Stories
Slash Boxes
Comments

SoylentNews is people

posted by NCommander on Thursday June 26 2014, @04:00PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the my-ears-are-still-ringing dept.
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.

Compared to the Other Site, the primary difference in subscriptions between us and them, is ours are time-based vs. usage based, and we're not offering early access to stories, or the +1 subscription pseudo-moderation. I thought fairly hard about this, and given the community feedback, simply because you do (or don't) pay for subscription does not make you a better or worse user. I also saw many people concerned that we were going to implement a "pay to post"-like system. Let me lay this down; we are NOT going to do this; this site exists for the community, and the principles I laid out in the manifesto clearly state "We will be the best site for independent, not-for-profit journalism on the internet, where ideas can be presented and free discussion can take place without external needs overshadowing the community." To require a user to go through a paywall, or have to financially contribute to this site to be an active proponent would fly in the face of that.

Why We Want Money

On a basic level, any website needs some form of income to run, if only to pay for hosting/domain fees. At the moment, we pay approximately $300 USD per month (~$3600 per year) for 10 servers, 6 which are used in the operation of the main page and secondary services like the wiki and email, with the other four being used for either staff needs, backup, or other miscellaneous services. We could, if necessary, consolidate services down to fewer nodes, with the cost of creating more single-points of failure within our infrastructure, but for right now, we have a fair bit of excess capability. If two-hundred people buy subscriptions, that would give us enough revenue to cover the hosting costs, with a bit left over in case of emergency. I'm fairly confident given the feedback I've seen from the community that subscriptions would be sufficient to cover our basic operating expenses. However, it would not be enough to forge ahead with my master plan for SN.

It has been no secret that I've wanted to build SN into something more that just a news aggregator, and engage in independent journalism; in my perfect world, I'd love to have SoylentNews have a few full-time paid staff for site development and management, and some full time/part time authors who research topics, and post articles here based on findings; for example, creating a continuation of Groklaw by hiring a paralegal to research, and summarize various tech-related court cases. Or alternatively, have the ability to pay a staff member to travel to various conferences like linux.com.au and provide real-time reporting of the event. In my perfect world, any user could come to us with a proposal for an article, write it up, have it reviewed by the editorial team, and get some contribution for their efforts; the main page would slowly migrate from pure aggregation to a mixture of original content, and aggregated content, with the ability to filter either out.

I realize we are a long way from that point, even at my most optimistic predictions, I only expected to be able to hire, at best, one person full time in the near future. I also have come to the realization that while I believe subscriptions could cover the "core expenses" of SN such as hosting, by itself, would be insufficient to reach the goals I want to see SN reach.

Why We Haven't Discussed Pure Donations

A comment that was repeated a couple dozen times is why we just don't have a "tip jar" or such on the site. The problem has been a matter of legal restrictions on accepting donations. On Monday, I met with an accountant to help us setup our books, and determine what tax liabilities we will have, as well as a matter of discussing various methods of raising income. In our earlier research, and with previous discussions with a lawyer, we learned that to raise donations, we need to be licensed to do so. Unfortunately, such licensing has to be done in the state in which the money is coming from; that is to say, to accept money from US citizens, we'd have to be licensed in all 50 states, and now had this re-confirmed by my CPA. In more simple terms, we can offer goods and services without issue, however, merely accepting money is difficult, and time-consuming.

Furthermore, most donation services such PayPal and Amazon appear to limit their offerings to non-for-profit/501(c)(3) organizations. While it is not illegal for a properly licensed for-profit to fundraise, it doesn't appear there is a quick, out of the box solution we could use for doing so. That being said, there appears to be a partial out; third party organizations can fundraise on your behalf; this is how crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo are able to function.

Given feedback, I'm beginning to look at the possibility of trying to crowdfund SN to try and raise money by putting together a solid presentation on the future of the site, and then have annual crowdfunding events to keep expanding and building out the site. This would be in-line with the philosophy that "SoylentNews is People", as we'd literally be funded by people, for people. We're still a fair bit out from doing this, and I want to make sure that this is a direction the community is conformable heading in, so a more in-depth discussion of crowdfunding is out of place. Once we've finished incorporation (hopefully next week), and have the subscription infrastructure fully setup, I will open the floor to discussing more longer term goals.

On The Topic Of Advertising

Besides donations, the second most common topic was on advertising. From your comments, it appears the vast majority of you would be more-or-less OK if we ran it, as long as the ads themselves were not obnoxious, and avoided heavy tracking/JS/etc. We are holding this option in reserve for now, but I'm hesitant to enact it for a couple of reasons. First, I'm almost certain the vast majority of our community uses things like AdBlock Pro and such to filter out adversing, which would drastically limit any revenue we could receive. In addition, to run advertising would require us keep our sponsors happy, and many of the ad networks I looked at may have issues due to comments posted on the site. TVTropes, for instance, ended up self-censoring themselves due to issues with their ad partners. We can get around this problem by self-managing, and self-hosting ads, but this leads into my next issue.

Furthermore, I find that running ads would make the site look "less professional". While in general, we're a rather informal bunch, having large ad banners on top and on the sides would detract from the usability of the site. Ads, to be blunt, are tacky, gum up site performance, and often times look very out of place. Most of the reason that our site is quick and responsive is that aside from the piWik javascript code, we've got no third-party scripts embedded in the site, and have removed almost all non-essential JS from the site layout.

That is not to say the problem is insurmountable, Reddit, for instance, has a small box with "interesting links", at the top of most pages, with the default content being a sponsored link which anyone could buy. I could see a similar sort of box here, which has a collection of interesting content from the previous week, and sponsored links (to journal posts/articles/etc) which would either sit on the main index, or in the corner were the current parade of icons sits.

Right now though, I'd prefer to simply avoid the issue for now, and return to it at a later date if we need to.

Addressing Specific Comments

There were a fair number of comments that I think needed a broader answer, so I've collected a subset (reposted inline here) to respond to:
Sponsored Content by VLM

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.

Sponsored content is something that has come up a few times in the past in discussing various revenue models. I'm not inherently against such a thing, but the other site fiddled with trying this, and essentially created a new form of slashverisment. Now, obviously with editorial and veto authority, we could limit such things, but I'm struggling to see what may get posted that we wouldn't already run. We could perhaps change the QA/Ask Soylent topic into "paid questions", and run those on occasion. I think the question to the broader community is, what forms of sponsored content would you like to be able to 1. purchase for yourself 2. be willing to tolerate.

My 2/100 of $1.00 USD by martyb

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!

Swag is another good way we can raise money. I'd definitely be willing to create some sort of SN-on-a-stick w/ sanitized database which someone could purchase, stick in their computer, and pull up a local copy of SoylentNews in all its glory, as well as perhaps create some unique items (i.e., coffee cups, etc) available for sale. If its someone reasonable, I think we could look at selling it; ideas welcome below.

What About a Custom Slash Instance? by prospectacle

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.

We've actually looked at doing something like this; there is partial support for this kind of functionality in slashcode already (the nexus feature, which is live on dev, and is pending a wildcard SSL cert before going live here. The intent is that once the feature was built out more, we could have a "sub-slash" system (conceptually similar to sub-reddits), in which users could follow various nexuses on any topic, and users could create their own (possibly paying a one-time cost to do so), either existing as nexus.soylentnews.org, or perhaps with their own custom domain name.

Functionality wise, we're still quite a ways out from implementing this (most of the admin code would require re-factoring to make it fly), but it would allow users to create their own communities within SN, i.e., a community dedicated to DIY, or one dedicated to minecraft or gaming), each with its own staff overseeing it, and the ability to submit any article to the main page.

Related Stories

What We Are Going To Be: The Manifesto 151 comments

You know, this is probably one of the hardest things I've had to write since we went live. My first few attempts just lead to writer's block and frustration, so I tried to take a different tack with this and do it the way I usually do my write-ups for anything; by the seat of my pants. The staff have poked and prodded my early attempts, and I think we're ready to open this up to everyone to add their two cents in as we work towards a final version.

Since we've gone live almost three months ago (yeash, time flies), we've already had our fair share of debates, strife, and conflict, yet at the end of the day we remain operational with an involved community that keeps growing day after day. As I continue my relocation to NH, we're getting scary close to the point we're going to need to start drafting the bylaws and operating principles for this site. One of the pressing questions that have been asked time and time again is, "What will we be?" I'm ready to give you that answer.

#define subscriptions (or, "How we want to work for you!") 141 comments
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.
Site Update: Slashcode 14.08 - Now With UTF-8 Support (And Other News) 117 comments
Over the weekend, Paul finished upgrading the site to the latest release of Slashcode, 14.08, which contains the usual slew of bug fixes, site improvements, and plenty else. I know this is late, but we had to do a fair bit of regression testing to make sure the biggest part of the update, UTF-8 support, didn't cause any regressions. Here's the short list:
  • Full UTF-8 Support
  • Subscriptions - Revamped and almost ready to go live
  • Nexuses - Ready to go, still DEPWAIT wildcard SSL certificate
  • Removal of the most annoying aspects of the lameass filter
  • Two new themes, CSS fixes, and blockquote changes
  • Removal of journal themes (it was half broken, and interfered with the new theming engine)
  • Updated zoo, and topic logos, as well as touched up logo and favicon
  • Improvement some of the more stupid error messages
  • Backend upgrades and improvements performed during the weekend downtime
  • File upload support for admins (no more wiki abuse!)

All things considered, a pretty large update! I've got more to talk about, but check back past the break for that.

