Earlier, I asked the question: Would you be willing to pay $5/year for access to East Carolina Roots content if all advertising and tracking codes from Google and Facebook were removed from the site?
There were a few dozen respondents today and the percentages stayed roughly like they are in the image below. About 58% of East Carolina Roots poll respondents said they would prefer paying $5/year to access the site and not having to deal with ads. Another 37% said they thought subscriptions should be optional. You can pay if you want, but if not, you will just get the ads so the site can remain free. Only a few respondents wanted to keep the ads so they site can be free.
Well, I’ve seen enough. I’ve made two decisions:
- I am completely removing AdSense code and disabling ads for the foreseeable future.
- I’m not going to require paid memberships for people to be able to access the content.
I’m hoping that folks will be willing to donate, perhaps annually, to help me offset the maintenance of the site.
Why I opted not to force paid memberships
The more I looked into the options today, the more it became apparent that even if I am able to turn off ads for logged in users, the Google ad code is still on the site tracking you. There is no way to selectively turn off their tracking from this end. Although there are ad-blocker add-ons and extensions available for web browsers such as Firefox and Safari. (If you’re using Chrome or a Chromebook, forget about privacy. Google created Chrome and they make no guarantees about your privacy with their products.)
One poll respondent said:
Google is tracking us on many, if not most, of the sites we visit. I don’t think one more or less is going to make much difference.”
That exact statement is what made me come to the decision I did.
Yes, Google is tracking us all over the internet. Facebook is about the same. But I’ve never been one to just go along with something just because everyone else is doing it.
I detest the fact that we have all willingly surrendered our privacy for the sake of convenience and a, “Well, that’s just the way it is” attitude.
I also think everyone should be entitled to privacy if they want it, not just people who can afford it. I wouldn’t want people researching their families from eastern North Carolina to not be able to see information that may help them if they can’t afford to pay to subscribe to the site in hopes that what they find in a search applies to them.
That said, as long as I am able, I will continue to maintain and pay for hosting this site. I would appreciate folks donating $5 or so every now and then to help out, but I won’t make it a requirement of access. I’ll also look at other fundraising options for the future like East Carolina Roots merchandise.