Friday, June 3, 2016
An Observation About The Whole Online-Writing Picture
Ten or so years ago, when I first started doing one or another kind of writing online, the Internet was very much an "anything goes" thing as far as writing went. Any time anything goes it can be hard to imagine how bad things will get - until more and more people do more and more "anything". Writing platforms/sites were inundated with stuff that was way beyond just "low quality", and little by little most of the sites started to impose more and more standards on contributors.
When Google eventually rolled out its first "Panda" (algorithms aimed at screening for quality) it was the beginning of a major Internet-publishers shake-up that led many "writing sites" to adjust their own standards even further.
When standards that people took seriously were introduced much questionable behavior was screened out, but it didn't take long (as far as I could tell) for much other question behavior to essentially be driven underground in any number of ways that I won't go into here. Over a period of a few years many writing sites started dropping (as they say) like flies. I won't get into the whole thing about what "questionable behavior" in online writing is. People involved with online writing for awhile already know what it is, and people who aren't involved in it wouldn't be interested.
My observation about the bad online-writing behavior is that I've noticed that this long after that first Panda roll-out, much of what was once blatant "questionable (at best) behavior" seems to have been substantially eliminated, or at least reduced; while less blatant attempts to get away with at least a little bit of questionable behavior sometimes seem to have increased in numbers.
This far down the line it's still so often as if many people who were out to engage in at least a little questionable (or out-and-out bad) practices have been less interested in improving the quality of their own online writing than they are figuring out how best to keep their questionable practices just under the latest line, in the hopes that their material will get traffic.
Of course, as the line that marks what's acceptable on, say, a site like HubPages, is lowered that means that anyone aiming to stay under that "latest line" must come up with ways to keep their questionable approaches less and less obvious while (at least in some cases) trying to accomplish aims with more and more questionable (but harder-to-detect) techniques.
HubPages happens to be the last of that type of site on which I have open accounts, and I'm still not sure what/whether I plan to do with regards to new writing on there. It's not my site and therefore not particularly my business as far as how they want to do things with their site. I'm happy enough to either adjust to whatever kind of stuff they want on their site, or else write what I want to write on my own.
People involved in online-writing often say that Google is getting more and more advanced at detecting questionable stuff; and I don't underestimate the technical expertise of anyone trying to assure better quality (and less "funny stuff"/questionable stuff) on a site like HubPages.
At this stage in the game (and considering that it's the Internet), maybe "all kinds" of subtle and minor-enough techniques at being a little questionable/"funny" wouldn't be considered worth mentioning or picking apart.
As a human being, as opposed to being an algorithm, I can't help but wonder if so many of these attempts at "questionable-light", just by virtue of their apparent increasing numbers, may be far more toxic to a site like HubPages than many people realize (or else than some people might even recognize).
Who does what on the Internet (or HubPages) isn't my business. Looking at the state-of-affairs of my own sites/blogs/online writing, I have my own quality concerns. If someone can manage to make money by doing some of that "under-the-line-but-questionable" stuff; as far as I'm concerned, good luck to them.
The thing I do wonder about, though (and just because I can't help but wonder about some things), is whether the people who must now find even more clever ways to disguise "funny" practices believe those practices are not obvious to human eyes and/or believe that making a regular thing of such practices are going to escape increasingly sophisticated "algorithmic eyes".
I don't happen to understand why some people seem so dedicated to avoiding legitimate efforts/expectations aimed at higher quality. As I said, I don't really care who does what, and good luck to someone who has no problem having his name attached to questionable stuff. It's just that, particularly with the whole evolution that has gone on with online writing (and the Internet in general); after ten or so years of so much "baloney", it's both tiring and kind of amazing that people are still trying to figure out ways to beat the system and get away with something.
None of this matters much in the scheme of life, of course. The concept of increased standards/scrutiny driving bad behavior underground isn't a new one. Neither , when it comes down to it, is the question of whether people think they're being so clever that nobody notices. After all, if they manage to accomplish what they hope to (or think they're going to accomplish it) these people don't (I don't think) really care if anyone realizes they're engaging in "iffy" and "borderline iffy" practices.
The length of this post shouldn't create the impression that I care all that much about any of this. It's just that in my times of wanting to spin my wheels over stuff that I don't really care about, I do find it interesting (if my observation is even correct) that increased standards/scrutiny seems to mean (at least these days and at this point) a higher number (say, per x number of words) of questionable but disguised practices; while once there seemed to be far fewer (but more blatant) questionable practices per "x number of words" in one piece of writing.
It's all fine. I've got everything kind of on hold until some of this stuff irons out. I just don't think now is a very wise time to do more online other than, say, get some notes collected and/or down for future, more serious, efforts. As things are now, and until some of the Internet-writing "quality standards upheaval" settles down, it's just not in my own interest to do too much beyond just kind of putting things on "hold" (at least with regard to what/whether I post "real" writing online).