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...to begin an explicit discussion of what Mumsnet IS, and what it ISN'T

(247 Posts)
20th7th16 Thu 18-Aug-16 21:00:41

Inspired by the 'forced login' threads.

My understanding is that Mumsnet's role as a resource for parents, including vulnerable parents, is only secondary to its primary purpose as an income-generating market research and advertising tool.

It is not a community-run peer support network, but a commercially-run company. As such, it feeds off the contributions and engagement of those lulled into thinking it is the former.

If the Mumsnet creation myth and its stated aim of wishing for a place for "parents' lives [to be made] easier by pooling knowledge, advice and support" have any truth or sincerity, then I think that it's time for those running and profiting financially from this site to have an honest look at their priorities, and to reevaluate accordingly. They need to see whether profit can be made without compromising the site's ostensible aim - if, in fact, it actually matters to them.

A few relevant links and quotes:

Financial Times, 2013: www.ft.com/cms/s/2/aa1f78ea-66af-11e3-8675-00144feabdc0.html -

But after about a decade of working from her bedroom – and looking after her twins who are now 15 and two further children who are 10 and seven, “I thought it’s not really good enough for us to be OK at tech and OK at the money bit. We should actually be better at that – why can’t we be a proper business?”

The company has no outside investors – it is owned by the founders, staff and a “couple of mates” – and so any pressure to make more money comes from within. Recently it has turned a profit – “a small one” – from advertising, sponsorship, market research, events and publishing – but Roberts evidently feels it can do better...

...Mumsnet, which this year expects to have sales of more than £5m, is the opposite of a rubbish business model. Early on Roberts stumbled on the two things most needed to make a social networking site profitable. First, a niche (and you could hardly hope for a bigger one than mothers) and, second, something users feel passionate about (parenting surely being up there with sex and religion).

Mumsnet Limited's growing net worth, 2010 - 2014: companycheck.co.uk/company/03951486/MUMSNET-LIMITED/companies-house-data -

2010: £172,432.00
2011: £885,666.00
2012: £1,412,267.00
2013: £2,471,440.00
2013b (?): £2,211,249.00
2014: £3,245,662.00

whelleybootz Thu 18-Aug-16 21:02:49

A business

StillStayingClassySanDiego Thu 18-Aug-16 21:05:38

Of course it's a business , HQ don't run it for fun or charity.

panegyricS1 Thu 18-Aug-16 21:10:04

It's a business, designed to make Justine R rich. She deserves everything she's got, because it's an influential and popular website.

20th7th16 Thu 18-Aug-16 21:11:59

Absolutely.

But what I find problematic is that, increasingly, it is a dishonest business, which maintains a facade that it is a community with benevolent, facilitating overseers, and distributed 'ownership' and power - when, in fact, it is selling its users for profit, and manipulating their interactions to this end.

20th7th16 Thu 18-Aug-16 21:12:57

"Absolutely" was in response to, "Of course it's a business , HQ don't run it for fun or charity."

Pootlebug Thu 18-Aug-16 21:15:08

Why don't you set up a rival site with the kids of non-business aims you are hoping for if it bothers you?

Jelliebabe1 Thu 18-Aug-16 21:16:14

But do we care??? Would we get more out if a site run for nothing more than love? Probably not so why shouldn't someone profit? Wish I'd thought of it!!!

20th7th16 Thu 18-Aug-16 21:20:06

Why do we care? Have a look at the post in site stuff about vulnerable people and the forced login (for example). Makes some valid points, I think. Analytics and targeted advertising very much being put before the needs of parents and the apparent aim of facilitating peer support.

DementedUnicorn Thu 18-Aug-16 21:20:30

What point exactly are you making? That they shouldn't make money? Make less money? Do it for the craic? confused

20th7th16 Thu 18-Aug-16 21:22:00

That they should be transparent and honest, is my primary point.

ohidoliketobe Thu 18-Aug-16 21:26:32

You've clearly done some research and formed an opinion. If you don't like it, deregister and go elsewhere. We don't pay membership fees, we don't elect MNHQ staff. It's a resource you can choose to use or not.

