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Sunday, July 07, 2013

Content Writing in India Hits Rock Bottom, and Starts to Dig!



I've been freelancing as a Content Writer ever since I decided to try and monetize my love for putting pen/pencil on paper and jotting down a few lines here and there. However, for all the brilliant content that exists already, and is continually being created with lots of thought, insight and vision, there is about ten times more "rubbish" that passes for "content" both on- and offline. It's a sad state of affairs that see people resorting to gaming search engines and other Internet technologies to make it appear as if their websites are worth the ranking. Yet, with the advent of Search Engine Optimization, now hailed as a core part of anything to do with websites and/or Social Media, I believe that the art of clear, organized writing, one where people started out by identifying "topic sentences" and "supporting sentences", has all but faded out. Having had the not-so-welcome honor to review writing samples that were sent as a sort of screening exercise, more than 90 percent of the ones I read had me asking how these people believed their English language skills to be adequate enough to "write content". Honestly, I've seen ESL (English as a Second Language) kids in Elementary school produce more coherent content.

However, as with all things "outsourcing" go, India seems to bend over and take it harder and harder, price-cutting to get the deals, and adding more "middle men" to the equation so that at the end of it all, desperate content writers seem to be writing for the same peanut, if that. With "crowdsourcing" being a convenient tool of the stingy Indian manager, it's very possible for someone to do excellent work, and end up not getting paid on the grounds that her or his content was rejected by the client. No ifs. No buts. Just "write or die,"
 apparently, with too many desperate people willing to take that leap. And that brings me to this example of content writing work that seems to come our way here in India.

This post has been honorably tagged with the "English?" label to denote that it belongs in the collection of interesting instances of "Indian English" on this blog because this is actually a perfect example of Indian English for me, requesting more of the same, or so it appears. I've seen things like this so often over the last year or two, it's shocking to think that this still happens, where a poorly worded excuse for a job/task posting like this will (thankfully not in this case, although most surprising an omission, this) ask for "Grammatically Correct English" and the like. Needless to say, the age of "setting a good example" is certainly behind us, as we find ourselves in the I-have-the-money-so-do-as-I-say era. But what does this mean for the Internet, a resource that when I was in school and college, was considered to be a source of potentially spurious and nonsensical information unless it was from an authorized and/or verifiable source.

Don't get me wrong, I make errors when I write, as much as I'd like to make it sound like I am the living epitome of grammatical correctness. And people call it "trolling" if you catch someone else's error online, and bring it to the world's attention, but really, if stuff like this didn't happen every now and again, we wouldn't be able to gauge where "rock bottom" really was. For me, this is it. Until another country proves that it can create sound English language content for less than the current going rate of 10 paise per word (that's roughly one-sixteenth of one cent in the US), we're going to be playing "The Emperors New Clothes" with semi-literate agents  dishing out penny-wise-pound-foolish work in heaps, on behalf of website owners who continue to make use of the price differences to have someone else put words on paper, to help their potentially worthless business cause look like a viable alternative every time you search on Google or Bing, or any of the search engines of your choice.

The Internet is being flooded and clogged with drivel, one "inexplicable" piece of content at a time...
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