Aardvark Daily
Letter to the editor
Copyright © 1997 to 7am News
Click here to suffer from exposure
From: Anson Parker <anson@wammo.co.nz>
To: editor@aardvark.co.nz
Subject: ICBIT? right back atcha...

Dear Editor,

Your blatant biases against certain companies are really beginning to lower the credibility of Aardvark as an industry commentary. While I understand Aardvark is not touted as "news" in the strictest sense, that vitriolic marsupial tongue seems to frequently be used to exercise personal vendettas.

For example, there have obviously been some wrangles between yourself and TVNZ in that they weren't prepared to provide permission for you to publish and link to their news headlines. The ensueing avalanche of "I can't beleive it's true" tirades has caused me some alarm. Last week's ICBIT took aim at the sports page, firstly proporting that if you click on the Countrywide banner "you won't get anywhere near Monaco!". How so?

After clicking on this banner i was presented with a page advertising bonds, with a prize [drawn on march 14] of a trip to monaco available to investors. Seems "near" Monaco to me.

Secondly you suggest turning off java and viewing the page. Upon first glance the ad frame you see the words "You Need JAVA enabled to view the contents of this frame. Please mail me". However, there is actually more than this, if you view the entire frame [or frame source] the sentence actually reads "You Need JAVA enabled to view the contents of this frame. Please mail me for information on how to enable this feature The Webmaster TVNZ Online".

So TVNZ are guilty of having chosen a font size too big to display the entire message in the frame. Aardvark & 7am are both also guilty of this -- the newsticker and clock look terrible on a macintosh as the font is too large to fit in the ticker/clock border and spills out over the edges mixing with other text.

So please -- let's have more of the "industry" and less of the pettyness.

regards,

A n s o n P a r k e r .
Creative Director [x.64]

Aardvark replies:

As is so often the case with the "I can't believe it's true" segment, the sites being referred to quickly change their pages so as to eliminate the problem.

In the case of the TVNZ sports page, when the story was written last week, clicking on the banner resulted in a "page not found" error - pretty amusing if the user is expecting to be whisked away to foreign parts, only to find themselves dumped with a server error and probably a little frustrating for any advertiser who has paid money for the privilege. It was even more embarrassing because TVNZ made a "song and dance" about the launch of this revised component of their site and I'd just highlighted the importance of 3rd-party reviews the week before.

With respect to claims of "personal vendettas", I have no such axe to grind with respect to TVNZ or any other sites. Sure, TVNZ were less than cooperative some months back - but it's always been my policy to get on with getting on rather than waste time grizzling over the past. Not having any cooperation from TVNZ certainly hasn't hurt 7am's success one little bit - so what's to feel bitter or complain about? Ever since my first contact with TVNZ I have held open an offer of assistance to help them get a better grip on the market if they want to - hardly the actions of someone with a vendetta. I made the same offer to IRN when there was some conflict around the same time. At this stage in the industry, there is far more to be gained by working together to build the market than there is in bickering to gain dominance in a New Zealand market of no more than 3,000 regular visitors.

As I'm sure you, as creator of Wammo will surely acknowledge, there are a lot of excellent Web sites around New Zealand which have been created on a shoestring budget. It is therefore all the more interesting when an organisation with a multi-million dollar profit messes up and gets egg on its face.

The TVNZ site is a twice winner of the ICBIT award this year based strictly on its merits - not for any other reasons.

With respect to the issue of font size on the TVNZ site - it was an embarassing mistake on the part of TVNZ - that's what the ICBIT section is all about - identifying and highlighting such "whoopsies" for the amusement of Aardvark's readers. Naturally this is going to put a few noses out of joint - but 99% of featured sites take it on the chin without complaint - after all, it amounts to a free advertisement and if the rest of the site is up to scratch it could mean the recruitment of new regular visitors.

You are correct in pointing out that Aardvark Weekly is not so much news as commentary. Aardvark Weekly has built its reputation on a "no holds barred", often controversial, frequently subjective set of views on the Internet industry and its future. It's only natural that some organisations feature more prominently than others since they either hold positions of importance (or aspire to). Few people are as quick to complain when I highlight problems at Xtra, IHUG or other industry leaders for several weeks in a row.

I also take great care not to avoid conflicts of interest between my other commercial activities and my commentaries. I cite the example of Net shopping. Several appalling net-shopping sites have appeared on the NZ Web in recent weeks - but I have decided not to comment or highlight their follies because it could be seen as "sour grapes" due to my involvement with The Warehouse's shopping site. Perhaps some might argue that 7am and TVNZ News are in direct competition - but I think not. almost 95% of 7am's market is in the USA whereas TVNZ doesn't seem to be making any such push. 7am is also a "Value Adder", whereas TVNZ is a News Reporter - the two types of operation are more symbiotic than competitive.

With respect to the Java ticker and clock on 7am, unfortunately the Mac does things differently to all the other platforms, even in a supposedly portable environment such as Java. One would expect a "times roman 12 point" font to be the same on all machines when using Java - and it is, except the Mac. This isn't Apple's fault of course, but it is a problem. I'm not about to start a war over whether the Mac is better, worse or otherwise - it's just "different" and I am working to resolve a problem which affects at most, about 4% of 7am's target market.


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