The Future Is Here: Join Autostraddle Plus

Oh hello space traveler! Today’s a big day for us — the day you get to take supporting independent queer media to the next level by joining Autostraddle Plus, our new premium membership program!

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A+ is, first and foremost, a formal way for you to support the work we do here on Autostraddle.com every day. As a perk, subscribers will be able to get even closer to the writers you love and provide access to so much rad content. You’ll be investing in the general creativity and badassery of Autostraddle and helping us to create a sustainable business model eventually more tied to our community than to The Man. We still lack the revenue necessary to pay our editors and writers what they deserve or to pay our contributors at all, and we’re hoping this can close that gap.

The best part about this program is that Autostraddle.com will remain exactly the same as it’s always been. Nothing we publish on A+ would be written or published if A+ didn’t exist. We want to reach as many eyeballs and change as many lives as possible, and this is the best solution we’ve come up with to ensure Autostraddle.com grows and gets better every day.

There’s so very much to say about A+, but maybe the best part is that this version is just the beginning. We have about a billion ideas (this is a chronic problem) and we’re driving Cee batshit crazy with them! As time goes on, these ideas will make their way to reality and A+ will continue to grow and be even more amazing. But for now we’re keeping them a secret, just like your high school girlfriend.

So here’s how it’s going down in A+ Town: three tiers at three different price points — Bronze ($6/month), Silver ($12/month), and Gold ($25/month). As you probably already figured out, each tier comes with specific A+ bonus goodies that we think you’ll really love. Let’s talk about them!


Bronze — $6/month (or $5/month billed annually)

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All A+ members will get a 2014 A+ Member sticker, an A+ indicator next to your username in comments, and special discounts and deals from equally awesome merchants.

You’ll also have access to the biweekly community newspaper, The A+ Bee, co-edited by Forever Interns Grace and Chelsey. This (seriously amazing) newspaper will be all about you weirdos, so you know you’ll dig it.

You’ll also also get our monthly behind-the-scenes newsletter, The Autostraddle Insider, where we’ll tell you everything you wanted to know, and probs a few things you never knew you wanted to know, about the inner workings of this wondrous website. We’ll ask for your input on upcoming projects and generally tell you what the fuck is going on here, and we’re just so amped about the whole damn thing. In fact, the very first Autostraddle Insider is up right now, and you can read it as soon as you join the team!

Oh, and one more thing! You’ll be treated to a special members-only site layout! So fancy.


Silver — $12/month (or $10/month billed annually)

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Even more exciting! You get everything at the Bronze level, plus access to 2-3 exclusive A+ posts written specifically for your very eyeballs each month. This is a chance for us to publish some writing that otherwise would never see the light of day because it’s just too intimate for a site as large as Autostraddle or even a personal blog — which, unlike A+, is still indexed on search engines.

 

Neat bonus: all A+ content will be sidebar-free, meaning a seriously cleaner reading experience, which will undoubtedly enrich your entire life.

Silver members will also enjoy an alarmingly hilarious Autostraddle podcast! This is especially special and will make us all feel very close to one another. I mean, we’ll be in your earholes, talking about G-d only knows what, and to g-d only knows who, PLUS there’ll be a snappy intro song that’ll probably get stuck in your head for the rest of the day. Heck yes!


Gold $25/month (or $20/month billed annually)

1-IMG_2276Oh look at you, you’re gettin’ it all! Everything at the Bronze level, everything at the Silver level, plus the official 2014 A+ Member Shirt. A members-only shirt, you guys. It’s the kind of shirt that says “I support badass independent queer voices AND I’m incredibly smart and charming.” I’m just guessing on the charming part, but I know you’re smart as a whip because look where you are. Yep yep.

And that about sums it up!

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Although we’re certainly not the only site to introduce a membership program like this, we are one of the first queer or feminist sites to do so. We really hope that A+ can be a model for sustainable online women’s and LGBTQ media. It’s not a secret that our demographic has never been a huge priority for advertisers or investors, but we’ve always been damn good at supporting our own and have high hopes for the future.

The best best part is that nothing about Autostraddle.com will change for non-members — but A+ will ensure that Autostraddle.com itself can continue to exist for free for everybody, just as it has for the past five years.

Read All About It and Join Up Today!


Note: Some of the language regarding the Silver level has been edited to more clearly reflect our intentions w/r/t the experience offered by A+!

auto has written 513 articles for us.

360 Comments

  1. Totally joining when I get home (shhhh I’m at work).
    I was just lamenting to my girlfriend that recently it feels like random people are making AS profiles just to spread hate in the comments. I feel like this is an awesome opportunity for a place where that wont happen!

  2. A+ A+ A+ A+ A+ A+ A+ A+

    I want my shirt to come for the sole purpose of cutting the sleeves off and instagramming a selfie :)

    Yay! But for real, so excited to be able to support this amazing site in a new and wonderful way!

  3. I think supporting Autostraddle is rad, and I’ll certainly go for Bronze, but does anyone else feel a bit weird about the concept of a niche ‘safe space’ that’s accessible through money?
    I get that special articles are probably a necessity in order to encourage people to tier up, but the fact that they’re presented as an occasion for a secluded, comfortable commenting space smells a lot like a gentlemen’s club.

    • Oh man. I’d like to think of all of AS as a club everyone is welcome into. A few of us just paid for club staff to get better wages, so we got granted our own booth. Security supports safe spaces in the whole club but it’s easier to have a safe space in the booth because a) there’s less people so it’s more like everyone knows each other and b) you’re less likely to be a douche in the booth because you went to all the trouble to pay for the booth and you’ve already shown you care about the staff and therefore the club, you know?

      Anyhow- my point is that I think it’s unfair to say this is creating a club – a club would be more ‘you can’t dance to your fave tunes/read the stuff you love without paying entry!’, and AS is just not about that at all, and very deliberately so I feel. One of the reasons I love them.

    • And aaah I can’t stop and I’m just not even done- I wanna know more of what you mean!

      Is your beef partly that it seems like one can’t access safe spaces without money?

      I think the important thing to note here is that we’re not paying for a safe(r) space; we’re paying for an article, and the byproduct is a safe(r) space.

      I would feel uncomfortable if A+ meant paying for more mods monitoring A+ articles than regular articles. That would be like putting more security in the booth than elsewhere in the club, when it’s always needed everywhere.

      But A+ will actually financially support the site in a way that ultimately supports more mods everywhere I reckon, so everyone wins.

    • hi! if you read the FAQ — nothing will change on autostraddle.com because of this program. this will always be the same space it’s always been. we won’t be publishing any essays on A+ that we would’ve felt comfortable putting on autostraddle. we’re not closing a door to a certain room, we’re building another room altogether. does that make sense?

      for 5+ years we’ve given away the entire site for free to anybody who wants it, despite the fact that it costs a ton of money to produce — and we don’t have an obligation to give away any work for free, ever! but we do, we have, and we will continue to.

      one of the things that’s the absolute hardest to do for free is when we cut our heart open and reveal really personal private stories to the entire world, which often leads to genuine real world consequences for our writers but is also just simply emotionally trying as our reach expands. the A+ posts won’t even be indexed on google, yannow? i feel like there’s a misinterpretation here that we’ll be actively neglecting AS while vigilantly modding A+… as harry explained, that’s just not the case at all… give us the benefit of the doubt, yannow?

      the alternative to a membership program is that we shut down the site altogether, downsize it significantly, or radically change our content and standards for sponsorship to be more appealing to large corporate advertisers. which sort of makes me want to stick a fork in my retina

      • “the alternative to a membership program is that we shut down the site altogether, downsize it significantly, or radically change our content and standards for sponsorship to be more appealing to large corporate advertisers. which sort of makes me want to stick a fork in my retina”

        I run my own (very tiny) business in a small suburban area. It is a “second hand” toy store, filled with hundreds and hundreds of toys that I repare, clean and fix myself. I also celebrate kids birthday parties with cool activities such as ecological jewellery making. I wish I was joking but nop, this is my current life. I’m a self-employed ecology fan with an unusual love for colorful plastic ponies.

        I have recently turned down an offer to partcipate in a huge local event that would have given me a lot of visibility. The organisation was offering me to occupy a table at their event, free of charges. Most other participants had to pay a fee for those tables.

        I declined even though the visibility could have been great, because the huge event also sponsors stuff I do not want to associate myself with. Some of the keywords are “fashion wear”, and “expensive cars”. Way too much glitz and glam and chrome for me.

        I’m going for the fork, too. Always.

    • Thank you for sanding up and voicing this! I was kind of afraid to say something alone but…. yeah. I completely agree. I totally get that autostraddle needs donations to keep doing all the important work it’s doing. And the intention of the A+ program is good, I think: to give some sort of reward and/or incentive to the people who keep autostraddle alive through their generous financial support.

      But the idea of a “safe space” exclusively for people who can afford to donate? That seems wrong, for the exact reasons you so eloquently specified. Remember, not everyone can afford to donate. And this implies that only the more well-off members of our community deserve a space where they can feel safe. I don’t think I need to explain why that’s messed up.

      So, why not focus the effort on ensuring that ALL discussions on the site are safe spaces, where people feel secure vocalizing their opinions and experiences? I get that it’s often difficult to do, given the size, but I think it’s a much more valuable ambition than simply secluding a group of “elite,” privileged members for their own comfort.

      Also, the language in the post borders on classist at some points. This particular line grated me: “an a+ indicator to let everyone know how awesome you are!” Seriously, the ability to pay results in increased “awesomeness”? I know that you guys need money to keep this amazing sight in function- but as I said, some people just can’t afford to donate, and that isn’t in any way a reflection of their inherent human value (or more colloquially, “awesomeness.”) So I think there’s an implicit equality between worth and wealth here that is pretty problematic.

      Maybe I’m overanalyzing, but given that autostraddle prides itself on being an intersectional feminist sight, and has frequently written on the toxicity of classist hierarchies, I think it’s important to point these things out.

      • “So, why not focus the effort on ensuring that ALL discussions on the site are safe spaces, where people feel secure vocalizing their opinions and experiences? “

        that is exactly what we’re doing.

        • I get that that’s what you do everyday on the site. And I certainly do appreciate it! But from the article, it seems like the exclusive spaces will be constructed to be “safer.” Why can’t we all have equal access to safety, regardless of our ability to procure money? Why can’t autostraddle work actively towards that all important goal, rather than stratifying its members based on how much they can pay? It all seems very hierarchal to me, and some of the language in the post serves to impose that interpretation.

        • @D. — maybe it just should’ve been worded differently, then? because the way you’re interpreting it is so wildly opposed to our actual intention that i don’t even know what else to say!

      • once upon a time, if you wanted to read a magazine, you had to buy it, which made it a lot easier for magazines to pay their staff. now we have the internet and, as these comments suggest, the assumption that writers, designers and editors owe it to the world to produce magazines free of cost for the readership or at our own expense. we don’t. but we do, and we have been for over five years, and i think that’s pretty awesome in and of itself already!

        • I know, it is awesome! Trust me, I love this site and I am beyond grateful for what you and the rest of the team do everyday. I can’t even describe how much this site has meant to me as a queer young person, grappling with who am I and eventually accepting it.

          But, I don’t think that obligates me to be silent when I feel there is something sorta problematic going on. I know, we all operate within the framework of capitalism, and some things are just necessary evils, and you need to motivate people to donate so that you can support the site. However, I think the creation of an exclusive safe space for people who pay is really taking it too far. Exclusive material goods/merch? Sure. That’s understandable. But, explicitly exchanging increased safety for money? Announcing people are “more awesome” based on their ability to donate, and instituting a badge system to reinforce that hierarchy? That’s where I think it gets messed up.

        • i think the word “safe” in this instance really just means less visible to the masses? AS has been and always will be a safe space i think, but this program just offers less visibility for really personal things. i know for me, there have been many times that i would have liked to add to the conversation, but I hesitated to share some things because it feels too personal when i consider that i am putting them on a website that gets millions of views a day with my name and picture attached to them. i am a private person in general and i dont participate in social media (no facebook, no twitter, no instagram, no blog etc…) so the idea of putting myself out there on the internet is foreign and uncomfortable and quite frankly the reason i didn’t make a profile for a very long time. but knowing that for only 10/month i can talk to fellow queers about my well of feelings and special snowflake concerns and get an opportunity to respond to their personal stories in a smaller forum feels much more welcoming and (as the writers describe) safe. i get what you are saying about money, and it sucks that there might be some people who just cant right now for financial reasons (which sidenote leads me to a question i had: if people join later in the year, will there be an archive to access past newsletters and podcasts?) but i think it is important to remember that the AS site will remain as is and this is not a zero-sum situation. my favorite posts here are the personal stories and essays, particularly riese and laneia’s blog anything series, and i am SO EXCITED for more of that because thats why i come here everyday. and i understand why they might want the audience for those pieces to be less public.

        • look, money won’t buy safety in the responses from those who can afford A+ membership. It is everyone’s responsibility to manage their own responses and reactions to what is posted, and simply because some of us can afford to pay for A+ membership does not in any way weed out those folks who are inclined to comment in a way that may be deemed offensive or contrary to the spirit of the piece. Guaranteeing anyone’s safety is a case by case, individual agreeing with another individual situation, every time. Money will buy nothing except as Riese alluded to, the anonymity of the content within internet searches.

          Paid Membership will not affect the way people interact in their communication with each other, but the paid membership may guarantee a private audience, but that same private audience may not necessarily be the desired audience, though, I hope it is a supportive and nurturing audience. Risks are taken when people share private vulnerable stories and content here on Autostraddle, and I appreciate that Riese and the Team are attempting to create a safe space, and I hope that they can achieve this. However the audience moderates itself, as much as the moderators do. Most people here genuinely want to learn about others and would want to demonstrate respect and space and support to the community, so giving and taking respect and support is a two way street and mainly occurs despite moderation. Paid Membership does not affect how people choose to treat each other, but hopefully the community chooses to treat each other with respect and support.

          Autostraddle deserves to be paid for their work, and they in my humble opinion, put out some incredible work.

      • I think the thing is, these spaces aren’t ‘constructed’ to be safer, they simply happen to be safer because of the people more likely to frequent them.

        This isn’t about AS putting more time/energy/focus into creating safer spaces for an elite few; it’s just that a few people who care a lot and who know each other, when gathered in these comment threads of these A+ articles, might happen to be nicer to each other than general comment threads.

        The AS staff haven’t gone to great exclusive lengths to create that; in fact, they’ve done nothing but provide an extra article or two. The only people ‘creating’ safety really are the readers themselves, who are more likely to know each other and care for each other in the comment threads. There are less likely to be trolls in this case.

