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I want my internet back dammit
Where have all the webmasters gone?

 8:09 pm on Feb 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

What the heck happened? After spending the last week watching the update on google it dawned on me I never hear from webmasters any more. I hear from people that think webmastering is ROI and I hear from people that think webmastering is a reserved spot in the serps. But what I donít hear is people breaking the changes apart for the pure joy of understanding.

Google or for that matter any search engine does not rule my world. I am interested in why search engine x does this and how it works so I can break it just because I can. I am interested in how search engine x works because it is interesting.

Search engine x says that my site does not deserve to be in the first spot the hell with search engine x. I will figure out how search engine x works and place my site where it rightly deserves to be and this has nothing to do with ROI.

We use to talk about things worked around here. The technical challenges a search engine faced. How a search engine collected and ranked data and why it worked in a certain way. What tricks worked and more importantly why. Now all I hear is I am buying links from here and I get xx return for every x spent. Yawn.

So where did you all go? I miss you.



 9:05 pm on Feb 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

Everything seems to revolve around Google and despite all the best efforts eventually boils down into a whine fest.


 10:10 pm on Feb 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

>>whine fest

That is pretty much what goes on now.
I do miss the old days of the dance, when we would share what worked and what did not work.

I bet it was even better in the last century when Alta Vista was the engine to game.


 10:36 pm on Feb 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

skippy, I've asked myself the same thing. they're not here, they're not on other forums, I think something kind of changed in the business over the last 2 years, can't quite put my fingers on it.

But the end result is that the people who have good technical skills seem to have lost interest in doing WebmasterWorld google postings..

that's not really so unreasonable, it gets old after all, you don't really get that much in return for your time re new knowledge, so why do it if you have good tech skills? Boredom?

Or maybe some mailing lists started up that sucked up some part, it's hard to say.

Or maybe web stuff has started getting more specialized as the stuff keeps getting more complex, and the age of the generalist is fading.

"So where did you all go? I miss you."

there's another pretty major component, by the way. The ones who started realizing that they could figure this stuff out, suddenly also started realizing that this skill is worth money, and that keeping quiet pays more than sharing.


 12:09 am on Feb 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

Been around a while..., just bored with answering the same beginner Q's, I think that is the reason.


 2:04 am on Feb 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

Yeah you guys are probably right. Too much money and too many people seeing only dollar signs rather then what an interesting thing search is. Too bad.


 7:51 am on Feb 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

something kind of changed in the business over the last 2 years - I'd noticed that too.

It was a very slow change hardly noticable then one day Wham! Its here and your left scratching your head.


 6:04 pm on Feb 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

I bet it was even better in the last century when Alta Vista was the engine to game.

Busting up Alta Vista back in the day was so elementary but virtually nobody had any idea that you could make a ton of money through it. That was the easiest reverse engineering I ever did and it was because spam wasn't so prevelant then. Back then the objective was to get sites listed in Yahoo and get them in Alta Vista. Once you did you were very happy. Probably the nastiest point was when Inktomi was powering everything and lots of people were spamming like crazy. Discussions were like doomsday. Google was that new ray of hope to the Internet and wow did it kick things off.

I started lurking WebmasterWorld in 2000 and signed up in 2001(satanclaus) and the discussions at that point were extremely good. To the point that I never posted I only read others thoughts and combined them with my own. For a while I posted regularly in discussions but I started to feel it was falling on deaf ears with all the "my site did this oh no" or "my site is ranking well yipee" posts so now days I just discuss within my circle of associates and post in non-update specific threads. Update threads are nothing but a dump IMHO.


 8:11 pm on Feb 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

Back in the covered wagon days (i.e) last century self promotion was easy.
The search engines actually told you what you needed to rank you high in their system.
The old days when meta-tags etc. actually were being used to rate your site.

The search engine strategy back was a little like have a security system installed on your house and pasting a diagram of your security system on the front door.
Needless to say knowing exactly what the security is would make it easier a professional burglar (web master) to crack the system.

They have no doubt learned to keep their ranking system secret.
Meanwhile the on chat lines the would be ranking system safe crackers (web masters) were publicizing how they crack the search engines system.
The search engine anti-intelligence operatives monitor the web masters chat lines to see if anyone is actually closing on cracking their system.
Having huge amount of money and resources (the last time I heard Google was worth 9 billion dollars) they quickly plug the leaks in the dikes.

As much as I am tempted to blab what I know, it would be very quickly no longer valid.

I even changed my user name to hide who I am.


 11:00 pm on Feb 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

I do miss the old days of the dance, when we would share what worked and what did not work.

As do I.

Those were the days [webmasterworld.com]


 11:00 pm on Feb 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

I bet it was even better in the last century when Alta Vista was the engine to game.

