Friday, March 16, 2012

It never hurts to ask

Well, you'd think, especially if you are a reporter. is now an old lady.

What cost tens of thousands to custom create are now free, infinitely better scripts.

Sadly, you cannot plonk a '12 Veyron engine in a '98 Volvo just like that, if at all.

So we muddle along.

Hundreds if not thousands, monthly, accept that, and we thank you as much as we hope you feel you have gained from the site.

But a few... a very few... seem to think they are the only time-poor folk who can get inconvenienced by the fact that IT is not all black and white, zeros and ones. Gremlins and glitches are the order of the day. This post is being crafted using yet another new incarnation of Blogger that will take some getting used to, warts and all. That's Blogger, of Google fame. Junkk is not quite as well resourced to cope...

The following query has been submitted from the Junkk website:

I'm a journalist, currently writing about recycling and decided to visit your site. I honestly feel you make people jump through too many hoops to gain access to any useful stuff on your site. I signed up but never got the email. I'm not surprised there is nothing under 'print' on your media page! I would have written about you in my women's mag but have given your site too much of my time now and will go elsewhere.
Crazy.  If you want to be useful, make it easier for people. 

Now, we do our best, and try and sort things out as quickly as we can, explaining where and whenever we can as we do so.

I think this 'journalist' (from the email addy in fact  a freelancer) had a bad day and decided to take it out on me. Unfortunately, and perhaps unwisely in this 'grin and bear it' culture the double standard media estate inflicts, I had also not be having the best day either...

They do say that the most valuable consumer any business can have to learn from to improve is one who cares enough to take the time to complain, so we must thank you for your input.

But as you will gather, we are somewhat at a loss as to what more we can do other than apologise yet more than we do on site for the inconvenience you have suffered. was created for us over a decade ago, using the best advice and design input available at the time, and as many things have evolved in site design, navigation, social media, etc it is now admittedly positively antique.

However, given it cost a lot to create, still does to run and populate, yet remains free to all, there have been limits as to what can be done to improve as it would take a small fortune we don't have.

We presume the 'hoops' you refer to are the registration, as a few have over the years expressed frustration.


Solution routes are even covered on the registration page:

If you suspect you have not had back this email and/or an activation, please write to us at (don't worry, someone will read it and respond/help) and we'll see what we can do!

But once that is completed there should be no further barriers to enjoying the full site and all that is shared therein.

This registration requires only the filling out of a short form, involving name, email (for contact) and first block of postcode (to enable distances to be advised between users on such as JunkkYard, a feature many appreciate). Plus a user name and password. And two opt-ins. These do not seem overly onerous even today, and especially compared to some.

It is in fact not mandatory to register, but you will always be prompted to accept the t&cs at each stage if not, for the reasons given below, so it helps to do so.

It is necessary to ask users to accept t&cs. This is a legal requirement to protect ourselves and others, such as brands, whose products may be cited and, sadly, abused by those of malicious intent on making vexatious claims for compensation, for instance if attempting a reuse idea posted by another user over which we have no control. That... is... it.

The are many other sites of course, but few do what we do, or often as extensively with data and instructions. And some sites, interestingly enough government or quango or NGO ones, we do notice actually still break the law in being 'simpler'.

Most seem to accept the constraints we are under and have to pass on, given all the positives there are to enjoy once registered.

Certainly the several thousand opt-in newsletter signees, and the users who keep coming back, at a peak giving us a monthly unique visitor level so far of 130,000. Also such as Poundland, happy to support by using our URL on all their packaging and home pages. Even Government endorsers such as or media such as the BBC, Express or Guardian, who asked us to run a national reuse competition for all 330,000+ readers. Plus women's magazines such as Women's Own, Marie Claire, etc. Or features in books by such green issue authors as Sian Berry or Tracey Smith or Karen Cannard. None of whom seem to have had any major issues.

 I'm not surprised there is nothing under 'print' on your media page!

Not sure that is correct:


A bit out of date to be sure, but plenty more where all those came from... when we get the time to add it.

All easily provided... if asked first.

The double opt-in confirmation was an industry standard at the time, designed to ensure the highest levels of data protection. You sign up, we email back to ensure it is you, you confirm, and bingo. Wish it could be simpler, which it could be, but we'd run some risks with the data commissioner and in any case do not have the funds to change. It is a real pain, for us as much as any who fall foul. Did we mention this is a free site?

You mention you did not get the confirmatory email. This can happen. Maybe our end, maybe in the ether. But we also know that things like spam filters and/or firewalls in users' PCs or at their ISPs can take their toll.

That's what the question form or email is for. You had a problem, and posed it. Lucky it was read within a day if, it appears, even too late at that. Not sure many sites, like Google (we are currently having a nightmare with problems on the Blogger platform, with no one human to appeal to) twitter or FaceBook or even eBay or Amazon do that. Do they?

We have looked in the system and there you are. For what it is worth you are now confirmed registered. Sorted. We'll also ask our new IT gurus, again, if anything can be done that is effective, legal.. and cheap.. to make it better in this regard.

We also note that your article is about recycling. Whilst this is covered too, do note the site is mainly about reuse ideas. There are many, and more thorough, on just throwing stuff away, if more correctly. We prefer it stays in the home, to save £ as well as planet.

If that is still relevant to your readers, it seems a pity they are not to be given the opportunity to learn of it because you, not uniquely but rarely, had some issues that may not have been ours to control, and could not wait to be answered and assisted with.

If you want to be an effective journalist, you might reflect on that as you 'go elsewhere' (where comparable, exactly, we are not sure) for what may fit with your high expectations on convenience, but maybe nowhere near as (re)useful or relevant. You could mention the problem in review, and having now read this maybe add what might be expected but then offer the explanation to prepare and even help us find a person qualified to help with support in skill or money.

We'll be sorry to lose you as a user but from your tone that seems inevitable. Maybe in the circumstances no great loss all round as your critique seems exclusively negative when so much else was possible. And rather lacking in accuracy on a few points in just one para. Not the rarest of traits from some 'journalists', of course.

If you want to make a difference, try and be more understanding, and pleasant. We don't charge, we don't make demands. That you get paid to do so in such a manner is an interesting, if regrettable contrast.

But thanks for the heads up reminder that we could improve if we have the resources. Given what some others get handed from the public pot to build, staff and run... and then see fizzle and die as endures, and is appreciated around the world, seems to be the really crazy part.

Junkk has its faults. Many. But we will either try and fix them or help overcome them to help those kind enough to use it. IF ASKED.

Addendum - Speaking of wastes of time, and as predicted, the journalist in question has responded to ask that she now be removed from the database. Happy to comply. One has to wonder what restricted bubble her readership will be exposed to on this topic, or any other. I wonder if she will sneak in a reference to anyway, if not in a good way? There is after all, no such thing as bad publicity. And all this will have served:)

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