Friday, June 27, 2008

An Open Letter to Boston.com

Dear boston.com,

We've known each other for a number of years now. When you're at your best, you're a fun mix of news and silly workday diversions. But you're hardly at your best anymore. Sorry, bro, but it's true.

Look, I understand that you're a Web site that doesn't understand how the Web works, and I'm sure that gets you down sometimes. So please, allow me to help you. I have five suggestions for you. Pick just three of them, and I'll walk the streets in a sandwich board advertising your site (which isn't an effective way to increase traffic, but I wanted to use an example you'd understand).

  1. Stop spamming my RSS Reader. I know you're really excited about your “Most e-mailed articles,” and I'll tell you, I was happy to add that RSS feed to my list. But I just found 60 stories in the feed at 8 a.m. That's after reading all the items I had at 1:30 a.m. How do 60 stories become “most e-mailed” in the dead of night? Aren't you sort of stretching the concept? Are you following the “Dictator wins 102% of the vote” standard of superlatives?
  2. Give me links. I know, I know, everyone yells at you about this. But people aren't saying it just to pick on you. It's super annoying to read about a Web site in your articles and not have a link to get there. Now, this isn't an invitation to over-link to every other word in the article, which is what other bad newspaper sites do. Just, you know, find that balance. It's not that hard.
  3. Fix your photo-based features. You know those fun picture tours you do? Like “Outdoor Patio Dining In Boston” and all that? I'll take one for the team and tell you: We hate them. No, not the idea; the idea is fun. It's the execution. Use a flash-based element to change the pictures so I don't have to reload a new Web page every time. There are ways to do this and change the ads, so you won't lose any revenue. Are you seriously going to ask me to click though 62 pages to look at Red Sox picks and vote for my favorite players? What am I, a link-clicking monkey?
  4. Put the blogs where I can find them. Where do you hide all your blogs? As an example, Ty Burr and Wesley Morris do a great job with Movie Nation. It's a fun read, and the Take 2 video clips are an interesting addition. So how come you bury these guys and their online efforts, huh? How come? Maybe a “Blogs” tab on your top navigation would help. Just sayin.
  5. Stop booting me from reading articles to force me to sign in. OK, so I go through my 60-odd “Most e-mailed articles” this morning, and I select a few to read. But look at this! After the first few I select, the rest are Boston.com member center prompts, and once I log in, every damned tab redirects to the same story. Is it that hard to remember which articles I wanted to read? Are you forcing me to randomly sign in so I can lose my stories and then have to look for them on boston.com? Gah!

I still love you, boston.com, and I hope you don't take this too personally. Just, you know, shape up a bit. We're all rooting for you.

Love,

Berto

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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