The (Very Late) Post-Incorporation Post 67 comments
On July 4th, I ran a short article noting that we were officially incorporated as a public benefit corporation (PBC) with a followup to follow; due to both sickness and real life difficulty, that followup got delayed until now. There were a fair number of questions on what happens now, and what our next steps are, and I'm here to shed some light on them.

In This Post
  • So What Does This Mean
  • Summarizing Our First Board Meeting
  • Coming Site Updates
  • Revenue Streams
  • State of SN Finances
  • Original Content
  • In Closing
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
Display Options Threshold/Breakthrough Mark All as Read Mark All as Unread
The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
  • (Score: 2) by Marneus68 on Thursday June 26 2014, @04:19PM

    by Marneus68 (3572) on Thursday June 26 2014, @04:19PM (#60388) Homepage

    > 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.
    Yes !

    I don't know if my call to get inspiration from the 4chan pass system was heard or not, but $20 is a sum I'll gladly pay !

    Any word on the status of image hosting in that plan ?

    • (Score: 2) by NCommander on Thursday June 26 2014, @04:30PM

      by NCommander (2) Subscriber Badge <mcasadevall@soylentnews.org> on Thursday June 26 2014, @04:30PM (#60395) Homepage Journal

      I don't remember anyone bringing up the 4chan pass system, though I did read about that today when I was looking at the referral log, and noticed we had a bit of traffic (2 hits) coming from /g/. I've actually been revising this post for the last week or so (I think I started it last Thursday after the comments tapered off),

      --
      Still always moving
      • (Score: 2) by Marneus68 on Thursday June 26 2014, @05:45PM

        by Marneus68 (3572) on Thursday June 26 2014, @05:45PM (#60443) Homepage
        Here [soylentnews.org] is my initial comment. Then again I can't blame anyone for not seeing it. It was a busy day ! >and noticed we had a bit of traffic (2 hits) coming from /g/ I'm totally innocent ! But I browse it regularly !
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 26 2014, @06:26PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 26 2014, @06:26PM (#60470)

        Interesting, since you can't actually post clickable links to 4chan. You have to copy/paste them which means you shouldn't be seeing a referer.

        So those two hits from /g/ were the few people who were running a plugin/script to make text links clickable. There were probably a lot more who went undetected and looked like direct hits.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 27 2014, @12:24AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 27 2014, @12:24AM (#60654)

          Is /g/ a nerd board? We could be looking at people both running the plugin and disabling referrers. We could be looking at... double digits!

          • (Score: 1) by Ethanol-fueled on Friday June 27 2014, @12:51AM

            by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Friday June 27 2014, @12:51AM (#60670) Homepage

            /g/'s official title is "Technology," but to be clear it's more consumer technology like phones and PCs and shit -- You'd be hard-pressed to find anybody who's used an oscilloscope or spectrum analyzer, for example, who actually has industry experience more involved than the Geek Squad. You'd be better of in /sci/ if you're looking for more educated and experienced types. In my opinion /g/ is one of 4chan's shittiest boards. Note: I just now browsed /g/ and, although it is a "safe for work" board, I found 1 discussion about how Jews were scum, and another about dragon dildos with a very obvious picture of one. Best not check it while you're working.

            The most references I've seen to Slashdot are in /pol/, but if we guerrilla-recruit from there, we'll probably take on a lot of racism and anti-Semitism. You think I'm bad, you ain't seen nothin' yet.

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 27 2014, @03:55AM

              by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 27 2014, @03:55AM (#60713)

              I've seen some /pol/

              You have to admire the consistency at least.

  • (Score: 2) by cmn32480 on Thursday June 26 2014, @04:30PM

    by cmn32480 (443) <{cmn32480} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Thursday June 26 2014, @04:30PM (#60394) Journal

    Can you get rid of the CAPS filter for subscribers too? I WON'T POST ALL IN CAPS I SWEAR!

    $20 is absolutely reasonable. I can probably dig in my kids piggy bank and pay it in nickles and pennies. Where do we sign up?

    --
    "It's a dog eat dog world, and I'm wearing Milkbone underwear" - Norm Peterson
    • (Score: 2) by NCommander on Thursday June 26 2014, @04:32PM

      by NCommander (2) Subscriber Badge <mcasadevall@soylentnews.org> on Thursday June 26 2014, @04:32PM (#60399) Homepage Journal

      It's already gone on dev in general as part of the UTF-8 fixes. Its either going to be a semi-soon point release, or /code 08.14, which ever happens first.

      --
      Still always moving
      • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Friday June 27 2014, @04:02AM

        by Reziac (2489) on Friday June 27 2014, @04:02AM (#60714) Homepage

        Saw the UTF thing... all displayed correctly here (SM2.5).

        As to subs -- I've had a sub to the Green Site since ~2001. Five bucks lasts me about 3 years worth of pageviews. This struck me as a good deal. But $20/year, much as I like SN, I can't justify it.

        And I think you'd get more response and more income from swag -- run it through one of the outfits that already handles such stuff, like SpreadShirt.

        [side note: I personally will not buy via CafePress.]

        • (Score: 2) by NCommander on Friday June 27 2014, @07:47AM

          by NCommander (2) Subscriber Badge <mcasadevall@soylentnews.org> on Friday June 27 2014, @07:47AM (#60764) Homepage Journal

          So, $5 dollars would have bought you 1000 page views on the other site. Either you had ads on (you have to explicatively disable them as a second step), or their counter is ****ed up. I know here, 1000 page views would probably won't last me long.

          My big reason for changing from a usage based system -> time based system is its simpler. While it might be more "fair" to only charge based on usage, its never clear when its going to run out, and then you need to top it up again; part of the reason I never subscribed to the green site is 1000 PV just seemed really really low, even if it wasn't.

          --
          Still always moving
          • (Score: 2) by The Mighty Buzzard on Friday June 27 2014, @10:51AM

            Time based also lowers the server load slightly and nearly eliminates the chance for related bugs. Have slashd run a check at 23:59GMT every day and switch off anyone who's past their subscription date and you only have to deal with fetching and checking the boolean truth of one value rather than doing the calculation for every page load.
            --
            My rights don't end where your fear begins.
  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Angry Jesus on Thursday June 26 2014, @04:30PM

    by Angry Jesus (182) on Thursday June 26 2014, @04:30PM (#60396)

    I have a general rule about paying for premium access to sites with interaction between users: Forcing me to identify as a paying user means I won't pay. For two reasons:

    (1) I don't want to advertise the fact that I can afford to pay. Even if it is just $20.
    (2) It changes the way what you say is perceived online.

    Some people think it's a good thing to single out paying members, that it "builds community" through leading by example. I see it as paying for prestige. I don't mind if other people choose to identify as having paid, in fact I will tend to judge what they write more negatively for being a braggart. Others might not agree and that is OK. Just as long as it is a choice.

    • (Score: 2) by NCommander on Thursday June 26 2014, @04:31PM

      by NCommander (2) Subscriber Badge <mcasadevall@soylentnews.org> on Thursday June 26 2014, @04:31PM (#60398) Homepage Journal

      I believe the badge *can* be turned off, if not, that's pretty trivial to implement.

      --
      Still always moving
    • (Score: 2) by frojack on Thursday June 26 2014, @06:08PM

      by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Thursday June 26 2014, @06:08PM (#60455) Journal

      At times in the distant past I was subscribed to that Green site, had the little asterisk. Most people didn't have a clue what it meant, never got a comment about it, but I did receive comment/postings about early replies that their system offered, and which I occasionally took advantage of.

      I certainly didn't have an objection to the asterisk, either on my own posts, or on others, but I decided not to use the early posting feature, so glad we are not planning to have that.

      I disagree with you, AJ, about forced badging, (though not strongly).

      Personally, I think if you support the site, it should be known, and suppressible badges are a subtle way of "one-upping" others that have badges. (Like ordering a beer at a table full of teatotalers, - there is always the slightest bit of awkwardness on all parties.)

      Supporting the site means you want to support a platform for other people's opinions. (Even those you disagree with, and ACs). That's laudable, and should be visible. Long time contributors already have the badge of sorts (low three digit) ids. Subtly showing that the put their money where their mouth is seems a collective good.

      I'm disappointed that you judges the messenger rather than the message, but I (grudgingly) respect your right to do so.
      Are you sure you wouldn't be happier posting as an AC? Less chance to fall victim to your own stated biases.

      --
      No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
      • (Score: 2) by Angry Jesus on Thursday June 26 2014, @06:13PM

        by Angry Jesus (182) on Thursday June 26 2014, @06:13PM (#60459)

        > Are you sure you wouldn't be happier posting as an AC? Less chance to fall victim to your own stated biases.

        I frequently do.

      • (Score: 1) by Ethanol-fueled on Thursday June 26 2014, @11:18PM

        by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Thursday June 26 2014, @11:18PM (#60636) Homepage

        I was a longtime subscriber on the other site, even years after I came out of the closet as a professional troll. I was a paid subscriber because I really did enjoy and appreciate the site.

        However, their implementation was flawed -- the ability to compose a karma-whoring comment or a troll relevant to the article before everybody else turned out to be a bad idea. It depended heavily on a skilled poster to start a conversation off with a good discussion-provoking comment rather than combative and/or offensive drivel designed to provoke mindless arguing. Similarly, being a subscriber (if I recall correctly) gave a karma bonus, giving a subscriber's trolls more visibility. My subscription perks including the asterisk were revoked prematurely after I paid for my final subscription, and I'm sure it was that Jew-bastard Timothy who was behind it. Buying another subscription didn't give me my asterisk back, likely for good reason.

