Required registration: worth the paper it's printed on?

The Atlanta Journal Constitution carried a story saying that a lot of news sites, with the exception of USA Today’s parent Gannett were moving to required registration. Now, USA Today says it’s testing registration, asking for gender, zip code and year of birth.

How reliable is this self-reported data? I lie on site registrations unless there’s a compelling reason to tell the truth, and I’m not alone. A friend of mine tries to get this fellow Safeway customers to trade discount cards with him simply so he can dirty up their database.

On a lot of sites, the most populous zip code is 90210. That might be a good way to test the quality of a registration database. Divide the percentage of the Internet population that’s in 90210 by percentage of the site’s population whose zip code is 90210 and multiply the result by 100. The closer a site’s index is to 100, the higher the quality of its self-reported demographics.

Any advertiser that accepts self-reported demographics on required-registration news sites is guilty of professional malfeasance.

2 thoughts on “Required registration: worth the paper it's printed on?

  1. Hallelujah, man. I’ll be damned if I ever put valid information in one of those annoying registration forms. It’s not that I have a *huge* problem with giving out my information — it’s just that I’m annoyed at the roadblocks.

  2. I too routinely lie on registration forms, usually in an obvious way. This puts me and the site requiring registration on an equal footing — “you want my personal info, you get clearly bogus data”.
    Let’s not overlook sites with registration that requires Javascript or cookies. (To this day I haven’t been able to successfully register at nytimes.com.) Registration is just another thing on your site that will break, and lose you readership.
    Whoops, posting this didn’t work — time to add a bogus email address!

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