Summary: Lots of content, good community, innovative features on its message boards
There is a lot of content on About.com. With more than 20 million visitors monthly, there had better be. Founded as the Mining Company in 1997 by Scott Kurnit, an early pioneer in the online world, About.com was renamed in 1999 and purchased by Primedia in 2000, toward the end of the dot-com boom.
There are 23 content channels, 475 content guides, and 50,000 topics on About.com, ranging from sports to politics to relationships to science. There are more than one million original content articles on About.com. Each category is organized in much the same way, with subcategories along the side of the page, a featured article along the top, resources in the middle, and ads along the side and bottom of the page. There’s also a feature that shows the articles that are the most popular with readers on the site, but this hardly qualifies as community. You can also subscribe to a featured newsletter on your topic of interest.
Each area has a guide, hired by About.com to serve as the resident expert on the topic. Guides provide solutions, tips, and advice, as well as links to their favorite related Internet sites. There are also forums for members to discuss these topics. The forums are fairly well traveled, but there’s not much more on About.com that relates to community.
Think of About.com as the USA Today of the reference world, offering quick tips and advice about a myriad of subjects. All of the content on About.com is free; the site generates its revenue from advertising.
Two of the categories relate directly to us Food & Drink and Health & Fitness
About.com’s Food & Drink site is filled with easy-to-find information. A general cooking area divides information into types of cooking barbequing and grilling, cooking for busy people, desserts and baking, home cooking, low-fat cooking, and vegetarian cooking. There are also areas for drinks and beverages and for world and regional cuisines. Each section includes a guide, who helps select the content for the area and provides overall editorial direction. In all, there are 15 separate sections in the Food & Drink area. The area home page is basically a “best of ” compilation from all the other sections.
In Barbeques & Grilling, for example, there are a lot of top and most popular lists, such as the top 10 smokers and the top 25 recipes. However, there are also helpful recipes of the week and a recipe archive; a FAQ about barbeques and grilling; lots of recipes, sauces, and secrets; grilling forums; a buyer’s guide; special offers; and a resource library of articles and other information. There are also headings for most popular subjects and what’s hot, which is determined by the section guide, as well as sponsored links that are purchased by advertisers. Each of the other general cooking sections is organized in a similar manner.
While the Food & Drink area includes 15 sections, the Health & Fitness area is gigantic, with 67 separate sections on a dizzying array of topics. The main categories include Alternative & Complementary Medicine, Disabilities, Diseases & Conditions, Fitness & Wellness, Medicine & Allied Health, Mental Health, Recovery & Addiction, a Sponsored Section for PMDD, and a Women’s Health area. The Health & Fitness area is extremely comprehensive, well trafficked, and popular. If you need support for something, it’s probably here.
The Weight Loss area features tips on weight loss and dieting, lots of recipes, reviews of weight-loss products and books, a resource library, a buyer’s guide, articles, lots of offers from sponsors, and a newsletter to which you can subscribe.
The message boards in the Weight Loss area are very active, with more than 60,000 messages in 15 message board categories when we visited. The categories include:
Note that ads and announcements are often interspersed with About.com’s message boards. This is a unique way to get people who only go to the message boards to see other parts of the site. The idea is similar to the concept of pop-up ads for other weight loosing programs that appear in the lower-left corner of the TV screen during TV shows.
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Note: This article was sent to us by: Zina Dru at 02252010
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