More Than This

Between my home and office, I listen to Sirius satellite radio… and usually if I don’t have dance music or 70’s rock, I’ll have on Fox News or CNN. One of my pet peeves with both news corporations is that right before a commercial break, they will tease me with a reason not to flip the channel…and then the story they promised won’t be available until after the commercial, then more news, then commercial and then they will finally give me the promised story. Liars I call them because it’s implied that the story will be available right after the commercial but it almost NEVER happens that way.

This morning, they teased me with a story about how going to the gym may be worse for your health than not going to the gym. Of course, I wasn’t going to buy the story but I arrived at work, it’s 7 degrees outside F. and I sat here waiting in my warm truck for the story they promised 2 commercial breaks ago before I head into the office.

The guest expert goes on to spew fluff after fluff after fluff and as I got angry that I waited the extra minutes to hear the fluff, …it occured to me…ohh no, it reminded me of some of the poor quality articles that make it into our site every day. There must be MORE THAN THIS?

Seems so subjective but after you review tens of thousands of articles, I think one can become a very split second judge of article quality… ie: When the content is FLUFF vs. real value.

The point of this blog entry: After you finish each article that you write, give it the “fluff acid test”: Does my article deliver real value or am I just filling word count minimums?

Musical Factoid: Special thanks to Bryan Ferry + Roxy Music for their 1995 song, “More Than This” (Catalogue number CDV2791) that inspired this blog entry title.

How do you personally know when your article is delivering real value vs. fluff?

24 Comments »


1

Chris.

This is an interesting point, because the quality of our work can be totally subjective and in my haste to fulfil my quotas – i.e. my submission targets, I do think it is possible to sacrifice quality for quantity.

Equally, I feel one can be too self-critical and I often find that something I have written in haste and not been totally happy with has attracted positive feedback.

In addition of course, the number of times an article is downloaded may provide evidence that a piece of work is good? Having said that, I have no idea what an acceptable ratio is – 1%, 5% – do you have any stats on this?

Finally, requests to re-publish an article is also an indicator and a morale boost of course.

At the end of the day, quality has to come first, as it is the only way one is going to develop a regular “following” – I do find that visitors here are pretty discerning.

Jonathan

Comment provided January 20, 2007 at 3:41 AM

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2
Pamela Beers writes:

I have always believed that quality prevails. It is proven over and over again by the people you attract and the clients who become loyal followers.

Comment provided January 20, 2007 at 4:30 AM

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3

I’ve been receiving a lot of “fluff” in my email inbox and finding it aggravating. Whether it’s web articles, or email communication, “fluff” denotes vague, unspecific thoughts that lack substance.

A fluff article about ezine publishing might transpire in the following way. The first paragraph would say, “publish your ezine through an opt-in list.” Whatever thoughts followed would fail to help the reader understand what that means.

The second paragraph might say, “It is better to just pay for opt-in list management, than to run the risk of becoming labeled as a spammer.” And again, with the underdeveloped ideas.

The third could say, “Your ezine subscribers will be angry if they can’t voluntarily leave your list. So, offer them an opt-in subscription to your ezine.” (no further explanation offered).

(and so on.)

I would consider such an article “fluffy” because the author never bothers to explain exactly what opt-in lists are, how they work, where you can get one, WHY you run the risk of being labeled as a spammer, HOW the blacklist process works, what the correct ezine protocol is, and so forth.

(I’m actually writing an article about this right now.)

The value is in the details. Without those, you have fluff. If you’re not sure if your article qualifies as legitiate info or just fluff, as you review each paragraph, be the end user and ask the questions: “What do you mean? I don’t get it. Never heard of these concepts before. Please explain.”

Comment provided January 20, 2007 at 11:12 AM

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4
Thaddeus writes:

I would say that 60-80 percent of the articles that are listed on EzineArticles are fluff.
Most people on here are writing articles not because they want to add value but because they want traffic to their site and they believe the way to that traffic is by writing more and more articles.
Then you e those people that perhaps do indeed write “non fluff” articles but at such a slow pace they dont reap any of the rewards of writing a goood article in the short term even though if they continued at it they would enjoy a tremendous amount of success in the lng term.
I dont think if its fluff really matters; instead its a matter of creating content that will get the reader to want to go to your site and do what it is you want them to do once they get there.
Be it a sale, bookmark, or further visits.
The news is nohing but fluff yet you continiue to listen to it upset that every day for a moment they get you to believe that a 2 minute story is somehow going to make your life more better than it is.
Yet, MPR remains unlistened to because they actually go into detail with their stories unfortunately they only have time for one because non fluff takes more than two minutes to communicate to the Average Joe if he is willing to listen that long.

Comment provided January 20, 2007 at 11:38 AM

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5
Ed Howes writes:

I’m guessing intent and motivation is our first clue. Why are we writing this article? Just as with this blog post, I either want to raise a question or two or share something which has recently come to my attention. If it is of interest to me, it will likely be of interest to someone else.

