Scott Rosenberg has a column up at The Guardian where he discusses Salon's experience with a paywall
back at the beginning of the decade, highlighting how the damage from a paywall can be a lot more troubling than many people take into account. He points out that Salon's various paywall experiments did bring in some revenue, but they then limited Salon's growth potential, first by confusing users on how they could get access to Salon content, and then with the psychological belief that Salon couldn't be read without paying:
More important, by this point the public was, understandably, thoroughly confused about how to get to read Salon content. It took many years for our traffic to begin to grow again. Paywalls are psychological as much as navigational, and it's a lot easier to put them up than to take them down. Once web users get it in their head that your site is "closed" to them, if you ever change your mind and want them to come back, it's extremely difficult to get that word out.
Indeed. As an early reader of Salon, I used to read it all the time -- and link to it. But as I got more and more confused over whether or not anyone reading Techdirt could read the links, I was less and less inclined to ever write about Salon stories -- and eventually that resulted in me dropping Salon as a source I read as well.