Lessons Learned in Web Publishing
August 26, 2007 6:32 PM   Subscribe

Lessons Learned in Web Publishing. A nice overview of the stumbles that print media has made as it has come on-line.
posted by tkolar (14 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
11. People will pollute your registration database with bogus entries, and invite all their friends via pinko sites like Metafilter to use communal logins, making the point of data-mining useless.
posted by pjern at 6:43 PM on August 26, 2007

Actually I'm pretty sure they haven't learned that lesson yet.
posted by tkolar at 6:58 PM on August 26, 2007

solopsist hits on the one item not covered in the article.

Not a bad piece, but some of the facts seemed a bit sloppy (so to speak). When they mentioned the hero who spread his man chowder on the cupcakes, technically that should be semen rather than sperm, shouldn't it?
posted by maxwelton at 7:20 PM on August 26, 2007

Dear E&P

Please stop calling Internet users "Webbies." Thanks.

I love that three of those blunders took place in my home state. Go Texas!
posted by emjaybee at 7:54 PM on August 26, 2007

Actually I'm pretty sure they haven't learned that lesson yet.

And let's hope they never do!
posted by Many bubbles at 9:55 PM on August 26, 2007

Only E&P would call mistakes made in net journalism blunders. What would you call Judy Miller then? As if print media needed to nitpick minor scrapes and bruises incurred in the rush to get online and establish a timely and meaningful web presence. This piece tiptoes around a lot of interesting issues without really addressing any of them.

Serial Consign actually posted on a similar vein earlier today.
posted by avocet at 11:43 PM on August 26, 2007

Seriously. "It was slow, and it didn't work well. And we only got 3,000 users." Hey, stoopid -- maybe you only got 3000 users because it was slow and didn't work well.

The whole piece seems to present the tremendously slow and somewhat stunned reactions of a big group of people who are accustomed to dishing out rocks dipped in runny shit and expecting people to dig in with their silver spoons because it's the only thing served. Kind of like newspapers have always been.

Well, wake the hell up, dumbasses, the internet has a nearly infinite number of accessible web addresses, and if you don't give me exactly what I'm looking for in under two seconds, I'll click "back" to my google search page and look somewhere else. Perhaps if I come back ten or twenty times I'll be willing to dig a little deeper, and a hundred times might make me consider spending some cash for premium content. But you're not a special snowflake, you're just another fucking drone with a banker's lamp, smudgy fingers and a short pencil behind your ear. Give me content, or get the fuck off my screen.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:24 AM on August 27, 2007

Another lesson they seem unable to learn: My monitor is TWICE AS WIDE AS YOUR DAMN COLUMN OF TEXT. Allow me to let the content fill my goddamn screen. Do not impose your print-minded 8.5x11 scaling to the internets. It just pisses people off.
posted by caution live frogs at 6:52 AM on August 27, 2007

Newspapers' defensiveness about bloggers is really annoying. I read the Washington Post's site regularly, and they frequently whine about bloggers in columns or online chats. Sure, there are a lot of lame-o bloggers, but there are tons of blogs with well-written factual content backed with references.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:22 AM on August 27, 2007

I think the lumbering giants of dead tree media are finally waking up, but it just might be too late. The online version(s) of our local paper have evolved over time into a bloated, difficult to navigate mess. One thing thing they have absolutely no clue about is how to deal with comments left for online articles. They went from iron fist moderating to apparently no moderating whatsoever. What they end up with is a bunch of worthless drivel that mostly detracts from the stories.

Oddly enough, the Maine papers are owned by the Blethen family, who also own the Seattle Times. What that paper lacks in value added online-only content, it makes up for with a much cleaner user interface than its Maine counterpart.
posted by SteveInMaine at 7:49 AM on August 27, 2007

These mistakes can't be mistakes! They're key planks of our new digital online multimedia strategy for online digitalisation and monetisation!

Yep, we're screwed.
posted by bonaldi at 10:21 AM on August 27, 2007

There was some stuff maybe a year or so ago where John Gruber, operator of one of the better Mac blogs around, answered a question he gets quite a bit. That question being why he hasn't enabled comments.

I forget the exact wording, but I seem to remember his point being that comments, if one wasn't careful/lucky, would dilute the content, pulling readers down into the comment thread, rather than keeping their focus on the article.

I think the same is true, more or less, for newspapers. Clearly, there are contexts and places where comments are great (*coughs, looks around*). However, I'm not convinced a newspaper is one of them. There are better ways to get and publish user feedback if you're a paper. You never really hear about newspapers with a great set of commentors. All you ever hear about are the ones that devolve into bigoted screaming matches. Either this is because the good ones are unsung, or it's because they're really super rare. I'm guessing it's the latter.

Also, this article contains two big WTF paragraphs, that I will now quote for you:
Then there are the Google ads that link based on the subject of an article -- and are not always in the best taste. Take for example the story The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Wash., posted about a high school student who baked sperm-coated brownies and gave them out to classmates. A Google ad adjacent to the story, inevitably, hawked "yummy, tasty brownies." And almost any story anywhere that mentions Hitler or Germany in World War II will draw a slew of Google ads for Nazi paraphernalia.
More proof of Google's EVIL!!!

Then there is the polygamy page at the Salt Lake Tribune Web site, which no longer accepts reader comments, says Online Editor Manny Mellor. "People were coming out and saying we were promoting polygamy and the polygamists would log on," he says. "It wouldn't stay on topic -- people would write 'You're the devil', and they would answer, 'No, you're the devil.'"
Metafilter: No, you're the devil.
posted by sparkletone at 2:17 PM on August 27, 2007

CLF, I, for one, am glad when sites restrict column width, even though it leaves a lot of empty space. It's not just a print issue. Screen-wide colums are hard on the eyes because after each line, you have to skip the entire screen-width back left, all the while struggling to keep account on which line exactly you were on, which is difficult because the angle at which the eye is accurate enough for that sort of thing is quite narrow.
posted by Anything at 5:20 PM on August 27, 2007

I don't know if they're talking about the Salt Lake Tribune's polygamy blog, or their main polygamy page, but it looks to me like the blog's still accepting comments.

It's one of the many reasons I'm so totally obsessed with it. I love that real polygamists log on and talk about their lifestyle, like when some women responded with how they deal with courting a possible new wife. For me, it's like a celebrity commenting on blogs about themselves. Love.
posted by lampoil at 5:14 AM on August 29, 2007

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