I have a challenge for you. As you hopefully realize by now, the majority of our funding comes from readers like you, who have been following TidBITS for years. But we also earn about $5,000 per year from Google AdSense ads that run on our Web site and from automatically generated affiliate links via the Skimlinks service. Although I don’t feel the ads that Google puts on our site are usually egregious (I’ve had to block only a few), there has been such an outpouring of Internet criticism surrounding advertising and the accompanying trackers that I want to drop them, from both our current Web site and the major redesign that’s underway. But $5,000 is a non-trivial portion of our budget, and I can’t turn up my nose at earning
So here’s my challenge. If enough of you contribute via the TidBITS membership program, or renew your existing membership at a higher level such that we can make up that $5,000 by the end of January 2016, AdSense-based banner ads and affiliate link redirectors will disappear from the TidBITS Web site. I’ll report on our progress in early January, and again in early February.
By doing this, we’ll be saying explicitly that we’re writing for you, our loyal readers, and not to attract new eyeballs from out on the Internet. This is one of those greater good situations, since TidBITS members already enjoy our site free of ads — if you believe that Internet publications should be able to survive without selling their readers’ attention to algorithmically chosen advertisers, here’s how you can take action to support your view in a real way.
We have over 2,700 TidBITS members now, and while raising the necessary $5,000 could be accomplished with as few as 250 new members at our lowest $20 level, my stretch goal is to hit 3,000 members total. If we make that goal, we’ll devote the extra money to additional features in our Web site redesign. Some of our desires for the new site include improving its readability for older readers, making it fully responsive for reading on small screen devices, and displaying screenshots and other graphics more fluidly.
Speaking of redesigned Web sites, I’m pleased to announce that we’ve added a much-requested feature to the new Take Control Web site: if you are a TidBITS member and you log in to the Take Control site with your TidBITS member account, the site will automatically load a 30 percent discount coupon for every order you make — look for the Coupon Code text to the left of the orange Check Out button while building your order on the Take Control site. TidBITS members have saved over $10,000 on Take Control books with this discount so far.
Other benefits of membership include:
- A full-text RSS feed (non-members get a summary-only feed).
- The option to receive articles in email as soon as they are posted.
- The ability to post longer article comments, with live URLs.
- Recognition of your membership with a colorful apple icon when commenting.
- Pre-release serialized books that you can read at the rate of a chapter per week. We have a new one in the works for next year, and other titles we’ve serialized so far have included Charles Edge’s “Take Control of OS X Server,” Josh Centers’s “Take Control of Apple TV,” and Jeff Carlson’s “Take Control of Your Digital Photos on a Mac.”
- Discounts worth nearly $600 on an ever-increasing number of Mac-related products, including 1Password, LaunchBar, DEVONthink Pro, ChronoSync, TextExpander, Airfoil, PDFpen, Data Backup, SpamSieve, Keyboard Maestro, Audio Hijack, PopChar X, Drive Genius, CloudPull, Default Folder X, MarsEdit, Voila, Dejal Simon, Password Wallet, Fetch, iThoughtsX, and even the stunning SizzlPix high-definition photographic prints. (If you’d like us look into a discount for a particular app or want to include your company’s products, send me email.)
You can choose among five different levels of annual support: $20, $50, $100, $250, and $1,000. Each level defaults to a manual renewal, but if you don’t want to fuss with the cart each year, an automatic renewal option is available. The membership perks are the same at each level, with one exception: the $1,000 Angel level is a lifetime membership that includes a fine dinner with me and Tonya any time you’re in Ithaca or we’re in your city. We’ve had the distinct pleasure of meeting a few of our Angel-level supporters in person, most recently at MacTech Conference last month.
If you wish, we’ll acknowledge your membership on the site in the TidBITS Members list and with that apple icon next to your comments. You can control your acknowledgement status, name, and URL on the Account Info page. That page also lists your membership status and expiration date, and if our system ever stops email delivery due to too many bounces, you can restart delivery with a single click there. Remember that should email delivery ever fail, you can get our system to resend back issues — see “Resend TidBITS Issues to Yourself” (8 March 2013).
If you’ve found TidBITS valuable over the years you’ve been reading it for free, or have received personal tech support from one of our contributors simply because you asked, please become a TidBITS member to help us continue publishing the kind of articles you’ve become accustomed to reading each week. You’ll have our undying gratitude, and more importantly, you can rest assured that every article you read was made possible in some small part by your generosity. Thank you!