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NY Times To Data-Mine Its Visitors

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the et-tu-Grey-Lady? dept.

The Media 98

pilsner.urquell points out a story in the Village Voice from a stockholders' meeting at the New York Times. It seems that the media giant is now eager to data-mine visitors to its Web properties. Of course anybody with a site who profits from advertising is likely to be doing something of the sort. It's just a bit surprising that the Times would use the words "data mining" out loud in public. From the article: "Barely a year after their reporters won a Pulitzer prize for exposing data mining of ordinary citizens by a government spy agency, New York Times officials had some exciting news for stockholders last week: The Times company plans to do its own data mining of ordinary citizens, in the name of online profits... [T]he problem with reading papers electronically is that they can also read you."

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Obligatory?? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19066675)

[T]he problem with reading papers electronically is that they can also read you.

So, how are we supposed to make Soviet Union jokes after this??

Re:Obligatory?? (4, Interesting)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 7 years ago | (#19066745)

Wow an insightful pithy first post. I suppose that since I assume all commerical sites, especially free one, are data mining me and selling me out in anyway they can I'm not worried by this. In fact I think it shows a lot of integrity by the NY times to announce their intentions ahead of time as it can only be bad PR.

Re:Obligatory?? (3, Funny)

Intron (870560) | more than 7 years ago | (#19067917)

"shows a lot of integrity"

Except they didn't put it in an announcement to the website visitors, they announced to their stockholders that they planned to make more money.

Anyway, I think everyone visiting the NYT site from now on should do a search for "elephant porn" and we'll see how that affects their advertising budget.

Correction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19071567)

Except they didn't put it in an announcement to the website visitors, they announced to their stockholders that they planned to make more money.

Correction: they announced to their stockholders that they planned to lose less money. The NYT has been bleeding red ink for years. This move on their part reeks of desperation to me.

Re:Obligatory?? (1)

PastaLover (704500) | more than 7 years ago | (#19096363)

Perhaps they didn't find the fact that they'll mine their user data that newsworthy. Personally I was surprised they weren't doing so already. Some people seem to think they have some sort of inherent duty to make a big fuss about it, instead of just posting about it in their financial reports. Whether it goes into the financial reports, or on the website, they're still making it public knowledge, which does show a lot of integrity. Not to mention that they've stated that they might do this for years in their privacy policy, which is on the NYT site, available for all to see.

Re:Obligatory?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19066861)

You could always just quote Nietzsche instead:

When you look into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you.

Re:Obligatory?? (2, Funny)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 7 years ago | (#19067725)

I never knew Nietzsche was Russian!

Re:Obligatory?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19068379)

In soviet Russia Nietzsche never knew you!

hrhr you made that one too easy :D

Re:Obligatory?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19071989)

Well, he was born in Weißenfels, an area that eventually was occupied by the Soviets and became East Germany. And East Germany was just a puppet state of the Soviet Union. And as far as I'm concerned, that makes it legit to make a Soviet Union joke.

Re:Obligatory?? (1)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 7 years ago | (#19078091)

So in East Germany, the right to make Soviet Union jokes acquires you?

Re:Obligatory?? (0, Offtopic)

Himring (646324) | more than 7 years ago | (#19067257)

No one ever uses the wow meme anymore. Let's give it a go:

"The NY Times will melt your face if you read their paper electronically...."

"Your face, that melt thing, yea, it'll happen at the Times....."

"0h n0z, sed t3h peeplz, our faces r t3h m3lt!..."

Re:Obligatory?? (1)

orclevegam (940336) | more than 7 years ago | (#19067551)

I was actually going to shoot for a Soviet America joke, but seeing as the editor stole our thunder I guess not. It's a sad state of affairs when the editors start making stupid jokes in the articles, that's the job of the commentors. Now how am I ever going to earn that +5 funny that in no way contributes to my karma.

Please slashdot, won't you think of the smart asses?

Re:Obligatory?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19068089)

In soviet russia data mine you! .... hmm

In soviet russia you expose NY times .... errum

Yeah, someone needs to patent using soviet russia style jokes in a slashdot summary, that for first posts only.

Re:Obligatory?? (1)

Cap'n.Brownbeard (1092507) | more than 7 years ago | (#19068559)

In Soviet Russia, cookies profit financially from the newspaper!

Hello Bug Me Not (4, Insightful)

fishdan (569872) | more than 7 years ago | (#19066681)

OR some other similar service. When are sites going to learn that we CAN protect out privacy if the force us too. You catch more flies with honey...

