The Death Knell of Online Publishing
Back in the Pliestocine
In the Early years of this Century there were a plethora of online writing sites. Unless one had no life beyond writing on line one could not visit all of them in a week.
Whether Squidoo or Hubpages or Triond or Factoidz or Helium or Xomba; just to reel off a few, one had to focus on just four or five sites and publish one article or two per site a week; if that many.
Some demanded over One Thousand Words, some would accept Three hundred. Some wanted a lot of images, some one. Some sites wanted links, others refused them. Some wanted a lot of subtopics and bold characters, some did not.
On some one could write a fiction story, others demanded hard facts with authorities. Some would treat quotes as 'plagiarism', others accepted republished work.
In short, it was a writer's world, and if a site didn't pay or didn't pay well, the writers departed, leaving only those who were on the very low edge of writing.
Stumbles and Searches
In those days, having a good title, using Keywords and SEO terms attracted the search engines and could become part of Stumbleupon's wide range of items.
It was not strange to find oneself on Hubpages or any other writing site when doing a search. Nor was joining Stumbleupon and being directed to items published on these sites unusual.
The publishing sites were respected and obtained many views, many hits.
For this site to have Twelve Million Views a month was normal.
Enter the Panda
In 2O1O, Google, anxious to introduce its own non paying writing site; a site that demanded a lot and paid Zero would be laughed off the 'Net.
Aware of this, Google, doing evil, decided to label online publishing sites as 'Content Farms'.
A site labeled a Content Farm would be given a minus score so that all items on the site would NOT appear in a Google Search.
It is, to some extent true, that many online writing sites were Content Farms in which what I term 'crapwriters' would play SEO [Search Engine Optimisation] and Keywords.
Noticing that the term 'Exercise' was trending, a crapwriter would write about one thousand words, repeating 'Exercise' in nearly every sentence. The item would say nothing, it was just a bunch of trite expressions tossed together.
"All over the world people are interested in Exercise. You are probably thinking about Exercise. Perhaps you are afraid of Exercise. But Exercise is nothing to be afraid of. Everyone can exercise..."
This went on and on, not describing any exercise at all.
The next day the trending word is 'Vegetarian'.
"All over the world people are interested in becoming Vegetarian. You are probably thinking about becoming Vegetarian. Perhaps you are afraid of going Vegetarian. But being a Vegetarian is nothing to be Afraid of. Everyone can become vegetarian..."
A site publishing this kind of stuff should have deployed moderators early in time. It is easy to blame the site for not being pro active or having strong moderation. Easy to make the public believing that the Panda was doing some kind of service to the writing public.
Many people thought, wrongly, that what Google was doing was 'right', until the reality shoved in. Google was trying to kill on line writing sites that paid to force people to write for its site. For its non paying 'Knol'... which did not survive very long.
However, what Google did, by not returning any item published on a paying site in its searches, began a serial murder of online sites.
Most have closed, the few that survive either pay very bady or are non paying, the old items posted before 2O1O still getting a few hits here and there, and the ad payments going into the site owner's pocket.
Deaths and Scams
As sites closed or became non paying, various scammers popped onto the scene, the most famous was Bubblews.
It was what has been called 'a non viable business model'.
For example, let us suppose a site received 1c for every 1O views of its ad. It loads a page with Ads and tells the writer that s/he will get 1c for every 2O views. In this way, the site makes 2c and pays 1c.
The 'payment' method Bubblews adopted was amazingly financial, and there seemed no explanation of how it could afford to pay 1c for every hit and every like.
As Bubblews always paid that first redemption, [one needed to earn Twenty Five Dollars for Redemption] people were convinced that the site was legitimate.
The second redemption was not paid in most cases. Only those who brought in other users and defended the site on other writing sites would get that Second pay out.
Most didn't get that second redemption. However, they kept writing, assuming they would get it. This was the trick.
One would write and write, and reach the first redemption, get it, and assuming the site was legit, write their fingers off. They'd quickly put in for their second, and continue to work. They would reach their third, assuming the second was late, as they worked for their fourth.
With all these items filling the site, with hundreds of thousands of people flocking to the site to write, to like, to comment, the advertisers were seeing a site with millions of views, and paying.
The money received paid those their first time, and a handful of veterans. Most people DID NOT receive their second payment. Nor their third. Nor their fourth.
The money was rolling in, the owners were rolling in wealth, the writers were complaining.
Most American writers were paid. Some were called plagiarists and banned. some items were marked sub standard and rejected, so that the Americans who have very strong legal protection would not be provoked to call their Attorney General.
Those from Third and Fourth world countries were ripped off. They were not paid after the first. Until the redemption was moved to Fifty Dollars. Everyone got that First Fifty Dollars, and then, the usual non payment until the site was forced closed.
During this time, sites like Triond died. Wikinut ceased to pay.
Sites that paid found themselves moving from the 1c for 2O to 1c for 2OO views.
Writers who used to receive at least Fifty dollars every month from each site they wrote for went to Five Dollars, then to Fifty cents.
Writers just couldn't be bothered any more.
Today, of three sites, Literacybase, Niume and Mylot, the first two have ceased to pay. The third one pays very small and the revenue is garnered from how many people comment on an item. If one gets no comments, one gets no pay.
This is the sad state of online writing today.