        So the safety here isn’t something deliberately constructed to support a special financially-privileged few at the expense of others – it’s the byproduct of what happens when you put people who love something (this site and its ideas and writers) and often know each other in the same room.

        I think the Autostraddle staff do a lot to ensure the safe spaces on this site for everyone. I also think they’d be welcome to hearing your suggestions as to other creative, practical ways to do this on the rest of the site. Those are some of the reasons they’re so great.

        • I’m aware that the creation of safer space isn’t actually the product of extra monitoring, etc. I completely get what you’re saying. I think the issue, though, remains: only people who pay get access to that safer space. The fact that limited access may create the very safety of this space doesn’t really change much. There is still a stratification of members based on their ability to pay. People who pay still get to have that secluded, elite space to themselves.

          Another piece of my concern is the classist undertones in the language, discussed in the above, which make the whole thing seem less innocuous.

          Ultimately, I stand by what I said. A lot of people don’t share that perspective, and that’s cool too. Open, authentic discussion is a good thing, and not everyone has to agree at the end.

          So thanks to everyone for taking the time to listen to my somewhat heterodox opinion. I love autostraddle and appreciate all the effort that goes into keeping it safe and brilliant, and will continue to cherish its presence- even if there are a few decisions I don’t exactly concur with.

        • This is really a reply to lomy’s comment above, but I can’t reply to that one directly for some reason so I’m replying here. (Apologies if I just made that more confusing than it needed to be.)

          I interpreted the “safe space” portion to mean that A+ is intended as a safe space for the WRITERS to share things that they want to write/share but don’t necessarily want indexed on Google for all the internet to see for eons to come. And that in turn will create a safe space for commenters to share things that they have maybe wanted to share but also don’t want indexed on Google for all the internet to see.

          It’s not a different level of moderation, its just a different level of intimacy.

        • @ava: yeah! absolutely! sorry if that comment sounds self-centered. i agree the writers’ privacy and comfort is most important, and i am sure that was the intention. they want to put more personal articles out there and the A+ format is a great way to protect their stories and content first and foremost. i was just trying to articulate another positive aspect, that’s all. just that it might encourage more honest dialogue in the comments and create a safe space for people that are a little more reserved and shy to speak up in a public forum. AS is always encouraging more commentary and participation from its readers, and i think this might be a good way to encourage interaction from people that might otherwise not make a profile or engage in discourse publicly. just an added bonus on top of the safety it affords the writers.

        • I think this is true, but the fact that (it came across to me as though) it’s being presented as a selling point did make me uncomfortable.

          As many of the other commenters have mentioned, this is clearly going to be in many ways a really great thing for Autostraddle. I definitely want the site to continue, and to be paying everyone as much as possible and I’m really glad this can happen in a way that keeps the regular content free but to claim that there will be no problematic side-effects or changes in the atmosphere of the site is naïve at best. I’m considering joining A+, but I’d be more confident if I felt AS were engaging with possible issues up front. At the moment it feels like dissenters are being dismissed and ‘explained to’.

    • Autostraddle already strives for its main pages to be safe spaces, that’s one of the most important and core parts of Autostraddle’s mission, and why there is a strict commenting policy, zero tolerance for abusive or offensive comments, and a team of moderators. Every shred of content on every part of this site is held to that standard, and it’s a standard that is continuously evolving. A+ pages are just smaller versions of the same safe space, like a breakout group after a panel.

      • I understand this point, but I feel like the prices are actually really affordable, even for people on limited budgets. I don’t consider it a “marker of wealth” to have an extra six dollars a month to spend how you see fit, for example on extra content in your favorite website.

        I do understand the feelings that the badges have created, but already the organizers have modified the design to make them less conspicuous. They read and listen to the comments and criticism, and as far as I can see, they let people call them out on their shit, they make their processes extremely transparent, and they go out of their way to answer questions and fix biases.

        I don’t think this makes them immune to criticism, but I do think they deserve a minute to craft a response. Maybe the wording could have been better, but no one is perfect. Let them fix it.

        • I agree with this so much.
          I’ve never been very good with words, typed or spoken. It’s nice to get a chance to fix my wording, especially when I don’t have any bad intentions. In this case I highly doubt the staff had bad intentions either! Let them fix it, like you said.

    • Thanks everyone and especially the team for this discussion, I’ve just come home to discover all of these comments!

      If I understand correctly, basically A+ lets you go into the innards of Autostraddle as a reward, and the A+ articles are kind of a ‘get to personally know the team’ thing?
      And then Autostraddle is more of an independent collective than a news website (which needs to have sponsorships and endorsements and stuff)?

      I still feel like this post should have been worded differently, because I agree with D. that there seems to be classist undertones of ‘you’re awesome because you can pay’ and ‘you’ll be safer if you can pay’.

      My last concern is about the icon flagging that you’re part of A+. I don’t think it’s outlandish to imagine how that would create a hierarchy in the comments section in a ‘my opinions are more important because I am a bona fide member of this site and know more things about it than you’ way, or just peer pressure people into getting a membership even if they’re not able or comfortable to do that.

      • “I don’t think it’s outlandish to imagine how that would create a hierarchy in the comments section in a ‘my opinions are more important because I am a bona fide member of this site.'”

        Exactly.

      • Sometimes I feel left out because I have not had the economic freedom to go to A-Camp and I can’t afford to miss that much work. Does that mean the posts about A-Camp are classist as well? Because some of us can’t afford it? Does celebrating A-Camp “create a hierarchy” as well? I would say no. Celebrating someone’s support for an event or an idea doesn’t necessarily exclude everyone else. And just as I am saving for A-Camp as soon as I can, maybe having A+ membership markings will encourage people to save up for a membership in the future.

        • I think it would if the avatars of campers had a halo engraved with ‘A-Camper’ on it, but it isn’t exactly the same thing: a camper poster could convey a message like ‘I know more than you bc I’ve seen these commenters in real life’ or ‘I’ve been privy to the IRL autostraddle’, rather than being an expert on the website itself.

          Again, I’m not challenging A+, I get that at some point you need to do something to keep the lights on. I’m questioning the presentation of the project and its public perks.

        • All I’m trying to say is that just because a group or a company offers a thing for money (that comes with certain perks or recognition) that some people can’t afford, it doesn’t automatically make that group or company “classist.” Recognizing people who choose to donate doesn’t automatically discriminate against people who don’t choose to donate.

        • Also I’m going to throw this here:

          http://www.povertyactionlab.org/evaluation/public-recognition-and-fundraising-united-states

          And for the tl:dr, here’s the takeaway – “These results seem to justify the common fundraising practice of publicly recognizing donors, and also provide evidence that social status, and not pure altruism, is an important driver of charitable giving.” Basically, when donors are going to be recognized, they give more money. Period.

        • I don’t know what you’re going for here, but it feels a little condescending.
          *Of course* people donate more when they can get social status for it. You don’t really need a study to prove that.

          The question is not whether the public perks are beneficial to fund collection, the question is whether the public perks are beneficial to the whole site as a community.

          The study says so itself: social status works as a reward for donation. But do we really want *more* differential social status between contributors (of money as well as of spirit and opinion) on this website?

        • Maybe I shouldn’t say this and it will come off super mean. But a lot of people spend way more than six dollars a month on lattes, Netflix, a new shirt, physical magazines and books…

          I understand some people legit can’t pay at all and I get it and I have actually been there. But the multiple times I have seen the word “elitist” menti

        • I think the ‘elitist’ mentions are less about the charge, although it’s true that it’s out of reach of many people (not just people who don’t have the means for a latte, but also people who can’t buy things in private, and people who have too unsteady an income to risk overdraft fees by having a regular bill) than about the symbols (gold, olympic metals, having a ribbon around you, being awesome/the best/a more worthy reader).

    • I agree… but mostly in that the whole “This program is good because it creates a safe space!” is a pretty clumsy argument, really. For one thing, for some people, no space is truly safe, and it’s ludicrous to argue that you can create a safe space just by making it enclosed and by having people pay to access it (Which A+ does, with no detriment to the open portion, ostensibly). It might be better to say that A+ creates a portion of Autostraddle wherein the content, for better or worse, is not visible to the public and through Google searches, and therefore affords writers and commenters a little more flexibility and openness in regards to what they can disclose. That it should be a pay-to-access program is shitty in that it excludes everyone who for whatever reason cannot or doesn’t want to pay (or inevitably gives the impression of exclusion, even though non-paying visitors get no less content than they ever would have otherwise), but I guess we’re willing to suffer that in exchange for the continued existence of autostraddle. But the arguments were clumsy… of course it’s awesome to pay to keep autostraddle running, but to say that you’re awesome because you donated suggests that people who didn’t donate aren’t awesome. Which is, of course, the opposite of the message the article intended to send.

      Maybe the moral of the story is that successful marketing is best done by marketing rather than by argument, yeah? “Autostraddle PLUS: OPPORTUNITY TO DEMONSTRATE ALTRUISM MONETARILY IF THAT’S A THING YOU CAN AFFORD RIGHT NOW” is a little awkward. You could just say “Autostraddle PLUS: WE’LL GIVE YOU EXTRA SHINY GAY THINGS.”

  4. Oh no, this is such a dilemma… I’m already donating about the amount for bronze membership, but I really want the stuff in silver. I just don’t know if I can justify the cost.
    Argggghhhh…

  5. I’ve been reading without commenting for years (commenting makes me super nervous, but hi!). I’m so excited to be able to support this site and community. Not for the special posts or the sticker (though that’s obv rad) but just to give something back for all the interesting, good and challenging stuff you’ve brought me over the years – and to do a tiny tiny part in helping you to continue to do such amazing things. YAYYY!!!

    • Wait, I’m not sure I did it right – I got a ‘thank you’ screen but nothing seems to have changed. Maybe the thing didn’t go through properly? But I’m worried about trying it again in case I get charged twice…

  6. OK, so I thought I had signed up but it didn’t work (‘thank you’ message but no changes, and also PayPal said I would be taken to the Excitant Group to confirm and that didn’t happen either), and then I tried it again and the same thing happened. I seem to be having trouble getting this to work – can anyone advise? Also I am concerned that I may have sent money twice to no avail, can this be fixed if that’s the case? Sorry for my ineptitude!

  7. Feels awesome to give back to something very special to me..us.. IDK where a lot of us would be without Autostraddle. It makes me very happy to see more and more awesomeness and badassery coming from this site. Yesterday Acamp. Today A+. Tomorrow the world.

  8. Sooooo im currently unemployed buuuuuut I hopefully start a new job on the 28th so come next month, I most certainly will be going to the silver level (cause come on… podcast) insted of renewing my netflix account, but thats because I love hearing all your lovely voices… but if it cuts into my A-camp fund for next year fagetaboutit. To all of you who do put your money in, I think you for keeping this place alive.

  9. I tried to subscribe but there’s no way to enter separate mailing and billing adresses and couldn’t continue. The credit card I need to use isn’t mine it’s a family member’s. Will this be fixed?

    • Ok Erin! I’ve fixed it for you. There is now a separate field in the sign-up form to insert your mailing address if it is indeed different than the billing address.

      The billing address is the main (first and required) address we need because it will be required for your payment to go through.

      The mailing address is just so we can send you goodies like your A+ sticker.

      Let me know if this helps!

      • I hope no one does, because that would be a shame, but is there just a way to pay for the podcasts and that’s it? Like a tier that is maybe tin star and just the podcasts?

        • I’m guessing that selling the perks individually won’t happen, because that would take away from the incentive to buy a subscription. There are a number of things I’m indifferent to as well, but I still signed up because the whole point is to support the site, imo.

          (If it’s because you’re not financially able to afford a subscription that’s a different story – hopefully some kind of sponsorship deal can be set up for those cases, as I mentioned below.)

        • Partially due to not financially being able to afford the subscription(at least to the tier with the podcast). I’d be gladly pay yearly just for the podcast, and nothing else if they just offered that at a lower rate(say 6 a month just for that).

  10. What style is the shirt? Is it like the you do you v-necks? Asking for sizing purposes.

    (Also hi this is great I love you guys and will be signing up as soon as I’m not on unsecured hostel internet YAY)

  11. If there is some way to set up a sponsorship-type situation (kinda like Camperships) I’d be glad to contribute to that. Not sure how you’d go about picking who gets them, but maybe something to think about?

    • Also, we’re gonna do monthly contests to give away A+ memberships — it’ll be like the comment contest we did in decemeber, where anyone who signs up and comments 5+ times in a month will be entered in a drawing to win a membership. We’ll start the first round next week!

  12. HEY WEIRDOS please provide your actual first and last name when you sign up, as I am using your names and addresses to physically mail you guys your fancy A+ stickers.

    Unless you’re cool getting a package in the mail addressed to “dykeydykedyke123” instead of your real name :)

  13. While I think this is a great idea overall, and I’m glad autostraddle will be sustainably funded by the people who care about it, I do have a few concerns.
    The articles everyone sees on the homepage, but only paying members can read, are clearly meant to reward those who join and encourage others to follow suit. Unfortunately, for those of us who cannot afford to do so, it will serve as a constant reminder that we’re not fully part of the community anymore, and will sadden us by pointing out that we can’t support or entirely participate in this site we love.
    The same goes for the medallions in the comments, which will make me less comfortable there, and will give weight to some comments more than others the same way the man in a suit’s opinion is given more weight than the clearly poor mother’s.
    If you could instead put the exclusive articles in the side bar, and instead of the medallion use a simple gold circle like you do for the author, it would lessen the alienation this promises to make me feel, while still calling enough attention to A+ as to let people know it’s a thing they can be part of.
    As a fifteen year old queer girl living in rural Arizona, aside from a few queer friends, autostraddle is my only queer community. This is the first place I learned to apt and love every facet of my being, and I’m really dreading just as with much of queer culture, A+ is going to make autostraddle unwelcoming to incomeless young queers (I’m thinking of bars as a primary means of socialization, mostly,although I know I’ve been aged/priced out of the LGBT community on other occasions). This site is integral to my education as a feminist and to reminding me that I do matter, that I am no lesser than anyone else because of my gender or sexuality. I hope A+ doesn’t end that sense of belonging I so sorely need.

    • Yeah, also some younger people (like me, although thankfully, since I’m over 18, I can have Paypal now) don’t have credit cards. And Autostraddle isn’t usually the kind of thing you can ask your mom to borrow her card for, assuming she has one.

    • If I’m hearing you correctly, it sounds like you’re afraid Autostraddle will become cliquey and less welcoming with the introduction of this program. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I would never think less of someone’s opinion just because they didn’t have the gold banner around the name. Websites like this often aren’t able to survive without some sort of steady income, and this program will enable Autostraddle to keep up the value of the content they produce well into the future. This kind of donation program is more likely to keep the website around for years to come, thus it’s actually a good thing for you!

