Web 2.0 saw the rise of user-generated content in a virtual community. It’s the environment that enabled social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to thrive. It made us wonder, “Are we the users or are we the product?” Now these social media sites are under fire from critics and users who are threatening to delete their accounts. Facebook lacks the incentives to protect user privacy. YouTube and Twitter constantly are forced to re-evaluate how to handle its most popular creators/provocateurs. This change in online culture is the realization that the web is really hard to moderate. For the last few months, as I’ve shied away from my personal social media accounts, I’ve been mourning the decline of the Web 2.0 experience because it stopped bringing me joy.
According to Docracy’s website, “Due to increasing costs and declining ad revenues, we have decided to begin an orderly shutdown of the Docracy service. ” Sad. Docracy was a critical part of the startup ecosystem. It took legal documents, which in many cases are easy to put into a template, and brought them into the Web 2.0 era with an open-source model. The reality is that hosting and maintaining a web platform is expensive. Ad revenue used to be considered a cash cow, especially when you’re a high-traffic website like Facebook. What about the rest of the average sites? Ad revenue may no longer be enough to sustain the Web 2.0 model for those sites. Consumers have been trained to expect content for free. So what’s the next model? Membership subscriptions like Patreon? Or are we just going to see ads that are more sophisticated than the banner ad?
Wherever the web is going next, I want to thank Docracy for its service. As a serial entrepreneur, I found it tremendously useful.