Monthly Archives: April 2011

An explanation (with snark) of content farms from NPR

NPR offers an article about the low-paying, high-volume content farms that Google went after recently:

“Here’s how you know a content farm when you see one. Search Google for “how to change a tire,” Roth says, and there is “a six-point explanation of how to change a tire, and point three is something like, ‘Get out of the car. Try to find your jack.’ “

“You can tell that whoever was writing it was trying to finish it as quickly as possible in order to get the tiny amounts of money they’re making for doing these stories.”

Web’s ‘Content Farms’ Grow Audiences For Ads


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AOL drops its freelancers — unless they want to work without pay

While bloggers who wrote for free for supersite Huffington Post are angry because they weren’t brought in on the deal, the freelancers who actually worked for pay are apparently being pushed out — and invited to join the ranks of the volunteers. According to, the freelancers who worked for two of HuffPo’s properties, MOviefone and Cinematical, received an email saying that all paid positions will be on-staff (with a few exceptions), and inviting them to continue writing as unpaid bloggers.

It’s interesting that HuffPo seems to want to retreat back to the old newsroom format, with all its writers on site. I suspect that part of its strategy isn’t only a romantic vision of a His Girl Friday-type newsroom (or a more corporate setup where writers are watched to make sure they’re not watching YouTube on company time), but also an expectation that enough of their bloggers will continue to create content for free to make up for the loss of freelancers who (gasp! choke!) insist on actually being paid for their work.

Here’s a quote from the letter, as provided by the Observer:

Sometime soon???this week, I believe???many of you will be receiving an email informing you that your services as a freelancer will no longer be required. You will be invited to contribute as part of our non-paid blogger system; and though I know that for many of you this will not be an option financially, I strongly encourage you to consider it if you???d like to keep writing for us, because we value all of your voices and input.

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