      • Thanks for continuing to engage, it feels much better than a ‘whatever, we disagree’ shrug.

        Again, it’s not that I don’t understand the necessity of money. I do! I *want* to give money to Autostraddle. I’ve been reading it for four years, I believe then when they say the situation is dire, and yes, funding from people is less weird than funding from tampon companies. That’s not my point.

        It’s great if you won’t have any subconscious preference for the opinions of people with gold medals around their name. For real, I’m sure you’re a great person.
        I just don’t believe most readers will be that profoundly impartial.

        There’s just a clear hierarchy there, with very conspicuous symbolic cues, like the ribbons, that are tied to *excellence and performance* (rather than the ability and desire to donate money). A+ memebership certainly wouldn’t have the same vibe if it was something like ‘violet/pansy/cornflower’ rather than ‘bronze/silver/gold’ and all the marathon podiums that brings to mind. My question is, do we want that vibe? Do we want to highlight money donations to that degree compared to the importance of contributions in discussions and presence that many poorer and more marginalized readers give? And that without which the site would significantly reduce its horizon of interest?

      • It isn’t just that other people might value gold medallion comments more, it’s that I already feel awkward about commenting because of youth and inexperience, and adding this very conspicuous indicator of wealth will make it actively unwelcoming, i fear.

    • we’re definietly listening, re: the comment gravatar badges — that was just an idea carried over from reddit gold. we’ll obvs talk about this and reconsider, like we said the program will evolve.

      putting the A+ articles on the front page fed like other posts is part of telling new or otherwise readers that the membership program exists to encourage new members. not everyone sees the sidebar when they’re reading.

      i’m super f*cking grateful for the people who can sign up and pay, and i’m not going to downplay that appreciation and gratitude. but that doesn’t mean anyone has the right to think less of those who can’t afford it. i just feel gratitude and joy. we have a lot of shit to do, y’all! A LOT. and getting better has always taken money, and it still does. not everything can be the way everybody wants it to be all the time, but we gotta be sustainable.

      • The front page has been used for articles, which until now where all universally available, of all types. The sidebar has been for linking to articles in a certain category, advertising the store and normal ads, and so forth. I understand that from a purely economic standpoint, putting A+ articles in with the others makes sense, but as far as your promise not to change autostraddle for the non-paying members and organizing the site cleanly, the sidebar seems like a better place to put exclusive articles.
        It would at least make it feel like a feature I can’t afford instead of an integral part of the site I’ve been priced out of.

        • I agree – I found it irritating when articles about “YOU SHOULD GO TO EVERYTHING IN NEW YORK OR LA” were on the main page because it seemed to ignore the other 90% of the readers, so I greatly appreciate having those venue-specific events on the sidebar. Those who will find it relevant will have it accessible, but it won’t alienate or ‘other’ those who can’t participate.

          If the giant gold banner remains at the top of the website (which is the first thing I see when I’m on any of my mobile devices), then that should draw attention to any people who are interested in the program or donating.

      • riese i am reading this super cheesy book about entrepreneurship and sales and i just came across a line that reminded of you/autostraddle/the gravatar thing : “successful entrepreneurs turn out to be successful at selling not because they aggressively force their offering, but because they are responsive to customer needs.”

        one of the things i really admire about this site is how you respond to criticism. you don’t let it paralyze you or keep you from doing what you need to do to survive but you do genuinely engage with it and AND most importantly you do change for the better all the time. i feel like this community is simultaneously more tight-knit AND more inclusive than when i discovered it three ish years ago and i am so proud of the ways that it has grown and improved and i am so excited to see more of that.

        <3 <3 <3

    • I agree with this wholeheartedly. I have the possibility to join and will but think that exactly these two things (visibility from the main page & the commenter markers) will end the beautiful and politically relevant atmosphere of equality on Autostraddle today. That makes me sad – if there is still nothing to be done.

      The suggestions are great in my opinion too and I hope they will be seriously considered.

  14. If this site eventually became a full-fledged magazine, I would be so happy! There are not that many mainstream queer magazines out their and the popular ones do not have the same unique flavor that Autostraddle has. I would literally run to my mailbox or new stands for an Autostraddle magazine!

    However, I am aware that there are certain drawbacks at going mainstream, which would mean that certain discussions that we have on this site may not be possible on an official magazine. And those discussions are what make Autostraddle so unique and awesome. So I’m a little conflicted on that.

    But for now, I’m just happy that Autostraddle is becoming more and more successful. And I’m happy to be a premium member!

  15. Full disclosure: I love this website, the work you guys do and I think it’s really important you get paid. I check this website everyday, usually several times. When I first say this article I thought “yay” etc, but as I read through it, my heart started to sink.
    I’ve got some questions about this system:
    – why doesn’t this system acknowledge that lots of your readers are marginalised on the basis of race, gender and class and might not *ever* have enough to live on securely let alone pay a 12-25 a month on top of already an unaffordable cost of living? This doesn’t make them less awesome.
    – Why isn’t there the option to pay $5 a month? I’m “broke as f*ck” but could and would very gladly be able to pay that because I want to support the site, but I can’t afford more than that (my income is about $1200 and my rent is $550). That doesn’t make me rare or unusual as a young queer and trans person. I’m lucky enough that I live in a place that has healthcare and system where you can pay for your Uni degree later, otherwise I wouldn’t have those things either
    – did you consider a pay-by-means system? Because someone on minimum wage is paying proportionately so much more than someone with any kind of salary
    – don’t you guys trust us that we’ll give you what we can?
    – why didn’t you ask your readers what kind of paid system they wanted and get them to help contribute?
    – why are you going to make it a conspicuous part of the site that people who pay get little icons by their names? I agree that it might create an atmosphere that those who can pay have more authoratitive opinions, and it’s a weird marker of wealth.
    I’d like to say again I really care about this site, but I’m really disappointed about this hierarchy depending on how much people can pay. You are all always saying how much you love us, don’t you trust that if you created an autostraddle where we paid what we could that we would pay enough?

    • I have been thinking about this and I am still not one hundred percent sure how to parse this issue.

      I am super excited about the extra content. I don’t think of it as something I am paying for, but like a bonus. Therein lies the problem. I get something you don’t because I can afford it. But but but…the writers deserve to be PAID for their content. I have been enjoying autostraddle for free for years. I have never purchased anything from the site. I couldn’t even spare ten dollars at the time they did their kickstarter for the new site design. I am finally in a position to afford to support writers I love and I am so grateful for this.

      However, if this had come about even one year ago, I would have felt very sad that I couldn’t get in on the fun. The way I frequently feel when A camp comes around. So I get where you are coming from…especially with the super sized badges that come along with membership.

      And that is where I think the negative feelings could be most easily mitigated. By getting rid of or modifying that badge.

      However, I don’t fault the writers for giving extra content to paying members. It provides them with much needed income to pay their super talented writers, and as they have said, the articles that you have been enjoying will still be there for you. It’s not like they are hiding current content unless you pay.

      But I get it….you bring up some good points and there is honestly no way I could answer them. But perhaps there could be membership scholarships like they have camperships?

      In the mean time, I am sorry this makes you feel excluded. It is a yucky feeling.

    • Yeah, I really agree about the comment badges. I already feel like I don’t fit in here most of the time, and now having an official badge for ‘these are the actually cool kids’ makes it worse. I know that’s not the intent, but I’m dead poor and I don’t need to be reminded that I’m on the outside of just about everything I think is interesting even when I *do* have money.

      It’s a giant gold ‘this comment is ok’ and everything else looks comparatively ‘well I mean I guess we’ll let these freeloaders on the site, whatever’.

    • A lot of people who write for the website as “broke as f*ck” too and could use the extra money. This is an option to “pay what you can”; you still have access to most of the site. But some of us can’t wait for people to drop pennies in a PayPal account whenever they are able to, you know?

      • “Broke as f*ck”? Try “on social assistance because I have a chronic illness”. AS is not worth more to me than food or shelter. If this is becoming one of those sites where the haves stand out from the have-nots, I’m not sure if I want to read AS anymore.

        I’ll leave it to the cool kids who have more than occasional pennies to drop in a PayPal account.

        • You missed the point of my comment entirely. What I was trying to say was, that the commenters are acting like it’s only them who have money problems and ignoring that the same is true with a lot of people running the site.

          People aren’t doing this for a hobby. Autostraddle is still going to run for the people who aren’t able to pay; it’s not like the A+ members are gaining that much in terms of site content. But I wish people would consider how insulting it is to the staff members, many of whom are struggling just as much to pay bills and have had to cut back on subscriber services themselves, to hear stuff suggesting we’re “selling out” every time Autostraddle asks for more money.

    • “Why isn’t there the option to pay $5 a month? I’m “broke as f*ck” but could and would very gladly be able to pay that because I want to support the site, but I can’t afford more than that”

      There is the option to pay $6 a month. I realize that’s more than $5, but only by a dollar….

    • I think the option to pay $5/month has always been there, in the form of montly donations via paypal (it’s what I’ve been able to afford for the past two years), and it makes me sad to hear you say “don’t you guys trust us that we’ll give you what we can?”, because as far as I can see that was the business model for a while, but clearly the revenue from reader donations isn’t cutting it any more.

      I’m looking at it like this: paying $0 is paying enough to continue getting exactly what you have been getting for years (with the added bonus of a constantly expanding writing team and growing user base!). I really hope that adding a ribbon by anyone’s username isn’t enough to create some kind of power-authority-hierarchy… Based on what I know about the current readership, I can’t imagine that happening.

      I hope as this system goes into use it ends up working well for everyone — both for those who can afford to subscribe and for those who would if they could, even if they can’t.

  16. There seems to be a lot of backlash to this, as I fully expected when I read the article and understand and in no way am I trying to cut down what some of you are saying out there but for me, Its like NPR. As a long time NPR listener (at one time you could have called it an obsetion, kinda like this place is for me) but ive never been able to support it, I’m just glad theres not like a month of the year where every other article here has long winded verobisty about it being pledge drive time, and a podcast is way better than a tote bag dont you think? and like NPR we all know that if you could pay, you would, but most of us wont and thats fine. At least Alec Baldwin wont guilt trip you about it here.

    • I had the opposite thought, actually. I wish this ran like NPR pledge drives (I am an obsessive listener, as well) because they give away super cool freebies during those *without* limiting content, quality, or discussion to only those who can pay. I like the idea of a membership program overall, but the way it’s being presented smacks of classism to me, and it makes me sad.

      • A couple of years ago Autostraddle had a wildly successful pledge drive through indiegogo that gave away fun perks and such, and that money went to reformatting the website so that it could continue accommodating a growing audience. That worked for an “omigod our house’s roof just collapsed and we need to fix it” approach instead of a “this is how we’re going to make money for the next 10+ years” plan.

        And, again, content, quality and discussion isn’t only going to be open to those who can donate. I hope that those who are concerned about the change of the site or in any development of a potential elitist hierarchy stick around to see that that isn’t the case.

  17. BAM

    I AM SO EXCITED AND I LOVE YOU ALL AND AAAAAAAAAHHHHH

    i also feel weird about badges on comments, though. i <3 cult of autostraddle stuff but i don't think comment threads are the best place for it i guess?

  18. So glad I can support more of the wonderful writing that Autostraddle has to offer! I pay for stuff like an online subscription to the New York Times, and Amazon Prime. And while those things are convenient, entertaining, etc., they don’t give me that warm fuzzy affirmed belonging feeling that I get when I read Autostraddle. I depend on y’all a lot, so I’m glad I can do a little bit to support you, too.

  19. Stories[edit]

    “The Sneetches”[edit]

    The first story in the collection tells of a group of yellow creatures called Sneetches, some of whom have a green star on their bellies. At the beginning of the story, Sneetches with stars discriminate against and shun those without. A “fix-it-up chappie” named Sylvester McMonkey McBean appears and offers the Sneetches without stars the chance to have them with his Star-On machine, for three dollars. The treatment is instantly popular, but this upsets the original star-bellied Sneetches, as they are in danger of losing their special status. McBean then tells them about his Star-Off machine, costing ten dollars, and the Sneetches who originally had stars happily pay the money to have them removed in order to remain special. However, McBean does not share the prejudices of the Sneetches, and allows the recently starred Sneetches through this machine as well. Ultimately this escalates, with the Sneetches running from one machine to the next,
    “until neither the Plain nor the Star-Bellies knewwhether this one was that one… or that one was this oneor which one was what one… or what one was who.”
    This continues until the Sneetches are penniless and McBean departs a rich man, amused by their folly. Despite his assertion that “you can’t teach a Sneetch,” the Sneetches learn from this experience that neither plain-belly nor star-belly Sneetches are superior, and they are able to get along and become friends.

    “The Sneetches” was intended by Seuss as a satire of discrimination between races and cultures, and was specifically inspired by his opposition to antisemitism.[3]

    this is what this discussion is reminding me of. No-one is any more special than any other. I really don’t think there will be any one who benefits from the paid membership other than Autostraddle and it writers, and those in the community who CAN pay a membership, get to know that they are supporting the community. No one gets treated any less because they cannot pay. We will get treated the same in spite of what we can contribute, at this point. Until something changes, which may or may not happen. This is a great community and you need to know that you are welcome irrespective of your money situation.

  20. So, here’s the thing AS.

    I’m fortunate enough to be able to support you on all levels of membership. As a young, queer, out-to-friends but terrified to tell my family, using a non de plume for privacy, I’m so incredibly thankful that I stumbled upon this corner of the internet.

    I work a job where I am exposed daily to people’s stories and struggles to overcome. My position is the hardest and most awesome thing I’ve ever done. But to get to that place, I myself had to endure abuse, a breakdown, unemployment and the ongoing shit of life.

    I truly understand that the writers/contributors to AS should be rewarded financially and otherwise for what they do. I have to fight for this @ work, everyday.

    But AS, sweetheart, your actions could have been more thoughtful. I’ve been reading through the comments all day, and I agree wholeheartedly that people’s genuine concerns have not been addressed.

    1. Why not have a membership available for those who are experiencing financial hardship? Set it up that the membership lapses should a contribution not be deposited every couple of months. (In my job, if a family can’t pay/has financial hardship we always ensure that the individual is equipped so that discrimination does not occur).

    2. Yes, your members should be recognised with some sort of logo. Perhaps though, this logo could be toned down a bit so that it doesn’t feel so obviously discriminatory as it does currently.

