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Old 03-23-2011, 07:10 PM   #31
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My point is, and this is not just Apple, that some companies balance out convenience and trusting their users to do the right thing.

I know everyone here is smirking at their supposedly lame attempts, but I have a feeling they know what they are doing-trying to balance accessibility with some way of pushing their subscription service, and relying on the belief that those who value their services won't try to bypass their obviously easy to jump over gate.
But the NY Times doesn't trust its customers to do the right thing. If they did, this kind of paywall is the wrong way to go. This kind of paywall isn't a sign of trust. It's just an insult to users' intelligence. A sign of trust might be something like displaying the article normally and telling the user they can access the whole newspaper with a subscription.

In fact, the initial way the NY Times tried to implement a paywall was a sign of trust. Everything but the crossword and editorials were free. The paper trusted that people who liked the newspaper enough would pay for a subscription for the editorials and crossword. Apparently, readers didn't value them enough to do that. So this paywall was an attempt at a "Screw you" that failed.

Just to be clear: I'm not against people charging for content. I'd like people to pay for the things I write, too. But a) the NY Times was free for a long time, so people feel a bit cheated (whether that's justified or not) and b) if you're going to do it, at least do it well. It's really not hard to create a paywall.
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Old 03-23-2011, 07:15 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by bhartman36 View Post
Everything but the crossword and editorials were free. The paper trusted that people who liked the newspaper enough would pay for a subscription for the editorials and crossword. Apparently, readers didn't value them enough to do that. So this paywall was an attempt at a "Screw you" that failed.
Apparently, some of the editorial writers were upset. Being part of the very little that was behind the wall, most readers just gave up on editorials & read blog posts elsewhere instead.

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Just to be clear: I'm not against people charging for content. I'd like people to pay for the things I write, too. But a) the NY Times was free for a long time, so people feel a bit cheated (whether that's justified or not) and b) if you're going to do it, at least do it well. It's really not hard to create a paywall.
The problem with the NY Times isn't that they want a paywall. Any site can do that; it's easy. It's that they want a paywall AND they want the same kind of constant publicity that goes with being a free news source online. They want people to link to their site, to drive new eyeballs to their adverts, to quote NY Times articles to each other to encourage more readers.

And they want to be paid per reader. Or per reader who reads over a certain amount.

They strike me as wanting to put up a toll lane for people turning left on a busy intersection, and then being surprised when people go a few blocks farther and double back instead of paying it.
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Old 03-23-2011, 07:28 PM   #33
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It's that they want a paywall AND they want the same kind of constant publicity that goes with being a free news source online. They want people to link to their site, to drive new eyeballs to their adverts, to quote NY Times articles to each other to encourage more readers.
I do think this is a big part of the issue as well-but I think at least part of it is driven not just by publicity (or profit), but because the NY Times understands that for many it is considered a valuable news source, and they are still trying to balance out the need to be available as a source, and to survive. But maybe I just put more faith in their motives than others.
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Old 03-23-2011, 07:39 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by kjk View Post
My point is, and this is not just Apple, that some companies balance out convenience and trusting their users to do the right thing.

I know everyone here is smirking at their supposedly lame attempts, but I have a feeling they know what they are doing-trying to balance accessibility with some way of pushing their subscription service, and relying on the belief that those who value their services won't try to bypass their obviously easy to jump over gate.
But, for those with the coding know how to do a paywall, they could have not had it be bypassable while at the same time made it just as easy for people to use their site, and adding zero difficulty at all to making the site. In fact, some ways are easier to make, and the end user would be unable to tell the difference without looking at the source and trying to figure out how it was made.

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But honest people will, in fact, use the right lane.
But what if you were in the other lanes to begin with? If you were someone who had javascript turned off by default, for security purposes, you'd never knew there was a paywall. Are they dishonest? Many people access news sites while at work, and I know of many companies that have javascript disabled, to cut down on security risks. It isn't an uncommon thing, and their dev team should have taken it into account.
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Old 03-23-2011, 07:44 PM   #35
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The problem with the NY Times isn't that they want a paywall. Any site can do that; it's easy. It's that they want a paywall AND they want the same kind of constant publicity that goes with being a free news source online. They want people to link to their site, to drive new eyeballs to their adverts, to quote NY Times articles to each other to encourage more readers.

And they want to be paid per reader. Or per reader who reads over a certain amount.

They strike me as wanting to put up a toll lane for people turning left on a busy intersection, and then being surprised when people go a few blocks farther and double back instead of paying it.
I wouldn't think it would be that hard to keep track of how many times someone's read an article on your site, and to throw up a serious barrier on the x+1 time they try it. But the problem they have is that there are far too many alternate places to get information. The harder they try to nail people down, the more attractive they make those alternate sources look.
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Old 03-23-2011, 07:50 PM   #36
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But what if you were in the other lanes to begin with? If you were someone who had javascript turned off by default, for security purposes, you'd never knew there was a paywall. Are they dishonest? Many people access news sites while at work, and I know of many companies that have javascript disabled, to cut down on security risks. It isn't an uncommon thing, and their dev team should have taken it into account.
Yes, more hypotheticals, I get it, I get it. Do you really think the NYTimes gives a shit about people who have javascript turned off and thus "miss" the warning? We can make up stories about this all night to defend certain behaviors-let's not. I get it.

