UPDATE: 8/28/2012 The most recent eHow alert is here: http://crunchydata.com/prevent-ehows-spark-scraping-content/
Folks, it’s nearing the Day of Reckoning in the [alleged] eHow UK scam for Demand Media’s [alleged] chronic and devastating unethical practices toward their writers.
Because the people who don’t play that game are CATCHING ON. And please EXCUSE MY CAPITAL LETTERS, but it’s ABOUT TIME.
The news? Professor Jeff Jarvis, author of What Would Google Do? announced today on his blog, BuzzMachine.com, that he had declined Demand Media’s invitation to join their advisory board.
…Demand is uniquely controversial right now and so I decided to decline its invitation to advise and also thought I should disclose that here once it made its announcement…”
Yes, Demand Media’s CEO has recently objected to his company being called a content mill, because, well, content mills tend to not like that term, but the only real controversy that I am aware of regarding Demand Media that might cause a highly regarded person to cite controversy as the reason for declining such a post is the [alleged] eHow UK scam.
I can’t read Professor Jarvis’ mind, and I can’t speak for him, but there is a good chance he smelled what Ian Lurie recently said about the eHow controversy and its terms of service,
If it stinks and it’s mushy, it’s probably bullshit.”
And Professor Jarvis is the kinda guy who does his homework and who understands the online content industry as few others do.
So I’m gonna go out on a limb here and guess that Mr. Jarvis did his due diligence to learn the stinky, mushy details of the eHow UK scam.
That’s not to say he necessarily agrees that it’s a scam or has any particular opinion about the controversy, just that he is no doubt aware of the allegations, and is concerned enough to decline the association.
But Professor Jarvis, if you see this and I’m off base, call me on it and I’ll apologize right here. And not an eHow-style apology, either. A real, I’m sorry I messed up, bona fide apology.
Here is a quote from my recent comment to a reader, showing all that Mr. Jarvis would have needed to do to get a little background information on the company that wanted him to associate his good name with theirs:
…Any investor can run a quick search of the phrase, “ehow is a scam” (in quotes, or results are skewed to unrelated content) and find 9,170 results. Try it.
Okay, now search “InfoBarrel is a scam.” There are 0 results. ZERO. But InfoBarrel is relatively new, so let’s look at “HubPages is a scam,” and consider those 5 results, four of which are actually stating that HubPages is NOT a scam and used the phrase for attention. Zero for “Squidoo is a scam.”
Those three COMBINED have 5 search results for their names, in quotes, associated with the phrase, “is a scam.” eHow has 9,170 not counting “eHow UK scam,” at 1,480.
Do you think future investors will consider that significant? They will if they care about their money. Because those numbers will catch up with you, Demand Media, if they haven’t already.
By scheming to deprive writers of their earnings, during the winter holidays, during one of the worst economic times this country has known, history will show that for want of principles, the Demand Media-eHow kingdom was ultimately lost. And that is as it should be.”
THIS, dear readers, is going to snowball.
And it’s thanks to you. You spoke up here and on the eHow forums, on your blogs, and Tweets, and comments all over the Web, and you continue to speak up.
When uninformed (or possibly unequally compensated) eHow members and staff tell you to shut up and go away if you don’t like being…scammed, you stay and take it. And that’s not easy.
You ask the hard questions over and over, and you hang in there and take the insults and excuses and lies and double talk and censoring, and you don’t stop.
It’s enough that some of you merely say, “Hey, I’m here, count me in,” in the off-site groups that have formed and grown and continue to swell with the ranks of the righteously angry, the betrayed, dismayed, and played.
(Sorry, I prefer a little bad humor with my anger.)
So hey, ya’ll. Even if the reckoning stops here–and I’m betting it won’t–Demand Media just lost a battle. They lost the opportunity to add a wise, ethical, and informed contributor to their team.
And if you have been sitting on the fence about this issue, do your homework. Join us. If you didn’t agree with us before, even if you were once a forum troll yourself and you now see the light, come on over.
You owe it to yourself and to the future of the Internet to be informed and take a stand.
The Internet is where the people who will sign your retirement checks and teach your grandchildren when you are old will get their information, and to a great extent, where they are already learning how to treat others in business and in life.
And P.S. You may comment here anonymously. I personally read every comment before posting it, and if you want to share your opinion or information without having it made public, just say so.
I can keep a secret like a Demand Media employee manipulating internal links and keywords on New Year’s Day, but without screenshots.