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definition - About.com

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About.com logo.svg
URL www.about.com
Commercial? Yes
Type of site Online resource
Available language(s) English
Owner The New York Times Company
Launched 1995
Alexa rank negative increase 79 (June 2012)[1]
Current status Active

About.com is an online source for original information and advice. It is written in English, and is aimed primarily at North Americans. It is owned by The New York Times Company.[2][3]

About.com is divided into topic sites, which are grouped into channels and cover diverse subjects such as home repair, pediatrics, model railroading, English grammar, and weather. The content is written by a paid[4] network of writers, referred to as Guides, who have experience[citation needed] in the subject they look after. Each Guide looks after one subject only, and is the exclusive writer for that subject. Content on the site can vary between articles, online courses, interactive quizzes, videos and so forth.



The Guides' sites consist of articles or commentaries written by the Guides as well as links to pertinent websites related to their topic. Some sites have dictionaries, how-to lessons, and free eCourses. For example, the sites on major European languages have comprehensive lessons illustrated by audio files recorded by the Guides themselves.

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.

The pages within the site contain extensive hyperlinks.


About.com was originally founded in 1996 as The Mining Company. The site was launched on April 21, 1997 by Scott Kurnit, owner of General Internet; Bill Day; and a group of other entrepreneurs in New York City.[5] The original goal was to maintain 1,800 topic areas, but after five years of operation, this number was eventually reduced to 700. The original business plan offered expert Guides a minimum rate of $250 a month or one-third of the advertising revenue generated within their topic area. The Mining Company also employed around 50 full-time staff for administration, advertising sales and the overall site design work.

The company changed its name to About, Inc. on May 17, 1999, and the website address from 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.

About.com eliminated over 40% of its topic-sites in 2002. Most of the eliminated sites were 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 appeared on other websites.

In February 2005, The New York Times Company announced that it was buying About.com,[3] a purchase that was completed in the first half of the year for $410 million. Google along with Yahoo, AskJeeves, and AOL were reportedly among the other bidders.[6] In May 2005, The New York Times Company named Scott Meyer as president and CEO of About.com.[7]

On May 7, 2007, About.com acquired ConsumerSearch for $33 million.[8] 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.[9]

In June 2008, The New York Times Company named Cella M. Irvine as CEO of the About Group.[10] Irvine's appointment fills a seat that had been empty since March 2008 when CEO Scott Meyer left to head Evidon, the parent company of Ghostery.[11]

The domain about.com attracted at least 448 million visitors annually by 2008, according to an estimate by Compete.com, a web traffic analysis service.[12] Approximately 80% of users are redirected to About.com from search engines.[13]

In 2011, About.com launched About en Español, a channel of more than 100 sites in Spanish aimed at U.S. Hispanics.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "About.com Site Info". Alexa Internet. http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/about.com. Retrieved 2012-06-02. 
  2. ^ Miguel Helft (December 15, 2007). "Wikipedia Competitor Being Tested by Google". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 9 January 2008. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/15/technology/15web.html. Retrieved January 25, 2008. "... and About.com, which is owned by The New York Times Company" 
  3. ^ a b Katharine Q. Seelye (February 18, 2005). "The Times Company Acquires About.com for $410 Million". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/18/business/media/18times.html. 
  4. ^ "About.com Freelance Rates"
  5. ^ "Drilling Begins at The Mining Company"
  6. ^ Katharine Q. Seelye (February 8, 2005). "About.com, Primedia's Web Venture, Is for Sale". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/08/technology/08deal.html. 
  7. ^ "Times Co. Names About Inc. Chief". The New York Times. May 19, 2005. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/19/business/media/19times.html. Retrieved September 26, 2010. 
  8. ^ The New York Times (May 7, 2007). "About.com Buys ConsumerSearch.com". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/07/technology/07about.html. 
  9. ^ About.com launches in China
  10. ^ "The New York Times Company Names Cella M. Irvine Chief Executive Officer of the About Group" (Press release). The New York Times Company. June 11, 2008. http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=105317&p=irol-pressArticle&ID=1164789. Retrieved September 26, 2010. 
  11. ^ Pérez-Peña, Richard (February 28, 2008). "Chief Is Leaving the About.com Unit of The Times". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/28/business/media/28times.html. Retrieved September 26, 2010. 
  12. ^ about.com's Site Profile
  13. ^ advertiseonabout.com

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