Alexander The Great

May 20, 2008

Why do you have a web site?

Filed under: Uncategorized — alexanderthegreatest @ 9:30 pm

This question is for anyone with a blog, a forum, even a web application. If it’s served over HTTP, it’s a web site (or part of one).

I’m getting the impression from being a moderator at WT, that profit is the only reason to create, run, or generally have a web site. The most succinct quote was “This is a webmaster forum – let’s talk about making money!” I have to say, this seems a bit depressing. It’s natural that some web sites should be set up for their owners to profit, and others to raise funds for charity, etc. But it’s a sad idea that all web sites should be made with this in mind. Commercial television has produced stunning winners, but also a mountain of crap with little variety. There’s a lot of crap on the web, but there’s a lot of quality, too, and most of it wouldn’t have ever seen the light of the small screen. The web is more like taking a book out from the library, than watching The Office.

So, for anyone reading my message in a bottle, I’m curious. Why run a web site at all? It takes time, energy, sometimes money. Is it an investment? A way to share thoughts with the world? Are you hoping to become famous? Is it part of a larger portfolio? Knowledge for the people? Something my imagination can’t grasp?

I’d like to take the opportunity to start a blog meme, and enlist the answers of a few specific people. But, please don’t think I’m excluding anyone I’ve forgotten.

  • Adam Senour, who hasn’t been seen or heard from.
  • Thierry, Euro-genius extraordinaries.
  • Dan,Β who’s forgotten more about web hosting than I’ll ever know, and is the web’s #1 spam killer to boot.
  • Dan, who’s blog has an identical theme as the other Dan, but is actually a different person. This particular one does endless charity work, and has a great outlook on life.
  • James, who we learned is a celebrity for having challenged the king of DP.
  • Forrest, who’s probably too busy to read this.

You can answer on your own site, or here, whichever is convenient.



  1. First thanks for the comment πŸ™‚ *big smile*

    Hopefully i’m understanding this right or i will look a bit of a idiot…

    I started a blog as a way to try an put some stuff online basically and looked like it could be fun, and hoped to put some tutorials and what im up to on line.

    However it seems to get harder and harder to find time and something i can talk about (and make it interesting) too much to do 😦

    with all my little projects, with regards to my other sites i do try and put as many ads on them as possible to try and claw some money back but never really made much through ads.

    At the moment the best site i have is the CALM Charity one because have put alot more time into it.
    Hopefully one day i will get all my sites up to a good standard and have some success πŸ™‚


    Comment by Dan — May 21, 2008 @ 3:23 am | Reply

  2. Heh… Euro-genius.
    The irony is that although I live in the geographical Europe, my country is not part of the European Union. Not that I wouldn’t wish it though.
    Bah, nonetheless, it always sounds a bit strange to me.

    To get back to your question, my 1st motivation was experience.
    I wanted to test things, try webdev concepts, and the shared hosting account didn’t suited my taste enough. I played with PHP extensions that had to be compiled, and experimental versions of PHP and db engines.
    So I went to a vps, and started playing with it.

    After some time, as the vps costs where pilling up, I thought “why not try to do something that would lower those bills, for once”.
    I did some tries, but as I’m 99.9% programmer, the promotion part is where I felt short.
    I don’t have any regrets though. Thoses projects where interesting, but didn’t provided anything valuable for the community.
    They where mostly directed to wathever meme the net was buzzing at that time. Even myspace… Oh, the shame….

    Now, as I truly have built something that I could rely to provide a real service (my web page screenshots application), I will try to promote it more correctly, but not until I do feel that it’s ready.
    And as I just started a major rewrite of the Python code handling it, it might be in a while πŸ˜€

    In the mean time, I seriously questionned myself about why I was operating a server, appart the service run need. Do I really need all that horse power ?
    And it pierced as an evidence like the sun through the mist.

