Who2’s longstanding editorial policy is to avoid linking pay-per-view sites or those that require paid subscriptions. The Wall Street Journal, for instance, often has meaty content, but what good is it to the average Who2 user if they have to pay a $99 annual fee to read one article?
However, we make exceptions for exceptional cases, and we’ve just made one for New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd. The Times has decided to start charging for its opinion columnists through a program called Times Select (at $49/year, a bargain compared to the WSJ). So you have to pay to read Maureen Dowd.
But we felt it was right to link to her page on the NY Times site anyway, because it seems logical that the average user would want to know the location of her main home on the Web, even if it required payment. By the same token, omitting it could be even more confusing than including it: a user might reasonably wonder if no such page existed or if we simply forgot to link it.
Our solution is to offer the link but point out clearly in the link description that a paid subscription is required. However, we think this will be an aberration — “free sites only” will continue to be the usual Who2 mantra.