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Hunter Walk Asks: Are Medium and Quora Just the Rebirth of Content Farms?

Hunter Walk Asks Are Medium and Quora Just the Rebirth of Content Farms


Stashed in: @hunterwalk, Blogs!, Quora!, Wikipedia, Content is king., Medium

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Hunter writes about "content farms for good":

Three years ago a terrible collection of beasts rose from the sea and threatened the Internet we love so dear. These "content farms" churned out low quality prose in SEO-friendly formats to try and garner traffic from Google and other search engines. This traffic was then converted into dollars via ads, affiliate programs, commerce offers -- anything that would yield a profit.

In February 2011 Google started making more specific changes to its algorithms addressing repetitive, simplistic websites. Traffic to these farms decreased - often dramatically - and it was no longer an attractive business. Some companies dried up, others pivoted to focus on content with greater depth. 

The past six months have seen a rebirth of the "content farm," although one might call them "content farms for good." Quora, Svbtle, Medium, and LinkedIn Influencers are four of the most prominent examples of a movement towards "higher quality" content on the web.

I think of these as blogs.

Blogs are the foundation of the public Web, along with Wikipedia and YouTube.

Without blogs, there is no public Web as we know it.

Hunter adds:

Why do I lovingly refer to them as "content farms?"
  • "Article" based construction: most readers experience these not as sites but as posts, single page websites. Some of this is in their construction, lots of it is tied to the way they're discovered via social media. The link at the end of a tweet.
  • Silos of Crosspromotion: to various degrees, you come for one article and get effectively crosspromoted to see more from within the network. Often from many different authors.
  • Building Tools/Services to Remove Publishing Friction: Whether lightweight CMS, LinkedIn's Editors or Medium's increasing staffing of what seems to be a creative services team, these services aren't just giving you a web authoring tool, they're removing the obstacles to creation - what should I write about. 

Where as Content Farms 1.0 tried to maximize the financial return of volumes of content, 2.0 try to maximize the quality of volumes of content.

So "content farms" as Hunter Walk uses the term is not necessarily a bad thing.

Hunter also writes:

And so why now? Why do we see this trend towards curated crowd-sourced article-based content?

  • Curation: Too much content, next wave of services to produce higher signal output
  • More writers: As generations grow up on the web, more people are ready to write and express themselves but not all want standalone blogs; not all who want standalone blogs want to deal with the management of the site and the promotion of their content.
  • Accepting Meritocracy in the Byline: Similarly, these generations that have grown up on the web are also willing to read something even if it's not produced by a writer attached to a media brand. Or eventually these "Content Farms for Good" become the reputable brand. 

I agree that all of these trends -- curation, writing, and building a brand through multiple writers -- are going to continue.

Which means we'll see a rise in more services like Quora, Svbtle, and Medium.

And it explains why Tumblr wants to go into long-form content creation, too.

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