Monday, 21 November 2011

An Open Letter To Salon Management:

Another fellow regular UT commentator, bystander, wrote the following letter on the 16th of November 2011.

He reports that, as of today - the 21st of November 2011 - he has not received any reply.

(You're all lulzing, I know ... stop it!)

He has graciously agreed to my reproducing it here. It says everything I would want to say, far better - and an incredible degree more courteously - than I can say it.

I encourage other UT regulars to follow his lead.

Dear Mr. Talbot and Mr. Lauerman,

I have just recently submitted updated credit card information to Salon, thereby, formally rolling my subscription from a Premium account to a Core account. However, mine is a conditional kind of support. Frankly, I'm fairly unhappy with Salon at this point, and have made the decision to persevere on the thin hope that, within the coming months, you will demonstrate that you have your customer's interests at heart.

You've certainly unnerved a number of people by forcing them to subscribe with personal sources of information which are then managed by an unknown third party. Some "introduction" to that third party acknowledging people's privacy concerns might have indicated that you're aware that your readers have actually read the columns and reports regarding internet privacy you've published! As a paying subscriber, I've side-stepped that point of discomfort for now, but if/when I decide that Salon is as unresponsive as my elected congressman, I'll choose a different strategy for accessing Salon - if I even care to view it.

Your comment threads are essentially unreadable. I was agnostic on the issue of threaded comments, but I always believed that if they came they would come with the ability to collapse them, and some change-in-color/coded scheme to identify comments one had already reviewed. Clearly, that's not what we have. And, paginating this unreadable mess only serves to make the reading experience worse. The amount of white space devoted to individual comments, coupled with the narrow column these comments are allowed, the inability to collapse them, AND your insistence on paginating them makes reading them one of the most aggravating experiences I've ever had online. It is simply awful. And, who needs to pay/compromise their privacy for awful?

Then there is the nearly laughable experience I had trying to update my credit card information. Upon submission I was greeted by a totally blank screen - yards and yards of white space without a word to be seen. The only indication that this submission of information went anywhere was the URL https://[redacted] that appeared in the address window. Some affirmation that the submission had actually been completed would have been appreciated, and a Thank You would have been a real bonus.

Finally, I am undecided how to cope with your intent to bill my credit card account automatically each subscription cycle. I want out of that liability. It's astounding to me that you don't make your intent to recycle that charge every 12 months obvious and plain. It's taken me two phone calls and an unanswered email to confirm my suspicion that this was your intent. That unwillingness to make plain the financial liability your subscriber assumes is nothing short of creepy. I'd almost go so far as to say it's fraudulent.

Clearly, you have undertaken a major project. And, clearly, someone failed to understand the breadth and depth of the problems that would be encountered in doing so. Clearly, there would be bugs and, clearly, you would need time to sort them all out. But, what I'm describing are not bugs. These are, in my estimation, major design flaws which demonstrate an utter disregard for your subscribing readers. Clearly, I am unhappy. Clearly, I am trying to be patient. And, clearly, I have a thin hope that if I identify why I am unhappy, you might consider my complaint as a "canary in the coal mine" indicator for others who might be having a similar experience, but who might not take the time to email you. They might simply disappear, instead. And, before all is said and done, I might be one of them.

Thank you for your time.


Please, nobody, hold your breath waiting.

But, there's still Kiwi rock music:


  1. I'm super-confused... why on earth would anyone consider PAYING for anything Salon has to offer? Okay, well, Glenn, yes...but as long as Glenn's articles and the reader-comments can be viewed for free, those swine will never see a dime from me--and if the minimal amount of content I find interesting were no longer free, I certainly wouldn't start paying for it, I'd just delete it from my bookmarks and forget it. I don't pay to support idiocy masquerading as intellect by a bunch of spoiled MFA's and their unemployed friends and relatives, and frankly I've never been able to figure out how Glenn ended up associated with that rag in the first place... I bet if I google hard enough there's a blog somewhere that would explain it, but meh. I don't care THAT much.
    But I sure do miss the reading the comments section from before the 'crackdown', what a hilarious bunch of mixed nuts...

  2. That was a fine letter you posted. I hope that many of the regular Salon readers see it somehow. Maybe you could get Glenn to link to it in one of his "various" posts.

  3. Scuzz,

    To tell the truth, I was hoping that this place would become more of a Glenn Greenwald discussion area. I realize that Moon-of-Alabama did not become a big deal until Billmon pulled the plug on comments; but I was hoping that off-topic debates and even food-fights could go on here and not at Salon. In this way you would have made UT a more classy place.

    Ah, missed opportunities. Alas.

  4. Hold on there, Mark. Why on earth would it be Scuzzaman's job, or even of interest to him, to make UT a classier place? That "job", if anyone's, belongs to Salon, David Talbott, and Glenn himself. That is, assuming one felt that a comment section required the sort of patrolling necessary to "keep it classy" in the first place.
    Scuzza did not set this up in order to create UT Sublet: the Dogpatch. He is not responsible for fixing Salon's many issues and certainly not Glenn's comment section babysitter. What do you want him to do? Tell the ones who "cause trouble" on UT that they have to come over here for a time-out?
    Sheee-it. That is not the purpose of this site.

  5. Why teri49, no one said that ScuzzaMan was responsible. I said that I had hopes for this site to become much like moonofalabama. "B" over there is in Germany also as a coincidence. I have also seen Scuzza speak well of that crowd over there.

    The "purpose" of this site is to rail against Salon's fugly. The long term evolution of the site might be something else. After all, Scuzza joked that there were only two of us reading it these days.

    You don't want more?

  6. Mark, the situations are not comparable. By your own comments (since I have no idea what goes on at moonofalabama, nor do I have any interest), you reveal that the comments at moonofalabama had the comments section's plug pulled. This hasn't happened at UT.

    Secondly, your final sentence in that 24 Nov post seems to be a contradiction to the rest of the suggestion - namely that a forum for discussion of GG blog entries here would make UT a classy place. That makes no sense as written as it doesn't sound like that's what happened to the comment section at moonofalabama (since obviously there was no comment section to make classy).

    It sounds like salonfugly is like Florida and you would like Cuba (UT) to send all its criminals here, mixed in with some level of exodus. Gee, what a great opportunity for ScuzzaMan!

    Perhaps you meant something else, in which case you might wish to rephrase.

  7. Since you do not know, I'll fill you in. Billmon was a very popular blogger and one day he pulled the comments plug. Moonofalabama (the origin of the name is a story in itself) plus another site filled the gap and let the community continue on despite the loss of the Billmon letters section. Then later we even lost Billmon himself as he burned out I guess. The community still exists. ("b" even pulled the plug there for about a year and then restarted)

    So, from all that I have said that a backup site is not a bad idea. After all, could do about anything. Secondly, if some folks wanted to talk 9-11 or some other off-topic thing here rather than there it would please Glenn Greenwald I think. Other topics that don't really apply to the post of the day might be talked over here. Like this one.

    If ScuzzaMan says don't; then OK. But it is all up to people. No one is going to be forced to post here. In fact, as Salon gets its act together somewhat (archives with two names are back) this site may become less visited.

    In what way is any of this 'dumping' on ScuzzaMan?

  8. Hey all. I notice that Climategate II is in full swing and that some governments are backing out of the ridiculous international agreements on the "poison" CO2.

    Too bad UT at Salon is too dainty to talk of such matters.

    -- heru-ur