It was even better before people tried to game search engines. :-)


 11:12 pm on Feb 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

Three big frustrations:

1. When you come out and try and share something and 500 people tell you that you are wrong based on misinformation that they read in ClickZ this morning or heard at the latest conference or read on search engine x's website instead of asking "why?", it becomes discouraging. Credit to DaveN for summarizing that nicely.

2. Newer SEOs tend to ask questions and demand answers instead of reading and researching and then asking a question when you've spent some time trying to understand it.

3. The one-siters, one-industriers have a tough time understanding that there is a web outside of "blue widgets", and that the web may be handled differently by search engines for different industries.

The information sharing is still out there, it's just mostly in private venues.

[edited by: bakedjake at 11:15 pm (utc) on Feb. 10, 2005]


 11:12 pm on Feb 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

<<But what I donít hear is people breaking the changes apart for the pure joy of understanding.>>

I feel your pain, dude. This place is starting to sound like the Victum's Outreach Center.

The good news is that there are still golden nuggets of insight to be found scattered among the wreckage, it's just that the volume of posts you have to wade through to find them is increasing daily.


 11:21 pm on Feb 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

If I were a rich man, daidle deedle daidle deedle daidle dum, all day long I'd biddy biddy bum if I were a rich man . . .


 11:28 pm on Feb 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

and your point is webwork?


 11:50 pm on Feb 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

I think Webwork is being sarcastic.
A while back the interwebb thingy sold itself to Joe Public as an information-interconnect portal for all who could connect - find all the information or products you could ever need online.
That is, those-in-the-know were selling it as such.
Turns out, rather than being a ugalitarian free for all, it's actually a hierarchical-based chronologicaly-biased system, which I guess we should have noticed in the first place. "This is great, look at this here" etc etc
Meanwhile, back in the real world, businesses are wising up to the www promise, realing a website does not equate to a "world wide portal", a shopping site, it's at best a brochure, unless you're employing a www-affiliate-junkie. Plenty of them here I summise, hence the drop in 'post' quality
My two cents :-)


 11:57 pm on Feb 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

It's more like work for a lot of people, whereas there was a time when it was more like an adventure where there was lots of gold to be found for everyone. People got used to the money. Now, they are concerned about holding onto it, whereas once it might have seemed like easy money or fun money. When you make it your livelihood there's a lot more at stake.

Perhaps those who are successful are busier than ever and less likely to share because they paid their dues and they don't necessarily wish to share the keys to the car just for the asking.

Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof was a great observer of the human condition. Take the setting of Fiddler on the Roof and apply it to our WWW world. See any parallels? Tevye, to mentally survive, made light of the pogroms. What about search engine updates? People make light of them? Where? I think I'll rewrite Fiddler with the setting of WW.

Now, if I was a rich man . . .

Dog, you in? Casting call anyone?

[edited by: Webwork at 12:24 am (utc) on Feb. 11, 2005]


 12:20 am on Feb 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

I would be one of the new guys entering the field, but I have noticed the same change you are describing as I've gone back through the old posts and the research available online. The best description of the Google Algo that I have found to date is years old, and is basically just a formula for calculating PR. The vast majority of posts I read are about dissappearing sites, adwords, crazy backlinking schemes. I am yet to get anywhere near the real nuts and bolts information that I'm looking for. My own theories are largely based on trial and error. It's a frustratingly long term endeavour to understand what's going on.

It is becoming more and more frustrating listening to the newbies whinge and the older posters patronise them with encouragement backed up with no useful information what-soever. Useless thread after useless thread.

The information is valuable, and techniques and tactics will become more and more closely guarded secrets as the industry expands and solidifies.

I think that this is just the nature of a fast growing new industtry. Lots of money, lots of competition, lots of sharks, and lots of secrets.


 1:53 am on Feb 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

The people like me who started for the puzzle of it got sick of people throwing wads of money at their heads for the knowledge and decided to get a glove and start catching it. Thats when it because a business.


 2:36 am on Feb 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

<-- I do miss the old days of the dance -->

seconded, for me it was nice to come here regularly and talk about things that to me were interesting, my girlfriend doesn't really care about SEs, their algos or funnily enough link structures (although she pretends to :o) )

I have been popping in every now and then but other things have been taking up too much of my time, i too have noticed things changing slowly to more money orientated discussions.

As others have said when money is involved (especially with the increase in paying for traffic and inclusion) people get more heated and the discussion can take a dive very quickly.

You only have to look at the list of forums now compared to a couple of years ago to see the way the industry has gone.

my thoughts



 2:54 am on Feb 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

Heck, I don't have to post here for people to figure out how my sites work. I put up a lousy demo site with 50 fictitious widgets that rocketed each product to top 20 order or better using generic terms. This demo even ranked ahead of some of my own customers (too funny) in the industry of my test that had sites up for years!

All I seemed to unfortunately do was educate some big players in those categories because a month later they were doing the same exact thing and ranking up there with my test site. Imagine, if they could glean just that from seeing how I optimized certain things, what would happen if I flat out told them exactly everything I did?

