Since I praised Erick Schonfeld for his post on the Yahoo-Google merger a few days ago it only seems fair that I take him to task on something else now. From his post on Techcrunch...
Ever since the rear-guard at the Wall Street Journal won the battle to keep its news pages behind its subscription wall (although, its opinion pages are now free), they have been cracking down especially hard on anyone trying to breach that wall—even if those people happen to be paying subscribers. In what appears to be an attempt to discourage freeloaders, the WSJ.com is locking out anyone from its site when it detects more than one simultaneous log-in on the same account. But innocent, rule-abiding subscribers who may be using multiple computers, or doing nothing wrong other than forgetting to log out of their accounts, are being shut out as well (see email below).
That is no way to treat your customers. In fact, it shows an utter disdain for how normal people actually use the Web. But it is an understandable, and classic, reaction. Incumbent executives always try to fend off inevitable disruption by blindly protecting their current sources of revenues. I liked Rupert Murdoch’s original idea of tearing down the entire subscription wall much better.
Now, I'm not going to cover the Wall Street Journal again because I've already done that. What bothers me about this is the idea of twisting what was obviously a stupid technical issue to look like an intentional slight on the Journal's part.
I will happily eat my words if the people at the Wall Street Journal saw this repercussion coming and intentionally did this. But my feeling is that they implemented a standard security measure badly and this was the consequence of that.
Painting that mis-step as intentional so you can use it to slam them for a decision you don't like is a low blow on Mr. Schonfeld's part.
Addendum: I wrote this a couple days ago but only got a chance to post it now. Since then Dow Jones (owners of the Wall Street Journal) replied to the original Techcrunch article. They said...
Our subscribers often use multiple computers to access their accounts; therefore, we’ve had a long-standing policy of allowing up to three concurrent logins in order to deliver the best customer experience possible. Customer satisfaction and service are of the utmost importance, and we regret any inconveniences incurred by this user.
Cheers to Techcrunch for posting the update, Jeers to Techcrunch for posting the article in the first place.