When I tell people that I manage community gardens, many ask me if people steal stuff that’s grown there. Yes, sometimes they do. Theft understandably discourages and angers gardeners. Keeping a productive garden requires work. Gardeners bend and/or get down on their hands and knees in hot, dirty conditions. While some of us mind that less than do others, all gardeners go at least a little out of their way to get to the gardens and devote time to planting, watering and weeding their garden spaces.
Your point is understandable but I don't love this metaphor. I find it incoherent.
Offering something for free- because you are emotionally satisfied by exerting societal influence through the wide spread of your ideas, or simply to be generous- is different from having something stolen from you.
Allowing those who can't or won't pay for a subscription to read articles doesn't deprive others from reading them.
Your real conflict here seems to be with VALUE, specifically the value YOU extract from the maintenance of your Substack garden. What I suspect is happening is that you're conflicted, or no longer satisfied, with the non-monetary value of your garden, and suspect (rightfully) that offering it for free, past the tipping point that economists ostensibly get degrees to try to see accurately, will discourage readers who might pay for it from bothering to do so, and you'd like to extract more monetary value from your work.
That's fine. But it's different from being robbed of something of communal value. I just feel like there's room here to be more honest with yourself about your motivations.
I appreciate and understand how you feel. Substack is now one of my main resources for news and opinion, unfortunately the cost adds up quickly - imagine reading a newspaper and having to pay each reporter you read $5 per month. My pensioners budget only allows me to subscribe to around $20 per month so I have to be judicious in my selection for paid content. I have flexed over the past year once or twice depending on world events and my interests at the time. Totally understand your position and regret this will (at least for now) limit my views of your content to the free publications. Thank you for your hard work, I know it doesn't pay the bills but we do appreciate you even if we can't all afford a subscription. I look forward to your free offerings.
The free subscriber as flower taker: It's an analogy, one of many possible. It could be that for you to start leaving essays behind a paywall makes the most sense. I don't pass judgement on that. Certainly I am a fan of your writing and, as a writer myself, I sincerely appreciate the time and effort it takes to craft such thoughtful essays as you do.
I do pay for some Substack subscriptions, but not as "Transcriber B." That's my policy, I think it's best given my aims here, and I'm sticking with it.
Whatever you decide, know that you have my warmest wishes.
Hi and thank you for writing and sharing some good articles free! I've looked at the oncoming expectation for purchasinig all materials, but it adds up pretty quickly to pay $5 monthly for even 2 people and I already subscribe to places that will be unaffordable as a retiree already! So unfortunately if you stop giving articles for free, I won't be able to hear what you have to say. Again thank you for sharing some free.
Do not feel bad for being paid for your work. After all the WaPo is not free either, or the NYT. Some newspapers give you a limited number of free articles and then there is a paywall, usually it is about 5. May be there is a possibility to do that? I do not like the way some give you one paragraph and then put the paywall because then you cannot judge the whole article. But if you can read 3 or 5 you can form an idea of the writer and whether you like it or not.
As this will be my last post here, I can say that once something IS offered for free, and then the person changes their mind, that is a very different thing than theft. If you insisted on paid subs out of the gate, I simply would have never been here, because I cannot afford it. Its been great to read your work, thanks.
Mark, I spend a lot more for a subscription to my daily lefty woke garbage newspaper which I read mainly for local news and sports.
I wrote some opinion pieces about nonpolitical items that were published. However, my last few efforts failed to make print because I criticized NATO, Biden, Zelensky, and the globalist war in Ukraine, the fist raising / bullhorn methodologies employed by the “Tennessee 3” and urged people to give RFK Jr a fresh look outside the antivaxx construct.
Unsurprisingly there is no room or tolerance for pieces that run counter to the mainstream (BS) narrative in that infuriating rag. Yet it is perceived as “gospel” by locals since there are few if any alternative print voices.
I asked a few locals if they’d heard of Substack, and they got excited thinking it might be a new sandwich place.
I didn't consider reading what is freely offered as theft. It was put out for free after all. And unlike the flowers reading an article won't prevent others from enjoying it later. I support your right to charge for whatever content you wish in the future, however. Good luck. If I weren't on limited income I might subscribe.
Yo go, Mark! This ‘stack is yours. You created it, you are it’s content. You BUILT it. Take it where you take it. I am quite sure your readers will go with you.
I am speaking from the heart and not trying to offend, but I was very put off by this article and will try to explain why. I have been reading your articles for free because YOU put them out there for free. People pass by and look at your flowers for free, because YOU put them out there for people to enjoy for free. I'm sure a tremendous amount of effort goes into your writing and your flowers, but you made the unilateral decision to put in that effort and to offer them for people to enjoy for free. So why now do you assume that people don't value what you offer (or even worse - that they are comparable to thieves) if they don't pay for something that you willingly offer for free? If you don't want to give away your time and effort for free anymore then just don't. If you don't feel valued unless you receive money for your efforts, then make payment a requirement for the things you create. I understand that giving too much of yourself away can sometimes lead to feelings of being unappreciated or unvalued. I have experienced similar feelings many times in my life. I do appreciate your writing and was not trying to devalue you or steal from you by reading your articles for free. But placing the blame for your frustrations outside of yourself and lashing out at your "free" subscribers will probably not be productive or helpful. A look inward will often help one find the true source of one's own feelings and may even lead to self-accountability. Best of luck to you.
Your talent for communication should be rewarded.
I love your writings & have always looked forward to the next to come! It is understandable & absolutely your right to decide to share your content w/ only paid subscribers going forward, but I think it’s kind of unfair to say that free articles from the past 3 years (to the present date) is stealing & kind of an insult to your readers who love, very much appreciate & follow your work.
Does this mean that the flower garden will also become pay-per-view?
For surely at least as many here have been edified and inspired by the beauty of your writing and thinking as have those passers-by who paused initially in wonderment and gratitude to view your flower gardens, and some of whom have been inspired by your work to plant gardens and ideas of their own.
It would be a great loss to the community of ideas if your works were only to be read by the few.
I live on a very limited income, support 4 dogs (and their vet), and an entitled spouse, who pays for nothing. Lose spouse, lose everything (including my beloved dogs), because they are a narcissist and will be dragging everything out as my punishment for being alive.
But, I'm "stealing" from you. Great!
It truly seems that you are conflicted on this issue. I don't know what the answer is. I'm OK with you requiring a subscription or not. You have a talent and you work hard to deliver something of value to people. Plus, everyone needs money to live in this world. It is understandable that you accept the money from subscriptions. It is also understandable that you require readers to have a subscription.
Neither do men light a candle,
and put it under a bushel,
but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
It's your choice to hide your light behind a paid subscription wall.