We have a slightly better fix on how many people are reading SLATE, which we’d like to share with you. During the week of the Republican Convention, between 12,000 and 18,000 people a day visited our cover page. That’s about half-again higher than the 10,000 readers a day we were estimating from cruder numbers. About 500 people a day are downloading our special print-out edition. This is in addition to the 15,000 or so who have signed up to have the print-out edition delivered to them once a week by e-mail. Almost 3,000 people have registered for “The Fray,” our discussion forum, in its first seven days, but only 904 have actually posted a comment. Don’t be shy! One final set of numbers: Last Monday, three days after “The Fray” was inaugurated, we came to work and found 700 messages in our general e-mail-to-the-editors box. That’s up from our usual weekend haul of about 400, which suggests that SLATE readers do not find “The Fray” an adequate substitute. For that reason, we will resume publishing selected e-mail to the editors, beginning next Wednesday.
A question we thought we’d never have to face
How do you correct errors in an online publication? We naturally assumed the problem would never arise for SLATE. But it has. In a printed magazine, the usual practice is to publish a correction notice–written in a tone varying from abject to grudging, depending on the circumstances–in a subsequent issue. The error itself, meanwhile, remains stamped with ink on paper forever. Online, of course, nothing is permanent. It’s possible to go back days or weeks after an article is “published” and actually correct the error. But this seems like cheating, somehow. And it denies editors and author the opportunity for healthy self-flagellation that a correction notice provides. We asked Bill Gates what should be done when people complain about factual errors in SLATE. His advice was, “Have them killed.” We have decided, instead, in most circumstances, to correct the error and publish a notice as well. That way, readers can know that every SLATE article is as accurate as we can make it, and still have the pleasure of watching us grovel from time to time. We hope it doesn’t happen very often.
And so, our first correction:
Alex Beam’s essay on The Oxford Dictionary of Canadian English inaccurately stated that the 48th parallel separates Canada from the United States. In fact, the border is at the 49th parallel. We humbly apologize to all the United States citizens above the 48th parallel, who we implied were living in Canada.
Trees ‘n’ beans
SLATE ON PAPER, our monthly compilation of articles from SLATE for folks who prefer their magazines printed and stapled by others, makes its debut the week of Aug. 26. There are two ways to get it. One is to sign up for delivery by U.S. Mail by calling 800-555-4995. (The price is $29.95 for one year.) The other way is to visit Starbucks coffee outlets, which will be exclusive distributors of single copies of SLATE ON PAPER. Some Starbucks outlets will be unable to carry SLATE at first, due to provisions in their leases, but it should be available at about 400 Starbucks across the United States. Just say, “I’ll have a double-tall skinny vanilla decaf latte and a copy of SLATE ON PAPER, please.”
Horses for Courses
The Horse Race, our feature that tracks the presidential election, is new and improved this week (starting Monday, Aug. 26). The charts and graphs have been simplified; the explanatory “spinach” has been improved (we hope); and we’ve added an Iowa Electronic Market on the contest for control of Congress. Will Saletan’s analysis of the week in punditry remains as pungent as ever. Skip the weekend talk shows and let Will fill you in Monday morning.
SLATE on Legs?
The New York Times reports (Aug. 20) that Levi Strauss & Co. has chosen the name “Slates” for a new line of men’s pants aimed at boomers (who else?) and “intended to fill a perceived wardrobe gap between khakis and designer dress slacks.” Although we here at SLATE have spent many sleepless nights worrying about this very tragic wardrobe gap, we wish to make it clear that Slates, the pants, have no connection with SLATE, the magazine. Levi Strauss is not responsible for the opinions expressed in SLATE, and Microsoft Corp. is not responsible for how your husband’s spare tire looks in a pair of Slates.