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Our readers are sharp and responsive. No sooner had I activated the slightly adjusted appearance of our audio reviews and industry features than the first e-mail arrived, complaining bitterly about now having to scroll over sponsor banners in the middle of a content page. "Put them on the side if you must".

The gist of his ire was clear as day. This reader wanted the ads parked such that he could overlook or bypass them. Having their ads seen is naturally what ad sponsors pay for - and with it, they pay for this entire site's existence hook, line and sinker. Make no mistake, no sponsors will sink 'er, this site...

Being of an artistic bend by nature and education myself, I've long tried to avoid the 'commercial aspect' by keeping ads and content as separate as possible. With readers strategically bookmarking pages to bypass our showcase page however, they continue to enjoy our content free of charge while those who actually pay for it are getting - well, screwed. I've thought long and hard how to rectify this - how to beat the natural human impulse to want things for free without giving anything in return. (You'll pay in just a second... there).

It's only taken five years but it finally occured to me that in print, it's perfectly common and expected to see a half page of content sharing the other half with an ad. To get to the lower right corner of the right page to turn it, you have to -- argh -- scan across that dastardly ad. Obviously, ad supporters get the highest visiblity if their ads are embedded inside the content you're keen on reading. Oh the evil machinations of commerce and propaganda.

We have now shamelessly copied this hoary print standard to forthwith present a centrally placed gold field of banners inside content pages and another one at their end before you turn the virtual page for the next. "Crass commercialism" some will protest and if this sours them on 6moons, so be it. Someone's gotta pay for the substantial time and effort it takes to generate and upkeep our content. That being the case, those who do deserve our best efforts to in turn give them what's they're paying for: unavoidable visiblity.

I personally dislike very much the other online solution featuring lateral banner strips to the left and/or right of the central text field. Mean commercial bastard that I am, neither can I fail to recognize that adjusting your eye scan to begin at the left edge of the text field and stop at its right has you quickly trained to "tune out" those lateral strips, rendering the sponsoring companies effectively invisible once again. Full-width horizontal banner fields inside the text box it is then. I'm confident that the reasonable majority of readers will recognize both the necessity for ads in our chosen business model and our efforts to implement this need in as tasteful and non-vulgar a fashion as we can. We continue to refuse animation and flashing bits to make your visit as civilized and low-key as possible. Anyone in disagreement is welcome to launch their own ad-free site and live either on reader subscriptions or off a rich girlfriend or trust fund. There, the perfect boiler plate repartee to any and all complaints in online publishing. Cheers.

Which gets us to the second minor 'alteration' in the audioreviews pages as first implemented in Stephæn's recent writeup of the Audio Horizons phono preamp. To wit, I've asked all my writers to henceforth request from the manufacturers who send them review loaners to also provide us with photo files of their personal systems both at home and in their business facility. As well, they're to ask for design goals, audio beliefs and anything else that sheds further light on what a maker is trying to accomplish, how they view themselves in the market place, who they believe their target audience and direct competition is etc.

If we learn that a maker of low- to mid-power tube amps burns them in over high-octane rap, that's a useful bit of intel. If we learn that a maker of PC audio uses for his digital reference 5-year old machines, that's telling. If we learn that an amplifier maker tests his amps only on his own speakers, we deserve to know. Asking for and receiving are naturally two different things. We shall see how many manufacturers appreciate the usefulness of this additional information for their prospective customers and are willing to provide the necessary data and photos to us.

Needless to say, making our reviews longer is not the secret agenda behind this but it's exactly what'll happen. My plan was initially to embed this type of information as sidebars. The trouble online is, any sidebar longer than the height of your screen requires redundant scrolling to deal with the resultant split-screen effect. Plus, any pictures embedded in a sidebar will by necessity be limited to that sidebar's width.

As soon as I turned on the amp, the tubes began to glow bright red, smoke started to curl up from the transformer and an acrid odor... continue
Our new convention will be to have sidebars floating in separate color-coded text boxes, showing only the first few sentences to be continued on a separate page that'll open in a new window. A close window prompt at the end of that page will return you to the main page to continue the review. This de-clutters the review
proper, allows for full-width photos and graphs in the sidebars and unlimited placement of adjunct data. Needless to say, the data we're after are not as per the above example.

Finally, to return to the commercial aspect of the opening, a recent forum poster used an unfortunate turn of phrase to suggest something other than what's actually the case. As part of our ad contracts and for makers who lack their own art department and cannot submit to us the required banner and ad graphics, we offer free generation of the same if they provide us with basic photos and a text file, slogan and logo. Since we're web-based, our ads by necessity are HTML pages on the 6moons server. They're not, as the poster called them, "mini websites 6moons builds for its advertisers". A click on any of the banners of this page will quickly show you that what we build upon request are ad pages, not websites. What a wickedly backhanded way to have you actually click on a banner, wasn't that? Tisk tisk and oy veh...