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A central registration engine
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lylebclarke
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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2001 2:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just read something smart here
---
In the face of a collapsed Web advertising market many sites are looking to "force registration" of their users so they have auditable subscriber lists.

This makes sense as mainstream advertisers who are putting together campaigns want to know the reach of a website, how much that reach is unduplicated, and how many people it actually reaches regularly before they buy an ad.

However, if every comic asks for this information, readers are going to quickly get very tired of filling in forms. Rather, what is needed is to automate the process as much as possible, with audit-compliant results.
---

A central registration engine, so that we know who is reading on-line comics, and can prove it, will give on-line comics more to take to the table when trying to sell ads or gain sponsorship.

I don't know about you, but to me, this sounds like a good, and not too complex, technologically doable idea. Any thoughts?

Cheers
Lyle>

[ This Message was edited by: lylebclarke on 2001-05-22 14:23 ]
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Max Leibman
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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2001 5:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Technologically doable, yes, but I do have some qualms.

The problems I see are twofold:

1). Getting Everyone to Play Together

Not every webcomic will want to work under the same basic system. Even a mere two or three systems, plus a few indies running around on their own, will be too many forms to fill out.

2). Everybody's Doing It

Online comics won't be the only sites looking to do this sort of thing. This could bring the benefit of having users already expecting to have to fill out a form. On the other hand, it means that many more forms, use id's and password schemes to keep track of.

Bottom line: It's not a bad idea, but I don't see the problems connected to user registration (added time, technological hassles, tracking and entering user id's, etc.) being sufficiently minimized by a central comics registration engine.

On the other hand, if a group of web comics were to go to an agency that was already doing this for another industry and jump onto their registration scheme, that could potentially save readers from having to fill out another form (that is, if they're into anything else that registrar covers). Of course, the risk with that sort of thinking is concentrating too much power into the hands of one online entity (which, I suppose, is also a risk for an online comics registration engine).

To quote Dr. Jakob Nielsen:

User registration will have to die.


I don't think he's wrong on that point. In the end, using user registrations to enhance advertising profitability is a temporary fix at best. Filling out even vague personal information for a site is no less annoying a hassle than waiting the extra download time just to be bombarded by the "shock the monkey" ad and similarly insipid gunk. Long-term, Web users won't stand for it.

Long-winded,

Max Leibman
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John2two
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PostPosted: Wed May 23, 2001 2:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Glancing momentarily by the prime topic (while central registration seems preferable to myriad local registrations, I tend to agree with Max and Dr. Nielsen that registration as a whole is unlikely to be accepted broadly), I want to thank Max for the link to Nielsen's piece.

Why? Because it referred me to Esther Dyson's article about the uses and values of intellectual property in a webbed world.

If you are thinking about the value of comics on the web, and you haven't read this article yet, you should. I'm sorry I didn't find it months ago. But before you click through, a couple warnings: It's long, and it's dense. I've just emerged from 45 minutes reading it and I skimmed or skipped large sections. It's like a banquet table-sized cheesecake. I will need to return to it again.

The parts related to web-comics are scattered through the first 1/8th and concentrated in the middle third, so when she starts talking about software and you are tempted to stop reading, skim instead until she gets back to talking about entertainment content.

John2two
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lylebclarke
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PostPosted: Thu May 24, 2001 11:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


In the Jakob Nielsen from 1995 that you are referring to, Jakob is talking
about tapping in your name and password as a pre-requisite for viewing the content,
every single time you want to do so. Jakob is right, such "user-registration"
should die, and indeed, in most cases, it has, via cookies. There are of course
exceptions, hotmail is one of them, but in general content sites that register
who you are, today, also remember who you are. At least, all the sites that
I visit that I have registered at do.


The registration engine I was referring too in the post that started this thread,
was not such that it would be part of a mechanism for preventing readers to
read comics, but rather one that would help creators/site-owners know, and prove
to the degree possible, who and how many 'whos' are reading them. A one-time
registration for all comics in the network, and accepting a cookie, would suffice.


Sure, having a better idea of who is reading comics may only be a temporary
fix, but I do believe it is a valid temporary fix. Especially during the age
of "we're not quite there yet" with micropayments.


Readers/viewers tolerate advertising in just about every medium you can care
to name already, all the while continuing to consume it, I'm sure they will
continue to do so on the web as well, at least until micropayment alternatives
are up and running, at which time, hopefully we'll be able to convince them
to pay instead.



Cheers
Lyle
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lylebclarke
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PostPosted: Fri May 25, 2001 1:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, thanks Max, and John. Yes, that was a very hefty piece. Insightful too.
Quote:

Why? Because it referred me to Esther Dyson's article about the uses and values of intellectual property in a webbed world.

Here are some interesting points I noted from the bits on entertainment. (I've summarised, expanded and paraphrased a lot, but the gist is there).

1. She puts forward that most "content creators" will be creating their content for a very small circle, perhaps just their friends, as a way to pass time, who in turn will be viewing/reading the content, also as a way to pass the time, and then in turn may also create content themselves to send back to their own friends, also as a way to pass the time.

2. She paints a picture where content bascially has zero monetary value to the reader/viewer/listener. A few chosen content creators however, are sponsered by companies and made into stars (no mention of money though) and then in return the stars promote their sponsors throughout the duration of their stardom. The rest of us will keep pumping out content for free for our friends as a way to pass the time, and perhaps (if we're lucky) get paid to produce advertising worthy to go around the edges of the content created by the afore-mentioned sponsored star.

