This Daily Dot piece on the early days of a Content Farm makes you realize that for some, 2009 is "the early days" of the internet. Hah! It's an interesting look at the soul-smothering process of writing something no one will ever read for a company doomed to stutter and shutter some day, or get bought by a big player who'll pay too much, won't know what to do with it, fold it into the big blob of useless features, then close it down, leaving only ghostly pages in the Internet Archive.
At least the pieces the author wrote consisted of actual writing, instead of the subliterate cutlines in the link-chum like "1,046 Shocking Historical Pictures That Will Leave You Speechless (#932 is scary!)" The article links to a blog devoted to hammering the Content Farm for various reasons, and one entry begins thus:
Howdy all, Yeah, know it’s been a while since we rapped at ya, but not much seems to be going on at the Demand, er, excuse me, Studio D front. Pretty funny. If you told me 5 years ago I’d still be updating this site, I would have laughed.
If it doesn't, you don't remember the unchanging intro of our old friend, Jim Anchower, the Bard of Wisconsin.(Warning: language, if you're bothered by salty vernacular.)
Anyway: the Daily Dot piece has this observation:
The scheme has popped up since, because money is money and the internet is so easily exploitable. But due to Google's new algorithmic tweaks, they've been forced into insidious disguises, lingering at the bottoms of articles in Internet Chum boxes, or branded content interspersed with actual journalism so the two forms blend as one. It's an open question of which era was better for our information gathering. Classic content farms didn't trick you; if you ended up at an eHow page, you Googled to get there. And the pages were answering questions people had; that's how the titles were created in the first place. Google broke a bad system, but when it did, worse ones rose in its place.Absolutely so. I check out the chum boxes just to see how bad they get; today I found a useless site that promised 20 shocking photos of the sinking of the Titanic. Not one photo of the sinking of the Titanic.