"The Internet should be free" MY ASS! (Mildish)

In every single thread about subscriptions, there are these asses who proclaim that they won’t be subscribing because “The Internet should be free!” (No, I’m not going to provide a link. Look around, man…they’re EVERYWHERE! :smiley: ) Were all of you whiners asleep in high-school Economics? I have news for you. NOTHING IS FREE. Ever. What you mean to say, and are too stupid or too chicken-shit to say is “The Internet should be free to ME.”

Nothing is free. Somebody pays for it somewhere. The Net isn’t free. We all pay ISP fees, AOL fees, etc. You communists just want those costs to be borne by somebody other than yourselves. we decline to do so. Fuck off. TANSTAAFL.

This is no way is addressed to those people who, upon evaluating their opportunity costs, decided, for whatever reason not to subscribe. I respect their decision, and I will miss them. But the “Free Internet” morons can kiss my ass.

(Post #500! It had to be in The Pit. Moral Imperative.)

I was hoping someone would open a thread on this. It needs to be discussed.

Have you been asleep for the last week, and- as a result- miss all the threads in which this was already argued?

Just when I thought this all was starting to die down, 2 more threads show up on the front page of the Pit. And I’m even one of the “asses” you mention in your post.


Same here. It makes me crazy. (Or maybe I’m just sad that some of my favourite posters have said they’re leaving.) I mean, I’m probably as far as you could get from libertarian, and with the exception of charitable donations and bank transfers I’ve never paid for anything online, plus I’m poor to begin with, so I’m surprised that I should feel so strongly about this !

These are the same breed of people who vowed never to pay for television.

Five bucks, for goodness sake. Can someone please explain to me the ‘principle’ that makes it wrong to pay for what you use - especially when it’s only five bucks? I mean, I’ve read the threads, and I still don’t get it.

Great, then you can explain why you think the Internet should be free.

Sure thing, i’ll try my best to explain it to you. I don’t come to SD for the actual message boards, i come to read the posts people make on said board. I can read the boards just fine without paying a cent, and i still get 99% of what i got from it before. Its like making the band pay to play and the spectators get in for free, sure you are using someones stage but thats not the reason people came.

Tremmie: thanks ! That is a very good reason for you to not pay the five bucks.

Right along with all the other reasons I’ve seen:

  • I’m not comfortable with PayPal
  • I’ve been spending so much time here I’ve forgotten what my family looks like
  • I think the quality will go downhill

… and so on.

But none of these address the principle (that I have seen others allude to) of why we shouldn’t pay for the Internet.

Ok, but I’m kinda starting to feel sorry for this, now decomposing, dead horse.

First-- the generalization “The internet should be free” that is being applied to us needs to dissipate. While I won’t deny there are people out there who argue that, most of us are arguing something a bit different.

We pay to get access to the web (unless you are using a library, etc… inwhich case someone pays for the web access). The argument that we were making over this whole subscription thing wasn’t regarding payment for internet access; it was regarding payment for the use of message boards. Most of us realize that someone, somewhere, is paying some kind of bill. It is completely understandable if this someone doesn’t want to foot the bill anymore, and asks its clients to do so, instead.

The problem is: the vast majority of message boards on the internet are free boards (i.e. no subscription fee). So if you begin charging for your message board, you should expect people to mention this.

Seeing as how the SDMB is a community, they can move, as an entity, to another message board that doesn’t charge its members. Yeah, running a message board/web server/etc. is not cheap, and yeah someone is paying the bill… but with most message boards that someone is not the board members.


Who the heck do YOU think should pay for the Internet? Or do you mean to bring back slave labor and force people to provide servers, maintenance, programming, and whatnot?

Well hey, you’re the one who called yourself one of the “asses” mentioned in the OP. S/he was referring to the “asses who proclaim that they won’t be subscribing because ‘The Internet should be free!’”

Not my fault if I attributed that opinion to you. Maybe you should read the OP a little more carefully next time before responding.

What reason do people have (like the CR, for one) to start a free message board? Anyone in this position knows (or rather should know… and would find out very quickly) that if they are providing a free service to people, but providing this service costs them money, they will be providing the service at a loss. If they continue down those tracks, then I can only assume 2 things (and I will welcome any additions to this list):

  1. They are fine with the fact that they will be going into debt, providing this service.
  2. They are actually reaping some other benefits from the service, indirectly.

Easy trigger. I think I got your point after that first sentence. Sorry if I was misread what the OP was meaning.


The vast majority of internet message boards may be free. The vast majority are run by volunteer labor (i.e. Bob who wants to run a messageboard) on donated bandwidth (Bob will pick up the cost of the bandwidth) on donated equipment (and Bob can install Linux on this old PC he doesn’t use to play Everquest on anymore because its too slow). (Thanks Una and Opal, btw, for being Bob and providing those communities!)

