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Demanding to be Saved

How to Go Down With the Ship

How to Go Down With the Ship

Howdy everyone!

Sorry been so quiet. Decided to take this time off to take some holidays. Figured now would be a good time since  the Demand queue is totally dried up during the eHow “renovation.”

Got this post in the mail from DSSer N. He raises some good points, so I’d thought I’d share it with everyone.

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Saving Demand

If Demand Media shareholders want to see if Sean Colo is serious about turning around the company’s flagship eHow website, there are a couple of quick tells that will let investors (and Google) know whether or not he’s making serious changes or just putting lipstick on a pig until he can bolt with his shares like Richard Rosenblatt.

If Colo keeps the editorial management staff responsible for flooding the Internet with poor content for five years (and resulted in Google’s crippling backlash), and if he keeps in place that staff’s policies that reward poor gatekeeping and punish good writers, you’ll know the Santa Monica offices have remained a frat house.

One of the reasons Demand is where it is today is because it hired as its editorial management team a group of magazine, book and newspaper writers with little or no business experience – and they made up the company’s editorial business model as they went. The poor quality of Demand articles came about, in large part, because Demand’s editorial staff quickly grew disgusted with the incessant whining of a majority of the company’s 15,000 freelance content producers, many of whom were newbies and terrible writers. This led to a “protect-the-copyeditor-at-all-costs” mentality, which backfired, leading to the exodus of the company’s truly professional writers when it became clear that Demand’s unqualified CEs had free reign to do almost anything they wanted to articles and writers.

•Will Colo continue to keep in place policies such as keeping editors anonymous to writers? All Demand needs to do is to assign each CE a company ID number so writers can spot the CEs who are introducing serial errors, and let writers report poor gatekeeping (writers don’t currently use the CE feedback tool for fear of being branded whiners for reporting a CE over one story edit).

•Will he keep the important article-scoring process anonymous, as well, telling writers to improve their scores if they want more money and opportunities, while at the same time forbidding them from seeing the scores they receive on their articles?

•Will Colo keep Eve Lederman, Richard Lally, Steve Schneider, Claire Webb and others who have been with Demand for years and who are directly responsible for the state of Demand’s editorial shithouse?

Only if he still has the Zuckerboy “We’re in the Band” mindset. You’ll know when the new eHow revamp is done whether or not Colo has cleaned house and changed the policies that drive away top contract editorial talent, or if he has kept the same people and processes that have continually damaged the company for the past five years.

Sean Colo will soon announce whether he believes the problems at Demand are simply the result of eHow’s technology, or if, as a CEO, he understand they are the result of the company’s management team.

19 comments to Demanding to be Saved

  • MakingmoneyaslongasIcan

    Best new title looking for a writer: “Lingerie Made From Everyday Things.”

  • Kathleen Clohessy

    As a new writer for the studio, I was astounded at the poor quality of the articles I was asked to rewrite, and the ignorance of most of the CE’s regarding their so-called “areas of expertise” and writing overall. I believed the “Studio’s” claims of wanting to improve quality, so I signed on and gave them a shot. Now–less than 6 months later, their so-called “EHow” renovation is at standstill, management is ominously silent, and I have just been informed (after being encouraged to apply for more opportunities in March) that all hiring is closed.

    I believe the ship has sunk.

    • Sure, sure

      I believe you’re pretty much out of touch with what’s actually happening, and I don’t believe at all that you’re a new writer.

      “I believed the ‘Studio’s’ claims of wanting to improve quality, so I signed on and gave them a shot.” Oh, the nobility. DMS is no doubt wondering whatever they are to do at the loss of your altruistic approach.

    • A.

      I’ve done some of the eval stuff for the renovation and lemme tell ya… Some of those articles are piss poor. I wonder how they even got accepted. What’s worse is that the CEs obviously have to be the ones accepting them, which is very telling, and some of the CE comments make no sense. I think the quality of these articles isn’t just relegated to the past. I bet there’s some shitty writing going down now, too.

    • Mike

      Demand’s claim to improve article quality is a phoney front. I believed it too for awhile. Until I realized that their primary goal, at least regarding the Nutrition section, was selling supplements advertised or potentially advertised on the article’s page. I can say that I was threatened that I would not be paid, if I did not modify article content in a promotional way, and distort the truth about a certain product to get people to click on the advertisement. Quality of article content is of low priority to Demand. Selling advertisements is what it is all about for Demand. They really don’t care about people or content quality.

      • prove it

        “I can say that I was threatened that I would not be paid, if I did not modify article content in a promotional way, and distort the truth about a certain product to get people to click on the advertisement.”

        Certainly you have a copy of that email. Please share it. Who sent it to you?

        Because I call bullshit.

        • Mike

          I don’t have to prove anything to you. Who do you think you are? You can cuss me out. I really don’t care.

        • Mike

          I can also say that this company began altering the content of my writing without my authorization, including adding promotional statements, and then publishing it, without giving me a chance to authorize the changes. When I kindly requested that the content be changed back to the way that I originally wrote the article, DMS refused. That is when my relationship with this company ended. Those are facts Mr/Ms “Prove It.”

