13.996, All: Free internet resources: A thing of the past?

LINGUIST List linguist at linguistlist.org
Thu Apr 11 06:55:52 UTC 2002

LINGUIST List:  Vol-13-996. Thu Apr 11 2002. ISSN: 1068-4875.

Subject: 13.996, All: Free internet resources: A thing of the past?

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            Helen Dry, Eastern Michigan U. <hdry at linguistlist.org>
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	Terence Langendoen, U. of Arizona

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	Dina Kapetangianni, EMU		Renee Galvis, WSU
	Karolina Owczarzak, EMU

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Date:  11 Apr 2002 05:22:28 -0000
From:  linguist at linguistlist.org
Subject:  Free internet resources: A thing of the past?

-------------------------------- Message 1 -------------------------------

Date:  11 Apr 2002 05:22:28 -0000
From:  linguist at linguistlist.org
Subject:  Free internet resources: A thing of the past?

Want information online? Then you'd better be prepared to pay for it.

That's the first line in an article that appeared in the Detroit Free
Press three weeks ago. Reporter Mike Wendland wrote about the current
trend among Internet content providers to charge for information that
used to be free. Among those who have made the change are newspapers,
magazines, and dictionaries. Users now have to pay a subscription fee
to access both the Wall Street Journal and the unabridged version of
Webster's Third New International Dictionary (which has twice as many
definitions as the free dictionary!) In fact, I had to pay to get the
text for the Free Press article I am quoting, and I subscribe to the
print version!

The article states that there is a notice at one of the sites that
explains its recent switch to paid access: "We're frustrated at being
limited and unable to provide the quantity or quality content and
services we want to. Thus, a blend of subscription and advertising
... is the only solution."

Although we at LINGUIST feel the same frustration, as a non-profit
organization, we cannot resort to either advertising or paid
subscriptions to defray our costs.  We must rely solely on the support
of the people who use LINGUIST. The Wall Street Journal charges $59.00
a year for people who don't subscribe to the print version, and about
half that for those who do. It currently has more than 500,000 paying
customers. LINGUIST has 15,600 subscribers and together its main site
and 4 mirror sites receive over three million hits per week!  Every
single one of those people reading LINGUIST does so at absolutely no
charge! No hidden costs; none of the "bait and switch" techniques used
by those who use free content to attract readers, getting them used to
the service, then eventually charging for it.

All content on LINGUIST is free. It always has been; it always will
be. But doesn't it seem that if the Wall Street Journal can get a half
million people to pay to read its web version, LINGUIST should have no
trouble getting voluntary contributions from among its 15,600
subscribers? So far, about 300 of those subscribers have stepped
forward. What about the rest of you?

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