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The Mary Sue Subscription Service: Your Questions and Concerns

The Mary Sue Subscription Service: Your Questions and Concerns

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On Monday, The Mary Sue’s subscription service launched, the same day as the site also launched a major redesign. A good number of you showed your support by subscribing, and we’re incredibly grateful for that. We also really appreciate the countless readers who have whitelisted the site on their ad blockers, as well as the many of you who gave us feedback in the comments section, over social media, and via email. I promise you that we read and take to heart each of those comments. We won’t be able to make everyone happy or implement every suggestion, but we’ve had a lot of conversations since Monday about how best to serve everyone in the community.

We want to directly address some of the questions and concerns that have been raised most often in the past few days. We know we won’t be able to provide answers that will satisfy everyone, but it’s our hope this can reassure you as best we can. Our discussions are ongoing, so if we don’t address one of your concerns, that doesn’t mean it’s not a priority; we anticipate having more posts like this in the coming days.

Why couldn’t there have been more of a warning about the subscription? Why was it announced yesterday in the way that it was?

We hoped that the post we wrote in advance of the subscription would explain everything and allow people to feel prepared for the changes, but we know that many of you still felt taken aback. We’re sorry about that. One of the reasons we wanted to write this post today was to try to offer more information and background about the changes for those of you who felt there was insufficient dialogue or communication prior to Monday.

What happened to our survey feedback? Lots of us said we wouldn’t or couldn’t subscribe, but the subscription service started anyway!

We heard you, and we know that some of you can’t subscribe or don’t want to subscribe, and that’s totally OK. Enough of you did say that you’d subscribe that the subscription service would be worthwhile, which is why we decided to try it. We don’t expect everyone to subscribe, but we hope anyone who can will.

However, we purposefully set up the terms of the subscription so that our readers who don’t subscribe will still enjoy all the same content and features, because we care about all of you. None of the subscriber-exclusive bonuses put regular Mary Sue content behind a paywall. Similarly, the forums (when they’re ready) will be open to all readers—subscribers or not—because we don’t want to split our wonderful community, which was a concern raised in the survey feedback that we very much share. We were sure to vigorously share that with others here.

We are, however, asking non-subscribers to lift their ad blockers in order to financially support the site. That won’t be changed by any amount of feedback—we can’t pay for our staff, the site itself, or anything else without money, which either has to come from ads or a subscription.

Why weren’t we warned about the site redesign specifically? Why did the site redesign and the subscription service take effect at the same time?

If we had a Time-Turner, we’d do this over again differently and implement the redesign before the subscription service to allow more time to incorporate your feedback on the new site before subscriptions began.

I don’t like the site redesign!

We hear every one of your comments on this and are working on incorporating your suggestions and making as many adjustments as possible.

So what’s the deal with ads now?

We have made some progress with our ad team in response to complaints from our readers. The Mary Sue will no longer have what are called inBoards ads (ads that appear briefly at the top of a page, pushing content down, then disappear once the ad is over), or inReads (same as inBoards, but within the actual body of the article text) unless they’re part of an occasional direct ad campaign, such as our ongoing campaign with Penny Dreadful. Other sites at this company run those ads at all times, but we successfully advocated to have them removed from The Mary Sue unless it’s an ad that was specifically purchased for our site. It’s not a perfect solution, but we heard you.

We do still need the remaining ads to support the site financially, which is why we require anyone who doesn’t subscribe to allow ads to display.

Are your contributors paid?

Prior to to the subscription, only sometimes. Writing is work; we know our writers should be paid for it. In the very near future, this subscription service will allow us to pay every one of our contributors.

Where are the forums?

The forums are something we’re working on now, and they will be available both to subscribers and non-subscribers.


If you still have questions or doubts, we hope you’ll be patient with us. If we’ve been able to put your mind at ease, we hope you’ll subscribe here. Changes like these aren’t without growing pains, but we’re still excited to be able to bring you more original content, and to make the site the best it can be for our contributors and our readers. To do that, though, we’re going to need your help. Most importantly, though, know that we are listening.

The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling.—

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