Jorn tries pay for play.
February 13, 2001 10:35 PM   Subscribe

Jorn tries pay for play. Seeking to sell links near the top of his extremely-widely-read weblog Robot Wisdom, Jorn Barger has set an (experimental) $20 submission fee: you don't get considered if you don't pay, but if he approves of your site you get a link. (Actually, it's even more complicated than that, which is characteristic of the man.) There's even a $100 fee for certain commercial links. Jorn can do what he likes, of course, but how well do you think this might work?
posted by dhartung (42 comments total)
This is the type of thing that make people with journalism degrees cringe, and the type of behavior that erodes at a dedicated audience. We're not reading Jorn because of the design of the site. Knowing that the links could be up there because someone paid for traffic is going to turn many people off.
posted by captaincursor at 1:13 AM on February 14, 2001

It may turn people off, then again, it may keep the guy motivated. And any new site (with his kind of target audience) that has any business sense whatsoever will submit to him. I guess it's the same discussion as the one with the new big flash ads on cnet.

It'd be interesting to see if he can keep readers interested.
posted by pedro at 1:16 AM on February 14, 2001

it looks like he's going with the same concept as google's paid ads, or adwords thingie.. you pay for a link up the top, but it's made clear that it's a paid ad, and not just one of his normal selection.

sounds fine to me. anyone with the ability to read what they're clicking on will be able to realise they're clicking on an ad, so there's no harm.
posted by titboy at 3:00 AM on February 14, 2001

Has Raph Nader taken a position on this?
posted by Postroad at 3:42 AM on February 14, 2001

What a wishy washy, incomprehensible scheme (he won't run ads if he thinks your site isn't fast enough loading and navigable unless you pay him to fix it? what? the pricing isn't set, but there are links to pay, but don't click them unless you've emailed him, what?). Pedro, you really think any new site with business sense would use this? I think in general, people are going to spend about 30 seconds trying to figure out the way it works, figure out they could be paying for nothing, and then just go "that's retarded" and leave.

I don't know why someone thinks it's less annoying to the user to stick in sponsored content with their normal content than to just stick a banner ad up. This is totally ridiculous, I'd much rather see some flashing ad than have to read through and figure out what link was paid for or not. Seems like Jorn wants to sell out but not look like he's selling out, unfortunately his method for this seems to be in tainting his main content. Does anyone really want to have to start trying to figure out which anti-semitic comments he's making sincerely and which he's making for money?
posted by beefula at 3:50 AM on February 14, 2001

I think we've all been taken in by Jorn's secret marketing plan, in which his inscrutable ad sales policy and general penchant for bewildering behavior mask the fact that every link on Robot Wisdom is paid for.

But seriously, folks, am I to understand from what Jorn wrote that links that are submitted as ads, but are then deemed Robo-Worthy, get put into the main list of links for free. Huh?
posted by anildash at 4:14 AM on February 14, 2001

Yet another reason not to like him. As if I needed one.
posted by dagnyscott at 6:07 AM on February 14, 2001

He's one of a million bloggers. If the ads annoy me, I'll simply go blog shopping and find 10 new blogs that intrigue me. They're a dime a dozen at this point.
posted by fleener at 6:36 AM on February 14, 2001

Someone's got to experiment to find ways to make money. It seems interesting from what I've read about it, coming from someone who knows Jorn only as some non-random name.

If it works, all the better, new ways of keeping sites alive is a Good Thing, and hell, it doesn't hurt the visitors at all, since he's clearly marking which stuff is paid for.
posted by cCranium at 6:38 AM on February 14, 2001

"It'll never get off the ground ! !"
"The world's flat , and that's that ."
"This court hereby sentences Mr Gileo to spend the rest of his natural life in confinement ."

Progress is NEVER without its detractors.
posted by ojsbuddy at 6:42 AM on February 14, 2001

Jorn has been at an oblique angle to consensus reality for years. To the extent he has any respect, it's because of the immovable forcefulness of his convictions, not their rightness or wrongness (as far as I can tell, he's pretty near the random level on that score). He's never been unwilling to experiment using himself as subject, experimenter and peer reviewer--why not experiment with making a buck? And, as he says, he has to stave off homelessness somehow. What's the alternative? A *job*? >shudder<

ojsbuddy (speaking of an uneasy relationship with consensus reality): sometimes the detractors are right.
posted by rodii at 6:50 AM on February 14, 2001

Name ONE , rodii
posted by ojsbuddy at 6:53 AM on February 14, 2001

if there's design changes I think are important, I'll figure out a way to charge this

this from the man with the ugliest blog on the web?!
posted by jpoulos at 7:00 AM on February 14, 2001

rodii, he has a job. He gets research grant money for ai and james joyce stuff. At least, last I heard, he did.
jpoulos: It's fast-loading! If I ran a weblog, that's exactly what it would look like (except w/out the graphic at the top.)
posted by sonofsamiam at 7:03 AM on February 14, 2001

Just visited your webcam site, jpoulos; I'll say one thing, you should DEFINITELY know ugly when you see it !
posted by ojsbuddy at 7:05 AM on February 14, 2001

I was pretty disappointed when he stopped adding editorial comments for the simple headline motif he currently has. Quirky as he may be, his blog was definitely more entertaining. With his changes, I went from having his blog as my start page to looking at his site once or twice a month, if that.

