Standing Before the Portals: Non-Profit Content in the Age of Commercial Gatekeepers

Authors: Eszter Hargittai

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Citation: Hargittai, E. (2000). Standing Before the Portals: Non-Profit Content in the Age of Commercial Gatekeepers. Info (The Journal of Policy, Regulation and Strategy for Telecommunication, Information and Media). 2(6), 543-550.


Given how easily material can be produced and distributed on the World Wide Web, vast amounts of information have been made freely available online in the last few years. However, this overload of data is increasingly met by attention scarcity, as users divide their attention among more and more sources. This leaves many websites struggling for audiences. Sites with commercial interests have more means of attracting visitors, leaving non-profit organizations with even less chance of reaching users. This paper explores what the domination of commercial interests online means for the visibility of non-profit content on the Web. In addition to discussing how simply being on the Web does not automatically lead to user visits, the paper makes specific recommendations to site owners on ways of achieving greater popularity.


  • Introduction
  • Production and distribution of information online
  • The rise of portal sites
  • Locating content online
  • Implications for non-profit sites
  • Conclusions


I would like to thank Paul DiMaggio for his helpful comments. Support is also acknowledged from US Interactive and from the Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies, Princeton University through a grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts.

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