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Times' Reader Comments Show Ignorance About Online Ads

After reading comments like the ones following this blog post by The New York Times Saul Hansell, it once again hits me upside the head just what a dire situation online media is in.

There are several reasons for this, some of which I'll detail in future posts, but the one that jumps out from these blog comments is this: many consumers simply cannot get it through their heads that the content they're getting for free has to be paid for. And if consumers aren't going to be the ones who pay for it, they have to be willing to let publishers make money through advertising -- and intrusive, expensive enough advertising to help them stay afloat. (Hansell's post is about the Online Publishers Association's new, larger ad units, that are going to start showing up on member sites in coming months. Members are the creme-de-la-creme of premium online content, including the Web presences of ABC News, Conde Nast, and yes, The New York Times.)

As a public service for BNET Media readers, below is a sampler of comments from allegedly erudite Times readers, followed with my own, Deary Abby-style replies:

Daniel writes: As someone who uses Firefox with the Adblock Plus add-on, I will not be worrying about ads, now [sic] matter how many pixels of my screen they may try to colonize.

Daniel, You also won't be worrying about content, because you won't have any to read.--Catharine

Eben Moglem writes: This is a good idea. It will cause more people to discover that AdBlock Plus will remove all the ads from any pages read by anyone using Firefox. More people will discover that the ads in digital media are totally optional, and they will tell all their friends how much better everything looks without any ads on it.

Dear Eben, And here's another cool thing. When everything online stops existing because it doesn't have any ads, then it really looks great. So minimalist!--Catharine

Dave Barnes writes: You want me to read ads? Then put them in newspapers and magazines where I cannot miss them.

Dear Dave, Great idea. If the Internet doesn't have ads, then there won't be online media, which will be such a boon for magazines and newspapers!! In case you haven't heard, they've been having trouble lately.--Catharine

Fortunately, if you read further down in the comment stream, cooler heads slowly begin to prevail. As one Marc Brodeur put it: "Ads make your content free. Deal with it."
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