New York Times is currently working on a new metered paywall structure for their online news portal that will limit non-subscribed news readers to a limited amount of stories per day. With the release of some new data from the Pew Research Center yesterday, some wondered if the new paywall would deter bloggers from linking to the Times' content. According to the Times, however, their upcoming paywall technology will exempt readers coming into the site via links from third-party sites.The
According to the Pew study, 80% of blog stories link from either the BBC, CNN, the Washington Post or the New York Times. In a conversation today with All Things Digital's Peter Kafka, Times spokeswoman Stacy Green says the paper does not plan to enforce their paywall on this sideways traffic.
"Once the pay model is implemented next year, the majority of our readers will be unaffected when using the site and will continue to have the same experience they have always had," said Green. "The pay model will be designed so readers that are referred from third party sites such as blogs will be able to access that content without hitting their limit, enabling NYTimes.com to continue being a part of the open web."
Green later commented on Kafka's post, adding that while third-party referrals will count towards a reader's daily limit, it will not prevent them from viewing the content. So if a user reaches the limit via thrid-party links and then trys to browse articles on the Times' homepage, the paywall will then be triggered. Users will still be able to access articles via third-party sites and services at all times, so is the Times' paywall paper thin?
This seems like a pretty significant loophole that would make it fairly simple to get around the paywall once it goes up. If I want to read a specific story on the Times' homepage after I've hit my limit, I can simply search for that story on Google or Twitter search and get around the wall via an outside link from another site.
The Times seems to be focused on monetizing the users that browse their webpage for content on a frequent basis, rather than those that arrive from other sites. So while the key to the front door only works a few times each day, the windows on the side of the house are wide open.
What is also unclear is how the New York Times' paywall algorithms will determine which sites and links will apply to this exemption. As it stands now, it would seem that all sites and all links will not affect a user's daily limit, but whether this applies to search engines or news aggregators is unknown. We have reached out to the Times for comment on this question and will update this post if and when a reply is received.
Disclosure: The New York Times is a syndication partner of ReadWriteWeb.
Photo by Flickr user Joe Shlabotnik.