        For twenty bucks, Soylent News'd better offer a multitude of badges, and one of those had better look like a troll face.

        • (Score: 2) by VLM on Sunday June 29 2014, @02:41PM

          by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Sunday June 29 2014, @02:41PM (#61640)

          First of all thats not an "asterisk" that's a UTF-8 goatse. If you can have your troll face and I can have my UTF-8 goatse someone else is going to ask for a tubgirl badge. And 2G1C. All the classics of modern internet art.

  • (Score: 2) by elf on Thursday June 26 2014, @04:36PM

    by elf (64) on Thursday June 26 2014, @04:36PM (#60402)

    This all sounds good to me, $20 is great price. It has room to grow for future expansion while still looking reasonable. The Swag idea sounds good too (you can never have enough USB sticks!). I think as time goes on donation ideas will naturally get better

    at $20 per year you would need 181 subscribers to pay and make the site work with out paying wages, I suspect you will get a lot more and that can be used to start the vision that you have. Everything starts small!

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by skullz on Thursday June 26 2014, @04:46PM

    by skullz (2532) on Thursday June 26 2014, @04:46PM (#60408)

    * some full time/part time authors who research topics, and post articles here based on findings *

    Oh, yes, absolutely, PLEASE. The tech news scene really REALLY needs some decent journalists. The gap between an online tip jar and your CPA / legal is an excellent example of what I like to read about because it is related but very far out of my usual orbit.

    My suggestion at this point would be to press on with the yearly support fee and start off the journalism efforts as a Kickstarter or something. Backers could get access to the messy daily blog of the journalist as they slog through whatever subject they are researching. And then you could sell the finished article shortly after it appears on SN (SN, you heard it here first!).

    • (Score: 2) by edIII on Thursday June 26 2014, @05:33PM

      by edIII (791) Subscriber Badge on Thursday June 26 2014, @05:33PM (#60437)

      Whatever gets us down the road to this. Absolutely. Real journalism (with correct grammar and spelling) that has integrity. Soylent will literally be one of the few oases in the desert of journalism.

      I'll gladly pay $20 to see that future. Probably more.

      --
      Technically, lunchtime is at any moment. It's just a wave function.
    • (Score: 2) by frojack on Thursday June 26 2014, @06:16PM

      by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Thursday June 26 2014, @06:16PM (#60462) Journal

      On the other side of that coin....

      SoylentNews is People.

      It seems to me that researching stories, is OUR job, both for the stories we submit, and the replies we make.

      Not sure how I feel about someone with a different political perspective deciding to *cough* research a recent topic and post a rebuttal that, by mere "Power of Place" becomes the last word.

      --
      No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
      • (Score: 2) by NCommander on Thursday June 26 2014, @06:21PM

        by NCommander (2) Subscriber Badge <mcasadevall@soylentnews.org> on Thursday June 26 2014, @06:21PM (#60467) Homepage Journal

        Nothing is stopping you from doing this right now, if you write up something interesting as a series, we'll run it. This is though to allow people to dedicate actual time and effort to it (when I say anyone, I do mean it, come to us with an idea, we'll figure it out, then get something worked out).

        --
        Still always moving
      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by tathra on Thursday June 26 2014, @09:39PM

        by tathra (3367) on Thursday June 26 2014, @09:39PM (#60580)

        if the 'paid journalist' route becomes a thing here, maybe we could have community members being something like freelance journalists - researching and writing up good stories to submit to the site and getting paid for the story. obviously this wouldnt apply to simple links and a quick summary, and people would have the option to simply do the work pro bono; or maybe the 'freelancer' status could be attained after doing a couple of quality stories for the site, to check if they have the ability* to do it. we could have a "Journalist" or "Freelancer" badge to go along with the "Subscriber" badge, to help promote people writing and submitting quality stories (again, not just links to other stories and a quick summary, but actual proper stories).

        if we're going to pay journalists, and we're a community site, a community of freelance journalists is the logical conclusion.

        * biases would need to stay as far away as possible from the selection process, so even if say EtOH-Fueled or a microsoft/political shill is writing and submitting stories, as long as the stories themselves are quality and fact-based, thats all that should matter

        • (Score: 2) by NCommander on Thursday June 26 2014, @10:03PM

          by NCommander (2) Subscriber Badge <mcasadevall@soylentnews.org> on Thursday June 26 2014, @10:03PM (#60600) Homepage Journal

          Ding ding ding.

          This is almost exactly what I was planning to go down this road. Right now, we're still trying to duct tape everything together (RL is a bitch), but I'm hoping/praying that we'll have incorporation done next week (we hit a hangup w/ it this week), but hopefully mid-July at the latest, we can start getting subscriptions in, then build towards this.

          --
          Still always moving
          • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Friday June 27 2014, @04:08AM

            by Reziac (2489) on Friday June 27 2014, @04:08AM (#60716) Homepage

            Hell, pay the amateurs (that's us) in swag, at least to start.

            • (Score: 2) by urza9814 on Friday June 27 2014, @02:53PM

              by urza9814 (3954) on Friday June 27 2014, @02:53PM (#60883) Journal

              I was thinking similarly -- pay with a subscription! Every article gets you a one month subscription or something. Not a HUGE payoff, sure, but still enough to let people know their work is appreciated. Good enough until/unless some real money starts rolling in!

              • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Friday June 27 2014, @03:26PM

                by Reziac (2489) on Friday June 27 2014, @03:26PM (#60899) Homepage

                Yep, that was exactly what I was thinking -- a little appreciation goes a long way.

        • (Score: 2) by TK on Friday June 27 2014, @08:27PM

          by TK (2760) on Friday June 27 2014, @08:27PM (#61067)

          Interesting. If I could offer an addendum. In addition to freelance journalists, add one or two full or part time fact checkers to the payroll. That way, they're always on hand as the freelance stories come in.

          --
          The fleas have smaller fleas, upon their backs to bite them, and those fleas have lesser fleas, and so ad infinitum
    • (Score: 2) by VLM on Sunday June 29 2014, @02:23PM

      by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Sunday June 29 2014, @02:23PM (#61633)

      "start off the journalism efforts as a Kickstarter or something"

      I realize I'm posting this super late, but I have an interesting app where kickstarter would be way too slow, when there is an interesting legal ruling in tech, I'd throw a little (emphasis little) money into a kitty fund for a real genuine lawyer to answer some questions. So I want soylent interview section with real lawyer answering questions (we might get a journalist / PR / not for profit discount, but a real lawyer with expertise in the specific topic isn't going to work for free, probably). So the responses to the questions begin with "IAAL I am a lawyer ..."

      I could probably be motivated to throw in some money to hire a PE professional engineer to handle the "I don't understand thermodynamics" and "I don't understand strength of materials" and "eulers law, its not just for quikie lube places anymore" class of questions.

      You probably can't beat the existing infotainment world on pure speed. Beating them on accuracy and insight and detail level seems realistic?

  • (Score: 1) by islisis on Thursday June 26 2014, @04:49PM

    by islisis (2901) on Thursday June 26 2014, @04:49PM (#60410) Homepage

    You ahve to go through all that to accept donations? I must be hopeless naive, but also hopelessly disappointed.

    OK, why not offer to 'sell' a virtual merchandise like a 'cosmetic item'. Would that be taxed any differently from subscriptions?

    That said, 20USD a year is probably a good price for many. It does however still limit your contributor base.

    • (Score: 3, Funny) by Horse With Stripes on Thursday June 26 2014, @05:04PM

      by Horse With Stripes (577) on Thursday June 26 2014, @05:04PM (#60423)

      Interesting ... I could buy a virtual SoylentNews shirt? Kind of like vaporwear? ;-)

      • (Score: 1) by islisis on Thursday June 26 2014, @05:11PM

        by islisis (2901) on Thursday June 26 2014, @05:11PM (#60427) Homepage

        ha that's hilarious... you have my vote for SN's first product manager :P

      • (Score: 2) by NCommander on Thursday June 26 2014, @05:26PM

        by NCommander (2) Subscriber Badge <mcasadevall@soylentnews.org> on Thursday June 26 2014, @05:26PM (#60432) Homepage Journal

        I dunno if I should laugh or groan at that comment, but you got an alpha-test subscription out of it because its so horribly appropriate.

        (this may or may not persist when we go live with subscriptions).

        --
        Still always moving
      • (Score: 3, Funny) by maxwell demon on Thursday June 26 2014, @10:03PM

        by maxwell demon (1608) Subscriber Badge on Thursday June 26 2014, @10:03PM (#60601) Journal

        "No, officer, I'm not naked. I'm wearing Soylent virtual clothing!"

        --
        The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
    • (Score: 2) by frojack on Thursday June 26 2014, @06:32PM

      by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Thursday June 26 2014, @06:32PM (#60474) Journal

      I agree, but Contributor badge qualifies as a cosmetic item if you ask me.

      Look, we are talking about creating a LEGAL FICTION, to sell a COSTLESS (or dirt cheap) "product or service" to members, the profit from which goes toward defraying costs. Its being done to get around stupid tax laws.

      Products require shipping. Services don't. Cosmetic services require even less.

      If/When subscriptions exceed expenses by a wide margine, SN can buy and distribute Member Benefit Items, (cups, flash drives, free Distro Live DVDs, Shirts, Hats) or what ever chews up the money so SN maintain a non-profit status).

      --
      No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
      • (Score: 1) by islisis on Thursday June 26 2014, @07:07PM

        by islisis (2901) on Thursday June 26 2014, @07:07PM (#60498) Homepage

        I agree also, I hope the tax department does too, so I thought I'd ask.

