Web 2.0 may not be FREE, but listen to your community.

"Just discovered five minutes ago that Edublogs.org has all of a sudden decided to force Kontera Content Links upon all its blog users. So here's what my blog looks like now-- and all my students' blogs."
I can imagine the frustration by the teacher who is trying to help students learn not only how to write a narrative but also teaching students how to embedd images, videos, and links only to find out that some of the links that show up were not placed there by the students...
After much research, the teacher narrows down the problem...

(response from admin)
admin - We are trialling some of these ads - only to be shown to users who are not logged in or regular users of the site. If users are logged in, or visit the site more than once they won't appear. Or, if you upgrade to "Edublogs Supporter' they won't appear to anyone (roughly $2 per month) Apologies for any inconvenience - but we've gotta pay the bills somehow.
Posted 3 days ago #
(A few responses)
I can't believe this - ads on Edublogs..... And we have to pay to remove them. And to think that I really talked you guys up in an ISTE webinar a couple of weeks ago. I have another one this week and I can promise you I'll say something about the ads forced upon us. Will be changing platforms with all of my students this week. Posted 1 second ago #

All I can say is a disappointing, "Wow...." Like another commenter, I can't pay $25 per student, and one class blog won't fit the project we've already started. Would have loved a little heads up on all this...wow, James.
Here is what you hear from many community market leaders:
Listen, Communicate, Be A Resource, Build Trust In summary, Community Marketing is realizing the control has shifted to your customers, you’ll need to adapt by listening, communicating, and letting them get closer to your company. You’ll need to be transparent, build tools to help them, in goal to build trust. Once you’ve established trust, you can build a long and healthy relationship between your customers and your company –it’s a community. Jeremiah Owyang
What's interesting is that all of the responders understand the need to sell advertising to pay the bills, I think the issue is the way they went about it and what they chose to do without asking it's community. Being a member of a Web 2.0 social community, I totally understand the need to "pay the bills" and to find solutions to pay for the "free" tools you provide it's members. Look at Flickr, YouTube, Diigo, and the list goes on... All of them have a revenue model. The more visitors that come to the site and use the tool the more they can offer in banner ads, Google Ad words and subscription-based models. Here's the interesting twist that I have begun to see. In this tight economy, just like in the .dot bomb era, companies can no longer survive or "keep their doors open" by simply selling adverstisements and putting them up in the annoying banner ads or as Google Ad words. This model is just not working or not getting enough click throughs to generate the kind of revenue they need to exist. So companies are looking for ways to reach the customer where there is the greatest impact of use. The ads become more integrated into the daily use application be it with an annoying ad or with a limited level of functionality.
Example: Early on I was using Flickr. I absolutely love Flickr. It's great for sharing, tagging and posting images and video. The problem - once you hit 200 plus images, it hides the 201st image and so on. So, if you want to see all your photos, you have to upgrade to an annual subscription for $25 bucks - gotcha. The same thing with iPhone Apps. If it isn't bad enough that the "Lite" version of an app has banner ads, they limit the level of play or experience so that you have limited features. It almost makes it pointless to even download the app - gotcha you have to buy the upgrade.

So here we have Edublogs and well now they have placed the ad in a more intrusive location and anyone who wants them removed has to upgrade every user that accesses the tool - including students. I understand both sides of this story and it will be interesting to follow to see how flexible they are to the members who have made the tool what it is today. However, it would be interesting to know how many of the members that use the tool actually click on the adverstisements - I would guess little to none. That is the point. I would be curious to learn how the members would suggest a fix for this situation and still help Edublogs meet it's objectives.

As a member of a social community, we have tried different solutions to this problem. We listen to the community and ensure that they have the features they need and continue to adapt to make improvements. With regards to ads and sponsors, we are creating opportunities to become engaged without being in the middle of the app. We have blog tools inside the community that do not include ads in the body or on the blog creation tools. Our business partner placements are engaging interactions and not simply advertisements. Our gotcha is simple - everyone should have a piece of the economic pie, including teachers. Learn more.

I guess I will wait and see what happens next. But one thing is certain, the economy is hard on everyone and especially the Free Web 2.0 apps. Unless a company has a model for revenue, Free won't be free anymore.

