What is value? Help settle an argument

10 Comments

Steve and I have been debating backstage about how to determine what is valuable and what is not when it comes to advice about how to make money online. Specifically at issue is the question of payment. The debate goes something like this:

Joe: Just because someone’s charging for information that’s freely available doesn’t mean it’s a scam.
Steve: Yes it does.
Joe: No it doesn’t.
Steve: Yes it does.

[……long pause……]

Joe: No it doesn’t.
Steve: Does too.
Joe: Does not.

We’re not making much headway. So I thought we could tap the collective wisdom of our readers. Would you pay for information that’s freely available elsewhere if it is well packaged and convenient to use? No, we’re not debating writing our own e-book. We’re debating the merits of a program I’ll have more to say about later.

Steve Update: Okay. Well if you would pay for it, what’s the most that you would be willing to pay and how frequently would you like to make payments for updated content? Once, weekly, monthly, annually? (I promise we’re not writing our own e-book.)

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10 Comments

  1. My wife loves Free 411. Is it just me, or are those pre-number ads getting longer and longer?

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  2. Michael: I suppose it’s true that there is no truly free information, but that’s a level of abstraction that doesn’t directly impact my wallet. If I start counting those costs as well as the literal, direct ones, I’ll drive myself nuts in short order.

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  3. Free 411

    1-800-373-3411

    Now you can have it NOW for FREE! That’s how we like it ;)

    Reply
  4. Some interesting points made so far, however I surprised no has mentioned that there is no free information. Lets take Joe’s example of a 411 call, while we know the cost of the 411 call, there is also a cost to scrolling though the phone book. The white pages may not charge us .99 cents, yet there is a cost in time or what economists would call an opportunity cost.

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  5. I’m agreeing with Sarah and Sabrina. Think of it as a convenience fee. Do you ever call #411 to get a number? Why, when it’s freely available elsewhere? Because you’re willing to pay for it to have it NOW, without taking the time to look it up.

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  6. I don’t think of it as paying for information so much as paying for the gathering and compiling of that information. That’s what almost all books (traditional and e-books) do, right? And classes, and workshops, and just about any other form of learning.

    I don’t mind paying for someone to gather information and present it in a way that makes previously-unmanageable content accessible.

    The factor that determines value to me is how well the information is compiled. If it’s essentially a Google search with no real value added, yeah, I’m not going to pay for that.

    On the other hand, if someone compiles information that would have taken me a long time to find, or presents it in a logical, sequential format that makes it easy to digest, I’ll gladly pay for that, and potentially continue to pay as long as I need it.

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  7. Well, I won’t lie, I’ve bought cereal at the gas station, a quart of oil or two and paid way more than I should’ve, and would’ve saved money if I’d gone to the appropriate place to find that kind of thing.

    It’s the price of convenience, I think I might pay for it if it was worth it to me. Say for a compilation CD, I’d pay twice what I would for a normal cd if the compilation was one that I liked completely.

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  8. I’ve only bought bottled water when I was in dorms where the sink waster was disgusting. If its filtered, theres no reason to buy bottled water especially when some brands (Dasani) taste horrible.

    If it has a cool cover? Uhh…save the image to your computer?

    It seems like a waste of money to buy information thats readily available online. If it was bound in printed materials, then it would make some sense to be charging for free information.

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  9. Don’t pull any punches, TJ. Tell us what you really think. Have you never bought bottled water? What if the free information has a really cool book cover?

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  10. Absolutely not. Charging for free information is unethical. It’s like those idiots who post flyers on campuses with websites that charge you money for lists of survey sites. Waste of time.

    Reply

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