In another thread, it has come to my attention that some may not understand how this blog business works.
I imagine that the vast majority of site owners are quite aware of this, but for the benefit of any would-be contributors to those sites, just in case you need to hear it, I wish to make a few things very clear.
Whether we are blessed with the gift of word writing, or whether we simply have an opinion and a desire to express it, we who write are in the driver's seat here. We have our choice of literally millions of internet sites on which to cast our words.
We can start our own sites. We can cross-post to a handful, a dozen, scores of them. That is entirely up to us. It is we who have that choice, that power. If we feel that we have something of value to say, we have the responsibility to say it on any public website we choose.
The pursuit of the site owner's financial or political interests is his own concern, not ours.
It is the prerogative of every site owner to keep his site "private," to decree who may publish there and who may not, or to open it up to the public for our comments. Whether he, or we, are American or not is irrelevant. Here on the internets, we are the public.
It is we who decide on which public websites we will express our views, share our sonnets, shyly offer our short stories and novels, proclaim our essays, holler our haikus!
He or she who wishes to run a site on which many people contribute do not have such power. We are the ones with the desirable goods, they are the humble petitioners who hope to be chosen to receive them.
While we, as noted, can freely post our work to as many websites as we choose, the only power the site owner has is to close his site to the public, or to "ban" specific users, to REDUCE the number of contributors to his or her site, and in so doing, risk his website being "banned" by yet more contributors and potential contributors.
In some cases, new contributors may arrive to replace the departed ones, however there is no guarantee that they will be any more pleasing to the site owner than those s/he lost.
On the subject of commercial websites, it is certainly no sin to wish to have one. Many, many people dream of running a website that generates for them so much revenue that they do not need to do any other work in order to meet, even exceed their expenses. This is, however, not an easy thing to do, and if this is what one aspires to, one's best bet is something having to do with online gambling or images, still or moving, of unclothed human beings engaging in sexual activity.
Or one can try one's hand at something like the enterprise recommended by no less than Dick Cheney himself: people who spend half the week scouring local flea markets for things like antique postcards which they then spend the other half hopefully waiting in line at the post office to ship out all they have succeeded in selling at a profit on eBay, or people who make children's swimming trunks printed with popular cartoon characters, which they then sell on eBay and preferably also an Amazon shop.
A website whose only "product" consists of the work of an indefinite and constantly changing number of individuals expressing their opinions on issues of the day, which one hopes will attract so much traffic that corporations will wish to purchase advertisements is a very poor choice.
However, if such a website is one's goal, one would do well to remember that the absolutely only thing one has to offer these corporations has nothing whatsoever to do with which opinions are expressed on that website, and everything to do with just how much traffic is attracted, because therein lie "page views," and "page views" are the path to "clickthroughs," and "clickthroughs" bring the possibility that someone may purchase the sponsor's product.
I should hasten to add that, in the case of the BooMan Tribune site, when it was quite new, in a thread discussing the site's future, I made mention of message content vis a vis sponsors. I was referring to arrangements more like those that some sites may make with politicians, where the sponsor simply "likes" the site and wishes to give the owner some money.
However since that time, I have been apprised that such arrangements are not as common as those which do depend on very quantitative data regarding the traffic, clickthroughs, etc.
And this may have been the case at the time of my former comment, and I was just unaware of it!
You will note that this is all a very iffy business, and if you will speak with people who have studied the science, if you wish to call it one, of page views and clickthroughs and purchases, you will find that a great many page views indeed are required before the likelihood of even one clickthrough, and in turn a great many clickthroughs are required before the likelihood of a purchase, so as you can see, one's site traffic is rather key.
Controversy, regardless of where the site owner, or the sponsor stands on whatever the controversy is, is more likely to increase traffic than the consistent presentation of one point of view.
It does not matter how important the site owner, or again, even the advertiser, may feel about the importance of unity, or staying on message, or where owner or sponsor fall along that four inch balance beam that passes for a political spectrum in the US.
