Email from reader Russ D Pipes: I just watched the video explanation for the survey thing on your website. I just figured out I had to answer the survey to read the site today before I watched it. I was trying to figure out what the hell was wrong with the website for a week or two wondering why I couldn’t read it. It might be a good idea to keep that video at the top of the homepage for a while to inform the readers. I probably would have been able to use the site a week or two ago instead of just assuming a technical problem.
Good call, Russ D.
The response to the survey questions has actually been tremendous, better than I expected. A vast majority of you click when they show up on the homepage and there has been little negative feedback. I posted a video explanation about the questions twice, but I know that some people don’t like or can’t watch videos, and that others may have missed it, so here’s the deal with those survey questions that are not causing “a technical problem”:
Once a day, on the homepage, you may see a 1-2 question survey (no more!) before you can continue reading. Until you click an answer (sometimes two), the text on the page will be greyed out. There is nothing wrong with the site. That’s how it’s supposed to work. The surveys are generated by Google and are completely anonymous. Market researchers submit their questions and Google pushes them out to their 160 partner sites (we had to be selected by Google to take part in this). Each answer generates revenue (a few cents) for the site. It’s Google’s answer to the dreaded paywall. Ad rates on the web are continuously going down, causing more websites to charge for subscriptions, much like newspapers, magazines and other publications did for decades. But I don’t want to do that, and you certainly don’t want to pay for that. So this may be a happy medium– one second of your time to support the site. I’m guessing that you will start to see these on many websites in the coming months and year. The response on this site has been great, and I know that many of the other sites that are participating with the survey questions are experiencing similar success.
We are experimenting with the placement and frequency of the questions, but you should never see them more than once every 24 hours, regardless of how many times you visit the site each day. Right now, the surveys are limited to the homepage, not individual posts, and will only show up on Chrome, Firefox and IE, not on Safari or mobile. If you are seeing them every time you come to the homepage, check to make sure that you are not in private browsing or incognito mode, or that your browser doesn’t flush cookies every time you close it. I’ve received two comments, both from Firefox users, that they were seeing the surveys every time they visited the homepage. Please let me know if this is happening to you– we’re working to fix it.
As you can see, the surveys are very easy to dispatch and significantly less intrusive than full-page pop-up ads (or the 30-second ads that play before videos on CSNPhilly.com!). And every click helps to support the site. Most of you haven’t had a problem, and I’ve gotten many responses from people who were happy to make the extra click once per day. But know that there is nothing wrong with the site. The greyed out lines are normal. Just click a survey answer and they’ll be gone.
Thanks again for the continued support. The video explanation is after the jump, if you want more information on why we’re trying this.