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Discussion Details

Title: Re: Abolishing Fund Drive
Submitter: Helen Aristar-Dry
Description: Dear Subscribers,

Our sincere thanks to those who have taken the time to contribute to the discussion so far; we truly value your input. It is with the help of your suggestions and comments that we will be able to make this most difficult of decisions, so we are eager to hear from as many of you as possible. The LINGUIST crew has read all the suggestions with interest, but since there are a lot of them, I thought I'd reply to them in more than one message.

With regard to the free-vs-pay controversy, one thing is certain--there are pros and cons to each of our options.

It is important to us that Linguist to be free for the people who can't pay. We occasionally hear from people who tell us that LinguistList is a real professional lifeline for them due to circumstances in their countries. And of course, not all subscribers have the financial means to pay. As Kenza Cherkaoui Messin noted (Linguist 16.940),

 charging students, people from poorly connected and/or funded
universities, etc. could hurt the purpose of the list.

because, as Karen Ward said (Linguist 16.940),

 these will be precisely the people who would have the fewest
alternatives should the list become inaccessible to them.

In addition, with regard to the "small fee" idea: we think we'd lose a lot of users, many of whom only consult the site every few weeks and wouldn't see why they should pay. As a result, we'd lose a lot of announcements, because our value as an information resource (and advertising venue) would be severely decreased.

Karen Ward (Linguist 16.940):

 Much of its value to the profession (and to the corporate
entities that help subsidize the list operation) lies in its large
subscriber base. Would the discussions and request for
information be as valuable with a quarter or a tenth the
number of subscribers? Would the corporate contributers
be as willing to pay for the smaller number of eyes?

I'm also a little afraid the scheme might backfire, as did one of our "share the cost" ideas a few years ago. In 1998, we told subscribers that if each one gave just $10, we'd have plenty of support. Well, all 300 of our regular donors gave $10 each, instead of the bigger donations they would have normally given, and no one else gave anything at all. That was the closest we've ever come to having to shut down!

However, we may well have to go over to charging a small fee. As you can see, there is no painless solution. And so it was useful to hear from those of you who think that charging a fee for LL is a reasonable idea. We were also interested in And Rosta's idea of making a distinction between the email list, which might remain free, and a website which might charge a fee.

Alas, however, And's suggestion that the state fund LINGUIST List simply isn't going to be implemented in America. Would that it were! But here just because something is a "public good" doesn't mean it qualifies for any state funding. That's why National Public Radio and the National Public Broadcasting Service both have to run annual fund drives just like LINGUIST! (We know things are different in other countries, and that our fund drive probably looks very strange to subscribers from abroad.)

So, with regard to an access fee, the jury is still out on this very difficult question, and we appreciate hearing comments and/or suggestions from all viewpoints.

Thanks again for your input and support.

Best regards,

Helen Aristar-Dry
LINGUIST Moderator

For previous messages in the discussion, see:
Date Posted: 01-Apr-2005
Linguistic Field(s): General Linguistics
LL Issue: 16.986
Posted: 01-Apr-2005

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