December 10, 2005

Me, I don't go to the Pajamas Media website anymore.

But some folks are still watching, and I want to link to a few of them.

1. Jim Hu, trying to understand what is going on with the Dongzhou massacre, went to Pajamas and found an embarrassing snark and a link to an obnoxious post.

2. Anechoic Room thinks Pajamas killed a blog.

3. Hog on Ice sees more widespread doom -- and likens Pajamas to Howard Dean.

4. Dan at Riehl World View wonders why a blogger would sign up for Pajamas while believing that BlogAds would pay more.

(By the way, my BlogAds are currently paying me at a rate of more than four times as much as Pajamas offered me to yoke myself to them for 18 months.)

UPDATE: I just accidentally got sent to the Pajamas website when I clicked on a link that said Eugene McCarthy has died. I felt a sense of outrage at being sent there. I don't like it when Pajamas insiders report news and then blind link to Pajamas. Clicking, thinking I'm going to a news site, I see the blue and orange bathrobe and cringe in the way I used to react when playing Old Maid and drawing the Maid.

IN THE COMMENTS: Do other folks feel like me about the rash of intra-Pajamas linkage? Yes, they do. There's advice about how to use the "status bar" -- something I'd never even heard of -- to see where a blind link is trying to send you, which will help me keep reading some of the Pajama people I still like. The question is, how long will we still like them if what we see is Pajamas, Pajamas, Pajamas. A link used to mean the blogger was interested. It still does, of course, but the word "interested" has more than one meaning.

MORE IN THE COMMENTS: I have occasion to respond to a commenter by writing:
The charges that I've lost my "grip" because I'm paying attention to what is a prominent event in blogging are blatantly ridiculous. Stop trying to control speech through name-calling. That's been the Pajama pattern since Day 1 when Charles Johnson portrayed me as crazy and unleashed his hounds on me. Disgusting. Deal with the substantive merits, like the fact that the website is embarrassingly bad and that insiders now have the appearance of self-interest when they link to each other. There should be MUCH MORE discussion of these things, not less. Many people are afraid to lose links if they speak up. They can see how nastily I've been treated, in the Pajamas tradition that YOU are carrying on.

73 comments:

reader_iam said...

You no idea how absolutely hard I started laughing when this was the very first blogpost I read after throwing a load of pajamas in my wash machine.

Lord, this universe has a sense of twisted humor!

(Still guffawing ...)

reader_iam said...

I guess I must have thrown the missing "have" in there with them ...

Steve H. said...

Pajamas Media can always offer you more money if they have to. Sure, their opening offer may have been low, but you have to remember something. When you make no profits and rely on the Aubrey Chernick $7 Million Slush Fund for Aspiring Media Moguls to pay the bills, the fees you pay bear no relationship to events in the real world.

So nothing is carved in stone, except the obvious lameness of PJM's founding principles.

Dan said...

I went to PJM yesterday to give it a shot on the China news and saw the confusion mentioned at your first linked post. It took about 2 mimutes for me to run back to Google News where I found Forbes on top of the story with updates.

PJM can always improve but, to date, their greatest contribution has been pointing out the short comings of blogging in certain contexts.

There's a great deal of value in that for bloggers, if not for the shareholders in PJM. But then Simon never impressed me as someone who really understood the strengths of blogs in the first place and most bloggers realize Charles has always been basically a cut and paste artists who's most informative writing usually takes the form of "See (fill in the MSM blank) for more."

What Charles did and does exceptionally well is build a community and I admire that and even try to mirror it to some degree. As I usally don't link or visit PJM, I don't know if that's happening there. But it's a requirement for a good blog, IMO.

Ann Althouse said...

But Steve, the first time I blogged negatively about Pajamas, back in August, and Roger Simon called me on the phone, the first thing I said was that they'd offered me less than BlogAds paid and my traffic was on the increase, so it was a very poor deal for me. And he never seriously tried to make up the difference, and in fact, he seemed very edgy about satisfying the investors. I did not get the sense that they were rolling in dough. And look at the website. If they have so much money, why can't we see anything on the site that looks like it? They didn't even hire a competent designer to do the logo. There's such a crazy mismatch between the money as reported and the performance.

Dan said...

I just saw your update and assume the source may be Insty. Either way, he can opt for newstex via PJM as his primary news link, yes? Drudge often does it with Breitbart now.

It's a shallow ploy that piles up the hit numbers, but it's hard to challenge it on principle in some regards.

The confusion in the former case results from its inflating PJM's site numbers when they're simply re-purposing MSM content.

As an aside, it would be interesting to know if PJM bloggers can use the newstex license to become wire services - but somehow I doubt that's the case.

It's probably only a matter of time before the bulk of PJM bloggers start using newstex via PJM as their wire.

tiggeril said...

Yep. I get irritated when I click on a link over at Instapundit's and find that it's to the PJM website. I have no rational reason to be annoyed, but annoyance isn't exactly rational in and of itself.

I never get fun verification words.

MD said...

Outrage? Oh, come on. How is the Instapundit link to PJM any different, in practical terms, than links to his tech central column or his brief articlets on MSN? He links to everything, even kos, you know?

Anyway, I never read the PJM site. I think the home page has to be totally overhauled - but you don't need to be a rocket scientist to figure that out. Sadly, not even actual rocket science could find the answers to the blank white page, the static-ness, and weak blog excerpts. Who's doing the excerpting? One thing Reynolds is very good at is creating this sort of compelling narrative through links. I probably could go through the PJM blogs myself and come up with a more punchy narrative excerpting different things. Who'd doing the editing? It's all how you cut and paste, man.

