How Does BugMeNot.Com Affect Online Newspapers?

I was reading a Wired News article about The Wall Street Journal becoming irrelevant because of it’s online presence or rather lack thereof. The thesis of the article was that in order for the WSJ to keep in touch with bloggers and the online community in general they need to open the doors to bloggers by allowing them to link to specific stories and remove their invasive mandatory registration requirements.

What I found particularly interesting was that “got rid of registration requirements when it discovered they drove away traffic.” I can’t say exactly how many times I have decided not to use a particular news source because of it’s stupid required registration but I can say that it has been less of a problem for me ever since I downloaded the Bugmenot extension for Firefox. Now I just right click on the registration pages and Firefox and BugMeNot take care of the dirty work.

So, what’s my point? Well it made me wonder if BugMeNot is actually doing a disservice to the fight against mandatory registration because it’s quite possible that sites that have them (like the New York Times and the Washington Post) have NO IDEA how many people aren’t logging with their own information like the good electronic sheep they imagine us to be. These news outlets make linking to them inconvenient, invade our privacy, and all the while they aren’t even collecting good data – they need to rethink their strategy. I’m happily surprised that Forbes has figured it out; I hope that the others clue in, making life better for everyone concerned.

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