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 MarkPea on November 14, 2008 at 4:05pm
Have you tried Eduspaces ? This is a free non-advertising site which uses Elgg (0.8 I believe). However, ownership of data was an issue last year when the folks running the site suddenly decided to shut it down giving the community 1 months notice.
Comment by Marielle Palombo on January 31, 2009 at 10:18am
While I certainly understand the valid points made about "no free lunches," owning and protecting your data, etc., I also take issue with the way Edublogs went about their commercial shift. First, it would have been helpful and professional to notify all existing bloggers in the network of the change in advance via e-mail. Secondly, I find the nature of the pop-up ads embedded as hyperlinks within existing blog posts, yet invisible to the logged-in blogger, particularly offensive. I can understand banner or sidebar ads outside the field, but modifying someone's text seems qualitatively different. Frankly, this unauthorized alteration of my work seems to me to be to be a violation of my Creative Commons license. I do not take issue with free services incorporating advertising, but I find this particular approach to be an untenable violation of the integrity of an author's intellectual property. I agree that hosting one's own blog is the only way to control its future, and I have moved mine to a paid host. While it may be within their rights technically, because of how they handled the conversion to their new terms, I will no longer recommend Edublogs to teachers with whom I work.
Comment by Nancy Bosch on January 31, 2009 at 12:47pm
I find it ridiculously distracting to be reading a blog with random words underlined in blue!
Comment by JenH on February 6, 2009 at 8:50pm
It took me a while to figure out why my Google Analytics account was not working with my edublogs site. Come to find that I need to become a supporter in order to use the service - AKA pay $40/year. I am extremely disappointed!

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