Steve H. said...

Ann, the problem with you and me is that we're not smart enough to understand why Pajamas Media is brilliant.

MD, I think their slogan should be, "Steven den Beste said 90% of blogs are pure crap, so here's a representative sample."

Ann Althouse said...

"How is the Instapundit link to PJM any different, in practical terms, than links to his tech central column or his brief articlets on MSN?"

The latter are not blind links. I know where I'm going when I click. That makes ALL the difference. The way he's doing it now, it's like he's trying to trick us into going there. He's depriving me of the option to choose not to go. I can only defend myself by declining to click on all blind links. It is a terrible, terrible loss to the blogosphere.

MD said...

What's a blind link? I just scroll over the links to see where the link is going and only click on it if it seems like a site I want to visit. You always know the url of the link before you click by scrolling over it, don't you, at least on Insapundit's site? Techy types, is that correct?

Palladian said...

MD, I think you're right, you'll always see where you're going when you hover your mouse pointer over a link by looking at the status bar. The only times when this doesn't work is when the link is in a Flash animation or is some sort of Javascript thing, or if the link displayed is going to redirect to a different website. But from what I see on Reynolds' blog, the links to OSM/pajamas media all appear as such in the status bar. Maybe Ann has her status bar hidden (you can toggle its visibility in the "View" menu of most browsers) or doesn't look there, but it's good practice to get in the habit so you don't end up places like OSM (why do half the links to PJM still have an OSM URL?).

I don't think Reynolds tries to hide his PJM links any more than other links; he has always had a lot of "blind" links, where the link text is simply "Heh" or "Indeed". I think most website operators assume you will look in the status bar to see where the link goes.

I have to say that I don't read Reynolds much anymore because of his continued affiliation with Pajamaosm; it's sad that I can no longer quite trust his objectivity. And considering that half of his links now filter through Pajamaosm, I think that feeling is somewhat justified.

Pooh said...

So, I'll ask again now that we're a few weeks on, what did Ann do to PJM that was so bad? I mean Steve H. takes a much harder run at them at his place (very funny, in general, BTW) w/o being attack poodled. I'm just at a loss to explain what the hell they could be thinking. But then, so are they.

Bane said...

I find this 'blind link' business so annoying because, like Drudge, I had learned to trust Insty and 'click blindly' (thus the term, I think). I'm in a hurry, with limited time, and I want to read some stuff. Then I click, and shazam, a lame PJM link. Or in Drudge's case, a substantially less lame Breitbart link, a guy who at least has a coherent news story to present, if you can get past the strip-show moving graphics.

PJM is like reading the raw Reuters feed in .txt, except without all of the interesting facts.

TWM said...

I thought I was the only one annoyed by the sudden image of those horrid PJs.

DEC said...

From an entrepreneur's point of view, the most valuable asset was Instapundit.

Now Glenn seems willing to gamble Instapundit on a spin of the PJM roulette wheel.

Oh, well, you can't protect people from themselves.

jim said...

This PJM venture as a business is so embarrassingly inept, that some are beginning to wonder if there actually is another agenda behind it for the principals and investors. A few clueless souls have accused the PJM mess of being some kind of arm for neo-con propaganda, but I *this clueless soul* see it quite differently. Roger, Charles, Marc and Glenn are all WoT and Iraq hawks, to be sure, but Democrat and libertarian ones (Glenn slides all over the political map, but his social views other than re gun control tend toward liberal, imo).

The Organization does include conservatives and Republicans for Credibility and Balance as a news-n-views source and especially to win over moderates' participation. It's still significant, though, that the principals behind the new media "powerhouse-to-be" are left-of-center in most of their non anti-terrorism/Islamism politics. I don't think it far-fetched in the least that we'll see editorial slant at PJM in '06 and for the run-up to '08 to go somewhat Democrat/centrist-left, especially since the Iraq War will be winding down as an issue. Rog, Chas, Marc and Glenn endorsed Bush this last election, and I think it likely they'll be wanting to reclaim their cool cred in Hollywood and academia and also to vote their social/tech issues by helping the less kooky Dems. All in the name of PJM honesty and transparency, balance and fairness, of course.

My politics are liberal to conservative in the GOP camp, and I realize that Ann isn't there. But Ann is upfront about what she thinks, articulates her positions well, is strong under pressure, and wouldn't hazily disguise her political opinion as news and objective journalism, which is why she's a terrific read. Ann was brilliant to avoid the e/strangeness that is The Venture, an enterprise which is far less than it wants to be and maybe a lot more than it would have us know. We'll have to keep guessing about what and why PJM is, for awhile anyway, since its transparency is all fogged up. Why would we take anything about The Venture at face value, since they told us on November 16 they had a new name, a vision, and a business plan...

Andrew Shimmin said...

If he actually meant to obscure the destination of the link he could (I'm sure he knows the way to tinyurl). That he doesn't should be taken to mean that he doesn't mean to. If it's really offensive to anyone, sh**-list PJM on your content filter. That way, nobody, no matter how tricky, can trick you in to going there.

Linking Elmo's post without explaining what he meant by "killed a blog", since he doesn't explain what he did, is pretty crummy. Do you know what he meant and just not care that calling it that doesn't make sense? Or do you not care what he meant, as long as you get to pad your list of important grievances?

Pooh said...

Jim,

Now that's how you bring it with a conspiracy theory. As Jim Rome might say, way to have a take and not suck. (I don't agree with a word of what you said though...)

