Demand Media Giving Top Writers Assignment Priority

Email from Demand Media talks up new program

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Demand Media Giving Top Writers Assignment Priority
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Demand Media is no stranger to controversy, and while the company has clearly taken a much firmer stance on content quality this year, it’s leaving some writers lacking a significant source of income.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated from its original form. Just so everything’s clear right up front: Demand Media does have a new program called “First Look” but the company says another program that’s been discussed in various reader comments, “eHow Select” is “a scam”. Please see the end of the article for statements from Demand Media.

The company recently announced it would be cutting down on the number of writing assignments – something that a lot of writers will tell you was already happening. Now, it looks like it will be harder than ever for some of these writers to get their hands on assignments.

The email indicates that Demand is implementing a new program that gives its “highest-rated writer” first dibs on new assignments.

Thanks to reader Kim for sharing the email:

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

Update: There was some question about the legitimacy of the email at first, as we had some trouble getting confirmation from Demand Media (which is not typical), but Noah Davis at Business Insider says he’s been able to confirm it, though he says too in his own article that he’s so far been unable to get further comment from the company thus far.

Information about the “First Look” program is scarce on the web. There is not even a post about it on the Demand Studios blog.

Finally, another reader, Geoff, shared a different email allegedly from eHow about something called “eHow Select”. This one says:

Dear eHow Select writers,
On behalf of the eHow Select project team, I would like to thank you for the articles submitted to the program so far. We are all extremely proud to be working with such a dedicated and passionate team of writers, as evidenced by the lowest rewrite and rejection percentages among all eHow sections.
Based on those encouraging numbers and on several other factors, we have decided to introduce a new feature that will allow you to nominate other writers for future inclusion in the program. At the bottom of each article published on eHow, you will now find a “Nominate” link that allows you, in effect, to vote for its author. The portfolio of writers who have been nominated by current eHow Select members will be reviewed by our team and, if their portfolio meets our quality standards, may be given access to eHow Select.
This new feature, however, does not affect the current recruitment procedure. Our team will continue to review non-nominated writers, as well as applications made through the HelpDesk.
We would also like to remind you of the confidentiality of the project. As outlined in the guidelines that were sent to you, discussing the project on third-party websites or in the general sections of the Demand Studios forums can lead to having your eHow Select privileges revoked.
Content Manager eHow Select

Geoff says, “More proof that Demand Media deliberately LIES to its writers. It has a section called eHow Select that the company pretends doesn’t exist, yet it has many assignments available. DMS forbids the writers within this section from telling other writers about it. This at a time when most sections over at Demand have zero titles for writers to write.”

Some replies to this comment indicate that this email was fabricated to make DM look bad. Others are defending it.

At this point, it’s looking like the First Look program is legit, but questions remain about the eHow Select email.

We will update as soon as we get response from Demand Media.

Update: Demand Media’s Kristen Moore tells us about First Look:

“We’ve just announced First Look to our writing community, and the formal launch is planned for tomorrow. In short it’s a program that allows us to reward our highest rated writers. For writers who maintain an average structure score of 4.0 or higher over their last 50 articles, they’ll have advanced access to new assignments. They’ll be allowed to claim those assignments 48 hours before they’re released into the general Find Assignments pool. In order to keep it fair we will only allow those with First Look access to claim 10 assignments at one time.”

“This is all part of our ongoing focus on quality and expertise. Let me know if you have any questions about the program.”

She also tells us: “’eHow Select’ is indeed a scam. It’s not an eHow or Demand Media program.”

Demand Media Giving Top Writers Assignment Priority
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  • Tim

    The First Look email is legit. It went out to writers last night and according to previous information given to writers, about 15 percent will qualify for the first look.

    The second you your published appears to be a scam to stir things up with the Demand writers, who are already not to happy with the situation.

    • Howard B

      First Look is legit, Chris. The fake one is “eHow Select,” contrived by of the posters of the dubious DSS site, a place where disgruntled writers hang out and use filthy words to describe other DMS writers. Judging from the reaction these guys had to the First Look program, very few of them will qualify, although they will all swear that their scores are high enough.

      Fire off an email to Demand Media, and they’ll likely verify the First Look program. It’s potentially going to increase the quality of DMS articles by leaps and bounds. While some low-scoring writers are unhappy, there are a number of good writers who are excited for the program to begin.

      • http://www.webpronews.com/ Chris Crum

        I’ve fired more than one email to DM, and have yet to hear back, which is unusual for them, but other sources claim to have confirmed the legitimacy of First Look, and I have updated the article to reflect that.

      • Thomas Q.

        From the look of the “First Look” announcement thread in the DMS forum, even a lot of the people who believe they will qualify for the program think that it’s a bad idea.

