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The Internet

Who Killed the Webmaster? 334

Posted by kdawson
from the smoking-guns dept.
XorNand writes "With the explosive growth of the Web in the previous decade, many predicted the birth of a new, well-paying, and in-demand profession: the Webmaster. Yet in 2007, this person has somehow vanished; even the term is scarcely mentioned. What happened? A decade later I'm left wondering: Who killed the Webmaster?"
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Who Killed the Webmaster?

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  • by TheCybernator (996224) on Monday January 29, 2007 @03:02AM (#17796742) Homepage
    .... It wasn't me.
    • by kale77in (703316) on Monday January 29, 2007 @03:47AM (#17796972) Homepage
      > ... it wasn't me.

      No, I was there, and... it was me.

      Well, there were a few of us involved. But my personal confession reads as follows:

      I wrote scripts that let end users change their own pages. I integrated Wysiwyg editors into CMS systems. I coded some wiki-markup processors. I made design changes friendly for non-techies. I wrote image thumbnailers, and CSS-generators that used customer preferences.

      I didn't know it was wrong! I was just following orders! Everyone was doing it! Lots of others killed him more than I did!

      *Moves to Brazil*
      • Re:No, it was me. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by khakipuce (625944) on Monday January 29, 2007 @08:15AM (#17798386) Homepage Journal
        No, no, no, it was me ... I teach an Adult Education course on creating websites, the course costs less than £100 and after 10 weeks most of the students can create and maintain their own site.

        In a gold rush, the way to make money is to sell shovels!
  • The CMS (Score:5, Interesting)

    by The Bungi (221687) <thebungi@gmail.com> on Monday January 29, 2007 @03:03AM (#17796754) Homepage
    The cheap/free content management system killed him. And replaced him with the blogger, who now generates the vast majority of content on teh interwebs (for better or worse).

    Next question.

    • Re:The CMS (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Peganthyrus (713645) on Monday January 29, 2007 @03:47AM (#17796960) Homepage
      Yes.

      I have a friend who's had the odd "webmaster" job. The bosses expect, I think, someone who will laboriously hand-edit every page, because they don't know any better. Instead, she ponders their needs, grabs a CMS... and automates herself out of a job. She's gone through at least two "webmaster" jobs by doing this, I think.

      One of these days she'll figure out how to lie to her bosses about how long it takes, I suppose.
      • Re:The CMS (Score:5, Insightful)

        by D-Cypell (446534) on Monday January 29, 2007 @04:40AM (#17797190)

        One of these days she'll figure out how to lie to her bosses about how long it takes, I suppose.
        Or set up a consultancy specializing in the installation, configuration and training on CMS systems.

        Seems to me, if you are automating yourself out of a job, reorientate so that automation IS your job.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by operagost (62405)

        She needs to go to the Commander Montgomery Scott School of Sandbagging.

        "Laddie-- you dinna tell him how long it would really take? You'll never get a reputation as a miracle worker that way!"
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by CdXiminez (807199)
      Microsoft CMS has been introduced, the job of filling it with content moves from tech to administration, adn the design is handled by the latest update from MS.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by The Bungi (221687)
        I'm sure there's a joke here somewhere but just I can't find it.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by CdXiminez (807199)
          I had the same feeling when I wrote it. It's what happened at my workplace. It's not bad, it's not good, it just leaves me feeling kind of awkward with our websites.

      • I'm dreading trying to explain that yes, it does work nicely with Office but no, we don't need one and it'll really not look that impressive. If you need a corporate 'website' to be able to deal with the things that Office Life/CMS offers then just invest in Exchange and SharePoint.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      The cheap/free content management system killed him. And replaced him with the cheap/free blogger, who now generates the vast majority of content on teh interwebs (for better or worse).

      Fixed.

