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Letters to the World


Another newspaper falls victim to registration insanity

Filed under: General — codeman38 @ 1:25 pm

Mrgh! Now the Atlanta Journal-Constitution wants me to provide my name, address and phone number just to read a news article on the site…

Why do newspapers think this is a good idea? I just have to wonder how much false information they get on these forms. I can handle the e-mail spam, but it’s not so easy to filter one’s phone calls and snail mail. And not everyone exactly feels comfortable giving out contact information to any random party. I’m seriously tempted to fill out the form using obviously false information like a phone number of 404-NOT-FOUN (wonder if they’d notice the area-code pun?) and an address of 40 Gigabyte Drive…

Really, if you’re just going for demographics, asking for year of birth and zip code would probably be enough. There’s no reason you need to actually have our contact information.

And I love this part of their privacy policy:

The more you tell us about yourself, the more value we can offer you. Supplying such information is entirely voluntary. But if you don’t supply the information we need, we may be unable to provide you with services we make available to other visitors to our site.

Uh, yeah. How “voluntary” is it if I can’t even read an article without having to go through the full registration process, especially when it balks at me if I don’t provide my address and phone number?


  1. Incidentally, I ended up using my real name and e-mail address, but registered with a fake phone number and street address. Why? If they google for my real name or e-mail, they’ll see that I’ve posted several entries to the Risks Digest, among other privacy- and security-conscious sites…

    Unfortunately it wouldn’t allow me to enter an alphanumeric phone number, so I just put in 478-555-1212 instead. If they’re going to call me, let them go through directory assistance… I did give my real name, after all, so they can’t say I didn’t provide a means of contact.

    (What exactly would deaf people who don’t have a voice line fill in for that field, anyway? I’m just curious… I doubt AJC would want to call and hear the screeching of ASCII-encoded teletype transmission. I guess they could always use a relay service if they really wanted to make the call, but still…)

    As for the address, I put in “If you really want it, whois”. Again, if they want my address, let them search through already public information to do so; I’m going to make them actively search for it rather than just giving it up willy-nilly. The main difference is that there are significant restrictions on what can legally be done with WHOIS data, whereas the AJC’s privacy policy doesn’t exactly specify what they’d do with the data provided on the form…

    Comment by codeman38 — 16-Apr-2004 @ 11:38 pm

  2. It’s seriously not worth all this anxiety. Just fill in random trash and go.

    Comment by j — 20-Apr-2004 @ 7:02 am

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