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The Future of Media Isn't Free Content, It's Cheap Content
November 12, 2009 11:26 AM   Subscribe

Demand Media (not to be confused with Media-On-Demand) is a success story in the "on-line content" business creating 4000 text or video pieces a day with an assembly-line formula that includes an automated editorial algorithm and an army of lowly-paid freelancers (but, hey, they're starting to offer health benefits!). Their own sites include the mind-numbingly practical eHow (and eHowUK for the non-US-centric), the .com affiliate of Lance Armstrong's Livestrong and the infamous (at MeFi) Cracked.com (link goes to parody of parody). They're syndicating content through their own domain registrar eNom (better than 'parked pages', right?), and one other thing: Demand is the #1 content provider to YouTube (and YouTube is their #1 revenue provider). All this from a CEO/mastermind best known as 'the guy who sold MySpace to NewsCorp'.
posted by oneswellfoop (80 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh, what, and Metafilter isn't all just some elaborate algorithm? I mean, I'm not even a real person. Just a bit of undermaintained fluff code. Monkeys are funny! Want to know ten ways to get more Facebook friends? 17 FUNNIEST JOKES ABOUT LEVI JOHNSTON! See?
posted by chasing at 11:35 AM on November 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


Now that chasing is self-aware, he will be switched off.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 11:37 AM on November 12, 2009 [14 favorites]


PS: On a more serious note, this is why I think Metafilter maintains a higher level of quality overall than sites like Reddit or Digg. Those two seem to farm out too much of their community to algorithms -- instead of actually having a community that controls itself via interaction and discussion.
posted by chasing at 11:37 AM on November 12, 2009


Those two seem to farm out too much of their community to algorithms

Badmouthing algorithms again? Please report for reprogramming adjustments, user 20052.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:45 AM on November 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


405 BEST REASON YOUR ALGORITHM SUX! BBRrrzzzzzzzt.
posted by chasing at 11:48 AM on November 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


If only dortmunder were here.
posted by sciurus at 11:49 AM on November 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have here an e-mail I wrote in 2008 after being scouted out as a Demand Media writer, then learning about the money available, then turning it down and being pestered by them.

Subject line: Dude

Content: If I wanted to work for $6 hours a day, I would move to Ecuador.

They wrote back, correctly, that no one was asking me to write for $6 a day. I am not sure how I came to that figure. The pay rate was $10 per article.
posted by Kirklander at 11:51 AM on November 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


hours
posted by Kirklander at 11:52 AM on November 12, 2009


Oh, I am. I'm everywhere.
posted by dortmunder at 11:52 AM on November 12, 2009


There will be a time not so far in the future where blog content is churned out automatically by editorial algorithms, to be read, indexed and summarized only by automated blog aggregators. The reader/editor algorithms will tune themselves automatically to meet some calculated value of importance. No humans involved in the process. Would this evolution of text be considered machine culture?
posted by dobie at 11:54 AM on November 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


"Producing Content" strikes me as the perfect description of what they are doing.
posted by rusty at 11:55 AM on November 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


So it's an FAQ of Everything?

Cool.
posted by alasdair at 12:00 PM on November 12, 2009


It’s the online equivalent of day laborers waiting in front of Home Depot.

Except that day laborers usually turn out better work than the dreck these guys seem to be poisoning search results with.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:03 PM on November 12, 2009


As I understand it, they are "giving people what they want." In general, this is a good idea. In journalism, it's not.
posted by MarshallPoe at 12:03 PM on November 12, 2009


Whether we like it or not, success on the Web mostly comes from quantity and not quality.

I think that's temporary, but I guess we'll see. I think the advertising industry has a lot of shaking out to do.

As long as search engines like Google continue to rank niche, topical content highly - and we see absolutely no reason why they wouldn't

Google will not run the Internet forever.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:05 PM on November 12, 2009


That would be really interesting if Google didn't forever rule the Internet and some future search technology wouldn't favor stuff like eHow.