      Sadly, the average blogger/forum member is a better source of information than the manufacturer. That's not saying much, most corporate web sites are about as useful as tits on a boar. Curiously, this is one area that our beleaguered vendor Microsoft actually has right. Documenting flaws and workarounds where customers
    • Re:The CMS (Score:5, Insightful)

      by PDAllen (709106) on Monday January 29, 2007 @07:26AM (#17798056)
      Not really. You have four sorts of websites.
      You have the amateur sites, which probably are done by one person, don't involve making money (in any serious way). Some of these involve a CMS, some don't, and frankly no-one cares.
      You have the small-business sites, which exist to advertise a product and maybe sell it. Generally the small business doesn't employ anyone with the skills to make a good looking et cetera website, certainly it doesn't have the cash to have a full time webmaster who would most of the time sit on his arse anyway. So they pay a web design firm for a website and for the occasional update. Maybe there is a CMS system put in by the design firm so the small business's owner can change a few words himself, but that's about as far as it goes. Maybe these companies could do more with the internet than they do, but they don't have the money.
      You have the big business sites which do all kinds of things over the internet, and those guys don't have 'a webmaster' because there is far too much for one guy to do, instead they have the web section of the IT department, with several full time guys all doing bits of the company website (and intranet site).
      And somewhere in a tiny niche market you have a few companies which have decided they need to employ a full time webmaster specifically to run their website, they're big enough and internet-dependent enough to need it, but then they've stopped there. That means they need a guy who is making changes all the time, 40 hours a week, so there is likely to be a fair bit of ASP or PHP or whatever, some database stuff, but somehow the CEO and PR guys have decided that the current flashy stuff is enough and they don't need any more stuff that would require another website guy to be hired.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 29, 2007 @03:03AM (#17796756)
    Colonel Mustard with Web 2.0 in the kitchen.
  • Automation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nacturation (646836) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `noitarutcan'> on Monday January 29, 2007 @03:04AM (#17796760) Journal
    Same thing that killed the guy who used to drive around bringing ice so your grandparents could keep the food in their icebox cold.
     
  • They got promoted? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kadin2048 (468275) <slashdot.kadin@xox[ ]et ['y.n' in gap]> on Monday January 29, 2007 @03:05AM (#17796766) Homepage Journal
    I don't think the job is gone, but perhaps the title is. "Webmaster" has been rolled into other jobs, because management of a public-facing web site is increasingly just one facade of a far more important job, management of a company's entire systems, which falls generally to the CIO, and then gets delegated from there down to a particular person or group.

    I can think of a lot of web sites where 90+% of the content isn't part of the "site" per se, but part of databases that are somehow interfaced into the site (CRM systems, accounting, etc.). The "webmaster"'s job can be a lot more like a circus ringleader, trying to keep everyone happy and plugged in.

    In line with the increasing managerial responsibilities, the title of "webmaster" may have disappeared into various "Information Systems" titles. The job is still there, somewhere, but it's called something different.
    • by gbulmash (688770) *
      ...management of a public-facing web site is increasingly just one facade of a far more important job...

      I think you meant "facet" instead of "facade", but it also makes a sort of perverse sense as originally written.

      - Greg
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by savorymedia (938523)

      I don't think the job is gone, but perhaps the title is. "Webmaster" has been rolled into other jobs, because management of a public-facing web site is increasingly just one facade of a far more important job, management of a company's entire systems, which falls generally to the CIO, and then gets delegated from there down to a particular person or group.

      You nailed it right on the head, there. The last time I had the job title "webmaster," I was working for Bluedomino.com (the former hosting arm or Coffee

  • The answer is simple. What killed the webmaster? Specialization!

    The old time "webmaster" was a jack of all trades, doing design, HTML, managing your hosting account, submitting your site to search engines, and coding or subcontracting interactive scripts.

    But the web and the number of ways to create content and interactivity have expanded faster than any person's skillset can. Furthermore, people started seeing really slick, professional sites, and the "Geocities Home Page On Steroids" junk that a lot of webmasters were churning our just wasn't acceptable anymore.

    There are still "webmasters" where the web operation for a company or organization is kept in-house and limited to a single person. But when you get into concepts like economy of scale... if you don't need a full-time person (i.e. your site doesn't need that much active management), it's just cheaper to contract it out. And in most cases, the big, slick operations are getting those contracts.

    For the big slicks, it doesn't make sense to have a bunch of jacks of all trades, mastering none, doing merely acceptable jobs. It's better to have a team of specialists and parcel out different parts to the people who excel in those parts. You get slicker, better product, faster turnaround, and the employees are plug-and-play making a single point of failure less likely.

