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The Initial Response to Memberships Is a Warm Feeling

You like us! You really like us! Enough to put your money where our mouth is. We launched paid memberships at TiDBITS on 12 December 2011, and about 800 people have joined at levels from $20 to $1,000. We thank you all. There’s nothing like putting it on the line, and asking readers to put a cash value on what our continued operations — and, we hope, expansion — means to you. The response is gratifying.

We’ve learned a few things in the early days, that we thought we’d share.

People have an aversion to automatic or “evergreen” renewals. We set the $20 and $50 membership levels to be automatically renewed unless you canceled the renewal (which can be done immediately after payment). Our payment partner, eSellerate, would email in advance of the renewal, and we planned to do the same. We would also freely refund any unwanted renewal.

Nonetheless, enough of you — and, frankly, enough of us, we realized later — have an aversion to automatic renewals, because they have led to you in the past being charged when you didn’t want to be, and in having difficulties in canceling a membership or annual fee before it was levied. We listened.

We now default all membership levels to a manual renewal, where we will email you in just under a year’s time to alert you that your membership is near expiring. At the time of purchase, however, you can choose to opt-in to an automatic renewal, if you’d prefer to be charged on your membership anniversary each year. eSellerate only lets us set that for two renewals (a total of three years’ membership), and before your third anniversary, we’ll ask you to renew explicitly.

Offering an angel level lets people flap their wings. We put the $1,000 angel level in place, because we knew a few people had wanted to contribute as a thank you for decades of production or as encouragement in the investment for new projects. But we’ve been overwhelmed with how many people stepped up to get their wings. Thank you, from the bottom of hearts. We know and value what a thousand dollars is.

All TidBITS Angels are invited to a collective dinner with the staff at Macworld this year (or in a subsequent one if they can’t make it), or to dinner with Adam and Tonya in Ithaca, New York, if they pass by those parts. It’s the least we can.

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