The Register USA – your feedback

on Australia, Canada, design, speed and more

Letters So The Register US (theregus.com) has been up and running for a couple of weeks now; traffic levels are OK - c.60K page imps a day and climbing - and we're encouraged by early reactions from readers and, yes, advertisers.

But many of you (200+) have asked us questions and/or expressed doubts about our American adventure.I have grouped these by theme and attempt to provide some answers.

It'll never work

There's too much competition in the US, it won't do just having a subset of stories that appear on The Register UK. What's the point of having a local edition?

OK, we give up. On the other hand we think that we're already providing something which many people in North America want to read - just under 750K unique individuals from the US and almost 80K Canadian uniques tuned into The Register in the last 30 days,. So it's not CNET, but then we don't need to turn over $200m a year to break even. So why localise? This is what publishers do, folks. CNET is in Germany, France and the UK, IDG is Europe's biggest tech publisher, CMP is not in Europe as a tech publisher, but it is huge when it comes to organising exhibitions on the continent.

Each time our British readers (c.300K a month) log on to the site they read on average seven pages. Our overseas readers, by contrast, read just three pages and they log on less frequently. There's a couple of reasons for this - the first and most obvious is that we have a lot of articles specifically for the home crowd; the second is that the British articles - on BT etc. - can sometimes crowd out or distract attention away from stories that have more appeal to our international readers.

As to producing a higher proportion of local content for the Reg US - we're playing wait and see. The sums have to add up first, and then we'll invest. Doing it the other way round is the reason why so many dotcom publishers are in such a pickle.

The Reg US is so slow

The Reg US runs at exactly the same speed as The Reg UK i.e. at snails pace on a few hours on few days in recent weeks. We've identified and fixed a couple of software issues - there's plenty of bandwidth and our servers - all in the UK, admittedly - are coping.

However, it does look like we have to scale up the hardware at some point in the fairly near future. As part of this we are investigating moving The Reg US site to a web host based in North America. If nothing else, this will resolve latency issues for readers in this side of the water.

Can we have a page with all the stories, so we're not missing things?
We'll think about it. We certainly need to put in the crosslinks between the two sites (this was an oversight, and we'll get around to it, certainly in March. Other stuff we need to do, is get a Reg-US specific version of our daily email newsletter.

So what about a Register Australia ?
Yeah, we like this idea, a green and gold Reg - Australians form our fifth, sometimes fourth (depending on how Germany does) biggest readership by country, averaging just over 40K uniques a month; we like the humour, we understand the language - mostly - and we like the stories coming out of the country. Especially Senator Luddite.

So what's stopping us? Leave aside lack of money for a moment and let us move on to the real reason - our complete ignorance of tech publishing in Oz. We have absolutely no idea about the state of the online advertising market - although we'll assume it's bad, like just about everywhere else. And we don't know anyone - tech publishers/journalists/advertisers - there (although we do like Dan's Data).

The US, we have more of an idea, and we know people andwe have a fine partner in Tom's Hardware, which knows an awful lot more people there than we do. So the answer is no - unless we were offered the Murdoch shilling or the Packer Pound. Unlikely, we think.

Why do you hate Canada so much ?
This was prompted by our invitation for readers from North America, or to be more precise the US and Canada (we're leaving the Spanish speaking countries alone, right now), to change their bookmarks to The Regus.com

No thank-you, many Canadians replied. If you're so keen for us to come to your new site, why do you call it The Register USA? A couple of Canadians on the far-eastern coast point out that they live nearer the UK than they do to California. Some even say that they feel closer to the UK than they do to the US, and accordingly, have no intention of changing their bookmarks. That's fine by us. No really. We're not forcing anyone to move over - no redirects, no nothing.

We don't buy the "we're really, really different from Big Brother down south, though. The British don't go in for log-rolling competitions, or wearing orange clothes to shoot things in the wood; we certainly don't have creatures in the woods that can hurt or kill you (the last wolf in the British Isles was shot in the eighteenth century). No-one understands ice hockey, and what the hell is Canadian football? The British - apart from poor people in Scotland - have forgotten what it's like to be cold. And we don't club baby seals - our fishermen shoot their parents instead.

Spelling Bee

The Register employs some of the world's worst spellers, and even worse proof readers. So asking us our position on US v. UK spelling conventions seems a little redundant . But as you ask, here is our official position - our American-based writers and US-based content partners use American spelling; and our British-based writers and British-based content partners use English English spelling. There's consistency for you, and no we're not going to change. So we're cosmopolitan. Live with it.

Why couldn't you have a redesign while you were at it?
This comes down to our notorious three column, non-justified, v. hard-to-read newspapery way we present the headlines. OK, so if we said we'll change The Reg US front page template to a single column headline (just like CNET, but different), what would you think? By way of an experiment, of course. ®

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