Reply to post: Re: Mutant 59

One solution to wreck privacy-hating websites: Flood them with bogus info using browser tools

doublelayer Silver badge

Re: Mutant 59

I'm also worried that making a lot of sites nonfree might deny access to some people. For example, children don't often get credit cards until they are quite old, but they are capable of reading and understanding news stories well before that. I found the free ad-supported news to be a good way to become knowledgeable when I was young, but asking my parents for permission for each article or site I visited, especially when some were junk, would have been annoying enough that I just wouldn't have read as much. Reading all that news and related information in my adolescence has, I hope, made me a more knowledgeable adult and I always recommend that interested children do so as well. Similarly with email, as I'm from a generation where we had that but we didn't have cell phones while we were young. Sometimes I need to send an email that says "No, but I'll be there tomorrow." Charging that one sentence at the same level as any other message, especially to a child or someone whose main mode of communication is email, is pretty ridiculous.

I'm also worried about the evolution of nonfree micropayments. If the system is to pay for each article consumed (I'm sticking with the newspaper example here), the paper might choose to have tiny articles that you get through very fast, or articles that don't explain anything "The CLOUD Act was [passed by congress], and [does all the stuff we said it would] and has been used as a solution for [this court case that caused it to be passed]. Here's the new component, but if you want any background, you'll just have to read those articles we just linked to. If you would like to see senatorial responses to the CLOUD act's passage, consider these articles: [Wyden (D OR) on CLOUD act], [Paul (R KY) on spending bill], [McConnell (R KY) on spending bill], [Schumer (D NY) on spending bill], ..."

Alternatively, if the price is subscription based, then the paper has no reason to have good articles most of the time, as long as they have a good enough article once in a while. Leaving the newspaper example, google might have an incentive to make sure that your searches aren't great, just so long as they can be better than bing and duckduckgo. If it takes you three times as many searches, then they get three times the money. If they changed the policy so that they only get paid when you find something and click on it, then they will have an incentive to make sure you find a lot of things that all look pretty good, so they might make a system to make those results that you see now and immediately realize won't be useful more enticing. Also, they would not want to show you any more preview than they need, so my recent search to confirm that "Wyden" was the correct spelling of the senator's name would not have put that up on top like it was.

At least with free things you have the option to determine what is good and stop using what is not. With everything being paid, not only is a lot of stuff harder to set up and manage but there are lots of ways it can go wrong. Those who charge less or nothing will be abnormal, and can use that to attract attention ("New York Times charges $0.02 per article; imagine how that builds up if you read it every day. Look at this! Russia Today is free. We could just read that.").

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