As I noted before, it is obvious to *me*..in *my* opinion, that the NY Times coders in fact did understand the limitations and workarounds, and proceeded with what they thought was the best balance they could find, given the realities of the web. And some people will drive around the barriers, intentionally or not. And some will actually pay the toll, not knowing how to go around the barriers. And some people will pay, because they understand the whole subscription idea, and find value in it. Even if they don't see the barriers at all.

(FWIW, I think the cost barrier is too high, at least for an iPad user who doesn't currently subscribe to the paper edition. But I'm not turning off Javascript. )
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Old 03-23-2011, 08:17 PM   #37
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I wouldn't think it would be that hard to keep track of how many times someone's read an article on your site, and to throw up a serious barrier on the x+1 time they try it. But the problem they have is that there are far too many alternate places to get information. The harder they try to nail people down, the more attractive they make those alternate sources look.
They'll no doubt use cookies to track how many articles a person's read at their site. Which won't work on the security-conscious people who clear their cookies every time their browser closes. Unless they use invasive flash cookies or something like that.

And yeah... the problem isn't "we can't afford to provide this info for free;" it's "we want them to buy it from us instead of getting similar info for free somewhere else." They have to somehow keep showing that their info is better, or people will forget about them, while simultaneously preventing people from getting it for free.

I did see a nice article that said the point of the paywall wouldn't be to keep out everyone, but to keep out the casual, non-geeky majority; a certain amount of leakage was probably wanted. Just probably not the amount of leakage that goes with "turn off javascript to see everything for free."
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Old 03-23-2011, 08:24 PM   #38
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They'll no doubt use cookies to track how many articles a person's read at their site. Which won't work on the security-conscious people who clear their cookies every time their browser closes. Unless they use invasive flash cookies or something like that.
They don't even have to keep track of it on the client side, though. Once a person logs in, they can keep track of it on the server side, can't they? The easiest thing for them to do would be require a login for access, and just keep track of things that way.
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Old 03-23-2011, 08:28 PM   #39
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They don't even have to keep track of it on the client side, though. Once a person logs in, they can keep track of it on the server side, can't they? The easiest thing for them to do would be require a login for access, and just keep track of things that way.
Most places have you log in, then they have a cookie to keep track of you after you're logged in, kind of like a name tag.
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Old 03-23-2011, 08:32 PM   #40
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Most places have you log in, then they have a cookie to keep track of you after you're logged in, kind of like a name tag.
I thought the cookie was to remember you after you came back. Once you've logged in, don't they have the IP address as an identifier?
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Old 03-23-2011, 09:02 PM   #41
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I've said it before, but the NY Times is not so interested in keeping people out as they are in collecting first from those who are interested in paying.

The wall will become tighter and less porous as time goes on if they need it to.
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Old 03-23-2011, 09:32 PM   #42
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I thought the cookie was to remember you after you came back. Once you've logged in, don't they have the IP address as an identifier?
I'm sure a lot of us access with different IPs throughout the day (work and home, for example...)
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Old 03-23-2011, 09:58 PM   #43
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I'm certainly willing to try it out ... I love the New York Times and might consider subscribing given access to the paper via Kindle / Kobo / archives ... on a phone is nice ... but that's such small potatoes
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Old 03-23-2011, 10:53 PM   #44
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They don't even have to keep track of it on the client side, though. Once a person logs in, they can keep track of it on the server side, can't they? The easiest thing for them to do would be require a login for access, and just keep track of things that way.
Requiring a login for the free articles would cut down traffic more than they want. Most people, if they follow a link and it says "create an account & login to read the rest," won't bother. NYTimes plans on letting people read 20 articles/month for free--or as many as they care to, if they come from Twitter referrals.

Free login limits would be easy to get around by having multiple logins.

NYT is trying to figure out how to maintain their current popularity/activity level and charge for access. It's a nice thought, and I'm sympathetic to the need to figure out how to make more money than ad clicks are providing, but I don't think it's going to work--either the paywall will be too easy to get around, and they won't make money, or it'll be strict, and people will stop using their articles as reference points on blogs, and they'll lose traffic.
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Old 03-23-2011, 10:55 PM   #45
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I'm certainly willing to try it out ... I love the New York Times and might consider subscribing given access to the paper via Kindle / Kobo / archives ... on a phone is nice ... but that's such small potatoes
The web subscriptions aren't compatible with e-reader subscriptions. The Kindle version & the new web/app version are different; the web/app version has advertisements.
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