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posted by NCommander on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:00PM   Printer-friendly
from the not-expecting-pitchforks dept.
Alright, as it stands, I'm optimistic, given change of incorporation plans, that we will be incorporated within 1-2 weeks time. As such, I wanted to start laying down the ideas we had for subscriptions for the site. My biggest issue with subscriptions on most sites like Reddit is that it frankly is just not worth the money. I'd like to change that, and in line that, we're hoping to offer subscription tiers, with the following proposed list of benefits. Now obviously, some stuff is subject to change, but we are willing to add anything that can be reasonably done without undue burden. We'd like your feedback on how to add value to these packages so that they become worth your hard-earned money.

So with no further fanfare, let's get to it.
Basically, there are four tiers of subscription, as outlined below: Prices below listed in United States Dollars (USD)

Lite - special (see below)

  • Granted by staff or gold subscriber to anyone
  • Possibly also granted for high-karma
  • No ads
  • Preview of new features before public access (edge access)
  • Bypass formkeys (no limiting at all)

Bronze - $5 dollars a month

  • Subscriber badge
  • Shell account
  • Small amount of disk space
  • Image hosting (transfer limit to be determined)
  • Access to hosted services (i.e., USENET feeds)
  • Full range of various clients (i.e., alpine, tin, etc. Will install anything on request as long as the overhead is low)

Silver - $10 dollars a month

  • All benefits of bronze plus
  • Additional storage (250 MiB) (higher transfer limit but still TBD)
  • mySQL/pgSQL database (250 MiB)
  • hosted mail accounts
    • soylentnews.org, or allow hosting of custom domains
    • procmail server-side support
    • IMAP4/POP3, what else we can support reasonably
  • Hosted domains (vhosts)
  • Scripting language support
  • UUCP mail support

Gold - $20 dollars a month

  • All benefits of silver
  • Can grant Lite status to 3 number of users
  • Can host services/servers (required staff signoff beforehand)
  • Increased storage
  • Early access to articles (1 hour)

The intent here is to make becoming a subscriber worthwhile. I'm aware that you can get things like VPSes or shell accounts (i.e. SDF) for less than we are offering, but consider this as a throwin for helping support the site. Image hosting will be useful for instance for user-created content in journals (which is slated site upgrade).

This brings us to a point I don't really want to bring up (but is necessary). Obviously, we're going to need to accept payment in some method. We're already planning to accept PayPal since that support is already baked into slashcode, and most people are at least familiar with it. However, I do know our community is almost certainly going to have issues if PayPal is the only accepted merchant. As such, I'm willing to look at basically any company recommend by the community to process payments (as well as some of the larger "generic" ones like Google Wallet). With luck, we will be able to accept payment from 3-4 various payment processors so the community has their pick of who they are willing to use.

Unfortunately, at this time, we are not accepting cryptocurrencies such as BitCoin. This isn't because of technical reasons; we could likely hook into Coinbase or other services relatively easy. The problem is BitCoin, as defined by the IRS, is not currency; it is considered property and investments, and thus is subject to capital gains taxes. It is not clear if we would be liable for it, or if it would be handled via the processor. This is a question we need to forward to a CPA, but I do not expect an answer quickly, as ink on the regulations is still wet. We hope to be able to accept cryptocurrencies in the near future, although we may have to charge a premium to offset any additional tax burdens this places on us. We will be investigating as one of our first priorities when dealing with setting up the finances side of SoylentNews.

Related Stories

Back To The Drawing Board: Rethinking Subscription + Explaing Expenses 110 comments
First off, before we get into this, I do want to apologize for a delayed response. I had to sit, and think long and hard about the on subscriptions feedback before responding. The largest points I got out of this is that too broad, too complex, and too expensive. There was some choice comments that I'm going to highlight below and address below. It quickly became apparent it was to the point I need to scrap it and go back to the drawing board. So let's try this again:
SN Subscription - $20 USD per year
  • Subscriber Badge
  • Early Access To Features (i.e. Improved Threading, to help work bugs out before roll out to the general community)
  • Exemption from ads if we ever run any
  • Full comment histories/access to database-intensive operations
  • No rate limiting/spam filtering

Subscription can either be bought, or gifted to anyone. From the feedback we got, $20 USD per year (approximately $1.66 USD per month) would roughly be the right "sweet spot" for people.

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  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Buck Feta on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:03PM

    by Buck Feta (958) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:03PM (#56371) Journal

    I'd rather you use ads than stratify the community. How about posting the budget for the site, so we know what kind of number we need to make every month.

    --
    - fractious political commentary goes here -
    • (Score: 2) by VLM on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:15PM

      by VLM (445) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:15PM (#56382)

      Nobody likes the idea I've been pushing for awhile of no ads for the public, but if you like SN you'll tolerate optional ads as a "subscriber" or an account option. Thats too bad. Then you'd make money off people by advertising to a willing populace but not scare away people who don't want ads under any circumstances.

      • (Score: 2, Insightful) by strattitarius on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:29PM

        by strattitarius (3191) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:29PM (#56396) Journal

        A very interesting idea... almost a subscription in reverse. Give the browsing user a taste for free...

        I think it would work for the first 5000 or so of us that signed up early.... but I doubt people will opt-in for ads unless they are really, really sick of /.

        --
        Slashdot Beta Sucks. Soylent Alpha Rules. News at 11.
        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by VLM on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:50PM

          by VLM (445) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:50PM (#56420)

          Give anyone a taste for free, completely opt in. If you want SN to get money you can paypal them some money or optionally click a checkbox in your account to see some google adwords related to the articles. If you don't care / hate ads / don't pay attention then by default you don't get spammed. Either way they get some money.

          Does not seem to be much of a downside other than some page design weirdness, toss up one version of the homepage for most and another for voluntary ad viewers.

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by RaffArundel on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:43PM

        by RaffArundel (3108) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:43PM (#56416) Homepage

        I don't mind ads on a site I want to support - the problem is trust. Are there any good ad networks that actually vet their advertisers for quality (and a lack of attempted hijacking)? I don't think I would pay for the privilege of being sold to though, if I am reading that correctly. If you could get the ad network to cough up more money per impression because the audience is "willing" I guess I could see that - but I have never heard of that in the industry.

        Unfortunately, none of the bennies really grab me. If I were going to support the site, it probably won't be for any of those extra features. For me personally, SN does pretty much everything I want it to do, so I can't think of anything specific. I get most of those from other sources. All I can through out (and I'm not even sure if I like it) is moderator or voting rights for certain levels.

        • (Score: 2) by frojack on Tuesday June 17 2014, @05:21PM

          by frojack (1554) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @05:21PM (#56537) Journal

          Is there any way to make money by just having ads present, or does it require click-thru's to earn revenue?

          Basically, I don't think anybody pays for "impressions" any more.

          --
          No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
    • (Score: 5, Interesting) by LoRdTAW on Tuesday June 17 2014, @03:07PM

      by LoRdTAW (3755) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @03:07PM (#56436) Journal

      I second this. /. ads never bothered me. I even have the checkbox that allows me to disable ads, but I never enabled it.

      If we have a banner at the top and a few ads along the right side of the front page then so be it. But if they track me then forget about it. But then again which ads don't track you? And absolutely no ads along either side of the comment section! And god help you if you out ads within the comments.

      But, after installing privacy badger I no longer see ads (as they track you). If the ads didn't track me then I have no problem with them. So even if Soylent went with ads, most of us would probably not see them as I assume most of us block them. Dont get me wrong, I switched to privacy badger as it strikes a balance that needs to be established: blocking tracking ads while allowing non tracking ads to display. Its fair to both users and site operators. If soylent found a trustworthy ad company that did not track or is capable of serving malware, then I would prefer this.

      As for subscriptions:
      The perks don't interest me and I suspect they wouldn't interest many others as well. I have my own home Linux machine I can access any time I want (I can also WOL my windowz desktop and RDP into it through an ssh tunnel), and I bet there are others too. Tiering is not a very good idea and as others have mentioned, it is both insulting and creates an elite class of users.

      You want my opinion? Ads for non subscribers and a single flat fee subscription with no perks other than a subscriber badge to show that you are a proud sponsor (maybe some swag?). And perhaps you could add another support option, think PBS one time donations with swag. A $10 donation gets you a donator badge next to your name for x months or years. A $20 donation will gets you a little Soylent trinket via mail and the badge. People who donate more can get tee shirts, mugs, mousepads tote bags and umbrellas (okay that is PBS cheesy but you get the point) etc. and perhaps a permanent donor badge. Swag baby, swag!

      • (Score: 2) by LoRdTAW on Tuesday June 17 2014, @03:10PM

        by LoRdTAW (3755) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @03:10PM (#56437) Journal

        If soylent found a trustworthy ad company that did not track or is capable of serving malware, then I would prefer this.

        Oops! Sounds like I want malware. I don't. It should have read: "If soylent found a trustworthy ad company that did not track and is not capable of serving malware, then I would prefer this."

        • (Score: 1) by hendrikboom on Tuesday June 17 2014, @03:32PM

          by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday June 17 2014, @03:32PM (#56451) Homepage Journal

          Yeah. The distributive law works well with addition and multiplication, but its use in natural language is difficult, and fraught with ambiguity. If natural language would only group using some kind of parentheses!

          • (Score: 1) by strattitarius on Tuesday June 17 2014, @04:17PM

            by strattitarius (3191) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @04:17PM (#56493) Journal

            (I agree your could use parentheses) or (you could use another similar markup character such as (brackets) or (braces) or (pipes) or (multi-character markups such as ((asterisks and slashes) or (two dashes))).

            Nah, I think we should just leave it ambiguous.

            --
            Slashdot Beta Sucks. Soylent Alpha Rules. News at 11.
      • (Score: 2) by Tork on Tuesday June 17 2014, @04:58PM

        by Tork (3914) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday June 17 2014, @04:58PM (#56524)
        Slashdot watches its post count and runs stories accordingly. That's why there's a ton of stories about Apple or Android so you can then talk about Apple. I don't mind ads either, but if you try to fine tune the stories to the ad-count then be prepared to sell your project to lobsterbanana.com and let it fade into commercial obscurity.
        --
        🏳️‍🌈 Proud Ally 🏳️‍🌈
      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Bill Dimm on Tuesday June 17 2014, @09:28PM

        by Bill Dimm (940) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @09:28PM (#56653)

        I second this. /. ads never bothered me.

        Slashdot ads never bothered me until the auto-playing video ads started.

    • (Score: 2) by khchung on Tuesday June 17 2014, @03:42PM

      by khchung (457) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @03:42PM (#56459)

      I second the use of ads. As long as it is not pop-up/pop-over nor auto-playing video (like the green site), then it is fine with me.

    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by islisis on Tuesday June 17 2014, @03:45PM

      by islisis (2901) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @03:45PM (#56463) Homepage

      I would like to believe SN has an opportunity to demonstrate an workable alternative to the slave-driving mechanism of advertising. This would allow us to pay respect to the usefulness of open, peer moderated information, as well as the humanity of the community in general.