Re:Hello Bug Me Not (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#19066935)

I'm thinking along the same lines. Two can play at this. Just stuff it full of phony info. Fill 'em up with chaff and let them sort it out. I think it's pretty silly to give them any real info that won't benefit us in any way. Same goes for the MySpace crowd and similar sites. I can't sympathize much if you give out your real name, etc. So, Mr. New York Times, I can be honest, too. The name I give isn't mine. I will log in as the "Ex Presidents". Now, if they want to offer money for logging in, I'll be more than happy to give them what they want, provided it's along the lines of a hundred dollars a page :-) In other words, this doesn't bother me in the least. Mine away. You'll come up dry.

Re:Hello Bug Me Not (4, Insightful)

NoTheory (580275) | more than 7 years ago | (#19067093)

The problem is that this is a functional analysis. Even if they don't have your legitimate contact details, they know what you've been browsing, and if at some point they can attach it to your legitimate contact details, then boom they've got the whole shebang. This is a privacy unfriendly move. It makes it more difficult for you to maintain your anonymity. Services like bug-me-not are insufficient because it requires you to try out multiple contact details, and maintain a list of valid contact details (which can be made all the more difficult of the organization is active in closing these accounts).

Even if you think people should be more privacy conscious, this is a bad move, that makes everyone less private. The irony of the situation is really the only thing that makes it notable. Stupid NYT.

Re:Hello Bug Me Not (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#19067405)

Well, there's always the other solution. Just stay away from them. Unfortunately, gen pop isn't going to care too much. They will just roll over, and the Times will get what they want, I suppose. But it still might be fun to flood them into oblivion. These are the kind of things that legitimize spoofing and other things that drive the IT guys nuts. I think we can have our way with them, and show them who's their daddy.

Re:Hello Bug Me Not (1)

plover (150551) | more than 7 years ago | (#19077947)

Not much point. I doubt you'd be able to flood them personally without a lot of outside help (or a zombie bot network), and all I think you'd get from other people is an apathetic "why should I bother?"

People tried something like this with ad-refreshing pages a few years back, with the thoughts of driving up the ad costs of "evil" companies. I once tried letting one of those go in a background window, and all I did was clog the hell out of my network connection. I lost interest after about three minutes, especially since there was no direct benefit to me.

Re:Hello Bug Me Not (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#19079735)

Yeah, you're right, but I didn't mean flood in that fashion. That would be uncouth. I do have a throw away email account for these things, so I use it to register. I never have used that "bug me not" thing. My one junk account works for all of them, since it is functional. It just doesn't have any real data except for the email address itself.

Re:Hello Bug Me Not (1)

plover (150551) | more than 7 years ago | (#19089503)

Oh, I see.

Regarding BugMeNot, it's brilliant. As far as easy to use, I have the Firefox extension. [] It reduces using BugMeNot to a simple a right click on the username field (or whatever) and select "Login with BugMeNot." It automatically fills in the username and password, and submits the signon request. It saves me the time of going through the signup process with a null or fake email address, and it saves even more time and trouble when the signup process requires email confirmation.

If I'm wanting a bit more uniqueness than BugMeNot provides, I frequently use the Mailinator. [] It doesn't require me to create a throwaway account in advance, I can make up any address I like on the fly, such as [mailto] , then I go and check their web site [] to answer the signup confirmation email. Don't use this for anything secure, as there is no security!

Finally, for those sites where I really do want to have a long term relationship (like Slashdot), I use Sneakemail [] to create a unique email address. If the website proves untrustworthy, I just delete that email address. I've had some Sneakemail addresses for over five years now!

Re:Hello Bug Me Not (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 7 years ago | (#19067549)

Well I seriously doubt they will be data mining *across* valid logins. bug me not is a blessed thing. And their own zeal to kill each new bug me not login, only causes more and more people to switch to a new login as it's created.

So my history and those of other technical people are probably pretty safe from mining anything useful.

The downside is the vast majority of people don't know about this stuff and will be mined relentlessly.

Re:Hello Bug Me Not (here, have my details!) (1)

Noctilux (611671) | more than 7 years ago | (#19072967)

I use the login for Ken, one of my best friends ever. Not only were his details accurate (Ken was a marketing guy), but his username and password were the same for like... everything.

Ken also passed away over six years ago. His login still works. Someday I'd like to see what happens when they finally put marketing data together for him.

