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20 Years of LWN (lwn.net)
307 points by corbet 12 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 19 comments



I love LWN's content. It includes soooo much detailed technical coverage on many interesting conferences. It's a great way to stay vaguely aware of what's happening in various subindustries.

It's extremely frustrating how many steps it takes to subscribe.

There are so many places to drop out of the signup process (especially when you don't already have an account).

The first time I meant to subscribe, I got distracted by something halfway through and ended up not subscribing for 3 months.

After clicking the call to action , it should basically immediately present a "sign up and subscribe" form, complete with credit card collection.

It would be a massive shame to be at the limit of sustainability because of something like this


Your comment motivated me to sign up and subscribe. I didn't find it much different from subscribing to other publications: create an account, login, choose subscription level, pay.


Many places unify this flow to prevent people dropping out halfway through

Even the link in the header to subscribe leads to a wall of text where you have to hunt for the right link. The first link several paragraphs in is for group subscriptions?? Why?

My bet is that the people landing on have mostly decided to subscribe, or are interested in more details about the cost. Yet 90% of the page is still about convincing me about the merits. I was already convinced by the single paragraph header on the article!

The page presented is useful for those coming from an FAQ or something, but not well suited for the person coming from that header.

It might sound super nitpicky but there's huge amounts of behavioral science about the benefits of simplifying these kinds of flows. Saying it doesn't matter is going against a lot of documented evidence to the contrary.


I believe you. I was just stating it's no worse than other subscriptions (New Yorker, NYT, Economist) I've purchased. That I recall anyway.


Same here. Maybe they are looking for something like Amazon's 'one click checkout?'


LWN is a class act. Most subscription services make you jump through hoops to cancel your subscription. Not LWN though. It is the only media subscription that I've seen that doesn't automatically renew when your payment term is up.

This makes me feel like LWN really respects their customers.


I never subscribed or even visited LWN on my own, but their content sharing is something that every paid news outlet should take a note of. Your subscribers should be able to share the content they paid for with their friends, colleagues, whatever without copy-pasting it. Limit it by visits or time (or both) if you are worried. Do NOT ask for emails before showing the article to visitors.


Yet LWN is struggling to make ends meet.


Not really. From TFA:

> The "subscriber link" mechanism, suggested by our readers, has become one of our most powerful marketing tools. All told, it is not a model that has made any of us rich, but working for LWN is not an exercise in poverty anymore either.


It's a somewhat recent development. Just a few years ago LWN had to fire Jake Edge. I guess things are looking up and they rehired him. Good to know.


"Things are looking up" was caused by a single change: They raised their prices, especially the cheapest "starving hacker" tier was raised from $1 to $3.5, while prices for other tiers were raised but not by as much.

IIRC, they later commented that this had almost no impact on their subscriber count. They are serving almost everyone who has a major interest in their subject, and the market turned out to be much less price-sensitive than they expected. They could have avoided many years of shoestring budgets just by raising their prices earlier.


It's kind of funny, considering that their target demographic probably makes an average of 100k per year after graduating :)


Presumably some of their audience lives in a country with much smaller salaries.


I deal with this objection a lot.

60% of this market is in the US; 40% or so is elsewhere. (That is not true of the prospective users of this, but it will be broadly true of the payers.) Half of "elsewhere" is in an elsewhere with compares-directly-to-US living standards.

$1 rounds to $7 for US and parity-with-us technologists; both require more bandwidth to make the decision, as a percentage of all available bandwidth, than they occupy a portion of the budget. $7 does not round to $1 for some technologists elsewhere.

You won't get their business at $7; you probably don't have it at $1, either, because they might find it difficult to physically get you a dollar. Subsidize their price down to zero by charging US technologists an appropriate amount.

Many people want to operate tech-facing businesses like charities for ideological reasons or because they have an exaggerated view of the size of the audience that won't/can't pay. That's suboptimal but survivable, if you at least operate like a competent charity. A charity which doesn't have a $250+ a year option cleanly presented to its donors who are in the top 2% of the US income distribution is not a competent charity.


patio11 would not be surprised.


LWN has an enterprise subscription model (I think). I work for Hewlett Packard and login using corporate account. The enterprise model is not well advertised/known.

Just saying so if someone here wants to get their company to subscribe, then it's win-win for LWN and your employees.


I used to be a subscriber for LWN for like 17 years. It was so nice to be able to look only once a week to their site and got all important stuff in a nice format. I let my subscription to expire when they started to move to daily news format with less focus of their high-quality weekly issues. I have found that it brought extra noise distracting from more important issues.


I have to disagree with this assessment. The change was to publish the Weekly content as standalone articles throughout the week rather than wait for the Weekly Edition. The Weekly Editions are still there if you prefer to read LWN once a week. I don't think the quality of the content has suffered as a result.


wow i'm old




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