SiliconFilter

Google and NYTimes Team Up to Launch Trivia Game

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Google and the New York Times just launched a new trivia game, A Google a Day, that will make its print debut tomorrow morning. The new puzzle will appear right above the New York Times’ legendary crossword puzzle, but with the added twist that unlike in regular trivia games, A Google a Day encourages people to go out and search for the answer online. To ensure that Google’s real-time search feature doesn’t spoil the fun, agoogleaday.com will feature a stripped down version of Google’s regular search engine without any of these additional features.

The answers to each question will be revealed on the site and in the paper the day after they first run online. The questions will get harder as the week progresses – just like the regular New York Times Crossword puzzle.

A Google a Day

It’s Not Just About Fun and Games

Clearly, though, Google has a secondary reason for running this game, as it will also highlight the search queries that lead to the answers. It will obviously profit from the daily marketing in the New York Times – and the fact that you could perform all of these searches with the help of Microsoft’s Bing will likely not be highlighted anywhere in the Times.

In addition to this, though, the game will also highlight Google’s functionality and usefulness for finding the answers to hard questions and train searchers (and especially those who still read the New York Times on paper) in using Google for complex queries and in utilizing all the additional features that Google offers in its sidebar.



8:27 am


Rules of the New York Times Paywall

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The New York Times will activate its paywall at 2pm ET (11am PT) today. While the word “paywall” evokes the idea of an impermeable barrier that you will only be able to breach by getting out your credit card, the reality is far more complicated. Indeed, according to the New York Times’ own estimates, only about 20% of its readers will ever encounter the paywall at all.

Prices for access to the New York Times’ articles start at $15 for access to the website and the smartphone app and top out at $35 for access to the website, smartphone (Android, iPhone, BlackBerry) and tablet app. As a special introductory offer, though, you will be able to buy 4 weeks of access with any device for $0.99. Once the introductory offer expires (assuming the pricing hasn’t changed by then anyway), the cheapest way to get full access to the New York Times will be to get a Sunday-only print subscription. These qualify for full digital access. Prices vary depending on where you live, but are always cheaper than the digital subscriptions.

Stone flickr credit spcbrass

Rules of the Paywall:

[list]

  • print subscribers get full access to the New York Times on all devices.
  • if you don’t pay, you get to read 20 articles for free per calendar month.
  • access to the home page, section front pages and the classifieds don’t count towards this limit.
  • if you click on a video or slideshow that is related to the article you are reading, this click will not count towards the monthly article limit [/list]

Breaching the Wall with Social Media Links and Search Engines [list]

  • links from Facebook, Twitter, blogs and other social media services will count towards your limit of 20 free articles – but you can still continue to read articles this way after you hit the paywall limit.

    Confused?
    Here is how this works in practice: Say most of you interaction with the NYTimes comes from heading to the site because of links you’ve seen on Facebook. You read 15 articles on NYTimes.com by coming from Facebook. You also read 5 more articles by browsing the homepage. You have now hit the 20 article limit and can’t read any more stories by coming from NYTimes.com, but you will still be able to read articles your friends share with you on Facebook or Twitter.
  • you only get 5 free articles from Google searches per day (they also count towards the 20 article limit, but just like social media links, will allow you to continue reading after hitting the limit). The same goes for other “major” search engines like Bing.[/list]

Getting Around the Paywall

How hard is it to get around the paywall?

It’s actually pretty easy (assuming you don’t want to use the smartphone and tablet apps). The easiest way right now is to install this bookmarklet. The paywall was implement in such an amateurish way that, once installed, clicking this button will simply let you through whenever the dialog asking you to pay for access comes up.

If that seems to complicated, just follow these New York Times Twitter accounts and create your own personalized newspaper this way.

Image credit: Flickr user Shawn Carpenter.



10:13 am


The New York Times Idiotwall

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It took the New York Times almost two years and close to $40 million dollars to come up with its paywall scheme and the results neither reflect this huge investment in manpower nor money. It’s a mess that was designed by committee. I actually believe that most people would be more than willing to pay a reasonable amount for access to the NYTimes’ generally excellent reporting. The problem is, it almost feels as if the paywall was designed to scare away just those readers who would be willing to pay.

