Intending to make AbiWord Weekly News subscription based

From: Jesper Skov (
Date: Wed Jul 03 2002 - 04:33:57 EDT

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                      The Last Free AbiWord Weekly News

    AbiWord Weekly News #100 will be the last free (gratis) issue edited
    by me.

    The company I formerly worked for decided to cut the engineering group
    I was working in. So I'm without a job, and I must admit, also without
    much enthusiasm at present. The last months have not been much fun,
    and I need a break.

    All is not bad though; I'm getting married in August, and we will go
    for an 11 day honeymoon to Kenya. It will be a blast, I'm sure.

    As a result of these two rather big events, I have been thinking a bit
    about Life and Everything. In particular, I have been thinking a bit
    about AbiWord Weekly News.

    Most of you have probably noticed the contribution button at the
    bottom of the newsletter. A grand total of seven people have
    contributed money - for which I'm very grateful - but it's rather
    pitiful given the 2000+ exposures of the newsletter every week.

    I didn't exactly expect to get rich when I added the contribution
    button. After all, everyone had been reading free AWN issues edited by
    me for about a year before that, so few would consider paying. I'm not
    one bit surprised, but I am a little disappointed.

    I feel I need to know that I'm not just continuing editing AWN because
    it's what I've been doing for more than a year. I need to know that
    the readers appreciate it - otherwise, there's little point in
    continuing (I mean, I know the information I put in AWN, so I hardly
    gain anything from doing it). So I've decided to go commercial.

                  Presenting Your AbiWord Weekly News Editor

    Hi, my name is Jesper. I am a news junkie.

    So, now you all know. What it means is that I love following
    development of various projects. Some years back, I got addicted to
    Kernel Traffic, the Mozilla weekly status updates, the Mozilla build
    bar comments, Linux Weekly News, and release announcements of a few
    projects that had my interest. Oh, and AbiWord Weekly News, of course.

    Problem is that some of these are now sporadically updated at best
    (yes, I've contributed money to both LWN and KT which I continue to
    read). It's horrible to go to on Thursdays for one's
    weekly fix to find the page without change. So I stopped to spare
    myself from the disappointment. Likewise for AWN (Sam stopped editing
    it after issue 40), which was the newsletter I enjoyed reading the

    Having recovered from going cold turkey on AWN, I eventually took on
    the job as AWN editor. And being a news junkie, I know that the goods
    have to be delivered every week, on time, to avoid causing that
    terrible feeling of a void in people's lifes :)

    I think I've done pretty well in that regard; in 60 issues there's
    been a couple of times when I changed the release day (I think those
    may even have been announced beforehand) and I've taken a couple of
    (announced) breaks. There was one time where your AWN fix^H^Heed was
    cut off for a time without prior notice when I was recovering from an
    operation (burst appendix) - I do apologize for that, but it was
    beyond my control (honest!).

    Anyway, the bottom line is that I have decided to make AbiWord Weekly
    News a subscription newsletter. That way I will get the financial
    compensation I think is fair (from *all* readers) and, more
    importantly, I will know how many actually care to read it so I can
    stop writing it if I feel there's no point.

                       AbiWord Weekly News Subscription

    There may be slight changes in the subscription details, but they
    presently go like this:

     All recent AbiWord contributors (programmers, QA helpers,
     documentation writers, translaters, etc.) will get free access to
     AWN. Some perpetually (those I know will continue contributing to
     AbiWord development) and others for limited periods of time depending
     on the nature of their contribution.

     All (seven) who have presently contributed money for AWN will get
     perpetual free access. They have shown that they care about AWN!
     Again, thank you!

     Everybody else will have to pay US$3 per quarter via paypal. At the
     current paypal fee level that works out to about US$0.21 per issue in
     my account. That's US$21 per week at 100 subscribers to cover the
     bills for my ADSL line and the electricity to leave the box running
     24/7, leaving a whooping US$3 for the 1-2 hours I spend on each
     issue. I don't plan on an early retirement, trust me!

     I *will* do one full quarter of AbiWord Weekly News (12 issues),
     starting in September when I return from my honeymoon. The first
     issue will summarize everything that has happened in the 7 weeks or
     so between the last free issue and then.

     If fewer than 100 people opt to pay the subscription fee, or when I
     get fed up with editing AWN, I reserve the right to stop issuing AWN
     and refund people. Please don't pay up front for anything but the
     first quarter until I know if I'll be likely to continue editing AWN.

     Refunds will be US$2 per (unused) pre-paid quarter (for a maximum of

     To control access to the AWN newsletters, I will have to host them on
     my personal machine. The access control will be in the form of an
     account named by your email address and a password sent to this
     address. Subscribers will receive an announcement mail directly.

     When issues are 3 months old, I will move them to Should I decide to discontinue the service, I will
     move all issues to

     I have considered some way of avoiding abuse by only letting people
     access the newest issue only once. But then, there's nothing easier
     in the world than saving the HTML to a file and posting it elsewhere,
     so there's not much point. Hopefully US$3/quarter is too little for
     people to bother trying to circumvent it (fingers crossed).

     You can, should you be so inclined, buy a perpetual subscription for
     US$20 (or anything above). But seeing as I cannot guarantee that I
     will continue editing AWN for more than the first quarter, you should
     mentally think of this as a contribution for the past issues of AWN
     you have read - and then feign happy surprise for each additional
     issue you get to read after the first guaranteed quarter.

     Any payment below US$3 will be rejected (possibly subject to paypal
     fees). Anything over US$3 and below US$20 will be considered up front
     subscription payment at US$3 per quarter, subject to the refund rule
     above should I discontinue the service before the money run out.

    Of course, someone may decide that AWN shouldn't cost money, and
    offer to edit future issues of AWN for free. But nobody stepped
    forward when Sam stopped writing AWN over a year ago, nor did anyone
    offer themselves the few times I've asked someone to take over. So I
    think it would be unlikely. [And should it happen, I will refund as
    per description above].

    If you feel you trust me enough to splash out US$3, you can do it at
    any time from now on so you are sure to get the announcement for the
    first non-free issue. Send me ( US$3 via paypal. I
    will create your account (with the email name you use at paypal) and
    send you email with an access password when the time comes. You can
    also decide to wait until I've released the first non-free issue.

    Finally, you can spend some time furthering AbiWord development. There's
    plenty of jobs that you can do, even if you are not a programmer. Join
    the community and prove yourself willing to spend some time on
    improving AbiWord, and you might find yourself with a free (possible
    limited) subscription. Of course, even if you have received free
    access to AWN, I'd still be happy if you paid for a subscription :)

                              Until Next Time...

    I will spend some time over the coming weeks on making the
    infrastructure to control access to AWN issues. I will probably (but
    not guaranteed) use issues 101 and 102 to test the system, providing
    early access to a few testers via the subscription system.

    Jesper Skov, July 3rd 2002

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