I guess he has every right to try whatever experiment works for him, just like I have every right not to support him. The way I read his judgmental pricing scheme, it looks like he's trying to position himself as a neo-Jakob Nielsen --- something the world doesn't even need ONE of, let alone two.
posted by crunchland at 7:34 AM on February 14, 2001

As to you , dhartung , alias Rod Johnson , alias rodii ,
I don't need your anonymous little 'me-no-likee-you' emails. While I may not care for what you have to say , I don't annoy you with such.
posted by ojsbuddy at 8:08 AM on February 14, 2001

Oh, I forgot : AND alias 'jpoulos'.
posted by ojsbuddy at 8:11 AM on February 14, 2001

Ahh, good to see that the trolls are out today..

I'm wondering if anyone is even going to take Jorn up on this offer considering his earlier attempts to sell banner ads (the banner that was up for the past few months proclaiming "$x for this ad; y hits guaranteed by xmas") didn't really seem to pan out.
posted by zempf at 8:19 AM on February 14, 2001

Does anyone know how many hits RobotWisdom gets per day? I know it's very popular for a weblog, but is it popular in relation to all websites?
posted by aaron at 8:25 AM on February 14, 2001

I am about to call it quits--what a loss!--to this site. The nastiness, catiness, and mean spirited is a major setback for all the years of therapy I needed.
Can't you folks simply address an issue and tell us what you think without attacking the poster rather than what has been posted?
As for Jorn etc. He can do what he wants. This is his right. We can read him. Or not. That is our right.
Now back to my blankie for some comfort...I would use my thumb but my dentist tells me my dental insurance not very good.
posted by Postroad at 8:25 AM on February 14, 2001

Postroad is a poo-face!
Seriously, though- this is a pretty open forum. People will abuse it, just like they do with news groups. You can quit reading and deny yourself access to things you might enjoy, or just scan past the garbage to get to the content.
Or you could write a program that removes troll threads from your view of the site. A Metafilter filter!
posted by dogwelder at 8:45 AM on February 14, 2001

Ok, dogwelder...I see you need me the way my ex wife does. then how about this?
posted by Postroad at 9:07 AM on February 14, 2001

Robot Wisdom stopped being a regular visit for me when Jorn declared holy war on Judaism. Before this happened, I tried to get the Amazon Honor System people interested in working with him. That seems like a much better way to finance his site than this payola scheme.
posted by rcade at 9:12 AM on February 14, 2001

As to you , dhartung , alias Rod Johnson , alias rodii ,
I don't need your anonymous little 'me-no-likee-you' emails. While I may not care for what you have to say , I don't annoy you with such. Oh, I forgot : AND alias 'jpoulos'.

You're lucky if dhartung is only harassing you with multiple MetaFilter accounts and anonymous insulting e-mail. He wakes me up every night with radioactive radio signals that activate hallucinatory neurotoxins in the fillings of my teeth.
posted by rcade at 9:17 AM on February 14, 2001

For the record, I don't know who this guy is and I never sent him any email.
posted by rodii at 9:28 AM on February 14, 2001

Yeah, Dan used to really mess with my head, too, until I got one of those aluminum foil deflector beanies. Now his mind-control rays are deflected harmlessly away & he's unable to infuse me with any more of his commie propaganda.

(How's that for topic drift?)
posted by zempf at 9:45 AM on February 14, 2001

You're ignoring the obvious implications for tentacle rape.
posted by sonofsamiam at 9:53 AM on February 14, 2001

If they're anonymous emails, how do you know who sent them?
posted by aaron at 10:24 AM on February 14, 2001

i agree with Postroad that the nastiness, catiness, and mean spirited attacks are out of order, though i won't be leaving. it is better to address issues without attacking posters.

i disagree with dogwelder, that we should just look the other way. why not call people to a higher standard? MetaFilter: self-policing for 5836 posts and running.

posted by Sean Meade at 10:49 AM on February 14, 2001

"it looks like he's going with the same concept as google's paid ads"

Same concept, however a brief and completely unscientific poll of my fellow officemates (I work for a software development company, too) uncovered that NOBODY knew who Jorn Barger was or had ever heard of RobotWisdom.

