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Wait, so you are defending the sign-up popup by saying the site is getting a lot of hits? When you visit the page, the site gets a hit. If that was the goal, you are done. The popup does not get more hits. If they moved the popup to the corner of the screen, it would still be noticeable, but not annoying. This seems like an easy fix.
AGREE. I hate the popup. Every website tries really hard to create or provide useful and interesting content in an effort to get more people to their website. Yay it worked, I am at your website reading your article. Then, you punch me in the face, trying to get me to stop reading. It is like you don't want me to read the content on your website. Ok, I guess I will leave then.