Of late, there’s been a lot of talk about “content farms,” spaces where freelance writers are brought in to create template contents, usually about “how to” do a certain thing. These sites follow basic formulas, but they’re able to generate a fair amount of traffic based on how algorithms respond to users’ requests for information on how to search for particular directions. Google has been working to “foreclose on content farms” with an algorithm update…
Then, a friend sent me an article about how a lot of ebooks on e-readers are made up of cobbled materials in the very same way. These contents are packaged and opened by unsuspecting readers. There’s a lot of banal content. The readers don’t learn anything, and the reputation of e-books goes down a notch.
In Ecclesiastes, it is said that there is nothing new under the sun. That may well be true, particularly when it comes to fresh thoughts and contents. It is difficult to be original while building on the substructure of others’ ideas and thoughts. And those who actually have fresh ideas are not really going to just share their thoughts without a proper venue or some sort of reward stream for their work. In a sense, there is a growing divide between quality contents and the lower-value writing that is done off-the-cuff and in a sleepwalking kind of way.
This all comes back to the importance of having an editorial process. Even though this process is not the most comfortable (it usually means having to do a lot more work to meet the standards of various editorial advisory boards), and even though all editors have their own proclivities and challenges, it is still important to have some professional oversight over contents. No matter how professional writers are, there are still challenges to self-critique. It’s a rare writer who can put themselves through the tough paces needed to do a decent job.