For Flit: Why Are So Many Torqued at Today.com

>> Tuesday, April 21, 2009


flit asked: why are so many people so perturbed with today.com?

Why indeed. You might want to sit down for this.

Today.com is a blogging site that touts itself as a place where you can be paid to blog. I'm going to tell you my side of my story and then you are welcome to add your own bits or more questions or whatever. Many of us are putting stories on a blog called today.com exiles.

Let me start by saying: don't quit your day job. My sister was a member there and I pointed it out to flit and then flit convinced me to join (and, if I can figure out how to put flit into the conversation one more time, I can link her fourth blog). Anyway, I started out at the brilliant pay of $1/blog (up to one a day), minimum 150 words. Well, I wasn't in it for the money, which is a good thing. If you write a post that takes any effort, any time at all, you're drastically underpaid. But it's better than nothing. We are also paid for our traffic at what was described as $2/1000 hits. Every month they pay you and review your posts for "quality" and popularity wherein you can be bumped to a lower (or, in theory, higher) pay grade. You can't have ads because they are running ads on your blog.

Seemed fine to me. I was out in the blogoverse and, truly, I was enjoying myself. There were a number of high caliber today.com blogs, and a diverse world of other worthy blogs out there as well that I had never known. I started to have fun. Wasn't getting paid, really, but I was enjoying myself.

Then they started to change things. First, they made us all use the same template, presumably for their own comfort. Not that the template was terrible or couldn't be worked with, but many were disturbed by the uniform look of today.com and the loss of individuality. Then came the pressure to hawk products in our blogs and they'd give back a portion of the kickback on that (how much? Who knows? I don't. I refused to do so. If I'm going to take to writing advertisements, I'll damn sure be paid better than $1/post).

Still, even those that were disappointed mostly trudged on. After all, today.com was paying us. Then some people started noticing posts missing, money missing, discrepancies between the actual traffic and the traffic being paid for, etc. Unbeknown to most of us, they'd query on a private today.com forum and then be quietly kicked out, often without any prior notice.

Grumbling brought out belligerence from powers that be (and whiny stories about hardship from the leader of today.com) that we could suck it up or leave. Then Entrecard's new policy meant today.com was kicking us off EC. With many of us having limited methods to garner traffic, it was a blow. Then we were told we could keep it but would be given nothing for EC traffic. Then we found out that much of the traffic was paid at a different (and lower rate) than we'd been told. New blogs were no longer being paid per post but were just paid for traffic (using their calculations and their foggy and undefined but lower than advertised rates).

Well, I was losing interest in today.com, though I was still getting paid when a friend of mine let me know she'd been locked out for writing a blog that said she was sad to be losing EC. She was sent an email - your account is closed. Bye. If she hadn't been logged in at that time, she would have lost everything. She was able to clean things up and leave a "find me here note" - though they deleted it next day.

Well, that decided me to make my transition. I moved this blog, Ask Me Anything, but I wasn't changing anything yet, just getting set up. I moved my old EC widget here. A blog pal noticed I was being duplicated and let me know I was being ripped off, so I put up my, "I'm moving my blog here" post for "Ask Me Anything".

Bam, within hours I was locked out. Well, OK, I took my award-winning (Today.com's editor's choice for December!) Rocket Scientist label and moved it to a new blog I built on the fly. Then I notified my pals where to find me. I was irked but not livid. I wasn't moving the material in Rocket Science - just the label and myself, though I liked to think of myself as a boon. For some reason, they unlocked it the next day, so I took out my custom banners and all of my family photos from there. But I wasn't posting any more.

Then I heard about a few more like my friend that had been kicked. Flit and I discussed amongst ourselves. What with the drastic rate cutting and the constant hounding to build traffic and hawk stuff (and, folks, exactly how many people travel to blog to read advertisements - sheesh - that's kinda counterintuitive, isn't it?), we didn't think they'd be around long. Sure enough, on payday, dozens if not most of the today.com bloggers were no longer being paid per post, just on traffic. And being pressured to buy today.com ads (I did before I left - couldn't change it to my new site and 300 views/0 clicks last I saw. I won't be recommending it). Complain on a forum or your own blog - you were locked out with an email like this.

Can I just pause a moment to express my disgust with an organization so STUPID as to take bloggers (many of them exceptionally good) and toss them out in the world for speaking out in private. What did they think, they'd go "Damn, without ANY OUTLET in the entire world to express myself, I'll never be able to complain about today.com again." Folks, this is the internet. You'll be getting way more ugliness than if you'd been honest or respectful or polite or patient. The idiocy of their current policy blows my mind.