        • Mike

          You have no right to call me a liar, and I don’t have to prove anything to you.
          DMS upper level editors control article content. If a writer doesn’t do as told, there is rejection and the writer doesn’t get paid. That’s the way DMS operates, it is very threatening. If a writer doesn’t agree with this mode of operation, the writer gets fired. Those are facts “Prove It.” I’m not the only victim. In my particular case, defamation came with the firing, a firing that occurred after I had quit. The main reason that I quit is because DMS made unauthorized changes on articles without my permission and refused to publish other articles of high quality because they were too intelligent, although they were written simply for just about anyone to understand. The unauthorized changes were usually promotional in nature advocating use of the product that the article was about. DMS editorial requests and unauthorized changes sometimes stretched the truth and scientific evidence about the products that the articles were written about.
          In response to your asking me to post a copy of the correspondence, that would be foolish. I’m not going to post correspondence and put into public view words that were intended for me.

  • Fiddling on the deck of the Titanic

    While I’m not fond of L&L, it’s ludicrous to blame them for Demand’s editorial strategy or for Panda. I highly, HIGHLY doubt they were allowed to establish and implement the policies that caused the problems. I have yet to work at a company where those sorts of decisions don’t originate at or near the top, and L&L are not at/near the top or they wouldn’t be mingling with the minions.

    Also, I’m not sure why “N” continues to carp about the folly of hiring writers and editors, rather than “businesspeople,” in management positions. I’ve known plenty of editors with far more business savvy and common sense than people with MBAs who have run companies (literally into the ground, in several cases). I’d bet money (well, not really) that DMS’ original “flood the internet with crap” strategy came from the marketing department, not editorial.

    In other news, I still check the forums because they’re entertaining as hell. A certain CE seems to monitor every thread so she can jump in with the company line any time anyone starts questioning whether their section will ever again see articles. Pay was late again Tuesday, and after 5:30 PT DMS was still scrambling for “approvals” (Brook’s comment, which I think inadvertently gave a DMS status update–why would they need approvals at the end of the workday on a biweekly payroll unless they were moving money around?). And their stock continues to fall. So yeah, not a star to which I’ll be hitching my wagon again.

  • DSSTardia

    LOL! This post sure brought out the DS internal undercover trolls. Yes, I totally agree with the poster.

    I’m a former DS writer and, what used to be at least a fair system suddenly turned to “CE can do no wrong” environment. So, as a response, me and other pissed writers began deliberately cranking out pure shit just to see what would get by the idiot CEs! [email protected] All of it did.

    CEs editing tech and business articles would ask the STUPIDEST, NON-RELEVANT questions that the writer knew for a fact the CE was not only clueless about the material, but probably straight out of college with no life experience at all. It was really hysterical! This went on for over a year!

    Yes, we knew that the result would be a bad one for DS. That was kinda the point!

    Now that I no longer have ANYTHING to do with the pack of monkeys running the show, I just sit back with my popcorn and laugh. How’s Princeton serving you now, Culo…er, I’ mean Colo?

  • The Enemy

    “Will Colo continue to keep in place policies such as keeping editors anonymous to writers?”

    Huh? CE names have been attached to articles for a year now. (To address the likely response to that: whether or not those editors are using pseudonyms is mostly irrelevant, since it still allows writers to identify which pseudonyms are doing a spectacular job and/or ruining their lives.)

    • I dunno

      CEs are only ID’d if they leave a note. If they add five grammatical errors to your article and pass it through with a 3/3, you don’t see who edited it. That’s why some CEs have stopped sending back minor rewrites or positive feedback (they want to remain anonymous). Every CE should be ID’d on every story.

  • LB

    Oh, he will never admit to mismanagement! DS recently announced that articles will begin to appear in 2-3 weeks. In DS speak this is probably 2-3 months. As for the scoring system, it is lame beyond belief. As a writer, I’ve had articles receive low scores even when the CE made little to no changes. It’s baffling. I finally quit looking at the scores because it’s a no win situation. DS has no real world logic to back up their methods. They say one thing and do another. It’s like a troop of monkeys are behind the wheel.

    • reality check

      How many 5s did you complain about when you simply mailed one in?

    • How Many Licks?

      That scoring was always puzzling to me. It is ultimately the final problem I had with DMS before they tossed me out on my can. I remember being given three final articles, all of which passed with positive feedback. Only one had any changes made by the CE, and those changes were minor, yet because they were made I was told to pack my bags and get out. I always found it comical that the work was good enough to appear on their site and for editors to leave positive comments on, but that they felt the work wasn’t up to their standards. What-ev.

  • The Sane One

    While a house-cleaning would be a good sign of intent, the guy who wrote this clearly has no understanding of what was really happening on the other side of the wall in terms of connecting his experiences into the business model.

    Basically, he is bitter and angry and trying to make that sound like management and biz wisdom. It’s not.

  • Sure, sure

    “Sean Colo will soon announce whether he believes the problems at Demand are simply the result of eHow’s technology, or if, as a CEO, he understand they are the result of the company’s management team.”

    You know this how? Because judging from your internal DMS history of the last five years, you don’t know much.

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