No, Random Website, I Don’t Want to Subscribe to You

It’s a quiet day in front of your computer. You’re casually browsing the internet, minding your own business, when out of nowhere, you twitch your mouse to move up to close the tab you’re looking at.


The popup window certainly can’t be missed. You sigh, and then you go through the new routine of trying to figure out how to close that window, since each of them seems to be different. As if the websites assume if the window is harder to close, you’ll be likelier to reconsider closing it.

“You know, at first I thought this annoying popup window in the middle of my screen was obnoxious and intrusive, but now that it’s taken me a full minute to figure out how to close, it’s beginning to grow on me. Maybe I should subscribe to this website, after all.”

I have a hard time picturing anyone with half a brain actually doing that, though since so many websites are taking this approach, I have to assume that it’s been somewhat successful in getting them subscribers. My current theory on that is it’s because people mis-click somewhere along the way as they’re trying to close the popup window.

I get that times are tough for sites, and they all want a piece of the advertising dollars, and so they try to do whatever they can to get eyeballs to their articles. But it’s getting to the point with some of these websites that the actual content is so buried underneath ads and links to other articles, that it’s nigh impossible to find where the actual article starts and stops. (This is no doubt on purpose, as the site’s goal has stopped being to convey information, and instead chosen to focus on getting as many clicks as possible.)

In many ways, this reflects what’s happened to most print magazines these days. They’re so full of advertisements and flyers that I usually give up trying to read them. I suppose I should just be grateful that the web hasn’t caught on to print’s favorite trick: publishing the first 2/3 of the article in one spot in the magazine and then tucking the rest of it somewhere else in the magazine. (Maybe they view it as a fun perk. A game. A scavenger hunt/Where’s Waldo experience when you’ve reached a lull in the writing.)

Actually, I probably shouldn’t give that idea to web designers. Next thing I’ll be playing mini-games in the middle of articles, needing to complete a Choose Your Own Adventure just to get to the end of what I was reading.

Here’s the thing, web masters: if I find an article I like, I read it. If I begin to notice that article appears on a site where I find a lot of good content, I begin to go there more regularly. If I really like it, I subscribe to its RSS feed, to make it easier for me to find cool, good articles. If, on the other hand, the article is buried under advertisements and popup windows, I stop reading and go find something better to do with my time.

In other words, your popup jedi mindtricks are wasted on me.

I’d ask you to stop, but apparently it’s getting you subscribers, and you’re panicked that if you stopped, you’d stop getting the sheep to subscribe. So you’re scared, because money. But maybe (just maybe) you’d have *more* success if you started just focusing on quality content instead of tricks and games to gimmick your way to success.

Just a thought . . .


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