Too Busy For Words - the PaulWay Blog

Fri 27th May, 2011

LWN Professional Supporter

Today I subscribed to Linux Weekly News for another 11 months at the new Professional Supporter level. Rusty asked for a higher level of subscription to be available a while back, and Jon (with his characteristic gentle, wry humour) implemented it recently.

It took me a little time to actually raise my subscription level - I had spent a bit of money on bike parts and other stuff and, though I could still have afforded it, just didn't feel like watching all my money escape in one go. (I'm still recovering from my somewhat exuberant donation to the flood relief funding at LCA 2011). But finally the stars aligned, the checksums matched and I paid for the shiny stars on my name.

Why? For two reasons. One, as Rusty says, is that Jon and the team at LWN are doing huge, exemplary, and difficult work condensing all the news that's important in the FOSS gamut into one easy-to-read site. If I had to buy a magazine for that I'd be paying at least half that. The second reason is congruent to my decision to support webcomic artists: that I love supporting anyone who is getting to do the thing they love. I love working with computers and I'm lucky enough to have found companies that employ me for my skills. If you want to be a journalist who writes about FOSS, it's much more difficult to find a company that gives you the freedom you need to write about the things you love. Being able to support them in that is a good thing.

Plus, I can write it off as an educational expense on my tax, and I get Jon owing me a beer rather than me owing him one :-). So it's good all round.

I'm not calling it maniacal. It's a perfectly sensible judgement in my opinion. There are lots of people who read LWN who are paid well and could easily afford to support them at that level. Hearing Jon's talk about running LWN for thirteen years was an insight into the trials and obstacles confronting anyone that wants to do as LWN has done. Given that there are well-known but not particularly well-respected IT news websites out there that also send their reporters to LCA - usually, it would seem, to stir up trouble - having LWN around to provide an intelligent, reasonably even-handed report on what goes on in the FOSS community is a great, unsung boon to us all.

Jon's philosophy in setting the prices for subscriptions - and allowing mostly unrestricted access for free - has been that Linux users like things to be free. I would argue that they like their software to be both zero-cost and unencumbered, but I don't think that necessarily extends to them expecting a free ride from other people. I'm sure there are lots of people that can afford to support LWN, even in a small way, for the service it provides. It maybe not at the professional support level, but having this option gives people like myself to support it at an appropriate level for our income.

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