If..Else Log

O’Reilly interview with RoR developer DHH

The O’Reilly network have interviewed Rails’ creator, David Heinemeier Hansson, where amongst other things, he talks about the success and future plans for RoR.

ED: What’s your favourite Rails feature?

DHH: In general, all the things it doesn’t do. All the features we said no to. All the ornaments we turned down.

Free Registration code for Opera

Opera Software is celebrating the 10th year anniversary of its browser and as a surprise party favour, they’re giving away free registration codes (for as long as the party lasts).

TWS feature on Download.com

We’ve had to wait a while but The Weekly Standards have finally released another feature article. This time round, they’re going behind the scenes of Download.com to get the lowdown on the stunning redesign.

New MSN Beta home page

MSN Beta

Naturally, it’s beta and so there should be no surprise that there are bugs but beta.msn.com really does look awful in Firefox. And also, apparently I’m greasergrll@hotmail.com?

Crashing IE with tags

Don’t choose tags as your element ID lest you want to crash IE.

Spread the word: “tags” is effectively a reserved keyword, even though no such concept exists in (X)HTML. Use it at your (users’) peril.

Weblogs Inc’s Indecent Exposure

The recent disclosure of a contract offered by blogging network Weblogs Inc has seemingly ignited a firestorm. Kate Hopkins aka Accidental Hedonist found herself with an unfavourable contract and through a long series of events, the said agreement managed to make it’s way into the public as a comment posted on another blog.

Now the manner in which the contract escaped is less interesting than the contract itself. Amongst other things, there were two significantly contentious points written into the agreement.

Compensation structure

“As compensation for Services rendered, Weblogs, Inc. shall pay You $500.00 for 125 monthly blog posts, along with monitoring of comments, responding to readers in comments, and deleting offensive comments. Posts under the goal of 125 will be pro-rated at $4.00 per post.”

The outstanding aspect of that paragraph and the one picked up on by the various commentory on the web is the nominal fee being paid. As many have pointed out, $4 per post is frankly dismissive and I agree that’s a pretty poor fee. Were the New York Times to offer a similar fee, there would be similar screams of righteous indignation. Even ignoring the cries of blogs are a form of journalism, Weblogs Inc would not be immune to such criticism being a commerical entity as it were especially since by their very own admission, they’re looking to make 1 million dollars a year. Making an announcement like that reflects negatively on you and your workers if they are being paid only $4 per post.

However, I don’t necessarily think that should be the issue which people should be concentrating on. A contract is a two way, mutual agreement. The blog author would receive the offer, and make a judgement on whether the additional exposure and experience compensates for the fee structure. If not, they should decline.

What is more interesting is that this offer itself says a lot about the strategy, thought processes and opinions of Weblogs Inc. Firstly, it shows how much value is being placed on a blog post and that the work done by a blogger is little more than a commodity. More importantly however, is that the compensation structure values quality over quantity. Instead of rewarding authors that produce insightful posts, it rewards authors who are willing to pump out volumes of short links.

To a large extent, this devalues and dilutes any benefit of good writers. Is it still rewarding enough, in terms of experience and exposure, for a good writer to be affiliated with such a publishing system? And will Weblogs Inc be attracting and helping the type of authors it needs to suceed in the long term?

The irony is, of course, that were Jason Calacanis to not directly place a value or restriction on the publishing regime, i.e. not link the payment structure to the quantity of posts themselves, this could have been alleviated. The way you measure an activity affects the activity being monitored. A lesson worth learning, and not just for publishing networks.

Exclusivity agreement

This was the bone of contention with Kate Hopkins. Weblogs Inc stipulated that Kate was not to own or engage in other work that could compete with Weblogs Inc’s blog. This would include Kate’s own blog.

Now, for a company that is a blogging network, it demonstrates a naiveness and lack of understanding of what blogging is. It’s not a zero sum business. The fact that there are other blogs which cover the same topic does not implicitly reduce or negatively impact on your blog. If anything, due to the word of mouth system being operated, such work would be beneficial to you. In addition, the very people that you want to attract would be those that would want to express themselves in other avenues. Restricting them artificially only results in resentment and disenfranchisement.

The other thing is that in the journalism/publishing industry, many authors are frequently involved in writing for other publishers. Those that have an exclusivity agreement are compensated for doing so. Once again, the compensation issue rears it head.

In comparison

Another big blogging network of note that has made it’s contract public is 9Rules. Whilst I’m aware that we’re effectively comparing apples with oranges, it is still interesting to note the different philosopical approaches by the two companies.

In comparison to the “volume first” approach of Weblogs Inc, 9Rules has gone in the other direction to actively recruit quality. What is particularly interesting is that the authors are not being directly compensated in monetery terms for their writing. In addition, via it’s recruitment philosophy and the type of blogs it has gathered, it is directly rewarding and encouraging quality over quantity.

In comparison, Weblogs Inc has entered into a “work for hire” arrangement with it’s members. Is being paid badly is worse than not being paid at all? Well, maybe, if it breeds resentment, and creates an adverse working arrangement. The issue of being rewarded with experience and exposure appears far more genuine with 9Rules than with the volume working mentality encouraged with Weblogs Inc.

Also, there are a number of authors in the 9Rules network who are managing non-9Rules blogs and indeed, far from adversely affecting the network, I suspect that Paul Scrivs is pleased that such blogs are around.

Is one approach better than the other? There’s no doubt that what Weblogs Inc is profitable; However, I know which one I would rather join.

The Safari Image of Doom

… or how to crash Safari and Omniweb by viewing a gif. I can confirm that this crashes Safari 2.0 on my Mac.

Joshuaink returns?

Hmmm…. John Oxton returned to blogging?

Adsense Section Targeting

You can now markup sections so that Google Adsense can provide better targeted ads. [via]

Stopdesign photo template released.

Doug Bowman releases the templates for his wonderful photo gallery.