|Type of site||Technology news and information|
|Owner||Condé Nast Digital|
|Created by||Ken Fisher
|Launched||December 30, 1998|
|Alexa rank||1,891 (February 2013[update])|
Ars Technica (/ /; Latin for "Technological Art") is a technology news and information website created by Ken Fisher and Jon Stokes in 1998. It publishes news, reviews and guides on issues such as computer hardware and software, science, technology policy, and video games. Many of the site's writers are postgraduates, and some work for research institutions. Articles on the website are written in a less formal tone than those in traditional journals.
Ars Technica was privately owned until May 2008, when it was sold to Condé Nast Digital, the online division of Condé Nast Publications. Condé Nast purchased the site along with two others for $25 million and added it to their Wired Digital group, which also includes Wired News and formerly Reddit. Most of the website's staff work from home. A significant number work in Chicago, IL, and the San Francisco Bay Area. The cost of operating Ars Technica has always been funded primarily by online advertising. The website generated controversy in 2009 when it experimentally prevented users who used advertisement blocking software from viewing the site. Ars Technica has offered a paid subscription service since 2001.
Ken Fisher and Jon Stokes created the Ars Technica website and limited liability company in 1998. Its purpose was to publish computer hardware- and software-related news articles and guides; in their words, "the best multi-OS, PC hardware, and tech coverage possible while [..] having fun, being productive, and being as informative and as accurate as possible". "Ars technica" is a Latin phrase that translates to "technological art". The website published news, reviews, guides, and other content of interest to computer enthusiasts. Writers for Ars Technica were geographically distributed across the United States at the time; Fisher lived in his parents' house in Boston, Massachusetts, Stokes in Chicago, Illinois, and the other writers in their respective cities.
On May 19, 2008, Ars Technica was sold to Condé Nast Digital, the online division of Condé Nast Publications.[note 1] The sale was part of a combination purchase by Condé Nast Digital of three unaffiliated websites costing $25 million total: Ars Technica, Webmonkey, and Hot Wired. Ars Technica was added to the company's Wired Digital group, which includes Wired News and Reddit. In an interview with The New York Times, Fisher said other companies offered to buy Ars Technica and the site's writers agreed to a deal with Condé Nast because they felt it offered them the best chance to turn their "hobby" into a business. Fisher, Stokes, and the eight other writers at the time were employed by Condé Nast, with Fisher as editor in chief. Layoffs at Condé Nast in November 2008 affected websites owned by the company "across the board," including Ars Technica.
The content of articles published by Ars Technica has generally remained the same since its creation in 1998 and are categorized by four types: News, Guides, Reviews, and Features. News articles relay current events. Ars Technica also hosts OpenForum, a free internet forum for the discussion of a variety of topics.
Originally, most news articles published by the website were relayed from other technology-related websites. Ars Technica provided short commentary on the news, generally a few paragraphs, and a link to the original source. After being purchased by Conde Nast, Ars Technica began publishing more original news; investigating topics and interviewing sources themselves. A significant portion of the news articles published there now are original. Relayed news is still published on the website, ranging from one- or two-sentences to a few paragraphs.
Ars Technica's Features are long articles that go into great depth on their subject. For example, the site published a guide on CPU architecture in 1998 named "Understanding CPU caching and performance". An article in 2009 discussed in detail the theory, physics, mathematical proofs, and applications of quantum computers. The website's 18,000-word review of Apple Inc.'s iPad described everything from the product's packaging, to the specific type of integrated circuits it uses.
Ars Technica is written in a less formal tone than in a traditional journal. Many of the website's regular writers have postgraduate degrees, and many work for academic or private research institutions. Website co-founder Jon Stokes published the computer architecture textbook Inside The Machine in 2007; John Timmer performed postdoctoral research in developmental neurobiology; Timothy Lee is a scholar at the Cato Institute, a public policy institute, which has republished Ars Technica articles by him. Biology journal Disease Models & Mechanisms called Ars Technica a "conduit between researchers and the public" in 2008.
On September 12, 2012, Ars Technica recorded its highest daily traffic ever with its iPhone 5 event coverage. It recorded 15.3 million pageviews, 13.2 million of which came from its live blog platform of the event.
The cost of operating Ars Technica has always been funded primarily by online advertising. Originally handled by Federated Media Publishing, selling advertising space on the website is now handled by Condé Nast. In addition to online advertising, Ars Technica has sold subscriptions to the website since 2001, now named Ars Premier subscriptions. Subscribers are not shown advertisements, and are able to see exclusive articles, post in certain areas of Ars Technica forum, participate in live chat rooms with notable people in the computer industry, and other benefits. To a lesser extent, revenue is also collected from content sponsorship. A series of articles about the future of collaboration was sponsored by IBM, and the site's Exploring Datacenters section is sponsored by data management company NetApp. In the past, Ars Technica collected shared revenue from affiliate marketing by advertising deals and discounts from online retailers, and from the sale of Ars Technica-branded merchandise.
On March 5, 2010, Ars Technica experimentally blocked readers who used Adblock Plus—one of several computer programs that stop advertisements from being displayed in their browser—from viewing the website. Fisher estimated 40% of the website's readers had the software installed at the time. The next day, the block was lifted, and the article "Why Ad Blocking is devastating to the sites you love" was published on Ars Technica persuading readers not to use the software on websites they care about:
... blocking ads can be devastating to the sites you love. I am not making an argument that blocking ads is a form of stealing, or is immoral, or unethical [...] It can result in people losing their jobs, it can result in less content on any given site, and it definitely can affect the quality of content. It can also put sites into a real advertising death spin.
The block and article were controversial, generating articles on other websites about them, and the broader issue of advertising ethics. Readers of Ars Technica generally followed Fisher's persuasion; the day after his article was published, 25,000 readers who used the software had allowed the display of advertisements on Ars Technica in their browser, and 200 readers had subscribed to Ars Premier.
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- "Maybe The iPhone 5 Hype Is Not So 'Silly' After All". minonline. September 14, 2012. Retrieved September 17, 2012.
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- Condé Nast Digital was named CondéNet at the time.