Japan Probe: a Japanese novelty news site inhabiting that space between blogs and seven-figure, Earth-shattering internet businesses.

Yesterday’s content made me want to talk a little bit more about Japan Probe, which you may also visit on occasion.

I first found out about the site during the original Chris Savoie divorce and child custody headlines. This was sometime in late 2009. Under my old operating system, Japan Probe took forever to load, so I didn’t visit it often. Well, not “forever”, but it did take some time—probably because of the pictures and the video links.

Let’s look at the Alexa stats. Japan Probe is ranked in the 5000’s for Japan —

and at some figure in the 20,000’s or 30,000’s worldwide.

If you notice, it even scores in the Harrisburg-Lancaster-Lebanon-York (Pennsylvania) metro area, which probably means yours truly has been paying a visit! The rank here is about #2500–better than in Japan!

Now let’s look at the trendline:

Japan Probe’s worldwide audience has been on a downward trend for some time, but this trend was interrupted this year. First, in the aftermath of the March 11 triple disasters. Then, apparently, when James at Japan Probe posted a comment by Eido Inoue from the Tepido slam blog; and a further criticism of Debito Arudou’s novel, “In Appropriate”, by Mitsubishi-UFJ’s Scott Urista from London. Since then, internet gravity has caught the website’s rankings, and it’s been heading down once more.

What I have liked about Japan Probe is that it often carries some content about the goofy side of Japan, or this sort of exotic-cool aspect that attracts people to contemporary Japanese culture. What holds Japan Probe back is that many other people are now doing this same sort of theme. So, amid the competition, fewer and fewer internet users choose Japan Probe.

The other thing I like is that Japan Probe shows Google ads, but no one is marketing Japan Probe as some monetizable internet business. There is no internet pitchman there, going, “hurry hurry, step right up to see the Greatest Show on Earth!” No seven-figure deals with a stateside CEO that the seller has known for 15 years. Stuff like that.

What a Japan Probe shows is that this is about how far you get to go, if you don’t have that extra, pitchman lift, making your site out to be more than it really is.

Shawn Thir’s Let’s Japan–another favorite of mine for its blog content (when Shawn is posting)–tells the same thing. Shawn’s theme has been about soft corruption and deceit in the Eikaiwa industry, and the site’s following mostly came from people who are interested in knowing about that topic. In a fashion similar to GaijinPot, Let’s Japan also relies on a forum for its site traffic. But it is, in the end, very simple to analyze, and Shawn (and any other makers of the site) do not pretend to do something more than what it does.

It is very hard to monetize via the internet. I know I have made that point earlier this month, but the mid-level sites confirm this. How can anyone expect people to believe that sites ranked in the #700’s in Japan are going to attract all this cash and advertising money, when other sites, somewhat down the asymptotic curve, are not generating big revenues? If any at all?

It’s wonderful that the internet allows all these various people to offer their creative talent, or their commentary and views. It would be so much nicer, though, if that element of trying to make it out to be more than it really is would be squeezed out of the scene.

As various analytical sites provide the tools, I think this will someday be more common.

[Update 4/21/13: Obviously, since this original post, Japan Probe has become much more notorious and controversial as a site that hosts online defamation, and suspected to be fed content (if not run) by an individual who uses the site to go at people he disagrees with on the internet.]

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