Ann Althouse said...

Andrew: Since when is it "crummy" to link to a blog without explaining your reference? It's a teaser. It makes you more likely to click. I realize it's like the blind links, in that you have to go there to see what's being talked about. But I'm not opposed to blind links. They can be fun. I'm just opposed to people with financial ties using them to boost each other's traffic. I feel I've been taken advantage of.

Or are you just saying you couldn't understand the post I linked to?

And that scroll-over status bar thing people are talking about doesn't work for me. I'm using Safari and Foxfire on a Macintosh. Neither program does what you are describing for me.

esk said...

The problem with Pajamas Media, from my point of view is this …. They are focusing on bloggers as opposed to the larger population that just reads blogs. I am not a blogger. The blog sites I visit regularly engage me because of the insights they offer (regardless if I agree or not) and the range of topics they bring up. They provide a link or two to what they are blogging about, but, that is easy to follow. When I go to Pajamas Media, the ONE news story they are talking about has about 10 links. No substance at all until I follow the links (apparently). The problem is, they don’t even provide a modicum of interest for us blog readers to click those links.

Tony said...

Ann,
You need to get a better browser or a better computer. I never click on a link I don't know the identity of. That's just asking for trouble.

But I've linked things to my blog such as this story or something like that without expressly identifying the source.

nypundit said...

Ann,

In the menubar try seeing if View->Status Bar is checked in either Safari or Firefox. That way when you hover over a link you can look in the status bar at the bottom of the browser to see where the link will go.

Sadly, I have started to do this with Glenn's posts as well.

erp said...

I've been suspicious of the pajamas organization that evolved from the original idea of bloggers banding together to deal with advertising. When I learned that venture capitalists invested millions in this effort, I became even more alarmed knowing as I do that the left will stop at nothing to regain power. Financial gain may not be the primary interest of everyone involved in this pajama game.

Jim said it very well in the comments above, I don't think it far-fetched in the least that we'll see editorial slant at PJM in '06 and for the run-up to '08 to go somewhat Democrat/centrist-left ... I couldn't agree more... and like a lot of other people, I don't stop over at Instapundit as often as I used to and when I do, I make sure I know where the link is going before I click.

MrsWhatsit said...

Ann, I use Firefox too (that's what you meant, right?) Like you, I thought the hover thing wasn't working for me, even though I have View->Status Bar checked. It turns out that I was looking in the wrong place. Maybe you are, too. Look down at the bottom of your browser, in the left-hand corner where it usually says "Done." That's where you should see a URL when your cursor is hovering over a link. I'm a non-techie who didn't know about this until today -- very helpful, since I, too, get irritated when I see those pajamas after following an Instapundit link. Thanks, Althouse commenters!

Ann Althouse said...

Mrs. Whatsit: Yes, I'd just figured it out myself. It's so inconspicuous. I didn't even realize the bottom part of the frame around the page was even considered a "bar."

Jim, Erp: Interesting theory, but it's too far-fetched, too unlikely to work to win support (even assuming anyone thought of it).

tiggeril said...

I'm still puzzled why people were so rabidly in support of PJM. Why did people cling to it so vehemently to the point of invading blogs for the express purpose of insulting and prosyletizing? Why were there dramabombs going off all over the internet in the first place? It's just another silly website in a sea of billions of silly websites.

What the hell happened here?

AnechoicRoom said...

I'm only half way through the thread (I'll finish), but find the numbers/views/hits/linking thing pretty interesting. Myself, I really dislike the pumping that I initially saw, on a number of The Seventy's sites [go here, to this site, for this xln't article (which of course was another PJMr's site)].

http://pjmdeathpool.blogspot.com/2005/12/pajamas-media-advertising-update.html">

But, in the context of this above link (sixteen million page views per month), has a darker meaning and connotation.

(Sorry, the link won't go hyper for me).

Ann Althouse said...

Mary: "That's kind of inaccurate, as several earlier commenters spelled it out for you."

I meant that it took me a long time to figure out where they were telling me to look. People only half spelled it out. I didn't know where the space bar was. I had to figure that out on my own... is all I meant. (Jeez!)

And spare me the "You're better than that" crap, which I've mentioned before in comments is an inflammatory pseudo-argument. Say it again and risk deletion.

As to what Instapundit is doing with the intra-Pajamas linking and what I think about it now that I can use the space bar: as I've noted in an update to the post, I now know how to avoid the "Old Maid" effect. Now, I have to preview where the links will go, so I don't have the fun of clicking and having a good surprise, which is a diminishment. And I can run down a whole series of links and see where they go. I did that this morning and found it to be a very sad experience. Story after story went to Pajamas. I feel that my favorite blog has contracted an infection. I'm really sad about it. Now, none of the links there mean what they used to. It's really bad. I feel so strongly that bloggers need to be independent, and I feel sorry for people who committed themselves for a year and a half and now realize it. I feel angry at the people who don't even realize it.

Tiggeril: "What the hell happened here?"

I think some people signed on to the deal themselves and felt strongly motivated to portray their choice as correct. We have no way of knowing which nicknamed commenters here are actually insiders or people with ties to insiders. Others are hoping for strokes from the insiders, who conspicuously control traffic flow. Since I was a very conspicuous recipient of traffic from a major traffic flow director in the months before the Pajama infection set in, other bloggers may see an opportunity to win favor by slamming me. Loathsome little wannabes come by here in hopes of winning daddy's favor. The infection is virulent. People who care about blogging need to fight for its survival.

