Recently, MacStories launched an upgrade to their Club MacStories membership. This announcement sparked a discussion on the Mac Power Users forums. As of publication of this post, there are over 50 responses to this discussion.
It has been common practice for tech centric websites (TechCrunch, SixColors Ars Technica etc) to offer a membership program, where members receive additional perks and to show their support for the website and writer. I see no problem with this business model. Frankly, establishing varying streams of revenue apart from advertising is a net positive for any business.
Personally, I find it disruptive to open discussion when defenders of such a program say, “no one is forcing you to buy it” and halt the discussion. This is true. It's my choice and mine only. I decide if I contribute to any said membership, and whether someone else does or does not is irrelevant to me. This, simply because, as individuals, we have varying priorities, interests, etc. For example, my wife has no interest in technology, so regardless of how good TechCrunch’s membership is, my wife wouldn’t consume it even if it was free.
Consider Attention/Time before monetary costs
The following is my comment/reply to the MacStories post on Mac Power Users Forum:
It's clear from this topic alone that some find value in Club MacStories and others do not. This is completely fair. No issues with that. I know no one is forcing anyone to pay for anything, but that shouldn’t be the end of the discussion. What I am more keen on is for people who enjoy it to explain why, and people who do not find it valuable to also explain why. A frank, open and respectful discussion is good for all of us.
That way, I can be exposed to opposing views and decide for myself.
People with unlimited money also are limited by time, just like everyone one on this planet. We all only have 24 hours a day. So, the question is not whether Club MacStories (or any other service) is worth the subscription. The question is whether it is worth your time.
Before we consider whether it's worth paying for a said membership, we must consider it is WORTH our ATTENTION to consume said content (website, membership, blog, YouTube, Twitter); regardless of whether it's free or paid.
So, how does one exactly objectively consider without wasting countless hours/days going through this process? For me, I seek views from people who are enjoying/recommending the content and people who are not (and why not) and after this point, if I am still interested, I try it out for myself. The reason for this approach is my time and, more importantly, my attention is limited. I could take a two-week trial to find out for myself, or I could quickly gauge whether it's worth my attention and move on.
My process is hindered if the discussion is halted and degraded by people saying “no one is forcing you to buy it”. I choose to give MY ATTENTION and MY TIME to the Mac Power Users Forum because, in most instances, I see open and respectful discussions taking place where people are encouraged to share their views and perspectives. Especially, for Apple products or apps, I find these discussions valuable because the people who are taking part are not tech reviewers (their livelihood does not depend on writing about tech). These people (including me) are tech enthusiasts who seek the best apps and services for our use case.