading the result. It used to be "Technology and Culture, from the trenches", now it's "Left vs Right, in the trenches (with a little tech and culture thrown in on occasion)".

[ Parent ]
No credit card (4.25 / 4) (#51)
by jesterzog on Sat Nov 03, 2001 at 03:46:07 AM EST

My excuse is made up of several sub-excuses that all add up.

I don't have a credit card, and I don't intend to get one until I really need it. For one thing I hate getting into future debt, and I'm not very good at bookkeeping to avoid this. It's too bad that it's very inconvenient to pay for anything internationally without one. Usually I just use my EFTPOS card for purchases, since there are so many shops these days that have EFTPOS terminals. It doesn't work internationally, though.

Also like ecc said, the exchange rate here (NZ) sucks compared with the states at the moment. We make up for it with a much lower cost of living, but paying for anything from overseas on an average NZ paycheck right now is really draining. For now I'm content with the banner ads.

jesterzog Fight the light

Payments and number of subscribers (3.66 / 3) (#57)
by EvilTri on Sat Nov 03, 2001 at 07:13:59 AM EST

I haven't signed because like a number of other people on here, I don't have a credit card... *However* if Rusty ever comes around here (Australia), I'll be more than happy to give him the cash... One thing I've noticed about the number of people who've signed up, is that it's getting closer and closer to 100. I think there's a lot of people holding out, as they want to be the 100th person to sign up... We'll see what happens when we pass that number. ;-)

5$ pcm vs. newsstand magazines (4.40 / 5) (#59)
by new500 on Sat Nov 03, 2001 at 07:55:16 AM EST

. .

Hi, this must be my first post on k5 for a year . .

How does 5$ US a month stack up against a regular magazine subscription?

Firstly, I guess 5$ is above the level at which you can sub to Fortune, Forbes, or any print magazine for that matter

Not saying these are directly comparable, but for starters, k5 has not the editorial bureax that even a small regular magazine has. User comments have a more vicarious value - quality, quanity, acuracy and content are not as manageable or easy to anticipate..

Web logs are still of main interest to participants. Put something in, get something back. There's an element of paying for one's own work in the subscription.

Bandwidth for adverts. In physical magazines, the publisher discounts toe sub to pay for print and pulp costs, trying to get a clear ride on advertising revenues. But the impression of the subscriber discount from news stand sales to the reader is very strong. Often 60% or more. The publisher likes suscribers even at very low rates, even at giveaway, because stats are, well, more static, than online, and that feeds back into advertising rates, usually positively. With online media, there is no equivalent of subscribing to a magazine. The reader still is paying one way or another for their connectivity.

That last point in the para above, is worth noting. It needs fixing before anyone but secondary (indirect, ulterior motivated) monopoly seekers or aggressive concentrators of access and "portals" can enter online media sucessfully. ISPs feed nothing back from their own subscriptions. It's like publishing the NY Times, then giving it away free each day, then the publisher paying to have it delivered for you. Hard to do, even though I expect a few big news sites have peering agreements by now.

Transactional costs havebeen mentioned elsewhere.

Content, editorial focus and consistency. OSDN noted a change in focus. Ever seen a magazine do this? I have, but not without lots of marketing, soul searching, new investment and usually in the end, failure. To keep a subscriber base, you have to keep developing specific interests and constituencies. K5 has to a certain extent opened up sections, like the Sunday newspapers. But these are at th emoment just semantic splits. You have to develop and promote a section. Imagine if the Sunday Times (UK) had all of a sudden introduced 20 sections on the areas that interested the editors? How could any one of those be strong enough to attract new readers, let alone grab and refocus a valuable reader / subscriber constituency who might have been orphaned by strictly adhereing to the Pareto's Rule of payng interest?

