I’ve been following Adrian’s attempts over the past five days to try and find the email addresses for the web editors of various large and small newspaper publications with varied success.
Of the six sites surveyed, only one – sacbee.com – made it easy for me to get contact information quickly. Of the remaining five, two – ABCNEWS.com and MSNBC.com – did not appear to feature contact information at all, and the other three buried it so deeply that any reader who wasn’t a dorky online-news blogger doing some crazy experiment (or reader of said dorky online-news blogger’s site) likely wouldn’t have the patience to search for it.
He outlines some of the reasons that publications like these might choose to hide the information from the public, lists some very good reasons how the organizations in question could benefit from posting the web editor’s email address(es) prominently on their sites, and finally proposes ways that this sort of information should be presented to the user (you and me) so we can find it easily.
I think a lot of the reason the web editors in general don’t post this sort of information is because they’re worried that they’ll get a lot of weirdos emailing them about wacked out topics that make no sense and it’ll cut into their hectic work day ;)
Why just today I fielded an e-mail from an individual who at first seemed to make no sense but may have actually given us some valuable insight into how users perceive the page he was having problems with. It may have consumed a total of 3 minutes (and that includes the time I took to craft a polite email to help him out), but in the long run we’ll be able to create more intuitive interfaces for the users that visit the site.