    The community…

    I mean, I’m a technical guy. Since childhood, I always ended up opening my toys, dissecting them, trying to understand them (I even ordered an old VCR schema at 15 to try to fix it, and suceeded!).
    I’ve been brought to programming by necessity, as the sysadmin work was too low for a 100% guy in my first job.

    I’ve learned with great peoples that took the time to explain me programming concepts (and you are one of them, John) and used open-source tools to applies and transform those concepts to realities.
    I learned from open-source tools, and I felt like the concept driving them was good, even if I was not happy with all the term of the GPL.
    He, I remember that when I was in formation, we had some basic courses about C programming.
    Everyone took a fairly personalized header, but in the end, nothing special. I used the GPL official headers. I still remember the wide smile of my teacher when I gave him my fisrt printed program πŸ™‚
    It brought some very intersting discusions about licences to a class of teenagers who mostly had no ideas about the implication of those licences

    Like a web comic stated in one panel, once: “Put good will in the universe madness, and somehow the universe will reward you”, or something like that.
    I realized that I’m driven by that concept. I don’t mind sharing knowledge. No, in fact, I want to.

    The webs sites, the server, the time I pass programming, answering questions, and even at my work, helping winforms developers (I work as a DB operator and administrator now) is part of the same movement.
    I try to give back a part other have offered me gracefully.
    I do my back to make it accessible and worthwile.

    Today, in contrario from the beginning, I don’t see my web sites as a way to earn money. Maybe a bit of reconnaissance, but even that is not the priority.
    First, comes the knowledge. I use them to gain some with experience.
    Then, comes the Knowledge (with a big K), and my wish to contribute to it, or at least in it’s spreading.
    At the last place comes the money. Sure, I’m not opposed to the idea to have a self sustaining system, where my system revenues cover it’s costs, but it’s minor.

    I mean, my server monthly operations costs less than 1 full tank of my car gas.
    Nothing I cannot afford, even today…

    Comment by Thierry — May 21, 2008 @ 3:44 am | Reply

  3. The new direction WT was taking (All the new money topics) was one of the reasons I left WT to begin with before.

    Obviously I don’t think it’s wrong or anything to generate a little income off of your hard work (through Google ads or something), but if that’s your sole reason for creating a site, you’re going to be in for a world of disappointment (as demonstrated by my first website attempt).

    Now my main reasons I have websites are:
    Blog = To educate noobs, rant about things, share my thoughts
    Forum = Build and grow a community, learn even more about conspiracies, make friends

    I do think the vast majority are in it “just” to make money, and that’s why they’ll fail. They have nothing of substance to offer their visitors and in the end, won’t have gained much from the experience, IMO.

    PS: I didn’t realize writing one blog article could make you a celebrity . πŸ˜€

    Comment by James Lewitzke — May 22, 2008 @ 9:26 am | Reply

  4. I’m a bit late at answering this – I read it a few days ago but I didn’t have time to answer.

    I’ve got a number of different websites and they exist for different reasons. My design ( site and my hosting site ( are obviously just for business – I enjoy learning more about web hosting and design and I feel that I’ve learnt a huge amount in the past year or so than I ever would have if I hadn’t jumped in at the deep end and started selling these services.

    I run my local church website and I’ve also got a small directory/blog for local businesses to advertise themselves – part of the purpose of this is to make businesses in the area aware of my design/hosting services, since these are my target market.

    There is a website in the pipeline that should be community based – it started because I felt I didn’t know enough about PHP and MySQL. Building the site has certainly helped a lot with this – it still isn’t finished yet and I keep saying to myself that I’ll get it completed in a month or so from now, but when that time comes, it’s never finished!

    My blog is just so that I can rant about what I feel like and discuss topics that I enjoy. Sometimes I’m just too busy with other things to put time into my blog so it has been neglected quite a lot in the past 😦

    Overall, I hope that all of these websites will help enhance my knowledge so that I can provide better services to my customers and also allow me to build ever more complex websites for myself πŸ˜€ It’s really all about learning.


    Comment by Dan — May 24, 2008 @ 8:45 am | Reply

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