A Letter to Our Readers About The Stranger’s Exciting New Digital Pricing Initiative

Or: How You Learned to Quit Worrying and Love Our Paywall

Dear You,

The next two weeks mark an exciting transition for The Stranger and our readers as we introduce a new value-added content system. It’s an important step that we hope you will see as an investment in The Stranger, one that will strengthen our staff’s ability to procure high-quality alcohol in drinking establishments around the city. The change will primarily punish those who read the site most often, both on our website and on mobile devices.

This change comes in two stages. Yesterday, we rolled out a paywall to our readers in Canada, which we like to refer to as “Guineapigistan.” That handful of brave Canadian consumers, who for some reason are strangely interested in tunnel-related news in a medium-sized city that is not even located in their own country, will enable us to fine-tune the customer experience before our global launch. On April 15th, we will begin offering digital subscriptions in the United States and the rest of the world.

If you are a paid Stranger print-edition subscriber, you will continue to have full and free access to our news, dumb-baby jokes, bicycle-related opinions, and photographs of interesting restroom fixtures on your computer, smartphone, tablet, and pager. O: The Oprah Magazine subscribers will also receive free access to thestranger.com for some reason.

If you are not a home delivery subscriber, you will have free access up to a clearly defined reading limit. If you exceed that limit, you will be asked to become a digital subscriber.

This is how it will work, and what it means for you:

• On thestranger.com, you can view 14 articles each month at no charge (including videos, Marxist tracts, and other features, but not including articles wherein the letter “e” appears more than 50 times). After 14 articles, we will ask you to become a digital subscriber, with full access to our site.

• On our new smartphone, pager, and tablet apps, the book section will remain free of charge, because nobody reads it anyway. For access to all other sections within the apps, we will ask you to become a digital subscriber.

The Stranger is offering three digital subscription packages that allow you to choose from a variety of devices (computer, smartphone, tablet, pager). More information about these plans will be available behind the paywall, starting on April 15th.

• Again, all Stranger home-delivery subscribers will receive free access to thestranger.com and to all content on our apps, except after three o’clock pm (Central/Mountain Time) on Thursdays, through 11 am (Eastern Time) on Fridays. If you are a home delivery subscriber, please write “RETURN TO SENDER” in blue ink on the front of the first copy of the print edition that you receive after the next full moon and ship that copy back to us to be signed up for free access.

• Readers who come to Stranger articles through links from search, blogs, and social media like MySpace (hereafter referred to as “My________”) will be able to read the first half of those articles, even if they have reached their monthly reading limit. For some search engines like Askjeeves.com, users will have no daily limit of free links to Stranger articles. Other search engines will not be able to locate The Stranger at all starting April 16th. We are unsure which search engines will be Stranger-compliant, though it’s a fair bet that Duck Duck Go will probably be one of those websites.

• Until two minutes ago, The Stranger was not even aware there was a search engine named Duck Duck Go. Weird, right?

• The home page at thestranger.com and all section fronts will remain free to browse for all members of the Quileute Indian tribe, due to legally binding repercussions from the Great Savage-Appeasing Treaty of 1899.

For more information, go to http://www.thestranger.com/paywall.

Thank you for reading The Stranger, in all its forms. Now give us money.



Digital Media Supervisor and Junior Chief Twitterologist, The Stranger


Comments (48) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
Where do I send my blank check?
Posted by bostyfralls on April 1, 2011 at 1:35 AM · Report this
Where do I send the blank check?
Posted by bostyfralls on April 1, 2011 at 1:51 AM · Report this
Will in Seattle 3
Good thing I bought a Platinum Lifetime membership!

I still don't see why I had to pay for it in goats, though.
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on April 1, 2011 at 2:42 AM · Report this
Texas10R 4
My current-events reading list may soon result in an unexpected opening in my weekly schedule.

