Reposting this since we always pick up some new readers around the start of football season: I can’t tell you how many emails I get asking some variation of this question: 1) Is something wrong with your website? I keep getting all these grey lines and can’t see the content. No. We’ve posted this several times, but assuming some of you don’t refresh the site every hour (what’s your problem?!) here it is again: If you are seeing grey lines on the site, nothing is wrong. You just need to answer the one or two survey questions at the top of the page.
I explained more in-depth here, but it basically goes like this online ad revenue isn’t what you think it is and, consequently, a lot of sites, both large and small, have begun putting up paywalls. I don’t like that. Google thinks they have found a middle ground by giving publishers (CB) the option to put completely anonymous surveys on their sites, with each answer earning publishers a small commission. An aggregated tally of responses goes to brands and market researchers who want to find out more about consumers. The publishers, in turn, collect a few cents from each response… and, well, it adds up. The goal is to eventually use that money to do better things with the site, namely hiring a second full-time writer so we can have more content, more videos, a more frequent podcast, etc.
So that’s it: the site is not broken. If you see the grey lines, just scroll up and answer the survey question. It literally takes less than a second.
2) An actual email I received today:
Please tell me; what do you do with the answers to these questions you ask before getting on the site? I like your content, but I’m starting to feel violated –like some master scam artist is collecting seemingly innocent, but increasingly dangerous information about me. I’m not comfortable, and will probably stop reading.
“anonymous” (but you know who I am)
The surveys are completely anonymous. The aggregated responses – usually in the form of percentages – are sent back to the brand or market researcher with absolutely no personal data attached. The surveys are simply a way to poll readers on a myriad topics. Trust me– Google, Apple, Microsoft and the NSA already know enough about you. They don’t need your answers from surveys. And as you can see, there is absolutely no login required– you simply just click a response, which then gets added to other responses. The one second it takes you to click an answer is essentially a small payment to read CB for free. Every. Single. Response. helps support the website. They add up and it’s making a difference.
If you’d really rather not answer a question (the preferred, easier and quicker method), you can choose an alternative action, which, currently, is to share CB on Facebook, Twitter or Google. In the future, there may be an option to answer five questions at once to see the surveys only once per week, or pay $2 per month (or, $20 per year) to never see them.
Most of the feedback has been positive. The few complaints I get have to do with readers being confused about “the grey lines.” We’re working with Google to make it more obvious that you need to answer a question to dispatch them. You should not see a survey more than once per day, if that, and only on the homepage. That won’t change.
I’m closing the comments on this one, but if you have a legit question, gripe or feedback about how awesome and what a good idea this is instead of 30-second autoplay videos… you can email me by clicking the contact link at the top of the page.