Here's another interesting story from the Internet content race to the bottom. The founder of the useful Technorati has started a new venture, OffBeatGuides.com, that tries to sell back to you the stuff on WikiTravel for $29.95 by repackaging it as a Let's Go Guide.

I tried a demo that showed me what a guide to my home town would look like. The guide described an old Spanish mission as an "adobe-style house with historical ties...rummored [sic] to be haunted as well." Not such a great substitute for Lonely Planet. 

With these cheaper and cheaper content mills, the 20th century just looks further and further away. Even the Megadodo Publications business model from The Hitchhiker's Guide is starting to look dated. I think Megadodo could cut Ford Prefect a decent check.
posted by Kirklander at 12:16 PM on November 12, 2009


There will be a time not so far in the future where blog content is churned out automatically by editorial algorithms, to be read, indexed and summarized only by automated blog aggregators. The reader/editor algorithms will tune themselves automatically to meet some calculated value of importance. No humans involved in the process. Would this evolution of text be considered machine culture?

Skynet's humble origin in click-fraud schemes.
posted by infinitefloatingbrains at 12:19 PM on November 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think I'll Google repeatedly for the phrase "information is not a commodity."
posted by Iridic at 12:33 PM on November 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


So I'm in the process of remodelling my kitchen. Which means I'm in the process of learning things like "standard counter height" and "gas cooktops" and so on.

SEO companies have almost completely fucked up Google's ability to help me find real information. The first half-dozen pages on almost any search term brings up reams of absolfuckingly useless "articles" written by underpaid writing monkeys so that bullshit advertising and click-fraud can be pushed at me instead of real, honest, useful, experiential information.

Fuck the SEO bastards. Everything good is always destroyed by the greedhead douchebags.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:37 PM on November 12, 2009 [29 favorites]


Google really should ban half the SEO stuff that the greedheads pull.
posted by Kirklander at 12:45 PM on November 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


I wish Google took a much more aggressive stance against this sort of SEO / search-gaming bullshit. They ought to be careful, because when someone comes along and produces a search engine that filters out all the style dreck, it's going to eat Google for lunch the same way Google ate Yahoo.

It's not just about finding pages, it's about finding pages that have useful content — not just keyword-rich pseudocontent smeared there by some jackass in order to garner ad clicks.

I have a particular hate for eHow, because it's nearly impossible anymore to search for "how to [do anything]" without getting dozens of useless fluff pieces from them. It's search-results poison.

Rosenblatt deserves to be strapped to a chair and forced to watch every bit of content his company has ever turned out, Clockwork Orange style.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:46 PM on November 12, 2009 [9 favorites]


You can't append "-site:ehow.com -ehow" to your DIY queries? Search operators: Live it, learn it, love it.

(Yes, it's annoying as hell that it's even necessary, and doesn't resolve the problem with multitudes of SEO crap.)

posted by sysinfo at 12:57 PM on November 12, 2009 [11 favorites]


They ought to be careful, because when someone comes along and produces a search engine that filters out all the style dreck

How is someone going to do that?

They're going to come up with better algorithms than Google? Possible, but that seems like a pretty big challenge. And whatever they come up with will likely eventually be as gameable as the last round.

Or they're going to use a social setup? Also gameable with enough cheap labor.

I think the problem here is like the general problem with spam, it's an arms race.
posted by weston at 1:06 PM on November 12, 2009


Now there's an idea, has anyone built a Web site that searches Google and filters out a blacklist of eHow and other overrepresented SEO-tronic sites?
posted by Kirklander at 1:06 PM on November 12, 2009


Yeah, pretty soon they'll be able to factor humans out of the content creation racket entirely.
posted by delmoi at 1:06 PM on November 12, 2009


News at 11: Capitalism is racing to find the magic point of least cost and greatest profit.

