Introducing the Premium edition of the Skeptoid Podcast

Skeptoid is growing!

So we’re changing things around a bit. And when I saw “we” I mean myself (Brian) and Skeptoid Media’s board of directors, for whom I work, strictly speaking. The basic change is that there will now be two editions of the Skeptoid podcast: the free version, which will be ad-supported and will now be limited to the 50 newest shows; and the premium version, always ad-free and provides access to the entire catalog of shows, and is available to all financial supporters of the show at $5/mo or more. Here’s a bit more info on each:

The Free Version

The basic version of Skeptoid, available at the same feed URL (skeptoid.com/podcast.xml) as has always been listed in all the major online podcast catalogs, will continue to be available to anyone and everyone as it has always been. Listeners will begin to notice ads in the show, at the beginning, end, and/or in the middle. The feed is also limited to the newest 50 episodes. This should give all new listeners plenty of content, and hopefully treat them enough to want access to the back catalog too.

Past, present, and future subscribers do not need to change a thing.

The Premium Version

Those who support the show financially get access to the full catalog of ad-free programming as they always have, and also are offered a neat Skeptoid USB Flash Drive pre-loaded with the entire history of content from all the programming Skeptoid Media has ever produced.

Listeners will need to make a change in whatever app you use to listen to the podcast. You can unsubscribe from the regular Skeptoid podcast you’re currently subscribed to, and then resubscribe to the new premium feed (http://skeptoid.com/premium.xml). Those needing a bit of explanation can get it here. Your podcast app will ask you for a username and password, and those are the same email address and password you use to access the Members Portal (if you haven’t been there and don’t yet have a password, just go there now to create it. You can also reset your password there if you don’t remember it).

A monthly donation of at least $5 a month, or donations totaling at least $50 in the past year, will qualify you for premium access. Those who have old legacy PayPal automated payments will also be grandfathered in.

Premium subscribers who have logged into the Members Portal will also be able to play all the episodes ad-free from the episode transcript pages on the web site. (People who aren’t logged in or aren’t supporters can only hear the newest 50.)

For grins, the basic support levels are named thus:

  • Sheeple: Listeners to the free version who don’t support the show. Sheeple is a word conspiracy theorists use to describe non-conspiracy theorists, kind of how Harry Potter characters describe non-wizards as muggles. Being one of the Sheeple is free, but you can still get the Skeptoid Companion Email and other stuff.
  • Minion: The entry level, $5 a month, gives access to the premium feed. A Minion is one who does the dirty work, the lowest level of supporter.
  • Shill: The most common support level is $10/mo, and is the requested monthly donation. Please “shill” for Skeptoid! Tell your friends, that’s all it takes.
  • Disinfo Agent: For those who really like the show. $15/mo makes you an official Skeptoid Disinformation Agent, which is what conspiracy theorists, UFOlogist, and alt-med promoters often call me.
  • Conspirator: $20/mo makes you an actual co-conspirator with me, spreading the evils of science and true history. A lot of people really hate us for this.
  • Illuminatus: Anyone who has donated a total of $1000 or more, ever, achieves permanent Illuminatus status. This is a lifetime achievement, and unlike the other support levels, you will have the highest level of access even without any future donations. And you probably also get some other secret benefits too.

Visit the Members Portal to see your level, or to create one if you’re presently one of the Sheeple. And don’t forget the Skeptoid Media is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and all of your donations are tax-deductible for US taxpayers.

But I Want to Send Old Episodes to My Friends!

A lot of you like to send links to old episodes to your friends, and you might be worried that those episodes are no longer available. Don’t worry, that still works. When you email someone a link to an episode, all the web pages are unchanged. We did a data analysis and found that when people enter the site via a link, less than 2 percent of them ever clicked the link to listen to the audio, and less than 0.5 percent of them stayed on the page 12 minutes to hear the whole thing. So when you send people a link, they’ve only ever been reading the page, and that still works the same as always. So have no fear, Skeptoid still remains the same anti-woo resource it has always been, for you to annoy your woo-loving friends.

About Brian Dunning

Science writer Brian Dunning is the host and producer of Skeptoid.
This entry was posted in Skeptoid Podcast. Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Introducing the Premium edition of the Skeptoid Podcast

  1. Geoff Perston says:

    I can understand the need for paid advertising on nominally freely available sites such as Skeptoid, but advertising revenue, if utilised appropriately, should largely if not totally offset the site’s operating costs.

    I also object to the derogatory use of the term “sheeple” to describe people such as me that won’t be paying for site membership. Sheeple are defined as people who exhibit “passive herd behavior”, those with “no cognitive abilities of their own”, or those who “voluntarily acquiesce to suggestions without critical analysis”.

    I know that the term sheeple is (presumably?) used on this occasion in a lighthearted vein, but nonetheless, it has obviously negative connotations unworthy of a serious science-based site. Why not the more common and accurate membership levels; Gold, Silver, Bronze, or Free? Or something similar.

    If I were to pay even $5 per month at the numerous free science and skeptical sites I visit every day, I’d have to mortgage my home LOL.

    • That would be nice. Ad revenue is a pittance; projections show it will never cover even 10% of our costs, and that’s still without the badly-needed expense of a few full-time employees. Listener support will remain the only thing that truly keeps us afloat.

      Trust me, no one resisted this change longer or harder than I did. It’s the reality of staying in business, and that’s why nearly all commercial podcasts work exactly this same way.

