New York Times’ pay-wall blessed with holes, opening itself to the social web; preserving life-giving dynamics

  • Jon Lund 

Yesterday New York Times (NYT) introduced its new pay-wall: from March 28 the site, it’s iPhone and iPad apps will no longer be free to use.

However, the NYT pay-wall isn’t really a walled garden – only sorts of. And that’s great! Vigorously administered pay-walls tends to isolate the site they’re trying to protect potentially leading to complete suffocation: users won’t bother to neither pay or log-in, if they don’t have a really good reason do to so, thereby cutting off the lions share of user engagement. Not only does this inflict severe damage to the revenue-streams of the site – it also tends to make the site feel dull and kind of ex-communicated. You want to read what others read. Knowing something you can’t share feels awkward.

The blessed holes in the NYT pay-wall goes as follows: first, you can read 20 articles a month before you’re charged. That is: random and regular users are alike are welcomed on a free basis, but also expected to pay up.

Second, and this is really important, you still have unlimited access to articles when you access them from one of your friends tweets – or a like on Facebook. That is: NYT encourages users to share their content on the social media platforms, and encourages the dialogue around it’s content. It doesn’t kill off the lifegiving dynamics of the web – it embraces them!

Also, access from Google-searches are excepted from the Pay-wall toll. Which is also really clever, since Google obviously is a major muscle pumping traffic to any news-site.

Obviously NYT like all publishers needs to make money. The new (blessedly!) holed pay-wall might be the way to make it work.