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Why I'm dismantling the paywall and ending paid subscriptions
Note: As of April 25, 2023, The Rational Walk is again offering paid subscriptions, although the business model and value proposition has changed. For more details, please read Iterative Business Models which explains the revised paid offering.
January 30, 2023
I have decided to end paid subscriptions for Rational Reflections. I will issue pro-rated refunds to all paid subscribers. This is a process that will take a few days to complete as I coordinate with Substack and Stripe. I anticipate that all pro-rated refunds should be complete by the end of the week, but I’m reading that it might take additional time to post to credit cards. If you are a paid subscriber and have not seen a refund within two weeks, please let me know so I can look into the situation. You can simply reply to this email or write to email@example.com.
This news does not mean that I plan to stop writing!
It is difficult to test your understanding of a subject without being able to explain it clearly to other people. This is the essence of the Feynman Technique. If you want to develop deep fluency in a subject, writing about it will expose the gaps. Thinking clearly and rationally is important, and I need to write for that purpose alone.
So why am I ending paid subscriptions?
Over the past nine months, I have published twelve company write-ups along with other paywalled content. A dozen comprehensive write-ups seems like a respectable number to bring this effort to a close. I feel like I have delivered solid value in exchange for the money I have received and I hope subscribers think so as well. But my personality is such that I can either take on a task relentlessly or not at all. And the simple truth is that it makes no sense to spend all of my time on this work.
I also dislike the promotional aspect of running a subscription business, especially the need to be on social media. Avoiding social media is not only a more pleasant way to live but, in my experience, essential for thinking well. Social media is full of relentless negativity, pessimism, political idiocy, and general dysfunction. Luckily, real people in the real world remain mostly good and decent. If you spend time on social media, it is easy to assume that it is representative of the real world. But it is not.
As for the type of content you can expect in the future … nothing much will change when it comes to the type of free content that you’ve been receiving over the years. I am interested in investing, personal finance, history, philosophy, literature, and travel. Those are the subjects that I plan to write about in the months and years to come.
The Rational Walk remains my primary internet presence and I will post all of my writing on the website. As long as Substack is willing to host free newsletters, I will also post most of my writing here, so if you like getting emails rather than going to a website, nothing will change.
This has been an interesting experiment and I have no regrets or disappointment regarding this outcome. I very much appreciate those who chose to pay for a subscription, and for everyone else who reads my content as well!
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