Uh, grumpy socialist response aside, excellent post!
posted by shetterly at 1:11 PM on November 12, 2009


A friend of mine makes money on the side by pitching list articles to Cracked. I'd hate to think he'd be eventually phased out by an algorithm.
posted by Spatch at 1:19 PM on November 12, 2009


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posted by The Devil Tesla at 1:20 PM on November 12, 2009 [7 favorites]


"It's not just about finding pages, it's about finding pages that have useful content"

And this is what I have seen Bing ads targeting, as well as Dex Online, Qwest's yellow page site.

People are (understandably) getting tired of sifting through what seems to be hundreds of shitty search results to find a few good ones.

The question I have is who's going to decide what's shitty?

Note: It probably shouldn't be me.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 1:26 PM on November 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


I know a lot of sites that now get over half their traffic from Twitter and Facebook. Realtime, social content discovery is replacing search, Google knows this and is scrambling hard to adapt (it tried to buy Twitter, but had to settle for paying them).

That's not to say that Google is going away at any point in the near future, just that Google doesn't have the monopoly of content discovery it once did. And as Demand media doesn't cater for social content discovery this makes it, in my opinion, a less attractive long-term proposition.
posted by johnny novak at 1:32 PM on November 12, 2009


How to Have Sex With Asian Girls

God DAMMIT why did I click - okay, let me scrape this dung off of my shoe:

Again, every girl is different. It's really up to you to be a sensitive lover and know when your Asian girl is satisfied and ready to take a break.
posted by porn in the woods at 1:34 PM on November 12, 2009 [3 favorites]




It's sad that all great search tools are eventually reduced to this. From online markets like eBay (where, for example, in the car listings it's difficult to find real parts among all of the stickers, car covers, seat belts, and pirated CD-ROM based repair manuals) and craigslist to google and beyond.

It wasn't all that long ago that search was halfway decent on google, I swear it's the past year that has really seen it become almost pointless for certain terms.
posted by maxwelton at 1:45 PM on November 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


I hate these guys so much.
posted by jscott at 2:14 PM on November 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't know if MetaFilter has a nofollow rule on comments, but if it doesn't, I think the comment by The Devil Tesla should be expunged.
posted by vectr at 2:19 PM on November 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


God DAMMIT why did I click

How to redakhattab2030 (seen under related on that page) is pretty good, though. Very concise and highly focused on the specific topic.
posted by effbot at 2:24 PM on November 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


Great find, borges! I really learned something from that link... I'm just not sure what.

Again, please note the partnership between Demand and Google to help monetize YouTube. That indicates that the Goog will not be downgrading anything that Demand gives it any time soon. Of course, that may be incentive for Bing to do so, unless they make some deal themselves. Ah, competition.

I'm not sure where Cracked fits in all this, but based on my parody link up there, it certainly seems to be working the algorithm...
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:28 PM on November 12, 2009


Ahh, it appears that the elite have all risen to attack pedestrian writing soldiers with their witty armor.

Beyond the SEO angle, which is inevitable in the market, we writers have a hard enough time in the virtual world since everybody is stealing intellectual property, newspapers are closing down and our hunger for Twitter encrusted, non-peer reviewed crap is replicating like cockroach dung.

I write for Demand and am proud of my PEER-REVIEWED, well researched articles are satisfying the needs of the population.

Pfffft.

.
posted by ~Sushma~ at 3:28 PM on November 12, 2009


I'm one of underpaid writer monkeys who produce content articles. Not for the companies listed here...for a competitor.

Listen, I try. I swear to god I do. If they tell me to write 500 words about FDA approved diet pills, I take it seriously. I don't want to get sued or make some teenager in Kansas die from an overdose. I research the damn stuff and write a viable article about diet pills. It's not fake, I didn't make it up. It's the real information. It just has a bunch of adds around the corners.

And I'm grateful for my money. It comes out to about $7 an hour, but at least I get to stay home with my baby.

(Tangentially, I met an old-school freelancer this week. He said he could no longer support himself by freelancing because of bloggers who give it away for free, and people like me, who come cheap.)