Re:Hello Bug Me Not (here, have my details!) (1)

plover (150551) | more than 7 years ago | (#19077909)

Ken also passed away over six years ago. His login still works. Someday I'd like to see what happens when they finally put marketing data together for him.

This is what I overheard at that meeting: "Who knew that dead guys clicked on more Toyota SUV ads than anything else? Let's try posting some of those above-the-urinal ads in the casket lids, see if we can get the count up for the Subaru market, too."

Re:Hello Bug Me Not (1)

BimotaGrrrl (1049778) | more than 7 years ago | (#19067513)

"You catch more flies with honey..." Actually, you catch more flies (customers) when you know what they want to buy, and how they shop or navigate your site. And you can only know that by watching what they do. This isn't new. When you go to someone else's property -- whether that be a grocery store, mall, bank, etc, there are cameras on you. Some for security. But some are to see how people shop, select, and buy. The same applies when you go to someone's server. This data isn't only useful for making money (serving up relevant ads, etc.), but for improving the customer's experience with that service/site. If you learn that a majority of your customers are clicking three levels to get to X, then you learn to move X up two levels. I'm not offended by this practice, as long as it doesn't include Personally Identifiable Information and is completely anonymous.

Re:Hello Bug Me Not (1)

paeanblack (191171) | more than 7 years ago | (#19068021)

You catch more flies with honey...

That's also true here for a different reason:

I already know that everybody with something to advertise wants to know absolutely everything about my potential consumption habits. That's just life. The fact that the NYT is willing to speak plainly about their data mining goals and methods is something I admire in a company...especially in a newspaper.

Re:Hello Bug Me Not (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19071291)

wow. your patronage to an increasingly meaning piece of toilet paper is astonishing. Didn't you get the memo? They DIDN'T speak plainly about it. They tucked into their investors communications, and the Village Voice raised the alarm.

Re:Hello Bug Me Not (1)

jambarama (784670) | more than 7 years ago | (#19070433)

NYTimes specifically allows non-logged in access to its articles through google news. So in this instance you don't even have to use bugmenot. Just search for the article on google news. I always appreciate it when people post google news links to NYT articles.

Because of this, with the NYT, you can even disable/block cookies from their site entirely. The problem, other than this minor inconvenience, is that many other sites don't allow this. Since mirroring content like this is a no-go, sometimes the only option in keeping one's privacy is to not read the article. Unfortunately, not enough people are doing this to put a dent in online page views, so don't expect the honeypot to replace the vinegar any time soon.

Re:Hello Bug Me Not (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 7 years ago | (#19071241)

OR some other similar service. When are sites going to learn that we CAN protect out privacy if the force us too. You catch more flies with honey...
I did use bugmenot until very recently. I came to the realization that it was just silly, at least for me. Revealing the articles I like is a more-than-reasonable price to pay for the news and information on the Times site, which does cost them considerable time and money to maintain.

just got to (-1, Offtopic)

Coraon (1080675) | more than 7 years ago | (#19066685)

in Fascist america, newspaper reads YOU!

Bad Moderation... (0, Offtopic)

Crazy Man on Fire (153457) | more than 7 years ago | (#19066937)

I see only two such posts in the discussion so far and this one is older by three minutes. It is also the better of the two. I'm surprised there are only two...

Sweepstakes! (-1, Offtopic)

Sirch (82595) | more than 7 years ago | (#19066701)

I take 14 posts before the first fully-formed In Soviet Russia joke...

Re:Sweepstakes! (0)

rlp (11898) | more than 7 years ago | (#19066933)

You mean like: "In Soviet Russia newspapers read you!!"

Papers read you! (4, Funny)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 7 years ago | (#19066725)

"[T]he problem with reading papers electronically is that they can also read you."
Wow, a Soviet Russia joke directly in the summary!

Irony (1)

Prysorra (1040518) | more than 7 years ago | (#19068729)

Sweet reporting justice for SWIFT.......

Data Mining and issue? (3, Interesting)

rodney dill (631059) | more than 7 years ago | (#19066731)

I'm not sure why there is such a concern over data mining. As long as the mining is done from public sources then I see no problem. If the mining is from medical records, government records that are sealed or presumed to be private, or some other protected database then is becomes an issue.

Re:Data Mining and issue? (4, Insightful)

superbus1929 (1069292) | more than 7 years ago | (#19067045)

Where does it stop? Once you get comfortable with data mining, will you also have to get comfortable with more than just your IP attached? Will you be comfortable with someone having a full consumer database of John Doe, instead of just Will you be comfortable with your profile being viewable to everyone that wants it? Will you be comfortable being positively unable to get away from Capitalism even for a second?

