The Associated Press wasn't trying to make any friends by proposing to charge for content. The backlash from Internet apostles was mean and swift. Jeff Jarvis whaled on them in a post partly headlined, "Kill the AP":
The AP is [the newspapers'] enemy. Not the internet. Not Google. It's the AP that has to insist on going against the flow - the damned tsunami - of the internet.
The AP gave its enemies more fury-fuel today when Zachary Seward of the Nieman Lab published a confidential memo detailing the news organization's plan to garrote Wikipedia by creating destination pages that every AP syndicate will link to. It's easy enough to predict how the AP's critics reacted: it's a Procrustean, "infuriating", "bizarre" bid to "hoard" Web traffic. But some pundits, including Seward, are giving them the benefit of the doubt.
Can the plan actually work? There may be reasons to believe it could.
- AP's Members Could Skyrocket Traffic, says Zachary Seward at Nieman Lab. "Those links to the landing pages would come from member news sites with excellent PageRank, the key metric used by Google to determine search results...It's easy to see how the AP's landing pages could, in short order, shoot up near the top of results for popular, news-related search terms."
- But Members Have Nothing to Gain, says Mike Masnick at Techdirt. " If I were a member paper, this would be the point at which I quit the AP."
- Gaming Search Is What You Have To Do, says Glynnis MacNichol at Mediate. "It sounds like one of the smarter ideas to come out of an old-school media organization who has found its main service made mostly irrelevant by the 'link economy' that fuels the Web."
- But Google Won't Fall for It, says Felix Salmon at Reuters. "Google is very good at pointing to pages which have a real human intelligence behind them."
Regardless of the AP's efforts, Wikipedia has been the victim of its own gloomy forecasts. Can the site continue to grow, despite conflict between all-embracing "inclusionists" and gatekeeping "deletionists"? Bobbie Johnson of the Guardian has doubts:
The numbers suggest that the deletionists may have won. The increasing difficulty of making a successful edit; the exclusion of casual users; slower growth - all are hallmarks of the deletionist approach.