        In practical terms those who are willing to forfeit subscription benefits should still be able to make a contribution (ideally, of their own choosing), if you ask me. Would be easier on the newer members.

    • (Score: 2) by gringer on Thursday June 26 2014, @08:40PM

      by gringer (962) on Thursday June 26 2014, @08:40PM (#60551)

      OK, why not offer to 'sell' a virtual merchandise like a 'cosmetic item'.

      Like little custom hats that sit on the top left corner of posts.

      • (Score: 1) by quixote on Thursday June 26 2014, @10:12PM

        by quixote (4355) on Thursday June 26 2014, @10:12PM (#60609)

        Hahahaha. Love it. I want mine shaped like a wizard's het. With stars.

        • (Score: 2) by gringer on Thursday June 26 2014, @11:58PM

          by gringer (962) on Thursday June 26 2014, @11:58PM (#60648)

          $0.10 per post, or special discounts of $0.50 for all comments in a discussion, or $1 for the next 20 comments (posted by you). Only one hat type per payment.

        • (Score: 1) by GeminiDomino on Saturday June 28 2014, @06:33PM

          by GeminiDomino (661) on Saturday June 28 2014, @06:33PM (#61377)

          Dibs on "Wizzard"!

          --
          "We've been attacked by the intelligent, educated segment of our culture"
      • (Score: 2) by Non Sequor on Friday June 27 2014, @03:01AM

        by Non Sequor (1005) on Friday June 27 2014, @03:01AM (#60701) Journal

        Well it worked for Team Fortress 2.

        --
        Write your congressman. Tell him he sucks.
    • (Score: 2) by tathra on Thursday June 26 2014, @09:43PM

      by tathra (3367) on Thursday June 26 2014, @09:43PM (#60584)

      you mean like on e-bay where people sell "PlayStation 3"s for hundreds of dollars and in the fine print it states that all they're actually buying is an empty box?

      SoylentNews logo on a sheet of paper - $20 :D

      • (Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Thursday June 26 2014, @10:07PM

        by maxwell demon (1608) Subscriber Badge on Thursday June 26 2014, @10:07PM (#60604) Journal

        Soylent News logo digital image limited edition: Numbered and (digitally) signed!

        --
        The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
  • (Score: 2) by gman003 on Thursday June 26 2014, @04:49PM

    by gman003 (4155) on Thursday June 26 2014, @04:49PM (#60411)

    Congrats, you just distinguished yourself from The Other Site in the most critical way possible:

    Users: Bah, Beta sucks, rework it

    Slashdot: Here, we're rolling out Beta now, we didn't really have time to fix all the massive issues you found but it's go-live time anyways
    Users: WTF?

    Users: Dude, that plan sucks, rework it

    Soylent: Yeah, that plan was bad, sorry it took so long to rework it. How does this new plan sound?
    Users: Yeah, that might work. Have you considered also doing Q?

    And yes, this plan seems much better.

    The only further suggestion I can make is one that probably got buried in the last one: a +6 moderation level only *reachable* by subscribers. They still have to post something good enough to get moderated that high, but I think it would be a cool bragging right to be able to get a +6 comment.

    • (Score: 2) by NCommander on Thursday June 26 2014, @05:50PM

      by NCommander (2) Subscriber Badge <mcasadevall@soylentnews.org> on Thursday June 26 2014, @05:50PM (#60445) Homepage Journal

      Heh, comments like this make being apart of this site worth it. I've been accused of overthinking shit before, especially with the last go around, but I'm not blind or deaf to criticism on my actions or plans :-)

      This comment made my day, thanks.

      --
      Still always moving
    • (Score: 1) by zizban on Thursday June 26 2014, @06:17PM

      by zizban (3765) on Thursday June 26 2014, @06:17PM (#60463)

      When I joined the editorial team I was impressed by how much pride they take in their work. We want to make stories the best they can be and take feedback seriously.

    • (Score: 2) by frojack on Thursday June 26 2014, @07:13PM

      by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Thursday June 26 2014, @07:13PM (#60504) Journal

      I agree.
      Shut up and take my money!

      I haven't seen any major objections in all of these posts.

      --
      No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
    • (Score: 2) by Rivenaleem on Friday June 27 2014, @12:41PM

      by Rivenaleem (3400) on Friday June 27 2014, @12:41PM (#60821)

      Ahh, the Spinal Tap of comments.

    • (Score: 2) by kebes on Friday June 27 2014, @01:20PM

      by kebes (1505) on Friday June 27 2014, @01:20PM (#60838)
      Agreed.

      I feel like bookmarking this thread as an counter-example to bring out when people claim "Users will complain about everything. You can't trust their comments, so you should just go ahead and implement what you want." On SN, we saw a proposal, the community reacted with comments and criticism, a revised proposal is described (based on the feedback), and everyone here has essentially agreed that this new proposal is awesome. User feedback works, if you have the fortitude to actually listen, and adapt your thinking in response.

      Needless to say, I'm fully supportive of this revised funding plan. Awesome work, NCommander. Keep it up.
  • (Score: 2) by Vanderhoth on Thursday June 26 2014, @04:55PM

    by Vanderhoth (61) on Thursday June 26 2014, @04:55PM (#60414)

    I definitely like the idea of $20/yr subscriptions. I'd be willing to give more, but I felt $20/mo was too much (I'm Canadian so that's like $400,040,920,292,094 for me). I'd have been happy to give up to $15/mo since that's only $300,983,352,325 Canadian.

    I also prefer the idea of getting rid of allowing subscribers to get priority in things like posting to articles. The last thing we need, IMHO, is people (or companies) with money buying up a ton of subscriptions to hijack the site by getting posting priority to fill the comment section with so much marking drivel before anyone, without money, that has something relevant to say can get a comment posted anywhere that isn't obscurity.

    --
    "Now we know", "And knowing is half the battle". -G.I. Joooooe
    • (Score: 2) by Sir Garlon on Thursday June 26 2014, @05:05PM

      by Sir Garlon (1264) on Thursday June 26 2014, @05:05PM (#60424)

      Seconded! For $20/year I am on board and ready to pledge my lifelong loyalty. Thanks for listening and for doing such a good job in responding and communicating.

      --
      [Sir Garlon] is the marvellest knight that is now living, for he destroyeth many good knights, for he goeth invisible.
    • (Score: 2) by NCommander on Thursday June 26 2014, @05:53PM

      by NCommander (2) Subscriber Badge <mcasadevall@soylentnews.org> on Thursday June 26 2014, @05:53PM (#60447) Homepage Journal

      Wow, Canada gotten cheap since the last time I went there (when 1 USD was ~= 1 CAD).

      And yeah, I got it beaten into my head that perk needed to die.

      --
      Still always moving
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 26 2014, @06:50PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 26 2014, @06:50PM (#60491)

      I'd be willing to give more, but I felt $20/mo was too much (I'm Canadian so that's like $400,040,920,292,094 for me). I'd have been happy to give up to $15/mo since that's only $300,983,352,325 Canadian.

      You do realize that it would be a lot cheaper for you to pay $15 twice a month (2*CAD 300,983,352,325=CAD 601,966,704,650) than $20 once a month, right?

      That's some fucked up exchange rates, you got there...

    • (Score: 2) by khchung on Friday June 27 2014, @01:35PM

      by khchung (457) on Friday June 27 2014, @01:35PM (#60842)

      One more vote for supporting $20 subscription.

      Ease of payment is the key though, anything more than keying in my credit card number and required info for payment processing would seriously reduce my willingness to pay.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by romanr on Thursday June 26 2014, @04:56PM

    by romanr (102) on Thursday June 26 2014, @04:56PM (#60417)

    There has been an idea in the past about small tipping for good stories/comments. I would love that. Say there is a great story or comment and I'd like to award the author with some money. There would be a system that would allow me to do that and for example 50% would go to the author and the rest to the SN. It could be done with some cryptocurrency, or without - one would buy some credits and could award the credits to others for posting good stuff. I know it could be complicated, but it would encourage people to participate in supporting SN much more than $20/year option.

    • (Score: 2) by NCommander on Thursday June 26 2014, @05:28PM

      by NCommander (2) Subscriber Badge <mcasadevall@soylentnews.org> on Thursday June 26 2014, @05:28PM (#60434) Homepage Journal

      I'd actually love to do this. Runs afoul the donation problem on the receiving end, but on the sending money in, its just a 1099 form. Right now, we haven't even looked to see what it will take to pay people overseas, but we'll cross that ocean when we get to it.

      --
      Still always moving
      • (Score: 2) by romanr on Thursday June 26 2014, @05:42PM

        by romanr (102) on Thursday June 26 2014, @05:42PM (#60440)

        Maybe it wouldn't have to be realized as a payment of real money to the credit holders. It could be spent for some virtual goods like gold nick, silver badge, gold badge and so on. Just the idea of reward should be sufficient to make it work.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 26 2014, @08:10PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 26 2014, @08:10PM (#60537)

          Similar to gilding on reddit it sounds.

  • (Score: 2) by Aiwendil on Thursday June 26 2014, @05:07PM

    by Aiwendil (531) on Thursday June 26 2014, @05:07PM (#60426) Journal

    * Tip-jar: What stops you from selling "virtual badges" (have an automated script email a simple image with the text "Badge number ## issued to Foo" or some similar) instead of plain out accepting tips? I mean, it would be much different from buying an extra life in an app or similar.

