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Suck, Feed and Plastic on the ropes?
April 4, 2001 6:50 AM   Subscribe

Suck, Feed and Plastic on the ropes? (item two) Word is that Automatic Media is feeling the pinch and time is running out. The company behind the three already-mentioned properties relies on advertising revenue it is simply 'too hip' to attract, writes to the Dotcom Scoop, and it has apparently tried to license out the Slash-based community publishing system used on Plastic as well. Will they survive? And should they? Discuss. (via MediaNews)
posted by frednorman (19 comments total)

 
Plastic wants to license Slashcode to others? What do they think we are, stupid?

Feed and Suck were always decent if not sometimes brilliant. If they go down in flames, it's only because they tried to support too many people with too little advertising. If they had stayed small, maybe this wouldn't have been an issue. (Of course this is the problem with many of the good companies in the internet boom who've had to fold because they tried to get too big too fast.)

If one person (Matt) can get a 5000 person community up and running like MeFi, Plastic doesn't need more than 1 or 2 people max. Plastic feels very plastic too- few comments of any value, few stories of any interest to me. I didn't get it when they launched, still don't.
posted by gen at 7:01 AM on April 4, 2001


It would be a shame to lose Suck, it's one of the highlights of my day. I wouldn't be against paying a reasonable fee for it either.
posted by revbrian at 7:07 AM on April 4, 2001


I would echo revbrian. I've been reading suck since '96, and it rarely misses the mark.
posted by darren at 7:17 AM on April 4, 2001


Feed and Suck were always decent if not sometimes brilliant. If they go down in flames, it's only because they tried to support too many people with too little advertising.

My impression of both publications is that they have run on extremely small staffs. Otherwise, they might already be dead. Right now, banner advertising revenue has dried up so completely that even a small staff is going to be hard to support, much less make a profit.

Plastic wants to license Slashcode to others? What do they think we are, stupid?

This threw me for a loop too. How could the company license an open-source Slashcode clone (and who would buy it if they did?).
posted by rcade at 8:24 AM on April 4, 2001


I believe the modifications they made to Slash are quite decent -- it's the most attractive site anywhere on that codebase. But the article is right: if your market is only other broke community-site-builders, you're not going to have much room to compete for a profit.
posted by dhartung at 8:37 AM on April 4, 2001


I certainly won't miss Plastic since it essentially duplicates what's going on here with about a 1-hour delay, but I'd pay to keep getting my weekly dose of Polly and the Giant Canadian Crack Rabbit.
posted by MrBaliHai at 10:14 AM on April 4, 2001


I have to admit, whenever I see someone else talk about Suck online, my first thought is, "Oh, are they still around?" They fell off many peoples' radar screens years ago. They do almost no advertising outside of their O&O sites, and there are only so many readers who want to read a site that does nothing but daily snarky attacks on all that is not Suck.

And when you've ragged on and sneered at everyone and everything under the sun, you're not going to find a lot of friendly faces around when the going gets rough.

As for Plastic: The nested tables! It's hard to be a successful site when 75% of your pages make the average browser slow to such a crawl it takes 60 seconds or more to interpret and display the HTML.
posted by aaron at 11:12 AM on April 4, 2001



The Sucksters have been able to surf through several ownership changes over the years, so maybe they'll hang on somehow.

I only wish I had found Feed earlier, since it is usually more lucid and interesting than Slate or Salon, and less ranting than their Suck-brethren. I'd miss them both, though.

Plastic is hopeless. Half the posts are shameless self-plugs from the editors' own sites (Modern Humorist, Wired, and TeeVee most notably), and the only people posting comments are the ones trying to win the Amazon gift certificates.
posted by briank at 12:17 PM on April 4, 2001


Sorry if this inflames any MeFi allegiances, but I don't think it's fair to say it 'duplicates' what's going on here. MeFi doesn't always scoop Plastic. More to the point there's plenty of interesting discussion that goes on there that doesn't here. The volume of posts is certainly greater, and while that doesn't equate to quality, to suggest that MeFi posters are of such greater intellect as to make Plastic trivial is unwarranted arrogance. I also rather like having a moderation system and the ability to respond to specific posts.

aaron, the counterexample to your no-nested-tables-in-a-successful-site theorem is, of course, Slashdot. Furthermore, 60 seconds is an exaggeration. I've had a Plastic thread with 100+ comments in it take a good long while (~15s) to load & render, but relative to the amount of time spent reading, it's nothing. (Besides, that's what multiple browser windows are for.)
posted by brantstrand at 12:50 PM on April 4, 2001


That sounds like witch-talk to me, brantstrand.
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:55 PM on April 4, 2001


Personal preference: when I can go shave while waiting for a page to load, something is wrong. Plastic gives me hives. Not to mention a heightened sense of mortality, as I count the wasted seconds dribbling by, never to be regained.
posted by Skot at 1:15 PM on April 4, 2001


Like I said, investigate the ability to have more than one window open at a time. Alt-[TAB] too.

If wasted seconds are really such a bane, perhaps the web isn't really where it's at for you anyway.
posted by brantstrand at 1:54 PM on April 4, 2001


That's it, brantstrand's a narc. Who's paying you to promote plastic anyway, man? They ain't got no money.
posted by Doug at 2:15 PM on April 4, 2001


One thing that bothers me about websites going out of business is that everyone always says that their biggest problem is whatever pet peeve they had about them. Plastic are not having troubles because of their html, that makes as much sense as saying "you can't expect to be a popular website when you use a pink background" or whatever. If websites could live or die based on their content, their design, etc, the web would look very different right now. Business problems are business problems, and design problems are mostly incidental to these. Even though the junior usability brigade all like to jump on Boo.com and blame it's design for it's problems, even that site would not have been saved by superduper design, the fact that their design sucked was just a bonus.
posted by beefula at 3:05 PM on April 4, 2001


every time i see that plastic.com line about "the web's best editors" i want to smack some self-congratulating jerk with a little of "the web's best backhand".

i'll find what i like myself thankyouverymuch.
posted by subpixel at 6:28 PM on April 4, 2001


Narc here.
subpixel--
If you'll find what you like yourself,
what exactly are you doing on MeFi???
posted by brantstrand at 8:59 PM on April 4, 2001


i get that vibe from Modern Humorist too.....they can be a little too self congratulating and the "on-your-sleeve-hip." It gets really old, really fast.
posted by hidely at 10:54 PM on April 4, 2001


Furthermore, 60 seconds is an exaggeration.

I'm happy for you that you have a faster computer than I do. You're welcome to come over anytime and check out the loading times on my machine. And for whatever reason, Slashdot pages load much more quickly, though still not fast enough on really long threads.

The "speed = hits" theory has been proven many times over. If your page loads too slowly, people will abandon it in droves.

The problem with Modern Humorist is that they reek of surviving off their connections. Their material turns up on just about every site that considers itself to be hip and cool, often the same material, or at least material that mines the same lode over and over. (I've lost count of how many times I've come across samples from their "My First Presidentiary" book in different places.) It's not just a feeling, either; the web site itself is in serious financial trouble, and they've laid off practically their entire staff. All their income is from other web sites and web-related magazines. And we all know how well that business plan has worked out for other dotcoms out there.
posted by aaron at 10:23 PM on April 5, 2001



Obviously, Modern Humorist has failed to heed the advice on their own First Aid for the Dying Dot-Com poster.

I bought one of those for the office. Then expensed it under "company morale."
posted by kindall at 1:49 AM on April 6, 2001


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