      • Michael Semrad says:

        You do not have to support all podcast with donations that you listen to. Instead just pick the top one, two or three that serve you the best and maybe just do the lowest level payment. I wear the sheeple label proud for now in hopes for one day to be a contributor. For me, this podcast has been on my top three list of seventy-eight. I am self-employed and can understand the need for monetary support.

  2. Michael Bigelow says:

    Paying for content is the appropriate wave of the future. In my opinion, Brian’s short form podcast is worth the $20 I’ve been giving him for a long time.

    • Geoff Perston says:

      Unfortunately Michael, not all of us are as affluent as you would seem to be. As someone whose only income is derived from Social Security, I’m unable to afford even the $20 you regularly donate to the site. For me, that money puts a few meals on the table for my family, or pays for three medical prescriptions, or enables me to use my cell phone for 12 months.

      Whether or not Brian’s podcast is “worth” twenty dollars or not to an individual is neither here nor there; it’s also a matter of personal judgment and affordability. So… because I’m reliant on a limited state pension, I’m effectively denied the full site access that my more financially secure peers enjoy.

      In our increasingly corporatised world, this is yet another of the many scenarios that further divide the “haves” from the “have nots” (although considered individually they may be only small components). Michael may well consider that paying for web content is the “way of the future” but I totally disagree with this bourgeois perspective which only further separates the educated middle class from the ill-educated members of the lower socioeconomic classes.

      I refuse to financially support any/all sites that carry paid advertising.

      • Michael Bigelow says:

        It’s all about perspective and priority Geoff. Regardless of your belief about my affluence, I choose to support some content creators. Most disturbing is that you begrudge sites that have paid advertising. WTF? I can fully understand a pensioner not subscribing to anything unnessesary. That may well be in my future. Why would you ever stop listening to a program you like because there are adds? This is non-sensical. People who produce content spend their brain power, time and resources to do so. To think these things can be extracted from thin air and spread over the world like pixie dust demonstrates a rather limited understanding of how things work.

        When you were working, I fairly certain you received a paycheck.

        • Saitaina says:

          You are demonstrating a clearer misunderstanding of reality then Geoffrey. We. Cannot. Afford. It. And because of that, it has been made clear that we are not welcome here. Before, it was easier to belong, share and episode, spread the word, but now if we do not, quite literally, pay to play, we do not get to enjoy the show.

          How often have you gone back to past episodes? I do it weekly, often replaying the entire list back to back to get me through medical treatments and severe illness. Now, this tiny pleasure is gone, and all because I choose food or heat to pay.

          • Pat says:

            “We do not get to enjoy the show”? Um, no, Brian has clearly stated that anyone can listen to the most recent 50 episodes for free. And how does the introduction of ads translate into “we are not welcome here” in your mind?

  3. Saitaina says:

    This is utterly ridiculous. One of the main draws of Skeptoid was it being completely ad free (and thus not beholden to anyone’s paycheck). IF YOU ARE THAT desperate for funds, get a patroon, but don’t punish those of us who can’t afford the bill (yes, even $5 is too much for those like me who cannot even afford the basic necessities of life).

    I used to enjoy Skeptoid and recommend it to everyone, but I see no reason to continue to listen where I am clearly not welcome.

    • Pat says:

      At what point did Brian tell you that you’re not welcome? I missed it.

      And if listening to ads is “punishment” in your mind, how have you survived at all? The world is full of ad-supported content. Most of us take that in stride. I’ve been listening to ads on radio and television for half a century, and it hasn’t left any scars.

      • Andrew says:

        You are probably unaware. Companies pay millions of dollars to some of the greatest minds on the planet to run short ads because they are effective in shaping or influencing our thinking.

  4. Joe vandenEnden says:

    I am delighted to finally be a SHILL. Not for corporate america, not for big pharma, but for frickin’ Brian Dunning! Way to go, Brian! This was the kick I needed. I’m a Geologist for George Hrab, a Damn Dirty Ape for SGU, and now a SHILL for Skeptoid!!!
    Please, free listeners, keep listening! I’ve been a guilt-free listener for years, and now I can finally support your listening enjoyment too. All I needed was a badge-of-honour. I’m a shallow, shallow man.

  5. Ed Benson says:

    I was disappointed by the recent change. I do not mind ads, but I do object to the “paywall” now in place to get old episodes beyond a certain number. I would often refer people to those older podcast episode and no longer can. As such, its lost a lot of educational utility.

    Certainly within Brian’s rights, but I would have preferred a Patreon-type arrangement. I do contribute to Weird Things and CordKillers that way, but I like the fact that its fully voluntary. I don’t care for this new approach and would not consider subscribing.

    Will still listen to and enjoy the free content, and I’m glad that’s still available.

  6. Shawnee H. Moon says:

    I don’t know why the Skeptoid app is never mentioned. I, too, missed having access to the older episodes, so I bought (nominal fee) the Skeptoid app and it has all the episodes, and handily downloads the new ones on its own. Yes the new ones have ads, which sucks since I bought the app, but anyway it’s a one time purchase and you can have all the episodes at your fingertips. I use an iPhone, so I can’t attest to whether it’s available for Android and other systems, but it’s a very good deal. So even the “sheeple” can hear it from #1 on.

  7. Stewart Harrison says:

    Hi Brian,
    I have been sketching some plans to introduce the idea of critical thinking and scientific scepticism to groups of people in New Zealand. Part of the strategy I was envisaging was to donate to your Principles of Curiosity project, possibly at the level where I would have a speaking part, and to promote the film to public showings. As a follow up I was considering copying the USB stick of past episodes to give to those who attended the screening. Does the new subscription service and limitation on access to past podcasts affect this idea? To clarify, this would be a not for profit venture.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *