Following Matthew’s last post, I’d like to thank him for his wonderful contribution to Gearfuse. The last three months have been an enchanted parenthesis. While it’s been very refreshing working with Matthew, the kind of content that has been published here was too pointedly highbrow to attract new readers and to be a rapid grower. Yes, professional blogging is about money, too.
You guys need to have your tech ids scratched, which means posting iPhone rumors, Google news, hot new gadgets and so on. That wasn’t happening. There’s nothing to say a smart publication can’t appeal to both tech thinkers and gadget fanboys, but it takes juggling. Headlines alone were a problem; if a post is about an iPhone or Facebook, that should be in the headline on a tech blog, not a relevant Sartre quote. There’s nothing to regret, but the price of expensive talent capable of delivering sophisticated and highly cultivated content got lower returns than I imagined. The experiment was intellectually gratifying but it’s time to move on.
Regarding future developments, a new editor will take over in a week and you’ll be seeing more tech and gadget news than in the last three months. Rest assured though; fun doesn’t have to be the same as dumb. We’re just going to make Gearfuse a gadget write again. Stay tuned.
Your humble servant, Steve Rufer.
I read gearfuse before the change happened. I liked it and created a bookmark. The site was offline for a certain length of time but I just kept checking back until it was available again. When new content started to appear, there was very that interested me and generally I would just skim over the posts. I felt like the content was better before the changeover, given the fact that I was really just looking for an update on new products or tech, like I might find on uncrate. I realize the intent here might have been to not just be an uncrate clone, but to add value in some other way to create your own brand. But basically uncrate doesn’t update often enough and so people like me are looking for similar content but more posts. Gearfuse was like that when I found it, but then it became someone’s living room. I am curious how much Matthew Battles was paid because I almost feel like if he was the reason for the changes, the value add was negative. However, having said that I feel like there is a sort of lasting timeless value in his posts. I think the deeper reflective style shouldn’t really be a centerpiece but perhaps a weekly sort of feature. Or featured from time to time. It adds a bit more depth, and I like the idea of an occasional post that represents something other than the mechanical recommendation of a product.
Can’t wait for Gearfuse to suck again; this has been a difficult few months for those of us who like bad writing and banality.
I am glad to hear this. Matthew’s contributions were not entirely bad and I have to give strong praise for the amount of content he managed to post in the short time he was around. Gearfuse just seemed to have strayed way off the path of what it used to be. Wish him all the best in his new venture.
Perhaps the dramatic change in content had a role to play? I’m not talking about the quality and content, simply about what people expected to see when they came to Gearfuse, and what they got.
Well, you just lost one reader — I clicked over *because* of Matthew Battles’ intelligence and style. I’ll follow him to wherever he blogs next.
Well, you can try to copy Gizmodo (and Engadget and …. etc.) or you could have tried to create something fresh, intelligent, and less … pandering.
Sounds like you’re going the copycat, quasi-content-farming route. I prefer intelligence. So long, GearFuse.
I wish you wouldn’t presume to know “what I need,” but I’ll be glad to tell you:
I need to not be fed half-measures by sites concerned more with optimizing their headlines for search than conveying information to another human being. Not that I don’t see the paradox…being able to communicate that information depends on growing an audience and growing an audience depends on people being able to find the site. Maybe we (and here I’m speaking of people writ large) really are too stupid or feeble to track down something that interests us unless it’s reduced to a keyword string. If that’s true…well, we’re (again, writ large) fucked. This point seems, currently, to be in contention.
You have to make a choice. When you say, “[y]ou guys need to have your tech ids scratched,” you mean “you guys want to see the same thing you see everywhere else.” The choice is between offering content that we’d be better off getting from Techcrunch, or offering something genuine and new. Apparently, “offering something genuine and new” hasn’t met with sufficient financial success, which is a shame. Recognizing that I’m not exactly an expert, allow me to suggest that “imitating other tech blogs” won’t work much better. The choice is between assuming the worst about people and hoping for the best. This sounds childish, but bear with me.
The implicit assumption behind the decision to switch gears (so to speak) is that there’s no (financially viable) possibility of developing an audience for the kind of site that writes about iPhones AND quotes Sartre. Hoping for the best is doing exactly what you had been doing. On my worse days, I’m inclined to believe that people are hopeless and only want to see the things they’ve seen over and over again, repeated. This is, of course, not true and demonstrably so. Instead, the best idea seems to be to get out ahead of people and stake out a claim, to head West and build a city and wait for its inhabitants to come. Of course, failure is a possibility, but I’m sorry to see that you chose not to give it the fair amount of time and care. I’m sorry to see you assuming the worst about people.
So, this message is the first thing I encountered on your website – and speaks to why I will not be returning.
It sounds like you suffer from the damnable American idiom that intelligence is unattractive and that what people really want is advertising. Just because a sizable portion of the country has decided that admitting you are motivated primarily by greed is either cool or acceptable or both doesn’t make it so.
I hoped when I read this that this was, basically, a joke. I came to Gearfuse because of the content that Matthew was posting. If you’re actually saying that now that he’s gone, you’re going to be posting gadget news (and maybe you did this before — I have no idea), and I sadly have no reason to stay. There is precious little really good content of the type that he was putting up here, but I can get a drip-feed of commercialized gadgetism from a hundred sources, and, frankly, you’d have to be both exceptionally good and relatively thorough to be interesting. I’ve regretfully unsubscribed here; better luck finding content that keeps people around in the future.
This post insults your audience, your site, its editor, its advertisers, the mere act of thinking, and lastly, yourself. Best of luck chasing pageviews.
Well, that’s a bummer. Matthew was great. What, you wanna be Gizmodo?
I’m sorry to destroy a dream (for a few commenters above), but yes, a publication can be about gadgets and tech news and can be fresh, interesting, original and entertaining. There is something disgustingly contemptible to consider that only highbrow content is valuable and everything else must be ignored or regarded as pure stupidity. It’s a detestable arrogant and elitist attitude. I take it that some people don’t like entertainment and that’s perfectly fine, the world must be diverse. If you’re looking for the kind of content Matthew was writing here, I’m sure you’ll find it elsewhere.
For those who basically say we’re going to be a copycat of the bigger tech blogs and we’re going to rehash the same kind of stories, again, I’m sorry to ruin your argument but from 2006 to 2010 we’ve been a gadget blog with a strong tech culture orientation that was wholly original and different. It was pure entertainment, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do again. Something was attempted during the last 3 months, I believed in it, it was intellectually gratifying as I said in my post, but it turned out to be financially difficult. The fact is that there’s no revenue model for a highbrow blog making 600k page views per month and employing a full time writer, in addition to other costs.
Finally, I know that those who are not happy always voice their opinion more willingly and in greater numbers than the others (a well-known internet rule), and I’d like to thank all the people supporting us, here and elsewhere.
At first I thought your post was satire. But your true intention is to bland your site down? I guess the mind numbing expected will bring you the possibility of more search engine hits. It won’t bring you any originality which is why someone suggested the site to me. Get thee away from my RSS feeds and good riddance.
Can’t say this is a surprise at all. Infact, I send a note back then warning that this would happen. I love saying I told you so… That said, I’m a HUGE fan of this site and will continue to frequent it.
This reminds me of the Oscars. Many people can’t relate to them all that well, and it’s not because those people are stupid. You see, cartoons can be great movies without being weighty and directors can be influential without having constructed a lofty ‘Tour de Force.’ Sometimes we clutch onto the ‘highbrow’ for fear of being associated with the ‘stupid’ masses. That juxtaposition isn’t necessary though and just alienates the two factions instead of making intellectual content accessible or making the stimulating ALSO fun.
Intellect and entertainment can coexist just fine – snobbery and ignorance are just their respective extremes. I am in support of this change, and I hope with this experience Gearfuse can become a wonderful blend that owes nothing to anyone, but that posts whatever tickles its fancy. A blog that reflects the individualism of the people behind the keyboard is what gives it character, and it was my initial draw to Gearfuse. If you want to post something highbrow, do it! Don’t be afraid of your readers! But at the same time, if you want to post a Lolcat, please, please do.
I used to love this site, but in recent months it has become something that I just pass over from time to time. Before the format change I was always on this first thing in the morning; the tech news and weird products always kept the site fresh and interesting. Now it seems totally different. The writting style, the threads, as well as the content itself. Maybe a revamp should be considered to bring the site back to its previous glory. Just a thought.
re: Mr. Rufer,
Let’s go point by point…
1. “I’m sorry to destroy a dream (for a few commenters above), but yes, a publication can be about gadgets and tech news and can be fresh, interesting, original and entertaining…”
…You’re right. A publication CAN be about gadgets and tech news and can be fresh. I know. because that’s precisely what Gearfuse has been for the past several months.
2. “There is something disgustingly contemptible to consider that only highbrow content is valuable and everything else must be ignored or regarded as pure stupidity…”
…Now you’re starting to piss me off. That’s a straw-man argument. Do any of the comments, above, say (or even imply) that “only highbrow content is valuable?” Or worse, that we “don’t like entertainment?” I like entertainment just fine, thank you. And I like me some lowbrow shit, too. There is, however, no shortage in the world of things purely entertaining. There are any number of other sites I go to for that. What there is, is a terrible shortage of the “highbrow,” as you insist on calling it.
3. “The fact is that there’s no revenue model for a highbrow blog making 600k page views per month and employing a full time writer, in addition to other costs…”
…Figured that out in all of 3 months, did you? Look, you are aware that there are business models other than “banner advertising,” aren’t you? Sell some fucking merchandise for fucks sake. A t-shirt perhaps. Do something other than gutting a perfectly good site (plenty of people make a living on 600k pageviews…you only had up to go from there.)
While I’m on the subject, it’s doubly insulting for you to couch your primarily financial argument in terms of being some sort of champion of “entertainment,” fighting against the influence of insipid “elitists.” If you’re doing this for the money, say so. If this is because you genuinely believe that Gearfuse used to be “wholly original and different,” and you think that the road to profitability is to populate the site with “pure entertainment,” whatever that means, you’re an idiot. (You’re not the only one who gets to call people names.)
i remember when this site was good.
I used to check this site daily for random gadgets and other fun light cool stuff. When the articles changed a few months ago, I just didn’t follow at all. I used to love this site and it was an automatic place I had to check each day. Recently I would only come here maybe once or twice a month. I can’t wait until the good stuff comes back.
I strongly agree with Christophe above.
@ William Ball:
I’m not sure to get your point. You seem to be very disappointed, and I respect that. Maybe you should consider suing me for changing the editorial direction. Don’t despair, it could work.
Your first comment was rather moderate, so when I talked about contempt and arrogance, that was not meant at you. I can’t say so regarding your second comment.
I’m glad you suggested selling tshirts or mugs as a revenue model. That’s great. I’d be happy if you could share with us your experience running a site with paid staffers. At least half of what’s contained in your comment makes no sense for anyone knowing the business. You have to understand something; we’re on the internet, access to websites is free, access to content is free, and when content is free, there is a concept called ‘advertising’ that greatly helps websites pay their bills and possibly make profits. Online advertising has many forms, there are several models, but in the end it represents the vast majority of the revenue, with very rare exceptions, under which Gearfuse doesn’t fall. Apparently you have a problem with the economic criteria that led to my decision. That’s fine, but I can’t help you; I recommend that you battle against the whole world.
Finally, you insulted me in your comment. I’d like to inform you – because you could very well ignore this detail about your life, after all – that you’re a bigoted cretin, and for many reasons.
I have to admit, I miss the old site prior to the new guy taking over some months ago. The past few months have been drab and unappealing. I rarely clicked on articles anymore and started going to other sites. I look forward to see what changes will be made.
I haven’t been to GearFuse in a while. It used to be an oasis at work, a site I could go to and read for a while to escape from the mundane, but after the writer switch I found myself being more productive and visiting GearFuse less. What is that all about? So after a late night I came back to GearFuse to see that the new guy is no longer writing. I can’t say that I will immediately make it a point to check back but I think it was a good choice. I liked the old GearFuse, was excited about the new GearFuse and was let down, and now intrigued by what will be in the future.
Please do not be a hater of democracy. The people have spoken, page views have dropped. If the internet consisted of any sort of citizenry, then page views should be the indicator equivalent to votes in the modern society. Just because you preach louder does not make your vote more valuable than the rest. Similar to a consumerist society, a product/service fails when no one purchases it. Hidden within the buying decision is a pledge (for or against): it is all a democratic process.
To Steven Rufer: Thank you for listening to your audience.
I have been checking Gearfuse for quite a while; quietly sitting enjoying the content. I originally came here for the old Gearfuse style of tid bits and odds and ends of gadgets tech, and general nerd stuff. When the change first occurred I was weary and slightly resistant. I came to appreciate the new style of articles, I thought they were good and offered a great deal of insight and brain fodder, yet at the end of the day I still wanted to see the personality of the old Gearfuse which had captured my attention and made me check this site daily. I agree when others say that a weekly article of the same caliber and material as Matthew’s articles would be nice; for a daily check up I prefer the old Gearfuse. I have always found things here that I enjoy and so I will keep coming back. Don’t worry about the people complaining, after all haters gotta hate.
Pageviews did not drop. Gearfuse’s traffic was steady through the transition, and in fact was in the midst of a steady uptick, as you can see by checking the site’s numbers at Quantcast. And in any case, a couple of months is not nearly long enough to judge the traffic-worthiness of any strategy. The site lacked sufficient capital to see the transition through—a problem not uncommon in business, and entirely understandable. But through this comment thread it has been implied with growing strength that my approach to content was killing Gearfuse’s traffic, and that is not the case.
I’ve never implied you were responsible for a traffic loss; traffic didn’t drop. The new approach didn’t prove successful and it is entirely my fault. Saying the content was too pointedly highbrow is a valid explanation, it’s not an accusation.
I never intended to insult you Matthew, but according to Alexa, Gearfuse appears to have peaked around mid 2010 and declined steadily using the traditional eyeball test. The 3 month percentage of global views have also suffered -29% change.
The point I am proving is two fold – these online trackers may not be entirely accurate, there are conflicting reports depending which results you cite or censor. And, any type of technical/fundamental analysis on market information is probably futile given the basis of this business environment. So i would not use it to prove anything.