On my Cancer substack (billgardner.substack.com) all the posts are free. However, I let people subscribe and I donate the revenue to Médicins Sans Frontières. I've raised quite a bit of money this way.

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Thank You!!!

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Like Bill Gardner below, I've kept my posts free, but offer a paid option. I use the revenue from paying subscribers to cover subscriptions to other substacks, magazines etc. I'm trying to keep this break-even, so I can just treat it as a hobby for tax purposes, and make charitable donations out of my ordinary income.

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I am so glad you enjoy this task of writing, I love reading your thoughts. Please keep going.

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You nicely summed up a position I roughly also have. I don't need to write for the money (I have been hosting host mine on wordpress.com since 2011), I write because I like to (next to a paying regular job), and incidentally: a lot about (Gen)AI the last year.

I have been eying substack, but a reason not to write there is that I don't like the business model from a reader's perspective. I subscribe to some newspapers, and in terms of how many good journalism and opinion I get there, paying for each journalist/opinion writer separately on substack, would mean having to pay the subscriptions many times over. A subscription for a single writer who writes a single piece a week at the rates substack thinks are normal is not a subscription, it is a subsidy. Which is a model too, but I tend to reserve my subsidies for big good causes.

So the reading side simply doesn't scale as far as I'm concerned.

Writing for paid subscribers substack means I would have to commit to writing at least once a week ($7 for one article is really steep) and that is simply too much pressure. I write when I have something to say, and I have written a few pieces where I invested actual months of intermittent research into it.

So, unless substack makes reading individual stories as affordable as a column or reporting piece in a newspaper, I know it won't scale as a pattern for me as a reader. I won't start with such a pattern, either as reader or as writer.

Two more things can be added to that.

One is that substack seems to belong to the 'free speech absolutist' side and I think that is both naive and damaging to society.

And second, I would have to spend a lot of effort on choosing what to read. Do I click, yes or no? (I actually wrote in the 1990's that the idea that the internet would be a treasure of information that would replace all curated/edited channels like newspaper and TV was in many ways naive, for one because what I pay for is not just access to the article, I pay for the selection the editors have done, which is a valuable service). If you choose a newspaper or magazine to subscribe to, you in fact choose the editors, not the actual content (which is unknown at that time). On paid-for substack, I need to choose authors, not editors and that is a much narrower bubble.

But if substack would offer a magazine/newspaper level 'substack' subscription, of which they would hand out 90% to the authors based on what is actually read, I would probably bite.

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