A reader emailed me about yesterday’s post on Mocavo, asking why I wanted to learn how this new search engine planned to generate money. She felt it was rude to ask about money.
Well, maybe it is. I’m going to keep asking, though, about every site I take advantage of. As if there’s a very important factor I’ve learned on the net, it’s this: Hardly anything is free.
Google isn’t free. You’re trading a slice of your privacy to utilize it. That’s not much of a knock against Google; I prefer numerous their products, and that i like them just fine. But asking myself, “How can this for-profit company make money when it’s providing me with one of these free services?” led me to investigate and understand what I’m offering them in exchange for that online free stuff. I’m making an educated decision to utilize those tools, and also taking steps to control the quantity of information I provide them with.
Facebook isn’t free either. In fact, if you’re on Facebook and you also aren’t paying close focus on how they make money, you’re nuts. I prefer Facebook, but I be sure I maintain of what they’re doing with my information. I don’t trust that Zuckerberg kid one bit.
Another concern We have about free sites is stability. I’ve noticed a lot of companies previously year or so who definitely have started offering free hosting for your family tree. That’s great. Before you decide to spend hours building yours, though, it seems wise to ask: How are these individuals earning money? Could they be backed my venture capital, angel investors, or a rich uncle? Are those people who are bankrolling it planning to need a return on their investment sooner or later? Should they don’t see one, don’t you imagine they could pull the plug? Are you presently prepared to start to see the work you’ve put into your web family tree disappear if those sites can’t make enough money to meet their investors? As you can’t already have it both ways. You could have a site that lasts quite a long time, or you will have a site that doesn’t make money away from you one of the ways or another…but not both. Before you spend hours entering yourself plus your information about both living and dead people, you might like to ponder how it will be used. Marketers will pay a whole lot for demographic info on living people. If you’re entering your complete living family’s dates of birth, wedding anniversary, kids’ names, etc. on a “free” site, ensure you are super clear how which will be used, now and in the future. That’s not saying you shouldn’t use those sites. Just make sure you’re making informed choices.
In addition there are sites that start off free, but don’t wind up like that. Raise the hand if you know anybody who submitted their loved ones tree to RootsWeb, after which got mad when Ancestry bought them and made the trees available simply to people with subscriptions. The Huffington Post was built largely by writers who worked at no cost, and therefore are now furious as the owner has sold the site to AOL to get a cool $315 million. In reality, building websites with content users have generated at no cost (and creating wealth during this process) is definitely a hot topic lately. Many individuals have discovered that you can get men and women to create your site more valuable and then sell it off.
From the comments on yesterday’s post about Mocavo, the site’s owner, Cliff Shaw, has suggested twice that we submit the sites I want Mocavo to index. Now, notwithstanding my belief that every websites ought to be indexed if a search engine is to be valuable, I may think that I wish to spend some submitting “genealogy” sites for Mocavo, to ensure I will help make it more valuable for when he sells it (while he has with sites he’s owned in the past). I certainly contribute a great deal of other dexkpky12 content to sites I take advantage of regularly (Twitter, Facebook, blogs, forums, etc.), so that’s actually not just a stretch by any means. But I understand how those sites earn money off of my contributions, and i also don’t think it’s unreasonable to question how Mocavo will work the same. Regardless of whether I Truly Do contribute sites…what’s to mention they are free? Reader Debi commented on yesterday’s post how the only result she’d found was one for e-Yearbook, which isn’t free whatsoever. Are paid sites now submitting themselves for inclusion? Can nefarious operators build websites filled with spammy affiliate links and then submit them for inclusion? What is the process for guarding against that sort of thing? Are sites investing in search engine placement on Mocavo? How would we know once we didn’t ask?
I am hoping Mocavo makes money (because I believe success in genealogy is good for the entire field, and since the owner seems to be a guy in the genealogical community, using a history in this particular “neighborhood”…not some random stranger). I just want to understand how it can do it. Within the search-engine world in particular, where making profits has been such a challenge recently, this may seem like a good question for me.
Maybe it can be rude to ask how companies generate income. Maybe I’m an overall weenie for asking (which wasn’t my intention at all; I just though it was this type of obvious, softball question that the company could copy-and-paste a response). But I’ve been on the web for long enough to know that it’s always a smart idea to ask.