Someone else has already commented that Odyssey sounds like Medium. It even looks like Medium, with a similar design, lots of white space, very little color except in the images.

Medium sells premium memberships at $5 per month but doesn’t carry advertising. At $5 a pop, Medium contributors are basically paying for the privilege of making tiny sums of money.

However, I went through the Odyssey Online website and what I can’t figure out is how they are making any money. I couldn’t find any advertising on Odyssey, so what is the deep, dark purpose of the website?

When you go on Facebook, it is obvious that they are raking in big bucks through their advertising carriage. Google does the same thing.

Maybe I’m getting stupid in my old age but where is the profit motive that is driving Odyssey? The advertising ratios (number of inches of advertising copy divided by the number of inches of editorial copy) are minuscule compared other sites. (At first I couldn’t find any advertising and then I remembered to turn off my ad blockers.)

I just don’t see it. The volume and type of advertising that I am seeing on Odyssey wouldn’t support the business model they appear to be following.

The business model is not new. Guardian Liberty Voice has been doing the same thing for year. Guardian has never achieved the market penetration that Odyssey has accomplished, but Guardian actually pays writers and Odyssey doesn’t.

The non-moderated publishing model that Facebook uses was also used by the late and much lamented Open Salon, which died because it didn’t carry any advertising.

What I find amazing is that this venue can generate the traffic required to achieve a significant number of viral articles. It seems that they found a market in college age readers or recently graduated students — which was the same market that Facebook thrived up while rival Myspace crashed and burned.

The difference was that Facebook opened itself up to a general audience before Myspace did and captured the market in the same way that the IBM PC captured the consumer computer market, leaving Apple with less than a 10 percent (currently at 9.6) share of that market, by open sourcing its hardware and software.

So Odyssey is following the original Facebook marketing model by focusing on the young adult market, but I still don’t see any terrible crimes being committed here, except for the one where they use the work of naive contributors and pay them nothing in return.

Alan is a poet, journalist, short story writer, editor, website developer, and political activist. He is the executive editor of BindleSnitch.com.

Alan is a poet, journalist, short story writer, editor, website developer, and political activist. He is the executive editor of BindleSnitch.com.