📑 If You’re Not Paying for the Product, You Are… Possibly Just Consuming Goodwill for Free

Bookmarked If You’re Not Paying for the Product, You Are… Possibly Just Consuming Goodwill for Free by Troy HuntTroy Hunt (Troy Hunt)

What gets me a bit worked up about the “you’re the product” sentiment is that it implies there’s an ulterior motive for any good deed. I’m dependent on a heap of goodwill for every single project I build and none of that makes me feel like “the product”. I use NWebsec for a bunch of my security headers. I use Cloudflare across almost every single project (they provide services to HIBP for free) and that certainly doesn’t make me a product. The footer of this blog mentions the support Ghost Pro provides me – that’s awesome, I love their work! But I don’t feel like a “product”.

Conversely, there are many things we pay for yet we remain “the product” of by the definition referred to in this post. YouTube Premium, for example, is worth every cent but do you think you cease being “the product” once you subscribe versus when you consume the service for free? Can you imagine Google, of all companies, going “yeah, nah, we don’t need to collect any data from paying subscribers, that wouldn’t be cool”. Netflix. Disqus. And pretty much everything else. Paying doesn’t make you not the product any more than not paying makes you the product, it’s just a terrible term used way too loosely and frankly, often feels insulting.

Troy Hunt marks the argument that just because you are not paying for the product, it does not necessarily mean that you yourself are the product. Sometimes, he posits, we are simply consuming goodwill. On the flipside of this, he points out that when you pay for products such as YouTube or Netflix, this does not all of the sudden make you less of a product.

For me, this reminds me of Austin Kleon’s discussion of the power of an email list:

The model is very simple: They give away great stuff on their sites, they collect emails, and then when they have something remarkable to share or sell, they send an email. You’d be amazed at how well the model works.

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