Thursday, August 19, 2010

Do you care about the internet?

The internet is made of links.  An internet without links is useless.

If you have a content generating website, like CNN, ESPN, or any number of smaller news sites, then your revenue is all based upon advertising.  You need people to click on lots of your pages and view lots of ads.  There are two strategies for making this happen.  I'll go ahead and state my bias and name these strategies:
* The Right Way: Produce interesting content.  Make it easy for sites to link to that content.  Put interesting teaser links to related content on every page--entice readers to click to more of your pages.
* The Wrong Way: Attempt to convince people to read your site cover-to-cover, like they might do a print newspaper.  Users have to either set your front page as their home page, or they have to bookmark your front page and click that bookmark on a regular basis.

There are several major problems with the Wrong Way strategy:
* You cannot produce enough interesting content to keep people on your site.  Your readers are going to also go elsewhere to get the rest of what they want to see.
* There is a massive amount of interesting content that is not on your site.  Once they leave your site they might not ever come back.
* How do you get readers to your site in the first place if you do not allow links?  You have to resort to old-school marketing, like mailers and billboards.  Then you are hoping that people can sit down at their computers and ignore all of the interesting content that is jumping out at them and remember your URL to type it in.

Almost every content generating website understands this.  Many of these sites have elevated 'other interesting content' to an art form.  High-quality thumbnail photos and well-written teaser headlines.  They use scientific methods to study the click-through rates from one article to others, and they constantly refine their methods to improve their click rates.

Go to Fark and click on any link to the New Your Daily News.  It's easy to do because the Daily News has it's own icon on Fark.  They get it.  They play the Right Way strategy very well.

Unfortunately, one of the companies that is trying to execute the Wrong Way strategy has lawyers.  They have started suing bloggers who link to their content.  They are taking the Wrong Way strategy to its most crazy and wrong-headed illogical conclusion.  They are suing people who are sending them readers.  Astoundingly stupid.  This is so far beyond the Wrong Way that I'll have to call it the Best Korea Isolation strategy.

The company that has decided to employ the Best Korea Isolation strategy is called The Stephens Media Group.  That's a link to a bland Wikipedia article about them.  I can't link to them or they will sue me.  Their law firm is called Righthaven LLC.  Righthaven and Stephens Media Group are headquartered in Las Vegas, and a competing paper in Vegas is providing the best coverage of the lawsuits and turmoil.

(Did you notice how The Stephens Media Group got zero links in this blog post, but their direct competitor just got three links?  Oops, there's another one.)

The Stephens Media Group owns a series of local newspapers throughout middle America.  Those newspapers have websites.  And apparently those websites sometimes generate interesting content.  I'll never know because I will never ever visit them.  And you probably won't either, because anyone who links to them will get sued and will be forced to remove the link.

Bloggers have started to organize a resistance movement.  Someone created a Site Blocker plugin for Firefox (something I would normally be against).  Someone else generated a list of all of the Stephens Media Group's websites.  This enables bloggers, like myself, to keep ourselves off of those websites and avoid linking to them by accident.

I would suggest that you take a minute and install the plugin and set it to block all of the Stephens Media Group's websites.  I did it.  It only took a minute.  If you are not running Firefox, then install Firefox first.

If enough people block their websites they will eventually go out of business.  Hopefully that will prove the lunacy of the Best Korea Isolation strategy once and for all.

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