The web levels the playing field, allowing individuals to compete with larger corporations, largely through the smaller players making dirt public and launching viral marketing campaigns around issues. Because there is a publisher publishing every opinion and angle, it is easy to discount just about everything, especially attempts for new market participants to become remarkable.
Gawker announced they are shifting their business model from quanity to quality:
Where there was a shortage of attitude and commentary, there's now a surfeit. And what's in heavy demand, and short supply, is linkworthy material, by which I mean a secret memo, a spy photo, a chart, a well-argued rant, a list, an exclusive piece of news, a well-packaged find.
With them determining quality based on the ability to garner links and pageviews, do you think that is going to improve content quality, or just cause more mud slinging and noise? The easy way to get more page views is controversy, as pointed out by Scott Karp and Scoble.
2008 will probably be a nasty year for online content quality, as the true flaws of PageRank and the selfish nature of bloggers with new found power shine brighter than ever, feeding off one another. Blogs that once acted as hubs spotting good ideas and sending visitors to them will now take your best ideas, reformat them, add a bit of original content, drop the attribution, and get the pageviews they need to get paid. Where they once linked at your new content look for them to link back to their recent greatest hits from 2 days ago. Every post builds off the last. Every blogger for themself. :)
Google has Knol. Wikipedia has Wikia search. Yahoo has answers. Mahalo has how tos. Topical channels that highlighted content will get greedier with links. Virtually every clean traffic source is trying to become the end destination too.
People will eventually get sick of controversy and traffic hoarding the same way we became banner blind. Anyone just getting started out might be able to make some moves into the market with controversial content, but for those who are already established the key to future growth will be going back over your old ideas, refining them, making them more accessible, and producing them in better formats. 10 pieces of anchor content will pull a site further along than 1,000 me too posts. And linking out will still help too, assuming you pay your content writers based on something other than pageviews.
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