So the results are in from our little experiment and the view is . . . you get what you paid for.
Just to review. Textbroker.com is a service which will write for you on the topic of your choosing. They have a four levels of service and pay by the word. For our experiment, we tried two levels on the upper end of the scale. The topic was “The History of Cream Cheese,” as a control, I added a third sample for the poll in which I copied an article from wikipedia and used some software to shorten the text using an algorithm.
For those of you who read through the samples on the earlier post, here’s what we paid.
- Sample ONE, copy/paste from wikipedia, shortened using software algorithm
- Sample TWO, 2.2 cents/word, 24 hour turnaround
- Sample THREE, 6.7 cents/word, 5-day turnaround
The overwhelming choice (over 80%) was for the most expensive#3 sample. It’s pretty clear that the most thought was put into this text and at a total cost of almost $20, it was by far the most expensive sample to commission.
Textbroker is a pay-as-you-go version of companies such as Demand Media which are content factories that focus on, “optimizing high-quality content” for domain squatters and publishers looking for fill to generate pageviews for their advertising partners. What was interesting about to my Finnish colleagues is the thought they could use the service for preparing rough drafts. English skills are very good here but the hardest part for many is just getting started. Many that I talked to thought Textbroker would be a great way to jump start a first draft to get beyond the blank, white page.
My father, a former editor at Random House, is weary of this trend toward mass produced content. “This way lies madness,” was his one line reaction. The business model exists, of course, at the other end of the spectrum. For those that cannot afford their own ghost writer, there is a fellow going by the name of Charles Kinbote who is offering Bespoke Art Commentary specializing in critical analysis of your child’s artwork. For 190 pounds you get a beautifully framed original.
Here’s how he pitches himself.
And you are also busy, no? You may be keen to know what modernist artists your two-year-old son is referencing in his playgroup art, or perhaps what Renaissance works your three-year-old daughter mimics in her scribbles, but you nevertheless don’t have the time, or, let’s be honest, the talent to critique your children’s artistic endeavors the way a real critic would. Explaining any work of art is not easy. Explaining why a young, immature artist — a child, if you will — chooses to be influenced by Renoir rather than Richter is an almost impossibly complex maneuver, one for which you need an expert. I am that expert. The exploration of the meaning contained in the artwork of children is my life’s pursuit. I offer you my service. My name is Charles Kinbote…
Thanks everyone. It was fun but I think I’ll stick to my own writing. I enjoy it too much.
UPDATE: Just for giggles, I copy/pasted the text from the third sample into Xtranormal to get the narration.