In a note from Kirk Caraway, the Nevada Appeal’s Internet Editor, he mentions that they’ve finally dumped the required reader registration system their website used to have. This was where, just to read the website, not leave a comment or anything, just to read it, you had to set up a username and password and give them a bunch of demographic information. I’m sure I can see where the marketers and higher-ups at the newspaper thought this would be valuable information to have, but the flood of complaints that they’ve been receiving ever since they implemented it finally proved to be too much.
I think Kirk knew this was a bad idea all along. He says:
This is a system whose time had passed. We first launched it at the same time most other big newspapers were doing the same thing. Most of those papers have now dumped their forced registration systems, for the same reason we did: because it was stupid to hassle readers in this way.
It took a long time to convince some people in our organization that no amount of reader information is worth the hoops we make readers jump through to use our site.
Newspapers are slowly learning the same things blogs have known for a while. You can’t take any of your readers for granted. You have to treat them right, because switching to your competition takes literally no effort.
And the number one rule that all business should have inscribed in stone on their front steps: Don’t piss off people that you’re trying to get money from.