    As web sites needed to have more and varied pieces, demanded more expertise in more areas, the "webmaster" started to be replaced by the Graphic Designer, the Web Dev, the Server Jockey, the DBA, the SEO person, etc. It's sort of like math or science. A long, long time ago, it was possible for a single person to obtain the sum total of human knowledge in these disciplines. Now, you can't. You have to pick a specialty. People entering the world of web site construction and maintenance are finding that they have to pick a speciality too.

    There are webmasters out there, but they're being killed off by an environment that is growing ever more complex.
    • by stephanruby (542433) on Monday January 29, 2007 @03:41AM (#17796938)
      Some say specialization killed the Webmaster. I say common knowledge killed him. It just isn't cool to be a Webmaster anymore, pretty much anyone can do the job or knows a kid who can do the job.

      And while I agree that some people have chosen to specialize even more, I've seen people go in the other direction as well. There are still Jacks-of-All-Trades, except those new Jacks may know a scripting language or two, a bit of database, a bit of graphic design, a bit of apache, etc. And those new Jacks-of-all-Trades just couldn't market themselves under the old label Webmaster, since that label doesn't really describe what they do now, nor does that old label describe something that's very special anymore.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by b0s0z0ku (752509)
        It just isn't cool to be a Webmaster anymore, pretty much anyone can do the job or knows a kid who can do the job.

        Yeah, but not everyone wants to work on their own small-business website, get the layout right, make sure it's compatible with IE 5,6,7, FF, and Safari... It's easier to hire a kid/freelancer/jack-of-all-trades. It's just "site designer" or something now.

        -b.

      • There are still Jacks-of-All-Trades, except those new Jacks may know a scripting language or two, a bit of database, a bit of graphic design, a bit of apache, etc. And those new Jacks-of-all-Trades just couldn't market themselves under the old label Webmaster
        I propose a new label then: "disaster"

        (j/k)
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by lymond01 (314120)
      No mod points today but you're at 5 already. There are still webmasters doing college sites and sites with resources too low to hire more than one person. But for the major business sites, you're right...there's 10 jobs for any one website, so there is no "master" anymore...maybe just a Web Middle-Manager to keep the live team in-line with Accounting.
  • Ouch (Score:4, Funny)

    by Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) on Monday January 29, 2007 @03:05AM (#17796772) Homepage Journal
    >an image of C.S. Lewis's Alice tumbling down a hole

    Both the author attribution, and the content of the article, belong to the wrong century.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by kfg (145172)
      Give him a break; he probably heard the story from a hros, so he didn't have a refernce to refresh his memory. Anyway, it's obvious webmasters turned into Lewis Carroll's pfifltriggi.

      KFG
  • by Gorshkov (932507) <admgorshkov@yaho[ ]om ['o.c' in gap]> on Monday January 29, 2007 @03:06AM (#17796776)
    From TFA:

    Yet, as anyone who's ever visited MySpace can attest, today content is king. With all of us simultaneously contributing and consuming on blogs, MySpace, YouTube, Flickr, Digg, and SecondLife, who needs a Webmaster anymore?


    Saying "Content is King" in the same sentence as Myspace et. al. is like saying an overflowing ashtray is a sign of productivity.
    • Saying "Content is King" in the same sentence as Myspace et. al. is like saying an overflowing ashtray is a sign of productivity.

      If the goatse guy was a webmaster, Myspace would be one of his; its the biggest pile of steaming crap on the internet.

      • by Jesus_666 (702802)
        Myspace has a very real use: Weird Al posts his videos there. OTOH, that makes Myspace the most bloated artist homepage ever.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ElephanTS (624421)
      is like saying an overflowing ashtray is a sign of productivity

      Ha, you've never worked in the music business then!

