Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Should I stay or should I go?

If you are visiting this blog you might be thinking about becoming a today.com blogger or you are trying to decide if you should leave the network. Maybe you are an exile as many of us are and are looking for a place to network. Regardless, I wanted to make clear my intentions for joining a group of today.com exiles in their quest to let the general blogosphere know their experiences with today.com.

As I read this blog, already it looks as if a few bloggers got upset, and are now whining because today.com didn't treat them fairly. I am trying to look at this from the outside, and what I see is a few names, a few writers who have clearly been scorned and are shouting about it. Doesn't look like a big deal to me, afterall, today.com has thousands of bloggers, right?

I've made comments that today.com is looking for less than average writers because they don't really want exceptional content but they do want people to sell affiliate link products. Maybe I've offended a few people by saying that today.com is now full of less than average writers. This is NOT to say that today.com doesn't have high quality writers, they do, and I am still one of the bloggers at today.com that is unable to let go of my one blog there.

I remain on the fence about keeping my blog at today.com. I'm not on the fence about today.com, their practices or their administration, which should be clear from the fact that I am writing for this blog. What I am on the fence about is letting go of access to a site that can provide strong backlinks, traffic, and exposure to any new sites I decide to write. I would love to tell them off, but really, where does that get any of us?

I want to reap the benefits of my year of hard work as a today.com blogger, but I certainly don't support their business practices. Yes, I am trying to have my cake and eat it too. I think any of the bloggers who have worked with and been scorned by today.com are entitled to a little cake right about now.

What we are all trying to prevent is new bloggers throwing themselves into a today.com blog and then 6 months or a year later, when they have 100's of posts, getting locked out of their account for disagreeing with any policy or topic on the today.com forum.

I have visited many great today.com sites and some are here while some remain on today.com. Several well written sites have disappeared into the blogosphere.

Last year I watched F.A.P.I.P.O. continually beat out the today.com community for the grand traffic prize month after month. She stopped cold at the end of December, never to be heard from again. No new posts, no good-bye "I'm off to school" post, no nothing. I've tried to reach FAPIPO's popularity without success, but my question is, where did she go?

The Rocket Scientist and Flit, who started this blog, were both highly respected members of the today.com network. Great writers with wonderful contributions and today.com should have worked to keep them, not shut them out when they wanted to discuss something they disagreed with.

This isn't a group of today.com rejects, but of today.com success stories that were shot down, some just by asking about entrecard and asking why we couldn't keep it. Really, is this the way you want to be treated?


Stephanie B April 28, 2009 at 10:05 AM  

There were and are a number of excellent today.com sites. I'm more concerned with what's in their future (as well as the rather dismal future for other potential bloggers). Current today.com practices seem like poor business and management practices that dissuade the potential for more quality bloggers and blogger autonomy (and I think the two go together).

I'm happy where I am, but others in a similar situation might feel frustrated and abandoned.

I don't want to tell people what to do, but I do think people should be informed if they are considering moving to today.com. There are so many inexpensive options that don't have the same restrictions (or the dubious practices), that I hope people will think long and hard before reaching a decision to join today.com and do so with their eyes open.

flit April 28, 2009 at 11:10 AM  

I agree that there are a lot of good bloggers still with Today.com ...and I would probably still be there if I had the option - it irks me every time I get an email re: moderating a comment - all sorts of people leaving well thought out comments and I am not able to approve them ... I suppose I could start emailing them to let them know where I am now that I think of it though.

I am very disappointed at how quickly today.com tanked over the past short while - the forum, when I started, was so supportive and positive, and even when they imposed the template thing, which I did not like, they continued to address people's concerns and treat their bloggers with respect.

The dynamics certainly changed in a hurry.

In Plain English April 28, 2009 at 11:13 AM  

I have found the forum there very supportive as well, until we start to complain. Hopefully we can set up a group forum that will help us all get the blogging support we deserve.

Anonymous,  April 28, 2009 at 11:32 AM  

I thought we couldn't move our content if it has already been posted. How do we do that? I'm already working on getting a new site up and running (and clearly I'm concerned my friendly moderators will find out and lock me out of my today.com site which is why I'm posting as anonymous). Can I move my content? Oh wait... is that why the "editors" are now approving my posts within days rather than weeks of posting them so I can't move them?

In Plain English April 28, 2009 at 11:44 AM  

That was my guess too. That they approve so fast now so that you can't delete it. I've said before, I'd just duplicate it, but that's me.

Shakespeare April 28, 2009 at 12:12 PM  

I've moved, too, but without the hard feelings. I've checked my blog a few times, but nothing's been tampered with, and I haven't received a message telling me I'm kicked out. I'm hoping I don't get the message, if only so that I can still see my work there when I want to.

