Thursday, December 08, 2005

Websites Nobody Wants

The Guardian has an interesting article in its Technology section today about government-run websites that nobody (or at least nearly nobody) visits. Such websites, people claim, cost the taxpayer thousands or pounds a year and are of use to a small minority of the electorate.

Now, let's leave aside the fact that lots of things provided by the government cost thousands of pounds a year and are of use to very few people - population growth data collection, official forms in Urdu, regulation of noise levels near airports, and so on. The two questions I have regarding this are:
  1. Why do these websites cost thousands of pounds a year to run when they often have no updates and no maintenance during that year?
  2. Why is it a bad thing that the government is providing people with information?

I would hypothesise that the answers are:

  1. Civil servants like spending money (and bear in mind that I was one for a year - I know)
  2. It's not.

Information is a good thing, even if people don't want to know about it. A low number of visitors really is no indication of how useful that information is, anyway.

But the above ramble is just something that reminded me of a similar sort of website. has been set up by the UK games industry to inform parents primarily about age ratings but also about the industry, the types of games that are produced, and the fact that games aren't just for kids any more. It's a good site, written in friendly language and easy to understand.

But considering that it's not being advertised anywhere, it's not likely to get many visitors at all. A shame really; we'll have to endure the "Manhunt made my 5-year-old a killer" stories for a while yet.

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