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“I retain my AOL mail address because so many of my friends and mailing lists have it that it would be a pain to switch.” That's the succinct summary of the 394 comments posted to New York Times Bits blogger Saul Hansell's post, "Who Uses AOL and Why?" Hansell had posted the question because he wasn't sure AOL's latest portal redesign — quite probably offered to him as an exclusive story — was newsworthy. Instead, he came up with a dry suggestion that AOL take a clue from phone companies. It's so crazy it just might work:

A lot of people associate AOL today with problems they had with customer service years ago. One user, under the name BillG, said this: "Because they made it so difficult and frustrating to close an account I had with AOL many years ago, they will always be in my rear-view mirror. I will never, under any circumstances, use any product or service with the AOL brand on it again. Period." (Maybe there is something to be learned from phone companies, who have annoyed everyone at some point or another. They seem to periodically change their names.)