This article marks the start of occasional editor’s notes. You don’t need a guide to how to read The Magazine, but we will provide updates about previous articles, show new features, and answer questions.
Web subscriptions and a porous paywall
We added the ability to subscribe on our site a few weeks ago in addition to the option of subscribing in the iOS app. Readers may subscribe in either place, then read with the same subscription in multiple browsers and on multiple iOS devices. For details, see the FAQ, which we update regularly as questions come in.
Along with Web subscriptions, we made our paywall “porous.” Any visitor may read a single article each month in its entirety, then subsequent articles are shown as previews. This gives visitors a better sense of what we have to offer, and gives subscribers a way to refer people to something they’re reading without diluting the benefit to subscribers. It’s a finely balanced economy, and we appreciate your part in it.
(A secondary effect is that because not all articles are available free after publication, this preserves a value for our writers, too. We ask only for exclusive rights to their articles for 30 days following publication, after which they may post on their own sites or re-sell elsewhere.)
As anyone on the Internet knows, feedback is a double-edged sword. Sites that allow public comments must also be prepared for the trolling, griefing, negativity, and horror that comes with them, and moderation is the only way to prevent one’s site from becoming a cesspool. Our dear leader, Marco, does not allow comments on his blog, nor does Friend of The Magazine John Gruber on Daring Fireball, nor does über- and ur-blogger Jason Kottke. This was at one time an oddball notion, but it is increasingly the case — especially with sites launching today — that sites don’t allow even moderated commenting.
Author profiles on our platform include his or her own site, Twitter account, and App.net handle. These are linked appropriately when you read or forward an article so feedback and recognition flow to the author.
We’ve seen that this kind of person-to-person communication with a tiny bit of identity attached (posts from a microblogging account or an email address) results in either positive feedback or sensible and civil critique. Writers have told us they have never before received such levels of positive responses and constructive discussion, and we love that. (Likewise, we love your feedback to our accounts, @TheMagazineApp on Twitter and @TheMagazine on App.net.)
It was with some consideration that we thought about how to allow readers to provide more feedback that we could incorporate into our publication. The simplest way to enhance what’s already working is to make it simple for you to send a letter to the editor while reading any article in the app. That’s available as of version 1.2.2 of the iOS app, and will be added to the website shortly.
Tap the Share button at the top-right of any article and then tap Write Letter to Editor. This creates an email message that’s associated directly with the article.
We’ll cull through letters each issue and publish part or all of the most interesting and relevant — whether complimentary or not — to keep a dialog going. This isn’t the end of the interaction we will add, but it’s a good beginning.
Glenn Fleishman is the editor and publisher of The Magazine, and contributes reguarly to the Economist, Boing Boing, TidBITS, and Macworld. The father of two, Glenn won two episodes of Jeopardy! in 2012, and he won't let you forget it.