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Over years, I have looked long and hard at Bcentral, and to tell complete truth I found it to be a highly overpriced hodgepodge of hastily patched together offerings which was difficult to use and mostly of limited value. Even so, free version of Listbot was one of better list processing services available. Because of this (and because of Listbot's long history) it became very popular for small lists and very small businesses.
Of course, Microsoft is not really shutting down Listbot. No, what they are doing is attempting to get people to pay for service, at a rate of about $269 per year. This price allows for sending of 10,000 emails per month, and you can purchase more if you desire. You have option of paying for new service or moving your list elsewhere.
What's wrong with this? A good analogy is 710 freeway debate going on in Pasadena, California at this time.
For last 20 years powers that be have been trying to build a 2 mile extension to 710 freeway. The problem is freeway extension will go through a beautiful, well established neighborhood. It requires demolition of a substantial number of old houses and relocation of a number of people. On top of that, freeways tend to divide communities and isolate people from one another.
The people of Pasadena have made it clear over and over again that they do not want this freeway extension. However, government, in it's infinite wisdom, has, for whatever reason, been trying to get it built in spite of people's wishes.
The government has forgotten (or doesn't care) that houses that they want to tear down are inhabited by families, some of whom have been living there for generations. The freeway is "for greater good" and little folk, in other words normal people, don't count.
Large companies tend to have same attitude. It didn't matter to Yahoo that hundreds of thousands of webmasters depended upon their ring system - only thing that mattered was bottom line. And it does not matter to Microsoft that tens of thousands of list owners, serving millions of people, depend upon their service. The only thing that Microsoft recognizes is that they are not making required amount of money from their service.
The argument that "free services no longer work" does not hold water. Listbot was free before incredible expansion in internet advertising, and it's certain that, with able and intelligent management, service could have remained free and profitable after collapse of internet advertising.
Is it wrong for a big company to want to make money for it's shareholders? Of course not. Shareholders are people with emotions and feelings as well. What is wrong is destruction of a service which is used by so many people, which was profitable and could be made profitable again, simply to further corporate goals without a single thought or care for people effected by change.
Just as when Yahoo destroyed webring, tens of thousands of listmasters now have to scramble to find alternative list hosting services. Some will make difficult choice to use a paid service, some will find free services and others (probably majority) will simply abandon their lists forever. This is saddest part of this story - lists which have been lovingly maintained for years will simply be destroyed. These lists will be burned in name of corporate profits.
It's sad and pitiful at same time. Take note when you see these thoughtless and careless events occur - you are witnessing results of incompetence at best and malicious evil at worst.
Richard Lowe Jr. is the webmaster of Internet Tips And Secrets at http://www.internet-tips.net - Visit our website any time to read over 1,000 complete FREE articles about how to improve your internet profits, enjoyment and knowledge.