      • Ticked At DMS

        Howard, you are slightly neurotic. First, off I SAW the eHow Select site with my own eyes. Took a screenshot of it. Want to see? I’ll be happy to share. Who gives a rat’s behind about increasing DMS quality? Do they care about the writer’s who strive to meet guidelines that are almost prohibitive to actually completing an article? Do they care when CEs give rewrites and rejections that are unjustifiable and incompetent, then harass writers who rat them out? No, DMS stock has tanked; their Google status is just above the photo’s of corn filled dog crap covered in flies.

        As for DSS, I have visited there. There aren’t disgruntled, dubious writers there unlike on the DMS forums which is full with begging, pleading, suicide threats, me and my baby must survive off my breast milk earnings because there isn’t any titles and poor pitiful me, what will I do without writing how to make a grilled cheese sandwich articles for pennies threads. DSS tells it straight, tells it like it is and puts DMS and its pity party writers in place.

        • Demand Writer

          Demand Studios Sucks is childish, albeit hilarious, it is unnecessary and childish. I feel the same way about DMS as the next writer, but I do not agree with creating a site designed to publicly bash a corporation. Especially, one that you work for/ with. If you want to bash DMS, do it on the forums because it’s no one’s business but the people involved.

          • Hank

            Ah, I was wondering what DSS is. Yes, I’ve seen that site.

            Ticked, if you think that website “puts DMS and its pity party writers in place,” you are delusional. What I saw there was disgusting, juvenile, unproductive and the smell was a lot like that of sour grapes. Those that can, write. Those that can’t post fantasy photos of themselves and hang out together to bash those that can. Kind of sad, really.

            I’m afraid those pathetic people would have a real hard time putting anyone in their place.

            As for First Look: the bottom line is the company’s stockholders. Those are the only people to whom the company is beholden.

          • hopium

            Demand Media shareholders be holden the bag when this company is said and done.

            Perhaps the company needs to buy more shares for the company coffers? Not cheap enough yet?

          • KennethCrockford

            I post on DSS regularly. Despite what you loyalists think, most of the writers there belong to special sections, churning out 10 to 20 titles a day. Some are CEs who expose the stupidity of the company. It’s perfectly allowable to create a critical website of the company. What’s not right is how DMS tried to silence it with their lawyer doggies. DSS does have some useful information and, for the record, they’ve blown the lid on a lot of Demand’s B.S. before (need to be reminded of the exposee about the CE reaction to the rating tool?)If you are offended by the reality checks of that place, I suggest you continue sucking Richard Rosenblatt’s balls until you run out of money.

        • Howard B

          No, you don’t have a screenshot. You have a poorly photoshopped fake and I’ve already seen it.

          Continuing to promote this lie in an effort to libel DMS isn’t wise.

  • Vicky Hunter

    First Look is real. The company has posted the notice in the writer forums and has responded writer questions about it. Premier may or may not be true, but a writer posted a screen shot of the forum announcement, which the company later deleted. Demand has also apparently told writers who have asked (via e-mail) that eHow Select doesn’t exist, although it’s been discussed on another DMS writer’s board for weeks now. Because of the shortage of titles, few (if any) writers not in First Look will not get any titles to write. So, they are being shown the door via a lack of titles, rather than a true termination notice.

    In short, Demand is letting 85% of its writers go, letting some poor writers stay and some good writers go, based on a problematic math formula. They are judging all writers based on their performance during their last 50 articles, no matter how good or bad you’ve been up to this point. Since two bad scores can drop you below 4.0, many long-time top writers are being accidentally cut. This company is run by inexperienced editorial people, not business executives, and the shareholders need to send in some qualified managers.

  • Ticked At DMS

    DMS has taken down eHow select momentarily but it does exist. I saw the site. I read the information. The first page listed 100 inspiring women, including YouTube Guru Michelle Phan, Kris Jenner momager to the Kardashian girls, Jennifer Lopez and others. Now, the site it gone…just disappeared. The information about the site is being called “rumors” and “untruths” but what about the writers who have been writing the info for these sites? What about the writers who wrote the help desk and received responses saying eHow Select wasn’t recruiting anymore? What about those of us smart enough to use Google to search for the new site and found it?

    • Kerri

      That’s eHow Shift, you moron, and it’s still up: http://www.ehow.com/ehow-shift/.

      • Ticked At DMS

        Look,moron, I am not stupid so don’t talk down to me like you are the Internet God, who knows all. It was two sites, with similar info. I took a screenshot, too. The Shift front page and Select had the same freaking crap, except the Select site offered the women’s photos in a large, rotating circle, with the word Select in the center. Above that was several ‘quotes’ about inspiring women for greatness, with several different categories underneath for areas women could find information on self improvement.
        It couldn’t ever be possible that DMS would use the same info on two different site, would it? Not DMS! They are too upstanding to do something like that. Oh, wait. Isn’t this the same company that included 25 different articles for 4 different sites on “How To Light A Charcoal Grill?”

