Editor’s Note: Sometimes forefathers don’t last. Starting a revolution doesn’t give you permanent rights at the head of the table. Sure, you can be bought out or recover something from lawsuits. But can that really replace being the name associated with it all?
BY JOHN BRANDON
Sunny days sometimes turn dark and dismal. That new car with the Hemi engine and the third-row back-seat? It now drives like a crusty tank.
The same is true of web sites. What seemed so fresh when you first registered now seems like a ghost town. What happened? According to Gartner analyst Michael Gartenberg, site visitors routinely check the door to see if anyone else is leaving for better services. Like lemmings, they can pull up stakes and leave in a heartbeat. (Facebook, are you listening?) All you can hear are the crickets.
- 1. Gawker.com
This popular gossip site’s traffic has dropped 75 percent this year, according to Compete, and has wallowed in its own bad press over the years: cuts in freelancer budgets, a stalker map that showed the location of celebs, and several site changes. Meanwhile, tech sister-site Gizmodo has risen in the ranks, growing views by 10 percent this year.
Foster Kamer, a former Gawker writer who now works for the Village Voice, shared some insight on his former gig with New Yorker writer Ben McGrath for a 2010 article: “But you’re scooping the muck from the sewer and holding it up in your hand and saying, ‘Look at this. Smell this.’ ”
Sometimes, it’s hard to say whether a Web site is actually dying. Chatroulette.com is a site that lets you chat with a stranger; sometimes, the stranger is naked. Visitor counts are on the rise again, hovering around 1 million after a 25 percent drop this year, per Compete.com. The site went live in late 2009, and Wired wrote about it early last year. Andrey Ternovskiy from Russia created the site when he was 17. What has died out is the press coverage: the tech media is not touching the site anymore. Most critically: The site offers nothing extra beyond what you can do on Skype. “Chatroulette was a fad, an interesting one for a while, but was invaded by male exhibitionists, and most people aren’t into that sort of voyeurism,” says Roger Kay, an analyst with Endpoint Technologies (www.ndpta.com).
Statistics don’t lie – they just help explain the mystery. Digg.com started out in 2004 as the brain-child of San Francisco whiz-kid Kevin Rose and allowed visitors to “digg” a link so that everyone could see what was popular. In the past year, the site has been bleeding users by the boatload. There were 8 million visitors in January; this month, there were only about 3 million, per Compete.com. That’s a 60 percent drop. Competitor Reddit, which has maintained an interest level, is not so ad-centric. But the real killer is Twitter, which has become a link aggregator and social medium. Kay agrees: Many people find their Web links on Facebook these days.
You would think MySpace would have gotten the message by now: Users don’t like ugly banner ads that fill the page, and a consistent user interface is more appealing to most than one that allows crazy customizations. MySpace had 30 million visitors in July, per Compete.com, but Facebook squashed them like a bug with 150 million. The rest of the story: Read more