People often ask me, "How can you possibly afford to put out TidBITS for free?" The answer is "Not that easily." However, we believe that the individual should not have to pay for quality information. This deranged view probably stems from being related to people who work in libraries (Hi Mom!) and from an academic background in which information is shared, not sold.
As a result, TidBITS has always been and will always remain free to the individual end user, and non-profit, non-commercial publications can reprint articles freely. We encourage liberal redistribution to public online services, and we're kind to animals and small children. :-)
Enough with the white hat speech - you all know what TidBITS is about. Having grown up in upstate New York, we subscribe, more or less, to the American capitalist imperialist dream of owning our own house and maybe annexing a small country or two someday. We're awfully good at living within our means, but those means don't extend far. Therein was hatched the idea of a corporate sponsorship program modeled after the one used by Public Broadcasting.
But who to ask and how to set it all up? PBS has sponsors from every industry, although I've noticed that large oil companies fund a lot of the big name programs. (motto: "We sponsor good television. Ignore that oil slick.") The Federal Communications Commission restricts PBS sponsors to the dictum "Identify, not promote," and they must abide by numerous strict regulations.
This sounded like a good idea, but we added our own twists. First, we are only interested in working with good companies. Fly-by-night outfits can hang with the bats. Second, we realized this could be an excellent way of providing more useful information to the nets, straight from the people who know the best. To that end we have added files to our fileserver at <firstname.lastname@example.org> from our sponsors. The concept behind these files is that they are supposed to be useful (technical support information), interesting (company background or research on a particular topic), or otherwise worthwhile. We will not post any files that we believe to be false, fraudulent, defamatory, or illegal.
We're sure that many of you will have comments and questions on this change, and please feel free to send them along. We'll respond as best we can, as we always do, but let us assure you up front that we believe this is the best move for TidBITS. Our editorial policies and biases (yes, we've all got them, no use denying it) will not change; our distribution and reprinting policies will not change; and the actual issues will only change by a few lines. The fileserver will have more files, and I certainly expect those files to be good reading, but if you don't want to see them, no one will force you to.
That said, I strongly encourage you to send email to <email@example.com> to get a listing of the new sponsorship files if you want to know more about AutoDoubler or DiskDoubler or if you want to find out more about chord keyboards and Infogrip's BAT. Feel free to send email to either of the companies directly, asking for more information, or if you approve of them sponsoring TidBITS, I'm sure they'd be happy to hear that too. I know we would. :-) Of course, if your company is interested in becoming a sponsor, drop us a line and we'll talk it over.
By the way, we've ensured that all the files on the fileserver are small enough to pass through all the gateways, so those of you on CompuServe, America Online, and AppleLink can request files without fear of them bouncing or being truncated.
Thanks for all the enthusiasm, suggestions, and the hundreds of compliments you have sent us over the past two and half years. We certainly hope that you will have reason to continue sending such letters in the future.
Sincerely, Adam & Tonya Engst