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Creating a free online subscription

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Creating a free online subscription

Postby afreeman » Tue Dec 24, 2013 1:42 pm

We are finding it strangely difficult to create a free subscription type. We would like to do this, rather than use the open access facility, because by having our users take a subscription, we know who they are and when we create our next issue (for which we will ask for a small subscription fee) this gives us a database to begin from.

I've looked at various threads dealing with our problems, but if I've missed the magic solution, please just point me to it and have a merry christmas.

First off, we just tried setting up a $0 subscription rate. That didn't work, because OJS asked new subscribers to pay $0.00 with paypal, which is probably technically possible but very confusing.

Then as a temporary workaround, we tried to set up a manual payment for a free subscription (this, and an automatic payment, seem to be the only options). We disabled all subscription types (by hiding them) except a new 'free subscription' for $0.

This time, subscribers get asked to send evidence of a manual payment. But when they click on the link to do this, they get a 404 error.

So we are now completely stymied.

Santa, please help!!!
afreeman
 
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Re: Creating a free online subscription

Postby asmecher » Thu Dec 26, 2013 7:32 am

Hi afreeman,

It's possible to set your journal up as open access, but require registration and login in order to view contents. This means disabling subscriptions entirely and designating content as open access; this should be possible just using the 5 journal setup pages.

Regards,
Alec Smecher
Public Knowledge Project Team
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Re: Creating a free online subscription

Postby afreeman » Thu Dec 26, 2013 11:32 am

Hi Alec

Seasons greetings and thanks for this rapid response.

If open access with required registration is the only way to do this I guess we will have to try it, but it may not quite solve our problem. We would like to offer a free subscription for the first issue, which is now a year old. When the second issue is produced later this year, we would like to charge for that issue. We would like to continue this practice subsequently so that, after a period of time, the second issue will also be available on a free subscription but the third will require a paid subscription, and so on. So we don't want to disable subscriptions, rather we want a special type of subscription, which is a free subscription.

I don't think this is quite the same as open access but correct me if I am wrong. In order to access the journal, we want the reader to go through a subscription process which is distinct from registration. We want to see the user's name (and email) as a 'subscriber' in the subscriber list, so that we have a base list of subscribers for mailshots and so on.

We may also want to make free offers to selected groups of people (for example, members of various organisations) from time to time, so a category of 'free subscription' is needed. And in theory it ought to work, except it doesn't, for the reasons give above.

I've seen a previous post on this at viewtopic.php?f=8&t=8314#p32443 and maybe the solution lies there. But this seems to involve modifying the code which I am reluctant to do.

Also it is simply puzzling that when the user is asked to send confirmation of manual payment, she gets a 404. Is this a known bug or a problem with our installation do you think?

Cordially
Alan
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Re: Creating a free online subscription

Postby asmecher » Thu Dec 26, 2013 2:36 pm

Hi Alan,

That does sound like a subscription environment. There is a delayed open access option that should get you further -- with subscriptions enabled you can configure each issue with an open access date. Until that date the subscription policies will apply, and after that date content will be available without subscription -- however, you can still configure required logins for users wanting to read content, even if it's free content.

Regards,
Alec Smecher
Public Knowledge Project Team
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Re: Creating a free online subscription

Postby afreeman » Thu Dec 26, 2013 3:55 pm

Thanks Alec and I guess that this is what we will do. But it still feels like a workaround rather than a solution. And the 404 error is a problem. It makes me wonder if the same problem would arise for a manual payment of any kind, though I haven't tested that.

What should I do to flag this as a bug?

Cheers
A
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Re: Creating a free online subscription

Postby asmecher » Fri Dec 27, 2013 6:08 am

Hi Alan,

Can you double-check that the 404 isn't coming from any manual payment instructions you entered in payment configuration? Meanwhile, I'll ask our subscription guru to add his advice.

