The death of original content

The search engine wars and the rise of contextual advertising has produced what many online watchers hav long feared: the death of uniquely original information.

As reported by a WSJ columnist, a brief experiment taking a freelance writing gig results in what is actually a rewriting business. This is the truth that most content providers commit these days, and I am personally guilty of the same thing, to a certain extent. However, what is bothersome is the existence of sites that serve no purpose but take others’s content, twisting and mangling them until they look like it was written by someone else, providing nothing of worthy to those who seek the information.

This phenomenon is the offshoot of the strong drive to dominate search engine results, which in turn produces significant revenues that has been an alternative form of livelihood for many individuals. Obviously, most of these revenues are from online advertising, which is directly a by–product of a site’s traffic size. The more visitors you have, the more money you earn.

Unfortunately, search engines have not been able to considerably weed out the worthless copycats. Segregating useful information from the useless rewritten ones is a job best suited for humans, a technology too hard to translate to machine code — unless other methods are developed to track such instances.

Are we going to finally see the death of original content? I don’t think so. Unfortunately, the continuous growth of valuable information is synonymous to pirated material. This will be the reality, at least for the next few years. How soon search engines respond and win against the content pirates is surely something we will all be keenly waiting for.

4 Responses to “The death of original content”

  1. alfa says:

    I, as a web a content outsourcer, do know the tactics most SEO writers employ to come up with seemingly original content.

    The “mangling” of others’ info used to be the practice. However, I know how unfair this could be for those who try their best to deliver original info.

    But that’s the way it is, when you write an article it’s really just filled with a combination of info from various sources. It just depends on the number of references the writer made use of and how well he managed to weave those info into an original-looking article. As they say, “Copying from one source is plagiarism. Copying from several sources is research.” Or so I thought?

  2. markku says:

    Very good point alfa. Indeed, an article from various sources is research, and qualifies as original content. However, it is disappointing how most sites thrive on “doing research” without contibuting relevant insights, without offering anything new. The way it looks, everyone is reporting the same news, restated differently. But it also depends on the readers. If people still read the same crap reposted from other stes, then I guest the site is successful in fulfilling its responsibilities to its readers.

  3. Blogs are fast becoming nothing more than legitimate Search Engine spam. :( It’s sad to see how far it has fallen.

  4. markku says:

    Jonathan, the rise of WordPress and similar applications as well free blog services has really contributed to this sad trend. Just like all forms of positive technological development, people can always find a way to misappropriate a perfectly good tool.