June 24, 2007

Tipped Cow gets mad

Oddly, Creative Cow seems to be in the process of censoring sites, posts, and writers -- and blocking IP addresses of those who go off-script however defined. It seems they don't want to mention sites or possibly products from unapproved vendors, and filter results and postings with an internal blacklist of "enemy" sites. It's said that dvxuser.com and dvinfo.com do this too, and God knows if that's true or who else does this.

The discussion began on the AE-list; General Specialist summarized the discussion and hosts comments, and was purged from the Cow for posting about the banned sites! A very good discussion then followed in comments. Capria.TV also added reasoned discussion. The whole episode got my overactive imagination thinking of Lewis Mumford's The Myth of the Machine series, with the Creative Cow as an electronic panopticon or megamachine similar to a Sumerian temple construction by slaves surrounded by gang bosses and an army.

Someone also suggested "that ALL the content (especially the product reviews) should be taken with a major grain of salt." Well that goes for every content provider, not just the Cow, because I've witnessed a number of reviews adjusted by a star here or mouse there. I once asked why I was doing a certain feature article and was told it was a "vendor obligation piece," meaning a major advertiser wasn't getting mentioned enough and needed custom staff exposure. And that was at a good outfit. Some writers might insist they never seen such things but they have been "chosen" to do a article instead of someone else. Articles aren't really born in general staff meetings as is often claimed. Other problems with reviews is that they pay low, require expertise, and have tight deadlines, so some writers need to lean on press kits written by marketeers (who find the pay scale better than their old media jobs). It's not a total lock, but a sleaze factor can creep in at times.

The big boys play a much more serious game than the Cow, so remember "Aim High" so you don't shoot your friend in the face. For some background of the role of expert marketeers, see The Corporation and Douglas Rushkoff's PBS docs Merchants of Cool and The Persuaders.

Update 06-29-07: The Cow responds and along with HD for Indies tries to convince that everything's dandy with glittering generalities, but neither address issues and background discussed on the AE List and on General Specialist (the comments especially). AE has flourished with the free exchange of advice and discounts, back at least to the old AOL forum where top users and developers shared tips cooperatively, raising all boats.


Frank said...

Your description of the pressures facing reviewers - both online and print - is apt. But it should be noted that many reviewers and editors do rise above the fray.

In over a decade at DV Magazine, never has an editor asked me to do a vendor obligation piece, and never have I been asked to change any point in a review.

I can't speak for other publications, but for a very brief stint blogging for StudioDaily.com. Again, no one there aver asked me to modify a post.

Briefly I was a moderator on the old WWUG before Ron sold it to DMN. Upon seeing my first article published in DV, I was summarily booted off the WWUG - not so much as an email explaining why.

Rich said...

I sorta wondered why my brief relationship with the WWUG fizzled; I hadn't realized it went on that long.

Yes, DV seemed to be the best at remaining independent of obvious marketing, even to the point of completely rewriting press releases when covering news. DV has had great content for a long time; too bad they have run into hard times with fewer pages. BTW, I'm also not aware of DV forcing rating number changes.