Demand Media tries to silence its critics

The king of cheap Internet content is trying to shut down a critical blog written by ex-employees. Is it possible for Demand to stoop any lower?

It seems Demand Media is finding the Internet content business more, er, demanding than expected.

Having failed to convince the world that it isn't just a purveyor of low-cost online crap, the owner of Answerbag and eHow (among others) is trying to silence its critics -– at least, those it thinks it can intimidate.

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As Forbes blogger Jeff Bercovici reports, earlier this week Demand Media sent a cease-and-desist letter to a blog started by disgruntled former employees of its freelance division, Demand Studios.

DM is accusing DemandStudiosSucks of violating its copyrights and trademarks by posting materials such as DM copyediting tests and internal PowerPoint slides to its forums. It even convinced the blog's ISP to take the site down for a bit, though it is back now.

The fact that DSS has been savaging Demand Studios -- not to mention the Internetwide backlash against content factories, which includes Google tweaking its algorithms to push Demand's content lower in its search results -- has nothing to do with it, I'm sure.

Of course, Demand Media is hardly the only bottom feeder in this lake. Associated Content (now owned by Yahoo), Seed (part of AOL), Examiner.com, and others are in the same game. And sites like the Huffington Post are only marginally better.

Their business model: Pay as little for content as they can get away with, toss it up on the InterWebs as quickly as possible, promote the hell out of it on search engines, collect a few ducats from advertisers thanks to people stupid enough to not only click on those links but also on the ads associated with them; repeat several thousand times each day.

An infographic found at OnlineMBA breaks down how companies like Demand Media work; it appears to be based on this Wired article by Dan Roth.

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