* some better tools for searching, tagging, tracking my history, etc to allow me to better use and self organize their docs on 'mdn plus' would be a useful service. it may also give them some more insight on how people are using it and what areas are of bigger utilization.
* tools to allow me to ask private questions in areas of their docs, with some prioritization for answers/responses.
* IDE plugins - I think there's one for IntelliJ Ultimate, but not specifically from MDN. Having more direct access to MDN info while inside my IDEs would be something probably worth paying for. I suspect they may get some useful data on when/where people are having trouble. I wouldn't even mind contributing some of my source code snippets back from within the IDE if it would help give more examples to MDN.
$2-$3/month, if there were/are nicer tools to help me track what I've seen, perhaps letting me add private annotations so when I come back I can jog my own memory... I would try that, at least for a while (I think I'd get use out of that). $10/month - for just some 'premium' content? Probably not. $50/year would, for me, probably be an upper bound (unless/until I see more potential benefits).
EDIT: had not seen 'down below' - they have 'Bookmark and annotate free and paid content for reference across devices.' as a feature - possibly along the lines of what I was thinking above. Signed up for waitlist.
That said $10/mo is a bit steep for me. And in any event, if they don’t make explicit that the money goes to support MDN upkeep and development then it’s a nonstarter. I’m not giving Mozilla money to fritter away on another rebrand or whatever else they want to use it for.
"We want to provide extra value through premium content and features to help make MDN self-sustaining, on a completely opt-in basis."
But then again, once they have the money, they are free to do what they want with it. Marketing is not binding. It all comes down to this: Do you trust Mozilla?
I would believe Mozilla if they said “100% of the funds will go to MDN” but they don’t say that.
Two issues I found:
1) I had no idea there was a waitlist til I read another comment here; I wasn't going to expand the article, and the signup CTA is gated behind doing that
2) the signup button seems to do nothing? I even tried opening it in Chrome (Firefox is my primary browser)
There are surely tens of thousands of companies worldwide, whose employees rely on MDN on a daily basis. There are poor startups among them, but many of those companies have pretty deep pockets. If just a small percentage of those employees ask their bosses for this $5/mo. sub, this can improve things considerably. For now everything is free, so no one has an incentive, or a way, to pay.
As developers, we are collectively guilty for never asking our employees for anything which costs $$$. Many of us (me including) assume that asking for a few bucks sub is almost a crime. Or we don't want to deal with stupid bureaucracy and an arcane process to set up the sub.
Personally I hope the experiment will work. Let's see in a few months.
I think the best model would be something like: subscribers get the premium content immediately, other people with a few weeks/months delay. This would keep a healthy balance and keep the incentives in place for people to pay.
More like this IMO. There tends to be a lot of process with this sort of thing, which makes me reluctant to bother. Especially if I'll have to do it over and over again.
Everyone's suggesting lower price levels, but I'd suggest they have a higher enterprise price level. I bet a lot of medium-large corporations would pay a few thousand a year for all of their employees to have access to this new top-tier MDN plus. Would probably have to support the usual rigamarole of corporate POs and billing and tools to administer accounts with large numbers of users.
Even the copy suggests you're better off not getting this, waiting at least a year for the content to be posted "every month," then subbing for a single month to read it all.
Maybe the Wikipedia/donation model would have been a better play for MDN then this, particularly as freemium was originally about micro-transactions, not $2 more than the cost of Netflix's Basic tier.
Now it falls into the uncanny valley of: Too "product" to be a donation, and not really enough of a product to be a real product.
If you nuke the sessionid cookie and reload you'll either get "$5 a month or $50 a year" (variant 1) or "$10 a month or $100 a year" (variant 2).
(*) Keep in mind that this might have unwanted side effects.
The exclusive content just seems like a way of pushing would-be donors over the edge.
It's sort of similar to LWN. The articles are top notch but available for free after a delay (likewise, anything truly useful on MDN+ will leak out on to other platforms). People who subscribe to LWN just want to support the efforts and make sure the content continues to flow, they're not really concerned with the exclusivity of getting it first.