The other type of free message boards are hosted by organizations that stand to gain something for running a board.

The Reader isn’t Bob (neither is Salon or the other fee based boards). It needs to pay Jerry. It can’t use that old PC it used to play Everquest on. And the boards consumption of bandwidth is impacting its business. And the Reader isn’t getting much from the boards - the Reader is a Chicago local paper - most Dopers don’t live in Chicago. The Reader doesn’t sell goods or services through the SDMB (well, it does, but it would take a lot of books and coffee mugs to keep this place open) and, with a very few exceptions, banner advertising is not a revenue source (I’m sure Slashdot could make money, and a few other sites, but most can’t).

Either the SDMB is good enough that they can charge for something somebody else gives away - or they aren’t. The next year will see which it is - but this is the only way to keep this board going for the next year in order to find out. I’ve been on some free messageboards, and they aren’t this place. And if they were to get the volume this place does, Bob (and Una and Opal) probably couldn’t afford to keep their sites up for free either. I’ll pay for this one.

I’m really tired of this line of reasoning as well.

I’ve been afflicted with more than my share of bandwidth thieves (they like to hotlink to my graphics to use on their own message boards or web pages). One guy stole a photograph (of Yosemite, I think) to put on some Yahoo group post. When I discovered it and replaced the graphic with another graphic which had text expressing my displeasure at his hotlinking my graphic, the guy (somewhat embarassed at being “caught” stealing someone else’s graphics) pouted to the rest of the Yahoo group, “I thought that the information on the Internet was supposed to be all about the free exchange of ideas.”

No, you idiot, the Internet is not about using someone else’s resources for free. That’s not what it’s about.

I know that what that jerk did is in a somewhat different than what is being discussed here, but I believe they’re related: some people think that if it’s on the Internet, it’s free. Or it oughta be. That irritates and infuriates those of us who do fund this “information” in the Internet. We pay for it, and we can decide at any time that we don’t want to pay for it all by ourselves. We have that right—we aren’t obligated to keep paying for it all by ourselves, just so that the Internet will be “free” for everyone else.

yosemitebabe I understand what you mean about the “bandwidth thieves” that hotlink to graphics on other pages, etc., and other people who follow that same logic and say that everything on the net is free (or should be). I agree that that’s the kind of ignorance that the SDMB is trying to combat.


I don’t have a credit card or paypal, and in addition I am concerned about anonymity, especially since I once had someone I only knew online drive across the state to see me, without my knowledge.

So I won’t be joining. But I do agree that there is no reason the SDMB shouldn’t charge. In fact, it seems as though it is necessary, even though it is bad for me personally.

Ok, my take is that I’m ALREADY paying how much a month for my speedy internet access… why should I pay my internet fee just to pay more fees for the content? That’s like old women paying a busing company to take them to the casino. Wow, I’m spending money JUST to be able to spend money! What an honor!

It’s just that, with all the free stuff out there on the internet, I just don’t think it’s worth it. I mean, I can still read the SDMB without paying, that’s really all I want. And I don’t think that makes me an ass.

Read the OP carefully. I specifically mentioned that people who evaluated their opportunity costs, and found that the SDMB didn’t make the cut were right to do so. No problem. The people I refered to as asses are those who want somebody else to pay for what they want/use.

Your analogy about the bus company fails. If the bus was owned by the casino, and they charged you to ride it, then maybe your analogy would work. But not as it was presented. Two companies, two services, two charges.

It isn’t that simple. Other solutions have been shown to be successful that were never attempted here. LiveJournal, for instance, desires to both make money to support itself, make a profit, and keep [basic] service free which corresponds to how they think the internet should be. As far as I can tell, they’ve done it. They’re still in service, after all, and only rarely (by my perception) suffer from overload. But this is the model the Reader chose, and if people think it violates their perception of the spirit of the internet, then I for one don’t blame them. I’m willing to pay for the dope that’s been free all this time. It remains to be seen that what I’m paying for won’t be a different board altogether. Next April, they’ll know how I feel for sure.

You pay your phone bill, yes? Should phone sex be free?

Well, let’s hear your explanation of the mechanism by which the money you give to your ISP gets transmitted to the Chicago Reader so that they can pay for their servers, tech support, and T1 charges.
Your busing example is actually pretty close. You pay for the roads (indirectly, through taxes), and there are a lot of places you can drive for free, but you still have to pay for the car. And if you go to the cinema, just try convincing them that you shouldn’t have to pay for tickets because you already paid for the road to get there.
Granted, maybe there should be some mechanism by which the ISPs contribute to quality content on the net, but no one’s worked that out yet.