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by Dear Jon
April 16, 2002

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Dear Jon,

Recently, we had a discussion with the Webmaster about how we could generate more hits to the PO website. One of the ideas (mentioned by a nameless staff member) was to have pictures of naked girls on the site. While we know such tactics are beneath the PO and its readers, is it possible that you could entitle your next sort as "Nekkid Girlz" in hopes to gain more readership to the PO?

S.E. Shepherd

Dear S.E.

I was present at that Editorial Board Meeting. “Generating More Hits” was the second item on the agenda brought by the Webmaster, between the first item: “Missed Deadlines Mean Death,” and the third item “An Offer You Servile Authors Can’t Refuse.”

I believe that James Leroy Wilson had the suggestion of “More Favorites” lists. I cannot recall whether it was he or someone else who suggested “Five Favorite Supreme Court Dissenting Opinions.” Since the well of ideas seemed to be running dry, a nameless staff member did toss out, not a suggestion but a fact, that posting pictures of nude females on the site would, in fact, increase traffic.

Who this person is, of course, remains nameless, although the spirit in which the comment was offered was not as a suggestion of what SHOULD be done, but rather, a mere observation regarding where internet traffic seems to flow. Plus, this is taken in the context that the entire editorial board at the PO is male, so it was not likely that this person’s comment would be heard out of context and distorted from its intent.

Naturally my readers can trust that, for Dear Jon’s part, whether making suggestions or merely stating facts, Dear Jon endeavors to make only useful contributions to the Partial Observer Editorial Board Meeting.

One of the problems is that the PO wants to be family safe, meaning that we seek to avoid filters. Our family-safe orientation has kept me from answering the pile of letters I receive every week asking for advice about sex, like this: “If I have been under a lot of stress, would it be help the sex in my marriage if I **** ******* *** ** **** *** *******?” It just is not worth all the work we have to do for letters that no one can really read anyway. Thus, even naming a column “Nekkid Girlz” or “Naked Girls” might trigger filters, keeping out the traffic we want, and inviting, onto our forums et cetera, a battalion of internet predators.

A Dear Jon column with a name like “BANNED NAKED GIRL PICTURES” may increase traffic to the site, but then it becomes a matter of false advertising. This is an issue of honesty and integrity. We cannot sacrifice our integrity for marketing. You won’t see Naked Girls here, not even in our banners. Instead, we have to call it “Advice on BANNED NAKED GIRL PICTURES.” This is not false advertising. You asked for advice on the subject of posting column titles, and I am giving advice. Not even the creepiest internet lurker can hold this against us. Well, they can, but that is part of what makes them so creepy.

Besides, we are also a Female Friendly site, and I, being an advice columnist in touch with my masculine empathy, have a good idea that lots of titles like “BANNED NAKED GIRL PICTURES,” would drive away our female readers, since both of them would be uncomfortable with the subject matter. So, much as we would like to increase hits on the PO, we want to be true to our mission: Family safe, Female Friendly, with Empathy and Sensitivity for all.

Next week, be sure you catch the column entitled “Advice on BRAD PITT ON CAMERA IN SWIMMING BRIEFS EATING M&M’s.”

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Timothy McGinnis from Chicago, IL writes:
April 18, 2002
In his latest column, Dear Jon suggests that the Partial Observer could resort to finding loopholes in the filters to this family-friendly site that would insinuate to web surfers everywhere that the Partial Observer may contain pictures of naked girls.

While I would applaud the addition of pictures of naked girls, I do not believe that this would be in the spirit of the Partial Observer and would ultimately result in its demise.

However, the question of how to increase the hits to the site remains. I have checked out the Yahoo! Buzz Index, so that I could get my thumb on the pulse of the internet community and truly see what gets people buzzing and if the Partial Observer can benefit from this research.

The first thing I noticed was that the Top 20 Buzz Leaders did not contain a single phrase or word ending in ism. The Partial Observer is very fond of isms and the discussion of them in all of their forms. While this may be very intellectually stimulating, it does not appear to be popular with the public. The closest thing I found was the computer game, The Sims. Close, but no cigar.

The Partial Observer also vastly ignores the popular sports of NASCAR, the WWF, and except for a couple of articles about Jerry Krause, the NBA. These are all very popular with the internet surfers. The WWF has been on the leaderboard for the last 64 weeks. I think some spirited debate on the latest WWF Smackdown would increase internet traffic to the Partial Observer.

The public is also very fond of Britney Spears. This could be helpful because she never actually gets naked (except in my dreams) but she is still immensely popular. I would imagine that anti-Britney sentiments would elicit just as many hits as pro-Britney opinions, so this site could become the leader in all things Britney. Plus, any articles about Britney could include pictures of her strutting around a stage, baring her midriff and cleavage just enough to keep everyone interested, but not showing enough to be classified as porn.

Based on this research, I feel that Dear Jon's attempt to appeal to the lowest common denominator through allusions to the porn industry are unnecessary. We simply need more pictures of Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, and Shakira wrestling The Rock, Harry Potter, and Ja Rule at the Daytona 500.

Although I do have to admit that the slogan We Put the P.O. in Porn is kind of catchy.

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