The Mozilla Corporation exists to partially make money just like any other corporation. How can HN both complain when Mozilla sheds dead weight, but also diversifies revenue?
Mozilla shepherded MDN into the hands of the community quite well imo. They busted their butt to make the content easy to contribute to through GitHub.
Please have some perspective on situations instead of "Hur dur Mozilla fired these people".
> The Mozilla Corporation is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Mozilla Foundation
> The Mozilla Corporation's stated aim is to work towards the Mozilla Foundation's public benefit to "promote choice and innovation on the Internet."
That's why; it's not so 1 + 1 = 2. There is a ton of discretion and leeway baked into their mission on matters like MDN.
I'm conducive to the possibility that Mozilla has, as another commenter has said, "lost its way".
Subscription prices vary by all types of audiences for subscription-based models, test segments are just one of them, and one of the least shady in my opinion. It's a brand new product and they're gauging the right price.
You walk into a bar and the guy in front of you orders a beer for $5. Looks good, so you order the same thing. The bartender says, "For you it's $10." Do you feel fairly treated?
Moreover next to the price there's a disclaimer that the "Price is subject to change".
To me it seems that they're just running an experiment to determine what's the price they should put to the service, which seems smart and correct.
It's the intent I guess. The bartender story seems to imply a bad reason for the discrepancy (some type of unfair discrimination), while in this case it's to find out if you can charge more to eg capture back more of the value people are getting from you. Which doesn't seem so bad.
Then there are tests that would be hard to run even on different days, like doubling your nominal price and splashing a "today only 50% off" or "buy one get one free" offer.
Real-world price testing is so much harder to pull off, it isn't as common, which is part of the reason web A/B tests seem jarring when the curtain is pulled back.
You can "flip" through MDN's other (free) articles, or the excerpts they've provided here to decide if it's worth your money.
How is reading free content on your phone harder than walking to a bookstore? (Also this seems like a paywall, not a walled garden.)
I remember those times too, but there were no magazines for me to flip through to learn CSS float-based/table-based layouts. I had to look at ::shudders:: W3Schools.
Did you click the link? The second blob of text, above the fold and not easy to miss:
> Nothing is changing with the existing MDN Web Docs content — this content will continue to be free and available to everyone. We want to provide extra value through premium content and features to help make MDN self-sustaining, on a completely opt-in basis. Again, nothing is changing with the existing MDN Web Docs!
The experience you describe at the bookstore mirrors the proposed experience for MDN Plus rather well, actually.
We know how to do this "correctly." MDN Plus should be a VIP pass to access to the MDN team, via a private forum and/or chat room. Talk to (survey) the paying users for what new material they're interested in, and provide that.
This is how basically all Patreons work. People buy those subscriptions like hotcakes, they have excellent margins, and the subscribers are reliably very satisfied with the result.
"Deep Dives" can be farmed out to contractors and you dont have to worry about paying employees.
On the fully indie side of things Michael Hartl has been doing it for a while with Ruby, front-end technologies, and seems to be doing OK for himself. I don't know what kind of profit we're talking about but it seems that it's enough to keep at it. https://www.learnenough.com/
Then there's Udemy. Max S. has 1.4 million "students" which I believe means his courses have been purchased a combined 1.4 million times. If we assume an average selling price of about $10 that's a lot of money even when we subtract Udemy's cut of the money. https://www.udemy.com/user/maximilian-schwarzmuller/
In general, be thoughtful when considering what you think "makes money" on the web. While not easy to achieve, there are a lot of folks making very good livings selling things on the web. But of course it's not going to make headlines if they are "only" making $100K or $500K. The press is only really interested in gaudy public stock offerings worth billions.
In the specific case of MDN, it certainly seems like they could sustain themselves using this model. If 10,000 people sign up and pay $10 a month that's $1.2 million/year in revenue. Certainly enough to pay for a rack of servers, some dedicated staff, and a rotating cast of outside contributors to write the articles.
