Poll: TechSpot readers, would you pay $3-5 for a subscription to remove all ads and receive other benefits?

By on January 17, 2014, 6:00 PM
poll, subscription

It's been 15 years since TechSpot first appeared online on the primitive form of a personal technology website. We've seen huge tech companies come and go, we celebrated the beginnings of consumer 3d, the battle for x86 dominance, the ubiquity of personal technology, and much, much more. Some of you have been here for every step of the way, and we thank you for it.

Our long term plan is to continue to offer compelling tech features and reviews free of charge. Our business will continue to rely on advertising and for that we've partnered with the best people in the industry. As you have witnessed, we've done our best to keep TechSpot relatively light on ads, sell to relevant IT companies, and make it non-instrusive to the user. However, we face the challenge of a very volatile ad market...

For this reason we want to gather your opinion about an optional subscription program, giving readers a way to directly support the site while receiving some cool extras and recognition. If you feel you are fine reading TechSpot the way it is, we totally respect your position and appreciate your support as a reader, but if you think $3 or $5 per month is permissible in exchange for some of the benefits below, let us know!

  • No ads, anywhere - ultra fast loading speeds
  • The TS contributor membership badge - shown in your profile, news and forum comments
  • Optional single page article formatting in all long-form features
  • Download articles as PDF & built-in PDF to email for later reading
  • Full-text RSS feed
  • Access to our editorial calendar: know about future coverage and reviews before it happens
  • (Possible) Discount codes in gaming/hardware retailers
  • Show us your support, and support to independent tech journalism

Please vote in the poll below with your honest opinion. If you've got further suggestions or comments about any ideas that would make a subscription more compelling let us know below.

Update #1: Some of you are expressing concern about having a subscription at all, which has not been defined, hence the poll. As outlined above, we won't change or charge for content ever. This is not a paywall.

Update #2: There's also the concern about recurring payments. We didn't want to overcomplicate for a poll, but we had thought about a yearly discounted option that is not recurrent (e.g. $30 or $50 a year) -- if you are in this boat, just vote for the $3 or $5 option. Paypal would be the most obvious form of payment.

Update #3: More responses and votes have kept coming in through the weekend, thank you for your opinions and (sometimes blunt) honesty. Before the topic gets buried with Monday news I wanted to address another of your repeated concerns, which is, what would we set to accomplish with the subscription money. For now, three key projects we have set for H1 2014 include: 1) completing TechSpot's redesign, 2) improving our server infrastructure, 3) hiring a full time web developer. These won't depend on the subscription happening, but it's where we are allocating budget so for the sake of transparency, there you go.




User Comments: 114

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Guest said:

To have this poll makes me worry...

Hope these is not the beginning of the end of TECHSPOT

7 people like this | SNGX1275 SNGX1275, TS Forces Special, said:

I voted $3. This site combined with my own tinkering (which was in part encouraged by participation in the forums) is where I gained a lot of my knowledge on PCs starting back in the very late 90s and early 2000s. If I visited as frequently as I did several years ago I would probably be ok with $5, but I simply don't visit that much anymore. I may visit more in the coming months because I'm sort of in the market for a new PC (although that will come after I make an unrelated major purchase), so if I started coming around more frequently I may reconsider.

One thing that I see a lot of around the web is recurring memberships, and I don't like that idea. Maybe make the fees a certain price and offer a discount if you buy 6 or 12 months at a time.

1 person liked this | Win7Dev said:

Here are my thoughts on the features listed. Techspot has been my home page for probably over 2 years now, and I really would hate to change it, but I would probably switch sites rather than pay for something I can get for free elsewhere.

No ads, anywhere - ultra fast loading speeds ------ Already have that since the site is cached in my browser and I can disable java script  for faster loading.

The TS contributor membership badge - shown in your profile, news and forum comments ---- I don't care about this

Single page article formatting in all long-form features ---- I like the multi-page articles as is, please don't change them to single pages

Download articles as PDF & built-in PDF to email for later reading ---- I can already do this with Acrobat or just print to PDF in Chrome/Firefox

Full-text RSS feed ---- I don't use feeds

Access to our editorial calendar: know about future coverage and reviews before it happens ---- This is the most valuable item here in my opinion and really the only item listed here that I can even see someone paying money for (unless they are just strictly donating to be nice).

