Greetings, Cranky Users! Holiday greetings, in fact. Today we'll join in the general site-wide uproar about subscriptions and gift subscriptions, by discussing how to get and give subscriptions and why you might want to. If you are very very very tired of anything that's about subscriptions, and you feel that your best option is to scroll down to the comment thread and whine about why I have selected this topic, allow me to clarify that in fact, your best option is to go the hell away and read some other diary that is not about subscriptions. Don't like abortions gay marriages site subscriptions? Don't get one!

Now: some of you may recall earlier in the year, when scoop tried to kill me. I had just bought a lifetime subscription, in response to the appearance of some manner of giant purple wraparound ad that enfolded the Daily Kos window like The Blob. I subscribed, the ads vanished, and all was good, when suddenly...

...I got this message that my lifetime subscription was over. As it turned out, there was just a small bug, was all. Daily Kos did not really wish to end my lifetime. Anyway, that was their story.

Now, though, it is not my lifetime (I hope) but the lifetime subscription that is poised to go away. After this December 31, so, in only about two weeks, new lifetime subscriptions can no longer be purchased, but those already purchased will be honored. Similarly, monthly subscriptions will no longer be sold. Going forward, the only available new-subscription form will be the annual subscription. Its price will be $40, and if you sign up for an automatically-renewing subscription, you will keep that price as long as you continuously maintain that subscription. If you stop and restart, you get whatever the new price may be at that time.

Why would you want a subscription? Everyone knows about the ads going away. If you have an old or slow computer or connection, or if you just hate ugly visual clutter, that's already pretty worth it. But kos is very interested in making subscriptions desirable, because he wants to continue enhancing the site, adding more "verticals" like the cartoons (and for that matter, adding more cartoons), more developers to the development staff, and more features, including integration of some community projects like the fabulous Kos Katalogue. A reliable income stream like annual subscriptions allows him to make plans like that, and, while the spurt of last-minute life subscriptions is a one-time deal, it provides a quick cash infusion so he can get some of his plans started up.

So, what is kos offering subscribers besides the ad-free environment? Well, two things right now:

  • Three downloadable e-books, to be rolled out in the immediate future, available both to subscribers and to givers of gift subscriptions (should they not be subscribers themselves). The first one, Hunter on the Holidays, is already available HERE.
  • Unlimited access to the upcoming Daily Kos photo organizer, expected in early 2012. It allows diarists to upload photos onto Daily Kos itself, rather than to a photo host like Flickr, and to have access to the Daily Kos editorial team's news photo library.

Let's skate below the squiggle for more.

Now, if the subscription drive were taking the form kos had initially envisioned, there would be a handful of diaries this week reminding you to subscribe (and this would be one. Full disclosure: back when that was the plan, Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse and Meteor Blades invited me to write something today on the subject of subscribing) and that would be it.

But, this being the community of unherdable cats that it is, that's not what happened. People started fretting immediately about those among us who would like, or who need, a lifetime subscription but would not have $100 to throw around before the end of 2011, and before you could say "We are the 99%," there was a spontaneous movement to gather the names of people who could not afford a $100 lifetime subscription and find them sponsors who'd buy them one.

The status of this movement is:

  • The most recent in the series of diaries tracking the fortunes of those who are willing to acknowledge publicly that they need help is Dr Erich Bloodaxe RN's diary here. If you want to be added to that list, contact  Dr Erich Bloodaxe RN, nomandates, and/or Onomastic. The so-called "Paypal bug" that prevented buying gifts for some users has been fixed. If you want to help someone on that list, stick with me a minute here.
  • There is also a private list, of people who are in dire straits but don't want this disclosed to the world at large. If you would like to be added to that list, or if you'd be willing to help one of these folks and want a username, contact Onomastic. Please consider this, if you're thinking of giving a gift; Ono advises that it's a long list that's making her cry.
  • There has been agitation since this started for the site to provide a way for donors who want to help but can't afford a $100 gift to pool their resources to buy lifetime subscriptions for others. So far, I'm not aware of anything having been done about this. If you are such a donor, one possibility is that you scout out other such donors yourself, for instance by making a comment in this or another subscription-related comment thread. You can have one person actually buy the gift subscription with a credit card, and the others send checks to the buyer (I and another Kossack did this earlier, in fact). It's also the case that subscriptions can be paid by check, although I have no details as I write about how that's done -- the awesome Onomastic may know -- but all of this is so fast-moving that gathering an envelope full of checks (or barraging the DK offices with checks arriving separately) might not result in a subscription getting bought before the deadline.

