Ars Technica has been at the top of TechMeme and on the front page of Digg more often than most technology blogs. This week that prime online real estate and lengthy reputation paid off as Ars Technica was reportedly purchased by Conde Nast for a cool $25 million USD.
Conde Nast already owns digital publication Wired and Digg rival Reddit. This will flesh out its online family of properties with a well known industry news blog. The price tag for Ars Technica’s purchase is in keeping with what Conde Nast spent on Wired back in 2006.
Over the past few months Ars Technica has come under fire from several bloggers for unethical reporting practices. Bloggers that break stories have accused Ars Technica of stealing those stories and reporting on them days later without a link back to the source, stealing both page loads and Digg ranking with its weightier online presence.
Even though Ars Technica maintains that it has done nothing wrong, the growing number of bloggers who claim to have been affected by this blatant stealing of eyeballs has gown exponentially since the first claim was made by the blogger behind The Industry Standard. The Industry Standard has broken a number of stories that have subsequently appeared on Ars Technica without credit to Industry Standard or a link back to them as the source.
Links are the currency of the blogosphere. When a high value blog like Ars Technica doesn’t practice good linking courtesy that has become a blogging standard, there is something wrong with that picture. When they deny that what they are doing is wrong, or say it was “unintentional” and don’t offer to fix it, that is blatant abuse of the democratic peer promotional system that has evolved online.
It will be interesting to see if Conde Nast holds Ars Technica to a higher standard. Will the big publishing company make Ars Technica toe the line and credit its sources, or will it allow Ars Technica to continue to be erroneously seen as a source for breaking news, even when it “breaks” stories days after they happen? We’ll be following this acquisition closely to find out.