Scribd Posts A Public Apology To Vocal Critic, Then Takes It Back

A few days ago Law professor Eric Goldman wrote a vehement blog post entitled, “Scribd Puts My Old Uploads Behind a Paywall and Goes Onto My Shitlist” denouncing the recently enacted paywalls around documents older than two months on the popular document sharing site.

“[Scribd’s] value proposition always has been open access to the documents–freely shared with everyone and indexed in the search engines. The paywall destroys that value proposition. They’ve taken the documents that I wanted to freely share with the public (many of them public documents like court rulings and filings) and made them inaccessible.”

Goldman got a lot of feedback from the blogosphere, which unsurprisingly was anti-Scribd paywall. While the Scribd communications team expressed their concern to Goldman and invited him to the office when he sent them a pre-publication draft of the post, there was no apology, until today.

According to Goldman, he received the following email earlier from the Scribd communications team, which includes a link to an apology blog post from CEO Trip Adler which commits to making changes to the archive program. Despite the outreach to Goldman in order promote the public response, within an hour the post was down, replaced by a 404 page.

I have emailed Scribd to find out what’s up and will update when they respond.

In the meantime, here is the text of the apology post Goldman originally received, paywall free.

———- Forwarded message ———-

From: Michelle Laird >

Date: Tue, Sep 21, 2010 at 3:34 PM

Subject: Scribd Archive Changes

To: Eric Goldman

Hi Eric,

Just wanted to update you. Here is an apology from Trip Adler, CEO and immediate changes [sic] are making.

The blog post copy is below.



The Scribd Archive, an Apology and Immediate Changes

September 21, 2010

A few weeks ago, we launched a program called the Scribd Archive, which we hoped would encourage readers to contribute to the Scribd community. They could do this by uploading their own documents in order to download older documents in the Archive or pay a small fee. This in no way restricted the ability to read and share content on Scribd.

I believe the intention was good, but we made some mistakes that we need to acknowledge and fix. We didn’t communicate the program clearly to you, our content publishers, and we didn’t give you enough control over when/if you wanted your content in The Archive. So first, I’d like to sincerely apologize to the community of users who publish content on Scribd. You are the ones who power the site, which would not exist without your contributions.

We’re certainly not perfect, but in our effort to be better, we will be making several important changes:

  • Clear opt-out — anyone uploading to the site will be informed about The Archive and can easily opt-out of the program here; we will also post clear information about The Archive on your “My Docs” profile page.
  • Proactive messaging — you’ll be notified when your documents are ready for the Archive and again given the opportunity to opt-out of the program; we will also prominently let readers know that if they want to download for free, they can simply join the community and upload a document.
  • Community advisory board — we’ve established a Scribd User Advisory Board (SUAB) to help ensure that we incorporate community feedback on upcoming Scribd products.

Our goal is to bring readers and creators of content together using the inherent efficiencies of the Internet and other technologies. We’re constantly learning new ways to do this better. If you have questions/concerns about The Scribd Archive or other Scribd products, please email me directly at

–Trip, CEO and C0-founder

Update: After this post went up, Scribd decided to repost their apology, from Scribd CEO Trip Adler, “We took it down because we were making some final considerations.  It’s now back up in it’s original form.”

You can check it out here.

Photo: Dave Keeshan