In one of his recent blogs, Seth Godin has talked about making money and understanding its value. As someone who has recently decided to make more money faster, I took his words to heart. A few days later, I came across an opportunity to write content for websites. It was a work-from-home job that would bring in about twenty thousand rupees a month for a couple of hours of work every day. I felt quite enthusiastic about it – I can write; so why not channel my talents to make some cash on the side?
Then the job poster shared the instructions and the next steps.
I would be given a source article, which I must rewrite in different words, keeping the meaning intact. My language and grammar had to be good. But the content did not have to be great. All the articles would have a common objective – convince people to take loans for various purposes. According to the job description, this was an ‘easy, simple’ writing opportunity. I checked one of the attached sample articles – it urged people to buy a UPS for their homes. Why? Because having power backup is important. And oh, UPS loans are dirt cheap and readily available. There were a few more in the same vein. Buy a washing machine to do your laundry at home. (washing machine loans are dirt cheap and readily available). Buy a second car because you don’t have to depend on your spouse to ferry you around. (car loans are cheap and readily available too).
As I sat at my desk skimming through these articles with growing disbelief, I realized something.
That contrary to my own belief, I am not yet ready to sell my soul.
I didn’t take up the job. But I did mull over it, and realized that I was disturbed by more than just the soul-deadening nature of the work. There is an ethical side to it too.
We all rely greatly on the internet to give us relevant and useful information. We all know how frustrating it is when we come upon crappy web pages and pointless articles. So don’t we also have a moral obligation to contribute something back to this open source? Something valuable and helpful to other netizens. Even if we don’t edit Wikipedia pages or write reviews of products and services we have used, we can at least be responsible and refrain from adding to the mess.
I think that is something web content writers and webpage owners should think about. This will also make business sense in the long run – if you are sharing great content, more people will come to your website on their own. You don’t have to hoodwink them into doing so.
As Google says – Don’t Be Evil.