Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Goodbye, Sweet Onion

I've been enjoying articles from The Onion since about 1996, and using it regularly since about 2000 or so, but now the ride is over. I hit the Paywall.

I'm not sure if people in the US are receiving this yet, since they started out "experimenting" with walling off "foreign" users, first in fall 2011- excluding areas where there are large concentrations of American soldiers in combat, so as to not penalize members of the Armed Forces for their service. It seems they started in the UK, because, according to their mysterious sources (ones I am clearly unfamiliar with), UK readers are accustomed to paying for online content, and really don't mind it.

(Granted, I am not from the UK, but this sounds like BS to me - anyone in the UK want to comment and let me know how much you love paying for online reads?)

Now, being a "foreigner", I have also hit the paywall, so that is that. I'm really not interested in keeping a running count in my head to tell if I've read my "five free" articles in the past 30 days, and of when my new 30 day period has started, etc, etc. Screw that! It brings to mind the annoyance of the old dialup internet where you actually had to keep track of how long you'd been online to make sure you didn't go over the monthly allowance. (Anyone else remember those hideous days?)

Thus, I have decided that it's simply not worth clicking on any links to The Onion shared on Facebook, etc, because clicking and then hitting the wall sets my teeth on edge. Not worth it when the title is likely the funniest part.

And, to be honest, I just don't think of checking The Onion as much as I used to, so maybe it has waned for me, anyway. Luckily, the AV Club has, so far, not been touched by the Paywall, so we can still have our Red Meat binges. Otherwise, you might really see me get pouty. But, realistically, how long with that last while tied to the New Coke?

(By the way, I've been told that there are numerous ways to work around the paywall, but (1) I don't find it worth figuring out, (2) I'm not willing to adjust my computer system to read The Onion, and (3) I prefer not to work around such things, as it feels uncomfortably close to theft to me at that point. Instead, I will respect their paywall - but I also won't be paying.)

This has made me think about copyright, and monetizing, and how people deserve to get paid for their work, and so forth. In the end, I must agree that it's their site, and they have every right to set up a paywall, even if being a long-time reader has left me feeling some irrational sense of abandonment. I guess the ad/merchandise/Kindle revenues weren't paying the bills, especially since their TV dept went live and the writers joined the guild, so I can understand their need to make some money. (Though, I must say it's rather silly to start a TV wing if you don't have the plans in place to support it from the get-go.)

Bottom Line: Their work, their site, their rules, and good luck to them.

But, considering the vast wealth of LOLs on the internet, I remain pretty unmoved to pay for The Onion, especially while it is currently in place to only penalize non-Americans. Sorry, but that offends me a bit. If we filthy foreigners aren't welcome, we can go elsewhere, Xenophobes. (Wow, that was a bit more vitriolic than I meant it to be - sorry!)

Well, fare thee well, Onion. I hope it works for you, and I hope this doesn't just kill what ad revenue you are getting when people just stop visiting. I hope this isn't a good five or ten years too late to catch your relevancy. I hope you can earn what you need.

As for me, I will enjoy the memories I have. I recall one religious studies class when a classmate brought in a print-off of the article about Harry Potter books starting a Satanic cult in a second grade class. The guy actually thought it was a real article! Oh, how we laughed. Ah, good times. If you don't recall the article, that's too bad. I would link it, but you know... Paywalled.

Well, nothing to see here, folks. I guess we'll all have to go and do some work instead of reading The Onion and pretending we're working.

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