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Online media matters

Main Page Rants

Registering your voice

More and more often, as I bounce across the Web, I encounter the dreaded registration wall — a screen urging me to register for some newspaper — and am presented with a few options.

  1. The first is to register;
  2. another is BugMeNot (unless as one poster to online-news suggested, the industry sues it out of existence);
  3. but, typically, I walk away.

(In fairness, some of these walls are more porous than others; my employer, for example, allows a certain number of visits before visitors must register.)

Registration remains, primarily, a solution to a problem whose origins change depending on the perspective (for example, advertisers like that it gives them more demographic information; marketers suggest it helps offer personalized content). Adrian Holovaty sent an excellent message to the online-news list about that amorphousness, and he’s reposted the message at his site. Although his Slashdot example has its weaknesses (would traditional news sites really let users comment on stories and gain recognition); the thesis is strong: what does registration really offer the user?

Of all the pages listing the benefits and advantages; most offer nothing more than platitudes designed to encourage users to share their demo- and psychographic information.

The one benefit not listed on those pages is enfranchisement. Ironically, by switching to registration, sites become increasingly dependent on those users’ visits. Each of those users, now has a voice that will be clearly heard by the decision makers.

Use this opportunity, not to complain about the wall, but to demand the improvements and enhancements you want to see.