When I came to hosting industry at the end of 1999 web hosting forums used to be places where people involved in this business usually came to discuss various important issues. Some of them came to ask questions, others to get advice. At that time most forum members tried to be helpful to others and to build quality profiles.
I realize that this sounds like a story told by a very old man. I’m not, but let me tell you this “There were some spammers then but in one or other way communities succeeded to isolate them. Some learned their lesson others were thrown aside”.
But that was almost 8 years ago when the web hosting providers were a few times less then they are now. Since 2005 it became very easy to start web hosting business. A plenty of resellers entered the market and they were willing to “sell for cents”. Another thing that made possible for anyone to start web hosting business was that the average price of a cheap dedicated server dropped to less than $100 per month.
The Golden Age of Web Hosting
I believe that 2005 and 2006 were the Golden years of web hosting. Many came to our industry 3 years ago. They got some customers and sold them in late 2006 and in the beginning of 2007 when Wall Street flew money to hosting industry.
This resulted in drop of the price of the average hosting company. Before 2005 it was possible to sell a web host for 5 times more than its annual revenue. Now this rate is between 1 and 1.5. The hosting industry has become very corporate. Many small business owners sold their businesses, some made significant profit, others got almost nothing. I believe that the “golden era of web hosting” has already ended.
Times of Change
The hosting industry is changing now. Companies implement new applications and new business models to comply with the requirements of a new more socialized web. Today is more important to offer sofware which enables siteowners to maintain sound, video files as well as various real time communication tool and knowledge sharing, then to offer 99.9% uptime. 99.9% is not actualy something that a web host has to mention. It is basic requirement to run a succesful web business.
Spammers, Spammers, Spammers
When you look at the hosting forums however, you can not see a positive change. All popular hosting forums (except Web Hosting Talk, Devshed forums, and FreeWebSpace) have been conquered by spammers. Post like this one:
I would like to host my site, I have seen many hosting review sites…..I have noticed that http://www.——-.com giving in depth knowledge on hosting companies and hence it did not take me long to decide. It is the best review site I have so far seen. I would welcome any suggestion and help
dominate the threads in popular forums. Most of them are either pure spam or seld promotion. There are service providers like Paidpostingtools.com who hire forum posters to participate in discussions of popular web forums. Their job is to post positive reviews or point attention of the forums members to your products or services… or just mention your business name (it is not a good idea to use them for your company. Most of their posters have only general knowledge in web affairs).
The commercialization of web hosting talk harms the industry. The first thing newcomers see when they visit any popular hosting forum is meaningless posts, which aim to promote someone’s services. No doubt, the owners of those forums are responsible for the poor quality of their discussion boards. But it is also true that it is very hard to fight spammers and self-promoters today, and it will be harder to do that in the future.