I'l stop here, though I could go on. As a small community site, I liked k5 a *lot*. But when you ask for a subscription, you are declaring commercial values, which have to be backed up. There are plenty of diferences between a site like 5 and a newspaper, but subscriptions are very new to the online world, and even newer to user contributed sites. It may be needed to defer to commercial sensibilities. Subscription is a act bound in a word dominated by print. So subscribers have different expectations. Meet those at a consistent level, and then promote aggressively the aspects fo k5 which have made it good. Do *not* let the users do the talking for you if you are changing focus all the time, or cannotdirect that in some smal part, else you risk non representative commentary, and lurkers or alienated early readers will be put off.

Some thoughts from an old hack. Flame away if that's your wont.

p.s. when you say on your subscription page "5 lousy dollars a month . . " it's hard not to take that as rude, if not insulting. Solicit business. Don't heckle for it. Sell stuff, don't pester.

High pressure salesmanship (4.00 / 2) (#83)
by sigwinch on Sun Nov 04, 2001 at 02:09:23 AM EST

p.s. when you say on your subscription page "5 lousy dollars a month . . " it's hard not to take that as rude, if not insulting. Solicit business. Don't heckle for it. Sell stuff, don't pester.
<chuckle> It started out as a picture of a pistol pointed at a kitty cat with a caption like "Pay up or the cat gets it!"

I don't want the world, I just want your half.
[ Parent ]

The cat gets it . . . (4.00 / 1) (#85)
by new500 on Sun Nov 04, 2001 at 06:53:08 AM EST

. .

he he, that would have been a better approach in my book!

. .

I was also going to add this to the earlier :

What kinda dumb model is "Free With Ads, or Pay with No Ads"? Like in the real world free circulation but no statistics about the _individual_ readers means crap or zero advertising rates. So the minute you get a verification of just who is reading and where (available from the Merchant account ticket for cc billing if you don't have a "delivery" address, provided you ask your bank nicely, agree policies with them, understand you only get abstracted data at best) and the ad rates ought to commensurately increase, you ditch the improved revenue potential.

I've no obvious solution to this - and anyhow a lot of marketing and advertising is just fleet of foot and sleight of hand to keep ahead in the game of perceptions versus realised model flaws - and I won't be telling if I come up with one :) . . . But I see a whole new direction for k5 : stir up cat lover protest groups, get editorial coverage in the dailies, sell adverts to vetinary anaesthetists . .

[ Parent ]

Print subscriptions... (none / 0) (#96)
by rusty on Mon Nov 05, 2001 at 11:33:32 AM EST

I think print magazine subscriptions and internet subscriptions are fundamentally different things. In print, subscriptions are basically a barrier to entry for readers. They serve little to no useful income purpose. What they're for is to demonstrate that some class of people is willing to pay to get your ads. That's why ads in Wired are worth more than ads in your local free City Paper.

Subscriptions here, in my opinion, are for people who want a particular added service from the site. Right now, the only one we offer is removing the ads. We will have more in the near future. But subscribing is not the means by which you get the content. You can get that free, which is right and good, since as you point out, you are authors of that content in the first place.

So, really, "subscription" is a bad word for it. I think that's the root of the confusion. "Premium membership" might be a better term to use-- does that more clearly imply the idea that you're paying for "extra stuff", not the core stuff of the site?

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Text ads rule (4.00 / 4) (#62)
by baptiste on Sat Nov 03, 2001 at 10:43:58 AM EST

I think the idea of cheap text ads will be a bonanza - its a great concept - sort of like the classified sections of college newspapers which rarely were for selling something! It'll be neat to see what shows up. Subscriptions will be for folks who want to donate - losing the ads will be secondary (and honestly - if the text ads turn out how I think they will - being enjoyable to read - I'd subscribe and leave the ads on as a way to donate to rusty's beer fund)

Going to be an exciting winter!
Top Substitutions For 'Under God' In The Pledge Of Allegiance

This is why.. (2.28 / 7) (#63)
by od2k on Sat Nov 03, 2001 at 11:03:38 AM EST

I havn't paid for Kuro5hin because I think that paying would be supporting an initiative that I don't believe in. - Namely paying for a service that should be free.