    * Subscription: Make clear if this is a subscription or a one-time-payment, personally I would be fine with manually making a payment of 20usd annually, but I will not accepting anything that will automaticall pull money from my account every now and then (for this reason I always buy giftcards to myself in spotify, to avoid the subscription, but I still pay the same amount) (and create a "subscription about to expire" notification as option [email, shown near karma on site (as checkboxes)])

    * Professional look: Today having ads on a page is sadly enough an indicator of that it is a "professional site", being ad-free indicates that it is a hobbyist site or a site that goes for value of information first. (Don't belive me? look up five major newspapers - without adblockers and with unlimited javascript - and count the ads) [I do prefer ad-free]

    * Sponsored article: I actually want to see this (regardless of is the sponsorship is money or just early information) but in a form of once a week and clearly marked as such (different colored titlebar or similar). If nothing else simply because it gives us an idea of what companies considers the site worth the time to monitor. (This could be made as an auction, and in case a week's spot isn't sold then just put in a "humor"-item or similar)

    * Promotional items: If you start selling such then don't forget to sell soyprotein-bars (or candy-bars) wrapped as the logo, just for the heck of it [also would be a great shape for a usb-stick with a "cover" over the plug, or as a keyring bottle-opener]... (And right now my mind is trying to figure out if it should scream or laugh at the thought of a caffeinated soybar)

    • (Score: 2) by NCommander on Thursday June 26 2014, @05:31PM

      by NCommander (2) Subscriber Badge <mcasadevall@soylentnews.org> on Thursday June 26 2014, @05:31PM (#60436) Homepage Journal

      Taking points from the top:

      Tip-jars/badges: Huh, I guess we could do this.

      Subscriptions are one-time as implemented. I think the current code fires a reminder email off when they run low.

      Professional look: reddit disagrees with you, as does Google. They just have small boxes for "sponsored" content, not huge ad banners.

      Sponsored article: Maybe, will think on it

      Promotional Item: Sure, why not :-)

      --
      Still always moving
      • (Score: 2) by frojack on Thursday June 26 2014, @07:11PM

        by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Thursday June 26 2014, @07:11PM (#60502) Journal

        Professional look: reddit disagrees with you, as does Google. They just have small boxes for "sponsored" content, not huge ad banners.

        Was going to post this as a separate reply, but here seems as good a place as any....

        Hosting Google AdSense [google.com] ads, (small text ads would seem to be the best fit) below the navigation sidebars on stories seems a good way to host ads when and if you decide to do so.

        If you choose the Contextual targeting option, the ads will tie into stories, and some times this can be useful, and other times it can be quite comical, and most times it is innocuous, and seems not to slow page loading at all.

        It eliminates your staff's responsibility to deal with advertisers, ad content, billing, etc. All you need is add a standard google supplied squib of code in your page template.

        Downside: story content gets scanned by Google's ad engine so that it can put contextual based ads in the boxes.

        Full disclosure, I use this method to cover costs on a couple of small sites I maintain, and it is totally painless. I put it in the template years ago, and I get a check from Google every once in a while, even from low volume specialized interest sites.

        --
        No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
        • (Score: 2) by NCommander on Thursday June 26 2014, @09:07PM

          by NCommander (2) Subscriber Badge <mcasadevall@soylentnews.org> on Thursday June 26 2014, @09:07PM (#60568) Homepage Journal

          Google is what caused problems for TVTropes so I'm concerned they may get upset if anything NSFW (even comments) get posted to the site. Furthermore, I suspect a large portion of the user base would be upset w/ Google tracking. The only sort of tracking we do is piWik, and there were more than a few comments sad that our ghostly score was no longer zero.

          --
          Still always moving
      • (Score: 2) by Open4D on Thursday June 26 2014, @08:59PM

        by Open4D (371) Subscriber Badge on Thursday June 26 2014, @08:59PM (#60561) Journal

        Tip-jars/badges: Huh, I guess we could do this.

        If the problem is what to allow instead of donations then here's another idea to add to the list:

         
        Create a page www.soylentnews.org/promoted-messages.html and have a link to it from the main page. Anyone can pay to have their commercial or philosophical message promoted there.

        Commercial messages are submitted (in plain text, or maybe allow some markup) for approval first, before payment details are taken.

        The "philosophical" messages (along with less high-brow ones) are selected from a drop-down list, e.g.:

        • "Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself."
        • "Always look on the bright side of life!"
        • "I think therefore I am."
        • "Do something today that your future self will thank you for."

        The promoter can choose how much they want to pay, and that will translate into how long the message remains on the page.

      • (Score: 2) by lhsi on Thursday June 26 2014, @10:03PM

        by lhsi (711) on Thursday June 26 2014, @10:03PM (#60598) Journal

        Have you thought about setting up a patreon? http://www.patreon.com/ [patreon.com]

        A kickstarter seems to be for a big initial fund raising, whereas patreon is more for continuous creation of something. You could set one up for original journalistic articles.

        The basics of it is supporters pledge an amount set by them which is collected whenever you produce something predefined (for example, a song for musicians), with I think some monthly limits. You then set levels that improve the content that is based on total amount collected, as well as having perks set for individual pledges.

        This is an example from the first project I heard about the site from: http://www.patreon.com/misterorange [patreon.com]
        The creator is creating a video series covering the history of each set of Magic: the Gathering. At time of writing, he has 62 patreons (supporters) who in total have pledged $422 per episode of this series he produces. He has milestones of $500 per episode which means no ads on the YouTube videos, and $1000 per episode for longer videos. Individual perks include early access if you pledge $1 per episode, or having your name in the credits of you pledge $5 per episode.

        To apply it to Soylent News, you could ask for pledges to produce a original article of content. If the total pledges reach a certain amount, you can up the minimum word count for each article, or hire an expert to write something in depth.

        With this you can allow people to "donate" without actually donating as they are paying you for producing something. The pledge is set by the pledger so not a fixed value; someone can pledge more if they wish. On patreon you can start and stop pledges whenever you like, so someone can do it as a one off if they would rather that. And you can define something concrete that will add value to the site, instead of trying to think up perks to give people.

      • (Score: 2) by VLM on Sunday June 29 2014, @02:37PM

        by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Sunday June 29 2014, @02:37PM (#61637)

        "Sponsored article: Maybe, will think on it"

        Having been the primary pusher for the idea I'm sad I was on vacation when it was discussed, hopefully not too late.

        Note there's two totally separate classes of sponsorship, there's private and public.

        I can write a nice article about the ARRL EME (earth moon earth) annual radio contest which would be totally cool, nerdy, geeky, techie whatever yet because it (it as in ham radio, analog RF, moon bounce communication) is not in the echo chamber, I'll bet $10 it won't get past the mods and show up. Yet I could pay $10 to guarantee it shows up. And only $10 is not enough to be a bribe that can't be refused if its some pure spam. Think of it as "preferential handling" or "first class shipping fee" not advertising. I don't wanna pay the $10 unless it runs.

        I can think of plenty other cool techie / nerdy / science stories like about half of astrobites and some other things, all just barely outside the echo chamber where it would be of benefit to include them. I guarantee if the Arduino project releases a new board it'll make the cut without pay, but I'd need to pay or generate a grassroots campaign or something if TI releases an equally cool dev board. On topic stuff. And if not, you're only turning down $10 so don't feel pressured.

        Probably a good rule of thumb is if you can't figure out who's making any money, its in this class of on topic non-echo chamber subject and is probably fair to approve. "Here's an interesting hobby tangentially related to what is always talked about here"

        The other kind of sponsored article is the pure spam stuff. So Bank of America wants to announce home equity loans or some BS like that. Or the new Nobody-gives-a-F phone has been released, now with 10% more BS and 30% more bloatware apps. Whatever. Don't much care to read those. If you're going to run that kind of garbage at least make a lot of money off it and charge them like $5000 a pop so you don't have to run many of them.

        A good rule of thumb is its in this market segment if someone's trying to make a buck off the story running.

        Two totally different marketplaces DO exist.

    • (Score: 2) by Angry Jesus on Thursday June 26 2014, @06:11PM

      by Angry Jesus (182) on Thursday June 26 2014, @06:11PM (#60457)

      > * Sponsored article: I actually want to see this (regardless of is the
      > sponsorship is money or just early information) but in a form of once
      > a week and clearly marked as such (different colored titlebar or
      > similar). If nothing else simply because it gives us an idea of what
      > companies considers the site worth the time to monitor. (This could be
      > made as an auction, and in case a week's spot isn't sold then just put
      > in a "humor"-item or similar)

      I'm very much in favor of selling 'sponsored' articles. I've seen BoingBoing do it and while I completely ignore them, I haven't even considered adding a custom adblock rule to filter them and I am normally very twitchy about that sort of thing. Probably because they are much like the original early days of advertising on the net - not in your face, not connected to a tracker and clearly identified.

      My 3 cents on the idea:

      o I hope you can get more than $10/pop for them

      o I would prefer if they didn't include tracking links. I know the advertisers want to measure the hell out of the ads, but when I see a URL that is obviously customized for tracking purposes (like a bit.ly or just an opaque number string in the URL) I am much less likely to click on it.

      o It is a judgment call as to what would be too frequent, but I think more often than once a week would not be intrusive.

      • (Score: 2) by urza9814 on Friday June 27 2014, @03:03PM

        by urza9814 (3954) on Friday June 27 2014, @03:03PM (#60893) Journal

        o I would prefer if they didn't include tracking links. I know the advertisers want to measure the hell out of the ads, but when I see a URL that is obviously customized for tracking purposes (like a bit.ly or just an opaque number string in the URL) I am much less likely to click on it.

