The site’s content is dynamic, attempting to keep up with new information and changing consumer interests. About.com is divided into topic sites, which are grouped into channels and cover subjects from home repair to pediatrics and model railroading and weather. The content is written by a network of over 700 topic experts, called Guides, who are experienced in their particular fields. Each Guide looks after one subject and is the exclusive writer for that subject. Content on the site can take the form of articles, online courses, interactive quizzes, videos and so forth.
Guides are compensated with a base stipend plus bonuses for increased traffic; according to About.com, several guides are averaging over $100,000 per year, although the exact number is not disclosed.
Each Guide's site has at least one forum, provided at the Advanced level (with HTML capability and uploading), for registered users. Site visitors may subscribe to free email newsletters for each site. Some Guides participate daily at the forum. About.com employs strict editorial guidelines for all of the content that appears on its site. All content on About.com is overseen by a team of editors, who review materials for relevance and accuracy. New health content on About.com is reviewed and checked for accuracy by a group of physicians and a medical director, which includes 25 MDs.
The company changed its name to About, Inc. on May 17, 1999, and the Web site address miningco.com, to About.com. The renaming was partly to broaden the appeal of the site and the instant brand equity during the Internet bubble of using a simple word followed by dot-com as both site address and company name. The company was acquired by PRIMEDIA in 2000 in a deal that valued About at $690 million. In February 2005, The New York Times Company announced that it was buying About.com, a purchase that was completed in the first half of the year for $410 million. Google along with Yahoo!, Ask.com, and AOL were reportedly among the other bidders.
About.com eliminated over 40% of its topic-sites in 2002. Most of the eliminated sites are not merged, and their contents are no longer accessible to the general public. However, the rights to the material remained with the original authors and some of it has reappeared on other websites.
In 2002, 77 former and current About.com Guides filed a class-action suit in New York against PRIMEDIA. The complaint was that labor laws were violated and contracts breached. The case was still ongoing as of March 2006.
In May 2005, The New York Times Company named Scott Meyer as president & CEO of About.com.
As of December 2006, About.com was one of the 15 largest sites on the Web and its third-quarter revenues increased 29.3 percent to $18.3 million compared to $14.2 during the same period last year. Year to date, About.com’s revenue’s were up 56% through September.
On May 7, 2007, About.com acquired ConsumerSearch for $33 Million.
In January 2008, the site's first fully-owned foreign venture, the China-based Abang.com, debuted. This marked the first full-owned editorial product by The New York Times to enter China. About.com said it would obey all laws and sidestepped the issue of censorship by saying that the chosen topics were not controversial to the government of China.
The domain about.com attracted at least 448 million visitors annually by 2008 according to a Compete.com study.
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