I think a great many people have gotten greedy lately. They see the web as a way to make alot of money under the flag of "wanting to make a community"..
I know a few ppl from around the web who run larger websites (which shall remain nameless) only on the money they are able to pay themselves and the money they earn from website ads.
I think that is so wonderful to see.. That someone keeps the web free instead of trying to social-engineer users into paying. I find phrases like "be one of us (by paying)" extremely repulsive. Trying to make a community out of paying users.. When was the last time you saw a sign at your local supermarket that said "Be one of us.. pay extra for your groceries"..?
The Internet was never meant to be a place where you have to pay for everything..

At this point somebody might say something like "But Kuro5hin needs the users to pay, or they'll have to shut the site down".. Well if that is the case, then so be it.. It's a shame, I don't want the site to shut down but if you must then you must.
Far too many selfproclaimed .orgs end up in a situation where they "need the users to pay".. I think it's a load of crap. With a good strategy any site can keep itself floating. And if it can't, then it's either because of bad mangement or because the site has reached a point where it's time to 'stop the band while they're still playing'..

Another thing is the way ppl are being coached into paying.. I don't like that at all.. I have donated money to mame.dk because they suggested that if you like the site you could help them out that way.
I like that.. I don't mind donating if there is a way to do it easily, and it's a service I use alot. - What I don't like is coaching people, or worse: forcing them to pay.
As some of you know ArsTechnica started charging for use of parts of the forum a while back.. Suddenly - from one day to the next, they were forcing people to pay.
Also, the popular rating site hotornot.com has a section where you can contact ppl through a semi-serious dating system. It used to be free, it isn't anymore though. Again, from one day to the other people were being forced to pay.
I have left both sites permanently, as I intend to leave kuro5hin if it should ever come to the point where ppl will be forced to pay.
One would argue that I'm only hurting myself by not using certain services, but I see it quite differently: Supporting a site that forces (or strongly encourages) you to pay for it's services, is like stating that you'll always buy a certain brand of beans no matter what they cost. If Nike decided to charge e.g. twice as much for their shoes as everybody else (without making their shoes way better than they are now), then alot of people would simple switch to a different brand.. And Nike knows that, which is why they don't raise the prices (or one of the reasons, anyway).. What we need to tell the people here is that Kuro5hin is only one of the trees in the forest - If they start charging, or keep bugging us about not paying, we can fairly easy find another tree.

Ask me to help with the site be it HTML or content..
Ask me to click on the banner ads I find interesting..
Ask me to donate money..
Do not ask me to pay for something that should be free.. And you should certainly not ask me more than once..

Just my $5.00 anyway. ;)

Hunh (none / 0) (#109)
by Spendocrat on Wed Nov 14, 2001 at 05:21:56 PM EST

I find the fact that you apparently don't posses a sense of humour to be quite repulsive.

[ Parent ]
I don't need an excuse (4.14 / 7) (#64)
by aonifer on Sat Nov 03, 2001 at 11:31:30 AM EST

Rusty said I didn't have to (I know, this is an excuse).

But if you want a reason, it's because I'm a cheap, thieving bastard who has no soul and eats children.

Payment... (3.75 / 4) (#66)
by DrEvil on Sat Nov 03, 2001 at 01:07:56 PM EST

The Internet was about the free exchange of ideas. Things are changing though, K5 isn't the only site I've seen that is moving to a payment scheme, some are even to the point that you can't get in without payment.

Sure $5 is cheap (although that's closer to $10 for us Canadians!) but it adds up if every site you visit wants $5. Let's not forget your ISP charges to actually get on the Internet first, and the charges for your computer, and in some cases software charges.

Just in the last few months I've seen a big change in the Internet, most specifically the web. The previous socialist attitude is gone, and the focus has shifted to just trying to keep enough money too pay for bandwidth and hardware. Whether this is due to all the "dot-bombs" or the rise of the number of people on the Internet, or something else remains to be seen.

What I see is the biggest problem with the Internet today is bandwidth costs. You're looking at around $1000CDN/month (plus setup costs) for a T1. A T1 is really only enough bandwidth to supply one Cable/DSL user at once. We need to find a way to lower bandwidth costs and have a sustainable revenue model for the operator so they can make some money for thier work. I don't know if this is possible, but it sure would be nice.

