Proof of the Speed of Time?
A TGB Mom Issue: Toward Change in Views on Aging

Sins of the World Wide Web

UPDATE: As Mark Smith notes in the Comments section below, and much to Crabby's chagrin after all her bitching, her own site has mandated a name and email address to leave a comment. She has remedied that and anonymous posts are now allowed. However, Crabby has made a nice group of new cyber-friends by responding to some of her commenters and she hopes readers who want to will leave their addresses.

The tune for today, friends and neighbors, is the Sins of the World Wide Web and you may sing along if you know what Crabby Old Lady is talking about. This is the verse about stealing time.

Crabby’s home has two sets of sliding glass doors. They are 20 years old and one set does not slide very well anymore. On Sunday, Crabby clicked over to to see what they have that might fix her problem. She navigated to the appropriate section, found an item on the list worth reading about further and clicked on it.

Instead of a page explaining the workings of sliding glass door rollers, Crabby got a long registration form asking many personal questions. Crabby was not ready to buy yet. Crabby didn’t even know yet if Home Depot had the information or the products she needs. But that didn’t bother Home Depot. No more product info for you, you silly old lady, until you give us your life story.

Crabby ignored their rude request and typed l-o-w-e-s into her browser’s Google tool bar, then clicked on over to that other home repair behemoth. Again, Crabby found the correct department and clicked on what appeared to be an item that might be useful in solving her problem. Lowe’s is not as snoopy before a purchase as Home Depot, but they did want a Zip Code.

Crabby sighed deeply. It is not possible to travel the Web today without being stopped at every Website border. Why, just two days ago, Crabby saw a note on a low-traffic blog (she checked; 0 links at Technorati) that said: “Please register to leave a comment.” Who do you think you are, you twit. You should beg for comments, thought Crabby as she closed the browser window without reading further.

Having a stroll around the Web these days is increasingly like driving a surburban neighborhood with speed bumps every 50 feet. Sign in here. Register to proceed. Tell us about yourself. Help us make this site more useful for you. Oh, right, and Crabby’s got this bridge you might be interested in buying…

Crabby can’t post on cyber-friends’ LiveJournal blogs with her name inserted because the software allows only LiveJournal users to do that. Anyone else must post as “anonymous” or remember to put their name in the body of the comment. What genius, Crabby asks, thought up that irritation? Do they believe it is in the best interests of their business and their users to make it hard to pursue the interplay that gives blogging a large measure of its satisfaction?

Crabby subscribes to a number of Google news alerts. Each day, a list of latest stories related to her keywords drops into her email box so she can easily follow her topics of interest. She likes that the alerts search newspapers all around the U.S. and the globe so she is as likely to find an interesting story from the Butler (PA) Eagle – not a paper she would otherwise seek out – as The Guardian, the South China Morning Post or the Washington Post or the New York Times.

As often as not, however, when Crabby clicks the link to a story she wants to read, she instead gets a registration page. All these small-town newspapers seem to subscribe to the same registration service, and except for differing logos at the top, the forms are identical. They don’t want just an ID and password. Oh, no. They want first name, last name, snailmail address, telephone number, email address and sundry questions about how often Crabby reads the paper, how she subscribes, who her favorite columnists are and what she had for breakfast.

It is not a fair exchange to require more information from a reader than reporters or newspapers are willing to give about themselves - just try to find an email address to complain. This is particularly so for information that takes longer to enter than it does to read the story that may not be worth the effort after all. Crabby may quote them and she always links to them when she does, but it is with the disheartening knowledge that her readers, if they follow the link, will be confronted with the same tedious form.

Crabby had stopped following links to small-town papers no matter how intriguing the headline and blurb in the alert email. Stopped, that is, until she was introduced to a new service created to thwart these nasty newspaper forms. Thanks to JD's New Media Musings, Crabby has found and you should know about it too.

Type in the URL of the site that’s bugging you about personal information and it will serve up a plain vanilla ID and password someone else has posted for everyone’s use. If there isn’t one yet for the site that’s badgering you, it’s your turn to contribute. Make one up to use then and to share with others.

It’s not ideal. Surfing is still interrupted. But there’s some small pleasure to be had in not typing in the same information for the hundredth time and in foiling the idiots who gain nothing from their questions anyway because Crabby, as thousands of other Web denizens, always lies.

At Crabby's age, her most precious possession is time. Stealing that makes Crabby angry and you don't want to do that. There is a reason she is called Crabby.

