Thursday, September 6, 2007

The ethics of faking traffic and stats

After watching an interview of Mike Arrington (TechCrunch), it got me thinking. Arrington made comments about the number of new startups that attempt to pitch their new web2 thingy that is going to revolutize the world (MizPee for example) in an attempt to get free publicity on his blog. With the number of solitations being around 30 a day, the odds for the average joe to get exposure is little to none.

You get the feeling that the rich get richer (if you have a couple of million of VC funding TC will notice) and the poor is shit out of luck (self funded and who are you?).

This blog is not about me bashing Arrington, but I wanted to set the stage for what I am about to say. The internet is now about big things. Big VC money, traffic, membership and buyouts. So weather you are a heavy funded startup or you run your server in your mom's basement it is all about big numbers.

I have spent a lot of time investigating my competition who cliam high traffic and can be 'validated' with sites like Compete and Alexa. After spending time on these 'high traffic' sites my gut is telling me that something is wrong. Most of us IT pros can navigatate around any site, assess the value of the content, overall concept and come to a conclusion on weather or not the site could be a winner. When I see a new startup advertise 100K site visits a day or their millionth register user, I would expect this site show a decent level of user activity and not a look as if it was a barren wasteland. I do not see any activtiy in the comments and the posting of new content is done by the top 10 users (wow joesmith has posted 4,000 stories/pictures/videos and has only been a member for 6 months). So what are the other 99,990 users doing?

I have friend who also has a startup. He overexagrats his membership by a factor of 10x and invests in fake traffic services to get on Alexa's top 10K. His justified his actions by stated that everyone is doing it, no one gets caught and it is a easy way to get free blog publicity (remember TechCrunch loves big numbers). He also scored an advertising contact. So is the moral of this story is that being unethical pays? While the idea was extremly tempting I decided to take the 'long route' in hops of producing a site that provides quailty over qaunity will succeed in the long run.

TechCrunch, GigaOM, Mashable all love big numbers and without their knowing they are enocouarging the inflation of web statics. Just like the U.S. dollor, stats are losing their value day by day.

Marques Gunter (owner of a self funded startup myVidster)

42 comments:

Dhana said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dhana said...

We at Mizpee did NOT pitch to Tech Crunch at any given point of time. They heard about us from some place else and decided to cover us.

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