SMH, The Age shuts down online crosswords (update)

Fairfax Digital closes popular online puzzles

For more than seven years, crossword lovers have enjoyed the intellectual challenge of online puzzles on the Sydney Morning Herald and Age Web sites. No more, however, as Fairfax Digital has shut down its online crossword and puzzle service.

The service ceased on Monday, August 31.

“We first started our online crossword and puzzle service way back in April 2002,” the notice reads. “Since then we have published online over 4000 crosswords and over 2000 target puzzles.”

Fairfax will continue to publish its quick and cryptic crosswords and the target puzzle within the daily editions of its papers, but will no longer publish the solutions online.

The online crosswords have even garnered a celebrity following over the years, with the cast of Pirates of the Caribbean, including Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush and Orlando Bloom, downloading the puzzles in between filming.

In their place, Fairfax is offering a links to a range of free internet crosswords, including The UK Guardian's Quick Crossword and Cryptic Crossword and general crosswords from the NY Times, LA Times, USA Today and the UK's Daily Mirror.

Tags online games

18 Comments

Mitch

1

It amazes me that these big companies haven't worked it out yet. The internet is a very big place with lots of things to entertain us. A quick search on "Crossword puzzles" yields 5,730,000 results. So now there'll be 5,729,999. I think I'll survive. The question is will the crossword puzzle makers? Somebody's got to pay for their coffee and friand in the morning.

gfrend

2

Exactly, and the other point is that there is now even less reason to access Fairfax sites for anything other than a good laugh at their political spin.

So we're lol, which is more than the unfortunate Fairfax employees will be doing from now on.

Peter

3

It really is a short-sighted move by Fairfax. The note on the website mentions that the crossword puzzles will still be available in the print editions of the paper - as though they are trying to coax people back to the printed newspaper by removing the popular crosswords from the web edition.

Not only won't I be going to the printed version of the smh, now I have one less reason to visit the smh website as well!

If any of the bright sparks at Fairfax get around to reading this - WAKE UP!!! The world has changed. You need a new business model, and you need to realise that more people are seeking their information in the online environment. Yes, newspapers are struggling. Job classifieds advertising has moved online, conventional print advertising is waning, and sales are down, while the more savvy marketers are finding better ways of reaching their audience. The successful operators in the Web 2.0 era recognise these facts and have come up with new business models. And they are creating websites that give people more of what they need, and keep visitors coming back (and as a result, can attract more advertising revenue). They are constantly responding to the competition by evolving more interesting and information-rich sites, using the latest technologies.

These days I can check for news on my iPhone - I use the ABC news application, The New York Times application, the Associated Press application, and a number of other apps as well.

So in this era of Twitter, RSS feeds, Wikis, iPhones and all manner of websites that cater to the world's information needs, how does Fairfax respond? By removing popular online content in a vain hope that they might increase readership of its print editions! Sorry Fairfax...it just won't happen! I have already found an alternative online crossword supplier, and at the same time I found a crossword iPhone app as well.

And since I was so disappointed with Fairfax's decision to axe the online crosswords, I've removed the smh site from my browser shortcuts, and will now be getting my online news elsewhere.

(And to the aforementioned bright sparks at Fairfax - you might want to have a look at one of those online jobs boards. With the way things are going, you might need it sooner rather than later...)

Anonymous

4

Having the SMH delivered every day I, too, go to the net when I finally give up on a word. When I forward this I will be going the the web addresses to delete SMH.

Deb

5

The Cryptic is a great way of tying nostalgic expats to the online Australian newspapers. I've lived away from Australia for many years, and the Cryptic has continued to draw me back to reading the Age online.

Anonymous

6

This has got to be a complete no-brainer! In an age when you want to attract people to online sites, Fairfax has decided to pull the crossword solutions from their online content.

Call me old fashioned but I actually prefer to do the crossword in print form (that means I still by the SMH) but then like to check online for the solution when I get stuck. I suspect that many people do the same. This move makes absolutely no sense. All it does is gives people more reason to stop buying Fairfax publications - along with the declining standards of your journalism, dumbing-down to almost tabloid style.

tbishop

7

(No subject)

{sob}

Anonymous

8

What git made that decision? Don't kid yourselves... there are a gazillion news/media providers online, you need all the differentiators and barriers to exit you can get. Consider this churn + 1

Jesso

9

They won't be missed. They were never any good anyway.

Anonymous

10

People who pay to receive the Fairfax parallel universe view of the world deserve whatever they get. . . or don't get.

Carole

11

I don't understand if they can print the Guardian crossword on line why can't they publish their own compilers. Eithe way with the arrival of DA or David Astle on Saturdays I no longer look forward to my early morning Saturday crossword. I have really tried to solve his crossword and I have been solving crosswords for 35 years. However even when I can see the answers I am still at a loss. This doesn't mean he is a genius but rather he is failing the crossword enthusiast. Put him him back to Friday's oblivion and hope that LB can be reincarnated.

Carole

12

I don't understand if they can print the Guardian crossword on line why can't they publish their own compilers. Either way with the arrival of DA or David Astle on Saturdays I no longer look forward to my early morning Saturday crossword. I have really tried to solve his crossword and I have been solving crosswords for 35 years. However even when I can see the answers I am still at a loss. This doesn't mean he is a genius but rather he is failing the crossword enthusiast. Put him him back to Friday's oblivion and hope that LB can be reincarnated.

Derek

13

What a cynical shortsighted decision by Fairfax -my wife & I enjoyed the Xwords & Targets daily for years and as a result considered the SMH & The Age as "our papers" and they were our web home pages, source of daily news and events etc even though we live in Queensland! We've now no alternative but to change to the local Murdoch press from now on! What a disaster!

Derek

14

As a follow up may I suggest all you disappointed followers of DA and his associates go to the current SMH puzzle page (with its links to the puerile &/or uber irrelevant overseas puzzles) and click on their "feedback" link as I have and tell them what you think - maybe some rational executive with cojones will reconsider their ill-advised, short sighted decision! See down the bottom at http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/puzzles/free.html
There is an 1800 phone number and the names of some responsible editors also. Regards.

gill68

15

Their loss really. I manage to keep doing my fix of crosswords, especially cryptic ones, on YouPlay and Lovatts sites. And they're Aussie too!

Sylvia

16

I'm astounded that none of the comments here are from fans of the Target like me! The replacement is a lame 7-digit version and no fun at all. Bring back the Target,Fairfax!

Anonymous

17

I am in total agreement with your comments. What a disappointment.

Andrew

18

Interestingly, even if you pay for the online content service they only seem to provide a page image. No feed for x-word engines. I get that the content model is hard for print people but they need to rethink. I too will now go elsewhere for all my news and other content.

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