— 3 November 2004 —

That’s My Brand and I’m Sticking to It

Weblogs, Inc. produces over 50 blogs (a.k.a. “weblogs”) including Engadget.com, Autoblog.com, Joystiq.com, BloggingBaby.com and Mark Cuban’s BlogMaverick.com. With blogs ranging from trade to consumer, Weblogs, Inc. is the largest non-pornographic blog publisher in the world. [ source ]

I am not dinging Weblogs, Inc. here at all. Really. I just think the above quote from a recent Weblogs, Inc. press release (yeah people still use those, go figure) is, well, odd.

It says to me, “We’ll publish anything! Except porn, like that other guy who will publish anything including porn.”

All this new-nouveau-riche media is still too new for most people to realize that there is some empire building going on. Basically, and please correct me if I am wrong, there are three empires currently under construction: Weblogs, Inc., Gawker Media, and About.com.

About.com? Wha? Yep. No one (to my knowledge – remember I like to know the truth) really talks about About in terms of blogs, but there they are anyway. And frankly, much more entrenched than the other two.

My guess as to why Weblogs, Inc. won’t touch porn blogs is that in their model, all (or most, as I only looked at a few) their blogs allow comments. Gawker Media doesn’t, and they will touch porn. Okay, there are so many things wrong with that sentence…

Comment management is a big time consumer. But it is also a great way to manage a relationship with your customers and potential customers. I think it would be even more time consuming to manage comments on a porn blog. Especially if you were trying to build an empire that appeals to the masses.

This also isn’t a ding on porn. It’s a ding on the part of the human brain that is used for appreciating porn, because that part of the brain tends to be capable of only single syllable words that tend toward the primitive. This is also not a ding on people who appreciate porn. I think that while anyone can talk about porn, you can’t really have a discussion about porn, especially in a textual (pun intended) medium.

The main reason a business opens comments on their blog is to learn more about their audience. I don’t think you’d learn more about your audience on a porn blog with comments than you knew before. People like to look at naked people. ‘Nuff said.

I do understand Weblogs, Inc. reluctance (if it is reluctance) to start a porn blog. A porn blog can be a money maker (I assume Fleshbot does pretty well) but building one with an open comments model could pull resources away from other efforts related to empire building.

However, the press release quote above still cracks me up. As a business, and I have said this before, you need to find a way to differentiate yourself from the competition. Either you cost less (and this stuff is free) or you have better quality. Or, I guess, you point out what you won’t do that your competition will.

We are just going to keep plugging away on that whole “quality” thing.

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