    3. Are you going to distinguish between memberships overtly? I really hope the answer is no, other than to have ‘locked’ posts.

    4. I’m not really appreciating how you’re addressing people’s concerns here. I understand that from AS’s side it must be incredibly frustrating to have a killjoy up in here – but as Hannah Hart herself stated, her ‘community are her boss’. You can’t expect to launch this without being prepared to answer the concerns of the community/change your advertising language.

    AS, you and I have been together for a long time. Of course sweetheart, I’ll take you out for dinner, buy you nice things, introduce you to the family and loan you my money – but that’s not going to happen until you honestly talk to me about the things I’ve raised.

    Love Ellaria

    • Beautifully written, Ellaria. Since reading this article, I’ve been a bit speechless. I guess I’m just shocked. You so very eloquently put my feelings into words. Thank you!

  21. First of all I love autostraddle, it is my favorite online magazine/blog/website. I’m glad so many people signed up already and give you money so you can continue to work on your site.

    However, I too feel divide about the current „A+“.

    There are some points which already have been raised:
    – not everyone who reads and loves this website can afford to support you financially even at a „bronze“ level
    – not everyone has a credit card
    – I second

    There’s just a clear hierarchy there, with very conspicuous symbolic cues, like the ribbons, that are tied to *excellence and performance* (rather than the ability and desire to donate money). A+ membership certainly wouldn’t have the same vibe if it was something like ‘violet/pansy/cornflower’ rather than ‘bronze/silver/gold’ and all the marathon podiums that brings to mind. My question is, do we want that vibe? Do we want to highlight money donations to that degree compared to the importance of contributions in discussions and presence that many poorer and more marginalized readers give?

    comment and others’.

    You are already working on creating a gift option for membership and monthly contest with membership give-aways and you are listening to critical comments, thank you for that ;)

    My suggestions would be:
    – reword parts of the article to make it less class-ist
    – make a less glaring visible division between members and non-members (at least one that doesn’t rely on medal colors and badges)
    – that the gift option is not only an option to give to a certain person but to give a away a membership in general to someone who cannot afford it
    – the option that if I sign up for one of the memberships that I can choose to not have my avator (or its frame) to be changed
    – an on-going discussion about intersectionality and to keep on looking for more solutions how this membership program can be kept in check so it does not contribute to a class-ist division

    My questions:
    – I’m not in and from the states can I still sign up or donate a membership for a month or longer (if I can afford it)?
    – I don’t have a credit card but a paypal account, can I still pay?
    – In case I sign up, can it please be not visible for everyone?
    – What do you think about a membership option where one can pay as much as one can afford (e.g. one Dollar less or more) and other willing members can sponsor the rest because they can afford to pay more or a “suspended coffee” model?

    • Yes, I was wondering if there was a way to make it not visible too. I’m not a regular commenter (maybe once a month) so it’s not super important, but I don’t like the gold bands/medallions, but I would love to join A+. I feel like if I sign up it would keep me from commenting. I guess I could make a second account for my A+, so it wouldn’t give me the band here. Maybe I’ll do that.

    • Hi! Thanks for your suggestions, these are important things to think about! To answer your questions:

      – yes you can join internationally

      – a pay-what-you-can model sounds really cool, but is technically not possible with the plug-in we’re using, and cee spent months finding a model that met most of our needs. namely, most “paywall” systems are set up to block off 98% of a site’s content… the exact opposite of what we’re doing. but we’ll be running contests for people to win memberships, cee’s working on coding the “gift” idea, and if readers wanna donate to a fund to gift people memberships, that’s cool, we can set that up. I’m also always confused about why certain technical things aren’t simple to do and I always offer lots of stupid links to cee, but like the reality is just what it is, it can’t be done.

      – yes you can pay with a paypal account!

      – i’m not sure what you mean about a thing being visible or not?

      – we planned and developed this program really carefully, with lots of conversations with readers, and the driving goal to make Autostraddle.com the same for non-members. that won’t change.

      • Thank you for taking time to answer my questions and explaining, why some suggestions are difficult to implement and considering other suggestions. With “visible” I meant the yellow/golden badges around a+-members’ avatars. They are already gone and it feels so much better for me personally. I also noticed that you’ve changed some of the wording of the article – thank you for that, too! It feels really great that you take our concerns seriously. <3 <3 <3

      • These are great Qs and As.

        I’ve seen a few references to conversations with readers about future funding models. I was wondering if you could say more about how you developed this programme with the community? I’d be interested in hearing how you went about it and what people said?

  22. I also feel uneasy about this, and I really appreciate AS members coming up with positive suggestions for change. I got as far as feeling uneasy, and stopped.

    I love Autostraddle. It’s my most-visited website bar facebook. That means, unfortunately, that I visit it about 3 times a day when at work, read 3 articles minimum [damn those links are clickable! Ten tabs open at a time usually] and recommend it to all my friends, constantly linking articles as references/information/general beautiful things to read.

    I can’t get down with the privileging of those who can afford to pay a subscription, though, even to help this website survive. Because if you survive at the expense of poorer members [who yes WILL be discouraged by a two-tier system] you’re not going to survive as the Autostraddle I love.

    I get that we live in a capitalist system, that money is necessary to survive. I don’t judge you for the mere idea of membership, though yeah it makes me uncomfortable. But the way in which it’s implemented, that really needs to be looked at guys.

  23. Well, on my current budget I can’t afford to join, but as soon as I can loosen the strings on my purse a bit, you can bet that I will! But I wanted to congratulate you ladies on this insanely huge accomplishment! I’m so proud of the ladies behind AS! Thank you for creating a safe, welcoming, and supportive space for women, and I hope the AS Empire continues to grow and flourish!

    As an aspiring journalist/writer/creatively-inclined lady with a shit ton of ideas but a lot of negative people in my life, I am so happy to have a place like AS to inspire and encourage me to keep my head up and fuck what the naysayers keep telling me.

  24. I get needing to monetize the site to keep it going and create more/better stuff. But what creeps me out the most here is this: “sometimes it’s hard to get really weird, or vulnerable, or niche on a site as big as AS — and we know that goes for you as a commenter, too. We’re hoping these smaller, more intimate conversations and exchanges will be a safe place for you to speak up and share your point of view.” That phrasing and the drive behind it implies that buying in and paying up somehow make you a person better able to contemplate the “weird, vulnerable, niche” (translate: cooler, better, more intellectual) content. There are ways to monetize and create membership packages without sounding elitist. To me, this is a swing and a miss. Maybe it’s just the way this article is phrased, but it makes me question the intentions of Autostraddle’s team behind the scenes. The whole thing really seems to send the message that straddler’s who pay are better, smarter, cooler folk than straddlers who don’t. Personally, I’m more likely to support something like NPR, where the begging is lengthy and the swag is over-priced and exclusive, but the content is equal to all.

    I don’t see anyone talking about this yet, but before considering buying in, I’d love to hear more about where the membership money goes and what Autostraddle’s plans are for expanding, besides just “investing in the general creativity and badassery.” Does this mean you’ll be paying your writers now? Or is membership money going to more membership content/events? “Creativity and badassery” ain’t enough to go by.

      • The money pays our writers and staffers to keep the website operational. We’re just trying to maintain our present budget, which involves paying five full-time and four part-time staffers and over 20 writers every month.

        We’re not making enough through ad revenue or donations to maintain our existence. If this program does well, then we can pay our present staffers something more in the neighborhood of what they deserve, pay even more writers than we do now, and get more guest writers. If it doesn’t work, we’ll either have to radically change our mission in order to attract more advertisers, or get bought by a corporation.

      • Damn.

        I am impressed that you stated this. I am sure some people might take it the wrong way, but this idea–that the writers and creators of the content we love are also “broke as fuck” too–is what has been bothering me the most about the pushback. I am now going to refer to the whole incident as BadgeGate. Which is honestly why I think a lot of readers got pissed off. It’s a silly thing and an easy fix and Riese has already said they will take them away as soon as they can.

        As far as the whole safe space thing, that was a poor choice of words and they have already explained it.

        But Jesus guys! The writers deserve to be fucking paid! I know they make less than I do and they work probably twice as many hours!

        I am betting there will even be a post sometime next week about classism in the queer community.

        There were no negative intentions here.

      • I hope you get enough for full college tuition for your kids, five yachts, and a private island. I hope you get a wardrobe full of diamonds and a swimming pool full of gold coins. I hope people look at you and think “Gosh, that woman is nowhere *near* destitute. And I still believe she should be paid for the valuable work she does!”

  25. A few thoughts? As someone who can currently pay for A+ maybe my opinion isn’t important at all here. But some observations at least:

    1. I know I wouldn’t care at all if you couldn’t tell A+ members apart on the gravatars. Maybe a little gold plus on members’ profiles or something that you’d have to click through to see. But if it’s a point of weirdness then by all means, take it off, I’m totally happy with no visible markers at all.

    2. I’m looking at my other bookmarks and a lot of websites do this kind of model, I just don’t pay for the extra content (because I’m not as stoked on it as I am AS extra content). Like aeclectic tarot or Jacobin. The tarot one has forums you can’t access without membership, and you can’t exchange readings and do a lot of stuff without membership. Jacobin requires membership to read most of the articles, not even just a couple. *shrug*

    3. I follow one of the AS writers on tumblr, and I won’t reference them directly because we don’t know each other and that might be weird, but I do know this person used to put up very vulnerable, personal content on AS and got a torrent of shit for it not only here but as anonymous asks on tumblr as well. Like super nitpicky stuff that went beyond solid criticism and just wouldn’t let up. This person has since stopped writing personal stuff for AS and has mentioned here and on tumblr that the kind of response they were getting (super negative, in tidal waves, on all forms of social media) was too much.

    With an area of the website where you have to pay to get in, presumably fewer trolls looking to pick fights or take the mickey out of someone they dislike and don’t even know would find their way in. I see how the “safer” part of the “safer space” conversation works into play here. Like not just safer for commenters, but safer for the writing staff (perhaps even primarily so).

    Because I wait tables for a living my money is not always stable, and I wouldn’t be surprised if in a few months I’d have to dial down my contribution or forego it temporarily. But, while I have the funds, I wanna give back to a place that helped me through my dark times closeted in Oklahoma to ATX where I’m out and free and damn good looking too.

    Criticism, super valid and necessary. Just throwin in my perspective.

    • Jack, thanks for posting your opinions. I think they’re great and they’re totally valid. Thanks especially for bringing this up: “I follow one of the AS writers on tumblr, and . . . I do know this person used to put up very vulnerable, personal content on AS and got a torrent of shit for it.”

      I’d never heard about that situation, but the way you just explained that, it makes total sense. You’ve outlined excellent reasons to take measures towards screening out trolls and making some kind of membership system.

      I just wish the tone of this article got that across as well. I can’t tell if that’s what the AS team meant based on what they said (and the way they said it). And if that is what they’re going for, it does raise other questions. Are there other ways to handle that problem besides a tiered payment program that favors higher paying members? Where do you draw the line between topics too sensitive for the front page and topics that all members can discuss? Trolls have bank accounts – I’m sure this program will weed out quite a few of them, but do we assume all A+ members have A+ moral character and internet etiquette? When it comes to issues of sexuality and gender equality, convos can get sensitive and difficult pretty quickly. I’d be sad to see AS get less inclusive for people who really need a community to talk about the difficult stuff, but can’t afford to pay.

      I’m not at all against monetizing and fundraising, when handled well. I don’t even think AS is asking too much for what they’re offering. But I question whether a site’s fundraising program is the right vehicle to also do things like foster community and weed out trolls – because that basically sets up a screening process where character and involvement get tied to money.

      I get why people are excited and willing to pay for the extra perks and content, and I get why people want to support Autostraddle. I don’t knock anyone for joining. But I don’t dig the tone of this article, and it makes me wonder where AS is going with all this.

      (BTW, I’m pretty sure aeclectic’s registration is free. Unless they changed that and I didn’t realize.)

  26. Hey, just adding my thoughts -I think it’s great to have a membership program -I would love to see Autostraddle in a position to pay all the amazing writers you have on board. However, I do have some concerns (as has been raised) regarding the gold ribbon symbol. It’s really…overt? I think other people have articulated some of the issues better and I saw that you guys are still giving it consideration, so I wanted to add my voice. I would be happy to support without any symbol added, just having access to extra content would be cool enough.

  27. I’ve been a long time lurker of this site, but was never really active. However, the premium features finally convinced me to stop being awkward and lazy and make an account *Waves enthusiastically*

    So so SO excited for the podcast! And these bombass stickers!

  28. Couple of ideas:

    1. flag membership on profiles, but not on the icon in comments? So if we click to find out about someone, it could be a little badge, but we wouldn’t know who was and was not a member from the comments

    2. A couple of forums I belong to have a one-time fee to join, and then you pay for more perks on top of that. Maybe an additional subscriber tier along that lines, a one time fee to reader the subscription only articles, would feel more fair and also keep the randos out (as they’d have to pay 10 bucks or whatever to troll)

  29. I just enrolled for a recurring donation equivalent to bronze. I’d of course be super happy to join if there is some change in the flagging of members and stuff, but for now that’s what feels best.

    (I’m also hoping this might cast some doubt in the comments between who’s a financial backer and who’s not among the ribbonless.)

    Hey, Autostraddle, I love you. I know you guys from the team already have a rule that things about the site as a whole aren’t discussed in comments, and that on top of that you have a trillion of things to do, but could you consider making an even bigger exception here? There’s a bunch of people suggesting possible changes and raising concerns and it would really be nice to have your thoughts on them.

      • I apologize – I missed the upper reply about how you’re thinking about what to do with the ribbons and stuff.
        I really hope that the project will evolve in a way that doesn’t highlight backers this much compared to other people, and in any case I’m looking forward to updates about where A+ is going to go.

        • cee’s out with her Mom right now, that’s the only reason they still exist! She’ll get rid of ’em when she gets back to a computer. it wasn’t intended to create a hierarchy, just to keep new readers aware that there was a membership program to begin with. i don’t want anyone to feel like there is a hierarchy between paid and unpaid, that’s obvs not the spirit of this place we call home. <3

  30. I’m psyched to support Autostraddle. I have been reading the site for a long time, and some of the articles are amazing. I realize that the editors and writers and tech and design all need to earn a living! I just want to say that as a contributor, I really don’t care if I have a “ring” or “badge” thing on my profile. I don’t want people that the relevance of their comments would be judged based on that. I think that most people judge the comments based on content and attitude, but I also realize that I am coming from a different place financially.
    I do understand using exclusive content though. And I would imagine that those exclusive posts can be a “safer” place not because of policing by the team, but because the people who have elected to join have actually also forgone their anonymity a bit; not to each other, but to the Autostraddle team though the sign-up process.
    I am looking forward to when Autostraddle comes up with a “gifting” process- I would be happy to contribute toward those who don’t have the ability to pay.

