There Are Alternatives To User Registration
from the don't-be-evil dept
Just last week we wrote about how many more newspaper sites were making the mistake of forcing users to register, even though it wasn't helping them at all. First, it was drastically cutting their traffic by keeping out all the casual visitors (and links from blogs or other news aggregation sources) who don't want to register. That is, it's reducing their ad inventory. Second, even that additional info that they claim would help them sell more targeted ads is wrong, since many users just use bogus information. So, they get fewer users and useless info. This doesn't seem like a recipe for success. Earlier this week, I sent a note to that effect to the Sydney Morning Herald, which is trying to implement a registration scheme. They wrote me back, ignoring my points, and simply cutting and pasting the reason for adding registration. Steve Outing has written up a piece for Editor & Publisher explaining why online newspapers don't need to go to forced registration. First, he points out that one of the main problems with forced registration is that the users don't feel they're really getting anything of value -- and it clearly turns off casual readers. Instead, he suggests setting up offerings that add real value to get users to register, while still letting the casual reader in free. In that way, you also get rid of much of the dirty data, by giving users a reason to be honest. It seems like a smart solution: you don't lose any visitors, and for a core subset of loyal readers you get good data. It's so intelligent, in fact, that most online newspapers will ignore the idea.