By John Gruber
Flatfile — Never open Excel again: import B2B data without formatting spreadsheets for hours.
“Writing is the only profession where no one considers you ridiculous
if you earn no money.”
— Jules Renard
A year ago, I launched a campaign asking you, the loyal readers of this site, to support Daring Fireball by becoming members. This is the announcement that it’s time to do it again.
The primary perquisite of membership is access to members-only RSS feeds: one containing the full contents of each article (as opposed to regular (free) feed, which contains only a brief summary of each article), and another feed for the Linked List.
Quoting from my announcement last year:
But please, I implore you, do not think of this as paying $20 just to get a full-content RSS feed. Think of it as a small token of my gratitude for supporting my writing at this site. It’s like when you pledge $100 to PBS and they send you a tote bag; no one does it to get the tote bag.
Those of you who are good with math will note that June 2004, when I launched the membership system, was quite a bit longer than one year ago, but that 15-month-old memberships continue to have access to the feeds. The problem here was simply one of time — when I put together the membership system a year ago, I never bothered to write the code to actually deal with expiring subscriptions. I figured I had a year to get around to it; but, one thing led to another and I didn’t manage to get around to it until this weekend.
Rather than retroactively expiring memberships without warning, I went ahead and gave everyone whose membership has technically expired a free extension to October 17. So, anyone who signed up last summer got a few free months.
Unfortunate implementation deficiency, of note to any current members planning to renew: One thing I didn’t get around to, however, is adding code to support renewing or extending an existing membership. So instead of being able to add another 12 months to your existing membership, you have to sign up for a “new” account, just like new members do. This is mildly inconvenient, because you’ll get a new membership key, which key serves as your password to access the members-only feeds, and which means you’ll need to update the password field in your feed subscriptions after “renewing”.
My apologies for this, but, as always, it’s a matter of time. At every point where I had time to write membership account renewal code, I instead chose to use that time to write actual articles for the site. I’m hoping that’s a trade-off members will understand as they’re forced to fiddle with updated feed passwords..
It’s also worth noting how expiration warnings are going out: via RSS. If you’re a member subscribed to either of the members-only feeds and your membership is set to expire within the next two weeks, you’ll get a personalized reminder as an item in the feeds. I’m not sending reminders via email; those of you members who aren’t using the feeds, consider this announcement your reminder. (Last time I checked, somewhere around 4 out of 5 members were subscribed to at least one of the feeds — they’ve proven to be even more popular than I expected.)
So, why join?
I put together a long outline of ideas to answer this, but when I looked over it, it was pretty much a point-by-point rehashing of last year’s announcement, “Something Daring”. I can’t say it better now than I did then. If you’re a new reader, or otherwise feel like you’re sitting on the fence, I encourage you to read that.
The gist of it is that I want for there to be a way for writers to profit by publishing their own web sites, without whoring up their site with ads, NASCAR-style — and I think direct support from readers is it, or at least a big part of it. If I depend upon advertising revenue, then I’m beholden to advertisers; if I depend upon you, my readers, then all I’ve got to do to remain successful is to continue writing stuff that you like to read. That sounds like a fair deal.
Or, of course, you could just join to get a sweet t-shirt.