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New York Times’ pay wall equals virtual strings attached

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SmartPulse — our weekly reader poll in SmartBrief on Social Media — tracks feedback from leading marketers about social-media practices and issues.

Last week’s poll question: What do you think of The New York Times’ decision to require a fee to gain full access to The New York Times‘ site?

  • It’s the Times’ site — it can do with it what it wants: 31%
  • It’s tantamount to committing online suicide. Not a good business decision: 24%
  • It will keep site visitors from posting links to articles using social networks such as Facebook and Twitter: 19%
  • Bad idea — access to content on the Web should be free: 13%
  • I prefer to wait and see: 10%
  • No opinion: 2%

The Times has bigger issues at stake than social media as it moves to limit access to its content. Nevertheless, I’m fond of a statement by author David Meerman Scott, who said with regard to the new-media landscape: “For your ideas to spread and rise to the status of a World Wide Rave, you’ve got to give up control. Make your Web content totally free for people to access, with absolutely no virtual strings attached.”

This paywall will certainly curtail such activities as social bookmarking and sharing via Facebook, Twitter and similar channels. However, considering that only about 7% of the Times’ total traffic comes from blogs, Facebook and Twitter, maybe it’s not such a big deal.

What do you think?