Opinion: Why Some Linux News Sites Aren’t Succeeding

I always hate it when a Linux “news” website publishes things that aren’t news. It would be like having a hosting website that doesn’t do hosting…what’s the point really? IF you can call a news article the gathering together of various other news sources, threading them together in one incoherent and blabbering “news” article and then ending the entire article on a point that the headline doesn’t even address…nor the first paragraph for that matter…then I guess LinuxInsider has got a dollop of fecal inspired “journalism” for you right on their front page. A retarded baboon could thread a bunch of stories together and draw a conclusion that doesn’t have anything to do with any other part by smacking a brick on a typewriter. I suggest LinuxInsider employ a retarded baboon as opposed to the author of this horrible piece.

What’s going on with many Linux news websites today? It used to be about the proliferation of Linux and Linux IN THE NEWS. Nowadays it’s about who can be the most creative with their Linux aphorisms and who can draw the most conclusions about nothing all while ensuring that as many advertisements as possible barrage their readers. This is why I only go to 2 websites for general Linux NEWS…Lxer.com and LWN.net. Newsforge is a good place to go as well…but the rest seem to do nothing but dance around the idea that they can widen out and cover all business news, report a little bit on Linux, and become a ‘catch all’ for savvy “geeks” while being sure to saturate themselves with ads. Sites should understand more about their target audience…and that just isn’t happening now.

I think it comes down to a faulty business model. Target audiences are changing faster than the technology that is released daily. Larger news websites whether Linux based or not are counting on “clickthroughs” and ad “impressions” to tell them what their readers want. They’re counting on their names to carry them and they’re wrong in accepting this matter. In the past, Linux has been somewhat geeks only…or at least rumored to be. That has changed. Most news sites haven’t.

Look at things like distributed journalism over at digg.com. Blogs, digg, and Lxer are the waves of future journalism. Users determine through voting what they want to hear more about or what is displayed on the front page. Blogs are so numerous that anyone with the ability to type can have one. These models are the future of news and journalism…whether people want to admit it or not.

Still, everyone is going gaga over ad supported applications and websites. Heck, Microsoft even fought Google for a stake in buying 5% in AOL for buying advertisements. Google founded their business on this model with adsense. The interesting part is though that Google is adapting to different business models and other companies aren’t. Perhaps they’re too beauraucratic. Perhaps they’re too large to move quickly. Whatever the case may be, Google’s employees turn out new technologies and “it” ideas while other companies flounder to keep up. The change has been to get in touch with your target audience and make things FOR them. Allow that audience to check it out…see what they can do to make it better. Open source your ideas. Develop a community around it. Then when it releases, it will be received with open arms instead of skepticism. The thing I like about Google is that their search page hasn’t changed to contain ads since they started…it’s separate from their function…adsense does not inundate their function. Many Linux websites should take note of this model.

Linux news websites aren’t doing this. They’re sitting back and counting on business to exist as usual. They’re losing their touch with the Linux community and in doing so they’re losing readers and subsequently, support. In the meantime, they pass poorly written articles off as news and throw them on their front page. To me, this is an insult. They should know their audience enough to see that we see straight through junk they try to pass off as “Linux News” and that with each passing bowel-wrenching article they alienate us further and further.

So I wanted to see if my theories checked out. I wanted to see if some Linux “news” sites were going downhill in the last year with the influx of interest in Linux. According to Alexa.com a web page ranking website, LinuxInsider posted a 2 year all time low numerous times from September 2005 through November 2005. Compare that directly to Lxer.com which started at the beginning of 2004, and you can see for yourself that LinuxInsider truly is on the Outside of things.

But what about other sites? What about sites that do the similar things as LinuxInsider…changing toward ad impressions and clickthroughs? One that comes to mind is LinuxWorld.com. I used to visit LinuxWorld quite a bit a few years ago. Loved the old look as opposed to the new look…and just look at how the content has changed…you can see the difference…ad supported models have been geared toward what they think their target audience is by comparing the old and new look. Have they fared better? Hardly. Look at the comparison of Lxer.com and Linuxworld.com at Alexa…they’ve dropped out as one of the top websites in their rankings. They used to be there…something changed. Hrm…what could it be?

It seems that Linux “News” websites that become less concerned with Linux NEWS are on their way out while models such as Lxer are on their way up. Newsforge gets it, why can’t any other major Linux news site out there get it to? Someday, Linux “News” sites will stop trying to shove a plate of horrible journalism in our laps, stop trusting ‘business as usual’, and they’ll start to realize that while the restaurant across the tracks isn’t the nicest place in town…they do have the best food.

Author: devnet

devnet has been a project manager for a Fortune 500 company, a Unix and Linux administrator, a Technical Writer, a System Analyst, and a Systems Engineer during his 20+ years working with Technology.

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