Apparently, The Onion is now testing a paywall outside the US
, though the publisher insists that it's really just a test
and they're very open to learning from and/or changing it. They're also apparently modeling it on the NY Times somewhat leaky (somewhat non-existent) paywall, so that people can still feel comfortable passing around links and stuff. Still, the limits seem pretty low. You're asked to pay once you've hit 5 articles (though, again, that may change as tests go on). Still, I'd think that -- especially with a site like The Onion -- a carrot approach, rather than a stick approach makes a lot more sense. I know that I've bought books from The Onion on more than one occasion (and have found they're good as gifts as well). If The Onion focused on giving people positive reasons to buy things, rather than negative reasons to "avoid" getting cut off, I would imagine it would work much better.
Tellingly, The Onion admits that it won't let the paywall anywhere near its famed A.V. Club, noting those folks "are much more focused on talking to each other... they donít want to be charged for their belonging to that community -- whereas I think they would feel differently about being charged for content thatís being provided to them. Itís a very different thing." This is a key point we've tried to make with various news sites. When your focus is on building a community, it makes less and less sense to try to force a paywall on people, because that actually takes away the value of the community itself. Giving people additional reasons to buy? That's good. Trying to beat them into paying... not so good.