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Site Monetization with Coil

I’ve tried a handful of websites based on “tip with micropayments” in the past. They come and go. That’s fine. From a publisher perspective, it’s low-commitment. I’ve never earned a ton, but it was typically enough to be worth it.

Now Bruce has me trying Coil. It’s compelling to me for a couple reasons:

  • The goal is to make it based on an actual web standard(!)
  • Coil is nicely designed. It’s the service that readers actually subscribe to and a browser extension (for Chrome and Firefox) that pays publishers.
  • The money ends up in a Stronghold account1. I don’t know much about those, but it was easy enough to set up and is also nicely designed.
  • Everything is anonymous. I don’t have access to, know anything about, or store anything from the users who end up supporting the site with these micropayments.
  • Even though everyone is anonymous, I can still do things for the supporters, like not show ads.

Is Google Always Listening?

Jarvis Johnson explains that big companies like Google and Facebook don’t need to listen in on you via your phone/tablet, because they already collect so much data on you that they can guess what ads might be relevant on that alone. I love the critical thinking aspect to this - it’s easy to oversimplify complex systems, because our brains aren’t good at understanding that many variables, but reality is not required to bend to our beliefs.

The unsettling intersection of children's videos and manipulating search rankings for profit

It turns out that there’s an industry out there making money by algorithmically mashing up kids videos in ways to manipulate search rankings, without much apparent care about how their content could potentially traumatize some children. This is well worth a read, if only as another piece of evidence that algorithms often do not have human ethics baked in and the unintended effects this can have.

More Proof We Don't Control Our Web Pages

I’ve talked about this before: As web designers, we can’t trust the network. Sure, we have to contend with mobile data “dead zones” and dropped connections as our users move about throughout the day, but there’s a lot more to the network that’s beyond our control.

Here’s a roundup of some of my “favorite” network issue related headlines from the last few years:

Some of these issues can be avoided by serving content over HTTPS, but that still won’t enable you to bypass things like firewall blacklists (which led to the jQuery outage on Sky). Your best bet is to design defensively and make sure your users can still accomplish their goals on your site when some resources are missing or markup is altered.

We can’t control what happens to us in this world, we can only control our reaction to it.