Copy-and-paste of the email I received back from the NYT online:
Thanks for your letter inquiring about our registration policy.
Different news organizations on the Web do different things in order to
earn enough revenue to provide their services. The Wall Street Journal, for
example, charges $79 a year for access to its site. Several others request
a zip code or a birth date in order to use a particular service, or gather
information about readers and their viewing habits gradually through
“cookies” as they travel a site. Some sites do nothing at all;
many of those sites are losing not insignificant amounts of money.
In our case, we ask our readers to answer a few questions on our
our home page http://www.nytimes.com, the information we gather
from our individual readers is kept strictly confidential. The major use of
this information is to allow readers to see advertising that is most likely to
interest them. Advertisers present their messages to people who are most likely
to be receptive, improving both the viewer’s experience and the effectiveness of the ads.
The information we gather also allows us to learn how various types of
readers respond to the features we provide, helping us to improve our
We understand that some people find our registration questions too intrusive
to answer. For those people, access to The New York Times is available by
purchasing the newspaper, which can be obtained on many newsstands or
delivered by visiting our home delivery Web site at http://1-800.nytimes.com.
Thanks for your interest.
Leonard M. Apcar
Editor in Chief
The New York Times on the Web
From: (i don’t need any spambots finding this, kthx)
Date: Friday, January 07, 2005 12:07 AM
To: firstname.lastname@example.org (email@example.com)
E-mail: (i don’t need any spambots finding this, kthx)
To whom it may concern:
I just clicked another link from a site I read to an NYT article and it led me to the registration page for your website. I declined to register and instead looked for this contact form. The first time this ever happened to me I entered real info. For later occurrences having long forgotten my login I started to enter bogus info. Then I used bug-me-not. Then I decided that whatever you had to say couldn’t be important enough for me to be bothered with this registration business. The real important news is all on other sites or the AP anyway.
Maybe you don’t care what I have to say, but I’m telling you in the hopes that you do. I have resolved not to bother reading sites that require such registration. I also decline to use grocery discount cards even if my food comes at a slightly higher price. There are others like me, and may I humbly suggest that if you value our readership and our advertising hits, sigh you quit the registration thing. Until such time as that is the case, I will continue to avoid the New York Times both in print and on the web.
You have my real, full-time email address now, and I kindly request that you don’t use it to send me anything other than a reply to this message.
Thank you for your time.