Seeking writers, or thieves and suckers?

One of my favorite words is being misused with disturbing frequency: Writer.

Writing is a craft, a profession. Sometimes it’s an art.

A writer collects and organizes information or ideas and presents the material in a way that makes it useful. The presentation can take many different forms. Nonfiction books and articles, persuasive op-ed pieces and entertaining, thought-provoking fiction are a few examples. (Yes, fiction is information.)

The misuse?

The most egregious examples I’ve seen lately were on oDesk, which professes to be “changing how the world works.” Indeed.

Someone was looking for an “article re-writer” to produce “unique articles” of 400 to 500 words each. The compensation was $1 per article. The posting said, in part, “However, rather than right [sic] a whole new article, you can find existing articles and simply re-write them.” Skills required? English and writing.

Another oDesk user – “a large Internet marketing firm” – sought an “Excellent Web Content Writer and Editor” to produce articles, press releases and blog posts daily for 2 cents per word.

This would be a long-term position, the job description said, for a North American writer/editor with journalism skills. Editing skills were important because the large Internet marketing firm did not want to have to double-check the work.

It just wanted lots of content for virtually no money.

In the first instance, the rewrite buyer wasn’t really looking for a writer. The buyer was looking for a content thief who would work for nearly nothing. The job was filled.

In the second? The buyer was looking for, and found, a sucker.

A real writer doesn’t steal content, and you don’t find an excellent writer for 2 cents a word.

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