      If their is a disparate way contributions are being made to SN that will only show how a little affirmative action can go a long way in guiding the growth of a community.

      No to ads.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 17 2014, @04:33PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 17 2014, @04:33PM (#56504)

      I agree. Don't segregate your community by excluding folks. Just run ads.

    • (Score: 2) by kbahey on Tuesday June 17 2014, @04:38PM

      by kbahey (1147) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @04:38PM (#56508) Homepage

      Agree. Run ads that are not Flash, and see where this gets you first before going on grand plans for subscription with that small a readership.

      • (Score: 1) by koreanbabykilla on Tuesday June 17 2014, @04:53PM

        by koreanbabykilla (968) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @04:53PM (#56519)

        I also never turned the ads off on the old site until they started attempting to install malware. As long as they arent pop up/over or play video or sound Im cool with ads on sites I use as much as soylentnews.

    • (Score: 1) by pyg on Wednesday June 18 2014, @10:00PM

      by pyg (4381) on Wednesday June 18 2014, @10:00PM (#57157)

      To add my voice to the masses yeah, WTF, money has weight here? If so watch me clearly distance myself.

  • (Score: 2, Informative) by AndyTheAbsurd on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:09PM

    by AndyTheAbsurd (3958) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:09PM (#56378) Journal

    The company that I work for is using Ripple [ripple.com] and SnapSwap [snapswap.us] to convert various cryptocurrencies into USD. You might want to look into it, or at least mention it to your CPA - hopefully the exposure to capital gains taxes will be a lot less if you're transferring any incoming cryptocurrencies into USD either immediately or once daily.

    --
    Please note my username before responding. You may have been trolled.
    • (Score: 2) by NCommander on Tuesday June 17 2014, @07:22PM

      by NCommander (2) Subscriber Badge <michael@casadevall.pro> on Tuesday June 17 2014, @07:22PM (#56600) Homepage Journal

      I have, it was one of several options I knew for "cashing out" bitcoins and such. The problem is figuring out when capital gains taxes attach. It can be argued that the site gains ownership of the coins the moment they're traded for subscribership, and thus we're liable for the capital gains taxes. Its also possible the exchange instead is liable. As soon as we have a reasonable understanding w/ the CPA (appointment is scheduled for next week), I'll be able to put more information up about it.

      --
      Still always moving
  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Ethanol-fueled on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:10PM

    by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:10PM (#56379) Homepage

    Would any of those tiers include access to a user's entire comment history rather than the last 24 comments, like on The Other Site?

    • (Score: 2) by Open4D on Tuesday June 17 2014, @03:33PM

      by Open4D (371) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @03:33PM (#56452) Journal

      Yes, I've also suggested this before. I'd mainly use it to look at my own previous comments. But it might as well be available for looking at other users' comment histories too. (Maybe for higher level subscribers.)

      As a bonus, how about quick exporting of multiple comments? (My own comments, at least). Perhaps each comment's plain text source gets put in a file and they can be downloaded en masse as a tar.gz or something? (Again, maybe for higher level subscribers.)

    • (Score: 1) by islisis on Tuesday June 17 2014, @04:16PM

      by islisis (2901) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @04:16PM (#56491) Homepage

      wow, just when the beta broke there was no such limitation. what was the justification for this?

      • (Score: 2) by NCommander on Tuesday June 17 2014, @07:14PM

        by NCommander (2) Subscriber Badge <michael@casadevall.pro> on Tuesday June 17 2014, @07:14PM (#56594) Homepage Journal

        Theorically, the limitation was always there; its listed as a perk on the subscriber on the other site. Beta "fixed" the site to be in line with what it is.

        --
        Still always moving
    • (Score: 2) by NCommander on Tuesday June 17 2014, @07:20PM

      by NCommander (2) Subscriber Badge <michael@casadevall.pro> on Tuesday June 17 2014, @07:20PM (#56598) Homepage Journal

      This was actually enabled here (or was supposed to anyway), it looks like it got disabled by accident. I do understand the rationale on why this exists; its a massive hit to the database to pull up all the comments for a user. Stories in comments (w/i the last 24-ish hours) are stored in memcache, which means they don't cause the backend to thrash dealing with it (when slash is fully running and the cache is fully populated, the DB usage is very low).

      --
      Still always moving
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by VLM on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:11PM

    by VLM (445) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:11PM (#56380)

    Not too happy with Plato's precious metals.

    How about superhero villain names, or microcontroller / microcomputer / minicomputer / mainframe, or internet memes... I want the "goatse" "tubgirl" and "2G1C" levels. Well maybe not that last idea. Maybe.

    • (Score: 2) by LaminatorX on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:27PM

      by LaminatorX (14) <reversethis-{moc ... ta} {xrotanimal}> on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:27PM (#56392)

      How about Scratch-Python-C-ASM

      • (Score: 2) by Ken_g6 on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:49PM

        by Ken_g6 (3706) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:49PM (#56419)

        Only if we can use those on our shell accounts. Preferably with CGI.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Aiwendil on Tuesday June 17 2014, @03:33PM

      by Aiwendil (531) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @03:33PM (#56453) Journal

      I agree with that naming it after metals is silly and about as bad as using a scale F-A to indicate something (What do you do to go beyond A? Adds plus-signs ad nauseam?).

      I suggest we do this somewhat nerdy and call "no account" for "mono" or similar and then call each "upgrade" kilo, mega, giga, tera (and so on), it will also allow for using milli, micro, nano (and so on) for "downgraded" accounts.

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by skullz on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:16PM

    by skullz (2532) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:16PM (#56383)

    Oh, interesting. Would this come with an Apache or something and ability to throw a CGI script (or other server side script) up? Basically you have a DBMS, a way to run a script, but how would you allow data in and out of the system?

    And would I have the ability to disable the "I shelled out a small amount of money and I'm going to guilt you into paying too! LOVE ME!" subscriber badge?

  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by zizban on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:20PM

    by zizban (3765) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:20PM (#56385)

    So the Silver comes with a @soylnetnews.org email account?

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Horse With Stripes on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:21PM

    by Horse With Stripes (577) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:21PM (#56386)

    But I don't want any badges or email or other stuff. Can't I just make a donation?

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Vanderhoth on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:31PM

      by Vanderhoth (61) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:31PM (#56399)

      I agree with this, I'd much rather just setup paypal to make a monthly $15 contribution, I don't need any perks. I'm a little offended at the prospect of someone paying $20 getting priority access to stories. Basically you're saying their comments are more relevant than anyone else because they pay, which is wrong, and you'll end up with all the asshats, of which there are few, paying so they can get their bigoted/racists/sexist/political non-sense at the top of every comment section. If I start seeing that, I'm out of her.

      I'm willing to contribute, but not to read the same tired crap from the same people before I actually get to the meat of the comments.

      --
      "Now we know", "And knowing is half the battle". -G.I. Joooooe
      • (Score: 1) by Horse With Stripes on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:39PM

        by Horse With Stripes (577) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:39PM (#56409)

        and you'll end up with all the asshats, of which there are few, paying so they can get their bigoted/racists/sexist/political non-sense at the top of every comment section.

        Whew. I'm one of the funny asshats trying to get my non-sense at the top of every comment section. Looks like membership does have its privileges. ;-)

      • (Score: 2) by lhsi on Tuesday June 17 2014, @03:12PM

        by lhsi (711) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @03:12PM (#56439) Journal

        What about if any comments made on early story access start out at 0 (no user bonus, no karma bonus)?

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 17 2014, @03:14PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 17 2014, @03:14PM (#56441)

          I wouldn't pay $20 to post my comments first just so they could be easily ignored.

        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Vanderhoth on Tuesday June 17 2014, @03:23PM

          by Vanderhoth (61) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @03:23PM (#56448)

          I'm not sure what the point would be. I surf at -1, especially when I have mod points, because there are a lot of good comments that get modded down and a lot of crap that gets modded up. So I'm still stuck reading through comments from "people with money" before I get to comments from people that just want to support the site and be part of a conversation.

          Just wait until the MS shills get wind they can pay $20 and get their drivel posted at the top of every comment section. Shills being people who are paid to say they like MS products, not people who actually just like MS products. It would be a taxable business expense to shills.

          --
          "Now we know", "And knowing is half the battle". -G.I. Joooooe
          • (Score: 3, Funny) by captain normal on Tuesday June 17 2014, @04:58PM

            by captain normal (2205) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @04:58PM (#56525)

            Agree, this is an astroturfer's dream.

            --
            When life isn't going right, go left.
      • (Score: 1) by Ethanol-fueled on Tuesday June 17 2014, @04:02PM

        by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @04:02PM (#56480) Homepage

        " because they pay, which is wrong, and you'll end up with all the asshats, of which there are few, paying so they can get their bigoted/racists/sexist/political non-sense at the top of every comment section. If I start seeing that, I'm out of here. "

        As a White liberal living an upper-middle class lifestyle in a Silicon Valley gated suburb, I agree with you wholeheartedly.

        One time I had to cover my kid's eyes because he accidentally saw an illegal Speedy Gonzalez cartoon -- on a children's TV network! I promptly wrote a letter to my congressmen and contacted the Southern Poverty Law Center for guidance, but the damage was done -- my kid won't stop calling our family cat Snowball "Gringo pussycat". Please forgive the heinous G-word slur, but I felt that you all had to feel its impact to truly understand.

        I'm actually posting this comment with my iPhone as I'm driving my kid though heavy traffic in my Mercedes, on the way to his corrective electro-convulsive therapy and cultural reeducation classes. Hillary 2016!

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by NCommander on Tuesday June 17 2014, @07:25PM

        by NCommander (2) Subscriber Badge <michael@casadevall.pro> on Tuesday June 17 2014, @07:25PM (#56605) Homepage Journal

        The "early access" was actually a perk that is already implemented in the code (Slashdot has that with the Mysterious Future, and I retained it on the draft ideas). The rationale is that you could access sites before they got /.-ed, but we (to my knowledge) haven't killed a site yet, and the slashdot effect isn't what it once what. In hindsight, perhaps dropping this is best; subscribership is to grant perks, not create two classes of users.

        --
        Still always moving
        • (Score: 1) by justthinkit on Wednesday June 18 2014, @01:36PM

          by justthinkit (2427) <floyd@just-think-it.com> on Wednesday June 18 2014, @01:36PM (#56925) Homepage

          I think it is obvious that "early access" is a good perk for those who subscribe. Harmless, and with a perceived benefit.

          I personally like the idea of subscribers being able to load an entire comment thread on a single page. Limit it to 500 comments if you have to. I just can't stand how /. breaks when comments on a thread exceed 100.

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by VLM on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:24PM

    by VLM (445) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:24PM (#56391)

    For the hosted email I suggest you make it a related but different domain name or you'll have people Fing around "hey I'm the owner of SN, see the domain name of my email addrs?" and such. Also I'd suggest skip the local storage (how many email accounts do I have?) and just forward. This might actually be kinda convenient.