Is there the slightest chance you might apply a portion of your new revenue toward an actual professional copy editor? Yes, of course not.
Posted by Texas10R on April 1, 2011 at 6:21 AM · Report this
venomlash 5
April Fools!
Posted by venomlash on April 1, 2011 at 7:14 AM · Report this
Can we skip the middle man and directly bribe you all with booze?
Posted by bigdman on April 1, 2011 at 7:26 AM · Report this
Canuck 7
You wish the Canadians were interested in your tunnel, Paul....
Posted by Canuck on April 1, 2011 at 7:30 AM · Report this
GlamB0t 8
almost as funny as Google Motion!

I'd pay! (unless it's through PayPal)
Posted by GlamB0t on April 1, 2011 at 7:32 AM · Report this
did you and boingboing plan this? or is it a coincidence that they're doing the same? you have successfully meta-april-fooled me
Posted by foodpillsyes on April 1, 2011 at 7:34 AM · Report this
camlux 10
The part I like best about the print subscription is being able to come by the Stranger offices for donuts and coffee once a month to schmooze with the staff.
Posted by camlux on April 1, 2011 at 7:35 AM · Report this
@5 Hush!
Posted by Brooklyn Reader on April 1, 2011 at 7:35 AM · Report this
How come Will gets away with paying in goats while the rest of us have to barter with sexual favors?

It must be true that Stranger staff would rather fuck a goat...
Posted by Smartypants on April 1, 2011 at 7:36 AM · Report this
copied from boingboing
Posted by boinger on April 1, 2011 at 7:41 AM · Report this
Akbar Fazil 14
Not half as funny as how BoingBoing already did the same thing. Massive fail on your part.
Posted by Akbar Fazil on April 1, 2011 at 7:42 AM · Report this
@14, thank you for pointing out such a serious error. I bet the Stranger staff are clutching their heads and moaning in embarrassment right now.
Posted by goreedgo on April 1, 2011 at 7:57 AM · Report this
Vince 16
I'd pay anything for Dan's rants. Especially as he gets older and crankier (and kinkier)!
Posted by Vince on April 1, 2011 at 8:07 AM · Report this
The Huffington Post's was funnier, being tailored only to charge NYT employees.
Posted by Brooklyn Reader on April 1, 2011 at 8:21 AM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 18
I was wondering if you guys would do an April Fool's prank or not. Thanks!

ThinkGeek.com has the best this year (of the typical sites that do it regularly).
Posted by Urgutha Forka on April 1, 2011 at 8:22 AM · Report this
If I can still pick up a printed copy on the street for free, why the fuck would I bother paying money just to read it online? No thanks, I'll be picking up the print edition from now on.
Posted by suddenlyorcas on April 1, 2011 at 8:36 AM · Report this
what_now 20
@19 suddenlyorcas, I'll bet you'll really wish there was an edit comment button in 5, 4, 3, 2 ...
Posted by what_now on April 1, 2011 at 8:46 AM · Report this
Reverse Polarity 21

Nice one.
Posted by Reverse Polarity on April 1, 2011 at 8:55 AM · Report this
Roosevelt 22
This better be an April fools joke. If anything, you should be paying us for regularly submitting comments, reviews, etc.
Posted by Roosevelt http://www.youtube.com/user/matthewcobrien?feature=mhum on April 1, 2011 at 8:56 AM · Report this
Akbar Fazil 23
@15, its not the first time the stranger just reposts the same stuff from boingboing and calls it new.
Posted by Akbar Fazil on April 1, 2011 at 8:59 AM · Report this
Posted by KatTheCanuckistan http://soundmusing.blogspot.com/ on April 1, 2011 at 8:59 AM · Report this
Joe M 25
The best April Fools joke within the April Fools joke: The Stranger's new pager app.
Posted by Joe M on April 1, 2011 at 9:08 AM · Report this
Sat'n 26
God, for a minute there I thought it was going to get a little easier to get WORK one here in cubicle # D4-S848. Oh well.
Posted by Sat'n on April 1, 2011 at 9:32 AM · Report this
kim in portland 27
@23, They need to pay us to read them in German's Chocolate Cake (from scratch), right? Have a good day, love.
Posted by kim in portland http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2010/11/fast-paced_video_provides_a_fu.html on April 1, 2011 at 9:34 AM · Report this
Nancy S 28
"It’s an important step that we hope you will see as an investment in The Stranger"

Reminds me of the time I visited a baptist church (shudder) and as they passed the collection plate, the minister said he was blessing everyone with the opportunity to give money.