It should come as no surprise some will see the selling success of corporate media and model that. There is a popular example right now which illustrates my point. “I hate your commercials but I love your product.” In other words, don’t judge by the lame content – buy what we are selling. You will be so glad you did. What a modeler might not realize is the professionally, psychologically designed campaign, might work for this product and a certain buying demographic and little else.

In the end, the result is the same. We learn if something of value is proffered for later delivery, the goal is to make us hear the commercial messages, that is what matters to the programmer but not me. We put up with the annoyance for a while, then boycott the channel/ program altogether.

I believe the same holds true with articles. If we find an author fails to deliver what we expected from title and intro there is a good chance we will not read another to find out if this is true of them all. There have been so many times I have read high value content, not visited the author’s web site, but felt, I want to read more by this person and perhaps read two or more additional articles. At that point, there is a 50/50 chance I will go to the web site to learn more about the author and the product or service offered.

I might not be typical, I likely will not buy anything. I rarely do. But how is a writer/ marketer to know such things? Probably the wise thing for an author to know is I am reading them because I am not watching TV or listening to the radio. If I am to be treated as though I was watching TV, I’ll switch you off, permanently.

Comment provided January 20, 2007 at 11:58 AM

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6
Edward Weiss writes:

One man’s fluff is another man’s treasure. Or put another way… value is really in the eye of the reader.

Really, it all depends who you’re writing for and what your writing purpose is. Most authors here want readers to click through to their website – where (hopefully) the real meat and potatoes are.

The reason radio and TV use teasers is because they work.

Now, click above and let me tell you exactly how to bypass teasers with a simple program I’ve written… :)

Comment provided January 20, 2007 at 2:34 PM

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7
Thaddeus writes:

Edward Weiss I think your articles and website are a perfect case in point in regards to fluff.
I dont play the piano but if I did or had the desire I am sure with over 200 articles on the topic I would eventually find you and perhpas some of your articles are fluff but they would be fluff on something that I was looking for.
What I see too much of the time is fluff that either has absolutely nothing to do with what the person is sending the user to in their byline or those “Internet Marketers” who simply find an affiliate site to promote or adsense and then write basic fluff about it.
So for example in regards to learning how to play the piano I might write a article that tells about the different keys of the piano and how the black keys make a different note than the white ones and the fact that a piano has 3 pedals underneath.
Anyone with half a brain is going to know that I have absolutely no or little idea about the piano but I still can get 250 words together about it.
Then for those people who do click to my site they will get more garbage.
Yet with your writings (havent read one) I imagine even your fluff would be exceptional enough to make me wonder what your site is about and look at it.
Too many ezinearticle writers simply have the goal of writing articles no matter what the topic which may or may not work.
For instance Lance Winslow has received over 3 million page views but he has no target market so those 3 millions hit would be good for only about 400 quality hits for Ed Weiss and the piano.
Whereas Ed’s 200 articles only got 160 thousand hits but a majority and far more than 400 are good for what it is he is selling.
Yes Ed could begin writing on the war in Iraq or sex positions and increase his hits 100 fold but his quality hits would still remain the same.
Bottom line if you have a target market feel free to write them fluff about that target because your goal is to get them to your site.
If you are a “Internet Marketer” feel free to keep jumping round and round because it makes my job easier and my visitors appreciate me more with less competition.

Comment provided January 20, 2007 at 4:01 PM

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8
Pamela Beers writes:

My cat, Bear, is fluffy. It appears to me there is a lot of foofaraw about fluff.

Comment provided January 20, 2007 at 4:23 PM

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9

I will resist the tempation to go off topic… After I post a photo of my cat, Fluffy:

Having been down this topic road before,…and knowing it’s a hot button issue because of how subjective the term ‘quality’ is… let me just say:

The point of this blog entry is to encourage every author to self-reflect and be their own ‘quality police’ because most authors hold themselves to a higher standard than others ever will.

Comment provided January 20, 2007 at 5:45 PM

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10
Edward Weiss writes:

Thadeus,

I tried to read through your post and I have to say, I don’t know whether to take what you’ve written as an insult or not.

By the way, where are your quality articles at?

Comment provided January 20, 2007 at 6:06 PM

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11

Edward,

His articles are here:
http://ezinearticles.com/?expert=Teddy_Shabba

Thaddeus,

You said, “Too many ezinearticle writers simply have the goal of writing articles no matter what the topic which may or may not work.”

I’m confused by your statement.

The majority of EzineArticles experts only write about their area of expertise.

Comment provided January 20, 2007 at 6:15 PM

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12
Lance Winslow writes:

Thaddeus,

I have a target and that target is humans. I want them to start thinking again. Perhaps you might think on that in 2007.

Comment provided January 20, 2007 at 6:26 PM

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13

Thaddeus,

Thanks to Chris, I discovered your articles – clearly some of us need to reconsider the topics we submit – Lance, what do you think ? I’m game if you are!!

I am surprised that Edward is under attack, his articles are attracting a regular and large “audience” and as an up and coming pianist- ages 55, I am a fan!!

I notice your most popular recent article is: “Masturbation Is Man’s Only Natural Comfort In Life” – I rest my case!