My customers wouldn't have a prayer!

Willing to share, within reason .... :)


 2:57 am on Feb 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

OK, here I am, a hobbyist webmaster (database guy by trade) who likes to figure out how things work.

And yes, the Google boards often make me want to puke, when I see things like, "Form strategic alliances to garner as many links as possible from high pagerank sites." To me, that's sounds a lot like "Buy your way to the top." So I don't spend a lot of time there.

On the other hand, there is a lot of talk about what makes a search engine tick over on the MSN search board. You do get a bunch of whiners there, too ("My site doesn't show up for my favorite search term -- MSN SUX!" or better yet "MSN's results are different than Google's, so it's USELESS!") But there is still discussion of people trying to figure out what MSN search likes and hates.


 3:08 am on Feb 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

Now all I hear is I am buying links from here and I get xx return for every x spent.

It's big business now.


 3:10 am on Feb 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

How I read WebmasterWorld has changed dramatically in 3 years. The population has increased just as dramatically, though.

Now I scan for certain topics, but primarily I look for the posts of specific people (like jake). When these guys post, people listen, and better yet, the discussions usually end up with some meat to chew on.

You just have to dig harder and know where to dig.


 3:11 am on Feb 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

Wellllll...in my days long time agooooo...

You sound like a lot of old washer women leaning over their fences in their backyards!

Good grief...everything changes all the time and especially so in this business. Learn to live with it, adapt, analyse the new stuff, use it to your advantage.

If you really have no skills, why are you here?

It's not all about money, except for those who work for companies that do not value you by personal choice, then you have to seriously consider a lifestyle change. What about contributing here or with your work colleagues.

It's nowhere near as bad as you think it is, and you'd be horrified if you really knew how old I am. Every day I have to kick teenie *ss to make people realise their true worth since they have no self esteem but who are truly capable.


Repeat after me...mummy is not taking me to McD's tomorrow..I'm going to have to make my own food:-)

Scary eh?


 3:13 am on Feb 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

MSN SUX!" or better yet "MSN's results are different than Google's

That's a no brainer MSN does suck - many web sites totally vanished from MSN when the beta went live. We aren't talking about lower SERPs, we're talking about the snippet of text for the web site and even the cached page of the site, ALL GONE!

Many sites, a couple of mine, a few of my customers, a few others I know, seems to be totally random, no rhyme or reason, just 100% gone. Never saw anything like this before and all those sites were visible when MSN was still in Beta, very bizarre.


 3:31 am on Feb 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

I stayed mad for a week when that button-pushing thread got hijacked.


 3:40 am on Feb 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

We use to talk about things worked around here. The technical challenges a search engine faced. How a search engine collected and ranked data and why it worked in a certain way. What tricks worked and more importantly why.

Problem is not only webmasters/serp-gamers were reading those posts...

Where would all those crawl engineers be without reverse engineering our stuff? Can't learn that from a book at Stanford.

Kinda like us reading internal memos at Google. Think about it.


 3:58 am on Feb 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

Hearing newer web geeks whine about wanting the excitement of the old days of AltaVista, it's just silly. Gone are the days when every venture capitalist in the world thought they could be the next Gates with myoldhats.com... but also gone are the days when a javascript "background color fader" was a jaw-dropping effect.

Where were you for Y2K?

Webmastering today is far more interesting now than it ever has been. It's more complex, more competitive, and more rewarding; there are new technologies and new browsers and there's tons going on.

If you're dissatisfied with WebmasterWorld, maybe you're lurking in the wrong forums, there's always a lot going on in the practical programming and language areas like CSS, PHP, .NET, etc.

...or maybe you need a change of career?

Captain Tylor

 4:26 am on Feb 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

I'm relatively new posting here(been reading for a few months) and I just do web stuff for fun mostly. But I've observed a lot of what's been described so far.

I've been playing with web pages since about 1996, when AOL added free web space. 2 full megs of it(a nice amount back then). Always done little hobby/fan pages, though, and always will. Never want to turn it into a job. I'm part of the anime(Japanese animation) community, we really went at the web back in the mid-90s. Place like Geocities were great hosts, and content was king. Then the commercialization, WYSIWYG editors, and the dotcom boom...everything was too easy, too commercial, and things went right downhill in all categories.

Here, I find there is still some very good communication on the technical subjects and things like Forum Community Building. You can find almost any info you need on HTML, CSS, forum software, user agents, Apache, etc. Or how to build a community, make an aesthetically pleasing layout, find a good domain registrar. If it isn't on here, there's probably a link someplace. And when questions appear, they're usually cases where someone is really stumped despite a decent effort, or something never considered before pops up.

I don't find much worth reading in the Google topics, it's all so many petty arguments. Mine being a personal site I have little interest in any of the marketing/advertising forums either, so I don't know of what quality they are.

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