Some businesses just don’t get it

Well, this entry started as a quick blurb to highlight an article on my boss here at in the Australian Financial Review But that’s not what it’s ended up as. 🙂

You see, when I went over to the AFR site, I couldn’t find the story. I ended up doing a search for it, and I found it. Unfortunately, it wanted me to pay for the article, so I didn’t bother.

I don’t have a real problem with sites wanting payment for content – that’s their business, and I can choose to pay it or not. What freaked me out about it, however, was the price that they wanted.

The AFR retails for AU$2.50. For that, you probably get about a hundred articles. However, to buy just one article on their web site, they wanted to charge AU$3.30. Come again? More than the price of the entire edition for just one article? Um, thanks, but no thanks.

Author: Robert Watkins

My name is Robert Watkins. I am a software developer and have been for over 20 years now. I currently work for people, but my opinions here are in no way endorsed by them (which is cool; their opinions aren’t endorsed by me either). My main professional interests are in Java development, using Agile methods, with a historical focus on building web based applications. I’m also a Mac-fan and love my iPhone, which I’m currently learning how to code for. I live and work in Brisbane, Australia, but I grew up in the Northern Territory, and still find Brisbane too cold (after 22 years here). I’m married, with two children and one cat. My politics are socialist in tendency, my religious affiliation is atheist (aka “none of the above”), my attitude is condescending and my moral standing is lying down.

6 thoughts on “Some businesses just don’t get it”

  1. Using bugmenot, in my opinion, is unethical. If you don’t want to pay the price (be it monetary or other, such as advertising or subscriptions), then it is unethical to use something like bugmenot to access the content anyway.

    If you don’t want to access the content, that’s fine; it’s no big deal. If you do, you should be willing to pay what the vendor wants to charge.

    That’s _my_ ethical guideline, of course – you can, should, and do use your own. I do find it disheartening, though, that the honor system has broken down so badly in modern society.

    In the specifics of this case: the charge was not a subscription – it was a one-off charge to get the article.

  2. Bugmenot’s policy expressly forbids posting an account that someone paid to obtain. The purpose of bugmenot is to get around annoying registration forms, not to get around paying for content.

  3. But, as I said, annoying registration forms are a form of payment. They allow the site owners to build a better understanding of the demographics of the audience.

    What it comes down to is that if we want “free” (as in no money) content on the web, we need to put up with advertising. If we put up with advertising, we should put up with efforts to make advertising more effective _without_ being annoying. Registration is one such effort. And a one-off registration form (ala the NY Times) isn’t annoying.

  4. No problems with Mailinator, though I don’t use it – I just give email addresses of the form ‘’. This lets me get the legit mail I’ve indicated I’m willing to accept, and to easily flick the whole account over to a spam basket if it turns out that the site on-sold the details. (One of the benefits of using your own domain… 😉

    FWIW, I’ve never once had a normal, high-profile site (such as, oh, the New York Times) on-sell the email address. Large credible companies trying to build a web presence tend to be smart enough not to violate their stated privacy policies.

    About 80% of my spam comes directly to my public email address (, because I’m not afraid of putting that address on the web and it gets spidered. The rest comes from people mass-mailing either my ISP or gmail.

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