  • DMS riter

    This just posted in the Studio News Forum:

    *Studio Staff*

    Posts: 689
    First: 2/23/2011
    Last: 10/18/2011
    Hello everyone,

    It has come to our attention that there have been several rumors of a new section for Demand Media Studios called “eHow Select.” Please note that at this time, this section does not exist. The emails that have been posted in the DMS Forums in regards to this program are fake and do not come from actual Studio Staff. When new sections are created, they will be announced here through the DMS Forums.

    Thank you,


  • Now what

    A lot of things don’t make much sense at DMS and one may start wondering what is really behind the confusion. Recently one “official” post is about how DMS wanted to improve its quality with “experts;” the next one is how these “experts” will be culled out from good grammar scores. These two concepts are not mutually exclusive, but the writers with the best grammar scores are often enough not the experts. Many writers, like myself, were routinely advised by DMS that scores were not that important in the overall scheme of things. Now they are?

    Why to create this obvious confusion? Why to create contests where the winners were not that great? Why to create smoke screens like these? What is really going on?

  • KennethCrockford

    Demand Studios is a load of shit. They have no idea how to improve their content. Once each of the elite get one bad score, they’ll get bumped down. Eventually, everyone will mess up and all the writers will be on the same page. Give it a week, two tops. This is a temporary solution and it will fail.

  • Kim

    For eHow Select, Demand issued a statement on the forums saying it doesn’t exist “at this time.”

    Translation: we’re still lying about it.

  • nikki

    Look into DMS letting writers go, but keeping them listed as ACTIVE contributors on site- this tactic inflates the number of writers on the books and gives a false impression of a higher amount of writers at DMS, while in reality it is the same small group of writers handling all assignments.
    Might also want to investigate articles “updating” that have no changes but merely recycle to a new page— can anyone say, scamming google panda?

  • Anonymous

    I’ve been silent on the Demand forum about the recent changes, partially because I’m scared to death that my privileges will be removed all together if I say the wrong thing, partially because I have friends who work there, and I don’t want them to know just how much I’ve been affected by this, and partially–or rather, mostly–because I know I don’t matter to Demand.

    The reality is that I’m not a human being to Demand Media Studios. I’m an object to use whenever they may need me and then toss aside when they’ve used me up. The fact that I’ve been physically ill over this loss of income doesn’t matter. The fact that I now have to deal with a certain individual in my life telling me how much of a failure and useless human being I am multiple times a day since I’m no longer bringing in the money I was a few weeks ago… doesn’t matter. The fact that I’ve spent the past 3 hours that I should have been sleeping first desperately searching for replacement jobs to no avail and then crying doesn’t matter. The fact that being able to tell people I had a “job” and having some money in my name were the only things really keeping me from falling apart, and now I have to respond to things like dinner invites with a sugarcoated version of “I have $30 in my name and cannot afford to spend $12 of that on one meal”…doesn’t matter.

    Thank you, Demand, for ruining my plan to be financially independent enough to get my own place and get away from the current misery in which I live within a few months. I know Demand never promised nor owed me anything, but it was the one thing that enabled me a distraction from the struggle, to put it lightly, that my life has been over the past few years. I suspect it may not be all that different for other writers. We’re not letting on because we know we have no right to be angry at a company that owed us nothing, but we’re humans who couldn’t forgo our basic needs if we tried. Some acknowledgment that we’re human beings rather than expendable walking labor factories would be nice. But Demand doesn’t care. They know the First Look program is based on a highly unfair, arbitrary, and problematic measure of writing ability…but they don’t care.

    • Tom

      In other words, you’re a freelancer? Get a grip, man. YOU are responsible for your financial future, not them. They are just a client, and they don’t owe you anything.

  • Eight

    Has anyone else noticed that DSS has quietly deleted all mention of eHow Select on their forums? The least they could do is admit they got suckered in by a hoax instead of pulling a DMS and trying to pretend no one has noticed they screwed up.

    • Kim

      DSS created the hoax. The site even encouraged some of its own members to participate in that charade without telling them it was a scam. No honor among thieves, I suppose.

      • Jennifer Marsh

        Jennifer Marsh, aka Patrick O’Dare of DSS here.

        Of course we have no honor. We’re sucksters. Sucking and thieving is what we’re all about. That and eating ho ho’s while whacking off to internet porn.

  • Ten

    Demand Media is a sinking ship. Those that didn’t make it into FL are free to move on. For those with a 4 or below: embrace your freedom. Those of us that did make it into FL will probably suffer weeks of stressful rewrites, fighting to hang on to 4. It’s going to suck. And Demand will still fail.

    Being a “top writer” at Demand is nothing to be proud of, as we all use pen names. No one wants to be associated with Demand because editors f*ck up the articles.

    Demand Studios has always sucked and it always will.

    Watching the ship sink will be amazing.

  • Some Guy Who Knows A Lot

    Hi Chris! I’m just going to re-confirm everything said here. The email for eHow Select was well-crafted and creative, but not real. I’ve left my email along with this comment so we can talk privately if you wish. There’s a lot more to discuss. Of course, it’s not my official correspondence email, but there’s obvious reasons for that.

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