Okay! You've been waiting through two additional bullet points to find out how to buy a gift subscription! Here you are:

giftsub 1
First, go to the user page of the person for whom you want to buy a gift subscription. If they do not already have a lifetime subscription, you'll see a very unobtrusive gray link, here circled in green, to buy a gift subscription for this user.

giftsub 2When you click on that pale gray link, you get this. The "lifetime subscription" button comes pre-checked (top green arrow) and the recipient's username comes pre-filled so you don't have to figure out how to spell it. You can write a comment to be delivered to the recipient as part of the email telling them they have received the gift, but you don't have to. If you wish to be anonymous in your gift, you must check the appropriate box, marked by the lower green arrow.

giftsub 3
Here's the only other thing you have to fill out, the payment information. That blacked-out thing with the green arrow next to it is your email address, the one Daily Kos has on file for you, to which they will send your acknowledgment when the payment is processed. In my case, it's not the belinda.ridgewood one I make fairly public here, and that's why I obscured it. Interestingly, when I was grabbing these screen shots, I was simultaneously buying someone a gift sub, and I was so taken with my screen shot operation that I picked the wrong expiration year for my credit card from the dropdown, and didn't notice until I'd already clicked. I expected to be rejected, but no, it went through. I actually went to the Helpdesk and opened a "private" discussion, because I was afraid somehow there would be a later check on that date and the gift recipient would get their sub and then have it yanked away again. elfling was able to assure me it had gone through, but was at a loss to say why.

giftsub 4giftsub 5

Lastly, we see the kinds of acknowledgments you get after purchase. The screen on the left follows entry of your credit card info, and later, you get an email like the one on the right. Once you get these confirmations, please let the List folks know, via KosMail, that your recipient has been gifted, so they can update The List!

So! It's simple, right? If at any time, you have difficulty with the subscription process, do not hesitate to go to the Helpdesk, where they are fully immersed in subscription issues and will get back to you quickly, if my experience is any indicator.

And that is about all I have to say about subscriptions, except to share this little snippet I was told could go at the end of my diary:

You can buy a subscription for yourself or a friend on our subscription page. If you would like to make a donation to the site, you can do so on our donations page.

But of course, it can't go at the end because the Big Box o' Crankiness™ has to go at the end, right after I urge you to play nicely in the thread, discuss your site issues or answer each other's questions, and, if you like, form little collectives to buy each other lifetime gift subs.


☀ For more stuff sort of like this, the Cranky Users group.

☀ For lots of official detail about the site and its workings, the DK4 FAQ (frequently-asked questions).  The main Daily Kos FAQ is still here.

☀ For help with bugs and technical problems, the fabulous new HELP DESK! You can search for others who have already reported the same issue, post the issue yourself, submit it privately, or even answer questions posted by other users. And, you can check out the "knowledge base" for information both general and specific.

☀ You can still use the contact form to get a response about site problems of a non-technical nature (such as issues with rules and banning/reinstatement). Please select an appropriate radio button when filling out the form.

☀ For immediate catharsis, complain in a Cranky Users thread. These threads are regularly scanned by kos and developers, but it's not a guaranteed way to bring an issue to the attention of these folks. But sometimes you just need some sympathy from other cranky people! (And sometimes, other cranky people have advice that can help you.)

Our thanks to kos, the development team, and the Dkosopedia contributors for their vigorous efforts to deliver a site that works well and to help us know how to work it!


Originally posted to Cranky Users on Thu Dec 15, 2011 at 11:30 AM PST.

Also republished by J Town and KosBusters!.

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