Ad.Money.Web // Web 2.0 is a Scam


Articles with Tips, Tricks, and Issues about the Internet, Advertising, and Websites.


Web 2.0 is a Scam

or 

Don't Choose Attention over Money


I was reading the TIME Magazine that declared "You" the person of the year, specifically the article that focused on various movers and shakers of the new "digital democracy." Something ocurred to me - most of these people were prolific independent creators of content - yet many of them weren't seeing a dime for it.

If the Internet is supposed to be the great equalizer - the final realization of merit (or on the web "content") based capitalism where anyone can get started, create quality web pages, and show it to the world for free, and finally be compensated for it - why are some of the supposed top dogs still toiling away for nothing?

The two profiles that struck me the most were the Wikipedian who had written 2-3,000 articles and edited a metric shit-ton more, and the Librarian who reviewed 12,000 books on Amazon.com. Each of these authors were hugely prolific, yet the former was said to be unemployed. The latter was not only failing to make money off of what amounted to a full time job - but he was actually helping a large corporation make more money!

If either one of them had put as much effort into independent pursuits supported by even a basic advertising scheme like Google Adsense, they could be doing quite well by now. The Wikipedian wrote articles about many relatively obscure topics that might not have the most relevant ads, but I bet he could score enough traffic via search engines to justify his effort when it's all combined. The Amazon guy was doing book reviews - literally talking about commercial products (which would produce highly relevant text ads - or even better, he could include Amazon affiliate links and earn money for each copy sold.) It's insanity. They're doing work while other people benefit. This same pattern is replicated by thousands of content creators all across the web - from forum members, to social news/networking/bookmarking contributers, to writers/artists/photographers/videographers who contribute to any number of community websites.

If you submit content to deviantART, Youtube, Digg, Slashdot, or any other big site, you should AT LEAST also have your own personal website for your content that you can profit off of when your exploits build a following. Most of these big community sites allow a link on your profile. Take advantage of it.

There's nothing wrong with wanting to participate in an online community. I can tell you why most do it -- attention. When you join a big website and make a name for yourself, you can feel a more immediate sense of accomplishment than if you set out on your own. That attention can even be leveraged into traffic for a user's own website - but most high profile users at big websites are so busy feeding their addictions they nary have time to start a blog, let alone strike out on their own. But still, it reaches a point where these users are making a serious economic contribution and not being compensated a dime for their time or work.

Don't be one of them.

The whole Web 2.0 phenomenon is user driven - in other words it's pretty much just a big scam where clever people get other people to do all the work (content creation) for them. They suck up all the ad revenue, and nobody's the wiser. Lonelygirl15 may have gotten the attention, but Youtube got the cash.

It's not just a web 2.0 thing though. Look back at what would be called web 1.0 (Remember those hazy Pre-Myspace and pre-Digg days?) Many people had (and still have) websites on free hosts like Geocities talking about everything under the sun. The big companies put ads up on the page obstensibly to cover for the "freeness" of bandwidth the user is taking up. Users should be glad they don't have to pay (but if they want to remove the ads, of course, they're welcome to fork out the cash.) This is a very imbalanced system - these webhosts are utterly dependant on the content creators to earn them cash. They should be paying the users, not the other way around. (For more on this, click here for my article on why I believe Googlepages will revolutionize the way people view free webhosting services.)

The lesson? Strike out on your own. Use the big communities to make a name for yourself, but devote at least equal time to creating content on your own website and monetizing that website with Ads, Referrals, or whatever is appropriate. Use them; don't let them use you.

 

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