Amen Stephen! I am going to stop linking to sites that require registration but don't have their links clearly labeled "Registration Required". Stephen's piece is a great rebuttal to Yelvington's rant where he states "One of the large growth areas is targeted advertising. Without registration, we have 0 percent demographic targetability. I can't tell if a visitor is male or female, lives in market or out of market, is young or old.".
I say that is old paradigm thinking. Who cares about ads that target demographics? I care about things that I am interested in NOT what my supposed demographic is interested in and ads should work that way.
We've heard on this list from people with years of newsroom experience attesting in favour of registration. Well I come in to this debate with years of internet experience. I remember when the Green Card Lottery swept across usenet. I remember when commercialization of the internet was still a living issue. So I can say this with some authority: I've seen this play before.
We will be hearing from various studies and surveys that most people don't mind registration, that most people provide accurate information, that most people see it as the cost of supporting content on the internet. These people are responding at a time when registration sites are relatively few in number. But as they begin to report success, the bandwagon effect takes hold.
Ask the same people what they think in an age before every second link takes them to an advertisement, not the content it promised. People will have much shorter tempers by then. You can't depend on the surveys to guide you here. You have to ask yourself - is what we're doing fundamentally honest? Because while a little dishonesty today may be tolerated, a lot of it in the future won't be, and people will react with a much stronger than expected anger, because they will feel that their tolerance and good nature has been abused.
The message is: stop the false advertising. What I see, though, is the false advertising accelerating. I saw an item today about Wall Street Journal RSS feeds. Now what use is an RSS link from the WSJ? Unless you are one of the few who subscribe, it's nothing but spam. I hit a link today from the Kansas City Star - it let me in to read the story, but the second time (when I went back to verify a quote) it demanded a registration. It was basically trying to trick me, an occasional visitor, into providing a link to its onsite advertising.