I saw a popular Singapore website worried about the new rule.
Sites which report or comment on Singapore once a week on average and get more than 50,000 unique visitors a month will need an annual licence and have to post a S$50,000 bond.
The Online Citizen is worried it may not be able to raise the money if asked to get a licence.
Its readers and its creators, of course, would be sad to see it go.
But are stand-alone websites as important as they used to be now that we have social media?
WordPress is celebrating its 10th birthday and it’s wonderful. So is Blogger, I am sure, and Joomla and Drupal. There are reasons why websites are so popular. They can be our information storehouse, our communication platform, with daily updates, a searchable database, an email address, a mailing list and other goodies.
But which is the most popular website today? Facebook, followed by Google and YouTube. Two of the three most popular websites are social networks. Twitter, ranked 13th, and LinkedIn (14th) are more popular than WordPress.com ( 24th), according to Alexa. Blogspot (11th) is still ahead, but it has been around much longer than the social networks.
A Facebook Page is almost as good as a website. It’s free and there are no word limits unlike on Twitter. Not every minister and MP blogs, but almost everyone is on Facebook. Why? It’s a free and easy way to interact online. And Facebook Pages come with analytics. So anyone with a Facebook Page can check the traffic and what draws readers. Besides, one doesn’t have to worry about website security. It’s all on the house – of Facebook.
Personally, I am not big on Facebook. I am not sure if you can have your personal database and permalinks, features I love as a blogger.
But have you seen Tumblr? It’s free. You can have more than one account and build as many websites as you want. It’s also a social network. You can follow others like on Twitter. The search engine is not terribly good, but as long as you tag your posts, you should be able to find them. And you don’t have to worry about website security. Tumblr takes care of you.
You can reach others through email, too. A Word A Day founder Anu Garg says he has email subscribers in 170 countries. There are other popular newsletters like Dave Pell’s Next Draft recap of the day’s news and the specialized variety such as the Muck Rack Daily for journalists.
I checked MailChimp’s pricing plan which says, “If you have fewer than 2,000 subscribers, you can send up to 12,000 emails per month absolutely free.”
So, a website is not the only way to reach out to readers. There are other options. Personally, I like websites best , but maybe that’s because websites and email were the first things I saw on the internet. Social networks came later. But if you are not crazy about searchable databases and permalinks, social media may be more exciting.
Twitter is the quickest way to get the news. And have you seen Branch, Twitter’s network where you can discuss things without a 140-character limit?
Websites can spin off new sites, too, to disperse the traffic. Say, the original website publishes content only twice or thrice a week while the spinoffs with new domain names post on other days. As long as the two sites are linked to each other, readers can go from one to the other.
I am not suggesting websites asked to get licences can or should try to get around the new rules. All I am saying is there are so many other ways to communicate with the readers. A website is not the only option. The internet is constantly changing and full of possibilities. I won’t even try to guess what we will see next. There is so much creativity out there I am prepared for a big surprise.