: I wouldn’t buy About. Not that I could afford it but… If you were starting About.com today, you wouldn’t create a centralized marketplace of cheap content; you wouldn’t hire a bunch of people (even at serf wages) to create the content. Instead, it would make much more sense to start a network of distributed media (yes, blogs): less cost, less risk, greater scale, greater diversity, stronger voice of the people….

I’ve said this to the man who started About and the man who bought it last time and they didn’t kick me in the shins.

PaidContent.org says The New York Times is the frontrunner to buy About. That makes sense if you’re a centralized marketplace of content trying to maintain that model, if you or your owners are scared of the distributed world. But the centralized marketplace — the channel, the portal, the conglomerate — is the thing of the past. Things of the past often buy each other when the past arrives.

  • This is exactly what’s bugging me about the auction. On the one hand, the consumer internet is booming broadly. On the other hand, they must recognize the bell is tolling for About.com

  • I dunno, part of me thinks having a collection of highly-linked blogs is still pretty valuable. I mean, if Weblogs, Inc. scales to this size, or Gawker were 50 times bigger, how would that be different than About?

  • we have 71 bloggers and 74 blogs… we are 20-25% the size in terms of those numbers.
    In terms of traffic… well, that is another story.
    however, you are right… Gawker and WIN are next generation About.com’s to a certain extent.

  • Blogs would be great for something like About.com. Each blogger could write about his favorite subject, and host links to it. Which is what About.com staff members were doing anyway, blogging software would make it much easier.
    A thought.

  • Ed

    about.com has very few staffers; virtually everyone who writes is a freelancer.
    They’re still working on the original Mining Company business plan to a large extent, which basically was a prototype for today’s blogging companies: lowly paid guides providing information via the Internet. It is, essentially, a network of blogs without using the dreaded “B” word sullied by the likes of Jarvis and Dave Whiner.

  • Actually, About.com is powered by Movable Type.

  • Blog this, blog that…Blogs change everything! They don’t! I love blogs, but let’s see the definitions:
    “A weblog, Web log or simply a blog, is a web application which contains periodic posts on a common webpage. These posts are often but not necessarily in reverse chronological order.”
    “About.com, also called Human Internet, is a web portal that relies on paid human editors to cover a specific topic by writing articles and constructing a web directory. There are currently about 700 topic-sites, most of which are led by a guide (who acts as the editor).”
    Is there such a big difference?

  • I’ve been active with About.com for over five years now. Our activities as guides have changed dramatically over the years. Nowadays we are following much a of blog-like model, but there’s a lot of structure in the way we write. We also host databases of links to complement the blog-like centerpiece.
    It can be a lot more than the stream-of-consciousness that many blogs are today. I’ve positioned my site as a resource for seasoned business professionals seeking to better understand the business of biotechnology and entrepreneurial scientists seeking to commercialize their ideas and inventions.
    I find the prospect of working for the NYT very compelling. If the sale goes through, I’d be eager to hear what changes it would bring to my site.