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Aug 18 2013

Oh, yeah? Are you going to provide evidence for that?

I must call attention to this article on Salon.

How Google flushes knowledge down the toilet

Search engine optimization is filling the Internet with misinformation about human bathroom habits and more

In the sidebar: 5 pointless pop posts from the Huffington Post. 10 listicles from Buzzfeed. 8 more random links from aggregators Upworthy and GigaOm.

Below the article: 3 more listicles. An ad for Biblical Money Code. Pictures of Kate Middleton. “We recommend” money advice from the Bible, cheap auctions, health benefits of blueberries, etc., etc., etc.

And more! The week in 10 pics, 10 summer food festivals, you get the idea.

I know, we have annoying random ads on this site, too, but we’re pathetic pikers compared to anyone who intentionally taps into the HuffPo/Buzzfeed Vortex of Misinformation.

An article marvels at the bad information infesting the internet, and all the advertising clutter in which it wallows demonstrates exactly why it’s such a mess.

Maybe we need to think harder about going to a subscription model here.

114 comments

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  1. 1
    Nathaniel Frein

    I’d pay.

  2. 2
    Trebuchet

    Another “news” post on the linked page:

    Pastor Mocked for His ‘Biblical Money Code,’ Gets Last Laugh

  3. 3
    chigau (違う)

    re: subscription
    Are you serious?
    How much would it cost?

  4. 4
    machintelligence

    I’m game (but I’d never say that during hunting season.)

  5. 5
    davidmc

    Please don’t.

  6. 6
    ck

    Love the headline on that article, too, which says something completely different from what the article says.

  7. 7
    skephtic

    The only way to know for certain if the subscription model would work for FtB is to try it. However, as an example, the San Francisco Chronicle just gave up on its 4 month old pay wall. A pay wall reduces the influence and ad revenue of a website due to fewer visitors, and unless FtB is going to be nothing but a preach-to-the-converted ditto fest I’m thinking a pay wall might not be a good fit.

  8. 8
    Nathaniel Frein

    What about simply a subscription service that removes the ads?

    You can pay for ad-free blogs, or read the ad supported blogs?

  9. 9
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    Donation supported? And/or #8?

  10. 10
    Stephanie Zvan

    #8

  11. 11
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    PZ, if FtB were more assertive about soliciting donations believe me, you’d get them. If you want to talk about who w/me offline I have some experience that might help.

  12. 12
    carlie

    8 or 9. You might try 9 first, do a fund drive, and see what you get. Might surprise you.

  13. 13
    michaelfisher

    FtB is already too much of an echo chamber
    A subscription model will turn it into just the choir & no audience
    What would be the point of that?

    No ads & a “donate” button might be better
    My main annoyance here at FtB is the damned pop-ups. Solved with 3rd party blockers, but it would be better if they were not here to begin with

  14. 14
    Inaji

    Nathaniel:

    What about simply a subscription service that removes the ads?

    You can pay for ad-free blogs, or read the ad supported blogs?

    This one.

    /drive by

  15. 15
    Lou Doench

    10 Summer Food festivals? That is hardly useless information… I wish my wife loved summer food festivals as much as I do…;(

  16. 16
    Ace of Sevens

    I’m sorry, but when a Dallas Pastor flips and Obama blunder to turn $40,000 into $390,000, that’s the sort of information I need to know.

  17. 17
    smhll

    I’m happy to see toilets have 10 minutes of trendy internet fame, since a friend of a relative of mine has this going on as a business in Britain. http://lootours.com/

  18. 18
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    I would be entirely unable to come back if a subscription were instituted. I also agree with Michaelfisher about the popups; they make it quite hard to read the site from my phone.

  19. 19
    kellyw.

    This movement is already overloaded with middle class well-to-doers. Put FtB 100% behind a paywall and you signal that poor people aren’t welcome. Please don’t do that. This is one of the few places I can go to on the internets to confirm that there actually are people who aren’t shitbags. Telling financially disadvantaged people to piss off ain’t social justice.

    Number 8′s suggestion is fine. I can deal with the ads if that means I can still read the material. And donate buttons are good.

  20. 20
    Pteryxx

    Number 8′s suggestion is fine. I can deal with the ads if that means I can still read the material. And donate buttons are good.

    *thumbsup*

    I block the ads for slow connection/slow computer/trigger avoidance, and I’m pretty darn poor, but I could sometimes donate to a snail-mail address to help keep the lights on. Lots of blogs or blog networks do donation drives; semi-regular reminders might help there.

  21. 21
    Naked Bunny with a Whip

    I’d pay for an ad-free site.

    I used to do that at Salon, after all, many long years ago.

