First, let me congratulate you on discovering how the Demand Studios network of websites are cluttering Google’s search results with garbage masquerading as garden content. Garden blogger who pay attention to their site stats or monitor the ranking of their websites and garden blogs have known about this. Welcome to 2009.
Quickly, for those unfamiliar, Demand Media owns several article mills like eHow and Garden Guides, where people who are paid little money “write” articles about gardening. Since these are freelance “writers” trying to make a buck, the information is usually not first-hand. Most of the time these articles are just simplified versions of popular garden blog posts. Go and do a Google search for the title of a popular post on your blog and you may find an article eerily similar to yours. Garden blog posts of the how-to variety are especially popular.
Sometimes you may get credit in the form of a mention but no link to the article they obviously are regurgitating. Many of my most popular posts on the MrBrownThumb garden blog have been regurgitated by the "writers" who work for Demand Media.
Where was I?
Oh, yeah. Garden Rant it’s time for you to hang up the mouse and spend more time with your gardens. Maybe take a trip or write a book. It’s been a long time since you’ve “uprooted the gardening world.” Like with all successful ventures, you’re coasting on prestige and a fan base who won’t tell you when you’re wrong. The blog has become a repository for half-baked guest posts and press releases. What little original content you manage to produce is usually so ridiculous that I can’t help but feel sorry for you. Allow me to provide examples: When you said the actress in the video for the Yeo Valley commercial and said the actress looked "like a model, not someone you can imagine getting dirty, like the outdoorsy-looking men." Really? A blog written by women went there? A woman actually said another woman was too attractive to be a farmer? Do you see what’s wrong with your line of thinking?
While I agree with yesterday’s rant against eHow on many levels, I couldn’t help chuckling at reading an attack on a content mill next to the quote that likens you to the Huffington Post. "Gardenrant is the Huffington Post of garden news!" reads the quote in your sidebar. A perfect example of how out of touch you’ve become. You’re being likened to another type of article mill, granted one with celebrities, but an article mill nonetheless. A feed scraper, a monument to Arianna’s ego and the home of vaccine deniers-that’s totally something you’re proud of!
In the rant against eHow you lumped in the writers for About.com and they descended on your comments to present their qualifications and point out how poorly researched your rant was. A day later and you have yet to respond to the comments, issue a retraction or an apology. I’m not surprised, usually when you post something so ignorant of the facts, the reaction is to hunker down and pretend like you can’t see them. That is, until the outrage becomes so loud, like with the ugly gardens rant last year, that you can’t pretend like you don’t hear the chants. And only then do you go around commenting on blogs telling people to calm down because you’re only expressing an opinion. Everyone’s entitled to an opinion, as long as it’s Garden Rant’s. Amirite?
Then there’s the comment section of your blog, have you seen that mess lately? It shows that you don’t care about the blog or your readers that you allow obvious spam to remain alongside thoughtful comments. Do you allow people to dump garbage in your gardens, when you see litter in your perennial beds do you allow it to accumulate? Then why would you do that in the comments section of your blog?
As a garden blog evangelist I hate to tell a garden blog to go away. Maybe the four of you should just step back and take different positions within the blog. It’s obvious that the blog now only exists to prop up your other projects and get paying jobs elsewhere. Bring on four new women to write Garden Rant. Ones whose real jobs and careers don’t rely on currying favor with garden marketers, publishers and authors. Ones whose opinions aren’t fertilized by sycophants. Maybe then Garden Rant will go back to "uprooting the gardening world."
(Note: Part of the conversation going on in the comments over there is about curating information. For a couple of years I've been curating websites to include into my Google custom search engines about gardening and now one about gardening with seeds. I saw this trend early on and because Google's results are now cluttered with crappy articles because of websites like eHow and Garden Guides I only use these to search for information. The articles, posts and webpages are from reliable writers, institutions and garden blogs. Give them a try or make suggestions.)
ETA: Day two and there's been no retraction, correction or apology. Not even an acknowledgment that in lumping the writers of About.com with the others they made a mistake. I know the writers aren't on vacation because I've seen them online.