Back in October Duncan and I went kind of head-to-head over a content spewing machine called Demand Media. While I pretty well called the whole business idea as being on the scummy side Duncan disagreed saying that it was a viable business model that worked well.
Well I still think it’s scummy and I don’t particularly care if the business model is good or not because in the long run businesses like Demand Media, Aol’s Seed and other content pump and dump businesses are detrimental to the web as a whole, but most specifically to the blogosphere.
Interestingly enough the subject has gain some new traction today after the pontification by one of the more well known web blogging celebrities and a post over at ReadWriteWeb by Richard MacManus. In the post he refers to the fact that he’s been writing a lot about these “so-called ‘content farms’ ” but points to only one post that was more of a news flash than a thought piece.
Of course no-where does any linkage show up to what we have written here at The Inquisitr before it became a hot topic, but I guess that can be forgiven due to the amoeba like memory of the blogosphere as well as being blacklisted from the big fat pipeline that all tech bloggers read to get their scoops (see I didn’t say Techmeme). However that all aside much of the points raised by those two posts contain some valid points.
The biggest of those points is that these pump and dump content farms are pushing low calorie high fat content into the web in the hope that if they have SEO’d their ass good enough t hey will push those posts to the top of any search results. In the case of Demand Media that is to the tune of 4,000 posts per day; or 1,460,000 per year – and that’s just from one company on an average day.
Against this you have many great news oriented blogs trying to compete with their average of 4 or 5 posts per day per writer. Now let’s suggest that each of these blogs has an average of 5 full time writers and they are meeting their quotas the best they can do in a year is 7,300 posts per year. By the numbers alone the good content is going to be literally drowned in a sea of farmed content.
One of the argument’s that Richard makes in his post is that in light of this supersizing of garbage content the search engines, and Google specifically, are going to have to step up their game in trying to keep search results free of this kind of content pollution.
I can only hope that Google and other search engines find betters ways to surface quality content, for its own sake as well as ours. Because right now Google is being infiltrated on a vast scale by content farms.
If you thought it was bad enough that many professional blogs pump out 30 posts a day, often regurgitations of press releases or quick write-ups of “news” such as Twitter being down for a few minutes (note the irony of that tweet), this new type of Google gaming is on a far bigger scale.
What Demand Media, Answers.com and AOL are doing is having a much greater impact on the quality and findability of content on the Web.
Excuse me but is this the same Google that doesn’t even care that its own blogging network has been taken over by splogs and spammers or that their ad network is more of a joke that only exist because there is no serious competition to it.
As noble as the call to Google and other bloggers might be to maintain the quality of what is being publish the reality is that as long as VCs and shareholders continue to support companies like Demand Media, Aol and yes Google then nothing will change. The blogosphere will continue to be gamed, and increasingly polluted, to the point that any meaningful content will be impossible to find or will have a steep price tag attached to it.