Wednesday, October 26, 2005

In defense of ready products, Part II

The phenomenon of developing functionality in-house against all logic is sometimes compounded with a trendy company believing its own hype.

The thing that Gawker Media has in common with IGN is killer content. I originally started reading Gizmodo because of a link from Penny Arcade. I've submitted a few tips they used (without crediting me, the wankers), and the guy at Jalopnik, Gawker's car department, offered me a contributing spot. You can see the pattern, can't you?

Anyway, the thing about Gawker blogs is that they all run on the same engine - occasionally they will even assimilate an existing blog - and all have something of an identity crisis. They're emergent, so they say they're a blog, but they aren't. Their format is that of a modified news ticker, a digest, and the idea of editorial commentary has been around forever. And until a few months ago, they did not even have comments. Now they do.

Except their comments are an obvious case of Insiderism. (IGN gets to spawn the name because they got there first.) To begin with, you can't just click a button and comment on an article. You can't even sign up for an account. You have to be invited. Now, it was bad enough when Google hyped up their webmail interface by only letting people invite others, but in that case you really did get something different and possibly useful for your effort; plus, invites were always in abundance. These days you can just walk up to any person on the Internet and ask for an invite - chances are they have one to spare. But with Gawker comments, invites are distributed sparingly by the administration. You can pass on your invite if you don't want it, but you aren't given new ones when you sign up. No, Gawker sites are much too precious to let just anyone in!

I got an invite from Jalopnik (although not from the editor himself). It took me a few tries to register, because the central website that Gawker has to maintain comment accounts is unreliable crap. Eventually I completed the process and decided to comment. Except I'd forgot which username I used ('Flasher T' doesn't get parsed well by all registration systems, so I have to use variants). So I clicked the Forgot Password button. Then I clicked it again.

The emails took twenty four fucking hours to arrive, and the Jalopnik guy admitted that it was Gawker's fault. Not to mention the fact that it resets the password instead of just sending it to the user's email.

And then, just to top it off, despite the account website claiming the contrary, my Jalopnik account only works on Jalopnik. Not on Gizmodo or any other Gawker site.


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