Can mods sign up MeFi for Scroll? March 25, 2020 7:33 AM   Subscribe

Mozilla has announced an initiative with Scroll as a way to pay for sites.

I plan on signing up for this as I want to replace ad revenue on sites with my own pocket. I'd love it if I can also throw a bit more each month to MeFI. Would it be possible to have this integrated into the site at large?
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock to MetaFilter-Related at 7:33 AM (28 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

We can talk about this! I don't know (beyond what the link says) what's involved, but happy to hear from people who know more.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:36 AM on March 25 [2 favorites]


Can someone explain Scroll like I'm five?
posted by tofu_crouton at 7:41 AM on March 25 [1 favorite]


Paging mhoye...

As near as I can tell, it seems like a way to square the circle of "people don't want ads" and "people don't want to deal with the details of micropayments, either" by offering a subscription-based way to disable ads on a bunch of sites while still getting money to the operators of those sites.

The devil will be in the details, but count me as very interested in being a guinea pig for this sort of thing, since Mozilla is the best possible entity to be bootstrapping this thing given the likely alternatives. You need someone with deep pockets to overcome the inertia and network effects that keep people from changing their reading habits. Like, I hate ads as much as anyone, but I whitelist MeFi's because they're unobtrusive. But we know that unobtrusive ads don't bring in much revenue, so why don't I just give more money to MeFi (and a bunch of other sites) and cut out the middlemen?

Love the concept here, and will be signing up for the test drive as soon as I'm done posting.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:58 AM on March 25 [6 favorites]


Here's a CNet article about it.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:01 AM on March 25 [2 favorites]


Thanks tonycpsu.
posted by tofu_crouton at 8:22 AM on March 25


It looks pretty sweet so far. It provides a way to login on non-Firefox browsers, including mobile, and it claims to save your place in an article if you, say, switch from reading on your phone to on your desktop, but my test of that functionality (reading a Vox article on Firefox desktop and then in Chrome on my Android phone) didn't work, so it looks like there's still some work to be done.

I'm guessing the flat fee will eventually turn into some form of metered / tiered thing over time, but for an initial launch, I feel like I'm getting my $2.50/mo worth already.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:29 AM on March 25 [1 favorite]


From Scroll's partner site:
A basic Scroll integration has two steps:

Add a minified JavaScript snippet that tracks the engagement of Scroll users and adds the Scroll bar to the bottom of the page.
Ensure ads and specified trackers don’t load when a Scroll user is detected.
The Scroll snippet is just a little icon in the bottom right and lets you gain access to an automatically generated spoken version of an article.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 8:31 AM on March 25 [2 favorites]


As a Test Pilot, it will only be available in the US” is kind of a no.
Also, Scroll might be the good guys now, but for how long? They use a tracker.
posted by scruss at 8:50 AM on March 25 [2 favorites]


So it's like HumbleBundle game's payment methodology without the charity slider, or any sliders at all I suppose, leaving just the administrators and the pool of websites as the folks getting paid?

I could get behind that.
posted by RolandOfEld at 9:52 AM on March 25 [1 favorite]


It sounds like a good implementation of the idea - basically spotify for websites, and they make all the right noises about privacy. But I don't trust them, all that tracking data (which they have to keep in order for the service to work) is just too valuable and they will be a prime target for a buyout if it really takes off.
posted by AndrewStephens at 11:46 AM on March 25 [2 favorites]


Also, Scroll might be the good guys now, but for how long? They use a tracker.

To be fair, most of the websites that most people use every day use trackers.
posted by smoke at 3:40 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


To be fair, most of the websites that most people use every day use trackers.

That's a bug, not a feature.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 9:02 PM on March 25 [3 favorites]


I'd never heard of this and will immediately sign up for it. Whether it's a good idea for metafilter, I have no opinion on.

The branding seems confusing. How many different names can you call a thing within one article? I also wonder if the overlap of people who think creating an account for a web browser is a good idea and people who would be excited by this isn't rather small. I wish it was less tied to a mozilla account. But, it's worth a try and probably no worse than the ads and trackers that make it past my ad blockers now.
and it claims to save your place in an article if you, say, switch from reading on your phone to on your desktop
I realize they have to track page views to make this work. But they don't have to go out of their way to remind us that they're tracking us in such detail. This seems like a really weird way to appeal to people who care about privacy.
posted by eotvos at 7:14 AM on March 26 [1 favorite]


Eh, I don't see the point in hiding it. You either trust Mozilla's motives or you don't. Given the alternatives I'm throwing my lot in with them and seeing what happens. But if you're going to advertise that feature, make sure it works!
posted by tonycpsu at 7:19 AM on March 26 [3 favorites]


I really like this idea. (this is not really like Spotify for websites, tho, because theoretically the websites will get paid more than the obfuscated pittance that Spotify pays the artists, one would hope)

i'm an artist and also a devoted spotify user so don't @ me
posted by capnsue at 9:40 AM on March 26 [2 favorites]


I just signed up for Scroll literally yesterday - I am also a big fan of the "no tracking, fewer ads, just let me PAY you" approach, so I'm pretty much the target audience. The experience so far has been kind of "meh" and I think it would be very much enhanced by the addition of more sites, like Metafilter! To be fair I'm probably going to read MeFi anyway; I am not sure how much marginal readership or revenue the site would get from signing up with Scroll. Seems like it couldn't hurt but that's not to say it's worth much hassle, if there is any.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 10:18 AM on March 26 [1 favorite]


With the number of Scroll partners being in the "significant but not huge" range, getting MeFi on board early could goose readership / membership a bit by driving traffic to the site from Scroll's list of partners. Or maybe not, but it seems like it's worth a try while so many people are unemployed and maybe looking for stuff to read.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:32 AM on March 26 [3 favorites]


I plan on signing up for this as I want to replace ad revenue on sites with my own pocket. I'd love it if I can also throw a bit more each month to MeFI.

