What happened to boing boing?
December 8, 2016 1:48 PM   Subscribe

When did they turn from a weblog to a glorified store? Did I miss something?
posted by leotrotsky to Computers & Internet (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
That post is from August. I think it was probably just trying to nudge various legalization efforts along a little bit. For people in favor of weed legalization the normalizing of marijuana and marijuana products has utility. You see them make posts about other things for sale from time to time, they're just putting the shopping stuff more forward since it's holidaytime.
posted by jessamyn at 1:53 PM on December 8, 2016

They... haven't? They would like to make money, in order to pay their writers and their engineers and to have servers. With more people stealing that content by using adblockers (and even a higher percentage of the type of people that visit BoingBoing), display ads have become a more difficult way to make money, so they do some sponsored post-type-things as a way to make more money.
posted by brainmouse at 1:57 PM on December 8, 2016 [3 favorites]

The last couple of years they have become more and more aggressive with sponsored articles and posts promoting items in their own store. It's a valid monetization strategy, but an unfortunate one IMHO. And one that has shifted my reading of the site from multiple times a day to no more than once or twice a week, if that.
posted by HFSH at 2:09 PM on December 8, 2016 [12 favorites]

Other than the most clear advertorial tone, that doesn't sound much different from some of the posts I remember from there, including Doctorow and his hourly "look at my new book where a teen hacks a global surveillance network using public payphones and a tickle-me-elmo".
posted by lmfsilva at 2:10 PM on December 8, 2016 [9 favorites]

I've had them in my RSS reader since Google Reader came out and they have without a doubt ramped up the number of blog posts that are essentially ads for either items in their store or outside vendors in the last few years. Probably because banner ads et. al. don't work anymore.
posted by griphus at 2:10 PM on December 8, 2016 [5 favorites]

I've been reading boingboing.net for 10+ years, and I think it's always had a certain commercial bent to it, an ethos that says, "yes, this site is our soapbox and play space, but it's also a business." At least their store is clearly labeled as a store, and it is unambiguously selling stuff.

I dunno, I guess I'm OK with this, for whatever that's worth. I've bought a few things from their store over the last 18 months or so. Although their prices are generally reasonable, the quality of the items they sell varies quite a bit. I've bought a few winners but also a few losers. Shipping can be a bit slow - they use an outside fulfillment house I believe, but some items are bulk buys that are drop-shipped from Asia, and those items can take weeks to arrive.
posted by mosk at 2:13 PM on December 8, 2016 [3 favorites]

Started reading boingboing 10+ years ago, and stopped about two years back. They changed from being an awkward blog that showed fresh exciting weird stuff, to a boring blog hawking junk, and linking to stuff I saw on Facebook a week ago.
posted by gregr at 2:15 PM on December 8, 2016 [8 favorites]

I've been reading BoingBoing about as long as MetaFilter, over a decade, and yeah, it's definitely taken a turn lately.

Most recently I saw an article for a lighter using AMAZING! NEW TECHNOLOGY! but when I clicked and read I found out it's just a $40 lighter that uses electricity rather than butane. Ok. Oh, and here's a link to our store where you can buy it.

The other thing that's changed somewhat recently is their layout, whereby new articles don't just get posted to the top and then move down as newer posts are made (like they do here). So I'll look at BoingBoing at one point, see what I see, and then look again later and see that nothing new has been posted, except it has, and I need to scroll down to find it. That's just put me off looking at the site. Maybe if I used an RSS feed I wouldn't be frustrated by that.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 2:32 PM on December 8, 2016 [6 favorites]

Hasn't Boing Boing been replaced by Twitter or Reddit, or the Verge or Re/Code or a bunch of different websites? Xeni Jardin's Twitter feed is way more entertaining than BB.
posted by My Dad at 2:42 PM on December 8, 2016 [3 favorites]

I kinda tapered off boing boing like six (seven?) years ago or so when they fragmented it into subsites, and the mobile experience there never really drew me back. I probably check in there ten times a year (usually driven by xeni tweets, yeah). If anything, the mobile site has gotten better in the last few years, but the advertorials have always felt like a part of the site.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 3:41 PM on December 8, 2016

I know this isn't a thread to bash boing boing but I do remember when the site turned into an advertisement for Suicide Girls all those years ago. It became NSFW just to visit the site looking for regular content. They toned that particular advertising campaign down but I guess they're always up for new revenue ideas.

