After thinking on this a few days, I've concluded SA is making a massive mistake with its paid article archive. Please backtrack before you totally wreck what's good about SA. A few issues:
- The best feature of SA is ongoing reader comments on its articles, as company news changes and a thesis is proven or disproven. You're basically killing the vitality of that. Once people get out of the habit of making informed comment on articles they can read and continue to read, they will not go back.
- Seventy five dollars a month is too much. Thirty dollars a month is too much. I say that as someone who subscribes to three SA Marketplace services, and I've paid as much as $300 a month for single SA Marketplace services in the past. I might pay a token $10 or $20 a year for archive access, because without a vital comment stream....
- ... the SA archive really isn't that valuable at all. It's mostly old news and old speculation that goes on to be proven or disproven in time. The truly astute or comprehensive article is quite rare, probably less than 1% of articles would be publishable in traditional sources. I certainly wouldn't rely on the SA archive to reliably give me a "deep dive into less-followed companies" or other marketingspeak. That's frankly wishful.
- What was previously good about SA was that almost ANYONE could write and publish quickly. Previously you had choruses of voices weighing in on a stock, some professional, some amateur, some astute, some not-so-astute: many points of view. Readers could read everyone's take and reach their own conclusions. Now there is no ability to compare and no competing voices from the archive.
- As a marketplace subscriber to three services, I am frankly ticked off that you would abruptly lock me out of the archive, as well as hiding the articles I've taken the time to comment thoughtfully about. I've supported SA for a long time, and your thanks to me for this support is to ambush me with a change that breaks SA's entire model.
- As a consumer I do not like it when companies break trust with their longtime customers. Not long ago Evernote pulled a similar stunt: massively jacking up subscription prices and breaking the longstanding paradigm of "Your data on your devices." I had used Evernote for seven years and was a subscriber and fan. In one afternoon I pulled all of my data out of Evernote and put it into Microsoft OneNote; I haven't been back since. Users lost often don't come back once they lose patience. Your format and your platform is replicable.
- In addition to reversing this ill-conceived policy, SA leadership should consider meeting to craft a small-scale "SA Commmunity Bill of Rights" to help guide future policy, and give angry and future members of the community of what you generally will and will not do. The businessfolk in you probably bristle at the idea of handing any sense of control to the rabble -- after all, this is your property to monetize -- but "community" cuts two ways. If you want it, you can't just dictate to it, you have to appreciate it and grow it. Places like Facebook have little sayings and mini lists of users rights: one of Facebook's taglines is: "it's free and it always will be". If you're going to ask people to make a commitment of time to your community, you need to give a better sense of what they're buying into.
- Finally, if an issue driving this change is mobile ad revenue, or ad revenue generally, it may be partly because your mobile application(s) need a lot of help. They do only a subset of what the website can do, including frankly basic things like offering an integrated SA Marketplace chat. One user in one of our groups reports there is a separate "SA Chat" app, but he also reports that it was eating 10 gigabytes of cache data. Android users can enable "Desktop Mode" to get some functionality of the SA website back on their phones, but I have not found a way to persist this setting as I navigate between pages and articles: I'm continually led back to the lame mobile app. Many kids these days just don't use desktop or notebook computers that much, and an online property that doesn't do mobile is disadvantaged.
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