Exactly one year ago SoylentNews published its very first story: Welcome to SoylentNews! And what a year it's been! It all started with a posting at slashdot where an editor claimed they had "listened to their audience" about complaints about the new Beta version of the site that was being rolled out. Many noted that any changes were cosmetic — that it was the community that made that site what it was. And, in inimical nerd fashion, a "SlashCott" was scheduled from February 10-17 wherein the participants pledged to not visit /. for one whole week. Others took a more active role. The source code for /. was originally made open source and was available on the internet. Sadly, that code had not been maintained and was several years out of date. Some intrepid souls labored long and hard to locate servers, coordinate activities, and get the code knocked into shape. The goal was to create an alternative site that was free from the manipulations of a corporate overlord. That first story signified a major accomplishment, but the site was still unstable and many features were incomplete, non-functional, or just plain ugly. Many more days of implementation, debugging, and testing were to follow culminating with SN going live to the world on February 17, 2014: Welcome to the World of Tomorrow... Today!. Much has happened since that nascent story first graced the 'net. There have been changes in our all-volunteer staff. We had votes for the name of the site. We implemented UTF-8 support so stories and comments can include any valid character. We incorporated as a Public Benefit Corporation — on USA's Independence Day no less! We have an on-line store where you can buy SoylentNews Swag. You can subscribe and help support our site. By the numbers: Over 5000 accounts have been registered and nearly 5000 stories have been posted to the site. Each story is read from 500-2000 times by logged-in users, and approximately 10 times as many Anonymous Cowards. More importantly, nearly 150,000 comments have been posted by you, our community. Today, we have a small but dedicated group of volunteers who keep the site running. They keep the OS up-to-date on our servers, maintain our Wiki, e-mail, and IRC channels. They add features and fix bugs in the SN code base. Others edit and publish stories to appear on the site. We have a Board of Directors who take care of the legal sides of things. A treasurer who follows the finances. And there are still others who help in a non-technical, but just as necessary capacity in keeping the site humming along.
So, hats off to all who have helped build this site to what it is today!
Yup, pretty sure I was one arguing against annual subscriptions at the time too. Somehow forgot all that and was hoping it'd be a pay what you want thing when I went to actually subscribe recently. I mean first of all, I never renew annual subscriptions. I've got a few monthly ones that have been going for years. I'm 24 now, and I've kept my monthly ACLU donations going since I was 16! I don't think I've ever once renewed an annual subscription though. Because it's a not automatic and because the cost is always higher.
I'd gladly put in $5/month for Soylent. I'd consider even $10/month. I can easily fit that into my regular monthly budget. Fitting an extra $60 all in one month would be annoying; fitting an extra $120, just for something like Soylent, is not at all possible.
The swag is cool and all, but frankly...I looked through the list and there's nothing I see myself actually using. I just don't need any more T-shirts or mugs. I'm a kinda frugal guy when it comes to spending on myself though, I can't think of much you could sell that I *would* be interested in. Maybe if someone comes up with a seriously epic design, then I might be into some swag, but otherwise it feels like a waste.
I think pay-what-you-want subscriptions (and maybe even merch, with a lower bound) would be the ideal solution, although I'm not sure about how much effort that would be to set up. Perhaps to simplify things they could do just a $1 monthly subscription in unlimited quantity? So if I want to do $5/month, I just do 5 concurrent recurring $1/month subscriptions. That might end up being even *more* complicated though, I dunno, I've never really worked with payment processing...