Views: 59

Tags: 2.0, community, edublog, free, web

Comment by Steve O'Connor on November 10, 2008 at 12:26pm
I think we will see more and more of this. This is why I advocate the use of free and open source software.

Find a webhost that will allow you to install WordPressMU (That's what edublogs uses), pop in a few plugins and you are good to go. The webhosting is not free, but it will be considerably cheaper. Plus, you are unlikely to get blindsided. For $10-15/month we have WordPressMU and several other open source web 2.0 applications. You might even find something for less money, but you get what you pay for when it comes to support.
Comment by Cathy Nelson on November 10, 2008 at 7:47pm
Perhaps Edublogger needs to drop the "Edu" from its name since it is not sounding very education friendly anymore. Perhaps a more appropriate name would be advertisersupportedblogger or adsinedublogs. Then one could regain the plain name of Edublogger with the paid support. Maybe edublogs could do a line across the top (like the ever popular google blogger,) and instead of connecting to the next random blog, connect to ads they pick to match your blog post (which will in all likelihood be more "off topic" than "on topic.") Sigh. I have always highly recommended the Edublogs platfform even after moving to my own domain. But this news makes me want to discourage educators now. I am really sorry to hear this, especially after this past weekend I gave Edublogs a plug in a session I gave at our state edtech conference. Sad. I even feel compelled to tell the teachers I work with to use our Sharpschool platform that our school website uses--it offers a blog, which I haven't really been impressed with so far....
Comment by John Costilla on November 10, 2008 at 10:21pm
Thanks for your comments. I use google blogger and i don't really pay much attention to the line across the top as I'm sure most viewers don't. I like that and it works for me. My concern is that even with google blogger, they may choose to change their model as well and force members into a premium membership. I like the idea that Steve presents - installing your own WordPressMu with a monthly fee where you control the application and you are not blindsided. I think we are all becoming very dependent on Web 2.0 apps - I know I am... It will be interesting to see other models shift. Thanks again...
Comment by Steve O'Connor on November 11, 2008 at 6:46am
It's not just the control of the application, but the control over the data. What happens to everything you have done when one of these web 2.0 providers go belly up? Your data is gone--just like that. In these tough economic times money to keep such operations going is going to dry up--particularly if they are not turning a profit and have a steady revenue stream. More often that not, you will not be able to retrieve your data.

I've been using a few free hosted quiz makers, but I am concerned that after spending hours making these online interactive activities, they could just disappear one day. That is why I am currently looking for a similar application that I can host myself.
Comment by John Costilla on November 11, 2008 at 8:01am
Absolutely... Definitely we should all be backing up our data from apps, blogs, photo sites etc.
Thanks for sharing Steve.
Comment by Nancy Bosch on November 11, 2008 at 6:03pm
All I have to say is "duh". Did anybody really think all these tools would continue to be viable and free? I've noticed several already gone and many more going to subscription. Do we really need eight Web 2.0 Timeline generators, for example? I'd agree with John, back up your stuff.
Comment by Judith Sotir on November 12, 2008 at 8:27am
It's interesting that sites such as Blogger don't bombard you with ads, but Edublog does. Sites such as Wetpaint Wiki have ads which are a lot less annoying than the current Edublog model. And by the way, backing up content is essential under any circumstance.
Comment by John Costilla on November 12, 2008 at 8:38am
True, there are sites that have less annoying ads, but I do think that the more intrusive, content ads are going to be more prevalent in light of the economic situation. Own the data, own the tool.
Comment by Nancy Bosch on November 12, 2008 at 9:03am
John, Agree. I can't believe that there are people that think all of these Web 2.0 developers are publishing these tools out of the goodness of their hearts--eventually they will all have a commercial component. It remind me of the time a while back, I presented at NECC for 5 years and the exhibit halls were filled with the "next best thing"-- Riverdeep, Blackboard, Big Chalk, Classroom Connect, eboard, etc. They were all free---within a year 90% were GONE and the other 10% were subscription. There is no such thing as a free lunch. N
Comment by Steve O'Connor on November 12, 2008 at 9:52am
Blogger is owned by Google which has much deeper pockets. Edublogs was fine up until recently. Just because something is fine today doesn't mean that they won't be totally different in the future. The revenue streams for these folks are drying right up.

Again, that's why I go the free and open source route. I'll pay the small fee for the server space up front. I know I can count on it. Like john said: I own the data and the tool!

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