(Possible) Discount codes in gaming/hardware retailers ---- Hardware is more important over software any day, it's much harder to upgrade than software.

Show us your support, and support to independent tech journalism ---- This is not a feature, it's sounds like begging and pleading to donate money.

Win7Dev said:

To add on, there should be a poll option that says I'd be willing to pay if there were more features than just those listed. I want something that makes it worth the money, not just a donation.

1 person liked this | Guest said:

You guys have ads?

Wow..thanks Ghostery!

Guest said:

That small percent of people that said in the poll:" yes please charge me $5 , im cool with it " is beyond me.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Every time anyone posts to a forum, they automatically concede that their content is worthless, and will be forfeit, consistent with copyright claim to it, on the part of the website in question.

Every regular an any given site likely has some sort of methodology for removing ad content, whether or not the site even permits.

In the case of members of this site, such as @SNGX1275 , they also contribute their time in pursuit of digital babysitting,

The only thing I could envision a sign up fee accomplishing, would be to align the number of members total, with the number that actually participate.

And I almost be willing to bet, you'd lose a couple of those as well.

6 people like this | Guest said:

I'm not sure how I found Techspot, or how it became one of my favorite websites. I've been checking this site daily for years.

That said, I'm not down to pay a subscription fee to remove ads.

Throw a donate button up at the top of the home page on the other hand and I'd gladly donate a similar amount to what it would cost for a yearly subscription fee. What's the difference? Nothing really except the perception that I'm doing something I want versus something I'm forced into.

How about a humble bundle type of donation based deal? Pay more than the average and the ads disappear.

1 person liked this | Comanche said:

You will never get a penny out of me with this BS, just even the question is offensive.

2 people like this | ikesmasher said:

I check TechSpot daily. That being said, I'd pay 10-25 dollars a year for nice features, but I could not justify a monthly subscription.

1 person liked this | tehxion said:

I would be interested in a subscription model with the following points:

- No Ads (this is the single biggest reason, because they are screen clutter and can link to malware)

- No subscription (don't want another re-occurring payment). Make it yearly, give options like paypal and card

- Cut back on the java script and external links, my no-script is as high as my screen with scripts on this page. I just want a more safer browsing experience with less tracking.

- That's it, no more features, we want to keep the price low. $50 or even $36 a year is still a bit high. Need to remember that people have other bills to pay, if all sites charged this no one would commit to this model because it becomes expensive and thus prohibitive.

Keep up the great work and congrats on 15 years.

Prosercunus said:

I enjoy TechSpot, but it's not vital enough or exclusive enough in its information for me to actually pay for it. It's a tough one and I would maybe consider paying $3 if the benefits were pretty stellar.

Cycloid Torus Cycloid Torus said:

I like the content. I do not mind plain advertising (advertising delivered at the same level as the editorial content). The advertising model can work if the management is careful about what they sell. I cannot stand loud, buzzy, invasive pop-up things and will AD BLOCK without hesitation.

Dustyn Dustyn said:

Advertisements were never a problem as I block all of them. Nothing else I find enticing.

TheBigFatClown said:

Basically, what tehxion said.

@tehxion, I guess the people running TechSpot aren't familiar with the power of the Google Chrome browser. At least 2 of the benefits they are wanting people to pay for have already been taken care of by my browser.

No, I am fine with the adds. Google Chrome has click-to-play feature that blocks most content. So I rarely ever see any ads. If I do, my mind is so accustomed to them that they don't even bother me. It's like Dan Akroyd says in the "Blues Brothers" when asked how often the train goes by. "So often you don't even notice it". The only ads that have ever "realllly" bothered me on websites are the ones with video and/or sound. The other ones my brain can pretty much ignore without much problem. So Google Chrome has me taken care of.

There are lots of other technology oriented websites I can get my news from if this one ever goes down. The market place has always been about supply and demand, has it not?