Crabby's follow-up: Tilting At Windmills


I am 100% with you on this. I absolutely detest having to register to read stuff and will just close the window rather than enter any details. Why do they need to know I found out about their publication/product? What earthly use do they have for my postcode (apart from sending my unsolicited cr*p in the post)? It drives me mad!! I'll definitely be checking out bugmenot.

crabby is
crabby was
crabby be right.

Hey Crabby!
Tried to post a comment without name and email and got:


For all other posters -


[email protected]

*chuckles* I have a LiveJournal account, and I see your point, but it was originally designed to be interactive within the system so I also see theirs. There is this - the only valid info you have to give them to get an account is an email address, and a free service is fine for that. But I must admit, the comment forms here and on other blogs would be better as an alternative (though I still have to add my name by hand, of course - there's just a reminder to do so and a special place to put it).

Thanks for the link to that site. I always close the windows when the forms come up, unless I really WANT to take part in the site, which is rare. So I'll be glad to use that!

As always, you express my own sentiments better than I can! I usually tend to not bother with sites requiring registration, though I recently also read about bugmenot & tried it once. What really annoys me is having my readers subjected to this if I use such an article! With so much blogging going on, this seems to be a purposeful roadblock to free expression and sharing of information.

Yes, I think a lot more people would look at websites if they did not have to register. I find it very tedious and more often than not will turn away from that website and go somewhere else. Now I wonder if this stuff has been covered in any Jacob Nielsen type web usability studies.

I don't mind so much leaving my details here in your comments as I've decided to come and make a comment in the first place and I can click Remember personal info if there's a next time.

I feel that asking for an email address in order to comment on a personal blog is a different issue. Commenting on someone's blog is akin to writing a letter to the editor of a magazine or newspaper, and you usually provide a return address when you do that. What the sites you complain about do is ask for personal information in order to read them at all, and that's another kettle of fish.

Yes: being asked to register for content is irritating and intrusive. It's also what gets advertisers to give money to the website to pay the honest hard-working writers, web designers, and tech people for that content. No registrations -> no advertising -> no content. If the content isn't worth the hassle of registration (and in most cases it isn't) use the "Back" button on your web browser and vaya con Dios. But I advise against phony registrations - your own or someone else's. It's theft (even if there's no law against it) and it demeans you.

I not only agree with Jaycee and Nina that being required to leave an e-mail address in order to post a comment to a blog is OK and a "different thing", but I'd go one step further and say that I think the requirement to be only "right". I am one of those folks who defends peoples' right to say what they wish to say, but I abhor failure to identify onesself in doing so (think of some of the political ads these days!)
For instance, I used to work for a guy (who treated me very well as an employee BTW) who was very opinionated and wanted everyone to know what his opinions were. He once asked if I'd seen his comment in the newspaper. No, I hadn't. It turned out that he'd left it on the comment line which is anonymous (by design of the newspaper editors). He was incensed when I told him that I wasn't much interested in anonymous opinions.
Well, I can check statements of "fact", but I don't feel it's worth my time to do so if I've no way to assess the credibility of the "speaker".

Your writings have definitely encouraged a bunch of loyal readers as witnessed by them leaping to your defense.
Let me make it clear that I was not incensed by the personal information that your site required. I was amused. Sometimes we unwittingly set up roadblocks or demands from people in our own life that discourage communication. Sometimes things we feel may be of little consequence can be viewed as an affront to our personal choice. The internet is a vast display of public record retrievable by anyone. There are thousands of email harvesting bots that search the web simply to gather email addresses to include in lists for spammers. Some people may object to the increasing number of spam emails that they receive.
I enjoy your writings and will make this my last comment as Mark Smith. I appreciate you making this an option.

Crabby has read all these comments and in rethinking the issue, she believes she should have carved name and email in blog comments as a separate issue for its own discussion.

And "Mark," spam is only one aspect of the problem. Some people have been fired from their jobs for blogging, and there are things Crabby's alter-ego, Ronni, never says online because they would not be looked on favorably by, or would raise flags with, employers.

You're right too that things live forever on the Web. Ronni is particularly chagrined that a message she left in anger somewhere several years ago still turns up on Google. Aaarrgghh. There are sometimes very good reasons to post anonymously.

Crabby will address your point too, Eric, very soon.

And "Mark," spam is only one aspect of the problem. Some people have been fired from their jobs for blogging, and there are things Crabby's alter-ego, Ronni, never says online because they would not be looked on favorably by, or would raise flags with, employers.

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