  • by lachlan76 (770870) on Monday January 29, 2007 @03:11AM (#17796792)
    If there were so many webmasters back then, in the world of "flaming skulls, scrolling marquees, and rainbow divider lines", as the article states it, perhaps the world has just come to its senses and the clueless "webmasters" have died off, leaving the sites to competent programmers and designers.
  • by InfoHighwayRoadkill (454730) on Monday January 29, 2007 @03:12AM (#17796794) Homepage
    This time last year my wife and I were eating in our favourite restaurant and got chatting to the couple on the table next to ours. Sooner or later the subject of work came up. I said I was a web developer. "we are web developers too" they said. It turns out they work from home just down the road from us. He does the backend asp coding and she does the front end and photography. They still churn their way through local SME businesses that want a 4 page brochure website. The thing is they make a good living out of it. Just as much as I can make in a large but specialised web development company.

    Yes "webmasters" are rare but they are not extinct.
  • became specialized (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Lehk228 (705449) on Monday January 29, 2007 @03:12AM (#17796798) Journal
    the job still exists, it's just called different things. since nowadays most sites of any significance are dynamic you are either an administrator or developer.

    if you just to page designs you are a 'wed developer' if you maintain the backend you are an administrator

    in summary, the job specialized into different fields because web sites are too diverse in nature for one job description to cover maintaining all the different types
    • by pthisis (27352) on Monday January 29, 2007 @05:21AM (#17797350) Homepage Journal
      Web developer to me means a programmer/coder kind of position that's usually seperate from page design except at very small sites--the person writing ASP/PHP/ColdFusion/Ruby on Rails/JSP/etc is a web developer, the person deciding that the page should look like this, with nav bars over here, and these fonts and colors is the page designer.

      In fact, the following are all different tasks (and I doubt the list is exhaustive by any stretch), though several may be done by one person at a particular site:

      Authors (content)

      Designers (layout)

      Usabilty/HCI developers

      Markup (Turning design into HTML code)

      Web developer (writing code that dynamically generates HTML)

      System developer (writing business logic components/back-end objects)

      Database developer/DBA

      Systems administrator

      There are often ancillary tasks too (tester, publisher, etc) and there are other important tasks that people don't tend to conflate with those so I didn't list them (e.g. project manager, sales, etc).

      For a small site there might be just one person doing the whole list, or everything but content and possibly design. In my experience, though, the most common places to seperate tasks if you have just 2 people working on the site are either right above the web designer on the list, or in many cases just the content is one person.

      Where I work the line items are mostly seperate except that design, usability, and markup are done by the same people (and they'll often get involved with content), the senior system developers are also the DBAs, and there's a fair amount of overlap between some of the system developers and web developers (some work is strictly segregated between the two, some is more tightly bound).

      Of course, lines often get blurred.
  • VOD (Score:4, Funny)

    by Ibag (101144) on Monday January 29, 2007 @03:15AM (#17796806)
    Is there any chance that Video (on Demand) killed the webmaster? He wouldn't be the first victim...
  • Or maybe that was the radio star - I always get those mixed up.
  • Nobody (Score:4, Insightful)

    by popo (107611) on Monday January 29, 2007 @03:16AM (#17796814) Homepage
    Webmasters are still around.

    The entire web isn't made up of Web 2.0 community-generated content sites.
    And even if you've got the latest greatest custom CMS -- someone's got to maintain it.
    Newspapers and magazines still have webmasters -- those are publications with
    dozens of writers, editors, photo editors and community features.

    Most of the web is still (and will always be) about content, and not all content
    exists on blogs and news aggregators. (Although, TFA is correct in its observation that
    an increasing amount of it is). Enterprise level publishing still requires webmasters
    to manage increasingly complex sites with multiple integrated systems, databases
    servers, ad networks and a distributed team of editors, writers and programmers.

    If you're the New York times, WebMD, iVillage, MSN, etc. a WordPress install isn't
    going to replace your webmaster.

    I think a better question might be: who killed the low level webmaster?

  • I think... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by urbanradar (1001140) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .gnidleifyhtomit.> on Monday January 29, 2007 @03:19AM (#17796822) Homepage
    ...that, as technology moved on, there just weren't enough webmasters around who were good at their job. In the early days of the web, just having a website was enough to be taken reasonably seriously as a professional. Back in those days, all you needed to know was a little HTML (and not even HTML 4, depending how early on, never mind CSS, JavaScript, Flash or cross-browser compatibility) and you needed a few writing skills. Nowadays, the bar is a little higher. Nowadays, a "webmaster" would have to be a competent designer, competent developer *and* a fairly skilled writer, not to mention a pretty good moderator, since so many websites nowadays have a community.

