I subscribe to the Idealog RSS feed. I do so because Idealog interests me and the topics they post about are close to my interests.

I’m not however looking for a job in the creative industry and that’s why my reader surprised and annoyed me a little this morning.

It seems Idealog have started a creative industry employment service – which is a smart and logical thing to do.

What is not smart and logical is to fill the readers of those interested in the magazine with posts about job openings – I subscribe to receive feeds from the magazine – not job adds.

I’m sure it’s an oversight and there will be no employment ad feeds in my reader tomorow – perhaps the team (who, don’t get me wrong, do a great job of writing a mag) should come forward and apologise fo the oversight.


Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

  • Interesting comment Ben. As a co-founder of Idealog I pay attention to how constituents feel about it (disclosure – I sold my share in the magazine to my colleagues and, other than being a contributor I am not involved in the daily running or marketing of the mag).

    I don’t see the problem with including advertisements in RSS feeds. If you value the content then surely the trade-off is that you reciprocate value back to the organisation that invests in creating content you have expressed interest in.

    The relevance of the information to you in particular is obviously an issue. I am not sure how customisable a feed is. Many Idealog readers would be grateful for a heads-up about job openings. The age-old issue is that messages in the media are often wasted because consumers are not ready, willing or able to buy when we communicate with them. Equally important is that you may well store the information for later use. Right now you have no need of the ads. So relevance to you is low. But, at some point, you may wish to take an opportunity or hire someone yourself – in which case you will know where to go…

    I think the idea that media is ‘free’ is a little midguided. YouTube are going through a process at the moment that reflects this fact. The creators deserve to enjoy some commercial benefit from their ideas and effort. RSS is convenient but where is the convention that it be denuded of commercial content?

  • I think the convention David, is that RSS is an informed consent, opt in, service. I made a conscious decision to opt into an RSS feed about news for the creative economy.

    Hey I’m not gong to die in a ditch about this but I do think it’s a little dodgy.

    Idealog (I assume) sells sits vacant ads, they are therefore pushing commercial content via an (assumed) non commercial RSS feed.

    You read the NZ Herald (I assume) how would you feel if the same feed started streaming you ads from K Rd massage parlours????

  • I think the Herald / massage parlour allusion is a little extreme. Idealog is a niche title for people who are interested in the kind of stuff that obviously interests you. Magazine research usually shows that readers find the advertising in specialist titles augments the user experience – because it is highly relevant.

    Of course you could delete the RSS feed – and not receive the information in a form you like. You could visit the site instead – but then you’d be assaulted by the advertising there.

    I understand your point of view – even if I find it a little rarified (is that a word?) – but, at the end of the day the magazine’s publishers aren’t a charity and nor are they independently wealthy. I think its a bit petulant to not expect to engage in the mutual ‘handshake’ of free media – you get a free feed and in return are exposed to some commercial messages that, it is assumed, might be of some interest to you.

    But we’re going round in circles.

    I’m just glad Vince is as passionate about the topic as I am – he told me the other day that it is why he gets out of bed in the morning – some of the other projects are more profitable – but the conversation about the shape of the NZ economy matters (even is high prices for milk products might occlude some thinking…)

    I must learn how to get RSS feeds myself – I’m a little clueless about technology sometimes.

  • David

    As I said I’m not dying in a ditch over this one. I too am passionate about the issues facing our economy – I’ve articulated this to Vincent in the past also.

    While I understand that the owners are not independantly wealthy, I disagree when you say – “I think its a bit petulant to not expect to engage in the mutual ‘handshake’ of free media” this is precisely what the conventions would have one expect. I take your point that Idealog is a niche magazine and as such it is more likely that readers would be interested in the jobs on offer but….

    Another analogy for you – if I started putting ads for my manufacturing business, Cactus Climbing, in my feeds, it would be considered bad form and a breach of the underlying understanding about the initial push opt in.

    Hey – i love Idealog and think they’re doing a good job – but if one is pushing oneself as a participant in the new economy, one is obliged to understand the intricacies of the new communication paradigms.

    ‘Nuff said?

  • Hi Ben,

    Well, it was an oversight. Briefly, the way our existing publishing system works, anything that is ticked as front page material appears in the RSS feed. This would have happened inadvertently.

    Which isn’t to say we wouldn’t choose to put job ads in our RSS feed in the future, which is why I’m not in a rush to apologise over it. I would, though, prefer to think it through first (!) and maybe make a choice of feeds available. Our existing publishing system isn’t flexible in the way feeds are produced but we’re moving to a new system, which is.

    But we’re hardly intending to be a niche magazine … and I’m with David. Producing a magazine and website is expensive. When we can deliver *meaningful* ads to our readers, it’s something we’ll investigate.


  • Cheers Matt – appreciate the reply and the un-apology!

    Keep up the good work!

  • Doesn’t this conversation nicely illustrate how the media think they know what content is best for us?

    There is of course a simple solution to this problem. Scan rather than subscribe.

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