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November 6, 2010

Taking the Plunge - Paying to Comment on Ricochet

I like free. Don't we all? There's lots of fun stuff to do on the Internet for free.

But for something to have true value, isn't it something that you would pay for? If you're not willing to pay for it, isn't it ultimately worth nothing?

We all have our basic levels of activity:

1) Something that we do only because it's free (like buy stuff because it's on sale even if you don't need it)

2) Something that we enjoy doing, but the fact that it's free is what lets us do it. If we had to pay for it, we wouldn't. (Many Facebook activities)

3) Something that we value enough that we would pay for it if necessary, but we enjoy it while it's free (Internet, I mean setting up a successful blog! Yeah, that's the ticket)

4) Something that you have to pay for and you willingly do so.

I'm going to tell you a perfect example of that last one, and why I hesitated to pay for so long.

It's a site known as Ricochet.

This is a site where Conservative pundits talk about the issues of the day (mostly political, but also other social things). It's a conversation, almost like those Parisian salons of yesteryear where people got together to discuss things. Only this is on the Internet, which means the coffee isn't nearly as good.

Now, before all of my Liberal friends and readers bail, let me assure you that while I'm going to talk about the site, I'm also going to tell a personal story. So please bear with me.

I'm not sure who came up with the Ricochet idea, but it is a wonderful idea. There are many Conservative contributors, like the awesome Rob Long, the wonderful Claire Berlinski, the great thinker Pat Sajak (who I may talk about in another post), and so many others. They contribute posts, and then readers can comment on them.

Sounds pretty basic, doesn't it? But there's a catch.

Ricochet is free to read, and you can share articles all you want.

But if you want to comment on articles, you have to become a member. And membership is $3.47/month (or $29.95/year, which basically gives you three free months). The idea is that a paying membership will keep the trolls at bay, and also demonstrates a willingness to join the conversation. Though I suppose you could just consider it a donation to a wonderful Conservative site as well.

Decision time! All of my Liberal readers can come back now.

For the longest time, I read Ricochet on and off, but never wanted to pay and comment. I thought "I can't keep up with these people. There is so much thought and intelligence behind almost all of their posts (both contributors and current members) that I'll look stupid next to them. Is it really worth $3.47/month when I'm going to be too intimidated to leave a comment?"

After a couple months of almost signing up and then chickening out, there were a couple of introductory posts (Claire's "Introduce Yourself" post and the election prediction post) that made me decide to finally take the plunge.

That, and I decided that I wasn't going to be intimidated anymore. That's the main purpose of this blog.

Sure, my posts may not have the wit of Mark Steyn, or the deep thoughtfulness of Victor Davis Hanson.

But I did have something to contribute. My thoughts are valuable. And people can pay for the privilege of responding to me just like I'm paying to be able to respond to them.

Plus, maybe honing my "talking about politics" skills among fellow travelers may eventually make me comfortable enough to put my thoughts out there to the general public as well!

Baby steps, baby steps.

So I'm a paying member of Ricochet now. I've been commenting up a storm, and even had people respond to my comments (none of the contributors, other than Rob welcoming me on the election prediction thread, but some of the other members). I've had people "like" some of my comments (very similar to the Facebook "like" function).

That makes me feel good. I feel a part of the team.

And I feel like my opinion matters.

Yes, I've always known that intellectually.

But it's nice to actually feel it as well.

*Edit: (11/9/10)*: Many thanks to Peter Robinson for mentioning my post on Ricochet. And welcome to the many readers who have come from there! If only to see this post. I hope some of you stick around.

I'm deeply honoured and humbled by all of the attention.


  1. Wow, what an interesting idea. I don't generally get too much into political discussions, mainly because people seem to lose their objectivity sometimes when it comes to politics and religion. But paying to leave comments? That kind of makes sense. Anyone who just wants to cause trouble isn't going to want to pay $30 a year for the privilege. Since I'm not into politics, I doubt I'll partake, but Ricochet sounds like a worthwhile site for those who like to talk politics. I'll have to tell my husband about it.

  2. Hey Knotty! (hmmm...I sense a song coming on...)

    It's a great site to just read even if you don't want to participate.

    I don't think it would work in *too* many instances, but for Ricochet, I think the paying to comment thing actually works (no matter what a few fuddy-duddies say :P)

    Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Welcome to Ricochet, Dave! Glad you joined, and glad to have you contributing. If it's okay with you, I'm going to use some of what you say here for our investor's presentation. You said it a lot better than we do.



  4. Wow, Rob. Thank you for stopping by!

    You can certainly use this as part of your presentation. Just give me credit and, oh, raise me to Contributor status. :)

    Ok, ok. I'm just kidding. But I certainly don't mind at all.

    Thank you for creating such a wonderful site for conservative opinion.

  5. Dave,

    Its nice to have another nefarious Canadian infiltrating Ricochet. Welcome!


  6. LOL Thanks, PsDKitty. I come from the best of both worlds: Iowa and British Columbia.

    But slowly, we can take over!


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