Well, that is interesting. I went through the new account procedure to setup my WT membership and got right in, no waiting. It could be, since I have been a good donor to Wikipedia for several years, that the WT:Social hookup process queried the Wikipedia database using my email address as a key and figured out that I was some kind of “good guy” or whatever. I should think, following the WP formula, that a donation would not be required initially. Kind of a deterrent to joining. Kind of a negative incentive there.
The Internet, and the websites on it, continue to evolve and to survive. I am a retired website developer for a large municipal utility company, and so I do have some knowledge of how all this works, or doesn’t. Regarding paid access vs. free access, my observations are thus: there are 100% free websites, news outlets, etc. that you just join — email address validation, and so on, and you are in. Those sites are littered with advertising, so-called “clickbait”, etc. Then there are sites that are on a lower budget that invite you to donate, but may or may not restrict access if you do not. I support a few of these. Then there are the websites that *require* a fee, or a donation, for access. I belong to and support some of these sites too.
I think that this new nascent thing, WT:Social, is in an embryonic state where Jimmy Wales wants to make it a success, and his policy of refusing to accept advertising money will make his endeavor a challenge, and will also make his concept, in my opinion, “cleaner” in this regard i.e. free from sponsors’ influences. But the facts are that unless you have a lot of disposable money to spend on such an endeavor, people/members will need to step up and contribute. One of the earlier experiments like this was, and still is, the WELL, the “Whole Earth ‘Lectronic Link”. Free at first, then donations gladly accepted… (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_WELL). The truth is, if there is something out there, anywhere, that people had to expend their time & energy on that is of value to someone, someone will be asked to pay for it. It’s only fair. The “free lunch” argument. Radio, TV, books, magazines, and Internet content.
I am so far positive about WT:Social. I would like to see it succeed, and I am willing to donate to its cause.