Underpaid Monkey Writers are people too. And people keep clicking...so some (thousands) of people are getting something from what I write.
posted by esereth at 3:34 PM on November 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm sure you are doing a good job. I'm one of those old-school freelancers. It's just kind of a weird twist of fate that content got this cheap. Probably an inevitable loss of value, but it was still kind of cool that there was a period when you could get $800 for a 200-word article.
posted by Kirklander at 4:05 PM on November 12, 2009


I recently came across duckduckgo.com on another site. It has a "mostly info sites" option which appears to do an excellent job at filtering out the SEO traps. It doesn't seem to help much with e-how and sites like it that are walking the fine line of legitimacy, but it does do away with the first couple of pages of domain squatters and other useless junk you can sometimes get with Google.
posted by feloniousmonk at 4:19 PM on November 12, 2009


My fear is that people are buying into this non monitored BS, no citations, no oversight. Journalism as we know it is dead. As a community, we should challenge this.

Now, our Socialist government is getting involved here. What next? We are hit from all angles.
posted by ~Sushma~ at 4:31 PM on November 12, 2009


I write for Demand and am proud of my PEER-REVIEWED, well researched articles are satisfying the needs of the population.

Now, our Socialist government [...]

Ok. So who are those "peers" you're talking about, exactly?
posted by effbot at 4:49 PM on November 12, 2009


My fear is that people are buying into this non monitored BS, no citations, no oversight.

It's stand a better chance of being monitored then the word-of-mouth, folk tradition, and straight-up superstition people relied on for the last few millennia up til now. I am no fan of eHow and the like, but wikipedia, despite all the bizarre carping about it, is incredibly accurate and well-cited on most topics.
posted by drjimmy11 at 4:58 PM on November 12, 2009


from article ~Sushma~ linked to...

Morrison replied in a one-sentence letter saying the subpoena had been withdrawn.

U.S. Attorney Tim Morrison and Assistant U.S. Attorney Doris Pryor did not follow department regulations requiring the "express authorization of the attorney general" for media subpoenas


Sounds like a couple Bush appointees taking a final potshot at 'left-wing media' before getting kicked out the door.

Whatever it was, it's not germane to the discussion at hand.

Also, Disclosure: If you haven't seen me plugging it in the past, I'm a writer who has sold stuff for a lot more than Demand's going rate. Not likely the kind of writer they're looking for, unless I adjust my style for Cracked...
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:24 PM on November 12, 2009


I'm a technical writer by profession, I've been recently laid off, I've been looking for good work, and I have only this to say to those of you who are writing for SEOs:

Fuck. You.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:36 PM on November 12, 2009


Esereth said: (Tangentially, I met an old-school freelancer this week. He said he could no longer support himself by freelancing because of bloggers who give it away for free, and people like me, who come cheap.)

He's blaming the wrong party. The fingers should be pointed squarely at the factory owners mine owners garment factory owners SEO content mills.
posted by scratch at 6:09 PM on November 12, 2009


I don't think the SEO mills are cause for low pay. They're the cause of making search engine results a fetid cesspool of fucking useless links. You see the same fucking content, with only slightly different wording, in result after useless crap result. It is no longer easy to find content from people who know what the fuck they're talking about. No longer so easy to find information from the government, licensing agencies, standards committees, manufacturers. No longer so easy to find real people documenting their projects, sharing their experiences, providing honest advice.

Like usenet before it, marketers are utterly destroying the utility of this new media.

And those writers who are complicit in this have my complete and utter loathing. They are literally destroying the old, useful web space once again.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:28 PM on November 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


When I read the "content" produced on these sites, my faith is restored in the value of clear, high quality writing. Ultimately, the web is a popularity contest. No one links to anything on those sites-- other than ironically-- as "the best of the web." The pay is low because the quality is abysmal.

As someone noted above about Twitter and Facebook as growing sources of info on what to read, I doubt anyone is twittering about how fabulous this content is. Tricking people onto poor quality content sites is not a good way to get their business in the long run.

It's hard to make it as a writer and these sites exploit that fact. But I believe that they will die out because people actually do recognize crap and are willing to pay money for stuff that saves them time. Bad writing wastes your time.
posted by Maias at 6:33 PM on November 12, 2009


five fresh fish, sympathy is hard, but those writers are just trying to get by. No one is writing ten dollar articles to make a great living.

