Much like the average American family farm, it seems like content farms may be struggling -- if this week's news about Demand Media is any indicator. One of the biggest and most well-known mass producers of content on the web is cutting back the number of articles it produces, and enraged its freelancers in the process.
According to BusinessInsider.com: "Shortly after our story ran, we heard from one of Demand's writers. Bradford's quote was 'hilarious to those of us who are still working for [Demand Studios]. As of Oct. 8th, 7:34pm, there are 278 articles available in the writing queue; prior to the email the number was around 40,000. This isn't simply about deleting titles that were considered low-quality, and there were plenty of them, the site has essentially shut down.'"
This announcement comes at an interesting (and not so great) time for EContent, as our November print issue has a feature title "Dispatches from the Content Farm Trenches." It's an interesting look at how some writers manage to turn these low paying-gigs into wider success, but there seemed to one common theme in these success stories: they all came from sites like Examiner.com that allow writers to build a name and reputation for themselves, rather than just pumping out low-quality, generalized content.
It will be interesting to see how Demand Media reshapes its content to fit the changing, increasingly social web. In a world where more and more readers are coming to content through the ad-hoc curation of their social media networks, how much longer can content farms rely on gaming the SEO system for big rewards?
Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for November's feature story on the changing landscape of these "farms"!