DementedUnicorn Thu 18-Aug-16 21:27:42

Surely common sense dictates here- if I go to the dry cleaners I don't expect them to have a fluorescent sign up saying 'we make a profit' so why would I expect MN to?

Dontyoulovecalpol Thu 18-Aug-16 21:28:41

I think your post is rubbish tbh. How can MN control the tone or direction the forums take? And why should they?

Like it or not Internet forums are about arguing. That's all people do here. MN is not, and never can be, unique as a forum

Samcro Thu 18-Aug-16 21:28:46

Mn is a business its not teh samritans or a charity

MumsFlouncingOnASummerHoliday Thu 18-Aug-16 21:29:17

I'm missing the dishonest bit.

I rather like that its grown beyond just nappy rash issues. For me its been a very valuable resource and support with a chllenging household. I like that free rather blunt speech is allowed.

Mumsnet has seen me through finding myself poverty stricken with a 1 and very challenging 3 year old. The subsequent divorce, selling our home, the scary world of online dating, my second wedding, the birth of my third child, the lengthy painful diagnosis of my eldests complex needs, getting a statement of educational need and then an EHCP, special school etc etc.

There have always been visible ads and clearly labeled sponsored threads. I tend to not spend to much time thinking about the ads (subliminal exposure though I guess) and actively enjoy some of the sponsored threads.

My world has benefited from mumsnet. I bare no resentment that being a number amoungst subscribers adds to the mumsnet, and hence its founders, coffers. I have gained enormously and it has cost me nothing.

ImperialBlether Thu 18-Aug-16 21:29:19

You know something, if you were talking about a business run by men, you'd never mention the fact it earns a profit. Virtually everything you do, virtually every business you buy from, is run by a group of men.

MN is amazing. We don't pay anything to come on here and talk, read reviews, get involved in web chats, enter competitions and more. Everyone's so quick to complain there's money involved - should these women do this for nothing? Would you expect people on MoneySavingExpert to do it for nothing? Or eBay? Or Amazon?

Grow up. It's a business and a bloody good one. There's no cost to us, only benefit.

LabRats Thu 18-Aug-16 21:31:23

Because everyone in this world is so transparent and honest...hmm

Seriously, who gives a shite? It's a parenting site where you can swear and have a keyboard war. If you don't like if, off you pop.

TendonQueen Thu 18-Aug-16 21:32:23

You've described exactly what Facebook is. Or in fact most social media sites. Business which make their money out of being communities too. It's far from being unique to MN.

bearofnothingness Thu 18-Aug-16 21:32:43

well it is a business but more than a cold hearted money making business. It used to charge for personal messaging iirc

Queenbean Thu 18-Aug-16 21:34:12

If you like it: use it

If you don't: don't

LilacSpunkMonkey Thu 18-Aug-16 21:36:09

They are transparent and honest.

They don't hide the fact that this is a business, a successful business and that they make money.

They've also been involved in some amazing stuff along the way and will probably continue to be involved.

More power to them.

And yes, as someone else said, if you don't like it, no one is making you stay.

Shenanagins Thu 18-Aug-16 21:36:57

I'm not sure what point you are trying to make.

Mumsnet means different things to different people. Of course its a business out to make money but equally it has given me and many others, support, chat, information (petrol cap indicator who knew) plus entertainment (penguin boulevards!).

I generally lurk but I have seen it at its best helping vulnerable women and at its worst attacking some hapless parent.

ImperialBlether Thu 18-Aug-16 21:38:01

Would you call yourself a feminist, OP? Why are you worried that women are making money?

Pina64 Thu 18-Aug-16 21:38:50

This is odd. Why moan about a site you're posting to? If you don't like it go elsewhere?

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