What matters is how many people visit the site. And as anyone with knowledge of the subject will tell you, the phenomenon of ratio of clickthroughs and page views has nothing to do with where the viewer falls either.
Such a website may feature a written work that many people disagree with. Very few of the site's visitors will consciously NOT click a sponsor's link because the website has featured the written work.
A certain number of people who are interested in purchasing cellular telephones will click a link advertising such phones no matter where they see it, and while the crucial question of just how many and just how many dollars that means for the site owner, will be predicted differently according to every expert and every study, all agree that the number of page views necessary is large.
Thus, any website owner whose only value to advertisers consists of his traffic will not be acting in his own best interest by attempting to decrease the level of controversy, of "division," of "disruption" on his site. On the contrary, such things are his best friend, and his only hope of success.
As I said, such websites are not considered the best bet for someone who wishes to make money.
The case of kos is not unlike the case of the person who sold a domain name to altavista for some large amount of money a few years ago and in the wake of the sale sprang up a cottage industry of people buying up domain names in hopes of selling them for large sums to huge corporations. The vast majority of these individuals were disappointed with their investment, and wish they had purchased google stock instead. Or even just taken a nice vacation with the money they sunk into all those domain names.
If one hopes to receive money from politicians and political parties or organizations themselves, that is quite a different story, and if that is the case, the would-be money recipient's job is even more difficult, and his chances of success even slighter.
Like the corporations, the political sponsor is also interested in high traffic and page views, but since he or she will also be interested in having the website reflect a particular point of view, controversy will be counter-productive, and as we have explained, controversy is the single most likely factor in driving traffic to the site.
Political organizations frequently employ "ghost bloggers," or "virals," either paid or volunteer, for no other purpose than to give the appearance of increased traffic and increased popularity of a specific politician and/or political view. And it is quite amusing, on occasion, to watch them debate each other. One never knows if they are aware that their opponent is also "working."
Corporations, large and small also employ this strategy, it is a step up from the "spam" posts one sees these days on blogs and message boards. It is a product that is today routinely offered by public relations firms to their clients.
So it is into a most complicated and difficult to navigate stew that the aspiring recipient of political cash dives. His product must be a neatly herded horde of cats, and he might be better off using the Democratic Underground combination model of minimizing controversy by legislating permitted message content and allowed external links to such absurd lengths that posting anything there bears more resemblance to a text-based role playing game than anything remotely related to an exchange of ideas and information.
In addition to that, DU also depends heavily on "user contributions," offering "subscribers" access to a wide array of non-political forums, which has the added advantage of attracting the desired class of participant and establishing "community," all of this, they hope, will somehow result in a bloc of politically on-message and docile deliverables that will be deemed by politicians and political organizations, worthy of cash for the owner's wallet.
I have rambled on about this longer than even I intended, and if you are still reading, I thank you for your patience, and as a reward, I will offer, for what it is worth, my opinion that those readers and thinkers with their controversy and comment-provoking messages are an asset to any website on which they deign to participate.
And especially within the context of the American blogosphere, which "speaks with one voice," any political website that hopes to make money on traffic would do well to cultivate those readers and thinkers, because it is they who are more likely to diverge a bit from that one voice, thus creating all that controversy and division and disruption, and thus providing an increase in page views, an increase in clickthroughs, and thus increasing the chance that some small sum may find its way into the site owner's hand.
There is perhaps no better illustration of this than catnip, an especially good example for me to use, as she disagrees with me on a wide variety of topics, and naturally so, as she is significantly to my "right," yet even her writings have spurred that controversy, and her own blog immediately developed quite a remarkable bit of traffic of its own, and should she wish to do so, I imagine that any number of corporations would be interested in discussing some sort of mutually beneficial arrangement!
I cannot conclude without pointing out that while I neither judge nor fault those who seek to "make money on the internet," my own personal preference, and highest regard, are reserved for those who establish websites simply for the purpose of free and open exchange of ideas, without motives of personal gain, financial or political, for those who cherish the illusion that there is a difference.