    For the shell accts and mysql I suspect your audience in general would not be impressed. This is not something we seem to lack. Ditto setting up a private asterisk server or other weirdness. How about a warez site or bittorrent tracker, yes what could possibly go wrong with that idea.

    I would pay money to vote or to buy influence in the American political system style. "The highest priority feature or activity I want to see SN admins work on for the next month is ..." where it could be a minecraft server or dwarf fortress shared game infrastructure or i2p site access much like the existing tor gateway or using a payment processor that accept BTC or a FPS game server or adding a new category of stories or suggest entirely new ideas. Here's $5 worth of "vote" for the i2p site portal, or whatever.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by datapharmer on Tuesday June 17 2014, @03:43PM

      by datapharmer (2702) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @03:43PM (#56460)

      I concur. web hosting is a dime a dozen and will be a huge headache for you to manage. Just use the subscriber credit as a bounty to add new features or fix bugs. I do like the early story access and ad disabling too. If you want to go super capitalist you could even allow "soyldvertisment" - give top subscribers mod points for bumping pending stories to the top of the queue (but still under editorial control for approval) and give the stories a special icon that allow users to see that they were "bought" and allow all registered users to filter them out. If everyone knows it is essentially paid placement it could actually be interesting to read... and comment on; it sure would beat a bunch of flash banner ads or the suspicious stories that would appear as user contributed on that other site.

  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by kaganar on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:27PM

    by kaganar (605) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:27PM (#56393)

    Ads don't bring in a lot of revenue per individual user, even if they visit on a daily basis and intentionally click an ad once or twice a week. So, what's the equivalent amount of money for an entire year? After you add on payment processing and other fees, how much is that for the year? Then I might pay it.

    I'm interested in participating in the Soylentnews news site -- not any of that other complicating stuff -- I'll shop around for that other stuff when I need it.

    P.S. If I buy a gold membership for one month, can I grant three of my other accounts lite memberships and then never pay again? All I wanted were no ads anyway... Twenty bucks for forever isn't a bad sounding deal!

  • (Score: 2) by moondrake on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:27PM

    by moondrake (2658) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:27PM (#56394)

    I somehow missed a discussion/notice explaining way we need subscriptions. But OK. Some lame & not so lame comments:

    My biggest issue with subscriptions on most sites like Reddit is that it frankly is just not worth the money.
    and
    I'm aware that you can get things like VPSes or shell accounts (i.e. SDF) for less than we are offering, but consider this as a throwin for helping support the site.

    So you are saying it still be not worth the money?

    No ads
    auto installs adblock? What happened to the no-adds promise? Or am I mis-remembering that?

    Shell account
    Could be useful to have a US based IP. Better would be to have a US-based address that will forward mail & packages.
    I want to know transfer limits for proxying though.

    Can grant Lite status to 3 number of users
    3? or a number?

    Subscriber badge
    In 24k Gold?

    Paypal is fine with me (as in: not that much worse or better than all the other bad options).

    • (Score: 2) by lhsi on Tuesday June 17 2014, @03:44PM

      by lhsi (711) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @03:44PM (#56461) Journal

      I think the no-ads promise was along the line of "we'd rather do other things to keep the site running, but will use them as a last resort to keep the site operational".

    • (Score: 2) by NCommander on Tuesday June 17 2014, @07:55PM

      by NCommander (2) Subscriber Badge <michael@casadevall.pro> on Tuesday June 17 2014, @07:55PM (#56629) Homepage Journal

      The "No Ads" was if we ran ads. I actually had that noted in the original text file and it got left out when I posted it. However, this plan is getting scrapped and redone; this conversation has convinced me to go back to the drawing board.

      --
      Still always moving
  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Marneus68 on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:30PM

    by Marneus68 (3572) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:30PM (#56397) Homepage

    While this is, in theory, a good idea, I don't think the site has attracted enough attention to justify all those different tiers and perks.

    I see that trying to provide services in exchange for supporting the site is a nice idea, but creating different "levels" of users doesn't seem to be a good idea to me. There's the risk of fragmenting the community and I don't think we need that right now.

    You may want to look at the way 4chan handles their "pass" system, which is a yearly fee that allows the user to bypass the capcha on the site. 4chan never wanted to accept donations and didn't want to provide unfair "advantages" that "subscribers" would have the regular users.

    As I see it, an alternative I'd love to have a system:
    - that allows for yearly donations/subscriptions
    - that doesn't disable ads (hiding ads with a regular account would be met with a little message like "Unblocking the ads are a way to support the site", having a subscription would hide that message if the ads are blocked)
    - that allows image hosting for subscribers

    Really, the "Early access to articles" perk is, in my opinion, fundamentally wrong.

    • (Score: 1) by Hell_Rok on Wednesday June 18 2014, @12:13AM

      by Hell_Rok (2527) on Wednesday June 18 2014, @12:13AM (#56700) Homepage

      I have to agree with a lot of what you said.

      I'm also really curious how they're going to stop us just looking at the submission list [soylentnews.org].

  • (Score: 1) by strattitarius on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:32PM

    by strattitarius (3191) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:32PM (#56400) Journal

    Would giving more mod points to subscribers be a good idea? I can see both sides... good because it encourages subs, but bad because that can really lead to a group think discussion.

    --
    Slashdot Beta Sucks. Soylent Alpha Rules. News at 11.
    • (Score: 2) by Blackmoore on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:42PM

      by Blackmoore (57) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:42PM (#56415) Journal

      I'm sure i haven't had enough coffee. I mis-read that as More Mod Ponies.

      • (Score: 3, Informative) by skullz on Tuesday June 17 2014, @03:22PM

        by skullz (2532) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @03:22PM (#56447)

        I would pay extra for Mod Ponies.

        • (Score: 2) by Gaaark on Tuesday June 17 2014, @04:46PM

          by Gaaark (41) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @04:46PM (#56514) Journal
          But would you be up to eating Mod Cows, mon!


          Yeah... sorry. Couldn't help myself....
          --
          --- Please remind me if I haven't been civil to you: I'm channeling MDC. ---Gaaark 2.0 ---
    • (Score: 2) by GlennC on Tuesday June 17 2014, @05:26PM

      by GlennC (3656) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @05:26PM (#56542)

      Or any mod points in my case....

      --
      Sorry folks...the world is bigger and more varied than you want it to be. Deal with it.
    • (Score: 2) by frojack on Tuesday June 17 2014, @05:35PM

      by frojack (1554) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @05:35PM (#56546) Journal

      Would giving more mod points to subscribers be a good idea? I can see both sides... good because it encourages subs, but bad because that can really lead to a group think discussion.

      You can have people discuss things or people mod-ing things, but the system is set up to not allow both. The more mod points you hand out, the less discussion you get.

      One perk useful to many would be the ability to mod in stories yo replied to, as long as:

      You can't mod your own post.
      You can't mod any reply to your own post. (Or Any post that traces upstream to your own post)
      You can't mod the post you replied to.

      But just handing out mod points in exchange for money seems bad. Id rather have more comments than more mods. I often have problems using all the mod points I get.

      --
      No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
      • (Score: 3, Informative) by Marand on Tuesday June 17 2014, @08:58PM

        by Marand (1081) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @08:58PM (#56645) Journal

        You can have people discuss things or people mod-ing things, but the system is set up to not allow both. The more mod points you hand out, the less discussion you get.

        That got changed here so that you can moderate, then post, with no additional moderation after posting.

        Ref.: https://soylentnews.org/article.pl?sid=14/04/10/0445238 [soylentnews.org]

    • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Tuesday June 17 2014, @09:58PM

      by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday June 17 2014, @09:58PM (#56669) Journal

      Would giving more mod points to subscribers be a good idea?

      Nah, mod points are too cheap to be used as a subscription perk.
      Hang on....why not implement a "mod points exchange market" and let the market decide the price of the mod points?
      I usually use only about 4-5 of my mod points, my fingers are too itchy to post some comments, I'd rather transfer the other mod points to someone that I trust to use them well.

      --
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0 https://soylentnews.org/~MichaelDavidCrawford
  • (Score: 2) by crutchy on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:32PM

    by crutchy (179) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:32PM (#56402) Homepage Journal

    starting a hosting organization throws all sorts of spanners in the works. particularly for admin staff. prolly also has its own separate set of legal, security and privacy requirements. i wouldn't go there.

    ads might be a way to go, but they can be easily blocked.

    thing like limiting access will prolly stifle community development.

    i can only suggest that instead of trying to make more money to cover expenses, can the expenses be reduced or absorbed by the community?
    we're a community of geeks, many with our own hosting infrastructure already.
    xlefay is hosting the irc server. can the burden of hosting other services be shared? this would no doubt pose its own challenges, but they may be more surmountable (and interesting) than trying to compete with the likes of /. etc directly at their own game.

    we want to distinguish ourselves from the pack, but this will require some thinking outside the box

    anyway, just some food for thought.

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by kebes on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:57PM

      by kebes (1505) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:57PM (#56427)

      starting a hosting organization throws all sorts of spanners in the works. particularly for admin staff. prolly also has its own separate set of legal, security and privacy requirements. i wouldn't go there.

      Indeed. One obvious thing that people will want to use a shell-account for is as some kind of proxy; perhaps to circumvent region-restrictions or other silly blocks, but maybe also to torrent files or whatnot. The SN staff had better decide what their policy is going to be: in terms of what they will allow, whether they will block users, how they will respond to legal challenges.

      Worse still, if you're allowing proxy-like activities on the same (or closely-related) IPs that the site runs on, you may well end up in a situation where soylentnews.org becomes blocked by various kinds of software. Corporate proxies are over-zealous in blocking anything they think is a proxy. This site will get a lot less interesting if half of the users can't access the site while at work.

  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by goodie on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:34PM

    by goodie (1877) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:34PM (#56405) Journal

    And this is my (early) personal opinion so you've been warned.

    I go on SN several times a day. I understand content from SN is generated by users. SN provides value to me. But because of time and other constraints, there is no way I will be able to justify such subscriptions. Plus like many others here, I have my local box for that stuff.

    I guess that this is all based on whether a subscriber would feel that the value provided by the various subscriber statuses is worth it for them. And don't get me wrong, I understand that it is hard for a site like SN to provide something which users would be willing to pay for. So I commend you for offering things which remind me of what it was like when I first signed up for services like mygale.org (thanks for making me feel old ;) ).

    Overall, and I am not sure whether that's still possible, I think donations could be cool for people like me.

    On a final note, I also hope that all those options won't negatively impact the site's responsiveness. In other words is that stuff going to be hosted on separate boxes? Because if you need more money for the subscriptions than to maintain the site, wouldn't that change the whole situation?

    And on a final final note, will you have EULA for uptime and ownership or code/data on your mysql accounts? I mean I am sure everybody here has good intentions but you need to be careful with those too I believe.