It is absolutely possible to make money selling classes/tutorials (e.g. via Udemy or any of a variety of other online class platform), but MDN is already committed to making its classes/tutorials available for free https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/Tutorials
It's an essential component of MDN Plus that they have to say exactly what they say in TFA: "Nothing is changing with the existing MDN Web Docs content — this content will continue to be free and available to everyone."
As a result, MDN can't practically sell books OR classes. What's left? VIP access.
Yeah, sure, slightly different models. But plenty of people are selling this kind of content and achieving financial success -- and that's without the benefit of MDN's brand recognition. Clearly, it can be done.
What is your point now? That these counterexamples don't have the exact same % mix of free vs. VIP content as MDN is proposing, therefore MDN can't financially sustain itself? Seems like quite a supposition. I see a wide variety of free/VIP % mixes out there. Doesn't seem like there's one right answer or magic formula.
MDN may or may not succeed with this model. As with most things it comes down to execution. It's relatively new territory for Mozilla so I'm not convinced they'll pull it off. But it's not like some wild and untested/disproven model.
Sure. They're often called "ebooks".
However, back to the topic of corporate sponsors.. I see a distinct lack of calling out who the sponsors are? We all know a lot of VERY big companies shut down their own doc efforts to throw in with MDN; why not sell them call-out spots on a list of sponsors? Tiered even? Doesn't have to be super intrusive but would potentially open up funding channels within those large companies.
It can be done on a small scale. The name escapes me but somebody big in the React world recently put out a course and made well over 5-6 figures in the first day of preorders alone.
Now whether that scales to fund an entire organization or corporation remains to be seen.
Charge for the "Pools, Hot Tubs, and Beaches" content?
I would always trust open, free deep dives under open scrutiny and criticism more than something behind a paywall.
Even if this is from Mozilla.
A premium chat room/forum would have been miles better.
Yes, they got rid of most of the team, bu the remaining team members that are there and pretty much all of the community contributors would quit if they were suddenly transitioned into paid tech support roles.
I'd love to see them make a come-back, but it's been so damn long and they're showing so many strongly negative signs that I think they're long since rotted beyond hope, organizationally. Better they're replaced. I don't think they're an organization capable of replacing themselves with a better upstart of their own making, as Phoenix/Firebird/Firefox did to the Mozilla browser, nor of innovating—Pocket and a VPN service are their innovative monetization and self-sufficiency efforts. Not leaping into any number of promising avenues for web services that would benefit from having an open-source-friendly but well-capitalized backer offering a paid version with a built-in audience to push the Web and potentially the Internet forward, but... Pocket and a VPN. How do you miss the boat that badly? How many teams building the sorts of things Firefox should have been (Signal, Matrix, Gemini, IPFS, various open-source social network efforts like Mastodon, et c.) are small enough to comfortably fit within the Firefox org? Several, I imagine.
What a waste of potential.
I was once a strong supporter of Mozilla but never again.
How do you figure?
This has nothing to do with cost of living or purchasing power parity. It’s just random testing.
It feels like this could have landed with a bit more punch and a more compelling sell and it could very well evolve into something very valuable but I can't see the appeal right now.
Another commenter mentioned $10 a month but I'm seeing $5 at the moment. Right now there's just no features I'd consider paying anything for. I would happily pay $5-$10 a month though for something more fleshed out, more regular high quality technical deep dives and some other benefits that justify a regular subscription.
Unless they intentionally break it somehow, my print dialog can already do that to any page.
Actually it's even easier: "file -> export to PDF" is an option in Safari. Saves a couple clicks.
I get the idea, but including that on the list of premium features is really weird. Are they just not going to provide a print stylesheet at all, unless you pay? Maybe that's it.
So long as the docs themselves remain under CC-BY-SA though guess it's not really a problem. The premium features they currently offer seem reasonable, and if things ever get too out of hand the community could always just move to another site. It also doesn't sound like something I'd pay for though, so not sure how successful it'll be.
