Answers to some frequently asked questions about the quarterly drive for paid subscriptions and memberships, which has been going on here this week:
Q. Is my subscription due for renewal?
A. If it is, we sent you a renewal notice by email yesterday afternoon. If you didn't get the email, your subscription still has some time on it. Of course, if you like what's happening here, one way to say so would be to renew early or to purchase a second or third subscription.
Q. I want to join at more than the $49 a year entry-level subscription, but I don't want to spring for a $1,000 sustaining subscriber membership. What can I do?
A. We are considering adding something in between those. In the meantime, you can go ahead and renew your $49 subscription every quarter, or buy two or three at a time.
Q. Why do you ask for my email address or mailing address or phone number?
A. The email address is just to send you a receipt and to mail you the quarterly report to subscribers (and a renewal email in a year). The mailing address and phone number, if you are asked for one, are just steps to verify that it is really your credit card that you are using. Both are pretty common requirements when you pay for something online. In many cases the transaction will complete even if you leave your phone number blank; if it doesn't, and if you are averse giving out your phone number for routine transactions such as this, you may borrow my phone number. We don't now sell email addresses of subscribers to anyone else or use them for any purpose other than the above-listed ones, we don't have any plan to do so, and we haven't done so in the three years we have been operating. I suppose conceivably the business, along with the database of your email address and the other subscribers, could be sold sometime in the future to someone else who might have a different approach. But the spam filters are so sophisticated these days that anyone who sends a lot of unsolicited email to people who don't want it sees the value of their list decline rapidly.
Q. Why don't you require all readers to pay rather than asking for voluntary memberships or subscriptions?
A. Doing that could shrink the audience, and part of the mission here is to spread ideas by reaching new people. In addition, if you want the quarterly reports to readers, you do have to pay, so you are getting something that the non-payers are not getting.
Q. I already get the email every day. Does that mean I already am a subscriber?
A. No. Signing up for the daily email is free. Becoming a subscriber or member is an additional step that helps fund the site's operations and that also entitles you to receive the quarterly reports to readers and, at higher levels, other special benefits.
Q. There's advertising on your site. Isn't that enough to pay the bills?
A. No. Advertising revenue alone, while helpful, isn't nearly enough to support the site's operations. Some revenue from paying members and subscribers is also necessary.
Q. If I don't respond to the renewal email, will you send me many more notices with progressively lower prices?
A. No. Some other publications operate like that, but we don't, and don't plan to.
Thank you to all the new subscribers and members and thank you, too, to the many subscribers who have renewed their subscriptions. If you have been meaning to do this, please take a moment to do so now. The link is here.