What's wrong with The Register?
August 17, 2006 5:37 PM   Subscribe

What’s wrong with The Register?

A few hours ago, I linked to an article on www.theregister.co.uk in an FPP. At least one person complained about the validity of the source. Then, when the same link showed up on Slashdot, I noticed a similar complaint by a poster there. I read The Register very infrequently, only when I follow a link from somewhere else. What are some examples of their problems?
posted by ijoshua to Media & Arts (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The Register (and also The Inquirer) are the equivalent of nerd tabloids. They often word their headlines for maximum "punch" or controversy, and a lot of their reporters tend to speculate heavily or take very opinionated stances. They ride the trollbait line very closely, especially with things concerning Microsoft. Not to say that you can't believe what they print, but there is often a lot of sensationalism added.
posted by Rhomboid at 5:53 PM on August 17, 2006

Hmm. I don't know much about them, but I do know that "Aliens choose Firefox" is one of their front-page articles today.
posted by limeonaire at 5:54 PM on August 17, 2006 [1 favorite]

There is absolutely nothing wrong with The Register.
posted by johngoren at 5:54 PM on August 17, 2006

An example of old/new media schismatic thinking?
posted by oxford blue at 5:55 PM on August 17, 2006

I'd say The Register is more like the equivalent of Fox News for nerds and conspiracy theorists. That's not to say they're wrong, or even non-factual, but that there's a significant bias. But hey, where isn't there?
posted by wackybrit at 6:51 PM on August 17, 2006

Fox News distorts news because of ideology, but the tabloids distort news to sell papers -- in that regard, the Register and the Inquirer are more geek tabloids than geek Fox Newses.

The Reg has a couple of editors who have axes to grind, but that's not out of place in tabloid journalism either.
posted by mendel at 7:10 PM on August 17, 2006

I would argue that the anti-Microsoft, anti-government stance consistently taken would be an ideology, but.. it's getting to six of one and half a dozen of the other ;-)
posted by wackybrit at 7:51 PM on August 17, 2006

Yes, they're anti-Microsoft and anti-government, but they're also anti-Google and anti-Linux and anti-anything else that will get people riled up and linking to them. That's why I think tabloids are such a good analogy -- it's not as important to the Reg to put down Microsoft as it is for them to be noticed putting down Microsoft.
posted by mendel at 9:08 PM on August 17, 2006

The only thing wrong with The Register is that it sucks in comparison to its pre-bubble-burst self. It used to be so much more fun to read, but I think all the writers who were entertaining went away and found paying work after dotcom mania went "titsup" (as el Reg themselves would say).

Otherwise, it's a pretty okay tech rag, with a bit of an anti-establishment bent.
posted by dammitjim at 10:01 PM on August 17, 2006

Best answer: There's a whole other problem with this particular story, which I'm seeing as I read the publication for the first time: lack of citations. It's not that the info is false, but that I can't call up one of the guys in the story to make sure it's true. See below:
A little hair dye, drain cleaner, and paint thinner - all easily concealed in drinks bottles - and the forces of evil have effectively smuggled a deadly bomb onboard your plane.

Or at least that's what we're hearing, and loudly, through the mainstream media and its legions of so-called "terrorism experts." But what do these experts know about chemistry?
That's nice, dear. Umm. Which experts? Yeah, yeah, terrorism experts. But, you know, which ones?
Less than they know about lobbying for Homeland Security pork, which is what most of them do for a living. But they've seen the same movies that you and I have seen, and so the myth of binary liquid explosives dies hard.
Hmm. How do you know they're not, like, hardcore chemists? And how do you know they've seen these movies? Because actually, I haven't seen them. Or at least, not that I remember.
Making a quantity of TATP sufficient to bring down an airplane is not quite as simple as ducking into the toilet and mixing two harmless liquids together.
Good to know. Who says so?
We believe this because a peer-reviewed 2004 study in the Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS) entitled "Decomposition of Triacetone Triperoxide is an Entropic Explosion" tells us that the explosive force of TATP comes from the sudden decomposition of a solid into gasses.

Oh. Them. Umm, you lost me awhile ago. See, I wasn't really paying attention because I thought you were making it all up, with all that stuff about champagne and beakers on airplanes. No offense.
TATP is notoriously sensitive and unstable. Mainstream journalists like to tell us that terrorists like to call it "the mother of Satan."
Cool! Which ones? Journalists, I mean?
It's been claimed that the 7/7 bombers used it, but this has not been positively confirmed.
Umm. Claimed by whom? Not to be a nag ... shall I just stop now?

Having said all that, it's actually a very witty and well thought out op ed piece (though not visibly marked as such). So tell all the people on the blue who've got their panties in a bunch to get over themselves. (Oops! Did I say that?)

I, for one, enjoyed the read. Thanks for the link.
posted by brina at 10:20 PM on August 17, 2006

The Register draws from a number of stylistic influences which are well known to people in the UK but which might be a bit alien to readers in the USA or elsewhere: Private Eye for example. Private Eye - have been sued a sufficient number of times to make them pretty cautious about fact checking - The Register publishers, I suspect, have not. They also mix serious and frivolous articles together freely. Personally I like the site and thought this was a good article.

Not infrequently the site seems to go down - this is what I originally thought you might have meant by your 'what's wrong' question.
posted by rongorongo at 3:50 AM on August 18, 2006

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