On the positive side, more funding to maintain MDN could turn out to be a good thing in the long term. I guess we'll have to see.
I don't think that is true (maybe I missed something from their page?), which means they will always have the incentive to make more premium content in order to generate more revenue, especially if they need it to cover the expenses.
Whether overly abundant donations are misallocated is a completely orthogonal issue.
Note that I’m not saying we are entitled to anything; but slapping the MDN brand on a premium subscription service does tarnish the original brand a little.
Is my understanding incorrect?
Wikipedia misallocating funds does tarnish the original brand a lot, especially when most people that contribute content are doing it for free.
Which has nothing to do the donation model.
Wikimedia can pay full time content writers if they want to.
Mozilla can also use the subscription income to pay CEO comp if they want to.
Allocation of funds has close to nothing to do with the acquisition of funds, unless the acquisition comes with a specific mandate, which neither Wikipedia donations nor the subscription service here has.
On a long enough timeline, all free and libre services done out of the good will and charitable efforts of contributors and maintainers, will eventually succumb to some sort of monetization strategy. I know in my case, and last time I checked, I don't work for free.
instead of creating all these services that I’m not really sure if the money is going to the whole company or actually supporting development of these product I use
I would donate to MDN, I would donate to Firefox development
For now. Once you let the monetization genie out of the bottle, Death by a Thousand MBA's is almost certain.
In all seriousness though, the MBA in and of itself isn't necessarily "bad". However, the "maximize shareholder value" mantra and the sheer volume of MBA's invading a company are the problem. There are so many now, every one of them looking for a way to appear valuable. The training cements this ever-increasing desire to wring more productivity and efficiency from an organization; the long-term effects of which are usually user-hostile. But it's a slow strangulation, so it never appears immediately sinister to anybody unless they've seen it happen before.
People are starting to come around to this, and coupled with the sheer volume of MBA's it's become a meme of sorts. It seems to me these days that "not all MBAs are greedy pricks, but all greedy pricks are MBAs".
If I could, I'd pay Google 50$ a month directly to disable all of their advertising across all sites which use ad sense.
Company teams where the buyer isn't also an user is the only way this is going to make any sustainable money. Sell an MDN Plus Teams and Enterprise flavors as upgrades to the free "hobby" variant, and market it as table-stakes that every valley dev team has an MDN Plus subscription, same as they have a paid GitHub account, because what kind of crappy outfit are you even running here if your devs don't have MDN Plus access day one? MSDN used to be 4-6 figures for teams of various sizes, so asking developers how much they'd be willing to pay doesn't really tell you anything, I'd be surprised if developers know what their GitHub hosting, CI, etc. is priced at.
It's $5/mo or $10/mo if you don't want to pay for it, there's the whole rest of the internet to get free web dev content from, not to mention the rest of MDN which they host and provide to you for free.
I’ve been thinking about donating to Mozilla for a while - even though I don’t use their browser, I think they’re an indispensable force of good on the internet -, but haven’t gotten around to it. This could prove like an excellent value proposition for me and if it’s any good they can count on my money.
They could offer certificates for different levels of web-development skills. Based on the popularity of MDN this could work out well...
Let's hope those voices follow through!
The next time I have a web dev job I'll buy this
I know the demographics here aren't strictly American, but the currency conversion is hardly that impactful across major developed nations.
There are so many tools in our industry that help you do your job on a daily basis that we all pay nothing for.
But you know, have fun thinking you can do anything more than being an employee for the rest of your life if you decide you want to create a product and realize you're a part of an industry who's too cheap to pay $0.99 for an app.
You could look at how the laborers who you're writing about are often asked to create the conditions of their own labor.
While this traditionally might include all of the unpaid domestic work that goes into the creation of a working class, the work situation for employees here is that it'n not, at the end of the day, the employers who are paying for the app.