I'm not trying to put on a tin foil hat by any means; if it was just "hey, so many people like Coke over Pepsi!", I'd be cool. But anything further than that, and I view it as a slippery slope.

Re:Data Mining and issue? (3, Insightful)

noidentity (188756) | more than 7 years ago | (#19067457)

There's a fundamental difference between a company doing demographics, and the government spying on citizens. The company doesn't care about any person in particular, just common trends, and simply changes how they design/market their products. At worst, it means they can more effectively sell you junk you don't need. The government's use of data is pretty much the opposite.

Re:Data Mining and issue? (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 7 years ago | (#19072857)

First, the companies are interested not only in common trends. They are probably not interested in the fact that your name is John Doe, but they are surely interested that the current viewer has bought lots of computer hardware (thus you might be able to sell some new stuff to him), and shows mainly interest to Linux (don't waste advertising space for Windows products). They are probably interested if the current visitor tends to spend lots of money on single items (show more ads for single, expensive things) or tends to buy many cheap items (show more ads for cheap items). They might be interested in the fact that the current user more often clicks on ads on the top of the page, and regularly blocks Flash ads. It may be worthwhile to know if the current visitor recently bought a BluRay drive (show ads for BluRay disks) or a HD-DVD drive (show ads for HD-DVDs). It also might be useful to know something about his financial status (don't show expensive items to someone who has lots of debt; first, they'll likely not buy them, second, if they buy them, there's an increased probability that they won't pay them).

You see, there's a lot of things the company might want to know about you, which makes a pretty neat. And besides, if the data is collected anyway, and some government agency wants it, what makes you so sure that it will not get it (either by the company providing it on request even if it wouldn't be obliqued to, or due to some laws which allow the government to just forcefully get that data, or even through simply buying it from the company)?

Re:Data Mining and issue? (1)

superbus1929 (1069292) | more than 7 years ago | (#19074021)

See, my whole view is this: I don't WANT people knowing what I bought. So therefore, I should have the choice not to participate. Companies making it mandatory as a condition for viewing their site? Nope, I have a problem with that, and will not participate, either by blocking those particular cookies, or just not going to the website.

If I want to buy something? I'll Google it on my time. I don't need help from Doubleclick or Falkag.

Re:Data Mining and issue? (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 7 years ago | (#19079473)

"[...] but they are surely interested that the current viewer has bought lots of computer hardware (thus you might be able to sell some new stuff to him), and shows mainly interest to Linux (don't waste advertising space for Windows products)."

"They" in this case refers to the web session on their server. This isn't a person examining your stats, just a machine. The things the marketing people generally look at are aggregates, not individuals. Though I guess you do have a point that they must be storing your individual information so that the machine can personalize a time-wasting-enablement (i.e. ads) web page design.

Re:Data Mining and issue? (1)

rodney dill (631059) | more than 7 years ago | (#19068125)

I think you are confusing data collection with data mining. Mining is just perusing available resources and making correlations, associations, and posssibly conclusions that others do not necessarily come up with. Data Collection would be where you actively seek to get the data from. If you are collecting information that is supposedly private, such as financial, medical, etc.. (without the consent of the individual) then the concerns arise. Data mining is just use of an existing set(s) of data. The market place and internet space to much extent is a public area. Privacy is not a good assumption to make. I think we're pretty much at the bottom of the slippery slope you mention as far as Capitalism is concerned.

Re:Data Mining and issue? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19067109)

Stealing cookies?

Web bugs?

Script injection/invisible framing?

And the easiest - seeing which site you came from before you hit their server.

If you think "data mining" is going to stop at "this IP read these pages at this date," you're a sucker.

Re:Data Mining and issue? (1)

caffeine_high (974351) | more than 7 years ago | (#19067273)

I agree. You access their information for free and they collect data about you. Big deal.

Re:Data Mining and issue? (2, Interesting)

krbvroc1 (725200) | more than 7 years ago | (#19067667)

To quote the RIAA, think of it as stealing. Basically, in addition to already viewing advertisements, websites want to steal my Intellectual Property. See, there is a value placed on my data by the market, and that data is being collected and securitized without compensating me and in many cases without my permission.

Each of us own the Intellectual Property in our heads. Like the RIAA, we need to stick together and demand either payment or permission for this information.

