Members-Only Content: Yes, It’s Still A Bad Idea

Probably one of the most common questions I’m asked when speaking is about how to lock up your content so only the members of your group (association, members, subscribers) can get at it. I’m asked to compare security schemes, log-in requirements, passwords and Askimet tests to make sure that only those with permission can see the good stuff.

My answer usually disappoints. For quite a few years, I’ve replied that most of the content providers on the web really don’t have a good model for only letting some people at your goodies. And that I highly recommend that you go ahead and just open the doors, sharing what you know rather than hoarding knowledge.

I have a pretty simple reason: all the big guys — New York Times, Wall Street Journal, RadioHead – have found that the “restricted” model just doesn’t work. And I’m a big believer in watching what successful folks do and copying the dickens out of it. While I can speak at length on the theories on WHY this seems to be true, I usually tell the questioner that they’d have to meet me in the hotel bar later in the evening if they really want to hear me go into great detail. (Hint: I charge by the hour.)

I’m pleased to say that I can now add another biggie to the list. United Features Syndicate (the cartoon folks) have thrown in the towel, and you can now see it all.

Now, users can sign up for a feed of their favourites and get the entire strip. The site has set free its entire archive of comics as well, which means (among other things) all 50 years of Peanuts comic strips, which Drawn says is more than 20,000 comics. Even better, they have embed codes for their strips so you can plop them into your blog or webpage.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Matt February 25, 2009 at 6:08 pm

“Free may be the best price, but it can’t be the only one.”

I recommend “The Economics of Giving it Away”


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