    People who are good at all of that are far and few between, so instead of having one mythical webmaster who does everything, it makes more sense to have the tasks split up into different jobs: Web designer, web developer and content provider (which may be any sort of professional, for example marketing or journalism, or the website user himself).
  • Hey, (Score:2, Funny)

    by WhatDoIKnow (962719)
    What about the gophermaster?

    :wq
  • Those of us who work in libraries and in other settings in which one spends a great deal of time trying to track down documentation of various kinds have found over the years that email to webmasters is very, very rarely answered. It is though your inquiry is sucked into oblivion as soon as you hit, "Enter." Or else the webmaster refers you to someone else who doesn't respond. It just isn't worth the trouble to try to get the info you need through webmasters, however nice they may be as evidenced by the cou
    • It is though your inquiry is sucked into oblivion as soon as you hit, "Enter."

      Did you try going in to get the sigil stone?

  • The butler, they're always guilty.
  • It was the head of HR, in the server room, with the ethernet cable.
  • by gbobeck (926553) on Monday January 29, 2007 @03:26AM (#17796854) Homepage Journal
    I did a rather quick search on monster.com (results: http://jobsearch.monster.com/Search.aspx?q=webmast er&fn=&lid=&re=130&cy=us&JSNONREG=1 [monster.com] ), and as of 1/29/2007 2:30 (GMT-6), there are 189 listings for "webmaster"

    I also did a quick search on moster.com (results: http://jobsearch.monster.com/Search.aspx?q=radio%2 0star&fn=&lid=&re=0&cy=us&JSNONREG=1&pg=1 [monster.com] ) , and as of 1/29/2007 2:30 (GMT-6), there are 24 listings for "radio star", thus proving that Video didn't kill the radio star.

    Of course, you can take these results for what they are worth. After all, I got 371 results when I searched for "nose picker" on monster.com ( http://jobsearch.monster.com/Search.aspx?q=nose%20 picker&fn=&lid=&re=0&cy=us&JSNONREG=1&pg=1 [monster.com] )
  • My thoughts, FWIW -

    People who might have called themselves webmasters before now call themselves bloggers. These days it is quite trivial to make a web page, especially with all the on-line tools around. Maybe back in the day you had to know a little HTML to put up your own personal web page, and you might have felt special enough about it that you gave yourself a title. Not so anymore. When your average 12 year old can churn out a Myspace page (albeit a blinding, noisy, tooth grinding affront to all th
    • by b0s0z0ku (752509)
      When your average 12 year old can churn out a Myspace page (albeit a blinding, noisy, tooth grinding affront to all that is holy) being a "Webmaster" just doesn't give you the street cred it did back in the 90s.

      Meh, in the 90s there were AOHell profiles that were just as (if not more!) painful to look at and annoying. Filling out a questionnaire and uploading some pics and music does not a web page make, not if you want your organization or yourself to have some credibility online. The best-looking and

  • by rabiddeity (941737) on Monday January 29, 2007 @03:31AM (#17796878) Homepage
    Your previous generation of self-appointed "webmasters" were the first folks on the scene. This was before most people even knew what a hyperlink was, let alone HTML. Therefore, being able to hack together a page that would render properly was a rare ability. It was a new form of media, with its own rules, and it was trying to borrow aesthetically from print media. So you had a bunch of "pages" that, honestly, looked like crap (partly because the people with skills were focusing more on functionality than form, and partly because nobody knew what a good "web page" was supposed to look like).

    Gradually, programmers started making better tools so that less technically-inclined people could jump in and try things. Some of these folks were artists, and some rather beautiful and elegant layouts were developed. At about the same time, tools started popping up that allowed people to type content into a text box and have it appear with the proper formatting applied, or have the data be automatically imported and formatted from a database. With this, the amount of content on the web increased dramatically. A webmaster's focus was on editing and uploading individual HTML files (a comparatively laborious task compared to entering something into a blog post form), and at the same time he had to compete directly with the better designs and layouts from the art pool.

