Make sure you read the comments too, which provide some valuable feedback on potential flaws with the study, but it’s interesting nonetheless:

The final option — pay what you wish, with half the purchase price going to charity — generated big results: purchase rates of 4.49% and an average purchase price of $5.33, resulting in significant profits for the theme park. “When the charity factor is introduced, these casual freeloaders balk at the idea of paying nothing, because it’s more likely to reflect badly on them,”

via How to Maximize Pay-What-You-Wish Pricing – Freakonomics Blog –

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On editors and “shipping”:

People often think that editors are there to read things and tell people “no.” Saying “no” is a tiny part of the job. Editors are first and foremost there to ship the product without getting sued. They order the raw materials—words, sounds, images—mill them to approved tolerances, and ship. No one wrote a book called Editors: Get Real and Ship or suggested that publishers use agile; they dont live in a “culture” of shipping, any more than we live in a culture of breathing. Its just that not shipping would kill the organism.

via Real Editors Ship

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A newspaper website has decided to charge a one-off fee of 99c before you can leave a comment, to improve the level of discourse. I remember reading Seth Godin (I think) on the big difference between 0c and 1c (i.e. as soon as a financial transaction comes into it, it’s a whole new game). I actually like the experiment, and it will be interesting to see the short and long term results. What I don’t like so much is the idea of giving over credit card details for something so trivial; hopefully they accept PayPal too.

Anxious to lift an outright ban on comments, The Attleboro (Mass.) Sun-Chronicle has begun requiring two things of online readers who want to leave their thoughts on stories: 99 cents and their real names.

Reasonable people may disagree with publisher D’Arconte on whether this step is necessary.  The benefits of allowing anonymous comments are well known and vigorously defended. But what’s interesting is that this newspaper has weighed the pros and cons of anonymity and decided that the costs outweigh the benefits.

via Paper to readers: Comments now cost 99 cents and your name | Community.

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This article: about the growing popularity of the colon online. I found this little snippet more interesting though: how words and language usage can spread virally like content. Now: I’m going to stop using the colon for a bit.

So why is our writing suddenly peppered with colons? And where on earth did they come from?

Well, because the Internet is a place where things tend to go “viral.” Videos, songs, funny pictures of cats, forwarded emails, bad jokes–any information that can be transmitted digitally has the potential to snowball.

So, too, with words and acronyms. Have you ever told a friend you’d BRB? Ever LOL’d at a “FAIL”? If not, your child probably has. These words and clusters didn’t  exist in the early nineties, yet for the “text gen” they’re common currency. And, IMHO, they’re also tied to colons.

via The Millions : Colonoscopy: It’s Time to Check Your Colons.

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Stephen Fry is my all-time hero of language. I’m aware that he’s not as high-profile in the US as in the UK, so if you don’t know much about him, start by YouTubing A Bit of Fry And Laurie – where you might also spot a younger Dr. House.

Here he is, on the freedom that should be given to language:

But above all let there be pleasure. Let there be textural delight, let there be silken words and flinty words and sodden speeches and soaking speeches and crackling utterance and utterance that quivers and wobbles like rennet. Let there be rapid firecracker phrases and language that oozes like a lake of lava. Words are your birthright. Unlike music, painting, dance and raffia work, you don’t have to be taught any part of language or buy any equipment to use it, all the power of it was in you from the moment the head of daddy’s little wiggler fused with the wall of mummy’s little bubble. So if you’ve got it, use it. Don’t be afraid of it, don’t believe it belongs to anyone else, don’t let anyone bully you into believing that there are rules and secrets of grammar and verbal deployment that you are not privy to. Don’t be humiliated by dinosaurs into thinking yourself inferior because you can’t spell broccoli or moccasins. Just let the words fly from your lips and your pen.

Read the (very long) full article at Don’t Mind Your Language… « The New Adventures of Stephen Fry.

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Semi-automating content optimization:

So here’s something devilishly brilliant: The Huffington Post applies A/B testing to some of its headlines. Readers are randomly shown one of two headlines for the same story. After five minutes, which is enough time for such a high-traffic site, the version with the most clicks becomes the wood that everyone sees.

via How The Huffington Post uses real-time testing to write better headlines » Nieman Journalism Lab.

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Don’t cause problems for the almost 10% of people who suffer from some type of color deficiency, by avoiding these color combinations:

High Priority

  • Green and Red
  • Green and Brown
  • Blue and Purple
  • Green and Blue

Read the full list and more important tips at:  Quick Tips » We are Colorblind » Patterns for the Color Blind.

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Adam Sherk has used Google to search through millions of Press Releases, to find the most overused cliches and buzzwords. He identifies almost 100 terms, and I have to admit, I’ve used many of these. I should probably spend more time innovating my real-time sticky content.

Overused Terms

1. leader (161,000)

2. leading (44,900)

3. best (43,000)

4. top (32,500)

5. unique (30,400)

Read the full list at The Most Overused Buzzwords and Marketing Speak in Press Releases | Adam Sherk.

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An excellent piece from David Mitchell in The Observer:

By implying that it thinks content should be free for moral reasons, the Guardian website is playing an extremely dangerous game. It’s an approach which not only makes it hypocritical to charge for the printed newspaper and the iPhone app, but also gives hostages to fortune: what if the Murdoch paywall, or some other “micro-payment” system, starts to work? Are we to believe that the Guardian wouldn’t institute something similar?

Go and read the full thing at: Of course Rupert Murdoch’s evil, but that doesn’t mean he’s wrong.

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Scott Berkun:

The better the writer, the better the job he/she does at anticipating questions or making sure the links are worth the cognitive cost of forcing the user to decide to click or stay.

All  choices writers make have cognitive tradeoffs. Readability, a simple filter that makes pages easier to read, is a surprisingly good alternative to many website and blog designs, but for the better writers on the web, it takes away more than it gives.

via The tradeoff of the hyperlink « Scott Berkun.

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