  22. 22
    Johnny Vector

    I’d pay $5/month for an ad-free version. I know this to be true because I already do, with AdBlock plus the recurring donation button over there on the left.

    I HAATE (in a Patton Oswalt voice) popups. I no longer look at anything on UpWorthy because you have to hack your way through a thicket of “Like us on Facebook you bastard” to get to the content. The content was often decent, but when the content appears like an afterthought to a massive self-promotion campaign, it’s not worth it. Not when I have 33 unread Discworld novels, and an infinity of unwritten songs, to finish.

  23. 23
    Seize

    I’d gladly play $5 per month or similar for ad-free content. However, I think that your blog needs to be available for free to all comers – with a few little ads, natch. I obviously have never glanced at your analytics, but I think there are constant, large influxes from non-regulars visiting this site, and that’s part of this blog’s function and appeal.

  24. 24
    Fionnabhair

    I hate paywalls. Hiding information behind them, be it news or scientific articles, makes it a lot harder to be well-informed, especially for low-income people. It’s elitist and classist.

  25. 25
    cicely

    +1 for #8.
    -

  26. 26
    ChasCPeterson

    Maybe we need to think harder about going to a subscription model here.

    WUT

    pay for shit on the intenetz?

    nah.

    (People: ad-free browsing is already in your grasp. Firefox. AdblockPlus. NoScript. Greasemonkey. Kill Hushfile.
    Why isn’t everybody already using these tools? /rhetorical)

    Consider me part of la Résistance.

  27. 27
    Marcus Ranum

    Maybe we need to think harder about going to a subscription model here.

    If being a troll came with an associated dollar cost, there would be fewer trolls and sockpuppets.

    I used to daydream about having a site where you had to pay to join, and if you weren’t booted during the course of the year you got 3/4 of your money back.

  28. 28
    Chris Clarke

    Telling financially disadvantaged people to piss off ain’t social justice.

    Unless they’re writers on blogs.

    Seriously, does that line work in the supermarket? I gotta try trading my Klout score for a sack of potatoes some time.

  29. 29
    Pteryxx

    If being a troll came with an associated dollar cost, there would be fewer trolls and sockpuppets.

    all due respect… the hell with that. Easily ten times as many lurkers and survivors speak up as trolls, and that’s just the ones who actually post.

    Now, if there’s a way to make them pay a fee for every instance of the same BS argument within 24 hours…

  30. 30
    chigau (違う)

    What is an “apparent regular”?
    The Happy Atheist is not The Da Vinci Code.
    PZ will just hafta live with the shame.

  31. 31
    baryogenesis

    Uh, no credit cards. Never donate because of that. Sending chq via snail mail? Not gonna happen.

  32. 32
    chimera

    Please don’t make it a pay-only site. I won’t be able to read if have to pay and I need you all.

  33. 33
    michaelfisher

    @ahriman I’m not a regular commenter. It has been many months since I’ve posted here because it is exactly an echo chamber ~ where dissent is punished rather than leading to discussion. I had to comment today because the idea of a subscription model worries me. I wasn’t sure if PZ meant the whole of FtB or just his corner, but I would miss access to Maryam’s posts.

  34. 34
    Anri

    I don’t mind the ads, but can do without the pop-ups. A request to ignore ad content on your site is not reasonable when you engineer your site to place that ad content over your site’s own content. In other words, if it is embarrassing you so badly, stop waving it in my face.

    Also:

    ChasCPeterson –

    (People: ad-free browsing is already in your grasp. Firefox. AdblockPlus. NoScript. Greasemonkey. Kill Hushfile.
    Why isn’t everybody already using these tools? /rhetorical)

    Because I like to see the site as the designers believe it should be seen. A better question is why do the site designers believe it should be seen like that?

  35. 35
    kellyw.

    Chris, I don’t follow what you’re saying. I can’t tell if you’re making a jab at me or just simply stating that you’re poor, too. I’ve been on a short fuse lately due to personal issues (major depression) and the skeptical community as a whole is pissing me off something awful. FtB has been an oasis of sorts and if this goes behind a paywall one of my lines of support becomes no more. Quite frankly that’s massively upsetting—this place actually gives me hope. I rarely post but I’m a long time lurker. I appreciate the time and money you all spend to keep this place running. I’ve no words to emphasize how important what FtB does is to me and countless others. Calling this place a lifeline is far from exaggeration. If it does go behind a paywall it’d be a damn shame and I’d like to know where I can go (Patheos isn’t for me).

  36. 36
    chigau (違う)

    ahriman
    I don’t recall PZ saying much about the number* of fans he has, so I’m not privy to your information.
    I didn’t buy my copy through Amazon.

