Inside Free

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I get it. I hear you. The pitchforks and torches aren’t invisible, you know? Quiet Speculation just unveiled the long-coming Insider feature, putting a pay wall between you and some of the content you love.

Burn them all! Demons and witches they be!

Some of you won’t even read this article as you’ve simply taken the “change” in stride (as it wasn’t exactly a secret, and it wasn’t WikiLeaks that let the bird loose) and queued up to continue receiving the powerful information you were already accustomed to; information that leads you to better trading, approaching the game with the trends and prices of card well-known, and generally employing knowledge for personal gain, namely the value of the Magic cards you come into possession of.

You know what isn’t in the list of things that Insider is exclusive for? The stuff I, and the team of Timmy and Spike writers, pound out week after week.

What Else Do You Burn? MORE WITCHES!

Well, that’s not entirely true. From time to time there may be things that we lock behind the gilded doors of Insider but far and away all of the new content that’s been cropping up for the past month will be out in the open, free for the taking.

Let’s start with the easy part of the discussion: you don’t have Insider and for any number of reasons you choose or cannot pay the small subscription fee. How do you know what is and isn’t available for you?

Aside from the normal assumption that Timmy and Spike articles will be and that Finance articles will not, every article has categories associated.

Red Arrow Pointing to the Free Category Listing Under Articles

In a new window (say, through this handy link) open QS and jam your mouse over the “Free” visible right below the title image. Click your mouse button.

How easy was that? (Rhetorical question, smarty pants.)

Let me repeat that: if you don’t have Insider you can just hit the Free category to filter to only what you have instant access to, no login required. That’s all there really is to it. Tell your friends, bookmark your search, do whatever you want to spread the word: articles categorized “Free” are just that. Insider isn’t everything (despite its epic level of awesome).

What Knockers!

With the easy gimme out of the way let me jump to the other side of the coin: why should a player like you or I get Insider? I’ll assume for the sake of argument that you aren’t into approaching the game with eyes firmly on the financial. Perhaps you just like to trade, or have some competitive buddies you trade on behalf of. Maybe you like to pimp our certain decks, or acquire staple cards when their prices sag or dip. There’s even a chance you’re a true casual veteran and you’ve simply stumbled across this article searching for things I’ve written (Sorry, I just had to slip one ridiculous statement in there).

You’re barely interested in applying just the rudiments of financial analysis and don’t plan to treat Magic as a business to turn a profit. If you think Insider isn’t for you, you’re wrong.

Insider is something you can use even if you aren’t the player-dealer extraordinaire. I know this because I use the information personally.

I admire Chris McNutt’s spreadsheets of buy lists. There is significant work that goes into creating these documents and, unless some breakthrough is out there that I’m unaware of, grabbing that data is a nightmare. Fiendish and ornery, massaging data is not something to be undertaken lightly. The sources are disparate, the pitfalls many, and the reward is simply a comparative breakdown that could have been performed manually by individuals on a card-by-card basis.

But it’s there and it’s awesome. Yet as much as I am pleased to see such work displayed I feel obligated to point out something: I, personally, don’t use those spreadsheets. I don’t dabble much in selling to dealers as I approach trading as a revolving door: acquire what I want and let the rest and extra go for more things I want. I do like foils for my cube and Commander, after all!

And that’s the thing: everything that Insider offers isn’t for everyone. You’ll certainly find useful things but, like virtually every other set of content behind a pay wall, not every item will be equally useful for you personally.

That’s just how it works.

It’s impossible for every piece of content on any given site to be 100% awesome, useful, and highly pertinent to everything about every individual. If there was such a system, that would be something to actually go sell to companies creating communities. Since this isn’t Magic Christmas Land and any given article is something someone somewhere doesn’t like we’ll stick to the truth: Insider is only what you make of it.

Help Me Help You

What am I getting at? Insider is something to consider and follow through with joining if you want financial information of any sort. I don’t run my trade binder and decks like a business and if you’re like me you might wonder if the subscription is worth it.

