Monday, December 04, 2006

Carnival of Self-Indulgence

I must confess I've largely stopped paying attention to all the various personal-finance related carnivals out there (Carnival of Investing and Carnival of Personal Finance being the biggest) precisely because they've been too large and cumbersome to be useful.

They used to be small, manageable affairs that drew readers' attention to pertinent information they might have missed out there in the blogosphere. Particularly creative hosts would often weave different blog posts into a single narrative to really draw you in. Ones like this, in particular, were great in my opinion. I really did click and read every single entry, just because of the innovative way they were packaged to me.

But now? This is what the Carnival has devolved into.

No particular disrespect intended to David, as I think his offering is merely the latest, extreme example in the growing trend of what's happening to these things. I don't blame him for inventing a new revenue-generating idea for himself. But really -- embedding Google ads into the body of the Carnival's text to make them look like legitimate entries? He's being lauded in the comments section for his innovative and creative presentation ideas. But let's call a spade a spade here, people: the only reason this was done is to jack up the google adsense clicks on the site.

More power to him, or anyone else, who tries to squeeze a little extra income out of their blog. It figures that we financially-inclined pfbloggers would try industrious ideas like this to generate revenue. But as a reader, I don't have to like it.

I work in the dead-tree business. We have a word for when ads try to match their fonts and typeface with the newspaper's look to try to dupe people into thinking the content is legitimate. It's called advertorial, and most journalists -- and readers -- hate it. It benefits no one but the publisher's pocket.

I will continue to read carnivals of all varieties in the future, because there are always interesting things to extract from them. But strategies like this (coupled by the fact that a lot of the entries only seem to be tangentially-related to personal finance and are submitted by people just looking to bring more eyeballs to their page) take away from the Carnival's original intention: to foster a collaborative atmosphere by sharing personal financial knowledge to people who want and need some insight. Doing stuff like this makes it harder and harder to mine the carnival's for useful and interesting personal finance advice and writing.

Indeed, I'm sure I'll even submit once in a while when I feel I have something useful to add to the discussion. But I just don't think tactics like this one are something that needs to be encouraged. In short, I don't like what's become of the Carnival I onced enjoyed so thoroughly.

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