AnechoicRoom said...

Sorry .... should be

http://pjmdeathpool.blogspot.com/2005/12/pajamas-media-advertising-update.html

Joe Baby said...

I haven't followed the controversy to date w/ a playbook, so I could really care less who for and who's against etc.

But each time I've visited the site I've kind of instinctively turned away. Blah. What does this provide that I can't get elsewhere? And, duh, where do I put the comments?!

Whole thing has such an Animal Farm quality to it.

PatCA said...

Thanks for the info on the status bar. I also find it annoying that I'm being referred to OSM. I used to think of Instapundit as the front page of the blogosphere; now apparently they are trying to make OSM the front page. I find the lead article boring, as if the local newspaper was summarizing blogs for its readers. It's not the way I have surfed in the past and I don't want to now. Who wants to read 25 stories about an explosion?

It will be interesting to see where this goes, now that a lot of the urgency is out of world events: the war slogs on, the presidential election is over. I think conversational communities will do better than hard news sites.

Ann Althouse said...

Mary: "eager to find fault."

Oh, you have no idea how much I would say if I were actually looking to find fault. I've been trying to avoid blogging about Pajamas Media. If I were actually on their case, do you think my blogging would be this infrequent, this tame? You are so monumentally wrong it's almost funny. If I really wanted to make Pajamas one of my main themes, to pursue it and unleash my full powers of argumentation with the intent to cause as much damage as possible, it would sure as hell not look like this. You radically underestimate me.

PatCA said...

Ann,
Without divulging your personal info, can you tell us what the range is that a blogger makes from Blogads, say from small to average to big? Is it hundreds a month, thousands..?

tiggeril said...

Since I was a very conspicuous recipient of traffic from a major traffic flow director in the months before the Pajama infection set in, other bloggers may see an opportunity to win favor by slamming me. Loathsome little wannabes come by here in hopes of winning daddy's favor.

I'm leaning towards this explanation more than I am about site hits. On every message board I've ever been on, there's always a little (or big, in some cases) following of the moderators/administrators who would do anything to curry favor. I guess I'm just disappointed because I expect better from the people who frequent blogs than I do from the teenagers and young adults on various message boards.

Ann Althouse said...

PatCa: You can find out what anyone's BlogAds cost by clicking at the link at the bottom of the ad that says "buy an ad." The blogger has control over the price. I've changed my prices a lot. Recently, my premium ads were $100 a week, but I raised it to $120 because I can only run one at a time and I didn't like the queue. My regular ads cost $80 a week, and I've got 6, so that's $460 a week, plus $120 for the premium ad or $580 a week, minus the BlogAds' 25% commission.

Note the transparency here. You don't know what the principals at Pajamas are making from their deal. What's worse is that they have an interest in linking each other, trying to use the alliance for mutual benefit. My relationship with BlogAds isn't like that. It's totally disconnected from the content of the writing and from any linking behavior I might choose to engage in. BlogAds is much better structured for the benefit of blogging, both for bloggers and readers.

Finn Kristiansen said...

Someone said:
We have no way of knowing which nicknamed commenters here are actually insiders or people with ties to insiders. I like eggs. Others are hoping for strokes from the insiders, who conspicuously control traffic flow...other bloggers may see an opportunity to win favor by slamming me. I miss Lil' Greenie. Loathsome little wannabes come by here in hopes of winning daddy's favor...


Is it possible that some people just have a difference of opinion, and are kind of curious to see how PJM evolves, because they feel like any new structure of financing a blog is an interesting experiment?

And is it possible that some of these same people feel that what happens with 70 blogs is not capable of "harming" the world of blogs as a whole, and that to worry is to get the vapors over nothing?

We also cannot argue that it will have no readership, and bomb, at the same time we argue that it is destroying the ethic of blogging.

All it is is just one more interesting "method" to present information, and finance that presentation. Blog Ads is fascinating and brilliant for effectively matching ad dollars to blogs, and more variations on that are welcome.

The way I view it is this. If PJM works, and that can be a process of a year, or longer, then I would imagine other bloggers can do their own variations, albeit with better purpose, organization, and planning.

I think it is wrong to assume those in favor of giving that experiment some time have base motives. Some might have business experience and realize that a working model on the internet takes a while: anybody remember how long Amazon went before pulling a profit, and how many critics expected it to bomb?

Others, like me, without Blog Ads, without a blog that even functions as a blog, largely unread, really couldn't care less. We were not insulted on the phone. We were not offered too little. We are not making bank on Blog Ads, and bank that rises as our blog rises in viewers, and with controversy floating those viewership numbers upwards.

I think few people here are humble and pure and worthy of honest comment on PJM. But my humilty prevents me from pointing out that I am that person.

(PS: Ann, you can do better... kidding!!!)

Ann Althouse said...

Finn: You are also someone who posts here under more than one nickname. How does that fit with the humble and pure image you're selling?

Ann Althouse said...

Mary: "I'm assuming you're not referring to me that way. My blog is turned off in my profile. Funny, because I've read months ago where that 'winning daddy's favor' argument was leveled at you (ie. link whore. It's just as ugly now as then.)"

I really don't care whether it's an "ugly" argument. I care about whether it's true. The fact is I never did anything to try to get Instapundit links. I've only even sent out emails seeking links about four times in the entire two year history of this blog. There are bloggers who do this every day. I got a lot of links by writing good posts. Period. I've never sucked up to anyone. My willingness to blog negatively about Pajamas proves I'm not modifying what I do for the links. I happen to be in this for the freedom of personal expression.

