Editorial Policies

Suite101 has a 13 year history of providing a place for both casual and dedicated writers to publish articles and generate a passive income. It has also maintained a reputation for being a reliable source of expertise as many of the Suite101 writers are specialists in their field. It is a great place to write, a supportive writing community with a broad range of topics and editors who work hard to ensure consistent quality accross the site. Is some of this about to change?

This month’s revised editorial policy could be a significant shift and I only hope it is in the right direction. For me, one of the great appeals of writing at the Suite were the fair but stringent editorial guidelines and the minimum requirement of 10 articles every three months. Having written for some article aggregators that had neither of these, it was refreshing to come to a place where quality really mattered.

The new policy abandons the minimum requirements and relaxes some of the standards for submissions, allowing for opinion and a voice other than the objective third person. It seems to have been well received by the community and I’ll admit I breathed a little sigh of relief, too. The quotas were tyrannical for people writing in very rare and specialised niches and struggling to generate articles in sufficient quantity. The new policy also provides more scope for creative flair and colour in the writing.

However, I have also been reflecting recently, in light of the buzz around Demand Media and widespread concern about the web becoming flooded with low grade SEO copy, wondering if the frenzied article writing bubble is going to pop any time soon. Search engines are going to have to develop increasingly sophisticted algorithms to ensure that well written and informative content continues to rise to the top. At the end of the day I like robust editorial policies and I like being told when something is not up to scratch. I appreciate and aspire to a professional style. If I want to do opinion in the first person I’ll do it here.

Of course, slightly more relaxed editorial guidelines mean more articles get published, translating to more pages and more revenue for more people – or does it just mean more people competing for a finite number of clicks? Who will be the winner in the long run?

On balance, Suite101 is also opening up opportunities for writers of newsworthy items to have them listed on Google News which has some commitment to the integrity of reportage. The relaxed quotas may also mean that there is not a great change in the number of articles being published but I really hopeThe Suite keeps its reputation for quality intact.

Links:

Demand Media Debate – Content Farming VS Unique Content – By Joe Leija on TMBlog

My Suite101 Profile

Google News Guidelines

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2 Responses

  1. I guess this goes back to the very self-consciously anti-authoritarian approach of the web – the ideological belief that it’s better to minimize “expert” assessment of what is good and let the users/readers decide. I’m sure there are upsides to the approach but every time I read a discussion on, say, BBC News, I can’t see any of the upsides. I get this nasty feeling that the main beneficiaries are corporations and it’s a means to achieve an unfettered free market where concepts of authority and expertise are destroyed, leading to complete freedom for corporations to impose their version of events by dint of having the muscle to dominate any public space (cf sound science vs junk science debate). As you say, there is a finite number of clicks available, and the best way to achieve a monopoly of those clicks is to change the rules of the game so the rewards go to the biggest, not the best. Joel Bakan’s good on this in The Corporation and Naomi Klein has a fair bit to say about it as you might expect.

    Of course, I could be over-analysing and they might just want more content per editor to balance their cost/income ratio. Interesting debate though and good luck with publishing there.

    ps “ensure consitent quality”…?

  2. Hmmm … yes. I have more faith in humanity and continue to believe in the inherently self-regulating qualities of the Internet. I would need to look at some statistics that I don’t have the access to, or the time to compile, to confirm this – I think I’ll leave it at the level of a fuzzy feeling for now 🙂

    — ps “ensure consitent quality”…? —

    Oh the irony!

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