    *or amount

  37. 37
    Menyambal

    What ads are we talking about? I’m using Firefox with JavaScript, and I don’t see any ads at all. When I get n the library computers, and come here, it is a startling difference.

    I don’t like to sign up for anything online, and especially not to pay money. There’s a popular newspaper that I just can’t bring myself to sign in to, though it is linked to fairly often. (Heh. I signed up for this place, but it took a while.)

    Echo chamber? Punishing dissent? No, stupidity repeated endlessly to annoy is reluctantly blocked, after astonishingly long times, sometimes. If you think it’s a punishment for dissent, you are being stupid.

  38. 38
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Michaelfisher:
    This is not the thread for this, but I am really curious what you mean about an echochamber where dissent is punished. Rather than vague comments, do you have any specific cases you had in mind? In the Thunderdome if you preferably, so it is not OT.

  39. 39
    cityzenjane

    Google’s results have been really bad for a few years now. I have noticed that the far right has mastered SEO….and the left has no clue about it it seems to me.

  40. 40
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Chigau:
    Ahriman is employing the assfax “argument”.

    That is to say, the crap being uttered by them has been pulled from nether regions.

  41. 41
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    cityzenjane

    Google’s results have been really bad for a few years now. I have noticed that the far right has mastered SEO….and the left has no clue about it it seems to me.

    Propaganda is about the only thing they can ever get right.

  42. 42
    Ing

    I smell socks

  43. 43
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    “Cold” socks maybe?

  44. 44
    Pteryxx

    not everyone’s capable of using Firefox or adblockers or noscript, for instance those that aren’t tech-savvy, use library computers, or share a computer without permission to mess with it. That doesn’t necessarily mean going ad-free is the best solution (some could pay for ad-free viewing, but not all) but there’s no need to sneer at them en masse for it.

  45. 45
    susan

    I pay for an ad-free Salon now, so saw nothing irritating when I clicked the link. I’d do the same here–and at any site I read regularly, actually. I wished more sites offered that option.

  46. 46
    Chris Clarke

    kellyw:

    Chris, I don’t follow what you’re saying. I can’t tell if you’re making a jab at me

    Not really a jab: kind of a peeve. Many people around here have been very generous in supporting various bloggers in need, myself included. And I definitely understand the feeling that if material disappears behind a paywall, I won’t be able to read it.

    But if people object to ads on blogs (and even brag on the very blog the ad revenue supports that they’re evading those ads) and also object to paying directly for those ads, that says something about how much they feel the writing there is worth to them, really. And that’s fine. Except that people often then go on to talk about how they’ll be upset if that gift of writing they’ve appreciated stops showing up. And that starts to feel incredibly wearing after you hear it for nine or ten years of writing online, especially if that writing and dealing with the commenting thereon starts damaging your health.

    And I’m talking as a pro writer who has given away more of my writing than I’ve sold over the last 30 years, because I want people to read my stuff. But still.

    The suggestion in #8 is a great workaround, by the way: people who can afford to kick something in help keep the place accessible for people who can’t afford it.

    I’ve been on a short fuse lately due to personal issues (major depression) and the skeptical community as a whole is pissing me off something awful.

    Right there with you.

  47. 47
    kellyw.

    Thanks for the clarification, Chris.

  48. 48
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    I like the suggestion in #8
    I also second the suggestion for a donation drive. I’m sure some people donate regularly, but the thing with geting used to a free comfort is that you can easily forget that you could contribute a little somfthing even if you don’t have to.

  49. 49
    John Phillips, FCD

    Another who would support #8 as it allows those of us with a few spare quid to avoid the ads while helping support the site and still keeps the site open for all.

  50. 50
    John-Henry Beck

    Hey, if my $5/mo subscription made it ad free I’d be a happy camper. The ads, especially the pop-ups that my Firefox only sporadically blocks, are quite annoying.

    As tempting as requiring subscriptions might be for driving away trolls, or at least making them pay for the privilege, it does seem it’s more likely to just drive away people who can’t afford it.

  51. 51
    MarcusC

    So how much to the ads make in a year? The kickstarter experiment worked well for Penny-Arcade. Take your amount, add 30% to cover the various fees, and kickstart for that. If it fails, ah well, things stay the same. If it succeeds everyone gets a year ad free. Or, with just ads that are specifically approved.

    Oh, and I never use an ad blocker. As irritating as they can be I want the sites I read to get the money from those impressions.

  52. 52
    John Phillips, FCD

    And yay, Paypal on here allows paying without an account again. Last time I tried, admittedly a while ago, it kept insisting I had to have an account.