And the fact that you disguise your identity in your profile does not impress me. You could be an insider or an insider's spouse. You could be an alternate nickname for someone else who also posts here. I don't know what you're up to, because you're not up front enough to blog under the full name of a real person. If you think you're more virtuous for doing that, you're flat wrong.

DEC said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
DEC said...

Advertising revenue is directly related to readership. Successful media companies spend time and money to gather the comments of readers.

PJM and other serious bloggers should write down every negative comment here in an effort to improve their final products. Then, like professionals, they should say, "Thank you for helping me with my marketing research."

Finn Kristiansen said...

Actually Ann, the humble part was a joke. I am hardly that.

Second, the ONLY other name I posted under, and by accident two times, was Massoud. In both cases I was logged in and working on another blog (featuring erotic stories by the way), and then having tabbed over to you, posted a comment, and then realized it was the wrong name.

So what did I do, in both cases? I deleted, and immediately reposted under my Finn name. So in actuality, there are NO existing posts on your blog, written by me under any other name. Why slant things?

As said, my words and writing speak for themselves and anyone can head over to my website (during the times it is up and paid for) and see my real name, where I live, etc.

Finn Kristiansen said...

So yea, on second thought, I am humble and pure, and don't have to sell it, being without motive.

Pooh said...

Mary, as a factual matter, Ann's critcisms of PJM have been pretty mild. That's why I asked earlier why the PJM supporters came here instead of other places *cough*hogonice*cough* to do their damage.

The issue with the blind linkage is that people click through because they like Glenn's take on things. His honest take. When he 'blindly' links to PJM sites, it leaves the impression that he's hiding the ball on his financial interest in getting you to click. Its simply better to be upfont about such things (he doesn't have to say "At PJM site X, but rather just identify the blog by name. That's my thought.)

tefta said...

Full disclosure:

I have absolutely no connection to anyone on the blogosphere and I use several aliases for reasons having nothing to do with context. I just find it amusing to do so and I am fully aware that the blog host is able to identify my various personas.

However, I would take it as a matter of good faith that a blogger would never reveal a reader's alter egos without a compelling reason to do so.

When I first logged on to the internet, I used my real name and my real address when I emailed letters to the editors of various newspapers and they were kind enough to print some of them. That was before blogging was generally known.

My kids asked me not to use my real name. They are fairly well known within their fields of endeavor and didn't wish to discuss or defend my conservative views with colleagues who may have seen my name in the newspaper. Naturally, I did as they asked. They also made me aware that if you enter your name, real or assumed, in a Google search, practically every comment you ever made on any blog will pop up. That was quite an eye-opener.

Getting back to the PJM. I really couldn't care less about it except as it may affect the next two crucial elections.

Ann: If you're not sure about the status bar, right click on a link and then click on properties, you'll see the link's address highlighted.

Ann Althouse said...

Mary: "Poor reasoning" to say I have no way of knowing who you are or what motivations you have? I absolutely don't. What is your motivation to persist in criticizing me for speaking about what's wrong with PJM? It doesn't make much sense, you know. This is my blog, where I talk about what interests me, and you're going out of your way to come over here and write and criticize me. Why are you bothering? Why do you want to defend the big dogs of the blogosphere? The fact that you're afraid to reveal your identity does nothing to answer these questions.

Pooh: Good advice for Glenn. He really should be up front about his efforts to boost them, given his financial linkage to them. He should be mentioning it all the time and always flagging the links as links to Pajamas. I really think it's odd that he isn't doing something like this to preserve our trust. That operation needs a LOT more transparency.

Mary said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Joe said...

I think too much is being made of the 3.5 million USD (or 7 million) given to PJM. I would be very surprised if the investors did not insist on very strict financial control over this money. The idea that Roger or Charles are phoning in articles from the Bahamas, or making any real decisions about how the money should be spent, is probably misguided. I would guess the Financial Director is someone associated with the investors, and every decision to spend money over a certain amount must be approved by this person.

I would also guess that some important milestones were built into the venture (revenue targets, traffic numbers, number of advertisers, etc.), and if they are not met, the funding will stop.

So it's probably better to assume that a six month budget has been agreed, and then the investors will decide if it's "go" or "no go" for further funding. Of course, this is just speculation, but based on deals I have been associated with in other industries.

Roger and Charles were probably limited, as well, in what they could pay their members. And anything over the limit, again, would have to be approved by the guy managing the money. All of this assumes PJM was meant from the start to be a money maker for the investors(cue Springtime for Hitler jokes).

I'm surprised that they didn't just rebrand InstaPundit "Pajamas Media". There's a site that could have turned into it's own media outlet with more money and focus. Glenn doesn't really have the same type of community that LGF or other blogs have managed to create, which is their forte. But what he does he does very well. He finds stories of interest, although granted from a center-right perspective, and generates discussion across the blogosphere. And he already has regular reports from people in some hot spots like Afghanistan and I believe Iraq. But I suppose he is too busy to dedicate himself to something like this. Besides, he has a great site that adds value to a lot of people and probably didn't want to change it.

The bottom line is that there seems to be no value added by either Roger (CEO - the strategy and business decisions to date speak for themselves) or Charles (Technical Director - the site is anything but user friendly and pleasing to the eye). 1 + 1 does not equal 3 at PJM. It equals 2. Maybe even 1.5..... At least so far.

DEC said...

My experience with business start-ups tells me Joe's analysis here may be right on target.