I frequent this website for one reason. To keep up-to-date on the latest happenings in the computer and technology realm of life. I don't care about badges or any of the other things mentioned as benefits of a paid subscription.

And of course you can already save almost any webpage in .PDF format using Google Chrome browser. Nobody on techspot staff uses Chrome browser I am guessing??

So the bottom line for me is....no....no thank you.

3 people like this |
Staff
Julio Franco Julio Franco, TechSpot Editor, said:

In light of some of your reactions, here are two relevant updates (added at the end of the post)...

Update #1: Some of you are expressing concern about having a subscription at all, which has not been defined, hence the poll. As outlined above, we won't change or charge for content ever. This is not a paywall.

Update #2: There's also the concern about recurring payments. We didn't want to overcomplicate for a poll, but we had thought about a yearly discounted option (e.g. $30 or $50 a year) -- if you are in this boat, just vote for the $3 or $5 option. Paypal would be the most obvious form of payment.

1 person liked this | SNGX1275 SNGX1275, TS Forces Special, said:

Thanks for the update @Julio Franco

I didn't (and still don't) like the idea of recurring payments, but I realize this does make business sense, although at the expense of user laziness. However discounted option for block purchases is good. I know Fark.com does (or did when I paid for totalfark) have the option of the block purchases being non-recurring. I think that is essential if you were to go that way, missing a cancel date on a 1 year purchase is a big deal and would anger anyone.

@ikesmasher had a really good point I had not thought of. The optional donate button. I kicked $3 to wikipedia a couple months ago because they had a reminder that the site isn't free (although they don't run ads either..), I don't suggest having a popdown-type menu from the top nagging like wikipedia did, but maybe a totally unobtrusive yet visible (slightly different shade of blue? instead of highlight yellow) with a donate to this site button or short message.. I don't know, shooting from the hip on this, hadn't really thought about it until seeing ike's comment.

1 person liked this |
Staff
Julio Franco Julio Franco, TechSpot Editor, said:

@SNGX1275 @ikesmasher Absolutely. But first we are trying to figure out if this is worth pursuing based on your feedback. The option to subscribe would be muted but visible along other standard menu options on top.

Also, I have further clarified on update #2 that we'd offer yearly non-recurrent.

tonylukac said:

Instead of charging to use the site, why don't you reduce your payroll. I come across many articles that I would like to see on Techspot; why not let me post them? Also, it's a bad precident to make us pay to work for you. Kim Komando used to do that and I left her message boards. My advice often comes after years of experience and reading articles, and what about the people fixing peoples computers? You should waive the fee for people making many intelligent posts per month, intelligent maybe being at your judgement, or maybe at user upvote rating system.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Julio, from my perspective, I don't see why you wouldn't give the option for someone to buy their way out of the ads. In the end it would potentially help both you and them. As far as setting the value of the non-reoccurring subscription, that would depend on the numbers that are paying. Basically you wouldn't know the answer to your own question until after you have implemented the subscription.

Guest said:

Why are you removing valid comments from this thread?

You asked for feedback....then you remove posts you don't like.

1 person liked this | SNGX1275 SNGX1275, TS Forces Special, said:

...Basically you wouldn't know the answer to your own question until after you have implemented the subscription.

I'm not so sure. I would think there has to be some research published (if not formally (journals), at least informally (websites)) out there about how subscription vs donation sites and a comparison to sites just running standard ads.

Edit - I haven't read this yet - but a quick google scholar search returns a lot of NYT papers. This one does mention it, but the title seemed more relevant to this site, but again I didn't read it yet so don't take my word for it:

A Mixed Bundling Pricing Model for News Websites

Extra Edit: I used the wrong search terms in the first edit - Here is a better, although not free (unless you are at a university with a partnership) addressing paying to remove ads: Information Economics and Policy

SNGX1275 SNGX1275, TS Forces Special, said:

Why are you removing valid comments from this thread?

You asked for feedback....then you remove posts you don't like.

You said it was a paywall, it isn't a paywall, you didn't read everything. That part was addressed by Julio.