3. She also suggests that the barrier to consumers paying for entertainment, will not be lack of payment technology, but rather, simply not being enough hours in the day to fit it all in, seeing as we'll be so busy creating and consuming getting 'free' content for and from people that already mean something to us, as well as getting free content ("quality" advertising) from known (company sponsered) stars. If we do want a more, we won't have to pay for that either, as there will be plenty out there which somebody has made for *their* friends, which will also be freely available.

Okay, that's all for now. It is quite an insightful article, so far. Point 1, is well and truly true at the moment. Point 2, Well, I don't know of anybody yet. But it sound's believable. Scott McCloud's Zot! over at CBR perhaps? Point 3 we haven't tested yet, as we don't have the payment technology available to give it a whirl. (I hope she's wrong, or at least not totally right).

Lyle
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Greg Stephens
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PostPosted: Fri May 25, 2001 3:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This discussion of the ideas of a centralized registration system and a micropayment system make me think of what Microsoft's attempting to create with their HailStorm service. Leaving the anti- and pro-Microsoft debate alone for a minute, all of this could be closer to fruition than we think.

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lylebclarke
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PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2001 9:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The author quoted when starting this thread has reached the same conclusion as you Greg.

"Microsoft's HailStorm promises to build just such an engine, but where there's one product, there's bound to be more -- and quickly. "


I reccommend reading the article if you still see "advertising supported" in your comic's (or any other content site's) future.

Lyle

[ This Message was edited by: lylebclarke on 2001-05-28 09:47 ]
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Sean[cc]
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PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2001 12:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's all about the money these days...can't you see what we're turning into? We're talking about a central registration system for readers, in order for cartoonists to get ad sponsorships. These people making free content for their friends and reading others' free content will always exist, just because that's the way it is, and pay comics, those who are making their readers register at this "center", are meanwhile losing an edge to the non-pay comics.

I see a kind of cartoonist darwinism emerging from all this where, those whose comics are liked by enough people will succeed, and those whose comics are liked by some, but struggle to cover bandwidth costs, fail.

I'm kind of just ranting here, but I do think that the whole fun of online comics is kind of gone, with everyone constantly posting threads about what the most feasible means of making money are. The internet, while bringing a new age of fresh cartoons and cartoonists on the web, has also kind of transformed artists on the web into, as the great Ice Cube would put it, "Money Hungry Hoes." I'm not saying all artists are golddiggers, but I think many of them see that there could be an opportunity to make money, try and seize it, but only end up taking the fun out of it all.

Sean

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Jason Alderman
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PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2001 1:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You've got a point, Sean, but I think the folks above are trying to think of a day in which they could do nothing but draw comics for a living. ("Artists" without the "Starving" prefix.)

And if you think about it, this advertiser-sponsorship model doesn't sound too different from the patron system of the Renaissance...a wealthy family pays for you to live comfortably so that you can spend all your time devoted to your art. Maybe that's selling out...but look at the works of art (Da Vinci, Titian, Michaelangelo, et al.) that came out of the Renaissance patron system.

jason
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caseycamp8
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PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2001 2:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm going to have to agree with Sean[cc] on this one. It does seem like everyone is thoroughly obsessed with the money aspect. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but when the money idea totally takes over you lose the focus on what really matters (or should matter, if you're making comics): the comic itself. It does "take all the fun out of it."
Whether you know it or not, your Renaissance example was closer than you think. The great patron sponsored artists of the Renaissance were just that, patron sponsored. They painted what they were payed to paint and they simply went and did whatever would get them money. A common misconception is that this was the divinely inspired works by these artists when I would dare say every painting you have ever seen of theres was commissioned. The Renaissance paintings and sculptures, though realistic, weren't very creative at all. How's that for taking the fun out of it?
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lylebclarke
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PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2001 5:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't think anyone is trying to 'get rich' here, but all the same, money is a topic, it is part of the world, and it is a part of reinventing comics.

But on a slightly different note. There are plenty of threads on this board not about money. Try posting something on those and see what happens, before writing everyone off as money obsessed.

And an edit:
Also, try having a look in this forum's archives.
http://www.zwol.org/old/ezboard/fzwolfrm2.html
Perhaps you will find a topic there that you would like to discuss.

Lyle

[ This Message was edited by: lylebclarke on 2001-05-28 17:13 ]
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Jason Alderman
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PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2001 6:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And I guess I'd probably better hit the history books again before tossing historical analogies out like that. Yep, Casey, many of the artists now considered greats were really just painting what was popular to get by, but I did hear somewhere that some artists were given free reign to do what they wanted by their patrons, although I'd have to look it up and find out the details.

jason
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Sean[cc]
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PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2001 12:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lyle: I wasn't writing people off for writing about money threads specifically on this board, I'm just talking in general, every board I go to, I see a "how can we make money" thread. I realize that it's relevant to online cartoonists' situation, but many just rant about it, and never act upon it. I see people talking about how micropayments don't work...has anyone tried it yet? If you look at the sheer number of micropayments companies listed at w3.org/ecommerce/micropayments, you can see that all people need to do is take the initiative. Maybe I'm just sick of that...people talking about how to make money, but not trying, and then bitching and moaning about how they're not making it.

Again, didn't mean to make you think that I'm writing EVERYONE off as money obsessed, Lyle.

I like the renaissance analogy, btw.

Sean
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