I like my employer and all, and maybe I could get them to fund things like this, but if I can make that happen, why would I care what it costs? I would probably want it to cost more ,because a $0.99 app is just going to come straight of my pocket rather than and expense for which I can be reimbursed.
I don't care if MDN charges, and I personally would pay for it.
But I also brought my own device to work for the first 5 years after I stopped being a 1099 employee... so I am a sucker. I get tired of paying for tools i need to make money for other people, even if I understand that money goes to other folks in similar situations.
But it doesn’t seem like it should be treated as a moral issue? It’s just how you structure the transaction. You could also charge more by changing more and paying the expenses, which gives you more control over spending.
Am I missing something?
Elsewhere in this thread is a link to a separate organization called "OpenWebDocs," which appears to be an outside consortium that contributes to MDN. So perhaps donating to them is approximately the same in that you're donating to a group who will then contribute time writing content.
Edit: Perhaps MDN is not a stand-along thing, and the way you help fund MDN directly is by donating to Mozilla? Can anyone clarify the relationship of these various parties?
Yes, that's what Open Web Docs is. It's funded by individual and corporate contributions, through https://opencollective.com/open-web-docs/. The money goes to pay writers (currently 2 full time, but we are hiring 2 more) to create and maintain independent open web documentation ("open" in the sense of accessible to everyone, "independent" in the sense that it shouldn't represent any one company's view). Currently our work is pretty much entirely focused on MDN, although that's not necessarily going to be the only thing we ever work on. Our 2021 high-level goals: https://github.com/openwebdocs/project/blob/main/2021-goals.... .
And compliment it with free resources on the web.
I don't see the attraction of what Mozilla is providing.
Perhaps companies can have bulk subscriptions or they have some sort of revenue sharing deals with authors.
I would imagine if sponsorships were more visible, and given the importance of MDN to the industry, there would be plenty of money available to operate the project both technically(servers etc) and managerially(staff writers/developers providing the framework for browser vendor and other contributions).
It's really baffling to try to pull these funds from individual developers' bottom line instead of companies; the entry point of the revenue stream generated with the benefit of these docs. It just doesn't quite feel right but I can't fully explain why. The move just feels off.
EDIT: Okay I think this might come close to conveying my sentiment. We are being asked to pay to support Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Mozilla's browser documentation.. Huh?
I agree with many other posters on here. I don't have much, if any, interest in the services mentioned, but I would happily sign up for $5/mo to support MDN which is the single most valuable dev resource I have available to me. At my experience level, much more useful that (for example) stackoverflow, which I rarely use.
Following that model, students, hobbyists, people who are trying to break into the industry etc who may not be able to afford a subscription can still benefit from content. It also helps draw new customers. I would not have paid for my LWN subscription if I didn't already hold the content they published for free in high regard.
In the advent you are paying yourself, imagine how much money you can make by spending less time trying to find answers to complex problems, particularly sifting through old StackOverflow answers that aren't always relevant anymore (or jQuery centric!)
As with all things, lets wait and see of course ! However, I think thoughtful monetization here can be reall good for the web, in the long run.
My only hope is that they make it a "pay what you wish" with $10/month as the minimum price.
Frankly I would be happy to support "regular" MDN in such a way as well. This is an important cornerstone for all front end developers. The promised "premium content" is a cherry on top, but is not necessary for them to have my support.
I'll keep an eye on it, I hope they succeed, but I don't see many people paying for these features as they stand
And the featured post is by someone (RA) who is probably not going to contribute regularly to MDN Web Docs. I have plenty platforms to read RA's writings besides this service.
If this service is going to support the development of existing MDN Web Docs, I would pay for it. But i suspect most of the revenue will going to pay for these one-off experts.
(Don’t tell anyone about wget!)
You want free without paying the cost of free. Grow up.
I hope we don't go down that road...
Are those now going to be paywalled?
For any startup or company it is normal to provide "premium" paid service and "advanced" content/knowledge to the subset of internet users that can afford it.
