May 10, 2001
5:10 PM   Subscribe

Backwash - get paid to blog. Someday. Maybe. "The job of each Backwash Member is to scour the Internet for quality content that they personally find interesting and that they personally would spend time enjoying. The Member then recommends that content to their audience."
posted by todd (22 comments total)
thank you for ripping me off Backwash.


ugh. backwash.

posted by jcterminal at 5:24 PM on May 10, 2001

It's hard to imagine a more unfortunate name. That's disgusting.
posted by sudama at 6:32 PM on May 10, 2001

"Some of the most popular pages at Backwash are Hedonistic Girl, Anti-Social Punkish Atypical White Girl, Spoiled European Intellectual, Alienated Overeducated Pale White Boy and Hawaiian Punch in Cocktail glasses.  You will notice that they all clearly convey the type of person you will find hosting the page and the type of content you can expect them to recommend."

Good thing they stuck "white" in there. What is that supposed to "clearly convey" about these people?
posted by sudama at 6:43 PM on May 10, 2001

Have you tried it out jcterminal? Have you written about it on your site? I didn't see anything about backwash at crashspace.
posted by mathowie at 6:48 PM on May 10, 2001

I really liked Backwash the first time I saw it... when it was called Mining Co. (now known as
posted by Dirjy at 7:12 PM on May 10, 2001

Yeah, I don't see anything about crashspace that makes it especially like backwash, just the possibility of it being a group blog -- so how exactly did they rip you off?
posted by dhartung at 7:31 PM on May 10, 2001 was topic oriented, not personality oriented. One of the reasons why I left The Mining Company way back when was because what they were wanting me to do, a trained chimp could do. I couldn't personalize the look of the place and had to 'stick to the topic.'

I actually kinda like this BackWash idea. Looks like fun. Come to think of it, CrashSpace looks like fun too. I like interactive community ideas that focus on people and not money. There's enough of a difference between these two. I don't think one's stealing another's thunder.

Thing is though, I realized this when I was a subeditor for If I'm gonna put this much effort into content for someone else's website, I really should just return to making my own homepage.
posted by ZachsMind at 9:18 PM on May 10, 2001

I really liked Backwash the first time I saw it... when it was called Mining Co. (now known as

I'd have to say that, at first glance, Backwash appears way different from Most importantly, About's Guides are selected and then managed by editors, while Backwash allows any/all to join and those who attract the most readers will get the highest rewards.

I agree with Zach that About is topic oriented, but I'd disagree that "sticking to the topic" means "a trained chimp could do" it. About's various sites differ wildly in quality, almost entirely based on the quality of the Guide (amount of skill/knowledge + amount of effort).
posted by jameschandler at 9:45 PM on May 10, 2001

What do you guys think of this: personality driven blogging, supported by ads, where the bloggers participate in a revenue share agreement (possibly based on popularity?) - creating a real company vs. being subsidized by vc's?

It's (one of many) things I've been thinking of.
posted by owillis at 9:56 PM on May 10, 2001

i don't know about y'all but i find this worthless. i mean does it fill a niche that anybody really cares about? well at least they aren't isolating people with the default "Anti-Social Punkish Atypical White Girl"-oriented site: they also have Adult Backwash and Kids Backwash. Thanks for the extra bodily fluids, but i'll stick with my filtered cigarettes. "poof" ahhh...
posted by wantwit at 9:59 PM on May 10, 2001

"..personality driven blogging, supported by ads, where the bloggers participate in a revenue share agreement (possibly based on popularity?).."

Let's face it. Everybody wants to go to heaven but no one wants to die. No one wants to pay for the content of the Internet. They already pay to get on the ride - why would anybody pay for the scenery? And people don't want commercials. Those who flock to the Internet do so cuz they don't like the other mediums of information that are out there, because among other things, those other mediums have been overtaken by commercials. Pop-ups? Banners? Yesterday's news.

The advertising model does not work. Stop thinking you can be "supported by ads." It is simply a dying business model.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:53 PM on May 10, 2001

Well, I respectfully disagree. Let's move along, shall we?
posted by owillis at 10:59 PM on May 10, 2001

Oh you're no fun anymore!
posted by ZachsMind at 11:42 PM on May 10, 2001

Zach, the 'advertising model' does work, but only when it isn't instituted in silly ways, like placing random banner ads on random pages.

Imagine, for example, a site like MetaFilter (which I use only because we're there right now). The costs are very low to produce the site and keep it running. Moreover, the audience is highly educated, employed, and in a farily narrow demographic. Any advertiser in the tech/IT/software sector would cream to have an ad on MetaFilter, because for the relative cost they're gaining tons of exposure, and even new customers. Both the site owner and the advertiser come out ahead, because the money spent by latter is pennies in terms of ROI, and the former because with enough advertisers, he's making a nice profit.

The problem right now is that MetaFilter is somewhat of an anomaly-- there aren't enough sites out there that can deliver such a high-quality, targeted audience. But the web is in its infancy! Sites are becoming more and more sophisticated, and will soon be able to deliver the kind of audience that advertisers really want, from small companies to big.

The aversion to banner ads is understandable because they're pretty stupid in general-- I don't think I've clicked on more than a half dozen in the entire time I've been online (5-6 years). But that doesn't mean advertising doesn't work on the web. Audience is power-- if you can get someone to spend their time somewhere, you can get them to view a company's message, or even check out their product. The key is delivering the right ads to the right people.
posted by FPN at 3:19 AM on May 11, 2001

ok ok ok, the comment of 'ripping off' doesn't work without sarcasm tags.