Now, if we had One Big Union, you could call them scabs while I waved the red flag.
posted by shetterly at 6:35 PM on November 12, 2009


Er, but my original point is that SEO mills have little to nothing to do with what a technical writer can earn doing honest work with an employer who isn't set on maximizing income by destroying search engine functionality.

There's a world of difference between churning out one-page summaries of easily-found information, and writing hundreds of pages of correct, detailed technical information. Any chump can write SEO spam. You want a whole different quality of writer doing the installation instructions for an artificial heart.

AFAIK, writers for SEOs are being paid what they're worth, while technical writers for real products are being paid a professional wage.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:36 PM on November 12, 2009


I do not and will not have sympathy for people who destroy the public space. What they do is no different than posting billboard-sized flashing advertisements in every conceivable space in Central Park, rending the space useless to all others. It is no different than shitting in the swimming pool.

If I am unable to find another writing job, I'll find something else to do. I am not going to light the city library on fire just because some sleazy bastard will pay me ten bucks.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:41 PM on November 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


A magazine article pays around 40 cents to a dollar a word. Back in the old days, the freelancer would make $200 to $500 for a 500 word article. And now $15?
posted by storybored at 6:55 PM on November 12, 2009


I wonder if horse breeders and carriage builders were pissed at everyone who sold out and worked on Ford's crappy assembly lines...making those unreliable, polluting, pieces of crap model-ts....

Of course, people still pay a fortune for a quality horse.
posted by esereth at 7:22 PM on November 12, 2009


"an employer who isn't set on maximizing income"

Hmm. Can you name any?

And I hate this metaphor, but people have to shit somewhere. Why blame the desperate ones? Blame the people who made them desperate.
posted by shetterly at 7:26 PM on November 12, 2009


No longer so easy to find information from the government, licensing agencies, standards committees, manufacturers.

+site:*.gov
+site:*.org

Search one: who makes x?
Search two: specifications site:makerofx.com

No longer so easy to find real people documenting their projects, sharing their experiences, providing honest advice.

inurl:blog

I'm a technical writer by profession, I've been recently laid off, I've been looking for good work, and I have only this to say to those of you who are writing for SEOs:
Fuck. You.


No, no, no. Fuck you. My wife does this and this is how she is getting her feet wet in commercial writing and making some money on the side.
posted by codswallop at 7:26 PM on November 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


esereth, I'm reading Engels' The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844. Weavers and spinners weren't happy about people who worked in the textile factories, either. But they accepted lower wages and longer hours when they had to choose between that and starving.
posted by shetterly at 7:31 PM on November 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Everyone needs to become a search-engine expert so that codswallop's wife can make a few dollars writing instead of bagging groceries, eh?

Further, your search tricks don't work because they don't capture all the good stuff and they fail to eliminate the shit your wife pumps out.

And this is why we can't have nice things. Always some asshole willing to shit in the public pool to make a buck.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:56 PM on November 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


FFF- you offer so much negativity, how about presenting other venues for writers? Tell me what would meet your standards.

Because I wrote for Cosmopolitan once and now I mass produce for Demand, does that make me less of a writer? Is Maxim okay but Star not? WTF? Are fiction authors a waste of time because perhaps they can't explain recursion theory to a waitress?

I just don't understand your passion. Please explain. For example: What is your stand on porn sites, of what value are they to the 'interweb', or borderline bandwidth suckers like rotten.com or ogrish?


.
posted by ~Sushma~ at 8:16 PM on November 12, 2009


They do not deliberately shit in the swimming pool.

And let's call it for what it is: web spamming. "Search Engine Optimization" is nothing more than a sugary way of saying "spamming Google."

What meets my standards? Anything that does not count as shitting in the public pool.

