Monday, August 11, 2008

Spill and Mess Clean-up Detail

Today I report my errors in judgment, wrong calls, some updates and perhaps even updated wrong calls.

Delos Woodruff at ArtPatient does a great job addressing a flawed and probably hasty dismissal of reviewers by Scott Kurtz. I wrote a lengthy piece myself, realized I was simply repeating Delos, and cancelled it. I saved one point worth making: reviewers give breezy summaries filled with opinion. Critics give analyses of value relative to various measures, one of which might be their own opinion. Anyone can start a blog and write reviews, but real criticism is challenging and should be appreciated when it makes an appearance. Comics Journal is a good magazine to read if you want the real thing, though it doesn't take webcomics very seriously. The lesson: next time wait for Delos to post before musing on the same theme.

ComicsLink is a new link site I wrote about recently but they're already in trouble. Nothing has happened in twelve days, just when they were building up steam. Maybe the creator was dragged off to Cape Cod, but couldn't he borrow a laptop? Recommendation withdrawn, pending developments.

EntreCard reminds me of the kid jumping up and down alongside the highway, waving a sign advertising something, but you're traveling too fast to read it. You zip by, hoping his car wash or drink stand finds other customers. I did stop for EntreCard, tried it vigorously, recommended it prematurely, and have now returned to my car and floored the gas.

EC is a social networking service for blogs, primarily tiny ones with little hope of finding an audience. Without going into detail, you trade time for advertisements on crappy blogs, and visits from other members bloggers. This pumps up your traffic, but if you stop, it mostly melts away.

And they are tedious. Most of them should not exist. And with them come the even more defeated authors, bitter and aggressively hostile, unchecked by the passive site owner. Merry members do exist, but they are mostly people who never found a reason to explore the forum and have low expectations.

I became involved when they set up a webcomics section. Had we succeeded in recruiting more participants, we might have gotten a nifty little thing going, but even a huge credit bribe just to sign up didn't draw many takers -- even though they could have cashed it in for ads and walked away.

Instead of guarding the homestead, the owner is working the west coast 2.0 party circuit, looking for alliances. A recent one with an obscure outfit that rewards people for leaving comments on member blogs is the anticlimax to a month of "big announcement" hype.

If your job requires you to sit somewhere and watch for infrequent events, like ninjas coming over the sewage treatment plant wall, you could use the time to bring EC people to your blog or webcomic. The problem is that the number who dwell is much lower and much pricier than what you can obtain with crafty linking or ads. You end up performing sweat shop work for less than sweat shop wages.

I did well by any measure at the site. I climbed to the top of my category, I raked in lots of credits, and I made friends. The time it cost me is too dizzying to estimate. There was one unexpected outcome: I offended someone, somehow, so much that they created an anti-Bengo web site that is a minor but significant source of traffic to my sites. I can't say I exactly recommend hate sites as traffic building tools, but if you want one targeting you, EntreCard is the place to get it. Just visit the tiny forum and beg to differ.

When we were trying to get a webcomic thing together, I recommended people try the site. I no longer recommend it; in fact, I recommend you use time you would have spent there making a few dollars to buy a month of productive advertising at Project Wonderful.

Some bright news: I reported that webcomic blog Zhi seemed expired, but it's got a pulse and is breathing without a respirator. Now we need someone to zip over to Comixpedia and rewrite the webcomic blogs article so that it no longer lists Webcomic Finds as its example of a dead blog. There is a nice how-to in yesterday's post.