clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Information Wants to Be Free, but These Sites Would Like You to Pay Anyway

A new bundle -- not for cable TV, but indie websites like MetaFilter and the Toast.

Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

If you have an extra eight dollars a month, you can spend it on a couple lattes or a Netflix subscription. But why not give it to some well-meaning websites that could use the cash?

That’s the pitch, more or less, behind Good Web Bundle, which wants you to give it $96 a year so it can distribute the money to five sites and services: MetaFilter, MlkShk, NewsBlur, The Toast, and ThinkUp. The offer/service is being organized by Anil Dash, a ThinkUp co-founder and Internet-guy-about-town.

There’s no formal connection between the five sites and services, but Dash says they share a similar indie sensibility — “We’re not creepy,” the bundle’s offer page promises — and figures some of their readers/users may overlap.

MetaFilter, for instance, is a long-lived community of people who like posting interesting things; the Toast is a newish humor site with a literary and feminist bent. All of them also already require users to pay (like Dash’s ThinkUp) or offer freemium features (like the Toast), with each site usually charging $24 to $60 per year. So this is a pretty big discount.

“To do the independent website thing, I think you’re going to have some idea of the user paying,” Dash said. “People don’t mind paying for something that they get some value out of.”

Dash is using Amazon to process the payments; subscribers have to pay the full $96 all at once. And while the offer is theoretically a one-time deal that’s only around for a couple months, it’s easy to imagine this one showing up again, or seeing it appear with other sites and services.

This article originally appeared on

Sign up for the newsletter Today, Explained

Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.