Regards,
Alec Smecher
Public Knowledge Project Team
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Re: Creating a free online subscription

Postby afreeman » Fri Dec 27, 2013 10:41 am

OK these are the settings as far as I can ascertain:
Fee Payment options:
Payments Module Enabled
Reader Fees: checked (first box, 'This will enable active payments for subscriptions...')
'Purchase Article' fee not checked
Fee:0 (the default)
Fee Name: Free Subscription for Issue 1
Fee Description: Free Subscription to Issue 1 of the journal
No other boxes checked on this page

Fee Payment methods: set to Manual (NB paypal is enabled and we have a working paypal account which has accepted
payments via OJS successfully in the past: but now I've set payment to manual, to try and prevent users being
referred to Paypal for a $0.00 payment)

Subscription types:
There are three types 'Annual Online' , 'Annual Print and Online' and 'Free Subscription'. All individual. The first two types are hidden ('not publicly available or visible.')
'Free subscription' is set to $0.00. HOWEVER the same behaviour is observed when it is set to a positive amount eg $20.00

Behaviour:
New user clicks 'My subscriptions'
User is offered option of one choice of subscription, as 'PURCHASE NEW SUBSCRIPTION', being 'Free Subscription'. User clicks 'Continue' (No Membership information submitted).
User is taken to a page with the option to 'SEND NOTIFICATION OF PAYMENT'.
Clicking on this link directs the user to 'http://www.copejournal.com/index.php/Cope/payment/index' which gives a 404.

Version information:2.3.1.2 (this seems a bit old - maybe that's part of the problem?)

Hope this helps
Cheers
A
afreeman
 
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Re: Creating a free online subscription

Postby asmecher » Fri Dec 27, 2013 10:47 am

Hi Alan,

That is indeed quite old -- 2.4.3-1 was released 4 years ago. Upgrading would be a good place to start. Meanwhile, I've passed this along if our subscription guru would like to comment.

Regards,
Alec Smecher
Public Knowledge Project Team
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Re: Creating a free online subscription

Postby afreeman » Fri Dec 27, 2013 4:16 pm

Thanks Alex. I didn't conduct this particular installation and the guy who set it up has moved on, so I'm reluctant to disturb it - though it looks as if I will have to. For now I will see if we can use the open-access suggestion as a work around, meanwhile get on to hiring somebody new (all suggestions welcome) to carry out the update. Either that or set aside the time.

So there is no hurry on this one and it's perfectly possible it works on more recent versions.

A
afreeman
 
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Re: Creating a free online subscription

Postby asmecher » Fri Dec 27, 2013 4:50 pm

Hi Alan,

FYI, if your installation hasn't been maintained, it's possible that you're open to one of the issues noted on the download page. Those are typically fixed by applying a patch, which should ensure that you're safe until you're ready to perform an upgrade.

Regards,
Alec Smecher
Public Knowledge Project Team
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Re: Creating a free online subscription

Postby michael » Sat Dec 28, 2013 9:09 am

Hi Alan,

If you'd like all visitors to register with your journal as a prerequisite for reading open access content, the standard journal setup options can be used for this purpose, i.e. Journal Setup => Management => User Registration.

For free promotional subscriptions, you can create a subscription type with cost $0 and "Do not make this subscription type publicly available or visible" enabled. You should then be able to manually create as a Journal or Subscription Manager new subscription records for special cases and promotions. The subscription type will only be visible to you. Readers will not be able to select it via the publicly available subscription purchase/renewal interfaces.

The standard subscription functionality can then be used for all other cases, with cost amounts > $0. Given your delayed open access model, you can set each issue as subscription/closed at the time of publication but also provide an open access date at which point content will be available to all readers (or in your case, all registered readers).

The Editor => Notify Users functionality will enable you to send out bulk emails to these different groups of users, e.g. all registered users vs. authors vs. subscribers.

Cheers,
Michael
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Re: Creating a free online subscription

Postby afreeman » Thu Jan 02, 2014 8:25 pm

Michael, thanks for this. As editors, we've discussed the options and we will go for using delayed open access with required registration.

Two puzzles remain as far as I can see (not for us, but for the OJS community)

(1) A $0 payment is directed to Paypal. But if you subscribe to anything costing $0, you should not go through a payment process. Perhaps a line could be inserted into the payments code that catches this.

(2) Although we haven't updated the site, so this may be a legacy problem, the manual payment page seems to give a 404 when the user tries to send confirmation.

Best wishes for 2014
Alan
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Re: Creating a free online subscription

Postby michael » Sun Jan 05, 2014 1:44 pm

Hi Alan,

Thanks for your detailed feedback.

The current payment workflow includes $0 payments to support donations, which go to PayPal's site where the actual donation amount is then specified by the user. That being said, the process could be refined somewhat as you suggest for non-donation payments.

Cheers,
Michael
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