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Are the Proletariat are taking over the printing press?

For some time, a growing number of content farms can produce a lot of content for next to nothing. The benefit of this is that they can suck up lots of traffic and serve it with plenty of adverts.

It sounds excellent, except the argument goes this content is relatively low quality and is usually a regurgitated churn that competes in visibility terms with supposedly good content from the old and generally right-wing media sources (run with me on this one.  I rely on that. In fact, I’m talking about established print media, and there are plenty of “good media outlets” that could be called the left-wing media – but that wouldn’t suit my blog title!).

Recently a trade group going by the Internet Content Syndication Council (ICSC) has been getting a document out there entitled “Council To Counter Web Content Generators Growing Clout”. 

Essentially, this document argues that content generators such as Demand Media and Associated Content threaten journalists’ jobs.  They also argue that many content generators (or content farms as they are known in the SEO community) are reducing the overall quality and benefit of content on the net.  It’s worth noting that the pundits are weighing in and complaining about the quality of content. 

Being put out by our favourite content farms are journalists themselves who demand considerably higher fees than the freelancers who work for the content generators do.

The word quality sticks in my throat a little bit – because at the end of the day, Google isn’t really about quality – when you talk about quality for Google, you are talking about PPC – what Google is really all about its relevance. That is the relevance of a search to the content out there. There are measures in the algorithm that determine how searchers use the range, which acts as a quality measure. However, that’s not really the point.

Generally speaking, the content that content mills are putting out there is also much more search engine friendly, which means it’s not full of flowery purple phraseology that often goes hand in hand with a journalist writing for a specific target market. This means, in many cases, the content produced by the content mills is actually much more accessible to the everyman trying to get the info; the point is it’s not about lofty pretensions; it’s about raking quickly and lots.

A Macbook with WordPress open, trying to adjust their readability score

What is the ICSC proposing?

The ICSC seem to be proposing web standards – some kind of quality guidelines for content on the web. Does that make them the content police?

And who will they produce? Because the thing about the internet is that every second of every minute of everyday people are adding more and more information to the internet, it’s never-ending and nor should it be. It no longer needs the fleet street elite to moderate, shape or controls it. It’s at large.

I write a hell of a lot of content for various websites – my content has been ripped off, reused, rewritten so many times it’s just funny. I don’t moan about this. It’s the nature of the beast. 

It’s going to happen all the time, and that’s ok – all that matters is getting it out there and making noise. But, unfortunately, that’s where the content mill sare able to dominate. They can produce a lot for not a lot, and traditional media has yet to catch up.

What’s more – who are these new Content Police even going to be rambling on to? Each other. No one else really cares. Most people just want the information that answers their questions, and it’s in the content mills interest to make sure that no matter how poorly written the Content Police argue it is, the content does.

Who decides the level of quality of content?

 This is really a case of the Content Police vs the general web surfer because, at the end of the day, it’s the average web surfer who will determine the quality of a piece of content.

And who are the people writing this content? Unfortunately, the people who write this content are often portrayed as individuals who work as freelancers or in the backwaters of some far off country sweating out content. 

In fact, many of these people are in western countries with excellent standards of written skills (at least as good as the journalist elite!). So the problem the established journalists really have is that they are being undercut. So deal with it, guys. This is simply a case of supply and demand.

 Quality of Google’s Search Results

 In fact, Google does consider the quality of its search results to be important in some way – they recently published patents that help their search algorithm identify “areas of inadequate search content“. 

Essentially by this, they mean that they will let people know where there are holes in terms of the content out there so they can write about it. I think of this as how Wikipedia put a “Can you expand this article” tag at the top of a short entry.

This will only encourage more content to be produced – Google doesn’t really mind if the content is quality. 

It doesn’t want other ways to find the information the searcher is looking for. Ultimately, this is Google protecting its virtual monopoly by being extra helpful – why else would they have included hot topics in Google.

Are the Proletariat are taking over the printing press?

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