Here are some changes that are definitely NOT for the better. Now, when you go to Garden Voices, the Gardenweb-hosted aggregator, excerpts from garden blogs all over the world are still listed (though it looks like fewer than usual, each taking up more space than they should), but none of the authors’ names are given, just an Old Roses byline, regardless of whose blog it actually is. Also, there is no comprehensive list of blogs, as there used to be, and no archive except for this month. Caren/Old Roses, who started the aggregator, alerted me that this was none of her doing.
The truth is that many of us now have our own feeds and readers that we use to keep up with garden blogs, and may not check Garden Voices as much as we used to (I was on it every day at one point). Still, Garden Voices is (or was) a great way to find out about new blogs not yet on your radar. But because Gardenweb is owned by iVillage, and iVillage is owned by NBC/Universal, they can and will do what they want, will likely do it in a way that we don’t like (kind of like my cable company), and there’s not a damn thing you can do to stop it. All I can say is beware. And repeat the old adage—if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
For example, how many of you received a comment like this: “I think your writing is great! I would like to feature you in the Gardening Community on Wellsphere, a top 10 health website that has well over 2 million visitors monthly.” Sure you did. Chris C./Outside Clyde also got it, as did a friend of his. Upon further inquiries, Chris found that Wellsphere would love to own complete copyright privileges for all of his content forever and ever in return for … a link.
Our blogs may not seem terribly valuable to us in terms of cash, and most of us are fine with that, but in what is still kind of a Wild West, business-wise, a lot of would-be entrepreneurs spend all their time figuring out how to make personal profit from the web without actually creating something themselves. The fact is that most are still figuring out what will make money on the web other than gambling and porn sites, as many more respectable businesses—like media—aren’t making money yet. Plenty of you have suffered from the scrapers, who simply import your words into some generic-looking blog so—I guess—they can get google currency. I’ve seen my posts used elsewhere, so I limited my feed in an attempt to stop it.
A more legitimate exploitation may be companies you know asking you to blog for them in return for the glory of being associated with their websites. That’s up to the individual; personally, I think people should be compensated for such contributions. And then there is the barrage of press releases from companies who want their product mentioned on your blog. I’ll try something that I would really use in any case, and then write about it, but not too often. It can get to be a pain. And I can’t imagine why companies think you would recommend something on your blog without having tried it—but some of them do think that. I was discussing this with Carol/May Dreams and she listed the 3 most annoying requests she gets (all of which I’ve mentioned here), and I agreed with her conclusions: “maybe the best thing to do… just be true to yourself and don’t get all hung up on links, blog aggregator sites, product reviews …”
I didn’t get into this to make money and, sure enough, I haven’t. Which is fine. So my answer to all entrepreneurial inquiries is “delete.”
Too bad about Garden Voices though. That was a nice service. Thanks, NBC/Universal!
I’ve gotten so used to deleting the scam offers that I can’t remember them all. If you have an interesting one to share, please do!
ADDENDUM: I ought to have mentioned, though many of you already know this, that Blotanical is a great place to find and keep up with garden blogs.