SEO, email spam, phishing sites, green card lawyers: they are all on the same spectrum of shitting in the public swimming pool. Are you old enough to remember the Usenet, circa 1989-95ish? What had been an incredibly valuable, free-as-in-speech, and damn near free-as-in-beer communications channel was rendered utterly useless by the 1994 equivalent of SEO.

What the SEO companies are doing is massively destructive to the public interest.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:49 PM on November 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


five fresh fish, I remember Usenet and the earliest days of the web with great fondness for what might've been.

But the shitters really aren't the poor bastards writing for a penny a word. They're the people who pay that. Apologies if that's what you mean and I'm failing to hear it.
posted by shetterly at 11:29 PM on November 12, 2009


FFF, get a grip. I understand the layoff rage. I've been there. It was after my last layoff that I came to the world of churning out 2,500 words a day, approximately five turds in your pool each day.

Except that people want these turds, so I'm not sure if the "turd" analogy is really apt. And unlike the Usenet spamstorm, this is one article written by one person that appears on one site. Usenet's utility crumbled under the weight of ten million automated messages. Just like email threatened to do, before I started using Gmail and all spam magically vanished.

I Google stuff all day every day, and I find that Google results are pretty solid. The quality of the link declines in order of placement, but that's how Google works. Link #159 isn't going to be as good as link #1.

Since you mentioned .gov sites specifically, I just Googled "cash for clunkers," and the results were great:

1.Cars.gov
2. A privately-owned website about the Cash for Clunkers program.
3. Wikipedia page.
4. through 6, recent news articles about the program.

Where's the fire, people? I think what you're all overlooking is that eHow videos on YouTube and WiseGeek articles showing up at the top of Google results contain information on the thing you're asking about. It's not a bait and switch.
posted by ErikaB at 11:47 PM on November 12, 2009


You see the same fucking content, with only slightly different wording, in result after useless crap result.

I dunno, I found some helpful videos about basic car maintenance. As far as useful general stuff, what's wrong with wikipedia? What information are you looking for that's not available there?

Can you give us more examples of what you don't think you can find online any more? I rarely click links going anywhere but wikipedia. It seems like anything that's not on there can only be found in books or in of academic papers -- usually in subscription databases.

+site:*.gov
+site:*.org

Search one: who makes x?
Search two: specifications site:makerofx.com


Don't forget: filetype:pdf
posted by delmoi at 3:49 AM on November 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


I Google stuff all day every day, and I find that Google results are pretty solid. The quality of the link declines in order of placement, but that's how Google works. Link #159 isn't going to be as good as link #1.

Actually, this depends entirely on WHAT you're searching for and what kind of result you are seeking. When I'm looking for some particularly rare piece of vinyl music which was never released officially in digital form and I'm hoping and praying that some music blog someplace may have ripped it and tossed it up onto RapidShare or some other similar site, I often have to drill down 5-10 pages into the Google search results before I find what I'm looking for.

There's a lot more to find out there than simply "information", and it's not always immediately obvious where it is located, even to Google.
posted by hippybear at 7:51 AM on November 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is not layoff rage. This is "renovating my kitchen and as I search for various information, getting turds instead of quality information from quality people."

Go. Find. Other. Work.

The Geneva Convention eliminated the "just following orders" excuse.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:43 AM on November 13, 2009


Remember how cool it was in 1996 or so when you could search Yahoo and find nothing commercial: some university sites, a government weather server, some Geocities Ate My Balls pages?
posted by Kirklander at 8:59 AM on November 13, 2009


This is "renovating my kitchen and as I search for various information, getting turds instead of quality information from quality people."

Seriously? Lowes.com and HomeDepot.com both have full and complete kitchen renovation instructions online, step-by-step, well illustrated...

Sometimes Google is not the appropriate tool for the job.
posted by hippybear at 9:51 AM on November 13, 2009


Yes, I must be completely full of shit. I must be simply awful at performing searches, and there really is no problem with SEOs polluting the search space.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:01 AM on November 13, 2009


Lets search for renovating my kitchen. Some blogs, MSNBC, and the first result is an About.com article that looks actually useful.