Re:Data Mining and issue? (1)

h2g2bob (948006) | more than 7 years ago | (#19068745)

I agree with this - there's a BIG difference between the government spying on you and a newspaper spying on you.

Government: spies based on your whole life. Consequences include arrest, etc.

Newspaper: spies based on what stories you read. Consequences include tailored adverts, etc.

Let's do it properly... (0)

Meneth (872868) | more than 7 years ago | (#19066749)

In Soviet America, the paper reads you!

Garbage In, Garbage Out (4, Interesting)

LMacG (118321) | more than 7 years ago | (#19066773)

I have a login for the NYT. According to the information I provided, I'm a female born in 1901, living in ZIP code 90210.

(For the record, at least one of those data points is incorrect).

Re:Garbage In, Garbage Out (3, Funny)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 7 years ago | (#19066925)

Gabrielle Carteris [] , is that you?

Re:Garbage In, Garbage Out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19067049)

Bwahahaha! That just made my say.

Re:Garbage In, Garbage Out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19067233)

Let me guess the incorrect one.

This is slashdot. So I conclude that you are not a female.

Re:Garbage In, Garbage Out (1)

PHAEDRU5 (213667) | more than 7 years ago | (#19068211)

At the Atlanta Journal/Constitution, I'm a Greek Cypriot named Sophocles Pantelas who emigrated to the US in 1948 at age 17.

Pretty fly for an Irish guy.

I thought I was the only one! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19069055)

Being British, 90210 was for many years the only valid ZIP code I could reliably remember.

For UK sites, I would use MI6's Vauxhall Cross postal address and telephone number.

Re:Garbage In, Garbage Out (1)

YodaYid (1049908) | more than 7 years ago | (#19071057)

Wow - a female from Beverly Hills? I'm interested, no matter how old you are!

Re:Garbage In, Garbage Out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19073739)

Wow, you're old.

Re:Garbage In, Garbage Out (1)

Fujisawa Sensei (207127) | more than 7 years ago | (#19074765)

Considering this is /. of the three data points you named, you're least likely to be female.

Googlebot! (1)

apathy maybe (922212) | more than 7 years ago | (#19066799)

That's fine, I pretend not to be the Googlebot... Thus getting in without having to register. When I have to register, I of course fake my information.

Doesn't everyone do that?

So they used a scary phrase. (4, Insightful)

harks (534599) | more than 7 years ago | (#19066845)

Data mining, she told the crowd, would be used "to determine hidden patterns of uses to our website."
So they used a scary phrase, but there isn't anything nefarious about noticing that people who read articles on subject X might want to see a link to article Y.

No news (3, Insightful)

VincenzoRomano (881055) | more than 7 years ago | (#19066873)

Almost all websites do it!
This is a reason why cookies [] are used and why almost all browsers provide mechansms to filter them out!

Re:No news - Still news... (2, Informative)

haibijon (893019) | more than 7 years ago | (#19067099)

Even if you disable cookies, its trivial to pass a session id through the url to maintain a user's authenticated session. They'd still be able to determine which/what article you were reading and provide 'similar' links etc. Not to mention that most cookies are used to track and maintain user logins and server sessions, not to data mine... NYT is saying that they're explicitly going "to determine hidden patterns of uses to our website." using data mining, this isn't about Cookies, its about the tracking and monitoring of browsing habits.

Re:No news - Still news... (1)

VincenzoRomano (881055) | more than 7 years ago | (#19067313)

Almost everyone use cookies. And in the NYT website I don't see such IDs in the URLs!

Re:No news - Still news... (1)

haibijon (893019) | more than 7 years ago | (#19067511)

Really? It'd be nice if you read the article and checked your 'facts'. The article statest that NYT is GOING to be data mining, not that they've begun already. And just to check on the session handling I just disabled cookies and tried to view an article on the site, and sure enough the query string contains OQ=_rQ3D5Q26hpQ26orefQ3DsloginQ26orefQ3DsloginQ26o refQ3DsloginQ26orefQ3Dslogin&REFUSE_COOKIE_ERROR=S HOW_ERROR

Indicative of both a requirement of cookies (REFUSE_COOKIE_ERROR=SHOW_ERROR) for the use of session handling, and '_rQ3D5Q26hpQ26orefQ3DsloginQ26orefQ3DsloginQ26ore fQ3DsloginQ26orefQ3Dslogin' appears to be a session hash to tell them where you came from, and where you're going.

Just because the url doesn't have a session_id key in it doesn't mean there's no session or server data being passed through the URL.