    • (Score: 2) by NCommander on Tuesday June 17 2014, @07:35PM

      by NCommander (2) Subscriber Badge <michael@casadevall.pro> on Tuesday June 17 2014, @07:35PM (#56611) Homepage Journal

      You bring up good points all around. The intend here was to make subscribership something somewhat more tangable; that you support the site, and here are the perks you get for it as our thank you. The EULA stuff was something I had noted to make this fly, but I'm thinking going back to the drawing board on this whole thing (this discussion has been enlighting to say the least).

      I never heard of mygale.org, so perhaps I'm just young, and yes, the intend was seperate boxes; we figured for the cost of dedicated box(s) + time to support would be offset by reveune brought in. THe production systems will always remain seperate.

      --
      Still always moving
  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by WizardFusion on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:36PM

    by WizardFusion (498) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:36PM (#56406) Journal

    I don't want/need any of that stuff, and I can block adverts anyway.
    As someone else said, tell us the monthly costs of the site and let us donate what we want.

    I am not against different levels of "bonuses" if people want them, but it's just not for me.

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Tramii on Tuesday June 17 2014, @04:17PM

      by Tramii (920) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @04:17PM (#56492)

      Yes, exactly. If you are going to try to sell something, make it worth buying. Remove ads? I can do that myself with an ad blocker. Shell account? Hosting? Anyone that wants that already has that. The only thing in there that *might* be interesting would be having a soylent.org email, but I don't know if that would be enough.

      For right now, I agree that you should just show us current expenses vs current donations and add a link for donations. If the expenses start to rise and the donations stay flat, then we can start to discuss alternatives. But selling stuff no one wants is counter productive.

      If anything, I'd rather you print up Soylent t-shirts/hats/stickers and sell those for money. At least then you give people something to buy that they might use and also get advertisement for the site as well. Maybe you could get some talented people to donate some cool designs/logos.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by kebes on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:41PM

    by kebes (1505) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:41PM (#56411)
    The proposed benefits of subscription seem weird to me. This is a news-aggregator site, but the benefits are all ancillary services (file hosting, email, etc.). Because the audience is so technical, I suspect the vast majority of us already have home servers, virtual machines, and various hosting accounts that do all of that (and with higher capability). It also looks like the SN staff will then be spending quite a lot of time managing services (databases, email systems) that are tangential to the site itself.

    As you note, offering all those services are just a "throwin" to help people justify (to themselves) spending money supporting the site. But this seems like a lot of work for the SN staff to support services that the subscribers probably won't care much about. And if people aren't putting much value on those extras, then you may as well just remove them and be honest that what you're really asking for are donations. (As a matter of psychology, if you ask for donations, people will donate if they support the site; if you claim you're offering services, then people will complain loudly about the cost/benefit of the service you're offering.)

    The only benefits that are truly related to the SN story/discussion aspects is the "early access to articles". I'm not sure this is such a great idea: the community is still small, and 'early access' will split it into two smaller camps. This may well disenfranchise people: the non-Gold members may feel like they are being left out of the discussion.

    I guess what I'm thinking is that subscription should be more about "power-user" features on the site: i.e. they should be features that you can certainly live without, but which are nice to have. And they should be focused on the use of the site (rather than ancillary services). This keeps staff effort focused on upgrading site features, and also helps increase the quality of the discussion by focusing subscriber's time in that area.

    As examples of "power-user features":
    1. Bypass annoying limitations (the silly restrictions on use of ALLCAPS, number of links, etc.).
    2. Improved search of past comments (and access to full comment history of all users).
    3. More control over presentation of discussion (e.g. ability to have linked images automatically load inline, or have links to Wikipedia automatically converted to hover-text, etc.).
    4. Features for starring/tagging stories and comments for easily finding them later.
    5. A "user sandbox" for composing submissions and comments. (I have text files on my computer where I store links and compose 'candidate text' that I think might be useful in a future discussion... but it would be nice to store them on the site itself.)
    6. "Community graph" metrics: ability to see network diagrams showing friend/foe relationships, stats about who tends to reply to your comments, etc.
    7. Similarly, API access to the SN database: it would be fun to be able to grep through all the comments for keywords, looking for patterns and correlations. The comments are all publicly-visible already, but I would bet many subscribers would get a kick out of having programmatic (read-only) access to the actual database. In this context, your proposed extras of shell access, db access, and ability to run code on SN servers would make more sense: you're offering subscribers a platform for data-mining the SN comment-data itself.

    I'm sure others can think of other (better) power-user features. My main point is that the benefits should be focused on the site; not on secondary things that have nothing to do with SN.
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Aiwendil on Tuesday June 17 2014, @03:51PM

      by Aiwendil (531) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @03:51PM (#56474) Journal

      Three more examples of power-user features that would be tempting:
      * Ability to turn off inline images in comments/articles (in case nr 3 is implemented)
      * Filter articles so that one isn't shown articles that links to podcasts and/or video.
      * Possibility to always some comments from specific users no matter their current moderation.

      But whatever the soylent staff decides to do I hope they allow for at least one payment-method that allows for anonymity.
      (But quite frankly I would prefer if they just put up a slashbox (soylentbox? box'o'lentils?) or something that shows current costs and current funding and simply allow users to donate [or do as soma.fm does])

      • (Score: 2) by urza9814 on Wednesday June 18 2014, @06:09PM

        by urza9814 (3954) on Wednesday June 18 2014, @06:09PM (#57062) Journal

        These are the best ideas I've seen yet in this discussion.

        Add one more -- IP based preferences. Allow me to set my preferences one way at work, another at home, and a third anywhere else. Particularly if we're adding things like inline loading of images -- that would be nice at home, but I probably don't want it enabled if I'm browsing from work.

    • (Score: 2) by Open4D on Tuesday June 17 2014, @04:07PM

      by Open4D (371) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @04:07PM (#56486) Journal

      Feature #7 certainly sounds interesting. (I'm not too bothered about #4 or #5 or #6.)

      (And I agree with your first four paragraphs.)

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by clone141166 on Tuesday June 17 2014, @04:08PM

      by clone141166 (59) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @04:08PM (#56487)

      Strongly agree with this.

      Offering ancillary services (especially so many diverse options as listed) seems like it would add significant work, legal and perhaps financial burdens onto SoylentNews and its staff. We're SoylentNEWS, let's focus on the news part initially and expand slowly into other things if needed/beneficial.

      I think maybe the proposed subscription model is a little bit over ambitious at the moment. Maybe just get some sort of simple donations-based system up and running first. Once you have some money flowing in from the donation model, then look at expanding by providing a simple monthly subscription with a few extra power-user benefits focused on the news site (similar to those listed by parent). If the simple subscription model works out, then look at expanding into a more diverse multi-tiered subscription system?

      Crawl, then walk, then run.

      PS. I would be happy to make a small donation to the site.

    • (Score: 1) by arulatas on Tuesday June 17 2014, @07:12PM

      by arulatas (3600) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @07:12PM (#56592)

      I think this is one of the better ideas I have seen. #7 would let you "mine" comments for the times that were made while you were at that subscription level?

      --
      ----- 10 turns around
    • (Score: 2) by NCommander on Tuesday June 17 2014, @07:49PM

      by NCommander (2) Subscriber Badge <michael@casadevall.pro> on Tuesday June 17 2014, @07:49PM (#56625) Homepage Journal

      I think you hit the nail on the head, let me address these one-by-one. On early access, I'm already convinced to scrap it. If we do it, its going to be a matter of minutes, not hours in case a site gets killed by traffic.

      1. The lameass filter is getting gutted (its already gutted on dev) to remove the ALLCAPS limitation and other headaches due to issues it causes with UTF-8. That's going to be available globaly on the next point release.

      2. Doable and full comment history is implemented for subscribers (its part of the "standard" perks). The search code needs a rewrite.

      3. Interesting, though I find hover stuff to be extremely irritating to say the least.

      4. That one seems like an easy/sane idea

      5. Journals can be used like this now, though I get the point here.

      6. Also an interesting possibility

      7. We've gotten this request before, and I'm not against it. What I don't want to see though is people data mining the community at large, so some though on this is necessary.

      --
      Still always moving
      • (Score: 2) by kebes on Wednesday June 18 2014, @01:09PM

        by kebes (1505) on Wednesday June 18 2014, @01:09PM (#56912)
        Thanks (as always) for all the effort you put into making this site great.

        It sounds like many of the features I was dreaming about are things you were planning on turning into default site features (available to all). I think this is a good thing; and in fact it makes me think of another possible funding model: feature bounties. For instance, in the bugtracker, you could have all the feature requests from the community listed, and then people could spend small amounts of money to promote the features they really care about to the top of the list. I.e.: 'subscription' is really just a way to have a say in what site-features get implemented first. The features themselves, once implemented, are available to all users.

        I think 'feature priority' is a perk that wouldn't upset anyone: you can view it as simply the usual open-source model of paying for the features you care about to be added to the code. It would also allow people to donate while feeling that their donation has a tangible effect ("I was the one that funded the tagging feature!").
  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Hairyfeet on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:45PM

    by Hairyfeet (75) <bassbeast1968NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:45PM (#56417) Journal

    Don't want it, don't need it, can get it free from a dozen places so it really provides no incentive. Its one of those things that "if you need it you already have it" so I don't see that doing much good.

    Also if you wanna go by a monthly plan that is fine but you need to have options, while there is plenty of times I'd "pay X for Y" I have enough PITA monthly bills to keeping adding more. How about a choice of simply buying what you want? Want no ads you can pay X per month or a 1 time payment of Y. And are these ads gonna follow best practices, or are they gonna be another virus haven like The Escapist? If its the former I have no problem, hell I'll probably buy from them if they offer good deals on hardware, if its the latter everybody is gonna block 'em regardless.

    As someone who works in retail the key is to make sure you have all your bases covered and have a product for every demographic. Folks don't like monthly payments? Give 'em the option for a lump sum when it comes to the ads (I know you can't do this with hosting but again I don't see that being any kind of draw for the guys that come here) and make sure you have flexibility when it comes to taking the money. If somebody wants to give you a one time payment of say $20? Have something that makes it simple to do so and gives them a little "feel good" token of gratitude, I don't care if its nothing but a keyring or a "Soylent News Is People!" sticker. And have you looked at products? Its REAL cheap to have the logo slapped on stickers,t-shirts, last I checked flash sticks are also a cheap and nerdy way to not only give folks a reason to donate but to get the brand out there. Its also easy to stack, say $10 gets a sticker, $25 a sticker and a flash stick, $40 gets you both plus a shirt, and so on and so forth. Its mainly about giving everyone an option without locking yourself into a rigid payment system that will only fit a small segment.

    --
    ACs are never seen so don't bother. Always ready to show SJWs for the racists they are.
    • (Score: 2) by cmn32480 on Tuesday June 17 2014, @03:04PM

      by cmn32480 (443) <cmn32480NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday June 17 2014, @03:04PM (#56435) Journal

      I like this idea! +1 but I have no Mod Points.