  53. 53
    michaelfisher

    @ 41 Menyambal — The Man Who Broke Even at Monte Carlo

    “…If you think it’s a punishment for dissent, you are being stupid.” is just rather rude ~ I’m glad that this thread has attracted the usual “pile on” tendency that pervades this venue

    @ 42 Tony
    What is Thunderdome? If you genuinely want to discuss, then email me from one of my old comment links that still function on other pages of FtB.

    @ 46 Ingdigo Jump [not your real name]
    @ 47 Tony, The Queer Shoop: Undefeated Pictionary Champion [not your real name]

    I am not a sock. You can find me sprinkled around freethoughtblogs as “michael fisher” or “mike fisher” via google. I notice that on some threads my avatar or underlined name clicks through to my Gravatar or Blogger profile & other IRL links, but this facility appears to not function on PZ.

  54. 54
    Susannah

    #8

  55. 55
    Ing

    So how much to the ads make in a year? The kickstarter experiment worked well for Penny-Arcade.

    “Can we be more like Penny-Arcade” is a sentence that should never be uttered in all seriousness

  56. 56
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Tony is my name. Short for Anthony.
    The Thunderdome is one of two open topic areas at Pharyngula. The Lounge is the second. Thunderdome is the better of the two for such a conversation. The link is in the sidebar.

  57. 57
    Who Cares

    If people want a more selective blocking experience I have a suggestion for the Firefox users, Ghostery. Blocks just about every advertisement network at the URL level, has the ability to remove those social network connections. But more, important to me that is, is that you can whitelist a site, as I’ve done to FTB, or get even more granular by (un)blocking at the social/advertisement network level per website.

    And ontopic. I’d pay for ad free.

  58. 58
    SallyStrange

    I’m glad that this thread has attracted the usual “pile on” tendency that pervades this venue

    Lawksamercy

    And we sure are the poorer for your lack of tolerance for such despicable behavior, bless your heart.

  59. 59
    Bob Dowling

    Two thoughts on this:

    1. I learnt to mentally block out the adverts a long time ago. I find the attempts on an atheist site to recruit me to Mormonism in the UK more amusing than distracting or annoying. The wrist twitch reflex to close the pop-up windows before they get a chance to even show content is coming along nicely.

    2. Google search results are still adequate and, like it or not, are the gold standard against which all other searches are measured. Having said that I’ve recently moved to DuckDuckGo for my searching (and my default start page) because DDG has the unique selling point of not recording my searches.

  60. 60
    Pseudonym

    Have you considered using the biblical money code to support this site?

    I think offering a value-added ad-free paid subscription model might work. Paid subscribers could get access to a comment-rating feature, and down-rated comments would be displayed in Comic Sans.

  61. 61
    Deborah (down under)

    Ad blocking is just mean. I’m really only a lurker here (albeit a very long time lurker), but I am very happy to pay for lurking privileges by seeing some ads.

  62. 62
    Jadehawk

    how about instead of subscriber only, y’all set up a “supporter” system where people can make regular (e.g. monthly) micro-donations? A lot of people probably could afford $1-5 a month, especially if they could be lazy about it, i.e. signing up once and then not needing to think about it anymore (I have a supporter account like that for No Longer Quivering, for example)

  63. 63
    madtom1999

    Just wondering how much running the blog costs? I’ve worked on a couple of large-ish blogs and it quickly became apparent that, once the maths was done, almost all of the cost was down to trying to bring money in. Running the actual blog hardware and paying for web connection worked out a few hundred pounds which was covered by co-hosting a moderate priority data store (cloud service) with a couple of friendly businesses.

  64. 64
    Shplane, Spess Alium

    It’s also important to note just how damaging a payed subscription system would be to a number of underprivileged groups who are likely to be incapable of paying. Homeless atheist who checks FtB at the library? Fucked. Deconverting teenager living under the thumb of fundamentalist parents? Fucked. College kid who only ever has cash and therefore can never get money onto the internet? Fucked. Just generally poor people? Fucked.

    A subscription model, for a community like FtB that’s all about making non-asshole secular voices easily heard, would in fact be profoundly classist, ageist, and generally shitty. It would be saying “Oh hey, we only really care if people who have the spare resources and no extenuating circumstances read this, because fuck the poor and young people.”

    I’m fairly certain that PZ was joking, though. Or at least I hope he was.

  65. 65
    Olav

    Deborah:

    Ad blocking is just mean.

    No, it’s not. It’s a matter of self-defence against unethical tracking by unscrupulous media companies.

  66. 66
    Jadehawk

    College kid who only ever has cash

    this is a thing? how is this a thing? how do you pay tuition/fees? *confused*

  67. 67
    Jadehawk

    …or textbooks, for that matter

  68. 68
    elliete

    Jadehawk: Hello from the rest of the world.
    Not all people are paying for their University education, – We have free education here – I wasn’t exactly rich cause you coudn’t live on 30 USD the goverment gave you to cover the transportation costs and all that, so you have to work. I got my credit card when I started to work full time, AFTER I got my masters. So here you go – A uni student without a card.

