I’ve been thinking deeply for a long time about the future of the term “webmaster” and wanted to express some thoughts. Most people recognize “webmaster” as a term from earlier Internet history that describes the activities of the person responsible for a Web site. I’ve previously defined it this way:
One responsible for designing, developing, and managing all aspects of a website’s content, connectivity and human resources.
I’ve always thought of myself as a webmaster, despite the unattractiveness of the term. Today, we don’t usually call ourselves “masters” of anything. Perhaps this is due to humility. Perhaps political correctness. I don’t know. I left any discomfort I had with the word back in the nineties.
On the positive side:
Google has chosen to continue using the term in products like “Google Webmaster Central” and “Google Webmaster Tools.” They are still calling the sacred SEO document the Google Webmaster Guidelines. If Google does it, it must be cool, right?
Causing me concerns:
Webmaster.org recently sold for $50,000, yet sites having “webmaster” in the domain don’t seem to be as popular as they once were. The approximate average monthly search volume according to the Google AdWords Keyword Tool for “webmaster” on exact match is reported at only 33,100.
With the advent of 3G and smartphones, the webmaster is no longer the mysterious guy behind a desktop or in an air-conditioned datacenter pulling switches. He’s at the coffee shop.
Blog software is another factor. The fact that anyone can get a WordPress or Blogger weblog up and running in minutes with a really nice looking pre-made theme makes coding and maintenance less of an issue. Most bloggers probably don’t think of themselves as webmasters.
What about the social media user? He doesn’t have to design, develop or manage anything except relationships. If he happens to be a poweruser, he may control a lot more traffic than the average webmaster.
These are some random entertaining comments I picked up from Digg users that show some insight into their view of the word:
Who still uses the term “webmaster”?
I remember the first time I read some “webmaster” complaining that Firefoxe’s [sic] rising popularity was making more work for them, and “breaking” all their pages. (Fake tear dabbed from my eye.) I almost burst a blood vessel. Firefox isn’t Netscape 4.7, people.
I haven’t used the “webmaster” term in years.
Well the term “Webmaster” died in 1998 so web developers had to come up with something legit sounding.
Does anyone else absolutely abhor the term “webmaster”?
…that’s what they called you 8 years ago if you knew HTML.
Any web guy that calls himself a “webmaster” probably isn’t a master of anything. The term “webmaster” has become a translation for the word “amateur.” The web has diversified into so many different realms that webmaster is no longer meaningful (was it ever though?)
The term “webmaster” just makes me cringe. “Look Ma, I’ve mastered the web!”
Never call yourself a webmaster. Why people still insist on using that terrible term is beyond all comprehension.
I thought webmasters were extinct.
You can tell Syria is behind in Internet technology when they use terms like “webmaster.” In the US we stopped using that term when they realized it made them sound like Spider-Man villains.
…the fact that he calls people that code and design for a living “webmaster”, proves that he is out of touch. he should go back to being a dungeon master like he was prior to writing this.
Dugg for use of the ancient term webmaster.
I don’t know what is going to become of the term “webmaster,” but I have an uneasy feeling about its future.