Recently, there have been some big changes over at Demand Studios. After years of churning out staggering numbers of articles, suddenly, operations seem to be shutting down. But what’s most interesting from a read of DS and related forums is the raw anger that a whole lot of the writers express toward content editors.
Skim a DS forum and you’ll see a lot of colorful language about bashing in soft skulls with baseball bats. Shocking stuff. But if you read more, you’ll see what really generated a lot of this anger.
The equation seems to run like this: pay writers pennies. Then create an arbitrary process for approving what they write. Hire unqualified and sometimes completely idiotic people who can rule on a particular article with impunity.
This kind of system is a double whammy for writers, a potent cocktail of underemployment and disrespect. There’s the core issue of having outsiders negatively reviewing your work, and then there’s the abusive pay system that seems to actually be taking bread from your family’s mouth. It really is enough to make a lot of people really mad.
As someone who has previously spent time in the content mill trenches, I have a pretty intimate view of these issues. Even much further up the line, there’s the issue of arbitrary, unfair and sometimes extremely stupid reviews from an editor…to be fair, this doesn’t happen nearly as often outside of content mill territory.
The bottom line is that the demise of Demand Media, or should we say, the “change” shows just how transient a lot of work is in the digital realm. That’s all the more reason for individuals to “work their way up” through effective outreach that proves their worth, rather than laboring in what amounts to a twenty first century sweatshop. On the other hand, many of these people are parents and breadwinners, without a lot of time and money to put into a “new business strategy”…at the very least, there should be some kind of network where these embattled providers can talk to each other and maybe hash out a better way forward….boycotting content mills would be a start. For more, check out Angela Hoy’s awesome blog “Writers Weekly” which includes warnings on unethical shops and more.