1 person liked this | Raoul Duke Raoul Duke said:

It is an interesting option, but the ads are not so intrusive and the benefits so great I would pay (I have a pretty low income). If the ads became intrusive I would look at other sites, but as someone mentioned, I don't know how, but this site has become a site visited several times a day and has led me to stop reading many other sites. In other words I really do like Techspot

1 person liked this | SNGX1275 SNGX1275, TS Forces Special, said:

That is why I'm still here @Raoul Duke over time you form a bond with a site and gain familiarity with their posters (frontpage authors or forum posts) and its difficult to just jump ship. Most people want to stay where they are already comfortable. So while I don't want to discount completely the Guest posts in this, they are in reality less relevant than those that have registered accounts and more than 'x' number of posts. So the real question as I see it is how much are people willing to pay to stay in their comfort zone (btw, I have not talked to any staff member on this matter outside of this thread, I have no insight into Julio's thoughts outside of what is presented here, I just happen to have nothing else going on tonight so I'm following this more closely than I normally do).

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

What matters is paying for the site to continue. If that means adding a contribution button and giving privileges that regular members may not have, I'm fine with it.

yRaz yRaz said:

I'd pay good money for you guys (mainly Shawn) to stop using Fox News as a source. I frequently find typos and the thought of paying for any of it is disgusting. Drop it now before it's too late. This kind of reminds me of a local bar that "wasn't making enough money." The owner raised the prices and people stopped coming almost altogether. Point being, trying to make more money may cost you more than what you already have. Don't change a thing or you may lose the community you've taken years to build.

mailpup mailpup said:

Even though especially intrusive ads can bother me and I've even complained about one, generally speaking the ads don't bother me much. Since I spend so much time here I've even clicked on a few ads because once in awhile one will actually draw my interest. It is certainly no worse than most other websites I've visited.

wiak said:

$12 a year ($1 monthly) would work or $2 a month

you have to look at other media to see what I mean by my price reasoning, like crunchyroll

[link] Month

$4.99 monthly (12 months) for anime tv shows

you also have spotify for $9.99 thats unlimited music

just my 200 cents

LukeDJ LukeDJ said:

I'm completely fine with the way things are. Techspot has some of the best implemented ads I've seen, unintrusive, small and fitting with the overall look of the site. And if, heaven forbid, my eyes do catch a glimpse of them, they're relevant to what I like and not insulting or stupid at all. If you were to implement a premium feature, I'd be a little miffed that I was missing out on the badge and other cool features. I'd probably pay $20 a year just for those features, but $36 isn't really worth it to me.

wujj123456 said:

I might be weird, but here are my two cents. I voted for paying $5 a month for support, and you can pick me out if I didn't end up paying. I don't like those sketchy ads, and every 3rd party ad is a security risk. So I will keep blocking them anyway. I guess it's easier to be paranoid now given the leaks. :-)

Techspot has been doing well with ads, but I usually still block them. It take effort to unblock them, right? In return, I subscribe to Ars/Phoronix/LWN, etc, as long as they offer a reasonable price. I also have monthly donation to wikipedia and some random stuff I'd like to see it going. $5 a month is within that range for most technical sites on my RSS radar. (Sorry, some site, $1000/yrs is outrageous.) I am even not always logged in when browsing the sites I subscribed to. Adblock + Noscript + Ghostery + Autopager provides most benefits (if not all) a subscription offers. For me, it's mostly that I understand good contents are backed up by good funding. If I am blocking ads, I'd better pay some tip.

If it's not too hard for you to offer a subscription option, do it anyway, as if it's a donation button. In return, remove ads for subscribers. That's a good starting point for everyone. Everything else is optional to me, but I can see there are many things people might want. Single page browsing and full RSS are nice to have. That really depends on whether enough people will sign up to justify the additional cost for these services.

What might bother me is subscriber exclusive content, even if it's time based exclusive (e.g. open to public in a week.) It's better not to do that, because everyone might end up losing. I still subscribe to LWN due to its highly technical status, relevant to my job and its very very narrow audience.

