In December, Gawker Media sent out a warning: its user databases had been compromised.
If you’d ever left a comment on Gawker.com, it was possible that malicious hackers now had access to the password you used. Many people who received a warning, though, had never even been to Gawker.com. How were their e-mail addresses in the affected databases?
Gawker Media is one of a growing number of companies that run not just one but a whole passel of blogs. Together, blogs can share ad revenue, marketing strategy, technical staff — and, yes, password databases. They can also link to each other and keep a reader of one blog in its own ecosystem rather than wandering off to read some other competitor’s blog.
Reciprocal links between websites are nothing new. “Blogrolls” have been around ever since the mainstream media noticed one or two blogs worth reading and everyone else with an online diary got an over-inflated sense of self-importance. Blogs have since become serious business, so multiple sites clustering under corporate umbrellas have become as common as print, radio and television conglomerates.
• Gawker Media: Possibly the most respectable of the companies I’ll list here, but their holdings still include a porn site. There’s Gawker itself, of course, which covers the two totally unrelated worlds of celebrity gossip and politics. Deadspin takes care of sports, while Jalopnik discusses cars and Kotaku video games. Jezebel does the celebrity/sex/fashion beat “for women,” io9 talks about science fiction with occasional science fact, Lifehacker tells you how to get organized already and Gizmodo is all about the gadgets. I’m sure you’re capable of finding porn yourself.
• Cheezburger Network: Literally way too many sites to list, but most of them fall firmly in the category of “wasting time at work with simple humor.” The original I Can Has Cheezburger hosts user-made pictures of cats with stupid captions, but also has sub-sites for dogs, food, historical photos and miscellaneous cute things. There’s also Totally Looks Like, where you can place two photos next to each other and share the result to bolster your case that, for example, George W. Bush totally looks like a chimpanzee.
Under FailBlog — a collection of photos with the word “FAIL” emblazoned on them because the subject is crashing or tripping or failing in some other way — Cheezburger runs a whole other slew of sites. Failbook documents folks embarrassing themselves on Facebook, That Will Buff Out documents unfortunate but amusing car damage, There I Fixed It shows “creative” repairs and modifications. In yet other sections, Graph Jam puts everyday scenarios into easily digestible graphs and The Daily What simply posts random odd stuff.
• Three Ring Blogs: In 2009, marketing firmThree Ring Focus “helped design, develop and launch” People of Walmart, which documents all the amazing human life you can find shopping at Wally World. It was an instant hit, so they went on to create or help create a dozen more sites. Among them: Damn That Looks Good, snapshots of decadent food; GQ Pets, animals in ridiculous outfits; and Girls in Yoga Pants, which is, for better or worse, exactly what it sounds like.
Curiously enough, there are also prominent links to Regretsy (hilariously bad homemade crafts for sale on Etsy.com) and Lamebook (like Failbook, but funnier), among others, but Three Ring doesn’t claim them as their own. Even without complete merging, blogs are finding ways to cross-promote and still maintain their own identities.