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I read a ton of useful articles and posts on websites and blogs that have never charged me a thing. That’s simply amazing to think about.

It’s all made possible by placing ads against that awesome content, so I’m never one to complain about websites trying to maximize their potential profits. That said, I do think that thinking critically about potentially outmoded strategies is a good thing. Anyone writing online needs to be aware of the mercurial nature of the market and resist becoming complacent.

Websites use all sorts of pageview-maximizing strategies like dividing posts into multiple parts, adding photo galleries, and enabling comments so that people with nothing to say can proudly display their lack of insight and originality. Folks like Merlin Mann have argued that this stuff hurts user experience. I tend to agree with Mr. Mann.

Now, MSNBC has moved away from its pageview-maximization strategy and instead adopted a strategy that treats users as people, rather than pageview generators.  If MSNBC can prove that its pageviews are much higher quality, it may be able to demand a lot more money per pageview, enough to make up for lowering their totals significantly.

This may mark a paradigm shift in an industry that has long been confused about how to really make money online.  It’ll be an interesting story to follow.