I am still puzzled why $3-5/mo to remove ads is not a standard model for many sites. I honestly don't think you will earn more than $5 from any single user a month, base on my own experience of running websites. Every single user it converts is a win-win for both sides... Maybe I am missing something?

Staff
Julio Franco Julio Franco, TechSpot Editor, said:

Thanks for your feedback @wujj123456.

What might bother me is subscriber exclusive content, even if it's time based exclusive (e.g. open to public in a week.) It's better not to do that, because everyone might end up losing.

Just wanted to add that while adding the opt-in subscription is just a possibility we are exploring at this point, it's absolutely clear to us that nothing will change on the content end of things.

1 person liked this | Xyvis said:

I'd have no issue paying a few dollars a month for a no-ad experience. I can't afford too much as a college student, but I visit Techspot several times. I know that maintaining this site has costs.

wujj123456 said:

I'm not so sure. I would think there has to be some research published (if not formally (journals), at least informally (websites)) out there about how subscription vs donation sites and a comparison to sites just running standard ads.

Edit - I haven't read this yet - but a quick google scholar search returns a lot of NYT papers. This one does mention it, but the title seemed more relevant to this site, but again I didn't read it yet so don't take my word for it:

A Mixed Bundling Pricing Model for News Websites

Extra Edit: I used the wrong search terms in the first edit - Here is a better, although not free (unless you are at a university with a partnership) addressing paying to remove ads: Information Economics and Policy

Be careful about these articles though. They might be good academic papers, good food for thought, but all econ papers have one simple scheme: maximize profits. That's what they study, which is probably not independent journalism should pursue. The formula changes dramatically if you are just trying to substitute some ads revenue with something more stable.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

TechSpot readers, we want to gather your opinion about an optional subscription program, giving you a way to directly support the site while receiving some cool extras and recognition. Among the benefits: no ads anywhere, a special contributor badge, full-text...]
Well @Julio Franco, I'm still a bit stumped and offended by this. The only people answering this thread are active regular members. And as such, they actually ADD value to the site.

For example, free malware removal, free computer diagnosis and repair advice, and a host of other topics large quantities of supplicants come here seeking wisdom upon for free.

It seems counter productive and counter intuitive, to ask people that already, in essence, work for free, to pay to continue to do so.

I've been here pushing 8 years, and during that time, I've seen hoards of people come and go, with only the most blatant of self serving interests. After they blow a bunch of sunshine up everybody's behinds, get what they want, (gratis), they quickly move on, while the faithful remain.

\(In fact, I've gotten warnings for calling trolls, trolls, and parasites, parasites). Of course that's probably my failing, in having never learned to kiss someone's a** properly, and with the necessary humility,

So, if the paid staff has gotten to a point where revenue no longer supports the extent of it, maybe you might consider a budgetary snip along those lines.

Whether I'm delusional, or merely an egomaniac, is debatable, but I do think what I contribute is of value and I almost NEVER ask for help.

BTW, since you've made it quite plain to me that, "addict" (*), is the only title you feel is appropriate for me to hold, be aware that, "I don't need no steenking badges" either.

(*) FWIW, I'm comfortable with "addict". I found it to be quite liberating.

Guest said:

I only discovered techspot a few months ago (you may want to increase your advertisement buget on sites like slashdot, reddit, etc.). I took $3, but in reality my limit is $20 - 25 per year, at $12/y or lower I would not even hesitate. $25/y is what I am paying the escapist magazine for similar benefits (though, they include better quality / offline access to podcasts and videos, so I'd say their benefits are of higher value). You may want to ask them if they are willing to share some data with you regarding subscriptions. Check also with slashdot, who offer similar benefits.

Your benefits should include full content advertizement free rss, so I can read offline. In fact, consider offering apps for andriod and ios with offline reading. If you are clever, enlist one of the top rss app makers and buy a version that shows only your content. You could also team up with escapist, who I do not think have an app yet.

And never, ever, paywall. Even advance showing is problematic - if I see something good in 'advance', how do I share it with my non-paying friends? I can't post a link on e.g., facebook...