    • I meant to say that I don’t want people _to feel_ that the relevance of their comments is judged based on ability to support the website. It’s challenging to write coherent posts on a phone!

      • I agree with the comment about the yellow ring – I could do without it personally…
        I understand the desirability of making membership numbers visible but maybe that could be accomplished elsewhere in some other way…

  31. For the people asking for income-based A+ subscriptions, it might be helpful to think about A+ the same way you think about A-Camp. Both are awesome experiences that allow you to connect more personally with the writers and other readers. Both are referenced on the main site, and can make you feel left out if you can’t afford them. Both feel like safer spaces to be open about your personal life, because trolls and random weirdos are only going to participate in the free stuff. Both cost money, and that money goes toward recouping costs and paying for the site.

    But for both, the goal is raising money. Yes, Autostraddle could invite everyone to camp and just ask all campers to pay whatever they could afford, but the result would be an undue financial burden on the people who already work the hardest to make this site what it is. The whole point of creating something extra is making it desirable enough that people will want to pay for it, thus generating reliable income for the website.

    I think that sometimes the breadth of free information on the internet makes us feel like content should be provided without us having to directly pay for it. As Riese pointed out (upthread I think? Or in another article) in the past you would get content like this from a magazine, paying for a subscription without thinking about it. Autostraddle is a magazine they’ve given away for free for years, by taking a lot of the costs of production out of their own pockets. They’ve tried asking people to donate what they can afford; most people responded to that by not donating anything. Now the whole magazine is still free, but they’re selling a bonus edition to raise cash, and people are essentially saying, “Would you guys mind eating the cost of that too? Cause I really want to read it.”

    I get that it feels like people are being left out just because they can’t pay. But it’s really the opposite: everyone should be paying, but due to memberships and other income sources, people who can’t pay still get awesome content for free. The whole point of A+ is to raise money; if you can’t afford it, you still get the entire rest of the website for free.

  32. Earlier, one of the editors said something to the tune of: “Yes. Exactly! This membership will limit the trolls.”

    I don’t see a lot of trolls around these threads, which could be because the moderators are quick-to-delete. When I read that comment, though, my mind immediately jumped to the likelihood that when the editors say “this will limit trolls” they mean a little bit of “this will limit the folks who disagree or find problem with our choices.”

    I echo a lot of the sentiments above–this write up was grossly, unapologetically classist; the membership flags are loud and dividing; the idea that a safer and more intimate space is only for those who can and want to spend their money is problematic and bums me out. But. What I am especially disappointed about is how this membership program will create a community that likely lacks the diversity of opinion that exists in the free of cost space. Not only will it completely leave behind those who cannot pay because they don’t have the money or because they don’t have a card or access to one, but also because the folks who are not so keen on this move as a queer media decision are not likely to join. This doesn’t make a “safer” space. It makes for a space missing those oh so important voices and thoughts and ideas and worldviews and histories and experiences. Of course I don’t think that all folks who joined have the same values and beliefs, but, I do think it will be skewed in a way that makes voices of dissent *literally* less valued.

    I’m saying goodbye to AS for a while. This website has been a big part of my life as a queer person, and I am deeply bummed about this. I have a hunch though that the editors won’t be so sad to see me, and some others, go.

    • YES THIS

      thank you so much for saying this. it is very difficult to articulate what you just said. if these concerns aren’t addressed, i am thinking of taking a break as well.

    • Maggie,

      You still have access to most of Autostraddle except A+, which is your choice or not to have or not have. Your voice can still post on the comments, read the articles and partake of everything that is available to everyone here, for FREE. We are lucky that this queer website is FREE, and that our comments are listened to. Our comments ARE listened to, and we are part of the commenters who are unpaying participants.

      My point is, those who can’t pay or won’t pay do not lose any access here. I made a comment early upstream in response to Rhymeriver’s comment, my comment was about creating safety by becoming an A+ member.

      My point was that the safety created by buying an A+ membership is only as good as the audience’s response to the author, and the relationship of respect and transparency between them. I don’t think an A+ membership can buy safety because, a relationship between audience and author is only as good as their agreement to actively practice respect and constructive criticism and to forgive some clumsy communication and hits and misses as regards any differences in senses of humour and perspectives. One will still find diversity, probably isolation and loneliness within some ventures happening within A+ circles, as audiences and authors need to mesh well to feel safe and intimate. I acknowledge that having A+ membership creates a space where content cannot be found in a search engine, which is great. That is safe. But as for the audience-author relationship, well, that is still as risky and volatile as it ever was. It is just a more intimate relationship between audience and author but that is not to say it will be smooth. I support Autostraddles move to earn themselves money, and I will pay as soon as I can.

      I just think that you are throwing the baby out with the bathwater in rejecting Autostraddle wholesale simply because you are offended by their choice. You still have access to everything, but you do you.

      • Annalou–

        This is about offense. I don’t know how applicable that word is when the media outlet in question as so much damn power over what it means to be queer in 2014.

        • Annalou–

          This isn’t about offense. I don’t know how applicable that work is when the media outlet in question has so much damn power over what it means to be queer in 2014.

  33. I think you guys are missing the point that essentially what they said with the members only posts is that the content that will be accessible to the A+ members is content that they otherwise would not write because they don’t feel safe putting it up here. I think, as members of this community we all need to evaluate why the writers haven’t felt safe to put personal things up in recent years and what we could have done to make this more supportive for THEM but additionally we all have to realize that they’re not TAKING AWAY content. They’re writing content that otherwise wouldn’t be created at all. There’s nothing wrong with that. Just like the podcasts won’t be made unless they have the money to pay for them and the monetary incentive to take the time out to make them, the special articles wouldn’t be written if there was no membership program. So bottom line is those that can’t pay aren’t losing anything, you’re just gaining something extra if you choose to join.

  34. I share a lot of the concerns already voiced, and also feel very uncomfortable with “A+ content” being displayed on the front page.
    The Autostraddle Insider article that is up is a constant reminder to those of us unable to buy A+ that we’re being excluded from something.

    Suggestion- at least make A+ content invisible to people without accounts, rather than rubbing it in our faces that there are parts of the site we can’t access.

    • we post that content to the front page like everything else to continually inform people that the program exists and attract new members. it needs to keep growing so we can keep living. we’ll be publishing 5-6 A+ posts a month total, including the newsletters, out of 250 posts a month, so that’s only 2% of the content we publish that will be marked in this way. please trust us that we’ve spent months considering the best way to do this and to keep it growing in a way that is as non-invasive as possible. we post about a-camp and merchandise, too, you know? there are ads for things i can’t afford. this is a business. we want to keep offering Autostraddle to everybody for free, and this helps us do that.

  35. Also two things to point out from the FAQ….

    “How will this change Autostraddle for non-members?

    Not one bit! No really, not at all. I mean, every now and then a post will pop up on the homepage that you can’t access without a membership, but members-only content will exist in addition to all the great work we already do, not instead of it. We’ll never publish something on A+ that we’d publish on the main site. ”

    and:

    “I’m broke but want to join A+ so bad. Is there hope for me? What if I already donate to Autostraddle?

    We’ll periodically host contests on the main site to give you a chance to win a membership!”

    So this is just like camp…it’s just an extra bonus to make autostraddle even more awesome

  36. This sounds really great and I hope that one day I can take part in the subscriptions. I love AS and of course I want to see all of the things available here, especially the ones available in the more safer spaces.

    Hopefully in the future I’ll be able to afford it and support you guys even more.

  37. Hey AS, I’m glad that you’re doing this and I’m so stoked that so many people are signing up!

    I can’t afford even the lowest tier at the moment…$6 is 2 loaves of bread or 2 gallons of milk or one 6-pack of PBR to dull the pain when I look at my bank account.

    I’ll admit that I was initially pretty turned off by the idea for many of the reasons that are stated above, but now I’m just grateful that so many people are willing to do this to keep the site free for everyone. So THANK YOU to all of the A+ subscribers who are keeping this site free for the rest of us, and for helping compensate all of the lovely people who keep this site going. :) :)

    The only thing that I’m really sad about missing out on are the podcasts…any chance that they could be released to the public a few weeks after they’ve been made available to A+ subscribers? Even a cut-down version…I would just love to be able to add that to my current podcast rotation.

  38. i’m a late breaking lesbian and autostraddle has been such a wonderful resource for exploring this amazing new way of being in the world – i can’t get enough. you all have been such a help and i’m really delighted to have this opportunity to give something back. i’m so happy to be a part of this community of bright, intelligent women. thanks so much for all you do.

    • Thank YOU, Bex.
      See, this feels good — you thanking us, us thanking you. Because it’s an exchange. And the best part of this exchange? No one is required to do it to still have access to the same website they’ve had for five years.

      Thank you.

  39. So I’ve been reading through this comment thread for the last day or so and have so many thoughts/feelings about it all.
    First if all, so much empathy for the folks that are feeling alienated by not have the ways or means of paying to be a part of the community that means so much to all of us. And then to see other folks comment back in such a condescending way like “I’m sorry you can’t afford it but really we are helping you by contributing so just go enjoy the free stuff with the rest of the uncool unwashed” and many of those respondents have a gold ring around their icon now.

    And those gold rings. From just scrolling through the comments they really pop like “hey look at what I said” and they’re grossly eye catching. It automatically creates a subconscious hierarchy in the comments section. With so many people bringing up this issue, why is it that these identifiers remain in the comments section? Why not a badge on the user’s profile as others have suggested? Totally eliminates that problem.

    And my other big issue is also what many others have brought up. How does having exclusive pay to view articles create a “safer space”? And why are only people who are willing to pay for it entitled to that place? The podcasts, stickers, t-shirts and even the newsletter are all great rewards in their own right, that should be incentive enough for folks to want to become members of a site they love so much. Why include the articles written by team members? It is hard not to feel that future articles in the vein of “29 things we would do to Samira Wiley” published by the team won’t be part of A+ content. And being exclusive of parts of the autostraddle community, it can no longer be guaranteed that important conversations sparked by different points of view and lived experiences won’t be lost in the dialogue sparked by A+ content.

    I understand that “less than 2%” of published content will be exclusive to A+. I also read that writers will now be able to share stories without those articles being google-able. But I cannot help but feel that this will change what it means to be a part of the autostraddle community. Before, this was free queer media, for everyone to take part in, digest, learn from, share their views and their voice. Now this is a community of those who can pay enough to fully access the inner circle of what it means to be an autostraddler and those who can only see what any person can see, whether they’re a person that has read and commented since the beginning of this site, or someone who stumbled upon an article and has no invested interest in our community.

    I understand that the readership has to support this site if it is going to remain viable. I don’t understand why this couldn’t be funded the way most member-funded media outlets operate. Rewards, swag, and even events for supporters who can afford to donate money. But the content remains free and available to anyone who wants to access and be involved, without exception.

    I know that almost all of those points have been addressed by other folks who have stated them better than me, but I wanted to throw in my two cents.

    • “With so many people bringing up this issue, why is it that these identifiers remain in the comments section? “

      because cee, our tech director, is the only person capable of changing that, and she’s spending saturday with her mother and therefore has not been able to get home and change it.

      ” I don’t understand why this couldn’t be funded the way most member-funded media outlets operate. Rewards, swag, and even events for supporters who can afford to donate money. But the content remains free and available to anyone who wants to access and be involved, without exception.”
      We already sell swag and throw events for supporters who can afford them. That’s not enough revenue to keep the website going. Also, when we’re giving away a lot of swag, that becomes a thing that costs us more money than we end up earning — even sending out stickers and t-shirts for this is incredibly expensive and time-consuming. The premium membership programs we’re familiar with block off all of their content with the exception of a few trial posts a month.

      • Thank you for responding. I understand that swag isn’t free, but I imagine that the $25/mo pledged by those who will be receiving the pricier rewards more than cover those costs with plenty of profit left over. So podcasts? The newsletter? My point is just that if the articles will be less than a couple per week why even include them? I feel like it creates a larger problem of exclusion and a dismantling/separation of the community that y’all have worked so hard to build than can possibly be worth it.

        When I was talking about free media, I was talking about things like NPR, alternative music stations, free weekly magazines/newspapers that are member and donor based. I understand that development isn’t easy but if you’re looking to be independent of advertising and corporate sponsorship, it’s something that is do-able without the cost of exclusivity.

        • I think the thing here is, though, that AS doesn’t genuinely care abut the ‘exclusivity.’ They can sit around and say that this is “home” and that this “community” is one for everyone but I am sure that the benefits of this new membership program for these staffers and the future of AS is/are potentially too great for them to genuinely be concerned with the folks who find problem with it. Even in this thread there are 5+ folks for everyone 1 who is concerned about this program. If it was the other way around, I’m sure there would be more genuine investment in reconsidering their choices. But! With their editorial and business choices so deeply informing queer media consumers, of course this choice will shape folks’ perceptions of what it means to be queer [what people should be supporting and applauding and celebrating as community and as media].

        • the free weekly magazines and newspapers you’re talking about are suffering immensely in today’s publishing environment and tanking financially, hemorrhaging cash, getting shut down, not paying their writers — mostly due to the movement of classified ads to the internet. weeklies have been bought by corporations in order to survive or infused with cash from investors or non-profits. this is the shit i read about every day.

          do you run or work for one of these publications or have you run anything like autostraddle? i’m not trying to be an asshole, but i’ve been in this industry for a long time and running this site for 5+ years and you keep bringing up suggestions for garnering revenue that don’t reflect an understanding of how this kind of thing works.

          i know you used to be a fan of the site and that you don’t like the site now — but knowing that you don’t like our content or think it’s worth paying for (as you said below), and both you and maggie have said a few times in the past that you wouldn’t be coming back to autostraddle ever again, it’s hard to take these suggestions in good faith.

          the more we can pay people, the better the writing and journalism gets here. we have a long and diverse roster of new CEs coming on soon and a lot to be excited about. it’s cool, you don’t have to sign up or like our site! but i don’t know where to go from there with this conversation

      • Riese–

        I never said, nor do I think, that y’all shouldn’t use a membership program. It’s a great development model and if used well it can serve an organization sustainably. What I do not support is providing exclusive content that you already provide to non-members [articles]. Newsletters? Yes! Right to people’s inboxes. Content some people can see but never access? Not a fan.

