The Google 5-Click Limit

The traditional publishers are at it again. Having tried once, when the Web was still in its infancy, they are again trying to make us pay to read news on the Internet. Never mind that newspapers have never made money from subscription but have always relied heavily on advertisement revenues.

Now, Google is going to help them achieve that elusive goal by implementing a 5-Click limit. What this means in practical terms is that the number of free pages you will be allowed to view a day will be up to 5. Publishers will love this. Though, if they really wanted to, they could have a zero-tolerance policy and not have any of their pages indexed by Google by specifying it in the robots.txt file [though the use of the robots.txt is not strictly adhered to by all search engines]. However, they do want the link back from Google. In fact, Google drives lots of traffic to these sites for free.

I used to be critical of this move, but lately, with the inundation of news (especially via Twitter), I would welcome some peace at last. I have watched people stay at their desk all day devouring news almost 24×7, I kid you not. So, if this flies and publishers start charging for news, we should see a drastic reduction of time wasted surfing the Internet. However, I would ask Google (and Twitter) to implement an icon (or something similar) that displays against such pay sites so the reader can distinguish them from free sites and does not click to it just to be presented with a registration page.

That should reduce the amount of tweets and search results (especially if we can also have a filter to filter out these pay sites). I don’t want to even see search results returned for them. Or, since they are pay sites, treat them like sponsored sites and display them in a special area on the screen with a distinguishable background color. This way, I can keep clear and avoid them completely.

I am not suggesting a boycott of these sites at all; I simply cannot afford to pay for them. And I will take my news from the TV and radio, like I used to before the Internet came into my life. As it is, I already pay too much for Internet access. Why Internet access is so expensive is beyond me.

Maybe this will allow the Internet as we know it a cooling off period while we rethink how it should work. Just like the Stock Bubble that burst (and the Housing Market Bubble we’re still suffering under), perhaps the Internet Bubble needs to also burst so it can rise again, “better“.]

So, Mr. Murdoch and Co., come on, bring on your Pay Sites. Of course, I can tell you now that you will lose your readership and your shirt in the process, but then, what do I know? I’m just a poor blogger. As more and more publishers jump onto the bandwagon of pay sites, the value of search will diminish until the mighty Google itself will become redundant. What is the point of searching for anything if the majority of results are for pay sites? Google will be reduced to a gargantuan Yellow Pages directory of businesses.

When will people wake up to the fact that it is the free nature of the Internet that has made it the success it is today? If early pioneers did not share with us mere mortals how to code a site, how to photoshop a picture, how to publish… if we did not have open source software like WordPress and free blog sites like Blogger… if people did not freely impart their expertise to help others in forums… we would not have had the incredible advances we have witnessed in only 14+ years. [According to the site How Old Is The Internet, the Internet is 26+ years old, but that’s taking into account the early years of the ARPANET. The Internet really was not opened to the public in its popular form until the mid 1990s.] [ Read the article at: Wired ]