Here’s why I feel it is:

  • I want to know what’s trading hot and why, with comparative and speculative values.
  • I want to know how those with more time to dedicate to trading and speculating are viewing newly previewed cards.
  • I want a sweet discount to Kelly Ried’s online card shop.
  • I travel to events and have time to trade, making the latest information prior to events immediately relevant.
  • Those who travel to events frequent my local game store, consistently hitting me up for whatever wares I have.

You don’t have to be running a business to know that information is valuable in of itself. What’s important is that if you have the opportunity to use information in a meaningful way it behooves you to do so. Insider is a powerful, dense source of information that you will probably want to use for one overriding reason: protection.

I’ve avoided weighing in on the ethics of trading, buying and selling from stores, and leveraging real-time Magic information for short or long term financial gain. I’m just not a savvy type with an overwhelming interest in all of it. But I can share that, like many of you at one point or another, have felt the burning sting of lacking information in the aftermath of more than one trading session.

Many of us casual players simply don’t put stock in knowing prices because we’re too busy focused on other, more pressing matters (like “Will Johnny finally assemble the doom machine or is Timmy over there going to drop the Overwhelming Stampede bomb on us?). Trading is an afterthought or something we engage in when we’re looking for something specific. It isn’t the requirement but a necessary means to the end: acquiring cards we want.

It’s hard enough to keep track of several singleton decks of 100 cards as well as what we want for said decks. It’s nearly impossible to always have four copies of any card we want to use to try out in our latest casual creation. We have to buy or trade for cards we really want because we’re certainly not the ones going infinite through drafting.

Trading heavily doesn’t carry as much stigma as it used to but the general feeling of “You’re in it to take advantage of me.” is something I come away with from more than a handful of traders at events. Even at my local game store there are a few “sharks” that prowl around, scouting for new, fresh blood and pounce at snapping up whatever hot cards of the week happen to be there for the taking.

What feels wrong and what is ethically wrong can be very different things and I’m not about to declare the real, ultimate truth (should said truth be within my knowledge to share). But having the base knowledge and crucial updates provided daily through Insider can be the protective armor you need to deflect those you feel would wrong you.

Knowledge is powerful and you don’t have to be using it offensively to benefit: simply being conscious and aware of the market of things you have and are interested in acquiring can be more than enough. Savvy doesn’t mean offensive, it means wise. Coming equipped for the fights that are brought to you, whether you seek them or not, is simply good measure.

Gumdrops and Rainbows

It’s up to you whether you choose to be an Insider or not. There is going to be plenty of awesome things to read without the additional login required. Ultimately, I my goal here today wasn’t leave you on the fence: if you’ve been here from the start now is the time to stay. Whether it’s for the basic knowledge of “What’s hot. What’s not.” or an in-depth analysis of the entire book of Standard (or Extended, or Legacy) to apply to the everyday of being a player-business, Quiet Speculation’s Insider is something that will provide value to you today.

And that doesn’t even begin to touch on the future coming down the road. Stay tuned and hang tight: next week will be a return to more usual fun stuff set to Free–I promise it only gets better from here!

Adam Styborski

Adam Styborski is a Magic player, marketer, and writer based out of the Washington, D.C. metro area. An acolyte of big events, kitchen tables, and everything inbetween, Adam finds interesting and contemplative subject matter across the entire range of Magic. With his trusty pauper cube, EDH decks, and occasional Constructed favorite you'll find just about everything touched at some point - mainly what you are asking to hear. As an editor for Quiet Speculation, Adam is a resource for your suggestions, submissions, questions, and concerns about anything that doesn't involve tournament decks and financial musings. You can reach out to him at or on Twitter as @the_stybs.

