To URL, or Not to URL: That Was the Question

I did a test of including the URLs (when available) for every story in last week’s Premium edition, and asked readers to give me feedback: did they like it? Hate it? Or…?

About 2/3 of the mere 278 people that responded really like the idea of my including the URLs. That’s a fairly poor showing (the 278, not the 2/3).

More telling to me were the emailed comments. Several liked the idea (though they were split between “put them right under the story!” and “just be sure you don’t have them with the story, cluttering up the text!”), but the anti emails were significantly higher in number, and more forceful.

For example, Joe in California:

Don’t go there. The overhead in administration for why-doesn’t-this-click alone will be immense. Just ask Chris Pirillo (lockergnome.com) how much HE loves hotmail’s weakest link problem. The newspaper link is a nice gesture, but not worth the price of taking away your time from other endeavors. The CONTENT is far more important than the SOURCE.

Indeed I knew that bad links would be a problem; some sites are notorious for links that change, or dropping stories after a very short time. (Others are great, though, with seemingly never-expiring stories.)

Mary in Texas:

The 2 links I clicked on got me nowhere. Basically, something that’s a neat idea but a lot of work for you, translates to major frustration for me, which I don’t need any more of. So maybe it’s not as cool of an idea as it seems to be.

And that’s my conclusion, too: it could be a neat idea, but it’s a major hassle not only for me, but to many readers. The idea was to be more fun/useful, not increase everyone’s work and frustration.

Thanks much for your feedback on my “experiment,” and sorry to those who really hoped it would be a permanent feature.

5 Comments on “To URL, or Not to URL: That Was the Question

  1. Seems to me that MOST readers like True because it’s fast and easy. This makes it POSSIBLE to be ‘un-fast’. Not sure that’s a positive — (just an ‘if I’m going to spend 45 minutes with this thing, better not open now’ vs ‘Woo, I’m going to get my 3 minutes of laughs and back to work!’) Eh?

  2. The idea of the URL’s would be — in my view — to legitimize the stories, to prove they aren’t just urban legends from WeirdStuffThatNeverReallyHappened.com. But truth is, your stamp of approval is worth every bit as much as CNN’s or Ananova’s. If Randy said it happened, then that’s good enough for me. And if CNN agrees, well, good for them. 🙂

    My vote — Thanks, but don’t bother.

  3. I don’t need your sources, because I have found that when I read a story in your mailings which I recognize, it is invariably true to the source. The names, dates, and most importantly, the context, are exactly as I recall when I first uttered, ‘Cassingham’s going to love this one!’

  4. I’m glad you decided not to include the URL links for the reasons described by your readers. There have been a few times in which I’ve been curious enough to track down the news source of a This is True story. Using Google was more than sufficient for me.

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