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October 6, 2004 1:53 PM   Subscribe

Evaluating a "closed" online community: I really like the magazine Cook's Illustrated. Their website is private and requires an annual membership, above and beyond the magazine subscription. So, anyone know what the website is like? Is it worth the fee? And, as a more general question, are there any good sites that offer reviews/information/evaluations of sites that are locked away behind membership fees?

I'm curious specifically about the quality of the forums and how well the articles from the magazine are reproduced online (full diagrams & sidebar notes, etc). I should add that I get the bound volumes rather than the bimonthly magazine, so I miss out on the occasional time-limited "freebie" visits to the site.
posted by bcwinters to Computers & Internet (5 answers total)
In answer to part two: Consumer Reports allows you to pay for a one-month membership for $5 a month. You can then read all their product reviews, etc. The occasional $5 is well worth it when you're about to make a $2,000 purchase.
posted by GaelFC at 4:04 PM on October 6, 2004

I did pay for the Cook's Illustrated website to get at a couple of recipes I wanted. I haven't spent much time investigating the forums, so I can't speak to that particular feature, but otherwise I would say it's not worth the money unless you are a hardcore fan.
posted by briank at 5:11 PM on October 6, 2004

This isn't helpful but I have to chime in to say that I adore Cook's but it pisses me off so much that they want to charge me for the website even though I am a subscriber that on general principle I refuse.
posted by CunningLinguist at 5:54 PM on October 6, 2004

bcw - check your email, you can try it out on me and see what you think. I'm embarassed to say that I can think of no online resources off the top of my head or even after some serious searching that do the sort of review/analysis of online content that you're looking for, but I'll keep my eyes peeled.
posted by jessamyn at 6:38 PM on October 6, 2004

Unless they've changed it recently, the forums are free. I didn't find them all that interesting, though. I do like the fact that if you subscribe to the website, you an get all the recipes from the whole run of the magazine. I was a bit irritated that a recipe I particularly wanted (Tamale Pie) was only in a book and not available on the website. I was given a website subscription as a gift, and after that I stopped buying the dead tree edition of the magazine. If I really want to read the actual magazine, I can check it out for a week at the library. I've been printing out the recipes I'm interested in and keeping them in a binder. I haven't really decided if I will re-subscribe next year.
posted by Shoeburyness at 1:52 AM on October 7, 2004

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