T1 speeds (none / 0) (#69)
by guinsu on Sat Nov 03, 2001 at 01:38:05 PM EST

Actually, my company runs a site off of a T1 and we've served up to 20,000 unique visitors in a day. You can get a lot of milage out of a T1.

[ Parent ]
T1 (none / 0) (#87)
by Arkady on Sun Nov 04, 2001 at 03:53:14 PM EST

Yeah, you can get _lots_ of milage off a T1. When our NetHack Tournament got Slashdotted on Wednesday, the T1 took it in stride and didn't even come close to maxxing out; we were knocked offline by the web server crashing because it wasn't tuned to handle that kind of simultaneous demand.

The garage ISP that operates out of my house has quite a bit of experience in conglomerating DSL users onto T1 links, and I can say with absolute certainty that you can put way more than 1 DSL line into a T1. I'm not our network engineer, so I'm not certain on the details of why, but my understanding is that the DSL packet latency is greater, so you can put a bunch of them together (at least 24, which is the number of simultaeous packets a T1 can transmit, whereas DSL lines can only transmit 1 at a time).

Still, the margins on DSL are so low, after paying the phone company the outragous rates for the line, that's it's damn difficult to maintain a small operation on it.


Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.

[ Parent ]
I don't have a job. (4.00 / 3) (#68)
by Rainy on Sat Nov 03, 2001 at 01:15:24 PM EST

I'm studying and running into debt right now. Also, a few things about k5 just don't feel solid enough. You know, when first usable winamp came out, or when I found vim I had this feeling of witnessing a job done *real* well, for that time and place. I don't get the same feeling about k5. It doesn't look very nice in lynx, it's rather slow, it seems to reset cookies once in a while, and "sort articles by ratings" get reset too, I think every time you log in, or something? But, it is the least of 2 evils in web discussion boards, and if it was in financial trouble, I think I'd pay up. Or if I had a job, then I'd at least think about this seriously. Oh, and I hardly ever rent movies and never forget to return them, and I get my books in library. So, free k5 is just one facet of cheapness emanating from my lifestyle ;-).
Rainy "Collect all zero" Day
A modest proposal (2.28 / 7) (#73)
by ghjm on Sat Nov 03, 2001 at 02:36:49 PM EST

The problem with giving things away for free is that people then treat them as if they have no value. Right now, Kuro5hin gives away story and comment votes to anyone who wants them. As a result, voting is treated as inconsequential. There is no motivation to "make your vote count" and someone who has hours to spend trolling the site can use time to their advantage by simply voting more often. The current state of Kuro5hin is the result.

The solution should be obvious: Charge for votes. In the submission queue, +1 = $1, +2 = $2, etc., as far as you want to go. In comment moderation, 3=$0, 2 or 4=$1 and 1 or 5=$2.

Economics predicts three effects. First, there will be a massive decline in the total number of votes cast. Second, the remaining votes will be a much better indication of the actual thoughts and feelings of the community, because instead of voting willy-nilly with no thought of value, people will have to ask themselves: "Would I rather give this story a +3, or have a Chai Latte from Starbucks?" And finally, Rusty makes the money he needs to keep working on Kuro5hin full time.

To gain the most advantage from this, Rusty will have to estimate the demand curve that Kuro5hin faces. This should be easy enough to do. If things are running along smoothly at $1/vote, put the site on sale for a week at half price. If voting activity more than doubles, make $0.50/vote the new permanent price. Unlike other businesses, Kuro5hin is in a great position to test different pricing strategies. You could actually plot your demand curve from hard data quite easily! Profit maximization then proceeds from simple and well understood economic theory.

If you disagree, please do me the favor of explaining why.


Good idea, but.... (none / 0) (#74)
by brunes69 on Sat Nov 03, 2001 at 03:31:00 PM EST

Seems a but expensive, no? Perhaps 10 cents / vote is more realistic.

