Ars probably went too far by not announcing their experiment before they ran it...
I think that's only part of their problem. Additionally, they've insulted members of their community directly (in please don't come back
replies to comments) and indirectly (the viewers are no more than $$ to us
Not everybody who runs a tech website is so marketing-savvy [as TechDirt's Mike Masnick]...
As I see it, SPCR is actually doing better than most in this regard. Consider the SPCR-designed systems and collaboration with Antec on chassis. I don't know how profitable this was to SPCR, but I think this is a good direction: you nurtured a community, and channeled its wants/needs into sell-able products. And you did so without annoying or insulting anyone. Win-win-win.
...even when that site's information is really useful or even essential.
I've learned that very little is truly essential. "Really useful" - absolutely, and our lives are greatly enriched by it as well. Being by nature non-essential contributes to difficultly of web monetization. Monetizing through advertising seems like the easy play, but it's clearly not a long-term solution given the development and prevalence of ad-blocking software. I think the future of online revenue generation will be indirect - leveraging content & community to sell other things. That 'thing' could be as obvious as a site subscription, or as indirect as a chassis co-designed by SPCR.
I think about how much PC hardware I've purchased as a result of "free" online media and OTA HDTV. For as much as I dislike them, Apple seems to get this idea: their OS is inexpensive but drives purchases of expensive hardware. The opposite also works: the iPhone/iPad is a portal to the iTunes store. Boxee has the Boxee Box - software and hardware each driving sales of the other.
But you replied to this:
...and taking more time to create other content or do other things to generate adequate revenue for the site content creators to make a living doesn't make much sense when our resources are always stretched already.
I guess I don't have an answer to the "not enough resources" argument. Is this an accurate characterization: resources are stretched currently, and the way we currently apply those resources is not driving growth? This is a catch-22 and a half.
Thanks so much for opening the discussion on this. A few other sites I frequent reported on the Ars experiment but didn't open discussion on it. I think that's a missed opportunity.
Worker control wrote:
confused about the notion of donating to a business.
What if it were re-phrased. Seems maybe the contention is with the word "donate". Contrast with something you buy - it's not a donation, you're purchasing something - do you research where your purchase money is going? For example, a large portion of the money we spend on our hobby profits foreign corporations. It is extremely difficult to track the flow of currency at that point, which is not to say we shouldn't consider it.