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New? EE started in 1996. If anyone's a copycat, it's SO, and they weren't even the first.

EE went the venture capital route in the last century, and did exactly what SO is doing now: burning through money trying to build eyeballs with no business plan other than taking venture capital money. It failed then, and it will fail now because the revenue stream doesn't support the increased costs.

EE tried the advertising model in the early 2000s: get lots of eyes, sell ads and pay the bills with that. It failed then, and it will fail now; only a few companies have sufficient traffic to be profitable (Google and Facebook lead the list, but everyone else needs some other revenue, or needs to share content (like the NYTimes does) to help offset costs.

The only business model that works AND SCALES is to charge for services rendered, like your cable company does. like your ISP does and like your plumber does.

Did EE implement it in the best possible way? Nope. Instead it followed Google's rules for SEO, and got punished for it because it was better at it than anyone else. So it's rebuilding itself: http://beta.experts-exchange.com . Did its members like it? Nope, but that didn't stop the company from doing it, and now they're listening to their members more because it turns out the members' warnings were right -- because they've been there before.

When SO starts putting all kinds of ads in your face and you start complaining like frightened banshees and nothing happens, you can cash in your reputation points and find another site that will have the same magic bullet SO does. When Quora starts tracking every little thing you do to "personalize the experience" just remember that its roots are in Facebook -- and the goal is to turn you into the product, because that's what advertising based sites do; they can't sell ads without it.

EE is honest. You're not the product; you're the customer, even if -- especially if -- you're the one answering questions.




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