Fees for Comments, Never Mind the Source

The Verge’s Chris Plante has an article about an online magazine (The Tablet) that has decided to charge their own community money for the ability to comment. The rates seem kind of outrageous at $2 (a day), $18 (for a month) or $180 (for a year,) but that will work itself out.

If it isn’t a price that people will pay, and readership goes down I am sure the price will change. Some fantastically popular and successful communities have done this. The two that come to mind are, of course, SomethingAwful and MetaFilter. Both serve their readers well. They’ve both been operating for decades now, and both charge a one-time-only fee which as far as the business model goes is the only major difference between them and The Tablet. There is plenty of room for people to try new ideas around commenting. If The Tablet wants to charge money on a recurring basis instead of one time, go for it.

Maybe they’ll be able to hire community managers to moderate the comments and build relationships with their commenters with this money, and not face the crisis faced by the one-time fee sites like the one Metafilter had last year.

There is only one good argument against paying for the right to comment that I’m aware of, it keeps out people who can’t afford to comment. It’s a great way to systematically suppress the voices of the poor.  The Tablet does still have a few other ways to get in touch with them on social media as listed in their announcement.

What’s kind of hilarious is that The Verge’s article is complaining about this practice. No, not by mentioning the classism of the fee. Instead, they end with their article and ending it with a pithy…

The Verge’s comments remain free. Feel free to use them below.

The Verge is yet another large media blog that can’t bother to link to their source, or any link at all to The Tablet until a tiny source link at the bottom of the post, which nobody is going to click on. I have a great deal of respect for their writers, but the business practice of not linking to your source and/or only populating your article with links to your own website is despicable. If your readers want to go check out who is doing the thing your article is about, you have to trust them and the quality of your work that they will come back and finish your article instead of putting a tiny source link in where you know they won’t click it. The web is made to be linked.

TimeDoctor dot org continues to link to its sources. Even when they’re dirtbags like The Verge.

Author: Jack Slater

A Philadelphian exiled to Hawaii. You can follow or contact me on Twitter where I'm @TimeDoctor, via the contact page, or via e-mail to zjs AT zacharyjackslater dot com More here.

4 thoughts on “Fees for Comments, Never Mind the Source”

  1. Also, one could debate the value of paying to get onto SA these days. While it’s very much still alive, it’s not nearly as ‘big’ as it once was – literally & figuratively.

  2. I’m not sure about the exact numbers but I bet you’re right about SA not being as big anymore. Reddit and 4chan probably took a huge bite out of their community.

    I have paid for both SomethingAwful and MetaFilter and MetaFilter is the only site of those two I comment on, and even then usually only do so to help other people out on ask.metafilter.com.

  3. I haven’t logged into my MeFi account in probably 10 years. Mathowie probably disabled it

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