An Open Letter to Online Newspapers

Dear Washington Post, San Jose Mercury News, Charlotte Observer, Miami Herald, etcetera,

Please stop asking for my name, address, birthdate, dog’s name, mother’s maiden name, step-sister’s IQ, grandfather’s shoe size, closest African-American relative, great-uncle’s time of death, arrest record, favourite book, least-favourite movie, number of pieces of junk mail I get each day, and any other so-called “demographic” information when I go to your sites in an attempt to view your online content.

I know you think that you’re going to use this information which you have absolutely no business asking for to serve me “targeted” advertisements that your marketing staff has determined I’m more likely to click on.

What your marketing staff hasn’t determined, though, is that I am using very aggressive advertisement and cookie blocking, so I will never see your ads anyway!

I find the registration how-to at the Washington Post very telling in this regard:

Ad/Pop-up Blockers

1. If you are running an ad or pop-up blocker please temporarily disable the software to test to see if the survey can be completed.

2. If you are then able to complete the registration, you should then be able to configure the ad/pop up blocker by entering an exception for and Please refer to your ad/pop up blocker manual or manufacturer for the proper settings.

The Post goes on to outline a detailed, 20-step process for getting registration to work.

No one on their staff, apparently, has ever considered the fact that maybe there’s a reason so many people are using ad and pop-up blockers! (Hint: it isn’t because we enjoy going to great lengths to install them, then turn them off so we can see your site, then turn them back on, then turn them off so we can see another site five minutes later, then turn them back on, ad infinitum.)

There are literally thousands of other news sites on the Web where I can get most of your content. If you make it difficult for me to get, I’ll simply use your competition.

Enjoy your gradual slide into irrelevance.


A Concerned User Who Is Really Fucking Sick Of FIve-Minute Demographic Surveys Just So He Can Read One Article

posted by Chris on 25 January 2005 at 2023 in general


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Comment by Lee Bennett

Repeat after me. is our friend.

posted at 2023 on 25 January 2005

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