    So what happened? The more technically oriented webmasters became LAMP specialists or coders (and the bottom of the barrel started making IE-only pages). The more artistically inclined ones discovered CSS and Dreamweaver and went on to contribute to a prettier and easier to use web. A very small minority with talents in both areas got fantastic jobs and made lots of money making tools for artists or better interfaces (dynamic HTML, slide-out widgets, WYSIWYG in forms). And the rest? Well, you don't get very far if you can't adapt.
  • Ok, it had to be said...

    Oh My God, They Killed Kenny The Webmaster. You Bastards!!!
  • The job is taken by a female, so the title is now "WebMistress"
  • by XorNand (517466) * on Monday January 29, 2007 @03:36AM (#17796910)
    ::Wince:: A WordPress blog making the frontpage of Slashdot (my blog nonetheless). FYI, I'm using the WP-Cache [mnm.uib.es] Wordpress plugin to help keep the thing online. If it stays up, it's almost certainly because of that functionality. The software itself is running on a pretty much idle, dedicated Xeon box in a datacenter.
  • Managed hosting and the bunch of tools for a CMS, database access over the web, a control panel like PLESK, cpanel etc. Who needs a webmaster anymore when you can do much more sitting with a notebook on ur beanbag?
    • by b0s0z0ku (752509)
      Managed hosting and the bunch of tools for a CMS, database access over the web, a control panel like PLESK, cpanel etc. Who needs a webmaster anymore when you can do much more sitting with a notebook on ur beanbag?

      Businesses that do other things than web design still might want an employee/group/outside person to handle those things. Why? Because they have some idea of what the site should look like and what info it should contain, but they don't want to be bothered with the exact layout and workings.

  • ...with its tools, in the server room.

    Ok, ok, the Clue jokes are getting old and have been repeated like a billion times by now. So I won't make (another) one.

    But seriously. Webpage design is outsourced to designing companies, a content management system is slapped onto the page's back and from then on, anyone with at least half a clue can add and manipulate content rather easily, without even knowing the first thing about HTML.

    The webmaster isn't dead. He's just working for another company now, or he is un
  • Did it ever exist? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pubjames (468013) on Monday January 29, 2007 @04:13AM (#17797096)
    The premise of this article is just dumb. "Webmaster" was never a profession - the term is just dumb and that's why it's no longer used. There are a lot of well paid, in-demand web developers, designers and administrators out there, but I expect most of them would object if you called them "webmaster".
  • by CmdrGravy (645153) on Monday January 29, 2007 @04:46AM (#17797216) Homepage
    I was a webmaster. The first thing I did was build a Content Management System so the people who were actually going to use the website could update it themselves. Once I'd added all the initial content, trained up the users and fixed some bugs there was nothing for me to do any longer so I went and did something else.

    I'm sure this is a typical experience.
  • My take... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Nitroadict (1005509)

    It's probably due to not only specialization, but the growth of more methods and more complex methods of designing on the internet. When I first got a computer around 1999 - 2000, I remember around 6 months into being on the internet wanting to learn how to start web designing. It probably took me about 2 years of self teaching to get familiar with HTML (the 3rd or 4th year I pretty much knew everything about HTML), and only recently in the past year have I been serious enough to sit down and learn CSS (o

    • by Ash-Fox (726320)

      When most moved to CSS, and left tables behind, a ew stood by tables and Im more than sure a seperate group eventually just stopped doing web design altogether.
      I get so fedup with every browser rendering CSS boxes differently that I just use tables now, it's hell of a lot easier.
  • Someone set up us the bomb!
  • Market Forces... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bm_luethke (253362)
    It is not really that hard to figure out - it is called "market forces".

    We use something called "supply and demand" to determine prices and such, not just on consumer goods but on jobs and salaries also. Some jobs are just low pay or go away, 95% of the time this is better for society (though it may really suck for an individual).

    Like it or not, a "webmaster" never was one of the really tough jobs that took a lot of talent and ability. Yes, there were - and definitely still are - sites that require such, bu
  • by pla (258480) on Monday January 29, 2007 @05:40AM (#17797436) Journal
    Yet in 2007, this person has somehow vanished; even the term is scarcely mentioned. What happened?

