A few years ago, I used to visit a site called Bring a Trailer every day. When it first started, it would feature one project car per post, generally in some state of disrepair (hence the name of the site). Their comment section was the real draw, because many of the frequent commenters were subject matter experts–there were Alfa Romeo guys, Porsche guys, Mopar guys, and so on. This was an insanely valuable font of information for car geeks like me. Over the years they grew to feature more and more exotic vehicles and built a paid auction system into the site, so that it became less about project vehicles and more about selling turnkey air-cooled Porsches and restomodded Land Rovers. I stopped visiting when the ratio of paid listings dwarfed the unpaid and switched to another site called Barn Finds. This site was what Bring a Trailer was in the early days, and the comments were, again, the best part of the site. Cars, trucks, motorcycles, the occasional plane–they have it all.
Last week they decided to put up a paywall, probably to deal with the cost of increased bandwith. Free blogs can often be a victim of their own success; there are many I’ve been reading for years who have either switched to a paid model or simply closed up shop, either from financial necessity or boredom. I’m sympathetic to the need to keep things paying for themselves, but I don’t recall ever seeing advance notice from the site owners–I used to hit the site once, maybe twice daily–so it came as a shock when the paywall went up. When their new fee is averaged out over a year, $100 is pennies a day, but at first glance it feels pretty steep. Like many of the other paid services I’ve been reconsidering (we have been without cable for 4 months) time will tell whether I miss it or not.