        Also, it really bothers me that folks have been saying “if this was a magazine you’d have to pay!!!” and “People have been paying for other media for years and it just fits with what other publications ask of people.” The thing is, though, that AS would not make it as a print/subscription magazine because the content isn’t high quality or consistent alternative journalism. AS exists as it is today BECAUSE of the internet’s space for hosting free of cost media!

        • “The thing is, though, that AS would not make it as a print/subscription magazine because the content isn’t high quality or consistent alternative journalism.”

          That’s really harsh. I think the content here is high quality. Sure there’s a lot of just fun stuff, but there is also a lot of high quality work that analyses issues in an in-depth manner, and most importantly, a lot of voices that don’t get heard in other alternative media sources.

          AS exists as it does today because of the hard work of the editors and the team and the writers. There’s a million blogs on the internet, and that’s how AS started and yet here it is today -something that engages a lot of queer women and others, and something that people care enough about to comment at a really high level, and submit and create community around. Sure it’s not perfect, and that is something people should feel free to talk about, but I think it’s quite unfair not give credit to the people who put the work in to make what this site what it is today.

        • I read the magazines that do so-called “make it today” and they are low quality sellout pieces of inconsistent bullshit… With the possible exception of bitch magazine, and they have constant financing problems.

          The stuff I read on autostraddle almost always makes me think harder, care more, and do better. Yep, there are fluff pieces. I like those too.

          But your assertion that the content on Autostraddle is not high quality is ludicrous and insulting.

        • Oh geez. From where I’m sitting, the content is pretty high quality, if not as lengthy as some other publications, but that’s because those publications have bigger budgets. As another commentator said, the idea that it’s not ‘high quality’ seems a bit insulting.

        • “i know you used to be a fan of the site and that you don’t like the site now — but knowing that you don’t like our content or think it’s worth paying for (as you said below), and both you and maggie have said a few times in the past that you wouldn’t be coming back to autostraddle ever again, it’s hard to take these suggestions in good faith.”

          Riese, I’m glad you said this because this is exactly what I was thinking. The last few times I’ve seen posts from the two named it’s been to throw the elitist card at the staff and to claim that any dissent is unwelcome which seems a stretch at best and horribly insulting at worst (yet no positive comments have followed after their expressed intent to never return). And since this quality of journalism is no longer up-to-snuff, I wonder why they still keep poking their heads in… It just doesn’t seem productive to only leave negative (albeit constructive if it wasn’t already stated 20 times) comments.

        • Riese–

          Funnily enough, I actually am in the independent media development field! I have produced many projects, including plays, feature films, live events, etc., and have personally fundraised hundreds of thousands of dollars through grants, investments, donations and crowdsourcing, not including what other members of projects were able to secure. I understand that it’s not the same thing as running an online publications, but I have also been in the industry for more than half a decade. I am very very familiar with the business models of organizations that are member and donor driven, and even organizations that were once advertising and corporate sponsorship-based and completely switched their models to the aforementioned. And unlike many of my colleagues, I did not come from money, and did not start out well connected, so I very much understand starting from the bottom and having to elbow your way into a market.

          Going after your dream is hard, back-breaking, soul-sucking work that demands more from you than you ever though you had to give. I understand that. I empathize with every bit of it. But if you want it bad enough you go for it, and I applaud you for it.

          I think it is great that AS is moving towards membership as a major method of funding. The incredibly strong base that you have created is massively impressive and wonderfully set up for such a move. You have created a following and an audience larger than I could ever hope for my films, projects, etc. I have brought up the only qualm I felt hasn’t been addressed and I don’t really see the need to bring up a questioning of my professional credentials as opposed to maybe addressing that one question.

          I continue to check the goings on of this site because I believe in the things that you say it stands for. I admire your strength in building this, and the strength of the community that this site has resulted in. I shouldn’t say that I’m not going to be a part of it anymore when I really want to be. I should instead say what is on my mind in the hopes that the issues I bring up will be thought about and discussed and I will be engaged by the other people in this community about them. For others to say that I don’t leave positive comments is a little puzzling, unless they are scouring the comment sections of every article posted on this site looking to dissect the tone of a message I have left.
          But that is beside the point.

          I believe in AS, and the strength of its staff. I want it to be to the queer community what the New Yorker is to upper-middle class straight cis white people. I get that progress like that isn’t going to happen with any immediacy. I am glad to support this community to get it to that level. Shucks, if actually land this sell-out full-time government gig this month and give up living as a starving freelance artist, I might actually sign up for a membership. But until then I would hope that any constructive criticism could be engaged with by others without the assumption of any ill will.

          Also, to everyone else, please stop referring to Maggie and I as a single unit.

        • Hi PaperOFlowers,

          I struggled with whether or not to reply to you, because (1) you pointed out just how hypocritical and ridiculous it is that I “keep poking my head in” and if I commented that would only prove your point, and (2) I don’t trust that my response won’t be shrugged off as “elitist” and “illogical” and “ludicrous” and and and.

          TBH, I am mostly replying because you hurt my feelings. You aren’t responsible for my hurt feels, but I feel like I need to say that I am a tenderoni and your comment felt like someone was talking about how ridiculous it is that I’m in the room to someone else without giving a $hit if I can hear their voice.

          I keep coming back because I care so much about queer people and queer community and queer media. I don’t need you to tell me that my comments are and can be constructive and valid and important and necessary–I know I and others who share my thoughts do not need your validation to feel like contributing members to this queer community. I do envy your comfort with this community, though, and invite you to think about [even if you fiercely disagree with me] the last time you might have felt how I feel right now.

          You’ve made it horribly clear how unwelcome I am, which I guess will make it easier for me to stay away now.

        • Also, it really bothers me that folks have been saying “if this was a magazine you’d have to pay!!!” and “People have been paying for other media for years and it just fits with what other publications ask of people.” The thing is, though, that AS would not make it as a print/subscription magazine because the content isn’t high quality or consistent alternative journalism.”

          Ever consider that the quality might improve if writers were being consistently paid for their articles?

          Just want to be clear though – I disagree with you entirely re. the quality on content on AS. Even when I happen to disagree with or just find an article boring, the quality of the writing is still top notch across the board and a great credit to the editors.

        • If you don’t think the content is high quality, honestly why are you here?

          I’m offended for the writers of this site and I’m not even one of them.

          For someone so interested in community and supporting a consistently better website, do you think that insulting the staff’s incredible hard work is a step in the right direction?

          Also, I remember a comment recently of a professor who reads AS that stated she frequently uses AS articles as readings for her students. Good enough for academics but not good enough for print?

        • Hi Maggie,

          You’re absolutely right, my comment was framed to address Lauren but I erroneously included you as well since Riese mentioned you in the text I quoted. My comments don’t apply to you, and I realized that after I posted thaf I was pluralizing my remarks.

          It may not remedy your hurt feelings, but I sincerely apologize for the collateral damage you suffered. I recognize that I’m probably a contributing factor to you feeling unwelcome to the site, so in the future I will be more careful for my phrasing and my focus.

          (Seriously wish that editing comments could be possible.)

  40. I think this is a really interesting idea, and I kinda wish I could be part of it, despite being a little unsure about the whole ribbons and “if you pay you’re way awesomer” thing that’s been mentioned several times. Hopefully when I am not unemployed anymore I can do this. (Of course, I also wanna talk my girlfriend and myself to A-Camp next summer when we’re both eighteen, so I might have to chose between the two.)

  41. I understand this is AS-team’s first effort at using memberships to help sustain and grow this site and community. I applaud you for your go-for-it spirit and support you 100%. I can’t imagine the work involved in making A+ come to pass! And the tedious hours that will be involved as you tweak this new phase moving forward. How does the saying go? –growth doesn’t happen in our comfort zone. I look forward to the AS team’s continued transparency on how this membership drive is going and how the money is being invested towards making things better for all of us. Thanx again for creating this very special place and keeping it all going.

  42. Hello! I am still a little unsure of the basis of the confusion about how A+ functions or in what ways in will or won’t change the community here, but I can try to talk it through as best I can.

    For the five years Autostraddle has existed, we’ve existed basically entirely on a reader-investment-based model. There’s some revenue from advertising, but not nearly enough to adequately compensate our five full-time staff members, four part-time staff members, and all of our contributing editors. The vast majority of the income that it takes to keep Autostraddle running has come from A-Camp, merchandise sales, affiliate sales or from donations in different forms — some people making small donations when they can on their own, some very generous people making large donations, some people coming together as a community during fundraising drives. So for people who are wondering why Autostraddle is offering A+ instead of using a donation-based model: that’s actually what we’ve already been doing, and to be honest, it’s really not working. Also, we’re only doing A-Camp once this year so we could focus more on the website, and we need a revenue stream to replace that second camp.

    Yes, we’ve been pulling in more revenue and we’re proud that we’ve managed to become one of the few self-sustaining queer media outlets in the world. But we’re only self-sustaining because we keep our expenses very, very low. Right now I work 50-60 hours a week and make between $4 and $6 per hour. (So, less than minimum wage. That’s also before taxes, which are significant for writers who work online. We buy our own health insurance.) The individual contributing writers make much less than that, even though they also contribute very significant time, often on top of at least one day job. Generally speaking, we usually can’t afford to pay outside contributors at all, which severely limits which voices make it to readers; primarily, it’s those who can afford to write for free, a very limited and privileged set.

    On a purely altruistic donation-based system, this is all we can afford, and it’s not sustainable. When we ran a donation drive last year to try to pay our writers a reasonable wage (in exchange for cookies and home-made thank you cards, even!) it didn’t even make its goal. We love our readers dearly and are deeply indebted to them in a thousand ways, but for several years the reality has been that we can’t rely upon readers for donations (although we are incredibly grateful for the many, many of you who do donate regularly)!

    We designed this program intentionally and deliberately and after months of conversations with our readers about how they’d like to support AS. We looked at other programs and other plug-ins and this was the best solution that’d ensure Autostraddle.com stays the same for non-members and wouldn’t take up so much time from us that Autostraddle would suffer.

    Possibly because the website has been doing well in terms of traffic and have had some exciting recognition from outside outlets, it may have created the impression that we’re raking in the ad dollars, but we’re not. And to make the $20k a month we need to maintain our current system, which underpays everybody on staff, we’re increasingly pushed to make compromises w/r/t the kind of advertising we can even accept and the hours we’re willing to work. Plus, the more revenue streams we add that involve anything besides simply writing content, the more paid support staff we require to ensure the maintenance of that revenue stream.

    Contributing editors are now paid for posts — which we’re so excited about finally being able to offer! — but it’s not because we’ve started making significantly more money; it’s because we received money in December from a generous donationvestment and were so tired of not paying writers that we decided to put it towards paying those writers, crossing our fingers that we’d be able to keep doing so if the A+ launch went well.

    In 2011, we made $31,000 in donations. In 2012, partially because of our fundraiser, we made $128,000 (virtually all of which went towards the redesign, cee’s yearly salary, the server, fulfilling the perks, and adjusting Alex and my’s salary, as the fundraiser promised. The rest went towards paying writers for Trans*Scribe, getting office equipment, and paying taxes) In 2013, we made about $9,000 in donations. So far this year we’ve gotten about $4,500. Unfortunately, high traffic and internet visibility don’t generate revenue. But they do make people less motivated to support us financially. If we continue to rely on donations, camp and merchandise, we will have to lay people off and/or shut down. Full stop. If we’re unable to meet our goal of 1,000 A+ members by the end of the year, that’s still what will probably happen.

    It’s especially frustrating to see funding dry up because it’s been clear that when we have more money, we are able to make a better website. The Trans*Scribe series was possible because we had the money to pay trans women and especially trans women of color, who are much less likely to be able to write for free. Similarly, if you liked what we published in December after our redesign launched — when we were able to publish writers like Roxane Gay, Kim Milan, Heather Hogan, Elicia Sanchez, Arabelle Sicardi, and more — it’s because we were generously gifted a $10k investment intended for paying writers. It was probably the best magazine we’ve ever been, that month, because of it. But after that month, the money was gone, and we don’t have the option to offer professional writers or low-income writers money for their words.

    It’s true that many of our readers won’t be able to afford A+ membership. But those readers are only unable to access 2% of what will be published on Autostraddle, and that 2% will never — NEVER — be something that would otherwise be published on Autostraddle normally. It’s only going to be the newsletters and the stuff that writers only feel able to publish in front of a smaller audience because of its vulnerable nature. It feels especially weird for anyone to feel entitled to that content for that very reason — none of us are entitled to anyone’s intensely private experiences, and for that reason it’s great that they now have the option to publish them in a way that feels less scary because it’s smaller. And in the hopefully not-very-long run, the content on Autostraddle’s main site will get significantly better, because A+ memberships are funding the curation of better and more unique writing. It will also be able to fund marginalized voices — I think employing and paying these people for their work is incredibly important, especially if we’re talking about the same people who can’t afford A+.

    Which is ultimately the point of A+ — it creates a sustainable way for queer people to opt in to a system that financially supports other queer people. Every dollar that someone pays into A+ ends up in a queer woman or otherwise-identified human’s pocket. Some of them will go to my salary, some will go to pay for our server which is run by a queer woman, many many many of those dollars will go to pay writers who create the content you want to read, FOR FREE.

    Autostraddle isn’t a company that has offices and warehouses and products; it is a company comprised entirely of people and their brains. It is a company literally made out of queer women and non-binary folks. When we talk about how to support or not support AS, we’re not talking about the company as a concept, we’re talking about the people who create it. And not just the faces on the masthead — the ones all over the world who pitch to us and write for us and who WOULD pitch to us if we could pay them.

    To say that the emotional experience of not being included in something is objectively more hurtful than being told that the work we’ve done for this site for five years, for free, is worthless, seems like a confusing stance. It’s certainly one everyone is entitled to, but I’m not sure whom it benefits. A+ will enable all AS readers to get a better website — even though people who aren’t interested in the program don’t need to do anything to benefit from it.

    • To say that the emotional experience of not being included in something is objectively more hurtful than being told that the work we’ve done for this site for five years, for free, is worthless, seems like a confusing stance.

      Bravo. I wanted to formulate a more eloquent response, but this is just…bravo.

      • I am not invalidating the feelings of those contributors and editors who have poured their personal and professional lives into this site. But I’m curious how some folks citing problem and worry about this choice and AS’s direction is the =being told that this work is worthless?

        • I don’t think that anyone on this site consciously weighs things this way, but that is how some of the complaints come across (not all, but some).

          The article explaining why A+ exists states:

          “We still lack the revenue necessary to pay our editors and writers what they deserve or to pay our contributors at all, and we’re hoping this can close that gap.”