---There is no Spoon---
[ Parent ]
Hey, Jraxis! (2.33 / 3) (#75)
by ghjm on Sat Nov 03, 2001 at 07:46:23 PM EST

You gave me a 1, which I take to mean you strongly disagree. Can you explain why?


[ Parent ]
Great idea! (3.00 / 2) (#84)
by bobsquatch on Sun Nov 04, 2001 at 03:25:04 AM EST

Wow! A dollar a vote, eh? Why not, it works so well for the U.S. Congress...

So, let's see, $80 and a little timing means that I can post whatever I damn well feel like to the front page? Great idea!

Or, wait, I could shoot down any story that I don't like, just by spending enough to keep it down? Or, I could just keep spamming the queue, knowing that you poor fools will be sharing the $20 bill for voting me down? Sign me up!

Economics predicts that the site will soon be ruled by people with lots of disposable cash. What an improvement over the current K5, where even the rabble can vote their ignorant little minds.

J'raxis gave your idea a 1, and I'm inclined to do the same.

[ Parent ]

Great idea! (5.00 / 4) (#93)
by Anonymous 6522 on Mon Nov 05, 2001 at 03:47:05 AM EST

Then no one will vote for stories, and no one will moderate!

"Would I rather give this story a +3, or have a Chai Latte from Starbucks?"

If anyone's like me, they'd spend the money on something more valuable than K5 moderation points.

[ Parent ]

Why not try a distributed model? (3.00 / 6) (#80)
by dbretton on Sun Nov 04, 2001 at 12:16:37 AM EST

I wonder why someone has not gone ahead and attempted to leverage Peer to Peer networking for a web site such as this... Discuss..
If you can read this, you are too close.
That would be too much like email. (none / 0) (#92)
by stfrn on Mon Nov 05, 2001 at 12:26:20 AM EST

Well, you could download the stories from a main server, and the comments from others...hmmm, there is some merit, but the main proble would be controls- moderating, story posting etc.

or maybe that would be more irc. no thats server based too. hmmmmm.

damn, now you got me thinking. I hate when that happens!

"Man, I'm going to bed. I can't even insult people properly tonight." - Imperfect
What would you recomend to someone who doesn't like SPAM?
[ Parent ]

Tragedy of the Commons (4.75 / 4) (#86)
by Wondertoad on Sun Nov 04, 2001 at 12:46:53 PM EST

In Econ 101 they study such things. "Tragedy of the Commons" is the principle where, if people are allowed to have their cattle graze on the commons, the land there will soon be overgrazed and won't have any grass growing there at all.

The architect-type in me wants to invent some sort of improved tip jar. The discussion on this thread so far compares K5 to print magazines and says $60/year is too much to ask. I agree, the amount should be smaller and spread across a larger number of people. I would also prefer to pledge a monthly amount to be spread across all the sites that I visit that require or would benefit from subscribers. Personally, I'm a net hound, so I have about 10 such sites.

I would also like to have my subscription automated, such that if, say, I stop visiting Salon, the amount of my subscription is decreased for that month.

I would imagine that the code behind such a system - operated by browser plug-in? - would not be too hard to implement. The problem is getting the critical mass of users who would participate in such a system.

I know, it's all pie-in-the-sky thinking, but it's fun to imagine such things...

Learn more econ. (none / 0) (#100)
by Inoshiro on Tue Nov 06, 2001 at 02:47:33 AM EST

"I agree, the amount should be smaller and spread across a larger number of people.

But would the area under the curve (gross income) actually be larger? If you have a coffee shop selling 10$ special coffees, about 10 a day, or a "normal" coffee shop selling 1$ normal coffees at the rate of 100 a day, who actually is doing better?

The answer has to do with bias. Until we see people actually willing to pay (rather than saying they will pay), we have to be cautious. Plus, we are devalueing all the people who have subscribed if we don't run a script to increase their number of months remaining (and this ignores that we'd been doing a buy 1, get 1, buy 5, get 6 special deal... a whole year for 50$, vs 60$!).

