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Reader Comments on Aardvark Daily 22 February 2002

Note: the comments below are the unabridged submissions of readers and do
not necessarily reflect the opinions of the publisher.


From: Christopher Cookson
For : The Editor (for publication)
Subj: Micro payments

Great idea. I've thought about something similar myself.

Being both a content consumer and creator, I understand
the need to make money, but I also understand not having
vast quantities of it to spend on a subscription to something
that may be of dubious quality.

Of course the other benefit to ISPs is that they could cache
or mirror content, particularly of offshore material, thereby
reducing their international bandwidth demands, and still collect
on the content.

Personally, I'd far rather pay a few cents per article than have
to put up with intrusive ads. I'd probably want some warning in
advance that entering the site would incur a charge, and what
that charge would be.

I think this could actually be a lot bigger than just text
content. Just think for a moment about the likes of Microsoft,
and their ongoing battle against piracy which doesn't stop the
pirates, but alienates legitimate users through schemes like
product activation. Of course there's also there battle against
'free' Linux. If Microsoft started giving Windows away, but
charging for access to their extensive knowledge base it
would mean they wouldn't have to chase piracy, and in fact
every copy of Microsoft software that was copied could potentially
mean more revenue for them when a user needs support.
It also means all those old knowledge base articles for things
like Windows 3.1 and Windows 95 suddenly become a potential revenue
stream if people want to use those old products still.

Microsoft could let itself off the hook somewhat for it's appalling
security track record too.

If you're not paying for something it's a lot harder to jump up and
down and complain about it being broken. On the other hand it would
be in the interests of Microsoft to find and post fixes for as many bugs
as possible in it's knowledge base as each one would be potential revenue.

Hey, this might sound a bit far fetched, but if you think about it,
how do Linux companies make money?

From: Joe Pango
For : The Editor (for publication)
Subj: The alternative pay per story system

No,  I don't think I would pay to read online news articles.

  In saying that,  it's great to see that someone is
racking their brain to come up with an alternative for the
current system, rather than just criticising it. Your
proposed idea certainly offers improvements, however, the
main reason I frequent news sites is because they're a free
service, they're convenient, and because I can tolerate the
(sometimes annoying) advertising.

  The day that I am forced to pay for the service, is the
day that I can wait untill the six o'clock news on TV, or
find an alternative source.

  I love the internet and what it offers, but most of all I
love that its mostly free.  But then again, maybe I'm cheap?

From: Paul
For : The Editor (for publication)
Subj: Paying for web content

I would be prepared to pay a very small sum for a daily
view of unlimited stories, not 5 cents per story, but with
the proviso that the downloads would have to be fast with
NO ADVERTISING !! I would expect to pay no more than about
a third of the cover price of the hard copy. I would not
want this to replace the existing model of free access with
all the garbage advertising, so at least there is a choice.

From: Les Ferguson
For : The Editor (for publication)
Subj: Micro payments for news

You have to be kidding, pay for the nonsense dribbled
outta the NZ Herald ?  I mean, yesterdays article about
Telecom upgrading some exchanges quoted the Telecom

"There is low demand for fast Internet access in rural
areas and this a barrier to investment"

I could almost hear the jaws hitting the floors around the
country as rural NZ'ers, farmers especially, stared at
this article in stunned disbelief.

Presented verbatim from the Telecom PR machine, this
article shows no cross-examination, not the slightest hint
that the journalist responsible for getting this onto the
printed page could have supposed it is a load of nonsense,
yet this is supposed to be current IT news ?

As a footnote, rural farming type people have been
struggling to keep up with the data flows that their
businesses are coming to depend on, and various groups
have been frantically trying to get Telecom services
upgraded for several years now.  The reason people don't
invest in broadband access is that Telecom simply tells
all enquirers that either the exchanges or the phone lines
(or both) are not able to carry more than a 33.6 modem
signal, so live with it.

I might browse the NZ Herald's online content now and
then, but it is hardly what I would call quality
journalism and usually presents very short-sighted and/or
one-sided views.  Hmmm, maybe it is worth a couple of
cents per article for the humour value...

From: Brian Cahill
For : The Editor (for publication)
Subj: Pay Per View

>Would YOU pay $0.05 per story to access sites such as
>the NZ Herald, Stuff, NZoom or (gasp) this site?

Absolutely! It's good to see at least one content provider
who sees the light.

A widely-accepted online equivalent of a small-value coin
you could drop in the meter to view one or more pages of
news (etc.) would make the Internet much more valuable both
for consumers and for providers of worthwhile content.

It has long seemed to me that credit cards are the worst
possible payment method you could devise for e-commerce,
especially for small transactions. If we'd had the Internet
before we had credit cards, everyone would have laughed at
the idea of using such a clumsy, expensive and insecure
payment method online.

The problem with online currencies, virtual coins, etc.
isn't lack of suitable technology, but gaining acceptance
where credit cards currently dominate. In the past couple
of years I've investigated some of the more successful
online payment methods. One of the best of these is E-Gold
(www.e-gold.com). The main problem seems to be that even
after about seven (I think) years of steady growth, still
only a tiny fraction of online merchants accept it.

The technology for virtual coins already exists, and there
are current providers, though they tend to come and go,
and, again, lack of wide acceptance is an obstacle - no one
uses a new online currency because no one else is.
www.ecoin.net is a good example of a current provider,
though personally I think even their solution is
unnecessarily complex for small-value transactions
- I'm sure I could code a simple, practical, secure
solution in a matter of days, but making it sufficiently
popular to become trusted and be successful would be a
massive undertaking which many have attempted and failed.

Anyway, it will all happen - soon I hope.

Meanwhile, start accepting E-Gold on Aardvark and I promise
to pay up.

PS. My only relationship with E-Gold is as a customer.

From: Christine
For : The Editor (for publication)
Subj: extra payment for seeing sites

 I would NOT be prepared to pay for seeing something like
the Herald on line. At the moment I am able to access more
than one Newspaper, yours included without payment beyond
the service provider. If I had to pay, I'd go back to
buying one paper in paper form aqnd end up where the paper
magnates would like me. the way this is set up now I can
access both local, national, international AND specialist
news at the flick of a button. Would you at Ardvark like to
pay to see your specialist information from overseas to
which at present now have comments on? Do we at present PAY
to watch the overseas news on top of the regular price of
Sky, TvOne, two and Three etc. I think not.

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