Diary of a Content Farmer

Anyone in interested in the future digital media and the press simply MUST read this confessional straight off the plantation: An AOL Content Slave Speaks Out.

We start out with a simple admission that farmed content is garbage, and progress from there:

We — by which I mean me and my fellow employees — were all so grateful. Which allowed us to ignore — or willfully overlook — certain problems. Such as the fact that AOL editors forced us to work relentless hours. Or the fact that we were paid to lie, actually instructed to lie by our bosses.

was given eight to ten article assignments a night, writing about television shows that I had never seen before. AOL would send me short video clips, ranging from one-to-two minutes in length — clips from “Law & Order,” “Family Guy,” “Dancing With the Stars,” the Grammys, and so on and so forth… My job was then to write about them. But really, my job was to lie. My job was to write about random, out-of-context video clips, while pretending to the reader that I had watched the actual show in question. AOL knew I hadn’t watched the show. The rate at which they would send me clips and then expect articles about them made it impossible to watch all the shows — or to watch any of them, really.

That alone was unethical. But what happened next was painful. My “ideal” turn-around time to produce a column started at thirty-five minutes, then was gradually reduced to half an hour, then twenty-five minutes. Twenty-five minutes to research and write about a show I had never seen — and this twenty-five minute period included time for formatting the article in the AOL blogging system, and choosing and editing a photograph for the article. Errors were inevitably the result. But errors didn’t matter; or rather, they didn’t matter for my bosses.”

Google has started making some progress on plantation-derived content. I wonder if they will be gunning for the hybrid farming model — Huff Po, Seeking Alpha, and Biz Insider — or if their prominent name writers will continue to provide cover for the rest of the filler.

Meanwhile, check out the charts below


An AOL Content Slave Speaks Out
Oliver Miller
Faster Times, June 16, 2011

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

What's been said:

Discussions found on the web:

Posted Under