//Rickard

Railman said:

A subscription in USD would be difficult for us foreigners. Don't forget we would possibly face FX exchange fees on top. Frankly I find Techspot one of the better sites when it comes to ads so I am not too concerned about them. I just hope that Techspot never go down the same route as Toms Hardware as their site is a nightmare to navigate.

havok585 havok585 said:

I would be interested in a subscription model with the following points:

- No Ads (this is the single biggest reason, because they are screen clutter and can link to malware)

- No subscription (don't want another re-occurring payment). Make it yearly, give options like paypal and card

- Cut back on the java script and external links, my no-script is as high as my screen with scripts on this page. I just want a more safer browsing experience with less tracking.

- That's it, no more features, we want to keep the price low. $50 or even $36 a year is still a bit high. Need to remember that people have other bills to pay, if all sites charged this no one would commit to this model because it becomes expensive and thus prohibitive.

Keep up the great work and congrats on 15 years.

Ever HEARD of ADBLOCK ? geezes ...

cartera said:

$ 2-3 a month or $10 - 15 for 12 months I think is fair. Higher than that for the perks mentioned I don't think is worth it. If this route was to be followed ensure that current advertising practice doesn't change for non subscribers. As mentioned already tomshardware is a mess so I actively avoid their articles and pages.

1 person liked this | WangDangDoodle said:

To be perfectly honest, I don't want to pay for anything unless I have to, and tech news isn't exactly critical to my lifestyle. I like TechSpot, so I registered. That's me showing my support.

I really do enjoy TechSpot's reviews (especially the CPU/GPU benchmarks), and I'm grateful for all your hard work. TechSpot has become my absolute favorite and go-to site for tech news. Partly because I love the design and layout, but most of all because the content is just right for my digestion. Tom's Hardware can get a bit dry and windy sometimes.

highlander84 said:

Honestly,

I've never even noticed the adds...I ignore anything non-relevant... as long as you don't start with those BS pop-up adds we will get along nicely.

1 person liked this | Benny26 Benny26, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I like the fact that this has been thrown out there first as a debate, shows how much respect Techspot has for it's members for the most part, in my opinion. However I personally had to vote no on this. I'm the type of person that prefers to keep things as equal as possible between members; adding badges of basically "this guy pays" I'm not in favour of. Titles based on how much content a member has given the site or how loyal they've stayed through the years I consider different, however.

I agree with the donate button though, that could be worth exploring. I'd kindly kick a few doubloons over when I can wrestle my account back from Paypal...however many thousands of years that will take.

VitalyT VitalyT said:

I read way too much everywhere, and Techspot is just one such website. There is over-abundance of technical stuff to read, and if Techspot starts throwing more AD-s in the way, I will just leave for better alternatives or install an AD-blocker.

Also, I find it more convenient and fast to locate such news on news.google.com, in category Technology:

[link]

It is a much faster update on every technology that pops up. Most of the articles I read on Techspot nowadays is something I have already read about on news.google.com

misor misor said:

I'm a magnet for free stuff so no...

---agissi--- ---agissi---, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Wow the new HP banner at the bottom is horrible. The articles here arent good enough, or frequent enough, overall aggressive enough, for me to pay money.

SNGX1275 SNGX1275, TS Forces Special, said:

Ever HEARD of ADBLOCK ? geezes ...

Well, I'd bet that adblock has its part in why this discussion is even occurring. I do run adblock, and I have been on this site for a long time, I would be open to kicking some money towards the site because in a way I know I'm getting this content totally free and subverting a revenue stream.

misor misor said:

Wow the new HP banner at the bottom is horrible. The articles here arent good enough, or frequent enough, overall aggressive enough, for me to pay money.

What hp banner?

(currently viewing techspot on ie11, windows 8.1 x64)

hahahanoobs hahahanoobs said:

At $3/mo, what you're offering in return is a slap in the face.

I wouldn't oppose a donate button as long as I know specifically what the money will be used for.

As incentive, you could have giveaways or discounts and we can pretend this subscription bs never happened.

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