Derek Powazek on how we can’t pay our way out of bad web services:
This blind “my way is the only right way” is a poison to innovation and destructive to those of us building free services that do have business plans. Some businesses require mass adoption to work because they depend on economies of scale or a large audience. There is nothing inherently wrong with that.
What’s inherently wrong is a company changing its terms of service to screw their users. What’s wrong is a company that sells your data without your consent. What’s wrong is a company that scales back customer service to save a buck, leaving its customers angry and frustrated.
But those things usually have nothing to do with whether you’re paying them or not. They have to do with the company’s leadership, their level of complacency, and their demonstrated respect for their customers.
The whole thing is good, and you should go read it. In short: money and privacy are just two of the many resources you should consider when giving yourself to an app; time and attention are others which are as, if not more, important. Before you sign up for something, consider whether the benefits outweigh the costs for you. If that equation changes, leave, and tell folks why. In general, pick companies that treat their users with fairness and respect. But don’t hold web companies to standards you wouldn’t hold your cable company, or your power company, or your landlord.