      --
      "It's a dog eat dog world, and I'm wearing Milkbone underwear" - Norm Peterson
      • (Score: 2) by Hairyfeet on Tuesday June 17 2014, @10:49PM

        by Hairyfeet (75) <bassbeast1968NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday June 17 2014, @10:49PM (#56684) Journal

        Well I learned this promoting my band, you gotta have options. Didn't want the CD? We had shirts, stickers, keyrings, and all of which had the brand to promote us.

         

        Also what about adding an incentive to donate, like a raffle? have something like "everyone who donates during X month gets a shot at" and you can have a different piece of tech gear to get folks to donate. One month a graphics card, one month a tablet, it wouldn't have to be anything expensive, just something to drum up some excitement and gets folks wanting to chip in.

        With a little bit of thought and promotion I seriously doubt that Soylent will have any trouble making sure the site is well funded.

        --
        ACs are never seen so don't bother. Always ready to show SJWs for the racists they are.
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 18 2014, @08:43AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 18 2014, @08:43AM (#56835)

          +1 raffles... need to make sure to get whatever permits required, but its a common form of revenue-raising for non-profits

  • (Score: 2) by VLM on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:46PM

    by VLM (445) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:46PM (#56418)

    How about for $10 you'll post an article of my choice clearly brightly identified as being sponsored by me and linked to my profile and comments are completely uncensored although any/all editors have full veto approval. $10 isn't high enough to push your moral/ethical boundaries (I hope) yet its high enough that "one" per day does add up to a couple grand per year, or the equivalent of thousands of subs. Would not want to see "ten" per day. "two" on a slow news day, eh maybe OK.

    So I like chemistry especially technochemistry (like FT-IR and NMR and electrochemistry rather than test tubes and "boom" stuff) and I like astrobites summaries of astronomical journal papers and I like FPGAs and I like EE stuff, and you guys as a group just don't, but for $10 you'll be seeing an article like that once. I bet you'd find FT-IR spectroscopy to be interesting if you knew about it and all the interesting computational / robotic ish intersection with physics and chemistry. Or in the comments to it you can tell me to F off, whatever.

    If someone wants to blow $10 to announce the new arduino board, well thats not too far off topic or spammy. I could see some kind of monster energy drink or mortgage refinance pure spam getting outright veto'd.

    • (Score: 2) by Ken_g6 on Tuesday June 17 2014, @03:03PM

      by Ken_g6 (3706) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @03:03PM (#56433)

      I'd suggest requiring a bit more of an investment to get a sponsored article. Not just of money, of time too.

      First, I'd suggest that a user who wants a sponsored article has to have been a registered user for at least a year. Not a subscriber for that period of time; just a user. A minimum comment count, or sum of post moderations, would be good too.

      Then, maybe make it one article for a commitment of $10/month for a year. Maybe 3 articles for $20/month for a year.

      The point is that if we do this we should make it a really high bar of entry to avoid a spammy mess.

      • (Score: 2) by VLM on Tuesday June 17 2014, @03:20PM

        by VLM (445) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @03:20PM (#56445)

        Yet going the other way I was hoping that "not much money" and any editor having veto power means no ethical / moral issues if they veto outright spam. High bar of entry might mean lots of dough might mean some difficult choices balancing finance and content.

        I am a little concerned about the veto power being too broad. Its pretty easy to define an awful sponsored article, like my example of a mortgage broker advertisement. But what if I pay $10 to promote a brand new hobbyist RF board which I have no connection to other than I'm probably going to buy a couple for ham radio purposes, think of the "hack RF" SDR project as an example. That's a real corner case if one editor would post it but another hates Fing RF/analog EEs and would veto it. Maybe ncommander would have to have sole permit/veto rights. Or one individual, anyway. I would not suggest this for articles where time is of the essence, so space probe launches and product release blitzes are probably categorically excluded.

        There might be problems defining these topics as news. You suckers are going to have to sit thru my $10 rant about how Ham Radio contesting is fun. Well, that's not really news even if its good fundraising. But if I warped my $10 rant into "The August 2014 microwave contest is in a couple weeks and BTW ham radio contesting is really fun because (insert rant here)"...

        I would agree there probably needs to be a limit. A rotation of donors? I pay $10 and unless there's a really good reason I go to the end of the pack and there's only one posted per day.

        For fun you could even post the daily sponsored at at 3pm. Exactly 3pm every day. I'd probably visit at 3:05pm every day just for the spectacle of it. Thats an interesting traffic management concept. Maybe it should be right before lunch hour. I donno.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 17 2014, @04:52PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 17 2014, @04:52PM (#56517)

          Love the idea about a certain time. I can look for past ones easy. Maybe tag them with a background color.

          • (Score: 2) by VLM on Tuesday June 17 2014, @09:52PM

            by VLM (445) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @09:52PM (#56664)

            "Maybe tag them with a background color."

            Good idea, pale green instead of white background. Color of money. Donno what the color of bitcoin is, but this will do in the meantime.

      • (Score: 1) by Tramii on Tuesday June 17 2014, @04:30PM

        by Tramii (920) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @04:30PM (#56501)

        How about they simply offer one sponsored article slot (clearly marked!) per day, and have people bid on it? That way, the site won't get overwhelmed with a bunch of posts shilling a product/service. As the demand for the sponsored post slot rises, the site makes more and more money. I could put up with one post a day being crap if it keeps everything up and running.

        • (Score: 1) by arulatas on Tuesday June 17 2014, @07:19PM

          by arulatas (3600) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @07:19PM (#56597)

          +1 mod (no points)

          --
          ----- 10 turns around
        • (Score: 2) by VLM on Tuesday June 17 2014, @09:57PM

          by VLM (445) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @09:57PM (#56668)

          Then in a drunken rage I bid $500 and think it would be hilarious to put up an ad for /. beta or the infamous goatse pix. Or Bank of America wins and we all have to look at home equity refinancing advertisements. Can't turn away $500, that would pay a lot of bills.

          No thanks.

          Thats why I like $10 hard limit because hopefully the SN team won't do "anything" for $10. Microsoft offers $10 K for the next model of the Zune, well, thats a lot of dough.

          Also lets be honest $3650 per year is the equivalent of a hell of a lot of people signing up. At this stage of the game it MIGHT be the dominant form of income? So making it even more dominant by boosting the price is just doing to tempt ethics and morals even worse.

          Try that "bid $1000" stuff when average daily revenue is $10K or more. Then turning down an unethical ad would be a no brainer.

          • (Score: 1) by Tramii on Tuesday June 17 2014, @10:22PM

            by Tramii (920) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @10:22PM (#56676)

            So instead of Evil Corp buying a single sponsored post for $1000, they will buy one hundred sponsored posts for $10 each.

            • (Score: 2) by VLM on Wednesday June 18 2014, @12:56PM

              by VLM (445) on Wednesday June 18 2014, @12:56PM (#56908)

              But we'll only have to sit thru one a day, and I'm assuming there will be other people with more deserving stories willing to pay $10 so vetoing the EvilCorp (Stock symbol MSFT) will only "cost" $10.

      • (Score: 1) by MeatBacon on Wednesday June 18 2014, @03:32PM

        by MeatBacon (4373) on Wednesday June 18 2014, @03:32PM (#56987)

        I am not a fan of the practice of advertising at all. Manipulation of people's minds and desires to make money kind of sucks.

        I wish it didn't exist.

        But it does exist, and always will, so best to do is to try to have the best quality ads we can.
        Good advertising _informs_ us of a product's availability, quality, price, features. Bad advertising attempts to manipulate us, and trick us.
        Any ad can be either, and a Soyvertisment can be a good, informative thing that is interesting and relevant, or it can be a steaming turd at the top of my browser window.

        One way we can try for good ads is to encourage them to come from inside our community. Soylent members have an interest in not having that steaming turd on their page.
        So, try to promote from within. Set it up so that someone cannot just pay 10 bucks once a day, and throw up a Soyvertisment, to perpetually stink up the page. Instead they have to commit to a subscription for a year or a half year to get their article posted once.
        That way, it encourages the sources of these Soyvertisments to be members of our community, and hopefully we'd end up with these sponsored stories actually being relevant and interesting.

        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by urza9814 on Wednesday June 18 2014, @06:45PM

          by urza9814 (3954) on Wednesday June 18 2014, @06:45PM (#57076) Journal

          I agree that we should make sure any sponsored posts come from within the community. But I don't see how forcing a year subscription would at all accomplish that. You think Microsoft can't throw $10/year on their PR department's card and forget about it? Maybe they'd even create 52 different shill accounts and start Microsoft Mondays...

          What I think we need to do is say you have to have a certain number of comments, a certain number of accepted submissions, or perhaps better yet a certain karma level before you can pay for a sponsored story. Money is not how we measure a good community member -- karma is.

          Maybe even make it paid with both cash and karma. $10 plus 10 karma gets you a sponsored post. Makes sense that spamming ads would burn karma; and also provides a limit to how many sponsored post a person can create. Even if someone manages to "game the system", that presumably just means we end up with a lot of high-quality comments!

          I also *don't* like the idea of forcing the cost up by tying it to a long-term subscription. For example, recently I was working on a free Chrome extension that would add basic crowd-sourced fact checking to articles posted on your Facebook feed (Then Facebook redesigned the UI again and broke it, and I haven't been bothered to look at it again.) I bet some people here might be interested in a project like that, and I might pay $10 to get it out there and get some quality feedback. Maybe even more contributors! But if you're saying a year and a half subscription? $180? Not worth it unless I'm selling you something. Plus I'm gonna start thinking I better not use my one chance yet, just in case I've got something better in 9 months.

          The way I see it, we want the barrier to entry to be low for people who are already community members; high for anyone else. Which we achieve by using a little cash and a little karma. Gonna cost a lot of time to build that karma if you don't frequent the site; but if you're here daily you probably already have plenty. Likewise, if the cost is too high you'll only get ads from people who think they can turn a profit from it; but at $10 we might get people advertising their own hobby projects, their favorite open source project, maybe even paying for a rejected submission that they just really want to discuss. And that's the kind of sponsored stories I'd wanna see.

    • (Score: 2) by Blackmoore on Tuesday June 17 2014, @09:30PM

      by Blackmoore (57) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @09:30PM (#56655) Journal

      Heh - I'd like to see those articles.

  • (Score: 3) by cmn32480 on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:54PM

    by cmn32480 (443) <cmn32480NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:54PM (#56425) Journal

    Once or twice a year when I have some extra $$. But I understand that the idea is to have a good idea of what your revenue stream will be.

    $5 per month, yeah I can do that too. But I don't need/want any of the extra stuff. Simply give me the ability to turn off the ads (if there ever are any) and I'm good. The $5 per month is way more than you are gonna make from the ads on me anyway.

    I am willing to help out, but I'm not a programmer, the infrastructure people know a whole lot more than I do, and one other minor detail: I don't do Linux.

    --
    "It's a dog eat dog world, and I'm wearing Milkbone underwear" - Norm Peterson
  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Open4D on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:56PM

    by Open4D (371) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:56PM (#56426) Journal

    > I'm aware that you can get things like VPSes or shell accounts for less than we are
    > offering, but consider this as a throwin for helping support the site.