          Saying that the site should not be able to charge people to read some content because it makes them feel alienated — when efforts to pay people who create the content without charging have failed — implies that those people think that avoiding that feeling of alienation is more important than paying the content producers and people that keep the site running. I think its pretty easy to imagine the writers/staff coming to the conclusion that people don’t value their time/effort/work that much.

    • Just wanted to express my support for your post Rachel. That’s a hell of a lot of unpaid labour you are all doing. I hope A+ does manage to bring in enough income so you don’t have to let people go.

    • Hi Rachel…. can I be your wife?
      Everytime you write about anything…. I melt in my heart emotionally because you are so passionate and perceptive when you write .
      Everyone! It takes financial support for these women to provide us a source of witty and intellectual help to navigate this world of gender and sexual confusion and enlightenment. So shouldn’t we put our money where our emotional need is….. and support this wonderful website?
      Oh, btw, Rachel….. I am a very good cook. Just so you know. :)

    • It’s especially frustrating to see funding dry up because it’s been clear that when we have more money, we are able to make a better website. The Trans*Scribe series was possible because we had the money to pay trans women and especially trans women of color, who are much less likely to be able to write for free.

      Wow, this is probably one of the most important things I’ve learned about Autostraddle. I didn’t realize that Trans*Scribe was a paid writer project. I honestly can’t say that I know of another publication, queer or otherwise, who would prioritize trans* projects financially while operating on a shoestring budget. I can’t even express how much my respect for AS has grown after learning this.

      Rachel, I really appreciate the financial and emotional transparency of your comment. I’ve worked in newsrooms and with indie queer mags, and I’ve seen how hard it is for publications to keep their noses above the water.

      Two magazines very dear to me have shut their doors due to a lack of finances. It’s a heart-wrenching experience, especially when you’ve attended all their events, watched their marketing teams sweat over ads, and poured your soul out through your writing. A small percentage of subscribers and donors can do wonders in keeping a publication afloat. A group of funders can ensure that a publication lives on for everyone.

      As a freelance writer, I have a variable income. I never know when the next drought will come. So many journalists are asked to provide their services for free or for far below a living wage, even from mainstream companies who can afford to pay better.

      (For some depressing-as fuck online publishing industry trends, see: “Content Used to Be King. Now It’s the Joker.”

      In order to sign up for AS+, I rearranged some bill payments and dropped my Spotify membership (which I use CONSTANTLY while I work). Why? Because you’re actively trying to make online publishing better for both queer readers and creators. And for so many of us, that’s been a life-changing effort. Autostraddle, thanks for all you do.

      • yes! there may be a few kinks still to be worked out in A+ but these writers deserve support. we all have rent to pay. writers and many other creative, hard working folk find their work undervalued (or at least under compensated) all the time. critique is important and healthy, but so is looking out for the interest of others – in this case our community, our friends – who are knocking their socks off for our benefit. thank you so much, everyone (and especially kate).

    • Thanks so much for this explanation, Rachel (and riese earlier!). I feel six thousand times more at ease with the A+ project now, knowing that on the question of diversity the benefits outweigh the costs, and also since A+ since it’s more discreet (I personally thought a ring or another small symbol were ok, but this is also great).

    • Rachel, thank you for writing this comment! I was on the fence about joining A+, not because I disliked it but because I’m saving every penny to go to A-Camp next year. However, some of the comments did raise questions/concerns for me, but I can see from your honest words that the money out of my pocket every month is so,so worth it.

    • I was also on the fence about joining A+ but this incredible comment (short essay, really) convinced me. Canceled my game subscriptions to sign up for a membership, because Autostraddle’s success is so much more important to me than TOR/Wildstar’s.

  43. Firstly, glad that the ribbons issue is being addressed :)

    Secondly, I think there is another exclusivity perspective that I haven’t seen addressed (though maybe I missed it, there’s a lot of comments!). Currently, as I understand it, the writers get paid occasionally, and not the full amount for the work they are doing.

    There’s an expectation in a lot of community minded environments that people will work for free or work for less than what they should be paid, because they care about the community. I think this is hugely screwed up because what it creates is exclusivity in who is able to work in these environments, because it requires a certain amount of privilege to work for free.

    I know AS has tried to diversify it’s staff but if AS can’t pay people what they should be paid, it’s very unlikely that AS will ever be able to achieve the kind of diversity they should have on staff, and the kind of diversity that I understand and hope they are working towards.

    I’m not a writer, but when I try to write something, it’s takes a lot of time! And many of the articles here require a lot of research, whether it’s for a serious political topic or an article with a bunch of pop cultural references. The amount of content produced here for a free website is amazing, and the quality is also outstanding. The current writers should be paid for their work, and AS having a relatively regular source of income will allow them to offer paid work to new writers.

    This isn’t to invalidate comments about it being exclusive to people who can’t afford it, I think that’s an important part of the discussions. But I also think an important part of the discussions should be how to reduce exclusivity on part of who is creating the content, and how not having a regular source of income for the site creates more exclusivity on that end and privileges those who can work for free or for little.

    Of course, I realise it hasn’t been said straight out what the A+ income will be used for, I’m assuming, from reading past posts that some of it will go towards staff pay :-)

  44. I definitely want to subscribe, and I’m very excited to support auto straddle. However, I’m a college student living at home and I am not out to my family and I really have no address I can safely receive a sticker or anything related to auto straddle/being queer/etc.

    So, is there a way for me to note that I’d rather not receive the sticker when I subscribe? Also, I’m a fairly paranoid person so I’m just double checking this – could giving my billing address have me receive anything in the mail that could out me?

    I really want to subscribe, and I really want to support autostraddle, but I need to make sure I’m not putting myself at risk in the process.

    Thanks!

  45. Yo yo yo. With the billing – if I opt for a yearly billing, is there a chance I can just pay it automatically now? Or is that just absurdly complicated?

    I can just see me having a week where I have the money but not in my account and then it gets overdrawn, you know?

    Also- if the answer to that question is ‘this is indeed absurdly complicated’, is it possible to change from the yearly to monthly deduction?

  46. Autostraddle has been (and still is) such an important resource, experience and safe space for me. I hope my A+ monies help AS staff and writers continue to create important and awesome content for all of us, A+ members and non-members alike. Heck, the only reason I can afford A+ is because of the ton of overtime I put in recently. Worth it? Totes worth it! :)

  47. Out of the 3,500 of you that read our website and took the 2014 reader survey, 87% (2,200+ readers) subscribe to Netflix, 10% subscribe to the New York Times (244 readers), 18% Hulu Plus (394 readers), 15% Pandora/Spotify…

    I know y’all understand the concept of paying for media that you consume! I SEE YOU.

  48. ohhhhmygod I was so looking forward to this but I just left my job and now I can’t afford it. Definitely printing out some resumes tomorrow so I can pay you wonderful people.

  49. I honestly don’t see how paying for content is all that preposterous. Independent publications are one of the most difficult things to keep alive and need all the support they can get. Yes AS is a community but at the same time it’s a product that takes real work and the resources don’t just come from nowhere, for fuck’s sake…

  50. I can’t wait to start working in sept and listening to the podcasts! Also, thank you all for creating an environment where I feel safe and KNOW that I am an important member of this community regardless of if I am able to be an A+ member!

  51. How is this different than webcomic artists using Patreon, interns organizing to be paid, graphic designers refusing to participate in logo design contests or any creative person refusing to work for “exposure”? AS contributors own their labor and would like to be compensated for it.
    I understand people not having extra money or choosing to spend their money on something other than AS, but I don’t understand people getting angry when Autostraddle acts like it’s people’s livelihood opposed to a hobby.

  52. I personally love the fact that these paid options are available. It is definitely a good incentive to give money to Autostraddle, because I’m sorry but since I also do not have a lot of money, I wouldn’t just donate for the sake of it. These extra features make me feel like I’m getting my moneys worth while contributing to positive queer media.

    I also like the gold rings (and preferred the banners), please don’t take those away! Every social media site has one. Some are “top commenter/contributor” or “senior member”. Its awesome and let’s people feel appreciated. Its not like people without gold rings are band from commenting or anything. I think its fine. Let’s be mature about this folks.

    I feel bad for people who can’t afford it, but wouldn’t it be even worse if Autostraddle was not generating enough money to exist at all? That would be a huge loss for everyone. With the paid options, now everyone can enjoy Autostraddle for (hopefully) years to come.

    I also really don’t like how people are coming down on the premium subscribers and limiting the features with their whining. I feel like I’m being bullied just because I’m paying for extra stuff. Even if I couldn’t afford it, I wouldn’t want to ruin it for people who can. Come on already.

  53. you all deserve to be paid properly.
    I’ve been reading autostraddle pretty much every day for years, for free. I’ve got some catching up to do in terms of supporting you all. I pay for my issue of Bitch magazine every month, and it’s only fair that I do what I can to keep Autostraddle afloat too.

    I’m signing up for as generous a monthly contribution as I can afford.

    I also would like to mention that I don’t need/want any special symbol by my name in the comments sections. I agree with some of the other commenters that this might create a classist hierarchy in our discussions, which we don’t want. Exclusive content is great and asking for sustaining support is great. Love everything else about this.

    The only way we get independent queer media is if we stand up together to support it.

    Thanks again to everyone who works on this and also to everyone else contributing.

  54. I was going to write a really snarky comment about being butt hurt, but I’ll refrain because it’s a sunny Sunday. I can’t wait until I get paid so I can sign up for A+. Also, for what it’s worth, I liked the gold rings and I’m sorry, Autostraddle, that negative peer pressure forced you to take them away.

  55. I’m really excited about this. I can’t afford to subscribe yet, but I plan to when I can. I consume a lot of media for free – most of us do – but if payment will help improve the life of people making the content AND improve access to content by marginalized people, I am all for it. But I don’t really donate, either. I donated to the redesign because I could at the time, but that’s it. Here’s a way for me to make sure I do it regularly when I can.

    I get that people were upset about the classist language in the article. Honestly, I didn’t notice it at first because I just took it all as silly/excited. Other people took it more seriously than I did, and I completely see why. BUT that doesn’t mean AS is a terrible, horrible, no-good, very-bad website. And the people producing awesome content should be paid for what they do. If donations isn’t enough to do that, then fine, paid memberships. The fact that paid memberships just going to add a little content for people who pay and isn’t going to change the free content at all (and in fact will likely improve it), is even better!

    As for the rings, I don’t have an opinion. I see both sides, and am undecided.

    Change is scary and uncomfortable. Especially when some of us saw our safe space being threatened. But our safe space isn’t going to change (at least not for the worse). There’ll just be another, smaller safe space for the writers to write things they’re unwilling to publish here.

    This doesn’t mean the criticism and concerns here aren’t valid. But Rachel addressed them really well. That quieted my concerns, personally. Yes, wouldn’t it be great if everything was 100% free? I’d freakin’ love that. But that’s not how our consumerist society works, and AS will go under if we try to pretend we’re an exception.

    Maybe it is a little classist to have a small amount of content only for people who can pay for it. And honestly, my first thought is, “so what? It’ll help keep the rest of the content free.” But that’s not fair of me, and I know it – I might as well be saying, “be happy with less than what I get.” OK, so what do we do? I don’t have a perfect solution, but A+ seems close. Pay for extra content if you can. I don’t pay for Hulu, and I don’t expect to get it for free. I don’t pay for the local gym, and I don’t expect to use it for free. I don’t pay for Amazon Prime, and I don’t expect to get the perks for free (I know these aren’t all media, but you get the point).

    In a perfect world, this would be unnecessary. But AS doesn’t exist in a perfect world, and we also have to keep AS going to learn more about this imperfect world. So for now, this solution seems good to me. Not perfect, but noticeably better than the alternative. And when I can eventually subscribe, I will.

  56. I don’t think that its reasonable to expect a website that is as big and great as Autostraddle to run for free. I have contributed to Autostraddle in the past because I think its important to have one solid queer women’s resource online. Its a bit unfortunate that not everyone will be able to see all the content – but they will be able to see most of the content. Content that would not exist unless someone is there to fund it. Frankly, it is rather childish to be so incensed at the prospect of some people getting a little extra content for money when you get so much content for free.

    HOWEVER, one thing that was promised in the last Autostraddle funds drive which was not delivered on was some sort of audience input function ie that we could suggest article topics. I think this really needs to exist, but should not be an A+ feature.

  57. I’ve been reading autostraddle almost everyday for the past 5 years. I was hooked after a feminist blog linked to it as a site for lesbian and bi women, but also”good for feminists of any orientation”. The roundtable regarding the moment y’all realized you were gay was a huge turning point in my life, and in hindsight, probably was the catalyst for finding/realizing my own queerness. I’ve learned so much from reading these intelligent and well-written articles, and I can’t even keep track of the number of times I’ve forwarded articles to my professors or shared them on in conversation or facebook.

    I’m a hardcore lurker though. This is my first comment, and while I totally feel connected to the community via the writer-reader thing, maybe it is time for me to be have a (little) voice too. I just graduated from college, so money is tight, but yes, you have my support!

  58. Question about the Gold level (though I really like the Cornflower/Violet idea better):

    I’m not sure the t-shirt would be enough to justify the cost. As a one-off? Sure. But at that rate it feels like I need a t-shirt every month. Are there plans to add to that tier?

    Mefi had a subscription drive recently (probably you’ve heard of it) and that was more because some Mefites had found the donation button and sorta organised their own before the Mefi mods made it official. One of the bigger issues was the star/recognition – like many people here, many DID NOT want to stand out as a supporter by default, and the option became to have that as a sign on your profile if you wanted but not next to your username. I think they attracted a lot more donors precisely because of this.

    I used to give a monthly amount to AS, maybe this can be a replacement. I must have missed the original writeup that led to the discussion about safer space (which I also admit would have put me off). Maybe the A+ section can also be an incubation area for trial posts? That they can be further developed before going to the public? Or they can preview certain posts a day or two before going public – and that way everyone gets to read it?

    Someone mentioned Patreon and that’s how a lot of the Patreon users I know use the thing: the Patreon-only parts being more of a backstage hash-out sandboxy area.

  59. I’m very happy to be in a place where I can buy a membership and support this site. I’ve read Autostraddle since almost the very beginning, and have contributed when I can and even went to the first A-camp, but I don’t think I’ve ever commented before, so hi! Maybe I’ll be around more now.