        Just a quick thought if this idea gets picked up -- not sure if this would be too much server load (yeah right, who clicks the links anyway ;) ), but perhaps stick up a PHProxy or something and route all links from sponsored posts through the proxy. Can have it strip out javascript, and the connection would be coming through Soylent, so that should kill nearly all tracking methods.

    • (Score: 2) by lhsi on Thursday June 26 2014, @09:34PM

      by lhsi (711) on Thursday June 26 2014, @09:34PM (#60579) Journal

      Professional look: Today having ads on a page is sadly enough an indicator of that it is a "professional site", being ad-free indicates that it is a hobbyist site or a site that goes for value of information first. (Don't belive me? look up five major newspapers - without adblockers and with unlimited javascript - and count the ads) [I do prefer ad-free]

      I get most of my non tech news from the BBC website where I see no ads. It is the 5th most visited site in GB apparently, so not really a hobbyist sort of site: http://www.alexa.com/topsites/countries/GB [alexa.com]

      • (Score: 2) by Aiwendil on Thursday June 26 2014, @10:02PM

        by Aiwendil (531) on Thursday June 26 2014, @10:02PM (#60597) Journal

        With the exception of the public broadcasting/public news (bbc[uk], svt[swe], sr[swe], yle[fin]...) I actually can't think of a single newssource that is ad-free.

        Anyhow, I said five newspapers mainly to eliminate the public newsservices (I'm assuming most people can't mention more than three at the top of their head), so I'm curious about the other four :)

        Maybe I should have phrased it as "visit five major non-gov't-backed newspapers"...

        • (Score: 2) by lhsi on Thursday June 26 2014, @10:17PM

          by lhsi (711) on Thursday June 26 2014, @10:17PM (#60612) Journal

          All newspapers I can think of have ads. Not all news sites though. http://theconversation.com/uk [theconversation.com] as another example (I didn't see any there just now).

          • (Score: 2) by Aiwendil on Thursday June 26 2014, @10:40PM

            by Aiwendil (531) on Thursday June 26 2014, @10:40PM (#60624) Journal

            Wow, that site was... how I remembered newssites on internet when I first started using it, thank you for pointing me to it.

            And yes, I have to concede that one is professional and ad-free (listing main parters on the main-page footer and the partner-page I consider to be fair), sad that it is a rarity these days.

  • (Score: 2) by prospectacle on Thursday June 26 2014, @05:51PM

    by prospectacle (3422) on Thursday June 26 2014, @05:51PM (#60446) Journal

    I'd pay $20 today for a yearly subscription, with the understanding that I'll get some features that others don't get, at some point in the future. I think I'm not alone in this attitude. There's a lot of good will towards this site, and desire to support it.

    If you can't take donations as such, maybe you can take subscriptions for features that aren't yet fully released or even fully defined, but which are imminent (for a certain value of imminent).

    --
    If a plan isn't flexible it isn't realistic
  • (Score: 1) by Thesis on Thursday June 26 2014, @06:04PM

    by Thesis (524) on Thursday June 26 2014, @06:04PM (#60451)

    Do not take this the wrong way, what you folks have done is truly appreciated, and I do not wish to sound like a crappy penny pinching C "whatever" O, but I have some honest questions, since I am not as tech knowledgeable as the kind folks running this place. Do you really need 10 servers to run this place? Does the current traffic require that? If not, then perhaps consider cutting some costs there. Growing as needed seems to be more prudent than being loaded for bear right out of the gate. We are certainly small in comparison to TOS, but I do expect this place to grow. I just see no need to to use a .50BMG to kill squirrels, if we are not yet on the big game hunt, so to speak. To use the usually hilarious, and sometimes far off-mark car analogy, no need to take a Ferrari to a go-cart race.

    Perhaps the resources are justified, being not as knowledgeable as you folks on the back-end operations, I honestly do not know. If you say it is, I will take your word for it, and I will lend you my support in whatever fashion I can so that this place remains to be for the community.

    • (Score: 2) by NCommander on Thursday June 26 2014, @06:13PM

      by NCommander (2) Subscriber Badge <mcasadevall@soylentnews.org> on Thursday June 26 2014, @06:13PM (#60458) Homepage Journal

      Right now, the frontend is configured in a 2x2+1 (web/db/slashd) configuration to allow us to failover and do site maintence without offlining the site (this is also why there's been considerably fewer 503 errors when we fiddle with the backend). We have a dedicated box for the wiki and MTA (beryllium), and a dedicated off-site backup node (hosted in France) which brings us to 7. There's a dedicated box for development (lithium/dev.soylentnews.org), and we have a node hosting the staff slash and another one for IRC (kinda). We could merge some of these together, but the cost saving would be at best 40-60 dollars, and make our machines that much crowded.

      --
      Still always moving
  • (Score: 1) by Castout on Thursday June 26 2014, @06:10PM

    by Castout (1914) on Thursday June 26 2014, @06:10PM (#60456)

    I had always thought an ad page could be done that is just that, an ad page. Whenever we want to support SN, you click to the link maybe an $ icon across the top, it loads ads structured nicely, have them tech relevant, and you can just go on a clicking spree (in a sandbox Linux VM for protection) to support the site.

    I've posted this before and demonlapin (925) also posted "Actually, a page of affiliate links to Amazon, Newegg, Monoprice, etc., wouldn't be a bad idea. Just ask people to use them whenever they're planning a purchase."

    Would keep the main pages clean but allow some unobtrusive easy access ad revenue

    --
    "Think outside the box but park between the lines!" - Castout
    • (Score: 2) by NCommander on Thursday June 26 2014, @06:15PM

      by NCommander (2) Subscriber Badge <mcasadevall@soylentnews.org> on Thursday June 26 2014, @06:15PM (#60461) Homepage Journal

      Affiliates are definitely an option though require more research, especially if we do some sorta review on products and such. As for ad clicking spread, almost every ad network I've seen has rules in their TOS prohibiting that.

      --
      Still always moving
      • (Score: 1) by koreanbabykilla on Thursday June 26 2014, @06:40PM

        by koreanbabykilla (968) on Thursday June 26 2014, @06:40PM (#60482)

        Do the opposite of the green site, and have an "enable ads" button that is off by default? I will happily pay $20 a year just to support the site. I would also browse with non-obnoxious ads turned on if it would help. I'm really good at ignoring ads. (no adblock at work lol)
        NCommander, thank you and the other staff for listening and making SN a great site. I appreciate all you do.

      • (Score: 1) by schad on Thursday June 26 2014, @08:07PM

        by schad (2398) on Thursday June 26 2014, @08:07PM (#60535)

        I actually really like the idea of reviews, where at the bottom you have links like "Buy this on Amazon" that use SN as the referrer. Of course, the Internet may not need Yet Another Review Site. I think there are a couple niches that SN could fill. Though probably it'd never contribute more than a couple bucks a month.

        Still, might be something that could differentiate SN while also bringing in some new faces. And it fits with the theme of community-generated content. So the pocket change might just be a nice side benefit of something that's done for other reasons.

        I suppose this means I should put my money where my mouth is and submit a review of something.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 26 2014, @08:59PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 26 2014, @08:59PM (#60562)

          > I actually really like the idea of reviews, where at the bottom you have links like "Buy this on Amazon" that use SN as the referrer.

          You might be surprised to learn that when you follow an amazon referral link, it puts a cookie on your browser such that any purchase you make in the next 24 hours gets credited to the referring site (unless another referral over-writes that cookie). You might be OK with that, but the referring site also gets a list of all purchases made with their referrer id.. Technically they don't get the identity of the purchaser, but given a list of who clicked on specific links on the referring website plus the list of purchases it gets easier to de-anonymize the data. So you clicked on a link for an xbox game and then you threw in a buttplug too and now the referring site has a pretty good chance of figuring out you bought a buttplug.

          • (Score: 2) by tathra on Thursday June 26 2014, @10:05PM

            by tathra (3367) on Thursday June 26 2014, @10:05PM (#60602)

            and then you end up with creepy stuff like this [cnet.com]. lets stay as far away from that as possible.

            • (Score: 1) by schad on Friday June 27 2014, @02:18AM

              by schad (2398) on Friday June 27 2014, @02:18AM (#60697)

              Yikes, that is creepy. I had no idea that was a thing.

              Apparently the idea is to capture people who look at a product, then come back later that day and buy it; and also to capture any "impulse buys" that they decide to get at the same time. If Amazon didn't leak individual purchases -- if they just sent a "referrals bought $X of merchandise this month, here is your Y% cut" instead -- I'd be fine with that. But... As it stands, I withdraw my suggestion.

    • (Score: 2) by gman003 on Thursday June 26 2014, @07:18PM

      by gman003 (4155) on Thursday June 26 2014, @07:18PM (#60507)

      Newegg might be a good idea. In particular, whenever there's a story about certain hardware, you can provide Newegg links to it. As long as you make it clear about what you're doing, I'd be fine with that.

    • (Score: 2) by strattitarius on Thursday June 26 2014, @07:31PM

      by strattitarius (3191) on Thursday June 26 2014, @07:31PM (#60518) Journal
      This would not be easy. But if you can get that "ad page" or as I suggest you call it "gadgets & gears page" to be a place that people actually want to visit every now and again to see what cool stuff is on there, it will be worth more than any number of "targeted" ads you can put on a page.

