If you have a few minutes to spare, why not pay a visit to the UK Advisory Network website? How could you resist reading about how it is "promoting closer working between Government and the private sector", and "consists of members with essential knowledge and invaluable expertise who have completed a robust application process"? Oh, and by the way, that click just cost £11.78 (around $15).
Yes, you'll probably be amazed to learn it cost the UK Government that much for every visitor. And you thought using the Web was a way to reduce costs! They could probably have photo-copied the list of members who have completed a robust application process and sent it by snail mail for less. Or, and here's a shocking thought, got the robust members to set up their own website and pay for it. No doubt they charge an admirable fee for their expert advice that would easily cover it.
And here's a much more exciting site for you to try: http://www.lovechips.co.uk/. Check out the Chip-O-Vision video, or read the Chip Papers. Yes, a whole site devoted to how wonderful chips (as in fish 'n' chips, not flat things that come in bags) are. Then scroll to the bottom to discover that the site is run by "The Potato Council" - what used to be the Potato Marketing Board until then realized they needed a fancy new name - which is "a division of the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHBD)". In other words, the Government.
There are plenty more as well. In fact, according to a recent newspaper report, there are 820 of them. And a review of 46 out of the 820 revealed that the cost of building just these was £94 million ($140 million), plus staff costs of another £32 million ($48 million). Mind you, according to the report they plan to close down around 600 of the so called "vanity sites" to save money and help balance the national budget. But what's even more amazing is that they already closed down 907 - there used to be over 1,700 of them! I wonder if they'll publish a full list of the ones that are left so I can go and see what else they've been spending our tax on before they all disappear. Is it any wonder that the country has run out of money?
Maybe I need to give up my job and go back to building websites. I reckon I could knock up a site like Love Chips for that money, and still turn a reasonable profit. Or perhaps I can persuade my bosses here at p&p that the next project should be a White Paper on "How To Build A Website For Less Than Three Million Dollars"...