Re:No news - Still news... (2, Informative)

RetroGeek (206522) | more than 7 years ago | (#19068197)

If you do this, then you only need to change some part of the string to a random value, then hit enter.

When the page refreshes, then click on the link you want to read.

Wash, rinse, repeat.

Sure they are tracking something, but it will not be you.

There are lots of ways to monkey with this sort of thing.

Re:No news - Still news... (1)

haibijon (893019) | more than 7 years ago | (#19068663)

Definately true. Just trying to make sure that people realize that simply disabling cookies makes you untrackable, and in many cases cookies are required.

Re:No news - Still news... (1)

haibijon (893019) | more than 7 years ago | (#19068699)

Edit: The above comment should read: "simply disabling cookies *DOES NOT* makes you untrackable"

Re:No news (1)

Ben Chu (24542) | more than 7 years ago | (#19071649)

Exactly I don't see this as being any different than the methods Google uses to display ads in Gmail or other types of market research. More sensationalism and paranoia.

In Soviet Amerika: +1, Helpful (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19066927)

Visitors data-mine NY Times.

Patriotically as always,
K. Trout

Anonymity with Credit Online? (1)

LauraLolly (229637) | more than 7 years ago | (#19066949)

This is one of the interesting catches of life online. In order to purchase full access (as opposed to open registration) for content for NYT online, you must suppy financial data in the form of a credit card. (PayPal not accepted. ) This means that NYT Online is able to match your browsing habits to all of the financial data on file for you.

Although PayPal does provide some anonymity, it only officially guarantees goods sent to a real world address, thus losing full anonymity for purchases. Purchased credit cards also require personal data.

If you really want to prevent data mining of your personal habits, pay cash, in person. For now, there is no true anonymity online.

Re:Anonymity with Credit Online? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19068689)

Does NY Times refuse Visa gift cards? I always keep one in my wallet with a few bucks on it, just in case I want to buy something from a place that I wouldn't trust with my real credit card.

f you and your buzzwords (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 7 years ago | (#19067013)

There is nothing nefarious or evil about the phrase "data mining". It's just trolls who try to attach some sort of negative connotation to it.

Re:f you and your buzzwords (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#19067523)

The FUD can flow both ways. That's the way the game is being played. Sometimes you have to whack people on the head to get their attention. Fight fire with fire. People should be made aware of these things so they can make the proverbial "informed" choice.

Re:f you and your buzzwords (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19068389)

Please do not feed the trolls.

Re:f you and your buzzwords (2, Informative)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#19069365)

Well, he may be right. I don't know the official definition of "data mining" (and really don't care). By itself, it's not necessarily a bad thing. But like like GM foods, I want to see a label. For the moment, I assume that everybody is data mining, and will block it where I think it's appropriate. It's really nothing more than typical top down 19th century business practice and its attempt to stay alive. I would like to make a point of showing that it is in their interests to look for another way to conduct business that doesn't use personal information by making this one as unworkable and expensive as possible. The old methods no longer apply.

oblig. (2, Insightful)

CrowbarKing (1100015) | more than 7 years ago | (#19067029)

1. Reveal data mining 2. Win Pulitzer prize 3. Start data mining 4. ??? 5. Profit!

At least they are being honest (2, Insightful)

paladinwannabe2 (889776) | more than 7 years ago | (#19067071)

Pretty much every site does data mining- I'm sure /. keeps track of how many people click on ads, read the article (only 2 so far), etc. /. probably even ties all this information to your account, so they have a better idea of what ads to display. I don't even have a problem with any of that. Once they start selling my information to other people is where I have a problem. I don't mind /. targeting me with ads, but I do mind my email address being targeted with spam.

Garbage in garbage out (1)

themadhamster (871845) | more than 7 years ago | (#19067097)

I can't believe the NYT still requires people to make up random personal data to read their newspaper. Seriously, has anyone here ever given out real information when registering an account with the NYT? Even without services like bugmenot, the information they'll get from datamining their visitors will be too full of noise to be of any use.

I just read an article in the economist, which was mostly about Murdoch trying to buy the Dow Jones, which owns the Wall Street Journal. But the economist implied that the same could happen to the NYT, because that newspaper is also badly run. I can believe that. While I enjoy reading their newspaper if I can get my hands on a copy, they still have a very poor understanding of how the internet works.

Re:Garbage in garbage out (2, Informative)

Jonathan (5011) | more than 7 years ago | (#19067587)

I can assure you that "average" people *do* give out accurate information; when I tell my relatives that I generally just give random info, they tend to be shocked and say "But, but, that would be LYING".

