Credit Writedowns: 10,000 Posts and counting

So Credit Writedowns has now reached the magic threshold of 10,000 posts! That’s about 1,000 posts a year, or a little under 3 posts a day for 10 years. A lot of that was in the early days during the crisis. And I had a lot of help from other voices getting the site there. So let me use this as a segue to talk to you about how I plan on moving forward since I talked about starting a subscription model.

Why I am trying to avoid the advertising model

The Facebook data breach has really annoyed me. And since this breach is linked to what I do, as I provide free content on the Internet, I want to lead with my thoughts on Facebook.

Now, here’s a company that people have come to find useful as a tool to keep in touch with friends and family. And knowing that the service is free, we also understand the only way for Facebook to make money is for it to advertise to us. We have made a bargain that we will allow Facebook to sell advertising to us if they keep providing this free utility.

But now we find out that not only do these ‘advertisers’ collect our data, but also our friends’ data. Without their permission!! And then, apparently, one unscrupulous firm has passed on these data to a fourth party to try and manipulate us into voting a certain way. Of course, Facebook only does the most cursory verification that our data isn’t being misused, sold or passed on to another party.

Is that how the Internet operates?

I want to avoid using ads. They are annoying. They make pages load more slowly. And they make for a worse user experience. But the Facebook breach makes me that much more likely to avoid that model.

What about a paywall though?

Earlier today, I posted a link to an article by Pedro da Costa, the senior reporter for all things monetary at Business Insider. This was a paywalled post. And the first response was “Why post a pay walled link?” So I replied, “To be honest, I hate that attitude. No disrespect but paywalls pay for journalism. Not everything on the Internet can be free. People have to earn a living.” Of course I replied that way since I am also thinking about paywalls.

But as someone who writes on the Internet, I hate paywalls too. I tried a paywall when I last went to a subscription model. And it gave me mixed emotions. In the end, I felt like I was blocking people out. And my content was less widely available. This morning I was reading something from Ambrose Evans-Pritchard at the Telegraph. It was good stuff. I felt saddened that it was behind the Telegraph’s paywall though.

Me, I would love for everyone to be able to read what I write. For journalists and their media employers, that’s a big problem. Do they go the Facebook route and sell your data to advertisers? Or do they put up a paywall to make money? Or do they do both? Increasingly, it seems the answer is both.

I don’t want to do advertising at Credit Writedowns. And I don’t want to have a paywall. I do, however, want this site to earn money if I am going to work at it.

Introducing Patreon

So here’s what I think I am going to do. My solution is Patreon. This is an idea I got from Australian Economist Steve Keen, who works under this model. Steve is creating realistic economics for the post-crash world and is asking for support in doing so. I think this is a worthy cause as just yesterday the FT’s Martin Wolf lamented about how economics has failed us.

Patreon describes itself as “a membership platform that makes it easy for artists and creators to get paid.” Basically, Patreon is a way to build a subscription content service without a paywall. Creators and artists build relationships and provide exclusive experiences to subscribers, or “patrons.” Wikipedia says it’s popular with YouTubers, webcomic artists, podcasters, musicians, and, most importantly, writers who post regularly online!

So that’s where I am headed. And I hope I can make you a Patron. My goal is to build Credit Writedowns as a platform for even-handed and open-minded analysis of finance, economics and the political economy.

In the meantime, I am continuing to get the back-end of this site fixed. Gone are the redirect errors. The site has a snazzy new look and feel. There’s some sort of new notification ping we send out when new content is posted. And Credit Writedowns loads much quicker, I am told. There’s still a lot of work to do. I want to get some mobile apps started, for example. Still, I am pleased about some of the recent changes.

The next time I talk to you about the site, my Patreon page will be live. And I will be making my pitch for your support. I will be asking you to chip in to keep this site going without ads and without a paywall. I look forward to your support toward the next 10,000 posts.



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