Meanwhile, for some strange reason, I keep thinking of the old business joke about a Southern California wheeler-dealer who sent his assistant to negotiate the purchase of a hotel.

The assistant returned with his report. "I have good news and bad news," he said. "The good news is we can buy the hotel for $100 million. The bad news is that the seller wants $50,000 of it in cash."

Pooh said...

Joe, what is this "value-added" of which you speak? Isn't that some kinda tax that you pay in England?

Very good points about how they are underutilising Glenn as a resource. I don't neccesarily see anything sinister about his links beoming more PJM related - he can only link to what he sees, and of course he's spending more time on PJM sites. Humor nature to look and see what your 'peeps' are saying.

I'm still baffled by how poorly PJM has handled every aspect so far. It's not like there aren't people out there with experience in launching web-based businesses. (Like me for example, in a former life)

That they have managed to repeat pretty much every late '90s sin imaginable is amazing. Aside from not securing my credit card details that is. But once they have "Open Source Swag" to sell, all bets are off there as well.

DEC said...

Ann, some readers are questioning the reason for your PJM posts.

In my opinion, you are providing a valuable service. Many bloggers are looking for a potential successful business model so that they can make money or build communities for PR purposes through blogging. Such models will only emerge through frank discussions about developments in the field. At the moment, PJM is a very good case study.

I have learned a lot about blogs from the PJM discussions here. The large number of comments at each of your PJM posts shows that other people have interest in the subject, too.

Dan said...

As a blogger interested in the future of the medium and any new media ventures related to it, it's irresponsible to not be posting on PJM to some degree when relevant issues emerge.

The failure of many blogs to engage the issue, possibly because they fear alienating any powers that be, or those who may be the powers of tomorrow, is about the worst hypocrisy I've seen in the blogosphere so far.

There are issues here that could impact the future of nearly all bloggers, for better or worse - and ignoring them is about as MSM as it gets. And, frankly, Instapundit is now proving to be the biggest disappointment of them all.

I've always felt a certain respect for the pressures he had to be under as a sort of defacto traffic dirtector for many blogs. I never would have imagined he would sell out, as it appears he has. As a blogger, he is absolutely free to link whomever, or wherever he chooses. But the danger that always existed from having one individual in that role has materialized.

I'm probably getting close to the point where I'll have to announce some almost formal linking criteria of my own, which really won't mean anything unless other independent bloggers start thinking about the issue for themselves.

If PJM becomes the new defacto interface to a large part of the blogging community, I think may bloggers will come to regret it. And issues of their politics are absolutely relevant. Take the war out of the equation and basically you have a NY/LA elitist mindset controlling the flow of traffic across a large number of blogs ... or not, if you get my drift.

Joe said...

Ann: thanks for your ad revenue numbers. Interesting. BlogAds get a 25% cut? Wow. So there is money to be made in blogging, but not by the content providers....

I think Dennis was right. Leave the pie in the sky "New Media" paradigm fantasy - basically an ego trip anyway - and focus on the ads. Find a way to get back some of that 25%, or better yet (because that's still peanuts anyway), create a new advertising model. Something to rival BlogAds, perhaps. But that's boring and requires a lot of work, and you'll never get to meet Judith Miller.

AnechoicRoom said...

Dan .... I really can't see them succeeding in the sense that we all know. Success to be proud of, to believe in. They can't possibly undo all that they have already inflicted upon themselves. I do not believe it possible. Though they did have seemingly infinite opportunities to remedy past glaring mistakes.

Truth will win out. The blogosphere will not destroy truth. PJM can only destroy itself, not the blogosphere. Every voice of reason will not remain silent. Those that did, will no longer have a voice to share.

In reality, it is still early days in the life of that which is known as the blogosphere. The vibrations of truth are where resonance is. All else is discord, that only away will turn ears.

david bennett said...

I feel events like this are expected. They remind us of what was once a base of conservatism.

Even when flawed and poorly run institutions usually have some basic experise and functions. They are not automatically replaced or alternatives wished into existence.

I would say that this is especially true of American institutions (I am partisan,) they usually do meet some need that a portion of the population feels and been subjected to some tests.

This isn't a plea for acceptance, I'm not a conservative. But before you go boasting how much better you can do things, study and understand the system you would replace.

But almost by definition much of the resentment comes from people who don't understand the status quo or tradition, this is why they feel so helpless and angry before it (again at least in the United States.)

I've seen it when people all over the spectrum who declaim on freedom come together to make a club or plitical nmovement, very often they disregard the clumsy protections and split powers that are essential because they have a higher purpose.

From what I can make out the pajamoas types had only an abstract sense of business. There are close to a dozen venture capital blogs on the net, most have touched on the potentials and difficulties of blog based media. There are also lots of other commentaries on were influence and potential power lies. It tends to be in the specialized blogs, not the generalized media of predominantly political editorials. These are subtly and increasingly effecting the political balance, but even here they are naive players. How may right an outraged or reformist piece and link to congress critters or agencies or others at traditional levers of power so readers can jot off a letter and use a traditional tool of citizenship?

It is a very esoteric reality which is why those desiring a new media didn't read about business models or web design and just assumed that they were immune to the standards they held the MSM too because they were pure of heart and would change the world.

Very 1992, but not one aware of the net or even the web.

Knowledge of a tool known as google would have informed them that a project called open source media existed, it would also have informed them of the general meaning of the word which their strict copyrights were in violation of.

But even after they were called they briefly claimed the original open source media had ceded the name. What would they have done if a member of the MSM did this?