There is a differance (1)

YuriPup (568142) | more than 7 years ago | (#19067277)

Between the government, with its vast powers, and a commercial endeavor making a buck from readers reading at no cost. Particularly since option out of the NYT's data mining is as easy as not visiting the site, while staying out of the governments data warehouse would probably take something like being unborn.

Re:There is a differance (1)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 7 years ago | (#19067887)

That's true in theory. Now, welcome to the world where the line between government and the corporate sector has been erased under the boots of a million marching soldiers.

Even worse! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19067293)

They don't let you take your guns onto the website.

Pussy ass liberals.

Results of data mining (1)

Jon Luckey (7563) | more than 7 years ago | (#19067467)

FROM: IT Data Mining Project
TO: Marketing

Just a quick preliminary result that is too important to wait for the offical report.

One of our readers, 'Anonymous7' is virtually a demographic by him/herself.

Uses the internet from all over the world, on thousands of machines, reading our paper hundreds of times a day!

Surely this person must have a major impact on data processing purchases worldwide.

Surprising though, the person seems naive, computer security wise, because their password is the same as their user name.

Leverage our connection to this VIP with our advertisers at once!

Confused (1)

towsonu2003 (928663) | more than 7 years ago | (#19067473)

[T]he problem with reading papers electronically is that they can also read you.
In Soviet Russia, you read papers? Na
In Soviet Russia, papers read you? Na

Its all in the terminology (2, Interesting)

Grashnak (1003791) | more than 7 years ago | (#19067535)

If they said, "We'll be tailoring our site to the visitors' interests, thereby enhancing their experience", no one would care, but once they say "data-mining", suddenly everyone is screaming "OMFG, the NYT is like the NSA! WTF? Remember the constitution dude!"

With apologies to Iowahawk... (1)

PHAEDRU5 (213667) | more than 7 years ago | (#19067747)

Dear Former Subscriber:

Hey -- Mister "I Don't Need The Newspaper Any More, I've Got A Computer" -- remember us? Yep, it's your old pal, the New York Times. The one that you used to welcome to your house every morning before you bought a goddamn modem from goddamn Best Buy. The one you threw in the trash after you got your goddamn flashy high speed connection. Does that refresh your memory?

Well guess what. We still have something that you can't get at your precious internet: investigative reporting. Did you know our reporters recently obtained a secret database containing a list of over 20,000 clients of the notorious "Quint State Madame" Destinee Hills?

And did you know what phone number we found on that list? 746-555-7314. Does it ring any bells? It should. It's your cell phone.

So may I suggest renewing with the New York Times today? For the low, low price of $499.95 per month you'll get money saving coupons and our promise that this information doesn't fall into the wrong hands.

Yours in News,
Muck Raker, Acting Publisher

There is no free lunch (3, Insightful)

anoopjohn (992771) | more than 7 years ago | (#19067957)

Recently there was this big debate on slashdot about google's purchase of doubleclick. Why would you care if your usage patterns are tracked by a company - without attaching it to your personal identity - and deliver targeted advertisements. There is no free lunch. You are paying for the free content by selling your usage patterns. They don't want to do it in any other way. You can leave it or take it. Perhaps at some point of time in the future there would be ad-free subscription based content. I doubt, though.

I run a company and I face the same problem - How to reach the set of people who are most likely to be my customers. The more successfully I can do that, the lower would be my marketing cost, and the cheaper would the product be in the long run. Ultimately if we have a system where each person sees only those ads that he needs to see we would have a highly efficient marketing system with the lowest marketing costs. A reasonably big percentage of the cost of most products you buy are marketing costs. So if you would like them to be cheaper - stop complaining and start selling your usage data.

There is only one issue here - privacy advocates have to ensure that there is no real breach of privacy in the process. If googlebot sees the mails i see there is no problem, but if googlebot reads my mail and checks against some preset filter and requests Mr X to take a look at my mail then it is a breach of privacy. As long as the identity is kept separate from the patterns there shouldnt be any problem

Re:There is no free lunch (1)

anubi (640541) | more than 7 years ago | (#19075835)

You have an insightful comment on what it takes to finance "free" content.

I like most of it except tracking *me*. It unnerves me. Its too much like "stalking".

It would unnerve me to go into a store, only to have a clerk stalk me all over the mall.