    I can understand the thinking behind this.

    I was willing to pay Ubuntu a premium for their services (like remote file storage and music streaming / downloads) because I was using their free OS and I wanted to contribute back in some way.

    But I suspect the psychology behind me having that attitude was based on Canonical being a for-profit company, earning money for their shareholders. That doesn't apply to SN, so I'm willing to pay simply for it to keep itself in existence. I have no need for any artificial products/services to encourage me to do that. And frankly, I suspect these artificial products/services will not be as good as what can be obtained elsewhere. Certainly that was the case with Ubuntu's file & music services - in the end I was kind of glad when they killed them off [soylentnews.org].

     
    Apart from paying simply for SN's existence, I am also happy to pay for user benefits that do directly pertain to my usage. But I can only think of 2 at the moment. 1 = avoiding ads. 2 = comment history (see above thread).

     
    Of course, I'm just one out of thousands. So if you do see enough demand for what I've called 'artificial' services, to bring in some money, I can only be grateful for your efforts. And I certainly don't mind if the subscription level that I end up choosing happens to have some 'artificial' services associated with it. (You never know, I might even end up having a play with some of them.)

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by tynin on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:57PM

    by tynin (2013) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @02:57PM (#56428) Journal

    I know this is apples to oranges, but I can get netflix for ~$9 a month. As much value as I get from soylentnews, and it is quite a bit, doesn't come close to matching the value I get from netflix from a cost standpoint, even more so since my wife and kid use netflix as well. Overall, what you are selling as a subscription, would have been nice to have in the 90's & 00's, but these days, especially at those prices, IMO aren't worth it. Not many people, I suspect, are going to be interested in having basically a shared web hosting account on your servers. That nitch is well filled. I think to be successful, you'll need to re-eval this subscription model. I wish I had suggestions on what would make it worthwhile, I'll think on it further. But from a price standpoint, for me it is too high.

    If you share what the monthly costs are, where you are at with getting it paid, and a link to donate to help make those ends meet, I think that will work well regardless of the subscriptions.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by clone141166 on Tuesday June 17 2014, @04:23PM

      by clone141166 (59) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @04:23PM (#56497)

      Yeah, this is a good point. $5/month is actually quite a high minimum price. I personally don't think $5/month is too bad, but maybe a really low tier option that just removes adverts for 50c/month or $2/quarter or something would be nice too; better to get some money in than none at all.

      • (Score: 2) by AndyTheAbsurd on Tuesday June 17 2014, @06:09PM

        by AndyTheAbsurd (3958) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @06:09PM (#56566) Journal

        At 50 cents, literally all of the profit would be eaten by the transaction costs imposed by credit card processing costs. You really need at least $2/transaction to viably make money if your only option is to accept credit cards. Cryptocurrencies may help this at some point in the future, but they'll have to be widely accepted as currencies rather than assets in order to avoid the capital gains problems mentioned.

        --
        Please note my username before responding. You may have been trolled.
        • (Score: 2) by Adrian Harvey on Wednesday June 18 2014, @02:24AM

          by Adrian Harvey (222) on Wednesday June 18 2014, @02:24AM (#56730)

          Not if you collect them annually instead of monthly.

          I won't sign up to something that uses monthly recurring payments anyway - the consumer protection regulations that apply to credit card transactions don't apply to recurring subscriptions (your jurisdiction may vary, of course). If you try to cancel, and they continue to deliver and charge you, you have little recourse.

        • (Score: 1) by clone141166 on Wednesday June 18 2014, @03:31AM

          by clone141166 (59) on Wednesday June 18 2014, @03:31AM (#56755)

          Yeah I was thinking exactly this as I wrote 50c/month, which is why I mentioned $2/quarter as well. Probably a yearly charge would be more sensible in this case rather than a monthly charge. Variation in subscription duration options would be good in general - as Adrian Harvey pointed out a yearly payment can have other benefits over a monthly recurring charge too.

  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by VLM on Tuesday June 17 2014, @03:03PM

    by VLM (445) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @03:03PM (#56434)

    Suggestion: you're a news aggregation site so offer news aggregation services instead of generic hosting services.

    How about for $$$ as soon as I log in, I get redirected to a tier of servers that is lightning fast not heavily used and doesn't hit a cache so response to updates is instant. Everyone else gets the slower infrastructure and maybe with caching etc it takes minutes/seconds for new stuff to appear. No matter what my experience will always be a little faster even if everyone elses experience is still totally adequate. Same stuff as everyone elses mirror, just the server the load balancer always sends me to happens to always have a lower load average.

    How about an edit button? It hasn't killed HN or any other post 1996 site that has an edit button. For $5 I should get to fix simple typos.

    And no filters if I'm paying you. Joe average off the street all caps is probably GNAA or OMG PONIES but you can trust me as a paying user to responsibly use all caps acronym as a subject line if we're talking about UTF8 or NASA or whatever. Anon off the street posting more than once a minute is probably a vertical flooder or spammer, but I'm paying money and I'm not selling v!4gra.

    On that "other site" I got to use the firehose. I hesitate to say its worth paying for, but I suppose it could be considered a feature or "reward"...

    How about being able to vote for classes of stories, not too finely grained but I guess I'd rank astronomy stories over bio stories so an editor should be able to see at a glance that paying readers as a group give bio stories an average 56.3 score vs astronomy stories get an average 95.3 score. NOT asking for an echo chamber where we only hear what we want to hear, but without the data its hard to measure if its happening at all. Maybe we "ALL" want to hear dwarf fortress or minecraft news but none of us have admitted it to each other yet. I guess this would be one way to find out.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Vanderhoth on Tuesday June 17 2014, @03:41PM

      by Vanderhoth (61) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @03:41PM (#56458)

      I'd be ok with an edit button, but it would have to be very clear when someone edited a comment. Otherwise you'd end up with people that would say one thing, quote a stat that just doesn't exist or throw some FUD out there. Then when they got called on it they'd just edit the comment to make the person calling them out look like a nitwit.

      Totally agree with you on the ALL CAPS FILTER ISSUE, IT REALLY ANNOYED THE HELL OUT OF ME WHEN I TRIED TO WRITE A COMMENT THAT USED "NSA" AS THE SUBJECT. REALLY IT'S ALL CAPS IN THE ACTUAL COMMENT THAT SHOULD BE DISCOURAGED NOT THE THREE OR FOUR WORDS IN THE SUBJECT.

      --
      "Now we know", "And knowing is half the battle". -G.I. Joooooe
      • (Score: 2) by VLM on Tuesday June 17 2014, @04:04PM

        by VLM (445) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @04:04PM (#56483)

        "have to be very clear when someone edited a comment"

        Agreed. Maybe the fear in the 90s was some anon new account would post "I love linux" get modded up to +5 then edit to read "buy viagra" or whatever as a spam technique.

        How about no delete, only append, and append always shows up in dark gray on light gray background. E = M C ** 3

        (Edited to correct: Obviously I meant E = M C squared, not E = M C cubed)

        Or go split screen mode and the left side was as originally posted and right side of the box is whatever is the latest edit.

        • (Score: 2) by Vanderhoth on Tuesday June 17 2014, @04:48PM

          by Vanderhoth (61) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @04:48PM (#56515)

          I like the idea of having the original comment accessible in some way.

          --
          "Now we know", "And knowing is half the battle". -G.I. Joooooe
        • (Score: 1) by bitweeder on Tuesday June 17 2014, @04:54PM

          by bitweeder (247) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @04:54PM (#56520)

          Getting a little off-topic here, but most of the concerns I hear about allowing comment edits would be alleviated if editing a comment zero'd out any mods to the comment, perhaps leaving in place negative mods (or certain negative mods).

          • (Score: 2) by VLM on Tuesday June 17 2014, @05:57PM

            by VLM (445) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @05:57PM (#56557)

            I like your idea and suggest zeroing out neg mods because in theory the comment may have been fixed.

            An alternative is you can only edit for 5 minutes and you can't mod until its 5 minutes old. 99% of the time when I've screwed up its been pretty obvious typo or formatting that I see almost instantly.

            • (Score: 4, Interesting) by VLM on Tuesday June 17 2014, @06:01PM

              by VLM (445) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @06:01PM (#56560)

              Oh and see there you go, with editing I could have fixed this. Obviously if you zero out neg mods then trollers and spammers can never be removed as long as someone's (or some script's) willing to keep editing.

              So scrap that idea.

              I still like "you can mod after 5 minutes, and you can edit before 5 minutes" That is a stroke of genius right there.

        • (Score: 1) by Horse With Stripes on Tuesday June 17 2014, @07:05PM

          by Horse With Stripes (577) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @07:05PM (#56591)

          I'd like to subscribe to your E=mc**3D newsletter. Are the ads in it holograms?

      • (Score: 2) by Aiwendil on Tuesday June 17 2014, @05:23PM

        by Aiwendil (531) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @05:23PM (#56540) Journal

        Why not just keep a ".diff" and a track of versions upon edit? that allows one to see what has been edited.

      • (Score: 2) by NCommander on Tuesday June 17 2014, @07:41PM

        by NCommander (2) Subscriber Badge <michael@casadevall.pro> on Tuesday June 17 2014, @07:41PM (#56619) Homepage Journal

        The ALL CAPS issue is resolved on dev, its going to be in the next release since it interferes with UTF-8 (and its going away for all users, not just subscribers). Edit button might be interesting.

        --
        Still always moving
    • (Score: 1) by arulatas on Tuesday June 17 2014, @07:22PM

      by arulatas (3600) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @07:22PM (#56599)

      I like the up-votes on news types we would like to see.

      --
      ----- 10 turns around
  • (Score: 2) by bryan on Tuesday June 17 2014, @03:16PM

    by bryan (29) <bryan@pipedot.org> on Tuesday June 17 2014, @03:16PM (#56443) Homepage Journal

    Please don't put ads here! I've been holding off promoting my site too much because SoylentNews has done a pretty good job of taking over where Slashdot left off. But if this site starts plastering ads in my face, I may have to change my stance. Advertising revenue is simply not needed for a text-based website in 2014. We've had decades of Moore's Law to drive prices of hosting to insignificant levels. Unless you plan on paying for submitters or good comments, the monthly cost of a website like this is nearly zero.

    Donate button: Sure. Optional subscription: Why not. Unsolicited Ads: Hell no.

    • (Score: 2) by tynin on Tuesday June 17 2014, @03:27PM

      by tynin (2013) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @03:27PM (#56450) Journal

      Completely agreed. No ads, please.

    • (Score: 2) by Open4D on Wednesday June 18 2014, @08:28AM

      by Open4D (371) on Wednesday June 18 2014, @08:28AM (#56834) Journal

      But if this site starts plastering ads in my face, I may have to change my stance.

      Do you maintain that stance consistently? A lot of the world's websites have ads. Do you count that as a serious strike against those sites? Do you even boycott some sites that you would otherwise frequent?