Tarred them hard and brought it up for ever and ever. It was a lie, a violation of ethics, fed by incompetence.

Can they change? Sure. Most efforts start off with mistakes. Will they? Little evidence so far.

Talk and doing are different things. In the abstract they *knew* they had the product everyone *should* want, they knew it should just automatically be in demand, they didn't think of all the tawdry things like presentation or not alienating market or all the amazingly complicated things and compromises that go into the kind of business called "media."

Their response to criticisms has been silence, in at least one case a lie, whistling and hoping no one will know what happened and in some cases attacks.

In this case they absolutely miss one of the greatest strengths of net based business. Throw out your products, let customers tear them to pieces, accept the criticisms, thank the customers and improve the product. The rapidity and competence of feedback allows rapid evolution.

"Revolution" is not an abstraction that even the enlightened automatically represent, it is a process that upsets accustomed styles of doing things. But here we had people who had not read or at least absorbed management theories, just assuming that they didn't need that stuff, much less absorbing the implications of this radically new medium.

Pooh said...

David, an interesting point. Doesn't Volokh describe this kind of thing as the 'Reverse Mussolini Fallacy'? The MSM does these kinds of things. We don't want to be like the MSM. Therefore we won't do these things. ("These things" being market research and compliance with trademark law)

Also notice the new PJM Icon on the top right of PJM sites (though not the homesite. Which still has the "Stinky Bathrobe". Weird)

It makes me want to sing:

Oh don't you know/
That's the sound of the men/
Workin on the Chain/
Ga-a-ang

Mark said...

Ann, get a grip, seriously - I'm a Pajamas blogger, and I link to Pajamas when I'm interested in what's up there (like Roger L. Simon's remembrances of Richard Pryor - don't you think people might find that interesting? Did YOU ever write a screenplay with Richard Pryor?).

I don't link to them because I'm associated with them. I've linked to you, and even your criticism of Pajamas. Surely I'm not associated with you.

I'm sick of you impugning our integrity - I haven't changed one word or link because of my association with Pajamas and I never will - and I'll continue to read your blog, and link to it occasionally, if I want to.

I'm sorry your feelings were hurt that Pajamas didn't offer you the big bucks. I'm quite sure I could care less what your BlogAds pay you. (But wait - why all the positive publicity for BlogAds? You know, I'm sick of all you BlogAds blogs cross-linking, like you're actually interested or something).

Your maturity level on this issue is astonishly low.

Ann Althouse said...

Mark: The charges that I've lost my "grip" because I'm paying attention to what is a prominent event in blogging are blatantly ridiculous. Stop trying to control speech through name-calling. That's been the Pajama pattern since Day 1 when Charles Johnson portrayed me as crazy and unleashed his hounds on me. Disgusting. Deal with the substantive merits, like the fact that the website is embarrassingly bad and that insiders now have the appearance of self-interest when they link to each other. There should be MUCH MORE discussion of these things, not less. Many people are afraid to lose links if they speak up. They can see how nastily I've been treated, in the Pajamas tradition that YOU are carrying on.

Pooh said...

Mark, are you seriously so obtuse that you can't recognize that Insta has at least the appearance of conflict of interest here?

"I find this interesting so maybe you might as well" is different, materially, from "If you find this interesting, I get paid." And the appearance that the former is really just a cover for the latter is potentially deadly.

This is less of an issue for the smaller PJ bloggers, such as yourself, but its still there. (I'm not familiar with the Markalanche). No one is saying that you are doing anything bad, only that it looks like you could be.

Here's a thought experiment for you - How can Ann saying anything, anything about PJM hurt you? The more outlandish the claim, the more traffic you get. In contrast, the more the poodles come barking over here, the more people just decide 'what a bunch of jackasses' and tune you out.

But I guess it's more convenient to lash out than it is to examine the manifest and multiple problems PJM has.

Mark said...

How is it lashing out or namecalling to ask someone to get a grip? I'm the one that has had my integrity questioned (by implication)...I'm supposed to just lie back and enjoy it?

Look, I've got nothing but respect for Ann, why else would I be here? (And no, there's no Markalanche, but I've worked hard to get my visitors, and I put in hours and hours a day for my blog - because I enjoy it, not for money).

Then, Ann, you go on the attack just because I told you to 'get a grip' and call me an attack dog. blah, blah, blah...

All I'm saying is that my integrity is not for sale, and I'm tired of you saying it is...

Mark said...

Okay, look, I'm not a troll, but your readers can see for yourself who's trying to play the intimidation game - you put your response to my comment up there prominently, but not my defense of my integrity.

Well, your blog, your rules, and I do respect you and your success...but your readers can judge for themselves if I have been unfair or you have.

This is not about a 'crappy web site' or appearances of impropriety - it's about you implying that we have no integrity.

That's the substantive issue.

I wish you well...too bad you can't extend the same courtesy to me and the other Pajamas bloggers...

Pooh said...

Mark,

Sorry, the Markalanche comment was dismissive (like there's a Poohlanche or something...I wish...). You're not the first to tell Ann to 'get a grip' (often in much more colorful language) WRT PJM, so there's a little history there. She might be being overly sensitive, but it's gotten ugly, U-G-L-Y, in here a few times recently, so its understandable.

From your perspective, it sucks to have your integrity questioned, even by implication. Hell, I got called a bigot here last week. I think that the 'integrity' issue is directed more at the Big-PJM blogs (most specifically insta), rather than the rank-and-file.

Ann Althouse said...

