But why are donations a bad business model? Sure, they shouldn’t be the only source of revenue, but if people are willing to pay for a product out of choice because they find it valuable, that’s a great signal. Letting readers set their own price, effectively from $0 to $100, is a great way of understanding the perceived value of your product. It can help you price other products later on, too.
And if BuzzFeed ever wants to sell its News site on to another company, knowing what its readers will pay by choice is useful data as part of that process.
In the case of BuzzFeed News, don’t think of donations as charity support for a failing business. Instead they’re more a form of market research that makes money. In that light, it seems very smart indeed, and not at all snark-worthy.