One of the easiest ways to scale a business model is to rely on user generated content. This effectively turns readers into writers (free content) and marketers (brand evangelists promoting their own work). But at the same time it makes it hard for readers to keep reading all the content produced from those sources.
We subscribe to personalities and known shared biases. I read everything that John Andrews writes. I read everything Barry Ritholtz writes. The same can't be said for many group blogs. The option to water down what you are doing for a short term revenue boost will always be there, but the ability to re-gain attention and trust that was thrown away in the process is not.
- Yahoo! watered down their search marketing program with fraudulent arbitrage, and now some advertisers chose to spend more with Microsoft adCenter.
- eBay watered down their auction service through a lack of innovation by taking away user feedback mechanisms and driving out small merchants with higher fees. They are fighting off their irrelevancy by making themselves a watered down me-too ecommerce platform for large retailers, while driving out the niche sellers that made their service remarkable. They will never be Amazon.com, and only make their competition stronger by following them.
The grass is not, in fact, always greener on the other side of the fence. Fences have nothing to do with it. The grass is greenest where it is watered. When crossing over fences, carry water with you and tend the grass wherever you may be. - Robert Fulghum
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