  60. While I agree with some of the comments about the classist wording of the original article, I feel like some of the negative comments are really harsh. Like, REALLY harsh and disrespectful to all the hard work everyone puts into this site. I can’t say how much I appreciate AS and if I could afford it, I would love to support this site. I can’t right now and I do feel a bit sad I’m going to be missing out on the additional content but I *need* Autostraddle to survive (what would I do without it?) and I trust Reise and the team enough to know that this wouldn’t be happening if there was any other way, y’know? I understand people’s concerns and I think it’s important to have a conversation about it so I’m glad this is happening, as painful as it sometimes feels for me to read because while AS is far from perfect, it’s pretty much my favourite place on the internet. I really appreciate how much less obnoxious the gold banding is now too! :p

  61. I was planning to respond directly to Rachel’s post, but I realized it would probably get buried. I want to say: Thank you so much, Rachel and Riese, for your transparency. I find it refreshingly honest and took me from writing off the program as something I couldn’t afford (but was thrilled existed!) to making room in my budget to subscribe. You all consistently impress me from a business perspective. I don’t think enough people publicly notice or acknowledge the time and energy you put into the business side of things, not just the writing side. The fact that you have those numbers, the fact that you give annual, totally transparent updates is more than I ask for from the films I help fund. Thank you.

    I completely understand the situation the site’s in. As a working queer writer/film producer myself, I’ve experienced every setback and challenge you’ve mentioned and more. I watched my first passion, the indie publishing house I worked for for four years fall apart after 20 years in business due to the economy. I watch print and media outlets disappear over night. I’ve also been offered $5 for novellas and, even with over a decade of writing and publishing and over 50 titles with a series of legit presses/publishing houses, been asked if I’d be an unpaid intern for “exposure.” I’m thrilled AS has the support of such a huge fan base. You do important work and the fact that you can institute a subscription service as opposed to folding or selling the company makes me so, so happy. You all deserve to be paid. You deserve a living wage. The more people band together to support businesses we believe in and an artist’s right to be compensated appropriately, the better things will get for everyone. Free media is awesome. I am well aware not everyone has the finances to pay for what they read. But the insistence that these types of sites always stay completely free make the entire writing market unlivable for all writers everywhere. I see my contribution not just as supportive of an amazing site that I want to see grow, but as an investment in my own future as a writer. If a big name even in queer media openly states they pay their entire staff a living wage, it will put more pressure on other branches of the media to do the same. The fact that this is a queer women’s site (queer women businesses are especially and notoriously hard to fund, guys. Seriously.) is a huge plus.

    I also want to point out that I understand a lot of the concerns people are having and I think it’s wonderful you have a space to express those concerns. Personally, I totally understand what was meant by “safe space” (because really, any space totally open to the internet will always have genuine trolls, people who steal information for other sites, and groups that can use these resources to out people. I personally know a handful of users that were outed or had their work stolen and posted on hate sites because they posted in queer sites. This goes for the writers as well.) I also didn’t mind indicators on the front page or on people’s posts that shows they’re A+ members. It’s the best form of free advertising for the service without a constant string of “Remember A+ Exists!!!!” posts. I get not being able to pay. I don’t even make enough right now to comfortably cover all my bills, let alone have room for extra, but I can let go of a few things for this because I work in queer media and feel I have a responsibility to make it better for everyone else. I want more diversity in my content. I want more voices to have the chance to be heard. And, selfishly, I want to write in a world more open to my requirement to be paid for my time.

    Finally, I want to point out: money is so emotionally charged. Add that to a space that many feel is either “home” or important to their lives in some way and things will get heated. This is the internet. It’s all text-based. It’s so, so easy to misread intention when everything is purely in writing. Internet accents and local turn of phrase is a real thing. Some people are better at conveying their intentions than others. We all read people’s comments filtered through our own voices and experiences, which leads to misunderstandings. I’m constantly discovering people I know and respect in real life on this site and they’re often having heated exchanges with each other. Because I know them both and know the way they talk/think it upsets me because I know neither are intending to be read the way they are. I think it would be best if everyone read people’s concerns and responses with an open mind and heart, expecting the best, not the worst. I don’t think anyone here is intending to destroy AS. Everyone is trying to make things better. By all means, voice concerns! I just feel it’s counter-productive and divisive to assume anyone on either side of a discussion is horrible/bullying/meanspirited unless it’s blatantly obvious.

    TL:DR: Yay AS! Yay writers getting paid! Yay more diversity! Yay discussions! Yay people having strong feelings about a queer women media outlet! Let’s all be kinder to each other.

  62. Ok, first of all I’m here enjoying the weekend right..and then all of sudden I see this post and it’s full of FEELINGS!!! Only we would have so many feelings about a premium membership program guys.

    That being said, I first give 5x the thumbs up to @internrachel ‘s post. Most liked award??? Best explanation of shit that is going down on AS award?

    Also, I pretty much agree with what she said. I mean everyone says we care about this place right? I think it’s only fair we should also care about the contributors and their well being. Their salary isn’t the first thing that comes to mind but the reality is they are giving their time and a lot of effort to this place. Not just here, A CAMP. Netflix doesn’t do that and I pay more for netflix than this place..and I care about AS more. IDK any other places that take their members and offer a camp..I actually think it’s concerning that this thing has a chance to shut down. I don’t ever want this place to go away. WTH am I going to do with my time?? Where am I going to post weird shit about the cat and my Metal Earth things!?

    I also want to say that I don’t think that the yellow band thing or the posts exclusive to A+ are something to try to pull other people into paying. Ok, maybe it’s a bit of advertising but knowing this website and the amazing people behind it..I honestly don’t think they are shitty people who only care about $ and want to pull aka force people to pay for 2% of content that would only show to members. I really really believe that Autostraddle is a community that was built on the staff’s love for their readers that’s why I think in turn we’re so loyal to this site. A FIERCE LOYALTY.

    PS
    This is not a post to try to get people to sign up and pay. It’s just my thoughts. Ok, sorry for being late to the party. I know…it was an important discussion!!!! ok Love you guys!!

    • I have to totally agree with everything you said. I missed Rachel’s comment (I stop reading comments after a few hundred :P), but when I did read it, I was pretty freaked out by the thought that this place could shut down. AS (and the amazing members on here) have gotten me through a lot and I can’t imagine what it would be like without a place on the internet that is actually concerned with my community’s well being. And where else would we read about each other’s cats?

  63. OMG why am I so poor. Stupid car crash bills. (And habit of buying hot girls drinks.) Adding this to my list of “stuff I’m buying as soon as my medical bills go away” so like hopefully this program is still kicking 10 years from now ;)

    Maybe I can list not being able to afford the podcast in my insurance claim… I bet Geico would be down for that.

    And finally, I hope you Canadians and other not USA queers appreciate your free healthcare right about now :P

    But really, go Autostraddle! You’re so cute, and funny and smart and you just make me wanna spoon you while we watch Orphan Black and eat chocolate. Basically.

  64. Really glad that AS is going to get more funding but also a little worried that the quality of content is going to decline since the ‘good stuff’ will become ‘A+ content’ and also that people like me who can’t afford membership will miss out/feel excluded.

    • This has been pretty thoroughly discussed. The plan seems to be to have articles that wouldn’t otherwise be published become A+ content – not the good stuff that’s already here, but the stuff writers are unable/unwilling to publish for such a wide audience. That means that it would NOT be published here otherwise, and is being published at all solely because A+ exists as a smaller, more intimate place for things the writers do not want to have flung all over the internet.

      Additionally, the extra money coming in is going to go towards paying writers. Right now, they can really only publish writers who are in a position not to be paid. By offering compensation, they’ll be able to publish a wider variety of voices, especially from people who really need monetary compensation for their work and can’t afford to work for free. This will IMPROVE the quality of the content.

      As for feeling excluded, that 100% sucks and will probably happen. All I can say to that is that in our capitalist society, this is the only alternative right now, and if it doesn’t happen, AS is going to go under. Having a very small amount of paying-members-only content seems like a small price to pay for keeping it going. I talked about this earlier, but saying that feels like I’m telling people they should be grateful for getting less than others because it could be worse, and that’s not cool. But I don’t have a solution, honestly.

      Overall, I really think this is a good thing. The staff has done an excellent job responding to concerns above, even when being attacked and basically told they should work for free. They do a ridiculous amount of work, and should be compensated for it because we live in a money-based world and if we don’t compensate people for their time and work, they can’t get by and that work will end up stopping.

  65. Just want to say I think the gold rings currently on A+ members profile pictures are perfect. I understand that other users thought the bigger ribbon to be a bit over the top, but I’m glad it hasn’t entirely been abandoned. It is quite nice to receive some measure of ‘credit’ and I think the rings are subtle enough to not be disrespectful to non-members.

  66. AS, you and I have been together for a long time. Of course sweetheart, I’ll take you out for dinner, buy you nice things, introduce you to the family and loan you my money – but that’s not going to happen until you honestly talk to me about the things I’ve raised.

    – btw, the majority of this comment is f*cking gross and sounds exactly how every POS misogynist smarmy entitled d-bag sounds when they’re talking to a woman that they think they’re smarter/better than, just fyi. please don’t ever talk to a human like this ever again, either online or IRL. thanks.k.stop.

    • I was honestly ashamed beyond measure after I posted this Gabrielle, even more so after Intern Rachel’s post – but I can’t remove it. If I could, I’d do it immediately. I can only deeply apologise to The Team/Readers/Members and ask that we move on.

  67. I don’t write as much as I should for Autostraddle. Yes, it’s because I’m working on personal projects or helping other QPOC make their artistic projects come to fruition also FOR FREE.

    But just FYI, here are some things that the small but SO NECESSARY checks from AS have helped me pay:

    – June Con Edison Bill

    – A doctor’s bill in February when my heart was beating irregularly

    – Groceries from the good grocery store, the one that has actual fruits and vegetables

    – A card & a portion of a shared gift for my parent’s 35th wedding anniversary

    This is from one check. ONE CHECK. One check that was less than $200. I’m unemployed in real life. I do this shit because I love it and it’s so so fucking helpful when some cash comes my way TO HELP ME LIVE.

    if you can’t give, nothing changes.
    if you can give, then damn please do so.

    you know we love you forever.

    • Gabrielle, I love your content on here so much, and I’m grateful that you choose to use your time for this.

      You shouldn’t have to justify the money that you earn from your writing. I feel like this is such a constant expectation of anyone who works at “doing what they love.” It happens all the time in the arts; it happens in nonprofits. I often feel like I have to justify my own meager nonprofit salary by dropping the fact that I’m paying student loans, etc. Would I do it did free if I could? Probably (but with a more creative spin for sure). But heart doesn’t put food on the table, and we don’t expect people in other jobs to justify why they should be paid by listing the necessities of life. We pay them for the work they do, and how they spend it is up to them. It should be the same for writers, artists, etc. — and if they make enough for a nest egg, or to treat themselves, that shouldn’t matter any more than it would for someone who is doing a job they don’t love.

      But — though you don’t owe it to us — I think your post (and Laneia’s and Rachel’s) does make the situation more real for many readers. And that clarity and connection can be helpful.

  68. Guys if I wanna go up a level, is it all already set up and ready to go and will only bill me the difference?

    I got a million shifts at work this week and also fuck it, I might be saving for a car and/to move out but you’re saving/spending the dollars you have to survive. Also some of this thread is making me angry and I wanna turn that anger into something positive- more dollars for you!

  69. I’m a big time lurker, but I love this website and as a journalism student and freelance writer I know the struggle. I’m a student so AS+ might be touch and go for me, but I signed up for bronze because I really admire the team for taking a risk and recognizing their worth.

    Best of luck!

  70. Like some other commenters, I was sad to see that I couldn’t get to the rest of the site – especially as it’s really obvious but I guess I already kind of felt like that anyway. And I know you guys have to make money, so I can’t really complain.

    Not sure if I can justify paying just yet, but maybe in the future. I’m also disappointed to see that the 2-3 posts are on silver, but I guess you need some way to get people paying (and this is mostly irrational because I already thought it would cost about 10). I don’t know. I just wouldn’t have any use for a podcast.

    I’d only just got over the new layout, lol.

  71. I love you. I don’t pay for Netflix, cable, Vogue, the NYT, Spotify, or any of that junk. Just Sephora and Autostraddle. Just the Brazilian make-up store and Autostraddle. Just Savers and Autostraddle. Zat’s it.

  72. I’ve been away at a festival living in a field for a week and this was the best news ever to come back to. Thank your AS for being amazing, honest and the best thing on my internet.

  73. I don’t have a credit card right now, but I hope I could join some time in the future. I want to be “in” in all you’re offering of course, but mostly I feel like I owe you, for all the stuff you gave us (and you’re going to give us) all these years FOR FREE. Supporting you is the least we can do. <3
    And thanks to everyone who could and did join A+, you're keeping AS alive for all of us!

  74. Thank you, Autostraddle.

    I feel a little ridiculous saying that to a website but… thank you, to the humans behind all the comments, and above all to the humans behind all the articles (both the serious and silly ones)!

    I’ve been coming to this site for the past year and it has meant a lot to me. I stumbled on it at an important moment in my life and have checked it daily ever since then. Seeing your membership drive, and being lucky enough to have the means, I finally signed up for an account.

  75. I have been lurking here for years and can’t even begin to describe how grateful I am for this website. I’m glad to have the chance to be able to help support this site, I don’t even know what I would do without autostraddle. Like how was I even surviving before I discovered it?

  76. I sincerely hope that the gold A+ t-shirt literally does say: “I support badass independent queer voices AND I’m incredibly smart and charming.”

    (And I hope you’re all being showered in dollars, right about now!) xx

  77. So, we’ve established that things need to change for Autostraddle to survive. I’d like to reiterate that I love this website and I don’t want it to fold because capitalism wins and it’s not profitable enough.

    If membership is the best way to do this, so be it. Compromising your morals is probably inevitable if you want an endeavour to survive in a capitalist system. But there is surely a way to do it which doesn’t mark the difference between those-able-to-pay and those-unable-to-pay so clearly. Like taking on board the ickiness people feel about having certain commenters ranked higher than others. Don’t tell me that’s not a weird vibe to have on a website like this?! You’ve differentiated by giving something extra to people who can afford it, not ideal but it helps you survive, flipping fantastic – they get something extra. Pointing out in the community section, ie. comments, who’s getting extra, is yeah odd to me. We’re a community. Supporting some of the community who can’t afford to support AS with anything but love.

    I’m really sorry that the writers of this website are getting upset by this criticism. I’d like to make very very clear that I appreciate this website so much and this drive has made me realise I need to donate more often. Thank you for reminding me, and for allowing me space in this community.

    Please don’t drown out the voices in this community who aren’t so privileged. I understand that is not the intention but as so so many articles on this website point out, intention is one thing and socioeconomic position and reality is another. [Thank you for pointing out that the money you get from drives like this allow you to pay writers, an essential factor in keeping marginalised voices on the website. It’s a point well made.]

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