  69. 69
    Jadehawk

    Jadehawk: Hello from the rest of the world.

    hello right back at you, from someone who grew up in the part of “the rest of the world” where people without bank accounts are even rarer than the US and paper-checks are unheard of. presumptuous ass.

    I wasn’t exactly rich cause you coudn’t live on 30 USD the goverment gave you to cover the transportation costs and all that, so you have to work.

    did you get paid in cash? because if not, I’ll repeat myself: how is that a thing?
    I mean, the reason people in the US often don’t have accounts is because banks seriously hate poor people and make it difficult for them to get accounts or maintain them. This is not the case elsewhere; I got my bank account when I was 14. And since paper-checks that can be cashed w/o a bank account are nearly extinct outside the US, how do you manage to be a cash-only person while in college/while having a job?

  70. 70
    Jadehawk

    A uni student without a card.

    i didn’t ask about credit cards. I don’t have one either, but that’s not the same as having only cash.

  71. 71
    elliete

    *had to work on lowpaying part-time job, that is. No credit card necessary.
    Buying stuff on credit is not very popular here, or at least it wasn’t 5-10 years ago.

  72. 72
    elliete

    Jadehawk – We had a special type of account you can get money from, but you coudn’t pay online using the complimentary (to the account) card, provided by the bank. Lots of the US based paying servres didn’t accept it.

  73. 73
    Jadehawk

    so you can’t answer my question either. you can’t tell me how “College kid who only ever has cash” is a thing. ok then.

    maybe shplane could come back though and explain whether they actually meant college student who’s cash-only, or college student with no master card/visa/paypal account, which is a different thing.

  74. 74
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    I’m against a subscription only site. Subscriptions mean no trolls (which on the face of it may seem a good thing, but bear with me) and no lurkers. This site makes a difference to people’s attitudes precisely because they come on here and see attitudes which they don’t even realise are harmful being called out and torn apart. Some trolls may be changed, if not many, but lots of lurkers are changed by seeing it. We’ve had enough lurkers come forward and say so for this to be fairly evident. My attitudes have changed since I started reading here for precisely that reason. If we want to actually cause change, a subscription only site is not the way to go.

    It provides support for people struggling with rape, abuse or social justice issues, because the commenters don’t shy away from difficult discussions and call out bullshit. This helps people. It can’t help them if they can’t see it.

    In short, this blog does good things, and I feel it’s capacity to do said good things would be severely curtailed by the introduction of subscriptions.

    On a personal level, touching on all the above; as I said it forced me to change my attitudes. I think about what I say now, and make an effort not to do anything that might support certain objectionable societal institutions. I also tell other people about them, and am arrogant enough to think I may have changed a few minds in the process. That’s because of this place. It also taught me things, and forced me to acknowledge that my knowledge on certain subjcts was incomplete, and that in some cases I was working to erroneous or incomplete definitions. This forced me to research. It also forced me to acknowledge that a certain relationship I was in when younger was abusive, and that this relationship was the cause of my committophobia. Once I identified the problem I could start fixing myself. I’m now in a relationship, and I barely ever panic any more. That’s because of this place. None of that would have happened, or at least would have taken a lot longer, if I had not been reading here; and if it was a subscription site then I would not have been reading here.

    Also, what kellyw said at #19.

    I second #8. It seems a good compromise, though I imagine it may be tricky to set up. Perhaps someone with more computer knowledge could shed some light?

    Also, I have a suggestion. I would happily throw a few quid FtB’s way when I have spare cash, except I didn’t even know I could. Having read on this thread about a donate button, I went looking for one and found it in the side bar under PZ’s picture. May I suggest that a more prominent donate button coupled with the odd donation drive may well result in more donations? If I had known about the donate button then you would have gotten a bit of money from me already.

  75. 75
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    @elliete #72

    credit card != debit card. You must have had a debit card.

  76. 76
    elliete

    Jadehawk – Hmm, I am quite obviously not a native speaker of English, so please cut me some slack on this please.

    I WAS a cash only (and by that I mean “could only pay in cash without paying additional money I didn’t have to explore the other options of paying” student when I was studying at Uni.
    If you have a different definition of cash only, then I would like to hear it.

  77. 77
    Jadehawk

    You must have had a debit card.

    debit cards aren’t necessarily mastercard or visa. my german debit cards were maestro and now v-pay, which you can’t make US purchases with.

    still: a bank account means bank transfers, which in turn means it’s not “cash only”, and in-context means that payment via a paypal account would still be possible.