I would definitely e-mail those commenters, though, flit... that way they can find you.

Psyche Skinner April 28, 2009 at 12:19 PM  

Bear in mind that your Today posts are work for hire. Reusing that content would be in breach of contract. Would they pursue that? I wouldn't put it past them.

flit April 28, 2009 at 2:38 PM  

they breached the contract long before we did though ... they claim to pay $2/ppm ... but then they disabled Google Analytics, and dropped payment on almost every sort of traffic without notice.

many traffic sources are no longer paid or even recorded - and most are paid at a rate of far less than .75.

Anonymous,  April 28, 2009 at 5:45 PM  

Today.com is going to go under. There is no reason to try and worry about breach of contract. Either you love your content and move it or throw it to the wind and move on.

Ms Terri, who was kicked off Today.com April 28, 2009 at 5:58 PM  

Psyche Skinner, just because someone *says* something is a work for hire, doesn't necessarily mean it's so.

Take a look at this: Keep your copyrights: Works made for hireIt would be up to a court to decide whether Today.com had any legally enforceable ownership rights in our work.

Also, Today.com has already admitted that our blogs aren't worth much money to them -- they said they weren't worth even $1 per post -- so would they be willing to spend thousands of dollars to sue someone for alleged copyright infringement on something that is only worth a few dollars, if that, to them?

Maybe. People do start lawsuits even if it doesn't make sense to do so financially, and even if the chances are high that they will lose. They might do it to intimidate, or to send a messsage, or just because they are angry.

(Also, if they have already sold, or are trying to sell, our content to someone else, then the stakes might be higher for them because a larger deal might be at risk.)

What I would like to see is for them to completely remove all the blogs, from their system, of the people they have kicked out. That seems only fair. We did the work with the expectation that we would be earning money on the traffic indefinitely. They arbitrarily and unilaterly said no, they were keeping all of it for themselves. There is nothing that I can see that gives them the right to do that.

If they would just take our stuff off of their system, and stop making claims that they owned it, and, of course, pay us all the remaining money that they owe us, then as far as I am concerned, this would be over.

Ms Terri April 28, 2009 at 6:13 PM  

Oops, simulataneous posting with Anonymous.

If they did just disappear, that would certainly solve our problems.

But there are a couple of things I'm worried about:

1. They might leave a bare-bones website up, with all the old content, to gather what pennies that it might. My concern is that having duplicate content, or even content that is different but is on the same subject matter, up on their site could drag down the search engine rankings of our current blogs.

Some of us did a lot of work on our Today blogs to ensure that our posts would rank highly, and now that very same work would be hurting us if the Today blogs posts outrank our new ones.

2. They could "sell" our posts (because they claim that they "own" them), as part of a larger deal, to someone else. But maybe I should worry about crossing that bridge when/if we come to it.

The bottom line is that I would like to see our stuff taken off their site, and I'm not going to pay them a fee, which seems like it's something very close to extortion, in order to see that happen.

Ms Terri -- sneak peeks for The Variable are up now! April 29, 2009 at 6:55 PM  

I just wanted to say, about the original post, that I was on the fence for a while, and I feel MUCH better being off of it. (Your mileage may vary.)

I started my new blog about a month and a half before I got kicked out of Today.com. At the time I started the new blog, I knew, in my gut, I should just leave Today altogether, but I didn't. I tried to hedge my bets, I was afraid I would never be able to rebuild my audience, I was resisting change, and so on.

I struggled to try to keep the two blog distinct, to give the new one its own emphasis and subject matter focus, but the truth is that what I really wanted to write was my original blog. I had *already* carved out the subject matter and approaches I was most interested in, during the seven months I had been writing that blog, and that was what I wanted to keep on doing.

So I ended up divvying up posts almost arbitrarily between the two blogs. What made it really difficult was that I didn't want to just come out and explain, on my new blog, what I was doing and why. I was afraid the Today folks would read it, and kick me out! (Ha, ha, that joke was on me, as they kicked me out anyway.)

Once I was kicked out, and I was able to say what I was doing, and post exactly what I wanted without having to worry about dividing things up between the two blogs, it was as if a huge weight had come off me.

What I take from this: (1) I should have listened to my gut in the first place. (2) None of the perks of Today -- not the pay, not the Google juice, not the forums when they were helpful, was worth the stress of being treated so disrespectfully.

Phyl April 29, 2009 at 7:12 PM  

And as to keeping one's content -- who was it who posted the link to that "mirroring" program? Was it SY at the Hospitalera blog?

I downloaded it, and copied my whole Today.com blog, so now I have everything. It takes a while, and takes up a lot of memory, so my advice would be to direct it to a CD rather than to your hard drive, to save it. But once you've got that, you've got all your content.

