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Demand Media changes make it harder for 75% of its writers to earn a living

Demand Media, for better or worse, is always looking for ways to increase the quality of the content that gets pumped through their system, and their newest effort is making more than a few of their writers a little angry.

Called the “First Look” program it allows writers with a Demand Media “structure” rating of 4.0, or higher, a 48-hour window to claim story topics before their fellow writers can. Now to understand this a little better you need to know what this “structure” rating is, and it turns out that it has nothing to do with content expertise but rather the use of commas, hyphens, and other grammar tidbits.

The problem with this “First Look” thing according to one writer is that it will effectively block out 75% of the writers from writing good content.

In early August, Demand staff shared that only 15% of all writers have scores over 4.0. Demand is only adding a few hundred of articles a day. The First Look initiative is effectively shutting out the 85% of writers from producing content, since the “best” writers will grab all of the writable titles with their 48-hour head start. With a conservative calculation from Demand of 4,000 active writers, this means that 3200 writers are out of luck.

Here is the full text of Jeremy Reed’s email to the writers.

Studio Writers,

We are excited to announce a new program called First Look. It is intended to reward our highest-rated writers by giving them the first look at new titles. Starting this week, the highest-rated writers will have advanced access to view and claim new assignments for 48 hours before they are released into the Find Assignments pool.

We’ve all invested a lot and we want to further reward writers who best exemplify the attributes of good writing. The eligible group will be those writers who maintain an average structure of 4.0 or higher for their last 50 articles.

The score will be recalculated with every new article. While we plan to add this updated score to your Work Desk, it will not be immediately visible. We may also at some point modify this method of calculation. If your average falls below 4.0, you will lose First Look privileges until you bring your score back within the qualifying range.

In an attempt to be mindful and fair to all eligible writers, all writers’ assignment claim limits will be set to 10. As with the current system, once you submit an article, you may claim another assignment. We will notify those writers eligible for First Look via email. All changes will go into effect in the next few days.

We will continue to listen to your feedback and invest in programs like this. Please visit this forum thread if you have any questions


Jeremy Reed, SVP Editorial

via Business Insider