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Many authors going to subscription-only (or primarily-subscfiption) service on SA

gyglass 1 year ago in Website • updated by SA Editor Daniel Shvartsman 1 year ago 6

Seeking Alpha will lose many readers in the future as many authors are moving to subscription services only or primarily. I understand the authors' motivation to sell their commentary, but the result for SA will be significantly decreasing readership over time. SA is in the process of becoming less useful, especially for individual investors, as fewer analyses without cost will be available.

Answer

Answer

Thank you Chip, for the thoughtful feedback. We do have guidelines for how much an author can mention his/her service in an article, but we will review to make sure we're enforcing them properly and updating them as needed. We get how irritating it can be if we don't get this right, and we need to fix it. Your feedback is timely and will be taken into account.


Best,

Daniel

Under review

Hi gyglass,


Thanks for the message. We understand this concern, and we have no intention of letting our paid services take away the value of our free site. It's a challenge, but we've been encouraged so far for a couple reasons.


First, authors who join the Marketplace (where we host the paid services) have tended to write more once they join Marketplace. This is because as they start to make more money they can spend more time delivering value to readers on the free site.


This is mainly because the best way to grow a Marketplace business is through writing good free articles that will attract new followers on Seeking Alpha. Authors who fail to do this do not succeed on the Marketplace.


I haven't run the numbers this year, but the last time I looked at it, we saw a large increase in the # of articles Marketplace authors were writing on Seeking Alpha - https://seekingalpha.com/article/4031641-marketplace-update-authors-building-significant-businesses. So Marketplace has had the exact opposite effect of what you describe in your post. And while I know that doesn't measure quality, the incentives of gaining followers and subscribers forces the author to write well on the free site.


Our editorial team is dedicated to improving the quality of our content overall - they've made big strides over the last couple years, and we expect that to continue over time.


This is a serious concern, and I appreciate you raising it. I think we have addressed it to date, but we watch it to make sure we maintain the quality of Seeking Alpha's free experience, so your feedback is valuable. Please let me know if you have any further questions, or feel free to email me at daniel at seekingalpha.com.


Thanks,
Daniel

Daniel, I know I've written to you before about this, but if you believe that the pay authors are publishing MORE free content, and that it's actually USEFUL free content and not just subtly (or in some cases, blatantly) shilling for their pay services, I think you've been seriously misled.

Thanks for the comment, Larry. This is a market - if the author is failing to provide useful free content they will fail to gain subscribers and stop publishing. I'm re-running the numbers on the quantity question and will update this thread when I have them.

Completed

Just to follow up, looking at the same period in 2017 and 2016 (Jan 1 to October 17th), across the same author pool - the 152 authors currently active on Marketplace - we saw a 9% increase in articles published publicly on Seeking Alpha. This was after the documented big increase in 2016 compared to 2015 I linked to in my first post. The bears out that once authors join the Marketplace, they are likely as a group to publish more.


Gyglass, please let us know if you have any further questions here. I understand this is an important issue, and one that numbers alone won't address, but our aim is to have a great free site experience. We believe Marketplace helps us support these efforts.

I was going to ask the same question when I ran across this thread. I agree that many of the more successful authors have spent more time selling subscriptions than offering useful analysis. Not to throw him under the bus but George Schneider is perfect example. Years ago he wrote very insightful articles I looked forward to reading. 


Then he added a few charts that you could buy to help follow stocks at the end of the articles. Ok, a nice service for a few bucks. Now his articles such as his newest one 'Not getting rich quick enough' is almost all advertisement for his subscription service. He talks about filling the gap for retirement consistently. But 1,000 subscriptions at $400 is $400,000 a year. That is more than a way to fill the gap. 


I don't begrudge the guy making a living but in the end you are paying him to advertise!


I rarely read George's articles any more, and like this latest one wish I hadn't.  


In comparison here's an ad in one of Brad Thomas' recent articles.  


'This idea was discussed in more depth with members of my private investing community, Intelligent REIT Investor.'


I think Seeking Alpha should make the author indicate in the headline this is an advertisement, if that is what it is. Or, like Brad, limit the number of words that can be in an article if you are paying him for analysis. 


I come to SA daily and enjoy a wide range of authors and subjects. When George used to write about company's his work rated with the best of them. I don't mind knowing he has a paid service, but if he mentions a stock or concept I would like to read about that stock or concept.


Thanks for all you do. Chip 


Answer

Thank you Chip, for the thoughtful feedback. We do have guidelines for how much an author can mention his/her service in an article, but we will review to make sure we're enforcing them properly and updating them as needed. We get how irritating it can be if we don't get this right, and we need to fix it. Your feedback is timely and will be taken into account.


Best,

Daniel