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03 Jan 2016, 09:52

AirPair is obfuscating their otherwise useful blog posts

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This morning, I was poking around looking for an article on using AngularJS with EJS. They use some similar syntax, and I wanted to make sure that I wouldn’t be running over myself too much by using them together. (I still don’t have an answer, but if I find a good one, I’ll link it on this post.) In my search, I stumbled on this article:

airpair article

Great! This looks like exactly what I’m looking for. I scroll down to check out the code.

airpair article

The code on AirPair’s blog posts is obfuscated. They want me to sign in with my GitHub account, just to see their code examples, and to make their blog post not worthless? WTF?

I did a quick search to see if others were complaining about this. This was about how I felt:

It gets better:

Write access, they want write access to my GitHub account so that I can read their dumb blog post?!? To be fair, they may have changed that, but still, seriously?

Look, I get it, you’re a company trying to sell your product, and you think that this would be a great way to get leads. Right? That’s fine, I guess, but this seems like an unnecessarily crappy way of going about it.

Here’s why, first, from my perspective, the developer community is quite unique in its culture of sharing information. We figure stuff out, and then tell our peers how we did it to make their lives easier (or as notes to our future selves). We typically do this for free. Now, if you’re going to go and write a book, by all means charge for it. That represents a significant amount of work and knowledge. However, for a little blog post or article, just about everybody in our community has converged on the idea that this stuff should be free.

Second, when you write most of an article in clear-text, and then start obfuscating the important bits that start about half-way down the page, you end up putting people in a position of either taking a loss on the time that they spent in their initial reading, or giving up information that they otherwise wouldn’t (and really shouldn’t if it’s still write access). That’s crappy thing number two.

Crappy thing number three is that again, most of the article’s in clear-text, and you can get the same search traffic as actual complete content. This, again, tricks users into visiting you.

The reason that I bothered to write this isn’t because I think that AirPair is a terrible company. It seems like their core business is a great idea, and something that would be very useful. I hope that their company does well. The reason that I’m writing this is to make sure that people know that when they see ‘airpair’ in their search results, that that is a junk link, and they should skip that result and move on.

AirPair, if you see this, please stop the shenanigans and gimmicks, and be straight with people. It’s really too bad too, since there are plenty of other ways of getting what you want (like newsletters with collections of useful posts on topics that people care about), without doing this sort of thing. Also, if you didn’t obfuscate your content, you might start becoming more of a popular resource for this content, which would potentially increase your traffic, and probably help your branding quite a bit. As it stands, I’ll remember AirPair only as something to avoid.

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