Posted by Nancy S on April 1, 2011 at 9:35 AM · Report this
beatgrl 29
Give Paul some credit. All interesting ideas do not start at boing boing.
Posted by beatgrl on April 1, 2011 at 9:40 AM · Report this
beatgrl 30
Also, this one is actually funny, which I suppose makes it less April-foolsy.
Posted by beatgrl on April 1, 2011 at 9:46 AM · Report this
Canadian Nurse 31
@18: The playmobil Apple store was so completely ridiculous that now I want to pay $200 to own one. Also the lightsaber popsicle makers.
Posted by Canadian Nurse on April 1, 2011 at 10:23 AM · Report this
Will in Seattle 32
@12 I'm pretty sure the goats were to be used in some nefarious way, but I've chosen not to ask more ...
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on April 1, 2011 at 10:26 AM · Report this
Scalpel 33
Now I'm doubly glad that I'm paying for home delivery! I was already getting my money's worth with the bonus "Annotated Charles Mudede", where a team of political science majors explain exactly what Charles means in each Slog post. But now I get free access to Slog through my pager? Finally I'm going to get some use from that $20 a month I've been paying since '95.

I can't wait for you to beeper some Slog my way!
Posted by Scalpel on April 1, 2011 at 10:34 AM · Report this
Puty 34
I'm sure most Guineapigistanians don't mind you testing dumb paywalls here. I'm less enamoured (yes, with a "u") of your small-government, libertarian fantasies that creep across our border like ideological influenza.
Posted by Puty on April 1, 2011 at 10:36 AM · Report this
This is the FORTH "we are adopting a paywall" April Fools gag i've come across today. Means its zeitgeisty at least i guess.
Posted by Ben Weldon on April 1, 2011 at 10:50 AM · Report this
I sincerely hope that is Paul's real middle name.
Posted by Max Power on April 1, 2011 at 11:07 AM · Report this
Posted by jnonymous on April 1, 2011 at 11:57 AM · Report this
Not to be a hypercritical douche, but I prefer the April Fools jokes that aren't already obvious just from the headline. Okay, I'm a hypercritical douche.
Posted by g on April 1, 2011 at 12:04 PM · Report this
Gurldoggie 39
Funny you should mention it, 'cause I was thinking of charging people to read my comments.
Posted by Gurldoggie http://gurldogg.blogspot.com on April 1, 2011 at 12:27 PM · Report this
Honestly, I'd pay something to read this online. (Okay, not $10 a month. I'm too fucking cheap.) But because this is free, I happily toss some money at Strangercrombie.
Posted by midwaypete on April 1, 2011 at 2:00 PM · Report this
Mischa Vainburg 41
im gay
Posted by Mischa Vainburg http://squidbasedink.wordpress.com on April 1, 2011 at 3:07 PM · Report this
42 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy
I hope it's an even bigger flop than StrangerSelect was a few years back.
Posted by jaspgh on April 1, 2011 at 7:31 PM · Report this
I'll pay up if Dan Savage and Paul Krugman swap columns...
Posted by snockered on April 1, 2011 at 8:26 PM · Report this
I don't get how some of you guys can be okay with this shit. First the NYT and now the Stranger. I think most people in this country don't even know what the fuckin' Stranger is. How can you demand payment for a publication like this? And did you seriously say "pager"? Do you have any idea what year this is?

You're a bunch of idiots, I'm switching to Seattle Weekly.
Posted by Jamez on April 2, 2011 at 12:33 AM · Report this
Seeds 46
I guess this wasn't quite so obviously a joke to some people..
Posted by Seeds on April 2, 2011 at 3:37 AM · Report this
47 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy
reverend dr dj riz 48
my husband SO fell for this that we had an argument about it..
.. a week later...
men be slow sometimes...
Posted by reverend dr dj riz on April 9, 2011 at 1:45 PM · Report this

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