The current models used to fund digital media are not very satisfactory.
Old Newspaper likes firewalls, with content behind a monthly subscription. Like in the good old dead tree times. While those with a conservative ageing demographic can sometimes get a sizeable subscriber base, it does not seem to be the future when it’s so easy to move elsewhere in a world of plenty of free content. Attention seekers and new entrants will always be happy to produce free content when the cost of publishing itself is so close to zero.
Digital Natives like the advertising funded model, free to access at the expense of privacy, degraded user experience and an incentive to produce “Social Media leaders’ 25 ways to produce Click Bait headlines” content.
I hereby propose a new model: charge for comments. There are lot of trolls in the world who have a lot of rage, seem very motivated, and produce a lot of low quality and oft duplicated content that would be nice to see less of.
Several models can be envisaged:
- Charge per comment: each post is charged a small fixed amount.
- Deposit system: the user pays a fixed amount, once, that gives a right to a number of daily comments. The amount, or some of it, is forfeited if one or more posts are moderated away. Users who do not post objectionable content can get their deposit refunded when they decide to stop posting – for them posting remains close to free.
- Attention auction: for popular articles with many comments, you could auction the most visible places in the comment page. Surely some people would pay a penny to lift their pearl of wisdom to comment page 1. This can be combined with the deposit idea.
This should help deal with spam as well as trolls incidentally. Payment in digital currency can preserve anonymity if so desired.