      Think of it as a single page pintrest that would be relevant to our community.
      --
      Slashdot Beta Sucks. Soylent Alpha Rules. News at 11.
  • (Score: 1) by kaganar on Thursday June 26 2014, @06:47PM

    by kaganar (605) on Thursday June 26 2014, @06:47PM (#60488)

    I think you've been doing an excellent job listening to the community on this issue so far; without or with little hesitation embracing ideas that don't mesh with your own personal goals. I find that to be inspiring. It's what sets Soylent News apart from other (larger) sites for me -- no matter how much I try to involve myself in other sites, I'm just background noise. As Soylent News grows I hope this continues if possible.

  • (Score: 1) by Fnord666 on Thursday June 26 2014, @06:50PM

    by Fnord666 (652) Subscriber Badge on Thursday June 26 2014, @06:50PM (#60490) Homepage

    Besides donations, the second most common topic was on advertising. From your comments, it appears the vast majority of you would be more-or-less OK if we ran it, as long as the ads themselves were not obnoxious, and avoided heavy tracking/JS/etc. We are holding this option in reserve for now, but I'm hesitant to enact it for a couple of reasons. First, I'm almost certain the vast majority of our community uses things like AdBlock Pro and such to filter out adversing, which would drastically limit any revenue we could receive. In addition, to run advertising would require us keep our sponsors happy, and many of the ad networks I looked at may have issues due to comments posted on the site. TVTropes, for instance, ended up self-censoring themselves due to issues with their ad partners. We can get around this problem by self-managing, and self-hosting ads, but this leads into my next issue.

    So here's a sample size of 1. I run ad blocking extensions in general on all my browsers. Too many risks not to for the vast majority of sites.. On the other hand, I whitelist sites that I regularly visit who

    1. Derive some or all of their revenue from advertising in order to keep the site going.
    2. Keep decent control over the ads they present. You run "hit the monkey" ads you're out of the pool.

    My personal belief is that given the vision that we, as users, have seen so far for this site, if ads were implemented then a decent majority of us would whitelist the site. Don't let ad blocking be a significant concern as long as you stick with respectable advertisers. Just my $0.02 US.

    • (Score: 1) by koreanbabykilla on Thursday June 26 2014, @06:54PM

      by koreanbabykilla (968) on Thursday June 26 2014, @06:54PM (#60493)

      Make that a sample size of 2

      • (Score: 2) by skullz on Thursday June 26 2014, @07:24PM

        by skullz (2532) on Thursday June 26 2014, @07:24PM (#60510)

        +1. I whitelisted Duckduckgo for this reason. Haven't regretted it.

  • (Score: 2) by quadrox on Thursday June 26 2014, @07:31PM

    by quadrox (315) on Thursday June 26 2014, @07:31PM (#60519)

    I am extremely wary about the idea of paid submissions. I am against advertisements, and having them in the story flow would be even worse than having them in a small bare on top or to the side. These kind of submissions would have to be truly valuable as a story on their own, or I would hate seeing them.

    That being said, I would be happy to pay more than $20/year. I don't need to get anything special in return - just let me pay what I can afford to keep the site going. Maybe give me a badge (but make this optional, as another user points out).

  • (Score: 2) by pbnjoe on Thursday June 26 2014, @07:46PM

    by pbnjoe (313) on Thursday June 26 2014, @07:46PM (#60526) Journal

    Not much to add except that that's exactly the type of subscription I was hoping for; thanks for listening to people :)

    Also, +1 to the swag idea.

  • (Score: 2) by everdred on Thursday June 26 2014, @08:29PM

    by everdred (110) Subscriber Badge on Thursday June 26 2014, @08:29PM (#60546) Homepage Journal

    To echo what basically everyone has said so far: this sounds good. I wouldn't hesitate to pay that much per year to support SoylentNews in its current form. Although I'd personally be willing to pay a bit more, it's an amount that most people wouldn't have to think twice about, so that works.

  • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Thursday June 26 2014, @10:17PM

    by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Thursday June 26 2014, @10:17PM (#60614) Journal

    In all seriousness you'd better think/specify a little more what exactly means "access to database-intensive operations": a single user may create a extra load which would require you to rent a supplementary node. On the other side, if a "crazy data miner" needs to shake the database 24/7 and this:
    * can be arranged without disturbing SN
    * can raise some money for extra development/smoother operations/additional services, etc
    then why not?

    I'd pay significantly more as a a SN-subscription if, on top of SN DB interrogation API, you can implement a "SN Realtime callback API" that would push all the change events (e.g.: I maintain my own node and register with SN some URL-es to be called with http-POSTing of JSON-payloads at every SN update).
    I'd pay some extra for an access to an advanced API that allows write-access to SN (rate restricted) - this, together with the other parts would allow SN-Apps to be written

    --
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
    • (Score: 2) by NCommander on Friday June 27 2014, @07:51AM

      by NCommander (2) Subscriber Badge <mcasadevall@soylentnews.org> on Friday June 27 2014, @07:51AM (#60766) Homepage Journal

      Database-intensive is things that always hit the backend database instead of being cached such as full comment history. Its sorta a stopgap for features we'd like to implement, but to do so would be too taxing on hardware. Our database has 60k comments in it, and to find them all related to a user requires selecting across multiple tables due to the "unique" schema layout used by slash.

      The DB API is something that's been requested a few times, and may hopefully exist sometime in da future.

      --
      Still always moving
  • (Score: 1) by quixote on Thursday June 26 2014, @10:35PM

    by quixote (4355) on Thursday June 26 2014, @10:35PM (#60623)

    I mean, even I would be willing to pay $20/yr, and there's almost nothing I'm willing to pay for on the web. (Actually, trying to think of something I pay for, and the answer is zero. So SN would be special.)

    In my case, should you decide to have ads, sponsored content, or any of the rest of that ilk, make it blockable by AdBlock and I don't care what you do. If it's not blockable, I'll find my tech news elsewhere. Yes, I hate ads, tracking, grubby little scripts, the works. Piwik's okay, though. I use it myself.

    I'd find it repellent if subscribers get special treatment as authors, commenters, or the like. Having money doesn't make anyone smarter or better. I'd also not like to be identified as a subscriber, like some of the others here. The inducements for subscribers you listed seem okay. They could also have early access to new swag, or even exclusive access to extra special swag, or discounts on swag.

    Great work you've been doing on SN. Keep it going.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 26 2014, @11:23PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 26 2014, @11:23PM (#60637)

    1. free site opens

    2. takes subs and works well for awhile (possible increase or start of banner ads)

    3. merger or bought out

    4. gradual changes in content and style

    5. feign attempt(s) to appeal to the users while alienating most of them (mostly through #4)

    6. by now there are so many clandestine corporate and government puppet ACs and users the comments sections rot

    7. site slowly dies before another merger or buy out (or in rare cases, a new subscription model appears)

    8. profit either way, real value for users is lost

  • (Score: 2) by Hyper on Friday June 27 2014, @12:49AM

    by Hyper (1525) on Friday June 27 2014, @12:49AM (#60668)

    It works for lots of sites. See Erfworld.com as an example.

    Let's see. $1 gets you a mention on the SN KS Thank You page (if wanted)

    $10 gets you a I Participated! SN KS 2014 badge
    $20 gets you a SN Supporter 2014 badge
    $50 gets you the $20 tier plus 30 minutes 1on1 irc time with NCommander
    $100 Gets you rge $50 tier plus 30 mins 1onteam time with the SN team of your choosing (dev/test/etc)
    $200 Gets you a personal phone call from NCommander plus the $100 tier
    $500 gets you a Life Subscriber badge
    $5000 gets you the Patron badge
    $10000 gets you the Overlord badge

  • (Score: 2) by Phoenix666 on Friday June 27 2014, @12:58AM

    by Phoenix666 (552) Subscriber Badge on Friday June 27 2014, @12:58AM (#60672) Journal

    I would really like to see SN merchandise personalized with my user ID and maybe a QR code that takes people to my personal page. Perhaps also an excerpt from my highest modded comment ever. That would be awesome, and I would pay for that.

    --
    Washington DC delenda est.
    • (Score: 2) by cmn32480 on Friday June 27 2014, @02:12AM

      by cmn32480 (443) <{cmn32480} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Friday June 27 2014, @02:12AM (#60693) Journal

      The only problem with custom merchandise is that it is one-off and gets expensive.

      Generic at reasonable prices where the site makes some $$ and it is easily fulfilled is going to be a lot easier to manage and get shipped.

      Word to the wise, DON'T SELL CRAPPY QUALITY MERCH. It leads to the "I paid $25 for this coffee mug... and it sucks. F**k that place"

      A decent SN Ceramic Coffee mug (12-16oz)

      A good sized (20-24oz) travel mug

      16GB or better flash drives with our logo.

      T-Shirts = Free advertising for the site.

      We don't have to be super creative. Items that we will use and that may generate page views by people seeing them are always good. Use them as a marketing tool to get the brand out and expand the readership of the site.

      God knows if the coffee mug was the right size (BIG), I'd buy it.

      Depending on quantities, you may be able to have a community member warehouse it for you. Logistically, it is doable without cluttering up NCommander's new domicile.

      If you want ideas on how the shipping and all the logistics needs to go, drop me a line, I work IT in that type of business and can probably help. I might even be able to volunteer some warehouse space.

      --
      "It's a dog eat dog world, and I'm wearing Milkbone underwear" - Norm Peterson
      • (Score: 2) by Phoenix666 on Friday June 27 2014, @01:51PM

        by Phoenix666 (552) Subscriber Badge on Friday June 27 2014, @01:51PM (#60850) Journal

        I dunno. I used Cafe Press and a similar service recently to do a one-off T-shirt and baseball cap and it was not bad at all. Certainly not beyond my reservation price. So it seems you could do it and make money.