      Some money has to come from somewhere. Maybe on your site (which I suspect has orders of magnitude less traffic than SN) you currently consider it to be a sufficiently small amount that you're willing to pay out of your own pocket. Personally I want SN to be viable in the long term, and that means not being dependent upon the same people who are giving their time also having to give their money.

      As long as users have some alternative way of paying (e.g. subscription), I think ads are fine in principle. (In practice, there may be several problems, such as privacy and cost-effectiveness. But that's not the point.)

  • (Score: 2) by lhsi on Tuesday June 17 2014, @03:21PM

    by lhsi (711) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @03:21PM (#56446) Journal

    With the image hosting, would hosted images be allowed as inline to comments? So images can be embedded in comments by users of a certain tier so long as they are hosted on the image hosting part of the site? I think the best way to do this would be:

    With JavaScript: Click a link to load the image inline (it is not loaded beforehand)
    JavaScript disabled: Click a link to open the image directly

    That way images don't appear randomly and a reader has to interact in order to get an image loaded. Some filtering/flagging of images might be required. Maybe only allow it if the user is of a certain tier and has a certain level of Karma.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Sir Garlon on Tuesday June 17 2014, @03:35PM

    by Sir Garlon (1264) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @03:35PM (#56454)

    Subscription sites in general seem to have an inflated idea of how much they are actually worth to me. $60 a year is pretty steep. I don't see myself ever paying that much for access to a Web site. Just to put it in perspective, that's what I pay to host my own site.

    I for one would be more inclined to subscribe if there were a "cheap bastard" option for say $2 a month.

    Also, I don't want a shell account or email or storage or any of that crap. I already have all the cloud storage I want. I love the idea that the word "privacy" has meaning to you, but I think you becoming an email and storage provider will be a major distraction from running a good news and discussion site.

    --
    [Sir Garlon] is the marvellest knight that is now living, for he destroyeth many good knights, for he goeth invisible.
  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by islisis on Tuesday June 17 2014, @03:36PM

    by islisis (2901) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @03:36PM (#56455) Homepage

    I would like to see a realtime indicator of how the current site expenses are being recovered. I personally don't care about classes, and hope they won't be so discriminatory as to promote a 'pay to post' type regime, but even without subscription benefits I think an open donation system would be the most accessible one.

    I've seen things as simple as a meter with an arrow, left meaning in the red and right meaning in the black. A fairly straightforward way to communicate to your community how their donations are appreciated.

    The open breakdown provided by crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter have also proven that people enjoy knowing how their contributions are making a difference.

    It won't be proof or provide perfectly transparent accounting, but it should represent the state of SN to an order of accuracy or so. Let the people decide for themselves where and when it is right to donate (this is important in lieu of the inconvenience/inefficiency of spreading microtransactions across multiple services today).

    • (Score: 2) by NCommander on Tuesday June 17 2014, @07:53PM

      by NCommander (2) Subscriber Badge <michael@casadevall.pro> on Tuesday June 17 2014, @07:53PM (#56628) Homepage Journal

      And we have a winner. I actually planned to post our finances open (or at least as open as legally possible), but perhaps a new "Help us run SN" sitebar will do it (which vanishes if you're subscribed).

      --
      Still always moving
      • (Score: 1) by islisis on Wednesday June 18 2014, @09:09AM

        by islisis (2901) on Wednesday June 18 2014, @09:09AM (#56843) Homepage

        Sounds very encouraging!

        The reason why I think a small realtime graphical indicator would also be effective is that it can unobtrusively remind readers of the site's status by placing it in some reoccuring section, like the bottom of the front page. Simple stats > preachy repetitive messages.

        After clicking to donate, the site could even calculate a suggested donation amount, based on minimal user statistics like access count and relative monetary contribution. I think more people would be willing to accept such an amount knowing it was an up to date, relevant yet non-manipulative figure, especially if it confirms their own intuition. It could hopefully make the process easier.

  • (Score: 1) by hendrikboom on Tuesday June 17 2014, @03:44PM

    by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday June 17 2014, @03:44PM (#56462) Homepage Journal

    I recall that Dreamwidth had a lot of trouble with Paypal because of unfounded allegations that the site encouraged child pornography.

    They eventually found another payment processor. Perhaps you should contact them to find out what they ended up using.

    -- hendrik

  • (Score: 1) by hendrikboom on Tuesday June 17 2014, @03:48PM

    by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday June 17 2014, @03:48PM (#56470) Homepage Journal

    In the years I used slashdot my karma improved to the point that I had the option of suppressing ads. I never took them up on the offer. I've often enough found the ads interesting in themselves, especially the technical ads.

    -- hendrik

  • (Score: 1) by hendrikboom on Tuesday June 17 2014, @04:03PM

    by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday June 17 2014, @04:03PM (#56481) Homepage Journal

    You could just start accepting donations. Let me know where to send the cheque. And the minimum amount so that the payment processing costs don't eat up the donation.

    Proceed with membership tiers if it turns out to be necessary. Avoid wasting developer time until then.

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by NCommander on Tuesday June 17 2014, @07:57PM

      by NCommander (2) Subscriber Badge <michael@casadevall.pro> on Tuesday June 17 2014, @07:57PM (#56630) Homepage Journal

      There are actual legal reasons why we're not accepting arbitrary donations; it would require a lot of pain. I'll describe this more in detail tomorrow. I'm writing up another post about this.

      --
      Still always moving
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by black6host on Tuesday June 17 2014, @04:07PM

    by black6host (3827) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @04:07PM (#56484) Journal

    I only subscribe to one site. And it cost $25.00 annually. Something I can afford. Don't get anything extra for it except a badge and the ability to set my "title". Ads aren't a problem for me, I just block them. I don't expect anything else and even though I live on a fixed income I can afford the $25.00. $60.00, wouldn't consider it and that is the lowest tier available other than lite which is free and therefore doesn't help pay for the site.

    Early access to stories wouldn't help me, I browse the stories when I can, comment when appropriate. That's what you really need to be successful: people to come here and participate.

    Take away all the extras, make an annual reasonable dollar amount for donation and I think life would be much easier on all.

    Well, that's my take on it, just so you have some more feedback when making the final decision. Participation. Again, that's what you ultimately want.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 17 2014, @04:31PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 17 2014, @04:31PM (#56502)

    Early access to stories??? So all ACs can go to Hell. If this site continues down the path of fucking over ACs I'll stop wasting my time here and go elsewhere, and I won't be the only one. I've submitted many stories and written tons of comments, I'm an active member, I just can't afford my govt knowing my opinions on certain things. You will divide your site (yes "yours" if I'm not allowed to partake in a conversation unless I hand over money, which is exactly what you do with some arbitrary "time out" while the grownups talk). Run ads and be done with it!

  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by kbahey on Tuesday June 17 2014, @04:35PM

    by kbahey (1147) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @04:35PM (#56506) Homepage

    While I applaud all that has been done for the site so far, I think that the team is going on tangents and wasting effort in areas that are less critical In effect they are spreading themselves too thin, and all over the place.

    The one most important thing that this site needs is MORE PARTICIPATION. That means more comments, which means more commenters first, and also means more submissions.

    When I visit here (usually 3 or so times a day), and browse at +4, there is hardly any comments at that level or above, except for a couple of comments on a couple of articles. That is vastly less than Slashdot.

    Remember that people come here (and to Slashdot) for THE HIGH QUALITY DISCUSSION, not the articles, not the bells and whistles, not IRC, not how cool the Linode cluster is, nor that it runs on IPv6, or any other cool tech behind the scenes stuff ...

    Do not outpace your community!

    If PARTICIPATION does not increase, then this site's fate will be a slow decline.

    Don't get me wrong at all! I appreciate all the effort that was put in so far. I just want to bring everyone back from the tangents to the core of the site.

    • (Score: 2) by NCommander on Thursday June 26 2014, @04:13PM

      by NCommander (2) Subscriber Badge <michael@casadevall.pro> on Thursday June 26 2014, @04:13PM (#60385) Homepage Journal

      Somehow, I missed this originally (which is ironic because the other subscription post JUST went live about 12 minutes ago). You've got a strong point, but I'm not sure the situation is as dire as it appears; while quite a few articles never get off the stop, quite a few can get 40/50/60+ comments no problem.

      --
      Still always moving
  • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 17 2014, @04:37PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 17 2014, @04:37PM (#56507)

    Now you're a web hosting provider??? I get shell, image hosting, etc...??? Just run ads and stop making this so complicated.

  • (Score: 1) by NewMexicoArt on Tuesday June 17 2014, @04:55PM

    by NewMexicoArt (1369) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @04:55PM (#56522)

    so many plans to sell out the current system. the sad thing is you really don't know if you need to change anything.

    many people have offered donations. you have always rejected them, leaving the donor a little less likely to offer help in the future.

    you don't know if donations would completely pay expenses. one way to find out.

    • (Score: 2) by mrcoolbp on Wednesday June 18 2014, @04:06AM

      by mrcoolbp (68) <mrcoolbp@soylentnews.org> on Wednesday June 18 2014, @04:06AM (#56765) Homepage

      We are holding off on taking any due to legal implications. Until we have our ducks in a row legally, we can't actually accept them. From what I understand, this is something we'd like to get set up as soon as possible.

      --
      (Score:1^½, Radical)
  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by frojack on Tuesday June 17 2014, @05:25PM

    by frojack (1554) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @05:25PM (#56541) Journal

    Unless you want a bunch of heavily armed guys walking into your hosting company and taking your servers lock-stock-and-powercord just stay away from offering storage.

    There is no shortage of free cloud providers out there and no point in competing with them.
    Its just a warrant magnet.

    --
    No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 17 2014, @05:32PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 17 2014, @05:32PM (#56544)

    I just love how on the incorporation story, it was "from the expecting-torchs-and-pitchforks dept", and most all the comments were just, "That seems reasonable."
    And then, this story is "from the not-expecting-pitchforks dept", and most all the comments are, "You're doing it wrong!!"

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by gman003 on Tuesday June 17 2014, @05:58PM

    by gman003 (4155) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @05:58PM (#56558)

    Most of those rewards, while nifty, are pretty irrelevant. Try to focus on things that make the site itself better, or at the very least aren't a distraction from what it is.

    Soylent News is news, and discussion.

    Focus on that.

    What can you do that works with that? You could give members some sort of bonus to their comments (I'd think more along the lines of "special color box" rather than "+1 bonus" - people who would most likely subscribe most likely wouldn't need the +1, and those who subscribe only for the +1 don't deserve it). Maybe make a special +6 level that you can only get to if you're a member; you'd still have to get modded that high, but being able to say "I got +6 Insightful" would be cool, definitely worth a few bucks.

    Early access to news doesn't help much. Soylent is slow to most news anyways, and it would come across more as a further delay to non-paying users rather than a bonus for members. It's not as bad an idea as everything else, though.

    Of the other bonuses, only the email even kind of interested me. I'd probably find *some* use for the rest, but it seems like a lot of work on your side for not a lot of gain.

