Luofuchen I agree with you, the toxic language and anger thrown about is not helping anyone. Can't we discuss this calmly and rationally? Here is my take:
Before I rant, let me make it clear that I believe there is no such thing as a free lunch. Webnovel has been offering free spirit stones, chapters, etc. to build a following so that they could later make money off us. Fair enough. Businesses exist to make money; if you thought Webnovel was altruistically giving you stories to read and expecting nothing in return then you have too much trust. My issue with this situation is that the premium model uses nonrefundable, virtual currency usable solely on one website. There are two problems to this:
One, spirit stones are basically monopoly money that costs real money. You are less likely to think about how much you are actually spending when what you are spending doesn't actually look like money. It is the same reason casinos use chips instead of cash and video games with micro-transactions have their own virtual currency. And if you ever want to back out of spending money on the spirit stones, you can't get your money back. They could theoretically just connect a bank account or credit card to your Webnovel account, but that would make people watch real money go away with each transaction, which they would be less willing to do.
The second issue ties to the first. Has anyone read the forums where people reveal personal information like age? A large portion of users are teens, who may not know how to be financially responsible yet. You can argue this however you want, but it is a fact that the human brain does not finish developing its prefrontal cortex (the decision making part of the brain) until the age of about 25. You can be addicted to anything: drugs, alcohol, food, video games, gambling, and yes even reading. This is why companies always gear advertising to younger audiences to try gain brand loyalty early on.
You can say that the premium model is not that expensive, or that any reasonable person won't lose a ton of money on it, but it could prey on a specific group of people rather viciously. Mobile game marketers have called these people 'whales.' Rather than the model in place, I would be interested in seeing a subscription service at a flat rate where you get to read ahead for every book. That would be a less predatory means to monetize in my opinion.