        --
        Washington DC delenda est.
        • (Score: 2) by cmn32480 on Friday June 27 2014, @05:09PM

          by cmn32480 (443) <{cmn32480} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Friday June 27 2014, @05:09PM (#60937) Journal

          Interesting. It has been some years (read: college fraternity days) since I messed with customer shirts and the like. I sit corrected on cost.

          But it is harder logistically (meaning people have to pay attention) to ship Phoenix666 HIS coffee mug instead of picking up one from stock and sending it out. How would you feel if you got NCommander's coffee mug? I know I would feel awesome... and certainly smarter than I am today. But I'd rather have one with my name on it.

          It means longer lead times, and unless the manufacturer is going to send them out directly to the end user, it means double shipping. In order for SN to get the $$, they will have to process the payment and place the order with the customer vendor, instead of shipping out from stock. Probably not too big a deal after the initial influx, but still a pain.

          In the end, you are damned if you do and damned if you don't. But now I REALLY want that coffee mug.

          --
          "It's a dog eat dog world, and I'm wearing Milkbone underwear" - Norm Peterson
  • (Score: 1) by lentilla on Friday June 27 2014, @08:27AM

    by lentilla (1770) on Friday June 27 2014, @08:27AM (#60774)

    I would simply aim to cover costs. NCommander mentioned a figure of $3600 in the story - so aim for; say; double that in the first year. Next year, adjust the "subscription rates" to break even (on the assumption that all current subscribers will re-subscribe) and use the first-year's surplus to address any shortfalls.

    Don't make the mistake of getting too much spare money in the kitty because it will burn a hole in the proverbial pocket and may encourage needless spending. On the other hand, don't make the other mistake of short-changing yourselves and paying for hosting out of your own pockets (for too much longer).

    In terms of what I'd expect as a SoylentNews subscriber? Nothing, apart from the knowledge that I was contributing something worthwhile. (As in, I would be part of something that is shared with the rest of humanity - whether they pay or not.) A badge may be a good idea. Others have pointed out that they'd like the option to turn it off. The only reason I'd display a badge was the hope I could encourage other people to also support the site.

    As for those "extra features" mentioned in the story - vis-a-vis early access, exemption from advertisements, etc, I'd simply say: "no thanks". All those extra features require extra development time anyway! I suspect that those that will contribute will do so regardless of the inclusions of "extras". The strategy adopted by certain paid software where the "Pro" version is an artificially restricted copy of the general version always leave me with a bad taste in my mouth. I would not want this feeling with this community site - artificial technical restrictions are anathema to educated people.

    On the topic of Advertising. No. Again, get the money you need for hosting and call it a day.

    Ditto on "sponsored" anything. No.

    "It has been no secret that I've wanted to build SN into something more that just a news aggregator"

    Fair enough. It adds no value to me - but it's not my site and not my choice. If I may suggest you start off small - by covering your costs - and then consider hiring staff.

    A word of caution: once you hire a single staff member, your costs go from $3600 per year, to... a much larger number - at least an order of magnitude larger. If you think you can get by on $20 USD per subscriber, per year, having a single employee pushes that to $200 USD per subscriber, per year. Of course you probably won't ask people for a $200 USD yearly subscription... but the money has to come from somewhere.

    Once you need "significant" amounts of money, SoylentNews stops being primarily about community and it becomes a business. A non-profit business to be sure - but a business never-the-less. It may even look like a community - but after a while, even that veneer runs thin - which is what happened to the other site. Most of your time will be taken up managing the business and hunting for dollars to pay for it.

    So I put it to you (at least for the time being): do you really want to become a businessman that makes no profit, with all the attendant downsides (hiring, firing, contracts and so on) - or can you be satisfied with facilitating an awesome community and making sure you aren't particularly out-of-pocket?

  • (Score: 1) by goodie on Friday June 27 2014, @12:56PM

    by goodie (1877) on Friday June 27 2014, @12:56PM (#60823) Journal

    Thanks for the update, and no it did not take that long as far as i am concerned. I like the ideas thrown in there, the sub price is also on par with what i'd be willing to pay. And access to querying te SN database sounds really neat to follow the site and contribute back over time. It could help us have actual evidence of what works etc. and identify trends to help the site grow.

    Like others i cannot believe it is that complicated to accept donations.. I am baffled to read this. I'd suggest an initial "soylenthon" to raise money initialy and see after if we want to do this yearly etc.

    Also love the merch idea, i'd love to walk around in an SN t-shirt if it had some funny inside joke or something beyond the site logo on it. Same for a mug or a usb stick.

    Very well done on these points and thank you for taking into account the feedback from users!
    P.S: you know how i can tell it is working out? Non admin users and even ACs don't day "you guys..." they say "we". To me that's the best proof that you are building a community right there :)

  • (Score: 2) by urza9814 on Friday June 27 2014, @03:24PM

    by urza9814 (3954) on Friday June 27 2014, @03:24PM (#60898) Journal

    As a few others have mentioned, just because you can't feasibly accept donations doesn't mean you can't do something that's practically the same thing!

    Have you considered "pay what you want" subscriptions? Maybe have some minimum level (to cover processing fees, cost of subscription perks, etc) but you can pay what you want beyond that. Or just assume most members will give enough. Given how much time I spend on this site, $5/month sounds quite reasonable to me. Unlike some other members though, I'd want it to be recurring, and I'd want it to be monthly. If it's not recurring, I'm gonna let it lapse. If it's not monthly, I'm never gonna remember when it's billed, and nobody likes money randomly disappearing!

    Here's what I'd like to see. There's a link to subscribe, and that takes you to a page which asks three things:
    1) Amount you'd like to pay. I'd suggest a $5 minimum here.
    2) How often you'd like to pay. Monthly, quarterly, annually, or one-time only.
    3) Payment info.

    Of course, it gets a bit tricky deciding duration for subscription...if you pay $5/month, then cancel, do benefits only last a month? If you pay $5/year do they instead last a year? $5/one-time they last...? Maybe make it always one year from your last donation no matter how you do it. Or 3 months per $5.

    Monthly subscriptions, rather than all one-time payments, should give you a bit more flexibility financially too, since you'll have some base level of funding you can count on. I assume most of your bills are monthly. Sure, people can cancel any time, but odds are the entire subscriber base won't cancel at once. And if they do, you must have REALLY screwed up!

  • (Score: 1) by Max Hyre on Friday June 27 2014, @06:13PM

    by Max Hyre (3427) <{maxhyre} {at} {yahoo.com}> on Friday June 27 2014, @06:13PM (#60965)
    1. Go with the subscriptions: I'll pay USD 20/year in a heartbeat
    2. Go for the paid reporting. I pay ~ USD 15/month to LWN [lwn.net] because of their reporting. Subscriptions have allowed them to hire additional staff. If I had more money, I'd send some of it to them. If Soylent News developed along those lines, I'd be ecstatic, and find a way to go over $20/year. Maybe you could even ask Jon Corbet [mailto] about LWN's setting up of subscriptions?
    3. Have you checked out Nearly Free Speech.net [nearlyfreespeech.net] for hosting? They charge by how much you use, and note that this gives them pointed incentive for uptime and prompt response: if the site runs slowly, or is down, they don't make money. I've used them for years, am a happy customer, and have no connection with them other than buying their services. The clean design of their website and up-front discussions of problems are a good match for Soylent News. (They also feel strongly about free-as-in-freedom of speech.)

    Notes:

    • The <ol> tag here doesn't follow the type= attribute. <hr> tags don't get interpreted, either.
    • Speaking of LWN.net, check their comment layout. The first comment-entry page has no submit button; all you can do is preview. On later ones the submit button is directly below the formatted comment. The comment-editing field has only a preview button beneath it. I find this a convenience, and it's saved me from fat-fingering into a premature submission. Might help others, too. (I'm pretty sure they haven't taken out a patent on it. :-)
  • (Score: 1) by andersjm on Friday June 27 2014, @06:20PM

    by andersjm (3931) on Friday June 27 2014, @06:20PM (#60968)

    I don't want a t-shirt or a mug and I'm never going to buy a subscription. If subscribers get significant special privileges, that would just drive me away. But I'll make a comparable donation if you let me.

    Have you considered basing your organisation in a jurisdiction with saner laws regarding accepting donations? Maybe what you need is a smarter CPA.

    • (Score: 1) by mrchew1982 on Saturday June 28 2014, @05:14AM

      by mrchew1982 (3565) on Saturday June 28 2014, @05:14AM (#61261)

      Create a shell account, subscribe for $20 and then never use it again. you can consider it a $20 donation since you derived no benefit from it whatsoever.

      I fully understand why NCommander doesn't want to do the donations thing, the IRS are not people that you want to have a relationship with in any sense of the word.

      • (Score: 1) by andersjm on Saturday June 28 2014, @10:09AM

        by andersjm (3931) on Saturday June 28 2014, @10:09AM (#61301)

        I'm not going to game the system to force someone to receive a donation that they don't want.

  • (Score: 2) by opinionated_science on Monday September 22 2014, @01:43PM

    by opinionated_science (4031) on Monday September 22 2014, @01:43PM (#96751)

    I glanced at the cost summary the funding linked to, and I noticed the lawyer retainer is more than the server cost ($5000 vs $3600).

    Could someone explain what decisions went into this?

    Does the lawyer have to actively do something, or is this insurance against having to do something?

    Please excuse my ignorance, I buy my law like I buy my beer. When I need it, and pay enough to get the job done...