    But I’m against a subscription-only format; I wasn’t disagreeing, I was just baffled at the concept of a cash-only student, because that appears to be ridiculously difficult to pull off.

  78. 78
    Jadehawk

    If you have a different definition of cash only, then I would like to hear it.

    sure. cash-only = only has cash, no other methods of money-handling available. which is not true when you have an account, unless your country is weird and doesn’t do bank transfers.
    and no, that’s not a strawman. plenty of ppl in the US don’t have accounts, and so they literally only have cash (they’re paid in checks, but they have to turn them into cash to do anything with them)

  79. 79
    elliete

    Thumper; Atheist mate

    Actually I was talking about a debit card (I still don’t have a credit card at all, like about 80 perecent of people I know)
    My Stipend card that was provided by the Uni (so to speak) wasn’t a functional debit card. It wasn’t accepted at almost all of the international venues I tried to use it on. I tried it on a number of the States based services and all of them required me to call them with my card number, and I am not too keen on telling people my personal details on the phone

    I tried to get a proper debit(!) card at a different bank, but was told I can only get it if I have a proper job. No proper job=No card (I am not sure if its still in place, happened about 5-6 years ago)

  80. 80
    Jadehawk

    unless your country is weird and doesn’t do bank transfers.

    …and unless your debit cards are even more restricted than maestro/v-pay bank cards and only permit cash-withdrawal.

  81. 81
    Jadehawk

    No proper job=No card

    holy crap. now i’m really curious where you’re from, cuz I got a debit card with my account, at 14. definitely no job. the cards come with the accounts automatically.

  82. 82
    elliete

    Jadehawk

    My country has a very ugly history with PayPal (complete with an implicit “you are all scumers” accusation), I am afraid. I don’t have a PayPal account because it has different rules for my country that, say, for Canada (it might be getting better though, need to check it again I guess).

    Back to the topic: A theoretical student in my former circumstances can find a way to pay for the US sub just like an acountless person in the States can open an account to pay the sub, but it would require additional time/money investment, she/he/preferred pronoun doesn’t have.
    I don’t think it would be fair to restrict them on basis of not trying hard enough to acquire the additional methods of paying, just to read a decent humanist blog.

  83. 83
    Jadehawk

    just like an acountless person in the States can open an account to pay the sub

    well no, the point is that many ppl without accounts can’t open one, and not because of lack of time or because they’d need more money to do it. often it’s for lack of sufficient identification, for example.

    I don’t think it would be fair to restrict them on basis of not trying hard enough to acquire the additional methods of paying, just to read a decent humanist blog.

    you may notice that I didn’t disagree with this. quite the opposite.

  84. 84
    =8)-DX

    I’m with the “a paywall means I’ll stop reading FtB/pharyngula” crowd. No-ads donation subscription (other options such as a smartphone app for easy reading for subscribers or one-off donators above a threshold) would make sense. Plenty of people would contribute to a subscription plan I guess, but I’m not one of them – I can’t afford that kind of thing just for atheist/science related news and topical blog fun.

  85. 85
    elliete

    Jadehawk –

    holy crap. now i’m really curious where you’re from, cuz I got a debit card with my account, at 14. definitely no job. the cards come with the accounts automatically.

    Sure, the Russian branch of Raiffeisenbank, to be exact. I am not quite sure if it was a bank policy, or what not, but I was forced to get a supplementary card to my sis account to get the stuff from Amazon.
    I don’t see any explict legislations, forbiding me to get a debit card without a job, but as a younger student I just swallowed the “you can’t” explanation, instead of calling a manager to check it.

    you may notice that I didn’t disagree with this. quite the opposite.

    Yes, I did notice it, just wanted to affirm my position. Sorry if it looked like I didn’t read trough.

    well no, the point is that many ppl without accounts can’t open one, and not because of lack of time or because they’d need more money to do it. often it’s for lack of sufficient identification, for example.

    Ah, sorry cultural blindness here. You do have an ID if you are a legal citizen here, no exceptions. Technically I can imagine a douche “if they reeeeeeallly want it they will get the ID” argument, but we all know the kinds of people who use it, IRL

  86. 86
    fernando

    I will gladly suport FTB if they permit the use of Paysafcard or Visa debit cards.
    FTB need more divulgation, but to increase the divulgation it needs more money, and that will only happens if the management of FTB permit the use of several tools from the suporters of this site to help with money, wihout being limited to credit cards and Paypal

    About the adds: i disabled my tracking protection list in IE9 just too see what are you guys talking and… wow! there are a bunch of ads here!
    I prontly enabled again my tracking protection list, and can only sugest you find some add blocker.