However, they had heard of Google, which admittedly may have come from my untiring campaign to select that as the search engine of choice on our intranet site.

While it may be worth it for some people to pay for this link, like if you know your site would appeal to the people you know go to RobotWisdom, Jorn seems to have forgotten one very important thing. Web Celebritydom (even widely-read weblog celebritydom) = Not a Damn Thing to the majority of people sitting around in cubicles surreptitiously checking their Yahoo mail while they should be working on that Java application.
posted by jennyb at 10:56 AM on February 14, 2001

(i'd love to see aaron's first question answered. for many reasons.)
posted by maura at 11:08 AM on February 14, 2001

In the spirit of self-policing, here's a new MetaTalk thread where we can all deplore nasty mean-spirited cattiness.
posted by rcade at 11:08 AM on February 14, 2001

If Jorn, or anyone else, can get people to part with 20$ for a link on his site, more power to him.
posted by Calebos at 11:20 AM on February 14, 2001

Let me try to clarify a bit. I don't think ignoring the problem is the proper solution- or any effective kind of solution. I think that it's more realistic to accept that any open forum is going to have some people abuse it, and you shouldn't discard the whole site because of the inane ranting of a few rude boneheads.
Yes, if someone writes something offensive, you can call them on it- but you shouldn't let the noise distract you from the signal. If they continue to be offensive, the only thing you may be able to do is ignore them. In a perfect world, everyone would shun trolls, they would get no response from anyone, and they would get bored and leave. But the truth is that someone always responds, so the troll gets enough feedback to continue trolling.

posted by dogwelder at 12:20 PM on February 14, 2001

(i'd love to see aaron's first question answered. for many reasons.)

Wouldn't you , though . "Ve haf Vays !"
posted by ojsbuddy at 1:11 PM on February 14, 2001

I'm not alias anybody. And I didn't mail ojsbuddy, who is shaping up to be an ass of the first order. Please remember that this thread is about -- in this case -- Jorn and a business model for weblogs, NOT you.

I do, however, take full responsibility for rcade's dental torture.

The answer, I believe, comes from his "200,000 hits by Xmas!" message which was his previous sell-out scheme, one he never implemented. That banner-ad placeholder went up about six weeks before Christmas. That means roughly 5,000 hits per day. Jorn may not be a household name, but his blog is definitely one of the most widely-read. (Not counting discussion/cooperative weblogs.) From the referrals I get, I guesstimate that both Cam and Kottke are in the same approximate league these days, but beyond those three ...

By comparison, I think I'm a modestly well-known blog, and my daily hits are presently in the 150 range. And one of my friends, who started recently and has begun to get referral links from a few other blogs, but mostly me, is averaging about 15 daily.

Jorn was doing this kind of traffic back in 1999, too, and he's maintained it -- in the face of a big increase in interest in blogs -- despite taking sabbaticals and posting somewhat less frequently. Though he was an early example, he's generally shyed out of the burgeoning blog community, whereas Cam and Jason have embraced it. He's also stuck to a pure weblog approach, and is definitely of the Jakob Nielsen school of design: usability-over-pretty.

[Incidentally, that e-quill thing was something I blogged last week, and I suspect doing so may have prompted him to finally remove the "by Xmas!" banners and finalize his thoughts on the pay-for-play. Second disclaimer: I've known Jorn online for years. He lives about a mile from me, though we've never met in person.]
posted by dhartung at 1:40 PM on February 14, 2001

Alexa via Netscape's "What's Related" says "Popularity: in top 51620 sites on web." However, it also says that a similar site to Robot Wisdom is, "your complete source for pro-wrestling." (MeFi ranked in the "top 133153 sites on web."
posted by tregoweth at 2:45 PM on February 14, 2001

Has it occured to anyone that the "experiment" in these schemes is to see how many people would actually take him up on it?
posted by davidgentle at 8:11 PM on February 14, 2001

I've gotta admit, I've just never liked Jorn. Mostly because his sig for a while called his blog "the only site you need", which seemed to run against everything I thought the internet was about. Yeah, I could just ignore him, but I wanted to read alt.books.james-joyce.
posted by dagnyscott at 9:05 PM on February 14, 2001

The whole admiration-of-Jennicam thing put me off early on, personally. But there are some good interesting other links, sometimes.

I just can't comprehend why someone who seems to be so clue-endowed is so interested in such a skanky cam-ho. Shrug.
posted by beth at 10:24 AM on February 15, 2001

A Metafilter filter!

Would that be a meta-Metafilter?
posted by daveadams at 10:46 AM on February 15, 2001

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