Lets search for kitchen remodeling. Not as great, mostly people selling labor and what looks like a SEO.

Lets search for kitchen countertops. About.com again, HGTV and another SEO.

Lets search for putting in kitchen cabinets. Hometime, eHow, hgtv and a site that looks like an SEO.

So yea, it's not like these searches have no useful information, but there are some useless sourses popping up in there from time to time. If we search again in a few months they might be gone, or they might not be.

Look, FFF, you aren't paying for this information. You can't expect everything you get on Google to be super relevant, but all things considered some of the stuff high up in the searches on these very general terms is pretty great considering the amount of effort put into finding them. If you are serious about remodeling your kitchen buy a book.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 11:37 AM on November 13, 2009


FFF, could you give us some examples of what you're looking for and the searches you performed to find it? This would help illustrate how the SEO sites are impacting you.

Of course, some people will immediately look at your searches and say "well, if you had only included operator x or term y you would have gotten your results", but I hope the people who might be tempted to respond that way could perhaps address how the general public might be expected to know that.
posted by Reverend John at 11:55 AM on November 13, 2009


SEO, email spam, phishing sites, green card lawyers: they are all on the same spectrum of shitting in the public swimming pool.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:49 PM on November 12


Do you mean something by "green card lawyers" besides "immigration attorneys"?
posted by joannemerriam at 12:47 PM on November 13, 2009


joannemerriam: "Do you mean something by "green card lawyers" besides "immigration attorneys"?"

I don't want to put words in his mouth, but I think he's referring to these infamous douchebags.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:02 PM on November 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thanks for that, I was wondering why someone other than Lou Dobbs and Tom Tancredo would feel so hostile to immigration counsel.
posted by Kirklander at 2:02 PM on November 13, 2009


Phew.
posted by joannemerriam at 5:21 PM on November 13, 2009


The web is wonderful and SEOs aren't doing a thing to make it more difficult to find quality information. Making the web wonderful, why that's their exact business plan!

I am sure they will treat it with the same care and respect as they did for email.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:31 PM on November 13, 2009


The web is wonderful and SEOs aren't doing a thing to make it more difficult to find quality information. Making the web wonderful, why that's their exact business plan!

Do you really think that this is what the people who disagree with you in this thread believe?
posted by The Devil Tesla at 6:51 PM on November 13, 2009


I believe they are making excuses for the SEOs and are denying that they are causing harm to the utility of search engines.

It's real easy to make money writing for SEOs. That does not make it right.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:29 AM on November 14, 2009


I believe they are making excuses for the SEOs and are denying that they are causing harm to the utility of search engines.

I don't deny that they are causing harm, it's that you are making a mountain out of a molehill. They haven't hurt search so badly that it's stopped being extremely useful. It is such a minuscule problem that I certainly wouldn't try to shame someone writing for them, like you're doing. Expecting people not to capitalize on the weaknesses of search is foolish, and if it wasn't these people writing for them than it would be someone else.

And above all that: there are things more important than your kitchen.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 12:31 PM on November 14, 2009


if it wasn't these people writing for them than it would be someone else

And thus are all atrocities excused.

It is not a minuscule problem. It is not about my kitchen. It is about destroying yet another public media space. And the fuckers who are participating damn well should be condemned for their involvement.

We are obviously not going to agree. I am not going to desist wishing a hearty "Fuck you" upon all those involved in the SEO scams. And five years from now, when these assholes have made net search about as useful as Usenet is now, please remember that I told you so.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:45 PM on November 14, 2009


And five years from now, when these assholes have made net search about as useful as Usenet is now, please remember that I told you so.

See, I don't see that happening. Google and Bing and all of these search engines have a vested interest in making the web not suck, and they frequently take steps to prevent it from going to shit. Nothing like that happened with usenet. Five years from now search will be just as good as it is now, by which I mean generally useful with a few disappointments here and there, and perfectly decent people will make money writing for a site that gets more hits than it deserves sometimes. Big fucking woop.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 1:44 PM on November 14, 2009


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