Now I boycott the site but that's definitely outside the scope of this thread.
posted by bfootdav at 4:03 PM on December 8, 2016

This is the business model for sites which either don't make enough from traditional side-of-page-banner advertising, or which prefer not to monetize in that way for whatever reason.

I'm frankly fine with it, though it irks me if too many posts are sponsored, or if the sponsored posts aren't artfully done (I prefer posts sponsored by businesses with some connection to the site's mission, and worthwhile content in their own regard even if there's an advertorial angle).

I actually like the Boing Boing shop angle, since I think there is a market there for Boing Boing readers who are looking for certain types of products to buy. I often seek out their gift guides around this time of year to at least get ideas about what to give people for Christmas. It always annoys me when they're like "Boing Boing Tech Gift Guide" and tell people to buy an iPhone or something, though. Like guys I've heard of iPhones, if I was made out of money and my partner didn't already have an iPhone, I could have gotten there myself.
posted by Sara C. at 5:06 PM on December 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

I think new stuff is still at the top, it's just weird because the very top things don't change much and the stuff for sales always occupies like the 2nd and 3rd place in the list.

I'm probably more irritated by the wrong-on-purpose reporting that some of them do.
posted by RustyBrooks at 6:46 PM on December 8, 2016

Any story about a product has an affiliate link. I only access them through RSS, but I can imagine going through their frontpage every time I visited would be annoying. I do that by mistake sometimes.

Weirdly the BBS thing seems to be more popular than I would think.
posted by rhizome at 7:53 PM on December 8, 2016

And that post is from August, but I swear they've posted that thing like three times.
posted by rhizome at 7:54 PM on December 8, 2016

Another long-time reader via RSS who has also noticed a preponderance of posts about stuff for sale either from their store or via Amazon affiliate link. Lots of magic stuff and basic art supplies, among other things.
posted by jimw at 8:12 PM on December 8, 2016

Yeah as a former content industry person I concur with what is said above about the diminishing number of ways to get any revenue for writing and journalism.

However, I will say I was dismayed when I purchased what BoingBoing was claiming to be an E-education package, promising that this special offer would train me to become a White Hat Hacker, only to open the folder I downloaded and find a bunch of old and not very hacker-ish tutorials for how to install a Windows Server and do very basic monitoring of packets on it, or something unimpressive like that, not exactly 2600 stuff.
posted by johngoren at 2:19 AM on December 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

I understand they want to make money, but this year after reading for four or five years I killed boing boing completely in my hosts file. I am not even sure I could point at a specific behaviour that turned me away. I guess I just can't stand any advertising any more.
posted by adventureloop at 3:26 AM on December 9, 2016

I've also been reading boingboing for over ten years and I did stop reading for a couple of years when every other post seemed to be steampunk -related. I've gone back to it now and am not bothered by the product posts both because they're easy to scroll past and because sometimes they really bring cool stuff to my attention. I don't interact at all with the site but skim read it every day. They didn't want to directly monetise it, promoted adblocking, so sponsored content it pretty much their only avenue to finance. They're doing a good job (unless you like to H8 on Doctorow).
posted by guy72277 at 6:03 AM on December 9, 2016

To be fair, I have purchased two things (either from the BBS or directly, but I'm pretty sure I was made aware by BB). One was the KeySmart keychain (meh) and the other is the A3 titanium wallet from Obstructures (love it).
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 6:34 AM on December 9, 2016

Most recently I saw an article for a lighter using AMAZING! NEW TECHNOLOGY! but when I clicked and read I found out it's just a $40 lighter that uses electricity rather than butane. Ok. Oh, and here's a link to our store where you can buy it.

I'd seen these on meh.com (deal a day site) a few times, then just recently went to boingboing and saw that article about them. It's thewirecutter's strategy biased for trends instead of analysis.
posted by zippy at 11:34 AM on December 9, 2016

« Older What is this book that I'm thinking of?   |   Experiential Gift, Canada -> Taiwan Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.