Given this latest Sony Rootkit Fiasco, and seeing how our Government handles it, in comparison of how they handle other breaches of "rights" aka DMCA, I cannot trust my Government to stick up for what is righteous, as much as I can trust them to stick up for what makes someone elses money.

We have seen the Men of the Robe gather and find nothing wrong with someone who wants someone else's legally bought home simply taking it. []

And we wonder why the public seems to have trouble grasping the concepts that even sharing a song is bad?

Despite the fact sharing a song, unlike stealing someone else's house, is a $180,000 offense?

Those people no longer have their house! And THAT wasn't a crime? I guess it was "just", as "justices" define it, but was it "righteous"? That's the neat thing for having power without righteousness.

That's what scares me. Power without Righteousness. Even our highest courts didn't find anything wrong with downright wanton selfish THEFT, as long as they could call it "eminent domain".

I have seen way too much evidence that says I have to watch out for myself. There is nothing much I can do to enforce how Business uses or abuses my trust. The option I have remaining is NOT do business with them if I don't HAVE to.

Businesses are organized and have much more ability to cause problems for me if they want to. I feel my advantage is the same as a hiding mouse, keeping his presence unknown to the cat. There are so few businesses I can trust these days.

I see most as simply fishermen, with ME being the fish.

It behooves me that I do not take the bait; there is likely a hook therein.

The whole idea is to hook me. Lock-in. Entrapment. Whatever. Reel in the profits!

Time to use browser side scripting... (1)

Tord (5801) | more than 7 years ago | (#19068119)

Doesn't seem too bad, but if it gets ugly I guess we will only start to use browser side scripting to create some random behavior in the background while we are reading. Some random noise would easily drown out our real browsing behavior (oh, he opened all these 10 articles at the same time, wonder which one he actually read?).

Easily solved...! (1)

renimar (173721) | more than 7 years ago | (#19068501)

For sites like the NY Times, I use [] and use someone else's login. After all, isn't recycling a perfectly good login better than getting a new one?

They know all about me... (1)

spywhere (824072) | more than 7 years ago | (#19068799)

I tild them everything they need to know about myself:

My name is Willie Horton.
I was born 12 August 1951.
My address is:
Maryland House of Corrections Annex
PO Box 534
Jessup, MD 20794-0534

They may even realize that I'm the same Willie Horton whose image was used to defeat Mike Dukakis in the 1988 Presidential election... but I guess that's the price of fame.

Bug Me Not (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 7 years ago | (#19069149)

Just another reason to use Bug Me Not.

Socialism at its finest (1)

SQL_SAM (697455) | more than 7 years ago | (#19069251)

I guess there is no need to point out the hypocracy on this one. I'm not going to hold my breath to wait for the liberal left's excuses as to why it's okay for "US", but not "THEM". This is why I'm so sick of politics.

Re:Socialism at its finest (1)

f1055man (951955) | more than 7 years ago | (#19069879)

what does this have to do with "socialism"?

damnit I fed the troll.

Re:Socialism at its finest (1)

SQL_SAM (697455) | more than 7 years ago | (#19074213)

NYT: Liberal bias meter = 110% = Socialism Yummy, I'm well fed today ;-)

Is this even an issue? (1)

Shinra (1057198) | more than 7 years ago | (#19070211)

Just don't read the new york times or use a secure web browser that
doesn't leave any cookies or electronic paper trails. Simple as that.

This evil plot is easily foiled. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19072645)

Just use one of these bugmenot accounts. []

Lets Blame the techs who make this possible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19072841)

Bottom line would seem to be that if it were not for techs doing this, the marketers would never be able to do this kind of spying.

So let's put a lot of the blame for these unscrupulous actions right on our heads, the techs who both make it possible and do the actual spying. If we didn't tell marketing that we could do this for them and we didn't do the actual mining work, this would not be as likely to happen.

Additionally, why do we, tech savy critters, even add the potentially invasive features to browsers in the first place??

It's just plain as day that the "features" we see being integrated lead to both more invasive tracking and also to more system security problems. Do we really need a pdf reader to activate programs and exceute embedded code? Certainly not. But that is part of what we are getting these days.

So why not recruit the tech world to stop the creation of such invsasive technology uses. If we don't code it for the marketers, they certainly can't do it themselves. Accept responsibility and refuse to write bad un called for invasive code. !!

Stand up, take responsibility, write responsible code....

Results of Data Mining (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19077109)

"Registration Required" pages displayed: 4,345,543,938
Other pages displayed: 1,117
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