Consumer advocates and cynical runners have long speculated on its existence, and now scientists have confirmed it: RunnersWorld.com does indeed include language explaining that it may earn a commission on the products its editors promote on the site.
The text, in a size previously thought to be smaller than possible using modern typeface technology, appears in the footer of the website—just above a line of links at the very bottom of the page and well below the page’s content, reader comments, ads, modules of related articles, and various site navigation links.
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“We are thrilled, to say the least,” said Wayne Newton, Ph.D., a professor of theoretical typography at the University of Las Vegas and leader of the team that made the discovery. “We knew there must be a disclaimer on its website somewhere that would explain Runner’s World’s enthusiasm for promoting shoes, gear, and other consumables online. And now we have found it.”
Newton described the discovery, which his team made with the help of powerful electron microscopes, as “extremely satisfying.” However, he said, attempts to measure the disclaimer’s type size were less successful.
“Our instruments are highly sophisticated,” said Newton, “but this type size is so minuscule, even we could not measure it.”
Among runners and readers of Runner’s World content, the discovery seemed to generate less excitement.
“What’s an affiliate?” asked Rebecca Parton, a runner who regularly visits RunnersWorld.com. “Is that like a paywall?”