    Two things...

    First, the task formerly called "webmaster" really didn't involve all that much real "skill" - During the dotcom boom it paid well, but damn sure shouldn't have. In general, you had two types of people doing the job - Real coders tasked with keeping the company website updated in their "spare" time, and wannabe coders who could handle HTML but not much else. Sorry, that sounds harsh, but it does set the stage.

    Enter easy-to-use WYSIWIG page editing tools, AJAX, Buzzword 2.0, and what-have you. These changes, over time, have radically segregated the web into two distinct subgroups: We have the coders I previously put in group #1 now spending a much more significant chunk of their time maintaining fairly complex systems, but still not enough to dedicate a full-time engineer to for anything except a few megasites (and on them, they have whole teams of people working on something much more similar to a real software project than to the traditional "web site"); group #2 has no role in that, and has taken to blogging, vanishing into the masses as everyone and their brother pretends the world wants to hear about their breakfast and latest messy romance.


    So what happened to the "webmaster" of old? Simple - the job outgrew most of its practitioners, but still hasn't made it far enough (with a few exceptions, of course) that real engineers would give it first billing on their resumes.
    • The company/orgainization I work for has maintained the title of WebMaster in an the hyphenated form of "WebMaster-Network Administrator", and although the scope is massive I am the single point of failure. The organization has transitioned to use web-based applications for most of its functions, all of which were designed, and programmed by me.

      We have customers that we support in a 24x7 operating enviornment globablly with 50+ million hits per month. We have 20+ GB of data fed through the site a day whic
  • by tcdk (173945)
    I sometimes feel like killing my self, when I take on my webmaster cap. I manage my own sites, a couple of galleries, blogs and forums, and I spend so much time fighting spam, that I sometimes feel like just giving up. I already removed most of the options to leave comments or submit feedback, but that isn't always an options (eps. for the message board). Yes, I've captcha'ed everything etc. etc..

    Anyway, somebody else already answered: Specialization...
  • with three different skill sets:

    Sys Admin, takes care of the box, OS, server apps
    Web Designer, designs look, feel, navigation of site, artistic type with likely limited technical skills
    Programmer(s), most likely more than one if the site is complicated and uses more than one language and/or a db.

    (note I grouping dba's in with programmers here, but that doesn't always happen that way either. so maybe 4 jobs)
  • I was a Webmaster (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Qbertino (265505) on Monday January 29, 2007 @07:25AM (#17798054)
    I was a Webmaster. Amongst other things in the field. Now Joomla [joomla.org] and the secretaries are doing the job nearly just as good as I ever could. And way cheaper and a milllion times faster. Journalists are moving in fast aswell. And nobody even needs DW anymore to do it. The last time I started DW was more than a year ago. I toyed around a bit for 5 minutes and thought of back in the days of 2000 when we were handlinking entire e-learn lectures with the DW crosshairs and DWs offline template engine. It took us hours to do what any OSS LMS I can download in 3 minutes does in an instant.

    Now I make my money setting up the CMS, customizing it, building webapps and designing databases.

    The Webmaster went the way of the weaver when the mechanical loom came. And that's a good thing. No need for humans anymore. Automate it and move on. It's a big wave and it's called cyberpunk. Learn to ride it.
  • by gelfling (6534) on Monday January 29, 2007 @07:50AM (#17798198) Homepage Journal
    Like hearing your call is very important and is being recorded for quality purposes, which of course are both ridiculous lies, the notion that there is a man behind the curtain making sure your experience is good, is a quaint silly anachronism. No one cares if their website runs better than a C- average at best. Fewer care if your browser is compatible.
  • by miller60 (554835) on Monday January 29, 2007 @08:00AM (#17798266) Homepage
    I think there are two reasons for the low visibility of "webmaster." One is that the term fell out of favor, as it was too broad and meant different things to different people. I stopped using it, because every conversation about "webmaster" skills was followed by more conversation to ensure that we were talking about the same thing. Blogs, CMS systems and Web 2.0 apps have also made it possible for lots of folks to create web content without having to learn webmaster skills. That's been a good thing.

