Most Traveled People Website Demands Subscriptions to Participate
We are accustom to a free internet, a place where we can get and share information and entertainment completely without charge. It is my impression that it will not be like this for long.
For many years I would log into a website called Mosttraveledpeople.com every few months, log in the countries that I had traveled to since my last visit, and find out what my “world ranking” was. I did this just for kicks, for a little entertainment, nothing serious — I enjoyed this website.
This morning, I tried to access the site and check of some new places in the world that I’ve traveled to, but something was different:
To continue participating in the site I would need to pay something like $5 a month or $50 a year.
I would think that a website that tries to be a global register of travel rankings would need as many people participating as possible to validate itself. Demanding a subscription is a good way to kick people off a website, this seemed against the grain of the operation.
Am I really going to pay $50 a year for the privileged to sit in a bar, lean back, and say, “Well boys, I am the 1,371 st most traveled person on earth according to Mosttraveledpeople.com.”
I clicked off the site, not to return, but I sent its owner an email prior to doing so:
Charles,My name is Wade Shepard, I am the owner/ editor of www.VagabondJourney.com, and I once really enjoyed logging into your site every few months, updating my country count, and browsing around a little.But when I tried to update my country count today I was taken to a screen that said that I had to subscribe and send you money. Now I do believe that you operate a very interesting, one of a kind website, but I can’t pay $50 a year for something that I may only use every few months. So I must say goodbye, so long, I hope you make this transition and MTP continues into the future.Though it is my impression that you can no longer in good conscience call this site “Most Traveled People,” as I am sure that 90% of your membership as well as prospective members are not going to subscribe. So I will suggest a new title for the site, how about:“Most Traveled People Who Gave Me Money”Thanks for running a great site for so long, but it seems as if your quest for money has overtaken your creative passion.So long,Wade Shepardwww.Vagabondjourney.com
I wish that I did not include the last line in the message, as what Charles Veley is doing with Mosttraveledpeople.com is not unusual, it is the way of the future of the internet. Profit motive overtaking creative vision is the name of the game when operating large websites COSTS a lot of money.
I foresee a very different internet in the upcoming years. I envision an internet that will soon be run on subscriptions like cable television, an internet where most of the big, popular sites of a certain genre join together and charge a set yearly subscription fee for access to all of them.
Who is going to pay $50 a year just to log in how many countries they been to on Mosttraveledpeople.com? It is my impression that not many will. But if this website teamed up with 1,000 other top travel sites in a unified package that charged a yearly subscription fee, would you pay it?
There are always rumors that Facebook or Twitter are going to start charging subscriptions fees to use, and I do not believe them, as if they began charging someone else is going to create similar sites and offer them for free. But what if Facebook, Twitter, Digg, and 200 other similar sites all of a sudden teamed up and offered one big social media subscription package? Would you start all over again on other networks, leave social media, or just pay $20 or so a year?
I envision an internet that will soon possess the same dichotomy as the one between cable/ satellite/ paid TV and network television:
The subscription internet will contain most of the top sites, almost all of the big name, high traffic, good quality websites, while the free internet will only be crappy sites filled with advertising and online stores trying to sell you something.
It is my impression that subscription internet will soon become convention, and when sites like Mosttraveledpeople.com begin charging subscription fees for full use nobody is going to bat an eye, as this will be the norm.
I predict that the quality internet will no longer be free, as in a world with an almost infinite number of websites, advertisers know that they can pay a bottom of the barrel rate for placement on 99% of them. Without profitable advertising, without charging subscriptions, how are webmaster able to cover their costs of operation, much less make a profit?
It is expensive to run a big, high traffic website, I am experiencing that right now with VagabondJourney.com. I, too, ask for subscriptions, but I do not withhold content for money as I know that 99% of my readers will not subscribe. But what am I going to do when that fated day comes when I need to move the site over to a dedicated server? What is going to happen if I find myself with an operational overhead that challenges my earnings?
Will I turn the site off and make the best parts of it subscription only?
This is the challenge of the webmaster: how to make money sharing information. The position of Mosttraveledpeople.com is clear, I understand the decision to charge, and I expect to see many other “subscribe for full use” sites in the future. Publishing a popular website needs to be profitable, they take time and money to run, and an income stream needs to be generated. Very few magazines or newspapers will continue profitless, free access, operation, so why is this expected of websites?
It is my impression that the full access free internet will soon be a luxury of the past.
What are your impressions about this? Would you pay a subscription for access to the top travel sites?