Working for the Web's Big Content Machine

Illustration by Julie Teninbaum for TIME; Cranes: Getty Images (3)

I'm hardly qualified to dash off authoritative articles on the theological bona fides of African critters. But one recent evening, I made $15 for writing tips on hard-disc data recovery, another $15 for telling people how to repair burnt carpet and $7.50 for teasing out the answer to that most pressing of questions: Is a giraffe sacred?

The reason for my nighttime writing adventure was to see what life is like on a massive content farm. I was working for Demand Media, the content-provider start-up that has quickly become the Web's least understood and most vilified juggernaut. The company has come...

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