Digital Thing: Quora has a blog on Slate

Ain’t that a trip?

Quora. A Q&A site. Has a blog on I don’t know about you, but something that is ostensibly a startup having a blog outside of its own media ecosystem more than caught my eye.

But get this: it’s not authored by some expert at Quora. The three posts (this is a new effort, it seems) are written by Quora users. As in, unpaid people who contribute content to the site. And Quora’s ToS allows them to make money off their content, no matter where they put it. Say, on a major digital media property. From the ToS:

You agree that this license includes the right for other users of the Service to modify your Content, and for Quora to make your Content available to others for the publication, distribution, syndication, or broadcast of such Content on other media and services, subject to our terms and conditions for such Content use. Such additional uses by Quora or others may be made with no compensation paid to you with respect to the Content that you submit, post, transmit or otherwise make available through the Service.

Know what that’s called? Zero content costs. Which is boss if you’re a magazine, and shit if you’re an author. If you’re an author on Slate’s “Explainer” column (one of my favorites), you might be bummed to find out that a human-powered free content machine is taking your place.

Here’s an example. Some guy called Garrick answered a question on Quora, and now it’s been posted on Slate.

It’s been edited (I checked with QuickDiff and found that Slate prefers double spaces after full stops) minimally. Just a bit of punctuation. No major edits.

Anyway. Fascinating. And more proof of two things that I believe:

  1. If you’re a magazine, being in the editorial business on the internet is a bad idea; you don’t want to compete for ad dollars with companies that get their content for free. (Be Instructables, don’t be Popular Mechanics.)
  2. If you’re an author of content, you need to know your rights, know why you’re posting what where, and realize that getting famous under your own name is probably your best bet to make a buck. (Be Grantland, don’t be Bill Simmons, columnist, ESPN.)

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