View More By Adam Styborski

Posted in Free, TimmyTagged

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19 thoughts on “Inside Free

  1. I never came to this site for strategy content and I'm not about to start now just because the content I actually wanted to read has a pay wall in front of it. Sell ads before charging admission, it's how the internet works.

  2. Charging $5 a month as a "discounted" price is ridiculous. Even with the 5% discount, a user will have to spend $95 a month just to justify the discount and this doesn't make any sense when the goal is to save money. $60 a year is too much for something like this.

  3. I loved this place…
    It seems I will have to go find anotherone since I am not really willing to spend so much on articles I read not to make money but to enjoy the finacial aspect of the game…

    Put some adds and don't charge for content!

  4. Banners are not the only way to sell advertising. You guys are really smart and I know you'll be able to think of something when the time comes to try another approach. I'd probably pay an annual membership of about $20.

    1. I ran the numbers; we'd need between 312,000-880,000 unique visitors per month to pay for the site's budget if we went ad-only. Banners aren't the only way to advertise, but about all ads pay the same amount (which is measured by CPM).

      1. I'd like to also point that there are a total of 223,026 people to ever, in the history of time, register a DCI number. There's no way to figure out how many Magic players beyond these registered players who have ever played in a sanctioned event and that could be potential readers, nor how many of those registered players are either duplicates or inactive. A reliable source told me that only a small fraction of that number play actively (about 1/5th). I can however confidently say that in order to run solely as an add supported site we would need to have more than every Magic player in the world read our site ever month.

        The Magic community is pretty strong (and growing) but it's still a niche market with a comparatively small number of eyes by internet standards.

        All that said, if anyone out there has good suggestions which are significantly less vague then "host ads instead" we'd love to hear them. I'd even be receptive to "hey how about some free finance articles too" etc, but most people who suggest ads instead haven't looked into that economy very closely. If you have any feedback, ideas, complaints, thoughts, spare change, you can send them all to us. I'll ask that the submissions from the comment form be CC'd to me, and I'll try to address them all specifically.


  5. Please correct me if I have this wong, but I am hearing that using all of our combined weekly articles, tips, strategies, and suggestions you're not making an extra $5 a month? In this weeks article I put out a list of 13 cards that are probably gathering dust in your binder. If you were to sell one of each of those cards, you're looking at almost $35, Even if you had to trade for them at half sell value you would still make almost 17.50 in profit. Thats 3 1/2 months of insider. 3 1/2 more months of articles, tips, suggestions, and help to make you more money from a single article. If you made $10 of profit per article you read, which is not an unreasonable asumption, thats $50 a week. In two weeks you've made enough money to pay for a year of insider and pay for quite a few FNM entries.

    1. I mean, think of this like a trade. It's nothing personal, you just overvalue your articles (from my perspective). You know my/our price; if you can't meet it, we don't come to an agreement, and the trade falls through. Oh well, too bad.

      I should add that I would probably buy articles a la carte, however. I don't know how well that integrates with your subscription model, but I figured it couldn't hurt to give you a little more information about a potential customer's needs/wants. Heck, I'll even give it to you free ;D

  6. Hello Quiet Speculation Staff,

    it's not uncommon for a previously free site to lose 80% of their visitors when becoming 'freemium'. That's something you should now (and it doesn't help providing free articles or good reasons to buy).

    What you could do is providing a way for people who really like your stuff to donate to QS. That's how wikipedia works.

    You have said that the community is strong but still a niche market, so you will have to work with your fans (people loving QS) instead of trying to please everybody.

    Plus, 60$ a year also seems more attractive thant 5$ a month.

    My two cents.


  7. Why should our work be free? If 20% of my reader base approves Insider as way to reward our staff for their hard work, that's the 20% I'll cater to. Readership numbers are irrelevant, since we don't run ads. I want to deliver a self-sustaining model, not squeeze out enough cash to get by with ad spam.

    If I was in this for the money, you'd have figured that out a long time ago.

    This discussion is over. Good work isn't free. Comments closed.

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