    Also: T-shirts. Everybody needs clothes (rounding up on "everybody"). I'd buy a "Soylent News is people" t-shirt.

  • (Score: 2) by BradTheGeek on Tuesday June 17 2014, @06:03PM

    by BradTheGeek (450) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @06:03PM (#56563)

    One as stated, the services are useless to much of your target audience. We either have it or can get it cheaper/free.
    I do not think there should be any public badging of supporters however it is done, lest we introduce classism to discussions.. ie, I am GOLD so my comments/submissions/mods have more weight. In fact, even if paying members are allowed but hidden, it should be stated in writing that abusing it is cause for removal of said status.

    If anyone digs through the old wiki and IRC logs (I mean from before the site was even launched), I am in favor of the Jimmy Wales model. http://cdn.themetapicture.com/media/funny-Jimmy-Wales-face-Wikipedia-money.jpg [themetapicture.com]

    Run bi-annual, quarterly whatever fund drives. I am even in favor of some ads, if they are unobtrusive, static, and vetted with no excessive cookies/JS tracking crap. With enough pageviews, simple ad contracts can be derived directly with companies we are interested in that do not have to come through an ad serving service. Yes it is more work than adding a div and some js from an ad provider to the page, but it could work. IE, company X (say for instance backblaze) pays Y to get a static ad on the top of every article on certain subjects (say storage and security) for Z period of time.

    I want to support this community. I do not need extra services nor do I want to see the community stratified into different castes of users which the proposed system seems to do rather well. If there is a stratification, it should be based off of contributions of something other than cash (IE good submissions/moderation/years of service, etc). Cash and goods for perks make it too easy to buy your way in with bad intentions.

    • (Score: 1) by arulatas on Tuesday June 17 2014, @07:29PM

      by arulatas (3600) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @07:29PM (#56608)

      I would unblock adds for vetted adds. Seen too many people burned on drive by malware.

      --
      ----- 10 turns around
  • (Score: 2) by janrinok on Tuesday June 17 2014, @06:16PM

    by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday June 17 2014, @06:16PM (#56570) Journal

    The moment we offer a tiered payment system we are segregating the community based on wealth. Don't do it - no, please, do not do it!

    Firstly: ask for donations - no strings attached, no perks, no special banners, just let those who are able to and want to can give the site some money to help keep the site active. Can even be anonymous for those of us that don't need our names in lights - or even wish to remain anonymous. See how much we get and estimate if it is enough. If it is, then our problems are solved.

    Secondly: If we must display adds (and I doubt that they will bring in as much as is needed) then they go on a splash screen when one first logs on (say, 5 seconds? unless the page is clicked), and then are never to be seen again. I don't come here for adds - I come here to avoid the adds that everyone else wants to shove down my throat.

    If we still have to show more adds - then make them disappear for 1 month after a successful story submission has been published. Solves 2 problems with 1 stone. Note, it has to be a successful submission.

    Try the above and see how it goes. Reassess in 'x' months time. We don't need to make all the changes overnight. Let the site develop in its own way. If eventually, there is insufficient support then perhaps we misjudged our community. But I don't believe that we have. All we need to do is give them a chance.

  • (Score: 2) by elf on Tuesday June 17 2014, @06:59PM

    by elf (64) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @06:59PM (#56586)

    The site needs to make money some how, that question is not in dispute...there is no such thing as free on the web as costs are incurred for hosting etc. The options I see are

    1) Ads - Don't know the benefits of this but looks like a lot of people are against it because they block ads, and quite a few people don't think it will bring the expected money

    My personal opinion is I don't really care about ads, and if they were there I wouldn't click on them anyway

    2) Have people pay - There are probably two models here

    a) Subscription model with perks - I don't mind this but the pricing would need to be right and the perks would need to be right

    My personal opinion, like others is that the current perks are odd and don't give much back to the community. But I really like the sentiment and thinking that went in to trying to think differently. I just think the options would need to be tweaked. I would pay for a subscription if I could get better RSS services. I do a lot of reading on RSS and like to have all my information together. Having the ability to read articles in full and maybe see some well formatted comments would be great (for me!).

    I also think it would be good for subscribers to be involved in private polls to vote on new functionality, there must be a long list of things and having the power to influence would make you feel more involved in the community which this is. AC's could still subscribe and post but also be involved in community decisions.

    I think to move forward with this model you should have a post dedicated to people talking about what they would pay for, let the community decide (with in reason!).

    I also think the pricing needs to start low (very low) and gradually rise in to tiered pricing as the new functionality becomes available, naturally as the community grows the income will grow too.

    b) Donation model

    My personal opinion on this, is that this would be a good option if people could see targets that need to be hit every month, a bit like the wikipedia model

  • (Score: 2) by everdred on Tuesday June 17 2014, @07:24PM

    by everdred (110) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @07:24PM (#56602) Journal

    Here's an idea that's fully-integrated with the unique spirit and (albeit brief) history of SoylentNews, and doesn't keep core functionality away from all users: I'd like to see the site, perhaps once weekly on Fridays, change its name. And the name for that week would be chosen by the winner of a random drawing including all current paid supporters. The domain would obviously stay the same, but the HTML page title, upper-left corner logo and favicon would be created by the winner and stay up for 24 hours.

    Obviously, the content would be subject to site admin approval (to weed out blatantly offensive things or trademarks), and that week's winner would be chosen early enough in the week that the winner would have a chance to create it and get it approved, or say "no thanks."

    • (Score: 2) by everdred on Tuesday June 17 2014, @07:38PM

      by everdred (110) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @07:38PM (#56615) Journal

      I'm about as skeptical as the average commenter above re: SN going down the hosting route, but also the icky ad route as well. Additionally, the idea of offering early access to stories is unfathomable. (That said, I like the idea of Usenet feeds.)

      Yet as I've stated before, I'm fully supportive of the idea of supporting the site with donations, but only if it remains just as free for everyone to use. A service that relies on user submissions and discussion, yet doesn't allow users to contribute equally, isn't an interesting place to be.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by martyb on Tuesday June 17 2014, @09:13PM

    by martyb (76) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday June 17 2014, @09:13PM (#56651) Journal

    Background: IIRC, the Humble Bundle has an approach where you donate what you think it's worth to you.

    I suggest we try something similar. Have annual (or whatever) donation periods. Just for jollies (and a little rivalry), we could break down donations by OS: Microsoft, Apple, Google, and the *nixes (Unix, Linux, *BSD, etc.) Unlike Public Radio/TV fundraisers, though, once you've donated, we could provide access to a check-box that would suppress the donation invitation.

    Separately, I like swag (especially coffee mugs). Make it limited edition by including the year or something in/on it. Maybe combine the two ideas? Pick your choice of swag and offer whatever donation you think it's worth.

    Even better, offer a swag item that is unique to SN: a DVD or USB-stick which would boot up with a copy of the site as it now stands. For an extra 20%, it could even be autographed by the NCommander, himself. Soon to be a collector's item!

    NOTE: Some jurisdictions may require a [written?] acknowledgement of a donation over some $USD amount.

    --
    Wit is intellect, dancing.
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Phoenix666 on Wednesday June 18 2014, @01:36AM

      by Phoenix666 (552) on Wednesday June 18 2014, @01:36AM (#56716) Journal

      I echo this. Back in the day, before Slashdot went wrong (when exactly that was is a matter of opinion) I bought /. swag. I loved the community and was proud to be part of it. I was proud to wear a /. t-shirt. I even went to /. meetups here in NYC.

      I would buy Soylent swag. I would be especially keen to have something with my userid and user # on it. Back in the day I lost my original Slashdot 4-digit userid and was annoyed by that for about a decade. Now I have a 3-digit ID and want to flaunt it. Maybe a t-shirt with a Soylent logo, userid/user #, something about my excellent karma, and a QR code to take people to my personal Soylent journal.

      A Soylent Pipboy that lets me put a call out to the community when I have a specific question or need (eg., "I have a project that's under close deadline and need a postgres guy NOW!" or what-have-you) would be amazing, too. But I guess a mobile app for Android that does the same thing would be OK too :-). Put that on the store for $10 with a small monthly fee would be a steady revenue stream.

      And for what it's worth, I never did mind ads on Slashdot, because they were almost always tech-related. Even if they weren't what I was specifically interested in that moment, I was never irritated by their total irrelevancy the way I am (or was, since I gave up cable about 7 years ago) by car or pharmaceutical commercials on TV. I even did click on some. I can't say I ever did that on any other site, ever. So, make the ads tech-related and I won't mind a bit.

      --
      Washington DC delenda est.
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Lemming on Tuesday June 17 2014, @10:21PM

    by Lemming (1053) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @10:21PM (#56675)

    I, like most people I think, don't want a shell account, disk space, or anything like that. These services, which are not your core business at all, will also cost you time and resources to maintain, and might have legal implications (e.g. users hosting illegal files). I also think $60 a year is a bit steep for a subscription to a website like this.

    But I will gladly pay $1 or maybe $2 a month to support this site. I really don't want anything in return. No ads would be nice, maybe a badge on my user page, but those wouldn't be the main reason for me to subscribe. I also think you can attract much more people with a cheaper option.

    And I would love to pay with Bitcoin. Bitpay [bitpay.com] and Coinbase [coinbase.com] offer services where they act as just another payment processor. You have the possibility to just receive dollars and never have to touch BTC if you don't want to.

  • (Score: 1) by Balderdash on Wednesday June 18 2014, @03:29AM

    by Balderdash (693) on Wednesday June 18 2014, @03:29AM (#56753)

    I never, ever click ads. And I ALWAYS run AdBlock.

    So how about $1 per year as a bottom-tier subscription, and you just put a little ghey-looking star by my nickname and we call it good?

    --
    I browse at -1. Free and open discourse requires consideration and review of all attempts at participation.
  • (Score: 2) by elf on Wednesday June 18 2014, @12:48PM

    by elf (64) on Wednesday June 18 2014, @12:48PM (#56904)

    Maybe gold members get access to the results of the new name poll ;)

  • (Score: 2) by prospectacle on Monday June 23 2014, @03:49AM

    by prospectacle (3422) on Monday June 23 2014, @03:49AM (#58872) Journal

    Who better to offer custom-slash-instance hosting?

    While all users get a journal, paid users could get a virtualised slash instance, to run their own complete forum (a "super journal")

    Bottom tier could have your own slash forum at username.soylentnews.com. A control panel could offer various simple customisations, such as colours, fonts, sidebar links, logos, etc.

    More advanced (expensive) tiers could have more customisation options (use your own domain, control karma and mod-point settings, etc)

    The most expensive tier would give the user a complete virtual machine with a full slash install, the ability to modify the slash source code (as well as use the simpler control-panel configurations), maybe a domain name is thrown in (chosen by the user, but organised and maintained by SN) or you can bring your own. Plus your own email/irc/wiki servers.

    Your "subscriber site" or whatever you would call it, could be linked to next to your name or sig, when posting to SN proper.

    --
    If a plan isn't flexible it isn't realistic