Many of the exiles started to get together and compare stories and the stories weren't pretty. You can find links to a number of them here. Today.com started getting all sanctimonious about the enforced exodus and harsh to any and all dissenters (even if the dissension was somewhere other than today.com). Then Today.com announced (in their private forum) that they were not only keeping the content of anyone who left (and NOT paying anyone who left a "find me here" blog - which they would erase - or saying anything derogatory in the private forums), but they'd give the established blog to someone else.

AS IF! Good luck finding another rocket scientist at the jolly sum of $5/month for traffic only.

So, if you find a fresh blog out there where they writer is just a wee bit angsty, don't be surprised if they're a today.com exile.

Oh, and today.com? If you were thinking of starting a blog there, seriously, think again.

23 comments:

  • flit
     

    don't know where my comment went

    I think you did a great job of explaining the issues - and also of working in lots of backlinks for the hummingbird :) Thanks!

  • In Plain English
     

    Couldn't have said it better myself. The forum at today.com is extremely quiet right now. Can see that a few of the stragglers who are real bloggers are still left but not long for the today world because they are starting to ask why so quiet? interesting... on the forums...soon to be locked out, I'm sure. Let's just keep going on the today exiles blog, keep writing about how awful they have treated their bloggers and see if we can get them shut down for good.
    I had one idea last night. If we write comments all over new blogs 'great blog, come visit me' and then link every single comment to the today exiles blog, the new bloggers will get a hint of what they are in for. New bloggers are very eager to return comments, might help them out some. I am still so mad at myself for building up my today blog to the traffic levels it is at today. Today.com is awful, ruthless and I believe stealing.

  • Kelly
     

    Great post! My version of what happened is coming up tomorrow.

    Kelly
    http://30somethingandsearching.blogspot.com/

  • Quadmama
     

    I'm terrified to leave, though, due to the whole thing about keeping all my content and possibly assigning the blog to someone else. I like my blog and would hate to see someone ruin it.

  • Sly
     

    I joined today.com about six months ago. I did about five posts and said to hell with it. I just couldn't remember/motivate myself to write yet another technology post daily. Looks like I dodged a bullet!

    Also, I kinda figured that anything you wrote for them became their property. I think it's in the agreement when you sign up, but I don't really care about that kind of stuff as long as I'm getting paid for it. If course, with a minimum payout of $50, it must take AGES to get paid (after the $1/day period ends).

  • Stephanie B
     

    Quadmama, I'm not trying to tell anyone what to do. A number of those forced out, I'm sure, intended to stick with it and had no choice. But I don't want anyone to leave out of solidarity or anything else. Everyone should assess their situation individually. And I enjoy your blog very much.

    To be honest, I'm aghast that any reputable company would pass of a developed blog to someone else and consider that reasonable. I, personally, think it's a strong-arm tactic to get the work bought back by the author at more than they were paid. It's reprehensible, in my opinion, and it is also a method to frighten bloggers into compliance, particularly those that have worked long and hard as you have. Making that kind of change after the fact does not seem legal to me. I am, however, not a lawyer.

    Sly, I'm glad you're still out there, though. I love your blog.

  • flit
     

    they broke the T & C by shorting everyone on the $2/ppm ...far as I'm concerned, they can take their T & C and shove it somewhere where the sun don't shine

    Anything that they have no paid for can be removed ...of course that will likely trigger one of those emails... and forfeit of whatever you've earned so far.

  • Stephanie B
     

    If they have not paid you per post, you have the right to demand all the unpaid posts returned and deleted for 110% of what they paid you for the posts. Which is still zero. You have no obligation to return money for traffic because THEY RECEIVED THAT.

    I don't think they want to push it. We have the makings of a class action suit.

  • Jen
     

    I'm actually the "quiet around here lately...interesting" person. Not locked out yet...

  • flit
     

    I saw that Jen :)

    Wish there was more going on in the forums...SO annoying to go to the trouble of getting there to find so little new/interesting

  • flit
     

    oh, and I had what I thought was an interesting comment from a still-loyal blogger on this article about their forum post about the T & C and the new ways they intend to rip people off

  • Onceandfuturefarmer
     

    @flit---I don't know that I'd call that blogger "still-loyal"; more likely, comfortably ignorant...unenlightened...not yet whacked. Some kids have to actually touch the stove to understand that it really is hot. And they're exactly the sort of person Today.com wants signing up with them.