Backwash and Crash Space are very different in a few aspects.

1) we cater to a more 'experienced' audience (i.e, they know their way around the web a little more.)

2) we don't bend over for advertisers. they will NEVER be able to dictate what can and cannot be put on Crash Space (how? easy. we have no advertisers. it's a business model that can't fail.)

3) none of us are going to pay people to cut and paste from other sites.

4) Saying 'Crash Space' doesn't make me gag.
posted by jcterminal at 9:27 AM on May 11, 2001

"Distributing the news for free on the Internet does not seem inherently more absurd than chopping down trees, hauling huge rolls of newsprint across continents, running vast presses, and dispatching a fleet of trucks at the crack of dawn in order to get 25 cents for the same words and pictures on 27 cents' worth of paper."

Slate - It's Not Just the Internet: Almost no one pays for content in any medium

I don't know what this has to do with anything.
posted by sudama at 9:35 AM on May 11, 2001

The true precursor to backwash is the failed themestream, which seemed to be doing quite well up to the point where they admitted they were running out of money. The epinions disillusionment has also been touched on at MeFi before.

Support? For various values of "support", yes, or maybe no. I don't think advertising is doing very well at supporting an expensive, glossy-magazine model; but it's doing just fine supporting many, many personal sites out there with low overhead and a pay-expenses, maybe-buy-beer mentality. Many of those are highly targeted, e.g. stileproject is clearly a great place to advertise porn; and many, many linux community sites have a great technical audience. There are even tons of weblogs out there that run banner ads (most of them are what used to be called E/N sites, though: it's a different mentality).

I think the benefits of blogging are not necessarily tangible in the form of direct support, but in things like personal branding, where you can set yourself up as a guru or pundit. This can lead to other revenue opportunities. This is true in many industries, actually: musicians touring to "support" an album release, or porn stars who make their real money touring strip clubs. Maybe one day my blog will get me a job ... knock on wood.
posted by dhartung at 6:06 PM on May 11, 2001

Damn. I forgot I was going to point out that Backwash is advertising via Google adwords, using the word "blog" (but not "blogger" or "weblog"). By going through the free preview, you can see this is worth 500 impressions/day, or about $7.50.
posted by dhartung at 6:09 PM on May 11, 2001

Wrote a little thing last night about why all these glossies (good description, Dan) went down and why the little guys can make it.
posted by owillis at 7:51 PM on May 11, 2001

This is a very interesting discussion (said without irony); really, the continuation of an ongoing discussion on MeFi (as well as elsewhere).

I don't think anyone has mentioned something which has given me pause: whether text on a computer monitory will ever be amenable to advertising. The closest analog in the non-digital world is a newspaper or magazine page, but I would submit the way one reads from a monitor is sufficiently different (a smaller area and the controllable size of browser windows are just two things which come to mind) to call the advertising model into question.

The other issue, which I mentioned on MeFi a while back, is whether the expectation of measurable response to ads (through clickthroughs) condemns the Web as an advertising medium; in other words, we can measure that ads on the Web don't work so we pull them, whereas we can't measure, at least as precisely, whether the little ad on page 12 of the New York Times does, so we'll keep running it as a leap of faith.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:58 PM on May 11, 2001

The thing with click-thru, is that it reduces previous advertising exposures to worthlessness - which they aren't. For online ads to survive, they have to show advertisers that branding can work online like in print/broadcast.

The IAB has some preliminary study (PDF) as to the effectiveness of web branding. The leap now is to convince Madison Ave.
posted by owillis at 11:07 PM on May 11, 2001

I run a web-based content company and from my perspective we, as an Internet-using society, are slowly learning that the web is, among other things, a viable alternative means of delivering content. The problem was spelled out best by Carl Shapiro and Hal Varian in their book, Information Rules, in which they pointed out that pricing of packaged information tends toward its marginal distribution cost, and on the Internet the cost for one more "copy" of the content is essentially zero. So the hurdle to get over is one of sustaining the value.

The proliferation of free content that came with easy VC money created an artificial environment where a lot of valuable content got created and pushed out in the search for traffic, eyeballs, page views, and whatnot. The sunk costs of producing the original content have generally proved too high for that business to be sustainable. So, really, in the end it all comes down to the business model.

In my opinion, the companies that best "get" the web are those that are willing to give away some value in order to attract traffic and develop loyal customers, but who also have a plan to capitalize on those visitor-customers who want more. The best example I can think of is Not too many people know about their successes. They do family trees. Not exactly rocket science. But they are the third largest subscription web site on the planet, with 300,000 subscribers paying between $15 and $60 per year, plus several other nifty revenue streams, the largest of which is software sales through their network of web sites. The fascinating thing about them is that they also have a lot of free content. Their network of web sites generates a TON of traffic, with over 60 million registered visitors. Collectively, these visitors have contributed over a billion records to a public database that maintains and offers to site visitors for free. Their vision is that data contributed by their users should not be sold back to those users, but should be available for free. And they use this content, which cost them almost nothing to collect, to build, sustain and support their community of users. And community is the true long-term winning strategy for any Internet company. If you have loyal customers who keep coming back, you win.

Which is also why MeFi rocks.

Meanwhile, when they ask me to register on a site and where I heard about them, I just click on the little drop-down menu and select "advertising on another site". It helps to keep the dream alive =)
posted by JParker at 12:04 AM on May 12, 2001

« Older   |   The XFL is dead! Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments