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June 25, 2004 12:01 AM

Broken: and forms

For the final day of Seth Godin Week at This Is Broken (to celebrate our one-year anniversary, having launched with Seth's original idea) we have two entries from Seth today.

First - Seth points out that solicited feedback from customers, promising $5 to anyone who completed the survey. Only one problem, as Seth writes:

So, I visit the site (above) and discover not one or three or ten multiple choice questions.

Sixty three.

What sort of person sits still for 63 multiple choice questions?

How scientific is the feedback if it's only from the people who answer 63 questions?

What concrete action can Amazon take with all this finely tuned statistical nonsense?

Read Seth's original post on Amazon's survey.

Second - Seth writes about the signup form, excerpted below:


Seth writes:

Notice that the box ISN'T checked. That's the universal symbol for, "We're honest and we want genuine permission from you before we send you stuff by email. So if you want it, please check here."

I was glad to see that. But then I read the text. It says that the UNchecked box means that they WILL send you spam unless you affirmatively CHECK it to say you DON'T want it. (Even without the ALL CAPS I'm adding, it's still confusing.)

So, let's be clear here: In order to ensure its future in a world where everyone is online, one of the great newspapers on the planet is relying on second order trickery (because ordinary opt out isn't nefarious enough). Do you really think they're building much of an asset here? Can you imagine that three years from now the publisher is going to say, "I'm sure glad we tricked a million people into having no leg to stand on when we busily spam them!" Hardly.

See Seth's original post on the LATimes form.


This sort of thing is commonplace in the UK; I'd hoped recent legislation (here and in the USA) would settle on a standardised form of words, but one still has to carefully read whether ticking the box is opt-in or opt-out.

I haven't verified it, but I suspect some companies operate both schemes at once - perhaps one variety on mail-in forms and the other on web forms, or one on a contact form and the other on an order form.

It's a blatent attempt to mislead, but hey, they provided the option, didn't they?

Posted by: NRT at June 25, 2004 10:43 AM

I have worked with Bad Marketing People who think they're being really clever by tricking people into checking these boxes. Must be the same breed that thought annoying sales phone calls at dinner time would help drum up business. It took legislation to stop this peculiarly common practice in the US. I wonder if the same will have to be true of opt-in spam.

Posted by: Mr Lyons at June 25, 2004 12:22 PM

I don't think the publisher has anything to do with Marketing.

Posted by: never mind that at June 28, 2004 10:01 PM

The LATimes registration form is evil to begin with. Maybe I don't quite understand the business properly, but why does a newspaper need to know my name, address, and phone number if all they need is simple demographics?

Posted by: codeman38 at June 29, 2004 11:06 AM

Alot of the websites I visit refer to NY Times' articles . Trouble is, you have to register to view the pages. I lose interest and close the window. I don't think I've ever managed to read on of their articles. GREAT marketing technique!

I keep my cache and autocomplete info clear, so EVERY day that I go to a NY times website, I need to logon? No way.

Posted by: sd at July 5, 2004 09:05 PM

At least the New York Times doesn't require your name, address, and phone number in order to register...

Posted by: codeman38 at September 1, 2004 11:29 AM

I've managed to save up roughly $24651 in my bank account, but I'm not sure if I should buy a house or not. Do you think the market is stable or do you think that home prices will decrease by a lot?

Posted by: Courtney Gidts at November 18, 2005 01:57 PM

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