Normally I would just stay out of a public thread on such a
subject, but Rixham and I had a discussion about the site prior to his
posting here, and I may as well make my point known....

    My problem - and indeed, it is a problem - is not with the design,
usability, or lack thereof.  It's also not in the business practices
and profitability.  Everyone needs to make money, and I think it's
great that Manuel has managed to do so in doing something he loves.

    My problem is with Manuel's practices of advertising the site.

    In all of the years I've been involved with PHP, both officially
and as a part of the community, all I've seen you (Manuel) contribute
to the community is a health dose of "go to my website."  You've never
(or, perhaps so rarely it seems as though you've never) offered
advice, assistance, or free code without the guise of, "go to"  To me, it's completely out of the spirit of open
source, and puts a thin veil over - however unintentional it may be -
extremely disgusting practices of advertising.  I've avoided saying
anything negative about it on the list through the years, but
seriously, enough is enough, and something has to be said.  And you
can trust me that I'm *not* the only one who thinks that.  I know of a
lot of people who filter messages from you into the trash or SPAM
folder because the response is always the same, and usually useless,

    Again, it's nothing against your site.  The site can actually be
pretty useful.... but how about just adding it as a signature to your
email and actually posting FREE, USEFUL material relevant to the
topic?  Stop using mailing lists and forums as a free treasure trove
of opportunity for advertising your services and pay it back in a way:
by actually contributing something to the community, completely
selfless, with no ulterior motive.  You think the site is seeing some
success now?  Wait until you try that and see how good quality traffic
increases in a few months.  You'll be well-rewarded, I would almost
guarantee it.

    Still, if the only reason you're here is to increase your
visibility and profitability, then your *credibility* is, in my
opinion, null.  And while that may not matter to you, it should; even
if it's just one voice, my voice is representative of the greater part
of the community on the issue.  Though it should also be noted that
it's not just about you, but as a whole.  Open source communities
should *NEVER, EVER* be considered a venue for commercial
advertisements.  Some will make their way in, and I'm guilty of that
offense myself (though I've pruned my signature to reduce the irony
herein).  The difference is that myself (and several others who come
immediately to mind) have offered substance, fostering the community
to incredible worth that will benefit future generations of technical
professionals and hobbyists.

    Maybe some commercial gains came of it for some, but I would like
to think that fame and money weren't the motive for involvement.  If
that were one's only reason for being a part of the community, why in
the world would I respect that individual enough to support them?  And
if that were to become an acceptable practice in any open source
project or community to allow it, even to ignore it, I would resign,
because my own efforts and passion would be wasted, hidden in a pile
of useless information and competition, all losing sight of what the
actual spirit was in the first place.

    Think of it this way: if there were a commercial-only list here at, would you subscribe and read posts by other senders?  Knowing
that all they are doing is advertising a service, you really couldn't
reply by saying, "this is better, so use this instead."  Very, very
few - if any - would actually subscribe to the list.  Those who did
would likely be there only to post, not to read.  And those few
remaining would undoubtedly be trying frantically to unsubscribe after
a few messages, both ruing and lamenting the day their curiosity got
the best of them.

    We all hate SPAM, and I'm sure you do as well, Manuel.  I doubt
you read ads and say, "Wow!  What a great price for v!...@.  Where did
I put my credit card?"  (It's used as an example, by the way.  I have
no intention of or interest in getting into a discussion as to whether
or not anyone needs any assistance in that area, of course.  ;-P)
However, if someone were to continuously offer assistance to their
peers, I would still get the message and be reminded of the
advertisement of their services with a simple signature link.  I think
I've visited every website by every moderate or major contributor to
this list alone in the last ten years --- no joke.  And I've bought
things from them, helped them land jobs, and even hired some of them
myself.... the common thing with all of them is that they never
outright asked or advertised.  It was a subtle hint nestled beneath a
mountain of valuable information.

    That said, I actually do wish you the best with the site.  I know
it's valuable to others in its own right, and I do see great continued
potential in it for both you and the community at large.  I do,
however, hope you'll take all of the things said in this thread as
constructive criticism and suggestions for improving your business and
image.  Because anyone who runs a business and fails to seriously
consider the advice of his (or her) audience is doomed to fail the
business and its customer base miserably, gaining only the ire of
those it was intended to serve.

</Daniel P. Brown> ||

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