Content Farms

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Wed Nov 10 03:29:19 UTC 2010

More on "content farm" (also on "slashtag" and "meta" below).
12:11 pm EST November 9th, 2010
> The story Riehl linked to was some nonsense from the user-generated
> *content farm*, specifically an article supposedly
> describing how Maryland had botched their application to the federal
> “Race To The Top” program

"Slashtag" is also not new by any stretch of imagination. In fact, there
are content sites that have "standard" definition of "slashtag".
> *Slashtags*
> Page history last edited by Chris Messina 12 mos ago
> Slashtags are a community-created convention to mark additional
> metadata of a tweet. They are like hashtags but typically target or
> indicate other people as the subject of a short word.
> Slashtags were named by Chris Blow and introduced by Chris Messina.
> *Etymology*
> Unlike hashtags, slashtags aren't precisely named. Or rather, Chris
> Blow's intention in calling them "slashtags" was to extend the basic
> hashtag functionality with subtags. That use case is not covered here.
> Instead, these words were originally called "pointers", set off with a
> slash character ("/" — called "the slasher").
> Slashtags, therefore, are actually the collection of phrases that
> appear after the slasher.

Oh, lookie here--it's got the coiner's name and everything!

The "origin" of the "/slashtag" is then traced to 16 November 2009.
> *#hashtags and /slashtags*
> A great example of this type of “attention data enhancement” is the
> #hastag, which clarifies the context of a short statement on twitter
> with a globally recognizable tagging syntax. (I’ll spare us the debate
> around hashtags, but suffice it to say, they can be done better.)
> Chris Messina, one of the biggest advocates of #hashtags and other
> microsyntax, has just described a few extra bits of attribution using
> the “slasher.” (I think we could just call it a “slashtag.”)

There is something a bit perverse about all of this--Chris Messina
claims that Chris Blow coined "slashtag" and Blow credits Messina. I
suspect both are wrong and the term goes back a bit further, although,
perhaps, not as far back as "hashtag". Also note, however, that this is
not quite the same use of "slashtag" as Blekko's. (That's right--it's
Blekko, not Bekko.)

Wiki is no help, as it just duplicates the Microsyntax content. But
"slashtag" is central to Blekko's design:
Blekko, The “Slashtag” Search Engine, Goes Live
Oct 31, 2010 at 7:36pm ET by Danny Sullivan

Reading the article, I can't help but to see Blekko as the Bayesian
search engine and "slashtag" as the Bayesian conditional that makes that
engine function.

So now we have dueling meanings of "slashtag" attempting to appeal to
the same crowd (more or less). It's going to be interesting to see how
this conflict will be resolved. Search for "slashtag" produces 142K raw
ghits. Search for "slashtag -blekko" reduces it to 39K. Some of these
hits may also include even older use of "slash tag" as the counterpart
to HTML and XML "tag"--that is, the "slash tag" closes the "tagged" content.

There is more--remember how we always discover that ADS-L is just one
giant thread? Recall the "meta" thread a couple of days ago:
> You can leave off the slasher, but that decreases the separation
> between the "meta and the meat"

"The meta" here is the non-content (essentially tracking) information
that is separated by the "slash" from content or "meat". Note the
wordplay between "meta" and "meat"--I suspect, it is not accidental.
(The sentence is taken from Messina's Microsyntax piece cited above.)


On 11/1/2010 12:17 PM, Federico Escobar wrote:
> A popular NYT article on a new search engine, Bekko, used a term I hadn't
> seen before, and that didn't come up in the ADS archives: "content farm".
> Here's the quote:
> "Blekko's search engine scours three billion Web pages that it considers
> worthwhile, but it shows only the top results on any given topic. It calls
> its edited lists of Web sites slashtags. The engine also tries to weed out
> Web pages created by so-called content farms like Demand Media that
> determine popular Web search topics and then hire people at low pay to write
> articles on those topics for sites like"
> And this is the link to the NYT article:
> There's also the new "slashtag" created by Bekko, which may soon start a
> profitable career as noun and verb.
> F.

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