But ... this is the Mozilla foundation. Too much paid silicon valley executives transformed a structure dedicated to find funds to protect an "open internet" into a for profit structure that prostitute itself as much as needed to make money just for being profitable.
We saw it coming with Firefox evolution being neglected to instead waste money on numerous "outreachy" things.
Just for memo, here is one of the 10 points of the Mozilla manifesto:
"The internet is a global public resource that must remain open and accessible"
Looks like that a "premium paywalled content website" will have a hard time pretending to be "open".
Presumably that’s because they can’t link your identity to it or something, making it nit worthwhile doing.
Apple: “we’re a hardware company, it’s not our job to document the web”
Microsoft: “Internet Explorer failed, it’s not our job to document the web”
Google : “we’re a advertising company, it’s not our job to document the web”.
Amazon ... etc
And so on ...
MDN is its only gem left outside of Firefox itself, it's good they're doing this though, but only if all proceeds go primarily towards MDN itself. I can foresee people unsubscribing over funding issues if they find out Mozilla foundation is just pocketing profits from this for things outside of MDN.
In 2021, there is not a chance in hell that any significant number of people are going to pay money for their web browser. At best (and this is very optimistic) it might make a few million dollars from dedicated HN-types, which is nowhere close to what Google gives them.
I actually would pay money for a Mozilla-branded email service, but running an email service isn't a walk in the park, and I expect all of the typical people would be complaining about Mozilla spending time and money on something that isn't Firefox, regardless of whether it's profitable (see also: all the complaining about Pocket).
Honestly, I wish that Mozilla had acquired Scroll (rather than Twitter) and started pushing it harder. That would be very in-line with their goals as an organization, and might eventually become a significant revenue source.
If https://servo.org/ is any measure. Probably not :(
People don't care about browsers until it's too late.
Unless Mozilla is suddenly operating for profit and following the ol' "why get some of the money when you can get all of the money" business model.
Money flows from the Corporation to the Foundation every year.
This doesn't seem as much of an intentional decision of the two corporations to promote MDN as an independent resource but more likely the result of developers working for these companies refusing to compete with MDN.
Or, as everyone who's ever had to look at Apple's developer documentation knows, to document their own operating system APIs.
The point is that the MSDN documentation for HTML and IE was quite good, and then it was deprecated in favor of MDN's superior documentation.
"Free" documentation is often designed to give you barely enough info to start using their products, but not much more. And we're kind of used to this by now. MDN, FreeBSD hanbook or the original set of Smalltalk books stand as exceptions and reminders what things could look like if motivations were different.
But now they are competing with free content from Smashing and CSS-Tricks and lessons from a variety of free sources, including Google who has great course content.
I just don't see this saving Mozilla.
Mozilla, though, not so much. Given the ridiculous paychecks its C-level management has been caching in the midst of the massive layouts that cannibalized most of its most promising projects (including MDN staff), I don't think funding is the primary problem holding them back right now.
Help out, sure. To fully fund them would be taking it too far.
Or should they buy it from a corrupt current management? :)
Another way would be to establish a EU-funded foundation that would fork Firefox. But EU has a poor track record for this. Anybody remember EU-backed Google killer? And forking major open source projects has a bunch of issues too.
I can't think of any programme that would work for Mozilla though, especially given they're a US-based for-profit company wrapped around a US-based non-profit.
The purpose of these programmes is typically to either contribute to regional development that is in the EU member states' interest, or to help implement policies the EU has passed. There are arguments to be made about how well the member states' (or their citizens') interests are represented in the EU's electoral structure, or how effective these programmes are in general, but saying this is "the government deciding who gets funds" is absurd.
This phrase is used to direct attention away from something that is going to change in a big way. I read "we're not going to paywall existing content, but we'll be charging for future content."
Now that the competition for web documentation is gone, Mozilla looks to be moving to cash in on their new-found monopoly on web documentation. Ironic, given how Mozilla was started.