Mark: "All I'm saying is that my integrity is not for sale, and I'm tired of you saying it is..."

Yeah, well, I never said that, so why are you saying that? Is that what's on your mind? Try being accurate about what I said and responding to that, on the substance. Then what you say will carry weight around here.

And Pooh and others are right, your linking behavior is not what is concerning us.

The problem is conflict of interest and the degradation of the meaning of the links coming from insiders -- the appearance of self-interest. Try to focus on what the issue actually is and keep the histrionics under control, or you won't get very far with your argument in the comments section of this blog.

Mark said...

Pooh, fair enough...and Ann, I'm going to let it go because I'm not being 'histrionic', these were your own words:A link used to mean the blogger was interested. It still does, of course, but the word "interested" has more than one meaning.

I think I'm smart enough that the implication is I am paid to link to stories...and I bet your readers are smart enough to figure that one out, too.

So, for now, enough...

Just do me one favor: don't paint with a broad brush - the 70 or so Pajamas bloggers probably have 70 different answers for why they joined - and mine was certainly not to be a sycophantic link for hire...

Best wishes and happy holidays...

Ann Althouse said...

Mark: Do you understand the concept of "conflict of interest"? Let's say a judge owns stock in a company that's one of the parties and he won't recuse himself, saying he's a man of integrity and how dare we impugn him. If we insist that we recuse himself, are we impugning his integrity? Now the judgment of a blogger deciding to link isn't really the same thing, because it's not wrong to form an alliance to enhance traffic, especially since it's in the open. It's not like paying bribes for links. So it's not saying the blogger lacks integrity, it's simply observing that he has a financial interest in helping the group he is allied with. That is simply a fact, which readers should understand and think rationally about. If he is insulted that we would think he'd link for any reason other than why he did before he formed the alliance, he's just like the judge who says trust me. It's still a problem, even if the blogger scrupulously behaves in exactly the same way as he did before.

In the case of Pajamas, we really are seeing intragroup linking that undermines our belief that the linker is linking to things because he genuinely thinks we'll find them interesting. There are high traffic blogs in the organization that are using their linking power to try to build up the organization, right? I think some of the members of the organization have been open about that function of the arrangement. To point this out isn't to say the blogger lacks integrity, only that we the readers have lost our faith in the value of the links. Why is that not so? Going into a huff about having your integrity impugned is really quite bogus! It's just the usual whining about saying anything bad about Pajamas. It's not on the merits.

jim said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
jim said...

Mark,

One of the Pajama 70 understands the way of your organization to be all about inter-linking in order to make money. Here's what Bill Quick of Daily Pundit had to say over at Hog on Ice:

"...The business of PJM is business, that is, making money for us, the contributors. Sorry that just drives some people bonkers, but there it is. One way to do that is to increase our collective page views as a group - which means that ways to encourage readers of one blog to click on links to other PJM blogs will increase the overall hit count. If we could raise every PJM blog to Instapundit readership levels, we'd have a huge profit powerhouse.

One way of encouraging that cross linkage is to do what I have done - run an rss feed to other PJM blogs in a highly visible location."

He also had this to say about OSM/PJM critics: "You folks do know you are beginning to sound like a bunch of obsessive-compulsive whackjobs, don't you?"

He sure allayed critics' concerns about inordinate, self-serving PJM linking, didn't he?

Ann Althouse said...

Thanks, Jim. My, that's rich.

That points up another problem with joining a group. You're tied to all those other people, characterizing the arrangement in a way that might really offend you. And yet, Quick is at least honest about it. Why anyone would want to read him after hearing his honest statement is, however, another matter.

Mark said...

Jim, Bill Quick's idea of Pajamas is certainly not the view I have, but yes, Ann, you're right, there is nothing wrong with pointing out that people have a financial incentive to promote the network.

I joined because I thought it was a good chance to get my posts seen by more eyes, not for financial reasons, but because I am relatively new and have a smaller audience. I was thinking more along the lines of hoping to get pieces spotlighted on the portal, rather than a mutual linking society.

With that, I think I've tried your patience enough. Best to you all...

Ann Althouse said...

Mark: I can understand why smaller bloggers hopefully signed on. I tried to talk to people like you in this old post of mine back when the offers came out. I don't fault you for springing for the deal. I do fault the "masterminds" of the deal for setting up something that is harmful to blogging. I think blogging should be independent. It works best that way. You're only beginning to learn what you gave up (in your optimism). You've signed up with them for a year or 18 months, and they will do everything they can to make money for themselves out of the commitment they inspired from a lot of very nice bloggers like you. It's very sad. I am sad for YOU. Please accept my condolences.

PatCA said...

Thanks for the disclosure, Ann.

Transparency is very important to blogging, if you care about the independence of the blogger (and in some cases you just don't care) or because you care about what sort of files are being dropped onto your computer. So the difference between Blogads, which I assume does no data mining, and Doubleclick, can be important.

AnechoicRoom said...

Now countless threads on PJM. This one however is quite wickedly good. It's as if some bloggers have a magic mirror that they stare into, and it tells them that they are pretty.

Cept the rest of the b-sphere doesn't quite work that way.

sydney said...

Deal with the substantive merits, like the fact that the website is embarrassingly bad and that insiders now have the appearance of self-interest when they link to each other. - from a much earlier comment by Ann.

This is what bugs me about the links to PJM at Instapundit. Every time I end up at PJM through one of Glenn's links I find myself thinking, "He never would have linked to this under normal circumstances."

It isn't that the links are blind that are so bothersome, it's that they're substandard.