[ イノシロ ]
[ Parent ]
I'll pay what it's worth... (3.00 / 2) (#88)
by steve m on Sun Nov 04, 2001 at 05:22:16 PM EST

I live in the UK, and K5 is US-centric, and some of the stuff that gets posted on K5 is a load of crap - (someone's rant about red bull springs to mind). so to me it's worth about $2 / month

A few reasons why not. (4.00 / 2) (#90)
by Kasreyn on Sun Nov 04, 2001 at 09:32:25 PM EST

* Paypal. Ugh. Thanks, but really, no thanks. I'd sooner trust a destitute crackhead to get my money to rusty.

* Ads. I feel my eyeballs are already helping to pay. Why would the ads be there if rusty weren't getting money?

* "Be one of us". This just worries me for some weird reason. Mental images of people shambling at me, arms outstretched... "Come... join us... don't be afraid..." Drooling, glassy eyed... I just can't get over that mental image! But all joking aside, I find the phrasing of that a wee bit offensive, and that's another contributing factor. As if I'm somehow a less important or valuable K5 poster because I don't subscribe?

It doesn't help that I'm broke, of course. =P


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
"One of us" (none / 0) (#97)
by rusty on Mon Nov 05, 2001 at 11:39:27 AM EST

That phrase actually comes from the movie Freaks. There's a great scene where they have a dinner to "induct" the normal woman into the society of the sideshow freaks, and they all chant "Gooble gobble... gooble gobble... One of us... one of us..." Great movie. Anyway, it's a seriously tongue-in-cheek reference, meant to refer to that feeling of drooling zombification in a satirical way. :-)

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Because this site sucks ass (1.18 / 11) (#91)
by fester on Sun Nov 04, 2001 at 11:27:38 PM EST

Why should I pay to read a bunch of self-righteous, pseudo-intellectual, humor deprived, political-science major drop-outs whine about the world?? No thanks, I'd rather read the trolls on Slashdot, at least they are entertaining.

Actually... (none / 0) (#106)
by Sheepdot on Sat Nov 10, 2001 at 04:20:20 PM EST

<I>political-science major drop-outs </I>

It is funny you mention that, cause most of us are probably already or going to be computer-science, computer-engineering, or MIS majors. Or, went to a technical school, or got an MCSE, etc.

It's not that we couldn't do poli-sci either, I would say 90% of K5 regulars could easily pass in poli-sci. The world, of course, wouldn't like it if we did though.

[ Parent ]
General comments (4.33 / 3) (#98)
by rusty on Mon Nov 05, 2001 at 12:01:39 PM EST

There's a lot of the same siggestions in the comments, so I wanted to just react generally to a few of them...

Other payment means: I realize that paypal is just not kosher for quite a few of you, for various reasons, and yes, we are working on other payment systems. I've gotten tons of comments and suggestions on that, and we will be offering other ways to pay for stuff. Until we do, please don't feel guilty if you don't want to use paypal. It's our fault, not yours. :-)

Lack of value: Another common theme is that subscription isn't worth what we're asking. Personally, I agree with that, and that's kind of on purpose, so you're not a freeloading bastard if you think so, and don't listen to anyone who says you are. As of January, subscriptions will become more improtant to the site as a whole, and we will be offering more to make it worth subscribing. Some of the things that will definitely happen:

  • There will probably be a "reduced-rate" subscription, or a basic subscription, for people who don't think it's worth $5/month
  • There will also be extra goodies available for people who pay full-price. Hopefully we'll find some mix of things that enough people want to make it worth it.

"One of us": That phrase on the "Subscribe" box came from the movie Freaks (see my comment elsewhere in this discussion) and was supposed to be tongue-in-cheek. Obviously quite a few of you took it literally. Sorry. In response, I've changed that. It was getting old anyway.

Generally: This isn't as big an issue as some of you seem to be making it. If you don't want to subscribe, don't. I love you anyway. If you think K5 isn't worth a penny, and that we are [too right-wing|too left-wing|too political| not political enough|too navel-gazing|too #006699], I love you anyway. I'm not offering you a choice between paying or having the site go away. If I can't figure out how to keep it running, or am unwilling to do whatever is necessary to keep the site running, that's my problem, not yours. It's not an ultimatum, and it never will be. It's simply an option, for those who want it.