    BTW---that was some beautiful SEO work you did on your Today.com forum and blog post guidelines post. LOL! Even though it's kind of sad that that one commenter didn't pick up on it, we know the search engines do. SWEEEEET!!!:-)

  • Lidian
     

    Stephanie, you may have addressed this elsewhere - and this was such a great post, very clearly explained - what happens re copyright law and the fact that Today says that they own your written content? Actually that is what kept me from joining, I read someone's comment mentioning that and it stopped me. But when I went to the Today site it really was not mentioned at all.

  • Phyl
     

    I tend to agree with Stephanie, that once they were no longer paying us for the posts but only for the traffic, that our words were then ours. After all, those pay-for-traffic posts were never locked, and we were free to edit, delete, or whatever we wanted at any time. No way on earth am I going to "buy back" that stuff. It's mine.

    If they don't agree with that -- do they really have the cash to prosecute every single one of us for reposting anything from those posts? Ha! Let 'em try.

    Let 'em come here to Canada and get me. Ptui!

    And although I haven't managed it yet (so busy), by this weekend, I'll have altered all the Flickr photos (MY OWN PROPERTY) that are still hot-linked in those closed posts. By god, they are NOT going to make money off of my property when they've booted me! They haven't paid for those, and I haven't given them permission to use them.

    Ahem.

    This was a really excellent summary, Stephanie. You are very level-headed. :-)

  • musingwoman
     

    I'd wondered why you left today.com/ Sounds like you made the right choice!

  • SLColman
     

    I left too but of my own choice and I don't think that they have realized it yet... I haven't received the e-mail kicking me out yet either... I don't know much except that in my opinion they suck!!

  • Stephanie B
     

    Lidian, I was paid per blog with my Rocket Scientist until they kicked me out. It's why I did not duplicate the content. I was only paid for traffic to the Ask Me Anything (<$2> blog, but not paid per post.

    If they choose to go after me legally, they can try. I don't think it would be wise to do so.

    Hi, Jen.

    I agree, musingwoman.

    Nice to see you, SL. I hope you check out the today.com exiles.

  • flit
     

    thanks, once and future farmer...I was quite proud of it, if I do say so myself :)

  • betchai
     

    i did not know about all these but i am not surprised either since whenever i visit the forum before, i did not like the tone of "just shut up", i mean, we could not air out our opinions sometimes at all as if they are not important. that was the reason, plus i could not go back to edit my posts that i know i need to move to be able to call my blog really "my own", for over there, i felt having no control over our blogs, we just write for them yet our blog is not our own. and since i try to come up always with quality posts (the reason i can only post maybe less than 10 in a month) i believe i am underpaid, haha, but i am happy since i know wherever i would be blogging i will spend about the same time as well. i just do not have the time to blog more often. anyway, when i put up my own blog at blogger, i felt so happy, i can really say it is my own.

  • Stephanie B
     

    I'm glad you're happier now, betchai. I am as well.

  • Aron Sora
     

    Private blogs are the way to go, not only for getting complete control over your content, but also for making money. I found this free e-book and it proves why ad services are bad both for your readers and for making money. But, the e-book gives way to make tons of money while keeping your readers happy. On your old site, those dating ads made me uncomfortable. But, for example, you could write a downloadable e-book of 50-pages on how to answer questions.

    Check out the e-book, it proves why today.com is a bad idea: http://chrisguillebeau.com/3x5/files/2009/04/279days.pdf.

    (I havn't read all of it yet, but what I have read is petty convincing)

    What do you think of this thing?

  • Stephanie B
     

    Well, I'll tell you. I'm not really interested in making much money on-line. Since I use adblocker for firefox, I generally don't see ads anyway. I am sorry you were made uncomfortable on my old site.

    I'm thinking I will forgo ads here. I don't need the money and am blogging for my own happiness.

  • Lis Sowerbutts
     

    Wow I kinda missed the whole thing - I just saw hospitalera's post (prague) and then followed the chain here. I wrote a post supporting her- I was the one who referred her to Today so I guess I won't be getting the cash they owe me either - oh well!
    I actually started at Today for the backlinks to my real sites - but I liked the bloggers there - yours was one of those that stood out.
    I am not locked out (yet) - but I really hate bullies on the Internet
    Lis (australia and travelover30s)

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