* Groups have a set number of "free member slots". Someone fillingThe number of included subscriptions (based on plan type) plus the additional per member fee slots purchased by the group I would refer to as "sponsored" subscriptions. The intent is to emphasize that those two types of subscription are equivalent: a limited resource that the group purchased through the base plan payment plus the per member payment. The group itself is sponsoring these members.
* Once the free member slots are filled up, someone wishing to be aI'd like to have a different word than "paid" for these subscriptions, to avoid confusion with subscription slots purchased by the group. Possibly "sustaining" members. Maybe "at large" members, because they can join any* group (not just those with available "sponsored" slots).
*Any group that will have them - I'm not suggesting that they can bypass the approval process of Restricted membership groups.
* Are there any problems with this idea/reasons to not implement it?I don't see any show-stoppers.
* Does there need to be a |try before you buy| period where someoneThat would likely make sense. Usually one doesn't know how well a group works for you without seeing the content and possibly interacting with other members.
At the end of the period perhaps put the subscription in a special inactive* status (rather than unsubscribing it). The status would operate like NC, Bouncing and Bounced in that the account would not be allowed to receive or post by email, nor use the group's web features. But unlike those, this would be a subscription status, not an account status (that is, the account could still participate in groups where it is sponsored).
*This inactive status is not to be confused with WRB's concept of actively posting versus passively listening (inactive, or lurking) members. Maybe I need a better word than "inactive" but I haven't thought of it yet.
The member can correct inactive status (or preferably preempt it) by paying for their account. The group owner could correct (or preempt) the inactive status by sponsoring the member.
One potential downside for Groups.io in this is that a "free trial" subscription may be all some users need. I'm thinking of "freecycle" style groups or help groups where once the transaction is complete or the help obtained the user may have no further interest in the group. Maybe that's ok, maybe it isn't.
* In Samuel's proposal, there's potentially a lot of memberI think the idea of an inactive membership (one that is neither sponsored by the group nor a paid account) provides a way create very easy management. If a group wants to free up a sponsored slot there can be a button/action to un-sponsor a subscription - which puts it into inactive status until corrected by the member choosing to pay for their subscription (or the group reversing its decision). This avoids a lot of the downsides of unsubscribing the member.
Group owners who want to actively manage their sponsorships will likely want the types of subscription metrics some have already been asking for. Things like most recent post, # of posts in the last year, etc.
Ideally this is something owners would not have to think about.For groups owners who don't want to actively manage their sponsorships
I think simple mechanisms and suitable defaults can be devised that will produce reasonable results. The fundamental thing the owners must decide is which plan and how many sponsored members (if any, above the number included in the plan). After that it is a matter of choosing to actively manage the sponsorships or not.