I hope that helps clear some things up...

Not the real rusty

options (4.00 / 1) (#103)
by alprazolam on Tue Nov 06, 2001 at 06:00:19 PM EST

When you do implement other options, could you write an article about why it took so long (in my electrical engineeringness I just assumed you could press a button and magically have secure credit card transactions) and sort of how you are doing it (I'm curious as to how it all works from maybe a moderately high level)? I think it would be an interesting somewhat technical article anyway.

[ Parent ]
What about donations? (none / 0) (#104)
by simon farnz on Wed Nov 07, 2001 at 11:26:37 PM EST

I just donated $10 to K5; I don't wish to subscribe, as I don't find the ads intrusive. However, the income box does not track donations. How many people donate to K5 rather than subscribe?

It's at least 1...
If guns are outlawed, only outlaws have guns

Because most geeks are cheap! (2.80 / 5) (#105)
by darthaya on Thu Nov 08, 2001 at 12:54:15 PM EST

simple as that.
  1. Why do they use Linux? Do they really *love* it as they claim?
    No, it is because Linux, is Free, as in speech and more important, as in beer. Do you think most of them would support Linux, if, under some imaginary circumstances, it will cost them $200 to get a copy of it? Assume you have the access to all the source, but it takes a thousand year to compile it on your average PC and only the business can be authorized to purchase a monster supermachine that is specially tuned to make the distribution possible.
  2. What is the Freedom they claim to *love*? As in all those anti-DMCA campaigns
    Freedom to them means free as in zero dollar. Do you think they would be so obsessed with Napster if it is a charged service? (for example, 5 dollars per month) No! They wouldn't. They would still have the thousand excuses, but the truth is, they are cheap!
  3. Why wouldn't they subscribe to k5? It is great and it should be awarded!
    Forget about all those claims that "the service should be free" shit. The truth is, they are so cheap that they wouldn't spend $5 on something they use everyday. Do you pay to watch cable TV? You can bitch all you want about "service should be free" bullshit and use a scrambler of course.

But again, I am talking about *most* of the geeks. There are always great exemptions.

as with all good things on the internet (none / 0) (#107)
by Prophet themusicgod1 on Mon Nov 12, 2001 at 12:07:16 AM EST

it[subscribing] to my knowlege requires a god damned credit card...something which i have yet to obtain. i would like to have one but none of the credit card companies have came out and given me one yet. which tends to point me in the direction that mabye i should apply...but every time i remember that i should apply i find myself fired/loosing my job.
go figure but really. i can imagine people like me could make use of a world where credit cards arent the only way of doing things...
"I suspect the best way to deal with procrastination is to put off the procrastination itself until later. I've been meaning to try this, but haven't gotten around to it yet."swr
payments should be linked to value exchange at k5 (none / 0) (#108)
by Jim Madison on Mon Nov 12, 2001 at 01:11:17 AM EST


there are lots of ways that people contribute to k5 and that k5 delivers value.

value that users provide to k5:
1. an audience for other posters
2. content for others
3. editorial filter to focus attention on high quality content

value that k5 provides to users:
1. good, prefiltered content to read
2. opportunity to respond directly to other members
3. opportunity to impact the agenda

So which way does the value go?

well, not every one participate equally in each category. Some people post more frequently or of better quality. Other people read and rate more thoroughly.

So k5 should consider implementing a system of micro-payments. It costs money to read previously high rated content. It also costs a little money to post something, based on some micro amount of exposure you'd like to guarantee for your post.

Meanwhile, users who read low-rated or new, unrated content get paid a small amount. Also, users who write articles that become highly rated get a kick back.

Of course, the precise amount are carefully calibrated so that there is payments to writers of good articles is equal to the amount paid in aggregate by all the consumers of the article.

Well, almost equal, except for the 10% that k5 skims off the top.

What do you think about concept?

Got democracy? Try e-thePeople.org.
Why so few subscribers? | 109 comments (108 topical, 1 editorial, 1 hidden)
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