Interesting — AtomicMPC announced to its fiercely loyal online community that areas of its forum will soon attract a $20/year access fee to all users except magazine subscribers and high-ranking forum members. Predictably, a series of rabid commentary followed in the web site feedback section. But in many ways, I would have expected the frenzy to be much more important, and this leads me to a remark.
I recall a similar episode — minus the berserk — occurred when the Wall Street Journal‘s web site became subscription based. The web site reportedly lost two thirds of it readers in a single day. Nonetheless, readers have been flocking back every day since, and the Wall Street Journal’s paid subscribers are the envy of many an online newspaper today.
In any event, I still think my suggested pay-to-follow subscription model is more efficient that the two in the end.
Update — I should also point out that the idea of a subscription based forum is not new. Le Monde has been doing this for a while now.