I don't understand why anybody believes that preserving the forms and practices of the entirely parasitic advertising industry is the slightest bit worthwhile. Advertising is the most back-asswards Rube Goldberg parody of a micropayment platform ever devised. The idea that I should want to hand control over the level of my contributions to any given set of sites to some mindless algorithm that attempts to measure my level of engagement via the same totally-gamed methods as advertising uses is just crack-monkey levels of broken. I am already perfectly capable of deciding what I wish to pay for without the Valley sticking its oar in, TYVM.

If I were to put $2.49 per month into Scroll, MeFi would see a few cents of it at best. Why would I do that instead of just paying MeFi those few cents directly, preferably using a low-overhead low-energy international payment platform that doesn't need browser secret sauce to make it go instead of the present middleman-infested arrangements?

Oh right. Convenience. It's just so much more convenient not to have to think about where my dollars are going or why.

I do not like this pony and recommend rendering it for glue.
posted by flabdablet at 12:17 PM on March 26


Obviously, if you don't care to read the other sites, then something like this isn't for you. Many of us fund MeFi already but would also like to try to shift the model of how we support other non-MeFi sites. I will always choose a content provider's own subscription-based ad-free option if it exists, but trying to move in a less-parasitic direction for a large number of sites that people may not read enough to make a subscription to them worthwhile is something to be lauded, not criticized.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:23 PM on March 26 [3 favorites]


Yeah, to be clear flabdablet, I disagree with your analogy between signing up for Scroll and "preserving the forms and practices of the entirely parasitic advertising industry." Seems to me that being a reader directly paying providers for content is a lot different than that Rube Goldberg setup, and a company in Scroll's position is a substantively preferable middleman; I can't make you agree I suppose.

And yes, convenience is important because realistically I'm not going to engage in a microtransaction arrangement with literally every source I read online. I'm one of those weirdos who spends probably literally 25-30% of all my Internet time reading MetaFilter, but that's almost inherently an exceptional experience and no matter how I choose to support MeFi I need something simpler for the host of other sites I frequent. It seems like MeFi could use an approach like this to benefit from the users whose engagement with the site is substantially lower.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 12:36 PM on March 26 [1 favorite]


It's still parasitic, is the point. It's still based on totally gameable data being extracted from browsers, shipped off to an unaccountable private corporation and used to drive what will rapidly become a completely arbitrary assignation of value. It's not essentially different from what advertising already does. If it doesn't catch on it's useless, and if it does catch on it will rapidly engender yet another bot vs bot arms race that winds up allocating resources via methods over which site publishers have essentially no influence.

No sir, I don't like it.
posted by flabdablet at 12:38 PM on March 26 [1 favorite]


I mean, I don't want to get into why "Come use my totally-not-a-scam cryptocurrency, this won't be like every other time someone's done this" doesn't feel like a good move here, but you seem pretty keen on it regardless.
posted by CrystalDave at 1:17 PM on March 26 [3 favorites]


Sir this is a Wendy's
posted by some loser at 1:36 PM on March 26 [9 favorites]

it seems like a way to square the circle of "people don't want ads" and "people don't want to deal with the details of micropayments, either"
Adblockers already do this quite nicely, thanks…
posted by Pinback at 9:48 PM on March 26 [2 favorites]


Adblockers already do this quite nicely, thanks…
And some of us recognize that content creators deserve to get paid for their work.
posted by Literaryhero at 5:25 AM on March 27 [9 favorites]


It seemed like we were way overdue for the snarky "lol ad blockers are a thing" comment, so, thanks.
posted by tonycpsu at 6:16 AM on March 27 [4 favorites]


I guess it was unclear to me trying to read the premise of the service, but would ultimately this work akin to Patreon, with the same expectation that supporters get something that non-supporters don't, or?

I mean, I have a website which is small cheese, but if I could reliably get paid a sum which wasn't just a token (like $2.13 a month) by being part of a coop or whatever, I would seriously consider it. But that number is going to be miniscule, I think, just looking at the screenshot of a dashboard for a site much, much, much bigger than mine, and what that number was there.
posted by maxwelton at 10:34 AM on March 27


Just signed up, because I'd like to see alternatives to ads. On the final page it says:
Your Firefox Better Web with Scroll account has been created.

Firefox Better Web with Scroll works everywhere, but the experience is better in the Firefox for desktop browser.
I suddenly went from deeply interested to deeply pessimistic. I like Mozilla but the way Firefox for Android isn't quite as important as their desktop browser makes them seem like a bit of a dinosaur sometimes. Why not release the extension for both platforms?
posted by Tehhund at 12:05 PM on March 30


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