    Having said that, there are plenty of "webmasters" out there, with a broad range of web-related skills that defy easy categorization. If you read forums like Web Hosting Talk, Digital Point or SitePoint, you'll see lots of participants that that fit the general a description.

  • As an in-corporate web designer, my wife never gets to use her BFA anymore. That's the graphic designer's job. And she doesn't work server site code. They've got a person for that and she certainly isn't a server admin. Her job is to script client side code. Period.

    I don't think it is the economy or India. She was laid off this fall in a corporate consolidation but only spent a month on unemployment because she was unprepared and spent two of her three months of severence twiddling together her online
  • by The Buggles ;)
  • ... I know! (Score:2, Funny)

    by larpon (974081)
    Video did!
  • No one wants static web pages any more.

    People are demanding interactive pages that Sally the GM's personal assistant can update as required. "Web masters" are no longer really called web masters, they've been replaced with graphic designers and application developers...

  • by RembrandtX (240864) on Monday January 29, 2007 @09:23AM (#17799124) Homepage Journal
    Who killed the webmaster, what an interesting question.

    My last job, at a fortune 500 power tool manufacturing company, my title was actually 'Webmaster' and I hated it. I took the job in 2000, Coming from another large company, the one that 90% of you use for your cable modem in the U.S. There I was a 'Web Designer', or sometimes a 'Web Developer' .. they were never too clear on the title, and I had business cards for both at one point.

    In 1998, when I took the job at the 'Cable Company', they were just rolling out their Cable Modems, and looking for sales-men. Having spent the last five years local, and over the pond, selling metal toy soldiers, paint, and full colour hobby magazines to kids [or to reluctant store owners, who didn't understand that kids spend a lot of money on my former company's products.] I sent a resume in. I was hired. Quickly. And spent 6 months in the number one,two, or three spot on their sales floor.

    Someone, somewhere found out that I actually had a degree in Computer Science .. and started asking for help with the websites for the local markets. Then they asked about help with the servers, setting up software, database design, etc etc etc. And I was migrated into the roll.
    Lots and lots of work in a brand new 'field', learning something new every day.

    Skip forward to 2000, and I changed companies for a 50% pay increase. I figured any company willing to almost double my salary HAD to have a challenging environment. Woah boy was I wrong. Most of the other 'web masters' there knew html. maybe a little javascript out of a book. NONE of them had any experience in programming. My job quickly turned into churning out HTML filled spam-email, and endlessly updating the look-and-feel of a few corporate websites to keep up with marketing driven initiatives.

    I did get to write a cool football pick program for a well known cystic fibrosis charity the last year there though .. and we gave away like a dozen trips to Hawaii.

    I spent FIVE years there, trying to make my job a better one. But that great salary was becoming less so, as I had few raises. I was moved from my original department that had a bonus scheme - to another that didn't. [like a 10-15k a year pay cut on good years] I worked for a number of bosses who had NO idea what I could actually do, and when I tried to explain to them - couldn't understand what they didn't understand :P [Not their fault, advertising / marketing people are not code folks .. what did I expect ?]

    It got so I was embarrassed to mention my title to anyone in the company. I was doing NO real work, just busywork, and watching folks who went to other companies that I doing all the cool stuff, for the same or more money. I had chosen poorly.

    So .. I left .. Now i run a tech department at a start up doing some interesting stuff [http] and the future looks to be interesting, lucrative with some luck.

    So what killed the webmaster ? I think it was a little bit of a lot of things :

    Many early webmasters were code heads who learned html early on, and went with it. Hacking away at a new idea was like breathing to those guys. These guys became in high demand, as there were very few full time coders who wanted to give that up for 'html' crap, but people did give it up, when the salaries surpassed what they were making. With clear second site, it seemed such easy work for good money .. a cake walk. Those people go t bored. Most left.

    The other kind of early webmaster was the person who saw html code, and dremweaver or (shudder) frontpage, and set up shop as a webmaster, with no coding experience - and PROUD of the fact that they were self taught. They could do layout, many had a good eye for design, and carved a niche and hung on to it desperately in the early 2ks. There were LOTS of these guys.

    Throw on top of that the cha

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