  87. 87
    vexorian

    Subscription models have a first world privilege attached to them. Hey, let us pay a dollar a month to visit FTB! 1$ is not that much, right? Except that most people in some countries don’t have access to digital money. I certainly didn’t until just recently, and I am a lucky exception.

    And also, if subscription models become the hype, it would just further the centralization of the web. Paying 1 USD for a blog sounds like a little, but now do it for each of the blogs you use and you will need to constraint the usage. Most people will put a priority on the large sites and maybe use a couple of small sites.

  88. 88
    PZ Myers

    Relax, there will always be a free access option.

  89. 89
    Lofty

    Another website I frequent has five levels of subscription from totally free to basic to commercial user. Free gets all the ads, basic gets only a select few under the banner.
    If 10% of the commentators here subscribed enough to balance the lost ad revenue then the free users would still be able to access FTB just like now, perhaps with less intrusive ads.

  90. 90
    John Morales

    PZ, I imagine ‘here’ in “Maybe we need to think harder about going to a subscription model here.” refers to FTB rather than to Pharyngula. Am I wrong?

  91. 91
    believerskeptic

    Relax, there will always be a free access option.

    Perhaps, but if there’s a cash-based privileged option, it reeks of… privilege.

  92. 92
    believerskeptic

    Blockquote fail. Sorry. I keep using “quote” instead of “blockquote”.

  93. 93
    Tsu Dho Nimh

    I block pop-ups, but allow other ads on sites I approve of.

    And there are a few sites that have ad-free subscription and ad-infested free versions.

  94. 94
    Johnny Vector

    Perhaps, but if there’s a cash-based privileged option, it reeks of… privilege.

    I don’t follow. You can pay by renting your eyeballs to advertisers, or you can pay with cash. But somehow money has to go into the system to pay for the content and for the distribution system. Is it unfair to people who can only afford to listen to the radio that people with money can also buy music and listen to it whenever they want?

    There are cases where a paid option does stink of “I got mine, screw you.” Like roads where you can use the HOV lanes if you pay for it. But FtB is not part of the public infrastructure, ostensibly maintained for the good of the country. It takes somebody’s time and effort, and if we think it’s worth that time and effort, we should reward the creators commensurately. You’re saying it’s unfair to reward people who pay cash by reducing their costs in time and distraction. Do you also think it’s unfair to provide perks for higher donation levels on Kickstarter?

    I do think popups should be eliminated altogether. And the “Donate” button could be way more obvious without being obnoxious. But encouraging people to pay if they can by eliminating ads seems eminently reasonable to me.

  95. 95
    Fionnabhair

    @61 Deborah:

    Ad blocking is just mean.

    Some people- myself included- find some ads can be triggering. It strikes me as rather ablist to assume that people who use ad blocker are “mean”, when the reality is that it may be necessary for self-care.

  96. 96
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    @Jadehawk

    I was disagreeing with elliete, not you. I find it hard to imagine that anyone over the age of 18 does not have a bank account and the associated debit card. When I was at Uni, that’s what I had.

    debit cards aren’t necessarily mastercard or visa. my german debit cards were maestro and now v-pay, which you can’t make US purchases with.

    Mine is Visa so I’m unaware of that problem. Why on Earth can’t you make payments to the US with Maestro or V-pay?

    @elliete

    No, I don’t have a credit card either; frankly I don’t trust myself with one. But I’ve had a debit card ever since I was 16, when my savings account was transferred to my name and my Current Account was opened. The card came automatically, whether I wanted it or not.

    tried to get a proper debit(!) card at a different bank, but was told I can only get it if I have a proper job. No proper job=No card (I am not sure if its still in place, happened about 5-6 years ago).

    Bearing in mind what I just said above, where are you from, if you don’t mind me asking? What you’re describing sounds like a credit card, so if you do mean a debit card then your banks have very different rules to UK banks.

    You mentioned above that English isn’t your first language, so I hope you won’t be insulted if I presume to clarify:

    - A debit card is linked to your bank account. It comes with your bank account and is used to withdraw money from it and when you use it to pay for things via the internet, the money is withdrawn from your account. When your account has no money in, you can not use your card.

    - A credit card functions the same way, except the bank basically pays people for you and you owe the bank the balance of whatever you brought. The balance is paid off, normally on a monthly basis. So basically, you are spending the bank’s money, and you pay them back their money with interest at the end of the month.

  97. 97
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    @elliete

    Sorry, I see you have answered most of my questions in #85

  98. 98
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    I, for one , welcome the latest ads that have been popping up on my screen.

    Stuff like:

    Tarot T-2D Brushless Gimbal for GoPro HERO 3

    {drools}

  99. 99
    David Marjanović

    Comment 62.