And I'm bloody well going to repost some of mine. *stomping foot* :-)

I know what you mean about the SEO stuff, Terri, but I do think we can learn to refine our stuff even more than we did before. I know Hava had a whole lot of stuff on SEO; I wonder if she would post it again. And I've been getting a lot of info lately too.

And I know I bookmarked some of Griz's sites; he had piles of info on SEO.

I have to work at it, with my new blog, which is not doing that well, unique-visits-wise. I think we can all devise ways to help build up that traffic again.

Lis Sowerbutts April 30, 2009 at 8:32 AM  

Hi guys - Im glad I found you! Although I haven't been kicked out yet I have given up on the forums - got deleted one too many times! I do a bit of SEO stuff on my blog - have been following Grizz for a lot longer than today. I always blogged at today to support my other sites - so if I get locked out its inconvenient rather than sad.

Don't reproduce your content on your own blog - google will just ignore it because the authority that the today network has - rework the title and rewrite the content- you're writers that should be easy for you :-)

flit April 30, 2009 at 8:46 AM  

thanks for the advice Lis... I will do that with the rest of the stuff that I want to save.

Phyl April 30, 2009 at 8:16 PM  

That's good advice, Lis. I can easily tweak my original posts so they say essentially the same thing, just somewhat differently. Thanks!

Susan May 7, 2009 at 8:37 AM  

I'm still there, I just want to get to $50 so I can get out. I was told that if I stopped posting on my blog and it was deleted after 30 days that I would relinquish any money my blog had earned.

Ryan E June 19, 2009 at 12:56 AM  

You wouldn't want to repost your old content anyways. It would be considered duplicate content and your site would get Google penalties from that.

I think one of the huge problems with this site is it accepted so many novice and first time bloggers. With all these newbies taking each other's advice and forming their own conclusions on things it leads to a lot of misunderstanding and assumptions being made. People claim things like terms have been breached when Today said from the beginning payments can be adjusted. i.e. claiming Today.com fakes stats when it is so easy to verify stats from third party websites.

If they were really doing anything illegal they would be shut down. BTW I get paid from them almost every month.

Angela Catherine September 10, 2010 at 11:10 PM  

This is a bit late and since today.com is gone it seems like a moot point, but I just stumbled on this today. I ran FAPIPO and disappeared because I was aware of how today.com was growing into a scam.

The community was never too friendly to me. One of the things that happened unintentionally was that whenever I'd be too busy to write I'd throw up a silly picture to amuse my regular visitors. I started getting linked to other sites and it was questioned that my content wasn't actual content and that I shouldn't win the monthly traffic prize. Keep in mind I won the prize for months WITHOUT the pictures. The backlash was pretty harsh. I tried to shrug it if off as jealousy - I ran a HUMOR blog and wasn't going to be bullied into writing about "the state of the union" in any other style that wasn't mine.

The admins didn't seem to like my popularity as well. We all know that their "unique views" bit was sketchy, but being linked on reddit and other sites helped a lot. At one point I actually made a very hefty sum and then I received a frantic batch of emails from the admins. The main guy (don't remember his name) asked if I could put aside time to speak with him over the phone about other opportunities on the site. I waited the entire day we "scheduled”, but he never called. Soon after, I received an email stating that they are upping my post price from a buck to 2 bucks a post and that any views from reddit etc would not count. I checked my stats and did the math and figured out I'd make some asinine amount like 20 cents per every 1000 views.

I was very upset and took this personally – I was making hundreds a month and saw everyone else’s stas which were nowhere near mine. I put up a post about this, but it was quickly quieted. The admins told me they’d look into it and never got back to me and the community gloated. I was sent an email from someone who told me that “now you actually will have to do some work on your site.” How insulting! Though my blog was humor based, I took everything extremely seriously. Even posting up a picture took hours, I’d spend up to 10 hours a day looking through things and doing research to see what people were interested in viewing, which topic was the hot topic of the day, week, etc etc etc.

As this was all going on, the admins started offering second blogs to everyone – that is everyone but me. I asked for one and was denied. Beta testing? Ignored. I could deal with being snubbed by the other writers, but I couldn’t stand it from the admins.

This all left a very bad taste in my mouth so I decided to take off. Thank you for noticing – only one person from today.com asked what happened to me and I told them a little, but didn’t want to mouth off too much against today.com especially since I saw many users get deleted whenever they talked against the admins. I’ve been wondering what happened to my content and just noticed a few weeks ago the site was completely gone. I haven’t blogged since because the experience was just awful, but have recently been thinking about at least starting to write again. There’s so much more I could say about my terrible experience, but it’s too much and anyway they’re gone!

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