Sneaky numbers at Star

Dateline: Mon 07 Sep 2009

A blog reader reports:

"I fell on to a new scam The Star is perpetuating to increase its number of page views. In previous weeks, the high school football roundup was in one file. You'd access it and scroll down to your school for the game information.

This weekend, they apparently started putting EACH game on a separate page with no way to go immediately to the game you're interested in.

What that means is instead of 1 page for the roundup, The Star has 24 pages. And as a reader, you have no alternative but to start on the first page and go through each page in search of your school.

I pity the poor bloke whose school is on page 24. A pain for the reader as well as a way for The Star to have a dramatic increase in page views literally overnight."

We all know the paper has inflated its circulation figures for years by cleaiming "readership" -- meaning anyone who touches a paper over  agiven day, or even papers left off at schools and universities that remain untouched.

But this is a new way to add up page views on line, and possibly another way to mislead the public and advertisers about how successful the paper really is.

So it goes....


hendy [Member] said:

They also refresh their RSS flags up to five times daily, in a desperate attempt to get someone to twig on news about pool closings in Noblesville. Even the most hideous sites don't do that.

But take heart: The Bloomington Herald requires a sub to get behind their home page. I guess page views aren't important down here.

I tried to get a subscription. But it turns out that even though I'm closer to their offices than downtown, they can't get a carrier where I live. They offered a MAILED subscription at a hideous price. Perhaps Gannett isn't pressing and holding the stupid-button alone.

2009-09-07 20:07:18

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Besides The Star's refresh and page-view nonsense, their site takes up an enormous amount of bandwidth. It is slower than molases.

I read The Muncie Star webpage daily, too--it's my hometown. It is exactly the same. Slow.

Still free. For now. ANd therein lies the problem, I suppose.

2009-09-08 05:38:33

ConcernedStaffer [Member] said:

Disable javascript and the complete article will show up. It's pagination by way of a CSS style. There are browser add-ons that can help with this and the ads on the site.

2009-09-08 13:32:21

John Howard [unverified] said:

Oh, they are even sneakier than that. Each page has a 'refresh meta tag' in it that reloads the page every 10 minutes or so - even when you aren't anywhere near the computer. That is, if you leave one of their pages opened in your browser.

2009-09-08 18:35:10

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

COncerned Staffer: nice suckup. The site still sucks. But, it's free, and therein lies part of the problem.

2009-09-08 19:44:20

Old Grouch [unverified] said:

You can add a few entries to your HOSTS file, too:

Kill contextuals and some of the javascript garbage:

Block Realmedia and its associated javascript:

Omniture tracker (note it's "two-oh-seven" not "two-zero-seven"):

Adding these entries will block some site functionality, but will CONSIDERABLY reduce load time. On my dialup, the main page went from 6 minutes to 3-1/2 minutes for completed render.

(And TTT, I wouldn't pay a wooden nickel to subscribe to a site with a 3-minute page load time.)

2009-09-08 21:23:04

ConcernedStaffer [Member] said:

TTT: suckup? No arguments from me in regards to the site. It's a sad testament that you have to block all the ads and other crap they pile on to make it usable.

I was simply pointing out a way to get the whole article to show up -- because it annoys me as well.

Old Grouch points out some additional tips that will help.

You can also make Firefox not "auto-refresh" by going into your advanced configuration and disable the auto-refresh.

Like I said, you have to block and disable a LOT to make it manageable.

2009-09-08 22:36:52

John Howard [unverified] said:

This is a good point - IndyStar has NEVER had a bit of concern for the dial up user. Yes, they still exist! In significant numbers. The younger, techier folks and those with kids usually have a high speed connection. But the retiree-aged and others simply frugal with their money often still use dial up access points such as AOL.

Watching the site load with Firefox and Firebug (it's graphical display of 'what,' 'how big,' and 'how long' for every piece of the page you are viewing) is simultaneously humorous and apalling. As are the large number of scripting errors the site throws out.

Sloppy, bloated, inefficient and alienating. Great piece of work, Mr Ryerson.

2009-09-09 05:53:02

John Howard [unverified] said:

Incidentally, is now the most user-friendly news site in town.

WTHR and WISH have seemingly identical web packages - one that is both slow and content-poor. They used to be pretty good sources to go to. Even WXIN-59 has downgraded the content in favor of 'pretty facing' their site.

It seems to be a trend - add more visual pizazz and to heck with the quality of the information readers can get from it.

2009-09-09 06:00:08

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