Haven’t posted one of these in a while, so I wanted to give a brief explanation – a guide – to those who wonder why they see all the grey lines on the site.

Once a day, on the homepage, you may see a 1-2 question survey 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. In some cases you may be given the option to answer a 7-9 question survey so you can have access for the week.

For those who want to know more, there’s the explanation I originally gave after the jump. But I want to update the rest of you on where we’re at. The surveys are doing very well. Really well. Our conversion rate is almost double Google’s normal conversion rate. You may now be seeing them in Safari, too. I told you that the goal of using the surveys was so that I can eventually hire a second full-time person, which is the plan. At this point it’s pretty much just an issue of finding the right person. The surveys haven’t impacted site visits at all, and in fact more people read now than last June, which is when the surveys went live. So, thank you for your continued support and willingness to answer a quick question to read CB.

Original details after the jump.

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. 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!). 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.