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Yahoo! ends Associated Content’s Featured Contributor program

Job ApplicationYesterday, a select group of contributors to AssociatedContent.com’s website received an e-mail that the program they had applied for and been working under for about a year is ending in March. Yahoo!, which purchased AssociatedContent.com for about $90 million last May, noted in the e-mail they are “paving the way for our next big thing.” According to the e-mail, the “new, second generation Featured Contributors program will recognize and feature participants across the entire Yahoo! family of websites!” This could be great news, but also disappointing to current contributors.

In April 2010, content hub Associated Content asked their contributors to apply for their new Featured Contributor program. This program required writers to commit to three articles of about 400 words each per month for a small, standardized, upfront payment, plus performance-based back-end payments. These articles would also have to be filtered through an editor and meet a short list of requirements, including a source citation at the end of each article. Writers applied for one or more of a dozen areas of coverage, including Travel and Pets. Once accepted, frequent writers began working their way up a ladder called Clout, gaining one step every time another hundred or so people clicked on their articles.

Associated Content, like Demand Media and Examiner.com, pay very small upfront amounts mainly to writers who choose their own subjects, sometimes with a given topic or vertical. When Associated Content first started out in 2005, anybody could post, receiving payment only when someone clicked on that article. These new programs would appear to reflect an evolution of what are commonly called “content farms.” Yahoo!’s new program reduces the number of available areas of coverage, but also reduces the number of articles required to be produced in one month, producing a higher quality product.

As of yesterday evening, about 26 contributors in the current program were posting positive feedback in response to this news. The comments stated that those who were taking their work seriously appreciated that Yahoo! was going to weed out those who were posting poorly written, non-researched articles. Additionally, these writers would have the opportunity to have their content carried over to other Yahoo! websites, giving them greater exposure as writers.

Applications will start being accepted March 1, though it’s not clear how payments will be allotted or if they will only accept applications from current Featured Contributors first. By adding more “stringent” requirements, as the e-mail calls them, and not adding more upfront dollars, the cost/benefit for some writers might decrease to the point where it’s no longer worth their time. It will be interesting to see how Yahoo!’s new Featured Contributor program pans out.

–Rebecca Bredholt

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