Paying for the Services You Love

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 2 min read
Paying for the Services You Love

I signed up for Pinboard a decade ago and at the time I was able to pay once for lifetime access. Since then I've used the site on and off as a way to save my links for later. In the past year I've started a newsletter all about interesting stuff online, and Pinboard has been a core tool in my workflow for that weekly project. I've gotten a ton of value for something I paid like $20 for in 2009.

Earlier this week I got an email from Maciej Ceglowski, the guy who created and runs Pinboard. The email started:

My name is Maciej, I run the bookmarking site Pinboard, and I’m writing to ask for your help.

And followed up with:

In 2015, I changed Pinboard over to a subscription site, where even “basic” users (who don’t use the archiving feature) have to pay an annual fee. But I did not make this change retroactive, since that felt like going back on a promise.

Today I’m asking you to voluntarily change the way you use the site by going to and converting your account to a ‘modern’ one, the kind you have to pay for every year.

Let me explain why:

He goes on from there to explain how the business runs and how this split in user bases impacts all users. A part of me was like, "I can keep using it for free? Seems like a great opportunity!" But then I was reminded that this is a perfect test of the idea that I often expound that "you should be happy to pay for the software that brings you value."

Does Pinboard bring me value? Yes, absolutely.

So then there's the balance of the purely logical part of my brain that says:

You should not pay a penny more for anything than you absolutely have to. This guy is saying payment is voluntary and I already paid for this, so I'm not paying a dime. Deal with it.

But on the other hand I love Pinboard, it's the sort of indie app built on "old web" principles of privacy, it's run by one person, it's reliable, and I want to see it keep existing for as long as possible. Besides, I'm lucky enough to be able to consider "do I want to pay this?" rather than "can I pay this?" which I'm sure many people getting the same email would be asking themselves.

Anyway, long story short: