My Time as a Yahoo Contributor & The Death of Yahoo Contributor Network

The end of July brought the end of an era for myself and for a great many freelance writers — the Yahoo Contributor Network, formerly known as Associated Content way back when, shut down. Not only was YCN closing its doors to new material, but Yahoo went as far as removing the entire library of content which had ever been created through that platform. Every last drop, gone.

Poof!

It’s like all of those things you did never happened. No track record of what you had written or accomplished. And since the start of 2007, I like to think that I had written and accomplished quite a bit through Associated Content and then the Yahoo Contributor Network. Here are the stats:

What Killed Yahoo Contributor Network?

Associated Content essentially began as a crowd-sourced content platform. If you had something to say, then you could say it there. If it was worthwhile enough, then they’d pay you for it too, a combination of upfront fees to own the content’s rights along with performance payments based on how many page views each article garnered.

The AC community grew to have a passionate base of tens to even hundreds of thousands of contributors, producing a massive collection of content on a daily and weekly basis, albeit of an admittedly divergent quality. This constant churn of content and those passionate contributors who were doing the churning were the signs of a potentially powerful commodity, and Associated Content was bought up by Yahoo.

This was a wonderful development for many writers on Associated Content. Published content instantly had more credibility and wider distribution. Higher quality contributors were afforded new opportunities. As a freelancer, Yahoo grew to represent a small but sizable slice of my income, and a large portion of my top-tier content went in their direction. Things were good.

The problem is that as the platform continued to surge, there weren’t enough checks in place to maintain the appropriate standards. Not only was bad content being published by an increasingly unqualified set of contributors, but it was being published on the premium outlets which had initially been reserved for only the top quality material. It was a slippery slope. Journalistic reporting and feature writing were soon shoved aside to clear the way for catchier titles and page view hunting, reacting to news instead of producing it, screaming for attention instead of earning it.

YCN was doomed. In their search to be bigger and bigger, and generate more and more content, they opened the floodgates and were never able to close them again, diluting quality and reputation in the process. Instead of cleaning things up and kicking out shoddy contributors, they began turning the faucet off for everybody in terms of the opportunities they were providing. One door closed and then another, until finally they axed the entire program.

In an email amusingly entitled “Thank you!” YCN delivered the news in this fashion:

You made the past nine years incredible. At Yahoo, we’re focused on making daily habits more inspiring and entertaining. That means we’re constantly reviewing our products and experiences and, in some cases, we have to make tough decisions to no longer support a product. As part of our ongoing effort to sharpen our focus, on July 31, 2014, Voices.Yahoo.com will be shut down… we will remove from Yahoo all content published through Yahoo Contributor Network and rights for all of your Yahoo Contributor Network content will revert to you.

Sayonara! You have less than a month to figure out what to do with your 900 articles before they’re permanently deleted, and we wipe our hands clean of the ordeal and pretend it never happened. So uh, you’re welcome?

The imminent closure of Yahoo Contributor Network at least forced my hand to get moving on side projects I had previously stalled on. From the ashes then rises a glorious phoenix, ManTalkFood.com!

Now, at the bottom of articles posted on this site prior to summer 2014, you’ll see a quick note telling you where and when it was originally published, i.e., on Yahoo! News, Sports or Voices.

However poorly the platform and subsequently its closure were eventually handled, Associated Content and the Yahoo Contributor Network together represent a chunk of my career I certainly would never take back. Writing 900 articles and generating 6.5 million views with recognition across outlets such as Yahoo! Sports and Yahoo! News was an invaluable way to earn my chops, to say the least, while finding myriad new opportunities and developing a number of wonderful personal and professional contacts. Onwards and upwards.

Author: Jake Emen

I’m Jake, and I’m your host on this journey. I'm the man doing the eating and the talking around here. I’m a writer based outside of Washington, D.C., and I'm also talking whiskey, local events, travel, and other assorted misadventures. Follow me on the Tweet Machine - @ManTalkFood, or send an email to jake [at] mantalkfood.com.

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