Policy made plain.
Nov. 16 1996 3:30 AM

But enough about us--what do you think of Slate?


As we noted in this space three weeks ago, the average Slate reader is intelligent, discerning, politically involved, culturally aware, and physically attractive. Also, of course, skeptical of cant and immune to flattery. But we'd like to know even more about you. Do you consume vast quantities of alcohol? Do you drive expensive cars--and trade them in often? Are you, by any chance, in the market for a Boeing jet fighter? A Ralph Lauren undershirt? A good book? A carton of milk? How many times a week do you have sex? Would you be willing to pay for it? Say, $19.95? (Or are you one of those people who think that sex, like Web sites, ought to always be free?) Are you, in short, the kind of reader advertisers are looking for? (Please say "yes.") Actually, what we mainly want to know about is you and Slate: how often you read it, in what form, what you like--and don't like--about it, and so on. Toward that end, we have composed an online reader survey. (Our e-mail delivery readers will receive their own version.) We would be grateful if you took a few minutes to fill it out. Thanks very much. Go to survey.

Warning: Do not read this book review

Also Monday, we post a review by James J. Cramer of The Microsoft Way by Randall E. Stross, a big new book about the well-known Seattle-based coffee--uh, we mean software--company. Slate's official editorial position about Microsoft is, of course, scrupulously neutral. We believe Microsoft is a marvelous flowering of the American entrepreneurial spirit, a boon to all mankind, a splendid example of employer benevolence at its finest, an institution beyond legitimate criticism of any sort, with a damned fine tuna tostada every Thursday in the cafeteria. But beyond that, we take no view. It is unfortunate, therefore, that we were tricked into publishing the highly biased opinions of Mr. Cramer, a man of no discernible qualifications whatsoever--beyond extensive experience in both business and journalism, a brilliant track record on Wall Street, and a lively writing style, that is. When we showed Cramer's review to Bill Gates (not because it concerns Microsoft, of course, but because he insists on reading every word of Slate before publication, in an admirable effort to improve his vocabulary), his reaction was swift. "Have it killed," he observed reflectively. We said, "You mean, 'Have him killed.' " Gates shrieked, "No, you fools. What kind of person do you take me for? Kill the piece. Kill the piece!" But by that time, the review had already been loaded into Slate's "doomsday server," a device designed to ensure that this magazine continues to be propagated into cyberspace in the event of a nuclear war. Once loaded, an article cannot be retrieved. There was nothing we could do. Honest, Bill.

Listen and learn

If you haven't done so yet, check out the new format for our "Dispatches & Dialogues," and the Slate "Diary." It's part of our continuing effort to make Slate more user-friendly. Many readers, however, were quick to tell us they regarded one particular change--a reduction in the type size of "Dispatches & Dialogues"--anything but friendly. (A sample: "I'm as frumpy as David Brinkley because Shearer's dispatches are posted in print that's too goddamned small!!") Honestly, we were only trying to help: Smaller type means more words per screen, and therefore, less scrolling. (Especially helpful, or so we thought, in consuming Harry Shearer's hilarious but epic O.J. trial dispatches.) The smaller type also, we thought, enhanced the "e-mail" look and feel of the feature. But the readers were clear: The type was not (clear, that is). So we're back to the normal point size, in a more legible typeface (Times New Roman) to boot. Readers were also clear in their responses to last week's query about saving space in the print-out edition by removing the "links" discussion at the end of each piece. By an overwhelming margin, those who responded prefer to learn about Internet links, even when they're not reading Slate online. So we'll continue as before. Your wish is our command.

Another party heard from

"The Fray" now has more than 15,000 registered participants. One of them, last week, was Cliff Jackson, the Arkansas lawyer who is Captain Ahab to Bill Clinton's White Whale, and the orchestrator of Paula Jones' lawsuit. (His Frayhandle is "Mugwumps." To read what he has to say, type this address after you've registered: www.slate.com/The/fray/main.asp?thread=111.) Jackson has some choice words for Susan Estrich, who has been engaged in a lively dialogue with Stuart Taylor Jr. about Jones and Anita Hill. Feel free to enter "The Fray" and talk back.

Michael Kinsley is a columnist, and the founding editor of Slate.