News sites start charging readers to comment on articles

“News publishers have such a fraught relationship with the people who comment on their articles that many websites have been removing the comments section altogether (including this one),” Joshua Brustein reports for Bloomberg. “Michael Robertson thinks he has a better idea: start charging the people who hang out there.”

“Robertson, an entrepreneur in San Diego best known for founding and fighting a long legal battle with the record industry, argues that the prospect of a new revenue stream will convince a struggling industry to reconsider the value of comments,” Brustein reports. “A self-proclaimed libertarian, he believes his company,, can provide a market solution to trolling. ‘If we can turn this into a revenue producer, then all of a sudden publishers will want it; they can invest time in it; and we can improve comments,’ he said.”

“One big news company is already on board. Tribune Publishing, which owns the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times, turned on SolidOpinion’s software for the San Diego Union-Tribune’s website over the weekend,” Brustein reports. “Readers can earn points, which can be used to buy more prominent placement for their comments at the end of news stories, by posting comments, visiting the site regularly, or spending real money. The newspaper sells 800 points for $10. The minimum price of a promoted spot is 15 points… Last year, Tablet Magazine, a New York-based Jewish publication, started charging people to post any comment on its website. Readers can pay $2 a day, $18 a month, or $180 a year. ”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We live in interesting times.


    1. Thank you Chris.
      We could not possibly have asked for a better illustration of the problem.

      I think commenting fees should be based on composition and grammar.
      Shouting would incur an automatic doubling of the price.

      Google would makes fortune from YouTube.

  1. It’s an interesting development, although the 800 credits for $10 bucks is needly complicated.

    What if sites charged a nickel a comment? Would you still post? I might. It would also end a lot of spam by eliminating anonymous posts (you’d need some sort of account to pay) and could even check violent posts (police could trace your account).

  2. If I paid to comment, would I get a refund if moderator removed my post?!? And if my comment led to further “conversation”, do I get a cut of the money, because I’m not “conversing” for free!

  3. I belong to another side where I have to pay to become a member. A well defined policy and rule section, a personable staff that reply in a prompt and courteous matter to your inquiries and absolutely no ads.

    1. Another site (not side) I assume you mean. Yes, such sites can be more pleasant than slogging through unregulated bazaars, fending off the thieves and the wheedling vendors of unwholesome meat and defective pottery; dodging the nationalists raving on their soapboxes, and trying to ignore the paraplegic beggars whining for an upgrade to their decrepit Mac Pros.

      1. Yes I’m constantly making verb tense errors, small word omissions and other errors like that. It’s not Shakespeare but within context most should get the basic idea,

        That being said there are some posts that I do spend time to ensure top notch grammatical structure.

        I try to include something for everyone so a few misteaks for those who like to eat meat.

        Actually I did try to point out a way to remove basically remove all the ads at this site, but was I ever censored and blocked, so I don’t comment on that anymore. After all free speech is a nice concept as long as you don’t have to enforce it and I don’t think a private business like MDN has to enforce free speech.

        1. I hope you realise my corrections are a minor sign of affection, as though I accompanied you to a formal dinner and begged to adjust your tie before we made our grand entrance. Needless to say, MDN fails to represent such a venue, as I indicated by comparing it to an undisciplined public market in Morocco.

        2. While I might revel in having you beg, when a relationship is built on trust as is illustrated by the formal dinner, by the time we’d get to that formal dinner you’d have full blessings to adjust my tie, as your eyes, fingers and hands would coordinate that intimate act much more appropriately that I could, save for the need I would feel to comment on how lovely you are looking and to breathe in your presence with the reflective pause and expression of inspiration that it deserves.

          To do that requires the tint of your souled windows to be known, for my hazel color changing ones (no doubt leaning towards the bluish end of the spectrum unless your gown dictates otherwise) would be immersed looking at you, the soul’s doorway, hoping I have the perfect key…

          So I shyly ask.

          Just what are the color of your eyes?

        3. I was actually born in County Cork, far from the troubles. And though my mother indoctrinated me with the lore, I shed all that once I arrived in America at the age of eight. I’ve spent more time at Monticello than fooling around the blarney stone.

        4. That must make a mix of accents, unless you’ve kept the ability to use both separately like you do your eyes. I was being cryptic, July 12th is the day they celebrate heterochromia.

          Today is Earth day I think, looks like you’ve seen some lovely parts of it. Travel is one of the best forms of education there is.

          Thank you so much for the exchange. I do hope we can continue at another thread where you can still adjust my tie and reveal more about your eyes, like which one is blue which one is green?

  4. The comments to articles have become people’s free “vile and hateful speech” boards. Just like spam posters like to do. Most comment/responses on news and other noteworthy articles are not to the article anyway, just responses to someone else’s comments! If one feels strongly about it, we will see how much passion they have by their willingness to “pay” for their opinion to be posted instead of being “free”.

    After reading news articles and seeing the “hate” comments (against anyone with a different opinion), I think it is high time. If people are so filled with vile, anger and contempt and want to comment, then let them pay. I imagine that they will be like the android users, to cheap to comment at that point. I pity people who cannot disagree without hate! But there it is – in the comments boards!

    “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it”. – Aristotle
    And in this day and age, it is about entertaining a thought without being vile and vicious if one disagrees.

  5. News providers, particular the hardcopy/paper variety, have been losing money to their free, on-line subscribers for a long time. Simply require that a comment poster be a paid subscriber. Doesn’t the New York Times already do this?

  6. Actually, they have it backwards. If they want really high quality, insightful comments,they should be paying *me*. People will flock to their site to read my insights, giving them greatly increased page views.
    My humility is one of my many admirable qualities.
    No, my name is not Trump.

  7. The publics opinion of journalism is at an all time low. Publishers don’t want people commenting on the low quality of their work. The comments they are quickest to delete are any that are unflattering to the publication’s work.

  8. Journalists are partisan zombies. That is why they can’t sell their articles and have to charge for commenting on their articles. I do not know who many times I have heard, seen, or read that the Empire State building was illuminated in “crimson, blood red” because Trump won the primary in New York. I mean, really, straight off the talking points, huh. No imagination at all.

  9. They can go F themselves.

    Media is all about manipulation now…not responsible reporting.

    For a long time know, i have read bogus, manufactured , spinned, infuriating , false headlines and articles with no acountability.
    I turn to comment and expose the BS only to see that i have to sign up and give them my info before they let me make a comment.
    Then i realize this articls are nothing more than bait by design And i let go… I refuse to take a bite.

    Now they want to make money on top. ..
    Put infurating headlines and bogus garbage out there.. Make people go “wtf” and play with their emptions to bring in a few bucks.

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