Associated Content has started removing articles. You read that correctly. They are removing articles without so much as a “by your leave.” The AC forum is lighting up with panic posts. In this blogger’s opinion, the indignation is real and righteous. AC isn’t giving the contributors any specific reason for the removal, but they have outlined some general rationale.
AC added this section to their FAQ:
Why was my content removed from the site?
1. Inclusion of affiliate links
2. Overtly promotional content or links
3. Sexually explicit or inappropriate content
5. Images that do not follow our guidelines
6. Quality problems (poor grammar, spelling or does not meet the minimum word-length requirement – poetry excluded)
7. Formatting problems (content not broken into paragraphs; over-use of bullets, underlining, bold, italics; inclusion of byline or title within the content)
AC Admin also add this note in an out-of-the-way forum post:
Though AC is well within their rights, they are going about this in all the wrong ways. Here’s where it is all falling apart.
The removals are catching contributors completely off guard. AC isn’t alerting the contributor any way, shape or form. The authors are just discovering the missing articles by sheer luck. The removed articles are denoted on the contributor’s content report by a different color, but that’s it. No email. No intra-site message. No reason given. The article just disappears like a fart in the wind.
As AC Admin posted, the author has the option of emailing email@example.com and asking for the removal reason, but that takes time. While waiting for an answer, the frustrated and enraged author will most likely post something like “AC removed my article and they suck big donkey balls.” The blogosphere is fueled by pissed-off people and AC is going to see some really bad PR from this.
AC has already returned some articles which the accidentally removed, but the view count did not return with them. In these cases, the views will be restored to their original count when the next update happens. That can be up to 5 or 6 days in the future. In the meantime, more blogging will take place as the author worries if they will get their accrued numbers back. Worst case scenario, they rant-blog about how AC stole their money.
This Kool-Aid Tastes Funny
As with most things AC, not all the staff is drinking from the same Kool-Aid pitcher. The staff removing these articles is using a loose set of rules interpreted by their individual mood. Some removals have been for blatant violations while others seem to be the victim of a mid-afternoon, low blood sugar level. One AC staffer was totally unaware that article removal and a few other issues were even occurring. It still amazes me how few staffers read their own forums.
What You Can Do
- Check your Content Tab. Removed articles are highlight.
- Don’t panic. If your content didn’t break the rules (above), email community@ and ask them why it was removed.
- Be honest. If you know your article broke the rules, don’t be an rant-ass.
What AC Can Do
A better job. I tried to tell them removing articles without giving the author a reason was a bad idea. It’s clogging their forum with dozens of cloned panic threads. It’s clogging their inbox with pissy panic emails. It’s eventually going to lead to serious PR problems.
- Get your removal squad on the same sheet of music.
- Send an email and/or intra-site message with the reason for removal.
- Be pre-sponsive and not responsive. Don’t act like jack-booted thugs.