A reader writes:
I think you should experiment with the upcoming meter. One of the reasons I gave you $100 (even that is low for the value I get from the Dish every year) is to encourage this experiment of yours. So you should experiment with every aspect you can.
Also, I think you should have no problem putting the meter in place for stories that are not original reporting. Aggregation is part of the media now, like it or not, and aggregators (like HuffPo, e.g.) get paid for using stories that they did not write. It's just the way things work now. I would think that most writers would jump at the chance to be exposed to your vast and influential readership. And if they object, just keep a database of folks that don't want to be included and make sure not to link to them anymore.
I'm a relatively new reader – started during this election, now I catch every post – and I haven't subscribed. Yet. I've been waiting to see how the new website looks. But I know how I'll behave under the circumstances you've described: If you use read-ons primarily to hide other people's content, I'm not going to subscribe. I can read other aggregators for free. If your reblogs and recommendations are free, but your original commentary – the most valuable thing on the site – is metered, I will probably sign up.
Another reader worries that "there may be potential copyright issues if it was less than 50% original content/comments by the Dish team with a "charge" being issued by the Dish." But another writes:
The read-on might actually work to the external sources' advantage, in that non-payers will then have more reason to follow the link to the original if they're interested.
Another has an interesting idea:
Why not set the default read-on button to simultaneously link to the original work in a new tab? That way the original material page gets a share of the traffic. It might be slightly annoying to Dishheads, but I often link to the original articles anyways and would be willing to put up with the extra key strokes to close any tabs I'm not interested in.
Another echoes the majority of the emails on what content should go behind the meter:
Long time reader, first time contributor – in my opinion, I think it only makes sense to trigger the meter with your longer original commentary and the reader threads. If the goal of the trigger is to encourage additional subscriptions/donations, people are going to be more willing to make that spur of the moment decision in order to read content they can’t get somewhere else. Otherwise, you may risk turning away potential Dish-heads by triggering the meter with content which is easily obtainable elsewhere. I sincerely love (almost) everything about The Dish. But what truly separates your brand from other imitators is 1) your original content and 2) the on-line community you have built up through the years. People will pay for quality and that is The Dish’s quality.
You do a wonderful job of linking to interesting nuggets from other sites and exposing the community to thoughts/items outside their comfort zone; but that’s the icing on the cake. People won’t pay for icing unless they can taste the delicious cake it’s on top of.
Another tosses out specifics:
Behind the meter
Andrew and staffs' long-form writing.
VFYW contest results
Extensive threads (Cannabis, Marriage Equality, etc.)
Cool Ad Watch
Mental Health Break
You, your staff, and your readers evolve my world-view every day, thanks. (Notice I did not say just you and your staff?)