These are at least two major issues with the current system: [list type=”arrow”]

  • The current pricing scheme is utter nonsense. $15 per four weeks (not per month, mind you) for access to the website and smartphone app; $20 for the website and tablet app (but not smartphone); a whopping $35 for unlimited access on any device. Chances are, the majority of today’s readers aren’t willing to pay $15, let alone $35. Also, as long as it’s cheaper to get a Sunday-only print subscription (which includes unlimited access on all devices) than a digital-only subscription, you know that the NYTimes is still beholden to its legacy print ways and looking backwards instead of forwards to the inevitable day when the last print edition rolls off the presses.
    The New York Times building in New York, NY ac...

    Image via Wikipedia

    If the NYTimes charged $5 or $10 per month without the device restrictions currently in place (they could learn from Hulu and Netflix here), the number of additional subscribers would easily make up for the smaller revenue generated per reader (just look at the iOS App Store for how this works in practice).

    In the days of Times Select, the NYTimes’ first paywall project that only blocked access to opinion pieces, bloggers would simply republish the articles on their sites. Unsurprisingly, some enterprising hackers have already found ways to route around this new system (three lines of JavaScript is all it takes, by the way). As John Gruber notes, if you want people to pay, keep your pricing simple. For $5 per month, nobody would bother routing around the NYTimes paywall, but given how confusing it is, it will likely be easier to route around it than to pay.

  • The system for giving limited free access to all readers is highly confusing. Most NYT readers will never quite understand when and why they are running out of their monthly 20 article allotment. Links for Twitter, blogs and search engines are free – but for some reason still count towards the monthly allotment anyway. So you could run out of your 20 free articles long before you even navigated to the NYTimes homepage. Of course, you can still read more articles through blog and social media links, but you won’t be able to really use the NYTimes homepage anymore.What about those times when you click on a Bit.ly link and don’t even know where it’s taking you? Bad luck. You just used another of your 20 monthly articles.

    It’s also worth noting that in this system, the long, expensive and exclusive Sunday magazine article is worth just as much as the news piece that you could find in virtually the same form on a dozen other sites.

    The idea behind this porous paywall is to ensure that “drive-by” visitors, which supposedly make up 80% of the site’s traffic, won’t have to pay and will continue to drive ad impressions on the site. As word spreads that the NYTimes is now a site you have to pay for, though, fewer and fewer people will click on nytimes.com links as they won’t understand how the paywall works in the first place. [/list]

Overall then, this is, as Danny Sullivan so eloquently points out, not a pawyall but “an idiotwall. Designed by idiots to get money from idiots, the idioci.

That’s quite a shame, because there is no reason to believe that a simplified pricing scheme with cheaper prices and without device restrictions couldn’t work.

Confusopoly 1



9:59 pm


Paywall Coming to NYTimes on March 28: Starting at $15 per Month

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The New York Times today erected an online paywall for its readers in Canada and plans to roll this system out worldwide on March 28. As had been rumored in the past, NYTimes.com readers will be able to access 20 articles per month for free. The New York Times will also charge users of its smartphone and tablet apps, though the Top News section in these apps will remain free. Monthly subscriptions will start at $15 per month for access to the website and smartphone app. For access to the website and tablet app – but not the smartphone apps – user have to pay $20. Full access to NYTimes.com content on all platforms will cost $35. There is no website-only subscription.

The New York Times  Home Delivery

Subscribers also get access to 100 articles from the New York Times archive every four weeks. Readers who already have a print subscription to either the New York Times or International Herald Tribune, will get free access to all of these services.

Free Access to Linked Articles

It’s important to note, that readers who come to NYTimes.com “from search, blogs and social media like Facebook and Twitter” will be able to read all of those linked articles for free without affecting their monthly limit. Interestingly, though, the New York Times also notes that “for some search engines, users will have a daily limit of free links to Times articles.” Users coming from Google will only get 5 free articles that don’t count towards the 20 free articles per month.

Will You Subscribe or Just Find Other News Sources?

The New York Times is part of my daily news routine – both online and on the iPad. I probably read far more than 20 articles on the site per morning. I would be more than willing to pay $15 per month for blanket access to all of the New York Times’ content on all devices, but paying $35 just so I can read it on the iPad, too, is a bit steep.

The online pricing is clearly driven by the baseline price for its print subscriptions. You can currently get a Sunday-only print subscription, which qualifies for free access to all digital editions, for $30 per month (though there is currently an offer to get this for 50% off for the first 3 months). Basically, you have to pay $5 more if you subscribe to the online editions so you won’t have to deal with the print edition arriving on your doorstep every weekend.



8:18 am