    I block the ads for slow connection/slow computer/[...]

    Let’s spell it out: I think lots of people do this.

    Many ads contain animations (even videos on autoplay! GAH!) or other memory hogs. My previous computer was simply overloaded by FtB (and ScienceBlogs before it) till I finally switched to Firefox (free) with AdBlock Plus (also free). I like the experience so much that I’ve kept it; I didn’t even know FtB has popups!

    And that’s before we get to the problem of malware in ads.

    Finally, I wonder: how many people ever click on an Internet ad and buy something there? Is it like 419 scams, which are still profitable if one in a hundred million people falls for one?

    Mine is Visa so I’m unaware of that problem. Why on Earth can’t you make payments to the US with Maestro or V-pay?

    My V-pay card works all over the EU, but not in the US.
    My Visa cards (two for historical reasons) work in the whole world.

  100. 100
    elliete

    I, for one , welcome the latest ads that have been popping up on my screen.

    And all that I get are the “click to learn about our lord Jesus” and “Jesus said he was god, learn why”, smiling people reading the bible included.
    I actually thought it was an intentional thing.

  101. 101
    Jadehawk

    Why on Earth can’t you make payments to the US with Maestro or V-pay?

    I don’t know why Maestro doesn’t work (probably just cuz no one is paying to accept those), but V-pay is specifically designed to only work in the EU. Fuck if I know why anyone ever thought that was a good idea.

  102. 102
    believerskeptic

    Some people- myself included- find some ads can be triggering. It strikes me as rather ablist to assume that people who use ad blocker are “mean”, when the reality is that it may be necessary for self-care.

    Hear, hear. Especially when most ads today are designed to make you feel inadequate so that you’ll try to achieve adequacy with their product.

  103. 103
    oolon

    Should do it like the SGU are proposing with different membership levels and if x people sign up to the Crapulent Cephalopodic Membership Level (Taking piss out of the awful SGU membership names not FTB). Then FTB will be ad free. $5/month for this level and 500 people sign up and FTBs is ad free… Everyone gets to read it ad free so the privilege is only in knowing you have contributed to *everyone* having an ad free experience.

    Can have membership drives etc and get the other blogs to join in… Revenue share for any excess.

  104. 104
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    Goddamn you, theophontes 98. I was about to say the same thing. I freaking love the ads. All weird shit all the time. Never get read of them, I beg you, FTB overlords.

  105. 105
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    “rid” of them.

  106. 106
    PZ Myers

    We’re considering a modification that would allow an ad-free viewing of FtB with a subscription. I assure you, we will never be behind a paywall.

    We’d like the best of both worlds. If we had a steady income from subscriptions that covered our expenses and a little more, we wouldn’t have to scrape up those bottom-of-the-barrel ads. So the wealthier readers would actually be subsidizing the poorer readers.

  107. 107
    Rey Fox

    So the wealthier readers would actually be subsidizing the poorer readers.

    THAT’S WEALTH REDISTRIBUTION WHAAAAAAAAARGARBL

  108. 108
    Vicki, duly vaccinated tool of the feminist conspiracy

    “The people who can pay subsidize those who can’t or don’t want to” may seem absurd, but it’s how the journal/blogging site Dreamwidth has been working for the last few years. Without advertisements.

    My contribution gets me some extras (I can follow more journals, post by email, that sort of thing), but the entire site is ad-free. (I say “my contribution” because I’m one of the people who has paid for an account there.)

    I have no idea if that would scale to FTB, but think of it as a proof of concept.

  109. 109
    jefrir

    On bank cards:
    The UK at least also has Cash Cards, which can be used to withdraw cash at ATMs but not for any form of payment. They are standard on children’s accounts, and also on some savings accounts and current accounts.

  110. 110
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    So the wealthier readers would actually be subsidizing the poorer readers.

    COMMUNISM!!!!!11elebentyone1!!

  111. 111
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    @Antiochus Epiphanes #104

    I have to admit, I do enjoy the irony of logging on to Pharyngula only to see an ad saying:

    “Jesus said He was God!

    Click here to see how He proved it.”*

    That elicits a chuckle occasionally :)

    *(Note: He didn’t, and He didn’t).

  112. 112
    Nightjar

    morvaadam,

    Congratulations on missing several points within a single short comment. You can fuck off now.

  113. 113
    Hekuni Cat, MQG

    #8 works for me, but I would also donate if that approach would work better for FTB.

  114. 114
    nathanaelnerode

    OK. How much does the site cost to run? Could you just run one big campaign to get an endowment, or is it waaaay more expensive than that? (My favorite charity would require a 3 million dollar endowment to be self-sustaining at current interest rates. But FTB seems like a much smaller operation.)

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