Last week, I wrote:
With all the hubbub about content mills (and how many believe they are responsible for declining pay rates for freelancers), I can’t help but wonder if they are also contributing to the decline of the quality of writing on the Internet. I thought I’d review some articles at some content mills to see if they really are publishing/reselling material with common, easy-to-spot errors. You probably won’t be very surprised by my discoveries. While I did find plenty of great articles, I also found plenty of errors.
I also discussed the disturbing trend of some content mills hiring writers to rewrite other writers’ work.
You can read more HERE.
Below, I’m sharing readers’ comments that arrived after the article was published. Don’t miss the last one!
BLATANT ACTS OF PLAGIARISM
There’s a guy on one of my LinkedIn groups that keeps posting links to his articles on (a content mill website). Invariably, they are “summaries” (i.e. blatant acts of plagiarism) of news articles written by well-known publications, sometimes with credits and sometimes not. The most audacious example was an “article” he wrote that was a summary of an Onion.com article (the satire site) with the funniest lines included. Even though he cited The Onion, it sure looked like plagiarism to me. I’ve complained multiple times to (the content mill) about this guy’s articles and other “summary”/plagiarism examples, but never heard a response.
DUMBING DOWN THE CONTENT
Your newsletter is one of the few that I have continued reading from year to year. I agree with you. However, it isn’t only the ‘Content Mills’.
Over the years, I’ve noticed a lack of writing ability. Reading comprehension on an educational level has also declined.
I run my articles (and compare them with other writers) through a reading level program before submitting them. I’ve found the average reading level on-line at elementary school levels, with 5th grade the norm.
That has been a bit discouraging as articles I have written for a few on-line directories have been rejected outright or returned with ‘suggestions’ to dumb the content down for their readers.
I write for adults seeking information. So does this mean we go the ‘Dick and Jane’ basic literacy route to survive as freelance writers in the consumer market or ignore the trend and focus on a select, albeit smaller audience?
REWRITING ARTICLES IS LIKE PLAYING THE CHILD’S GAME, TELEPHONE
I was glad to see your comments on the content mills. I was afraid my view on what should and shouldn’t be was becoming warped with age. At 73 years, I am definitely of the old school. The things I hear and read these days through the various media are poorly written, filled with misinformation and sometimes deliberately slanted. A lot of it harkens back to education in the schools and the failure to adequately teach grammar and good writing. The same holds true for mathematics, evidenced by the inability of many who handle money to make change.
I have seen the ads that say, “need articles rewritten.” My first thought goes to plagiarism, but I also know that rewriting is like telling secrets. By the time it gets to the last person, it no longer represents the original. The frosting on the cake is the texting abbreviations so prevalent these days, and little by little I hear teens and sub-teens resorting to that in communicating verbally with family and friends. They will never know the beauty of words and their ability to adequately express feelings, emotions, and important information. What worries me the most, however, is the use of these content mills, and poorly written media articles to lead the reader to a particular conclusion, rather than to the path of investigation and learning for themselves.
I have the 1914 reprint of a dictionary, originally printed in 1889, which has 10,000 tissue thin pages, and stands nearly 18 inches when closed. What a gold mine of words. While some are truly archaic and would no longer be useful in this day and age, most of them are beautiful, vibrant and exactingly descriptive. We’re losing more than content as we move down the road of rewrite and text messaging