It’s reasonably well known that one path to a hospitable online community is charging people a fee to register. See Metafilter for the best case. They charge $5 to register and it cuts way down on drive-by assholes. The less good case is Something Awful, which charges $10 to register and is often a pit. But that’s because they don’t moderate all that hard.
(Something Awful is also the only pro wrestling discussion forum I know of where you’ll get raked through the coals for saying things like “Unfortunately abadon as an attractive woman would have a lot more success if her gimmick didn’t involve making herself extremely unattractive”. It’s a pit of contradictions. Anyhow.)
So what is Elon trying to do with this “$20/month for verified users” thing?
First off, if you assume that all 300,000 verified users will go for it, that’s enough money to make it worthwhile. $72 million a year is only 7% of the new debt load Twitter has to service, but that’s not nothing! If you told me I could knock off 7% of my debt by crunching for a week, I’d do it in a split second.
But this isn’t just for verified users. He wants to open it up to everyone.
Jason is making a couple of big mistakes here but he is close to correct. If Twitter charged $20 as a one time fee for using the platform, and then moderated, it would clean up pretty quickly. It would also get very small. This does not fulfill Elon’s dream, alas.
That’s the first mistake. The second mistake is making it a subscription; if you have to pay $20 a month whether you misbehave or not, it’s not a psychological sunk cost and you’re more willing to break the rules and get kicked off. On Something Awful, you can immediately re-register if you get banned, so banning people is an income stream. Again, this doesn’t work if the cost is a subscription.
Can’t wait to see what they come up with next.