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((((((((((((((((( WEBREFERENCE UPDATE NEWSLETTER ))))))))))))))))) January 20, 2000


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http://www.webreference.com http://www.webreference.com/new/ http://www.webreference.com/new/submit.html New this week on WebReference.com and the Web:

1. CONTEST: Subscribe & Win! 2. FEATURED ARTICLE: 3 Myths of Internet Privacy 3. NET NEWS: * Transmeta Crusoe Chip Unveiled * Diamond Partners with Transmeta * WebSideStory Releases New HitBox Products * Domain Registrations Extended * Bulk Confusion at BulkRegister * Halfway Takes the Plunge

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Every Thursday the Update features a new article contributed by our readers through our Open Publishing Initiative. We encourage you to submit your own article ideas, and share your thoughts with over 90,000 other subscribers!


This week, writer Dave Murphy looks at 3 myths of Internet privacy, and reminds us that honesty is the best policy.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 1. CONTEST: Subscribe & Win!

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 2. FEATURED ARTICLE: 3 Myths of Internet Privacy

>Soccer Teams and Sesame Street

When you register your child for a soccer league, is it reasonable for the team to ask for your name, address and phone? Sure. You like to get a call if a practice is rained out, and the street address list is handy for the occasional carpool, etc...

When you donate money to your local public television station supporting programs like Sesame Street, do you expect your name, address and phone to be sold to the Democratic National Committee? Or, when you open a bank account, do you expect your name to be sold to credit card companies? Heck no!

The point here is to relate these examples to how your Website collects and uses the information from its visitors. Sure, "Privacy Statements" help, but there is no substitute for an honest and open disclosure of what you collect and how it is used. Let's look at three major myths Web companies have today with Web visitor's personal information....

>Myth #1: If we really told people what we do with their information, we wouldn't get it.

Well, if this is the case, than you surely are doing something wrong! People are reasonable. Build the case for why it benefits them to give information. Tell them what customized features your site can offer if they allow you to serve them. Retail sites can offer e-mail notifications when certain product lines are updated, or when their favorite author or musician comes out with a new book/CD.

If your site utilizes cookies to manage sessions, give a link for interested visitors to see the code that places the cookie on their hard drive with sample data. People do care about what you put on their drive. What may appear innocuous to you and your technical staff is many times a mystery to Web visitors. Explain things in plain language.


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>Myth #2: Get as much information on your visitors as you can, because you don't know what you'll need.

Know what you need, and know when to ask for it. For instance, a small text box and graphic on the top of every page asking a visitor to join your mailing list is a subtle way to build membership in your site. And, if they like what they see on your site, then they'll opt in when they are good and ready.

If you are an e-commerce retailer with a mail catalog and e-mail list, ask for either their home address or their e-mail address. Most Web visitors like to hold on to their mailing address until they give you the order. Asking for personal information too soon is just as bad as asking for too much. If you have a high-end product requiring phone follow-up, ask if they would like someone to follow up with them on a particular product or feature. Don't sneak the phone number out of them and then blister them with calls...

And, most importantly, if you don't need to know something - don't ask for it. You can't be accused of selling something you never had.

>Myth #3: If we disclose how our site makes money, we'll lose Web visitors.

People aren't stupid. For those interested, you can provide a link to a detailed page showing where your revenues come from. Or, you can give a link to an administrative area that discusses the focus of your site and how your site derives its income. A good example is a non-profit association. Put a pie chart graphic showing income from (in this example) 1)dues, 2)magazine sales, 3)technical pamphlets, and 4)conference fees.

People want to associate themselves with profitable companies who are going to be around next time they click on their "favorites" list. They want to see new features and content, and don't mind "paying" for these things as long as they see the value. Be up front with your returning visitors and you will be rewarded.

In summary, honest and open disclosure of the uses of people's personal information is key. The 5% who get upset when they see this type of disclosure wouldn't have bought anyway. Use plain language keeping the lawyers and MBA types in check. People on the Internet are savvier than the "suits" think, and fancy language equates to "I don't believe what I'm reading." Web visitors have become extremely sarcastic in the last few years, so the job of being "believed" becomes harder every day. Develop a reputation for honesty on your site and guard it dearly.


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About the author: Dave Murphy is the CEO of http://www.tek-tips.com, Tek-Tips Forums for technical computer professionals. Their independent technical forums for computer professionals do not allow any selling or recruiting.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 3. NET NEWS: Transmeta Crusoe Chip Unveiled, Diamond Partners with Transmeta, WebSideStory Releases New HitBox Products, Domain Registrations Extended, Bulk Confusion at BulkRegister, Halfway Takes the Plunge

>Transmeta Crusoe Chip Unveiled

After much anticipation and speculation by industry insiders, start-up Transmeta Inc. unveiled its Crusoe processor product line, specifically targeted at creating Internet and wireless appliances with low power requirements. http://www.internetnews.com/prod-news/article/0,1087,9_289091,00.html Internetnews.com, 000119

>Diamond Partners with Transmeta

After Transmeta came out of hiding, the company's first partner was quick to follow. Diamond Multimedia announced a tablet-sized "Web Pad" computer using Transmeta's Crusoe chip. http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1006-200-1527245.html News.com, 000120

>WebSideStory Releases New HitBox Products

WebSideStory, a vendor specializing in products for Internet-based Web audience analysis, this week released four new tools, HitBox Doctor, HitBox Search, HitBox Submit, and HitBox Poll. The tools are designed to help Webmasters improve the quality and exposure of their Web sites through site diagnostics, automatic search engine submissions, and various other features (such as interactive polls and site search engines). http://www.internetnews.com/wd-news/article/0,1087,10_288491,00.html InternetNews.com, 000119

>Domain Registrations Extended

Domain name registration news has been running hot and cold this week. On the positive side, Net name owners can now hold on to domains for up to 10 years instead of renewing every year. Network Solutions, Register.com, and other registrars are offering discounts for lengthy contracts. http://www.wired.com/news/business/0,1367,33737,00.html Wired.com, 000118

>Bulk Confusion at BulkRegister

On the negative side, customers report that BulkRegister.com recently sold several domain names to customers then released them for sale again a day or two later. The names were later re-sold by other registrars, including Network Solutions and Register.com. http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,1282,33753,00.html Wired.com, 000118

>Halfway Takes the Plunge

As first reported back in December, Internet start-up Half.com wanted to literally buy the name of the Oregon town of Halfway and change it to Half.com. On Wednesday night, Half.com got its wish. http://www.internetnews.com/rumblings/0,1145,81,00.html InternetNews.com, 000120

That's it for this week, see you next time.

Andrew King Managing Editor, WebReference.com update@webreference.com

Eric Cook Assistant Editor, WebReference.com ecook@internet.com

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