Over the last couple years, reddit traffic and usage have continued to grow by leaps and bounds — in October 2012 alone we were up to over 3.8B pageviews and more than 46 million unique visitors. Our server costs also continue to grow, so we have a choice to make: we can start running a bunch more ads, or we can give you, the community, more reasons to support the site with your own money through reddit gold.
Reddit CEO Yishan Wong, blog.reddit.com. Now is the Time… to Invest in Gold.
Avoiding overt commercialization because you’re afraid of alienating your online community is honorable, but it will eventually lead to a big question — where, then, do you make money?
Wong, as Mathew Ingram pointed out earlier today, has subtly reminded users about Reddit Gold, a paid membership that comes with perks. Wong also told readers that, no, they are not a very profitable site. They need help, and so they’re asking members to pay if they can.
Ingram thinks it may work, and that it could even work for news sites:
There’s no question that being a community already gives Reddit a better chance of success with this kind of thing, but it is a model that I think more media companies could implement as well, instead of just putting up a blanket paywall around all of their content. This is the idea behind what Wall Street Journal managing editor Raju Narisetti and author Jeff Jarvis have both called a “reverse paywall” — which provides benefits to loyal users and readers instead of charging them — and it seems like a much better fit if what you want to do is build a relationship with your community.
The key is to build and maintain a community where users are able to build reputations for themselves, either through loyal interaction with content, or continued contribution to the community. Think karma.
It may also be that the community needs a strong membership within its large population. Members with Reddit Gold, however, are no such group. But one user has the right idea — noting that some members occasionally see their own artwork posted without attribution, it was suggested that there be a “creddit” button which links to and gives points, perks, etc. to the members that created the shared work.
As Ingram points out, other robust communities have disappeared after the owner of the site tried to profit from them:
Those kinds of decisions, along with other design-related moves that Digg made, arguably poisoned the site’s relationship with its community to the point where many core users left — in many cases for Reddit — and the site’s long slide into irrelevance began.
How can Reddit and similar sites (and even news sites) make money, then? Well if it’s all hinged on their community, it doesn’t hurt to have a strong one that’s filled with, as Clay Shirky has put it, love — members who continue coming back to have conversations, share content and create.
We have been worried about the direction Wikileaks is going for a while. In the recent month the focus moved away from actual leaks and the fight for freedom of information further and further while it concentrated more and more on Julian Assange. It goes without saying that we oppose any plans of extraditing Julian to the USA. He is a content provider and publisher, not a criminal.
But Wikileaks is not - or should not be - about Julian Assange alone. The idea behind Wikileaks was to provide the public with information that would otherwise being kept secret by industries and governments. Information we strongly believe the public has a right to know. But this has been pushed more and more into the background, instead we only hear about Julian Assange, like he had dinner last night with Lady Gaga. That’s great for him but not much of our interest. We are more interested in transparent governments and bringing out documents and information they want to hide from the public…
…The conclusion for us is that we cannot support anymore what Wikileaks has become - the One Man Julian Assange show. But we also want to make clear that we still support the original idea behind Wikileaks: Freedom of information and transparent governments. Sadly we realize that Wikileaks does not stand for this idea anymore.
Anonymous, Statement on Wikileaks.
Wikileaks alleges that because of the close connection between the company and the government, “these GI Files releases will shed insight into key U.S. federal election players.” For example, the first release of almost 14,000 files are from 2011 and contain the keywords “republican”, “GOP”, “Romney”, “RNC” and “GOP”.
Further, the files were originally obtained by Anonymous-related groups.
And that set Anonymous off. Or, since it’s a decentralized activist group, it set off those behind @YourAnonNews who wrote to their 640,000 followers, “This, dear friends will lose you all allies you still had. @Wikileaks, please die in a fire, kthxbai.”
If the news business on the web is depressing, contributing to the existential angst that has gripped every established news organization, mobile turns the story apocalyptic: there is no foreseeable basis on which the news establishment can support itself. There is no way even a stripped-down, aggregation-based, unpaid citizen-journalist staffed newsroom can support itself in a mobile world.
Michael Wolff, The Guardian. Mobile and the news media’s imploding business model.
Wolff writes that the news media’s reliance on advertising is getting it into ever greater trouble as news readers move from the Web to mobile platforms.
His math is rather simple. For every $100 spent on print advertising, $10 is spent on the Web. And for every $10 spent on the Web, $1 is spent on mobile.
This isn’t because marketing dollars aren’t interested in mobile advertising. It’s because the rate publishers can charge for mobile advertising is so meager.
His guestimated future: there will be more and more paywalls, at least for mobile access.
Yesterday I reblogged a Reuters post that reports that The New York Times will limit free articles to 10 per month. After the repost I linked to a short video we created a while ago about getting around the paywall. To make sixty seconds short, it shows that you just need to delete everything after the “?” mark in the URL and reload the page to access any article you want.
Here’s some criticism for doing so:
I should say that the criticism is more or less valid. I should also say that my language (“FJP: Paywall got you down? Here’s our 60 second tutorial on getting around it.”) doesn’t help.
Here’s what I should have written if I was thinking at the time:
And so, with that as my backstory to posting a link to a video about how easy it is to get around the NYT paywall, I wrote shorthand about how to do so.
Sometimes when you’re in the weeds you forget the forest for the trees but my link to circumventing the paywall is part of a larger and longer discussion that’s been going on at the FJP about paywalls and how they might work.
The New York Times is very much aware of how leaky their paywall is. It is very much aware that deleting a string from a URL gives anyone access to their content. This is a both a design and business decision that I can’t imagine they’re very much worried about. Otherwise, they’d close this gap.
So, in the meantime, I’ll post again — with the caveat that if you can afford a subscription, purchase a subscription — if you want to view a New York Times article but have bumped up against your monthly allotment, follow the instructions posted here.
If the New York Times wants to shut down this access they can do so quickly and easily. Until then, have at it — Michael