My Turn

Keeping the Web Free

Hank Roberts - 2002.03.20

My Turn is Low End Mac's column for reader-submitted articles. It's your turn to share your thoughts on all things Mac (or iPhone, iPod, etc.) and write for the Mac web. Email your submission to Dan Knight .

Having the choice of whether or not to see ads is fine. Well, I hate 'em. And I don't see them at LEM anyhow, because I use iCab (registered user).

And I have all your ads blocked, one by one, time after time. I hate 'em.

But the thing I am very unhappy about at MacFixit is that they are following the path so many others have since the Web came into being - trying to capture things people have been writing in public for the good of everyone and locking up access, or the archive, so only paying customers can see it.

That strikes me as the worst kind of stealing from the common shared body of knowledge.

MacFixit is certainly not the first (nor the thousandth) company to try to do this.

They all basically are trying to siphon off the good will and generosity that has built up around the world thanks to the Usenet newsgroups.

Why is there any hope they can succeed? In one word - no killfile tool on Web browsers.

Google's "groups" is polluting the newsgroups by bringing in users with an interface that doesn't allow killfiles. It undercuts, belies, destroys, makes almost unimaginable the single, simple form of self-restraint that allowed the newsgroups to function for so many people for so long - the killfile tool on all the good newsreaders.

Again we see people flaming those they don't want to see - and being unable to imagine what in the newsgroups was the overwhelmingly standard advice, use your killfile.

So rip open the newsgroups with the 20 year archive (Google); start leading in new users using tools that lack killfiles (everyone); make the commons less attractive (ditto); start setting up alternatives (many groups, including LEM and MacFixit and Google).

And then steal from the poor - by making money be the gatekeeper for the information.

So, I very much applaud LEM for not going to the locked archive/paid user model, and staying with the annoying-but-filterable advertising model.

I hope you will appreciate that it's worth paying you, not to avoid the ads that I don't have to see, but to applaud you for keeping the information all your readers have put on your page available to future readers.


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