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Here's the deal: We don't want to put the content you know and love behind a paywall. That is not the plan and, God willing, that will never be the plan. I hate that shit.
This whole editorial team is made up of creative types and, above all else, creative people want their stuff to be seen. No young artist's dream is to spend years on a thing, only to be approached by a wealthy man who says, "I want to pay you one million dollars for this piece, but it is only for me! Your creation caters to my very specific fetish, and I shall watch it alone so that I can loudly pleasure myself." No, you grow up dreaming of having a million people love the things you make -- the giant guitar-shaped swimming pool in the back yard is just icing.
For example, I wrote articles and horror stories for free, in my spare time, for eight years before I worked here. I had to print out copies and throw them at people, scream-crying the whole time, because I loved it. No one at Cracked wants their creative voice muffled behind a giant steel door with a dollar sign on it. But let's be frank: Shit on the internet is changing.
You probably don't realize this, but some internet users actually don't click on banner ads. (Some don't see them at all!) As a result, paywalls are going up everywhere. I finally broke down and bought a subscription to WaPo, as I was burning through my ten free articles in the first 48 hours of the month and I need my Trump outrage fix (give me another photo of a world leader frowning at him, goddamn it!). Where there are no paywalls, there are Patreons or branded merchandise or tip jars or ... something. We creators have been trying to make web advertising work for about 25 years now, and it's just not enough if you are paying the staff and contributors their fair share.
Yeah, we don't ask our creators to work for "exposure." If you support the site, you're also helping keep their platform free.
This bit about paying the creators really is the key to this whole deal. Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, Instagram, Wikipedia -- their business models are based on getting strangers to upload content for free and getting other people to come look at it (and even then, they struggle to make money without selling your data, doing fundraising drives, or various other things to make up what ad revenue isn't coming in). We, on the other hand, are in the original content business. We pay our creators and the people toiling away behind the scenes who make it all possible (programmers, designers, tech support, title ruiner). Automatically, the business model is harder.
So, we asked you guys for money-making ideas recently and you had a lot of suggestions -- many of them angry and some of them incredibly illegal. But one of the more common ones was just this: a way for you to throw three or four dollars at us, once, without further obligations. Maybe just to help guarantee the stuff keeps getting made, maybe to thank us for things you liked in the past, maybe because you feel slightly guilty over having blocked the ads for the last ten years. So here it is. If nothing else, you gain the right to append "I paid $6 for this?" to your comments under stuff you don't like.
And if you hate the site and followed an outrage headline to get here (possibly something about how "CUCKED.COM IS DOOMED LOL!"), look at it this way: Money tends to have a corrupting influence on the human soul. Think of all the celebrities who ruined themselves because they couldn't handle the burden of their riches, crushed under the weight of their own vices. If enough of you contribute, you can effectively create a gold-paved road that we shall follow to our own doom. You will have choked the dragon on its own ill-gotten treasure!
Anyway, that's the situation, as plainly and honestly as I can put it. We want the content to be accessible to everyone (including those who don't have $100 bills to light their cigars with), we don't want to choke the site with ads until it looks like it should be the wrapped around a NASCAR driver, and we do want to pay our creators what they deserve. If you can think of a better way to accomplish that, let us know! But this right here actually seems to be about as fair as it can get. Those with extra cash can voluntarily give, those without can continue to enjoy the site. I realize that sounds like we're literally promoting communism, and I will explain in detail why that is not the case at another time.
Thanks for reading. I hope Cracked has made you happy over the years. I hope it continues until long after I'm dead. Here's the contribution link one more time, we'll be adding the ability to pay with paypal (and probably Dogecoin or whatever) in the future. If you have problems, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Here is a video about the teleporting boar menace.