Comment provided January 20, 2007 at 6:38 PM

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14
Lance Winslow writes:

Jonathan Farrington,

Indeed perhaps some of the authors should re-consider what subjects they post on. And I am glad not to be one of them who needs to be thinking here.

For a list of my current topics click on my name above. Good day. – L

Comment provided January 20, 2007 at 8:14 PM

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15
Thaddeus writes:

Edward Wiess,
Take my post as a compliment many of my thoughts are jumbled together but bottom line is my belief is if you focus on your specific niche in your article writing you will have a tremendous amount of success.
Your articles and your website relate to each other so no matter if you write fluff or actual content you are reaching your audience and giving yourself a chance to acheive the sale or visitor. (I have NOT read any of your articles this is why I said fluff or not fluff, I have no idea what you have written so I am not judging you writing I am simply giving you a compliment on your focus)

Chris,
The experts might write on their area of expertise but the websites they send you to have nothing to do with what they have just written about.
If I write a good article or a fluff article on the war in Iraq and then send you to my Dating Advice site who does that benefit.

Lance,
I respect what you have done because you were the first to do it and without reading your articles I might not have written any articles as well.
As for your goal of getting people to “start thinking again” wouldnt that require them to already have started thinking before they read your articles.
I used you as an example because you are the biggest name on ezine and at the same time since your target is the entire human race even you can realize how your articles would have little benefit to someone looking for information regarding music or the piano.

Jonathon,
First I wasnt attacking Ed in fact I was giving him a compliment.
Second my target is single men and men in bad relationships looking to improve themselves with women as well as their life.
If you want to pretend that a man who is Not having sex doesnt masturbate be my guest and if I was a business consultant like you are then my articles wouldnt have such titles but being in the dating advice game I write articles on what men who are in that situation do. Oh and you made my point as well fluff or no fluff you didnt read my article because you didnt connect with the title. As a business consultant you writing articles on the same subjects as me would result in little or no increase in your clients.
P.S. What case did you have to begin with

Comment provided January 20, 2007 at 9:25 PM

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16
Ed Howes writes:

I am in absolute awe of anyone who can judge 60 to 80% of the content here at EzineArticles. Anyone who has done that much reading must be taken very seriously.

Comment provided January 20, 2007 at 9:33 PM

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17
Thaddeus writes:

Ed I read and judge all articles on EzineArticles like NBC takes polls 50 percent B.S and 50 percent on what I have already read and I can say that in the Dating, Relationship, and Sexuality catagories at least 60 percent of what is written is fluff I know of 15 authors in those catagories that write good stuff most of the others simply are writing because of the keyword count.
For instance one article titled Adult Friend Finder: Some Pitfalls has absolutely nothing to do with the dating site Adult Friend Finder which is why it has so many clicks to begin with and everything to do with general fluff. Here is their intro so you can get a tastey treat of fluff

[First of all, let’s define “friend”.

Do we want to find an “old” friend?

Lots of websites specialize in helping you find an “old” existing Friend.

These sites are called “classmates”, “reunions”, “public records” or names along the lines of trying to find acquaintances from way back, from school, the Service or previous jobs.]

So yeah Ed you pulled my card maybe 60 perecent isnt a certainty but when I am looking for quality articles to put on my sites EzineArticles is first on my list and I go in expecting that if I can find 4 quality articles (fluff or no fluff) out of 10 I will consider myself lucky and thankful.
By the way everyone will judge EzineArticles on their own experience and apply that to the whole site if they act upon it is an entirely different question.

Comment provided January 20, 2007 at 10:02 PM

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18
Lance Winslow writes:

Thadeus, OMG, you pervert! Just Kidding, that is the most I am allowed to say without having my post deleted.

Comment provided January 21, 2007 at 12:16 AM

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19

Great question Chris and good discussion.

When I was focused on the race to have some of the most articles on EzineArticles I think I was guilty of writing some fluff just to have more articles up.

Now that my focus is on other priorities, here is my own “fluff acid acid” for current articles:

1. Will a beginner in this topic benefit from what I am writing?

2. Will a veteran in this topic benefit from what I am writing?

3. Does what I am writing have enough value to grow up to be an ebook or other product?

4. Does what I am writing have enough value to be a teleseminar worth listening to?

That’s my 2 or 3 cents worth………….

Jeff

Comment provided January 21, 2007 at 8:34 AM

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20

OK, that should read “Fluff Acid Test” not “Fluff Acid Acid” – I could blame that typo on a flashback but I never did the necessary things to have one……

Chris, speaking of 70’s rock, as you did in your post, there is a station in Atlanta, 97.1 The River, that is all 70’s rock that you can listen to online at http://www.971TheRiver.com – I’m listening to The Eagles “Take It To The Limit” even as I write –

Jeff

Comment provided January 21, 2007 at 8:41 AM

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21

Oh my God!

Chris: I was going to add a quip that you should post a picture of Fluffy the Cat! I decided though, that it might be in violation of the “add value” rule so I didn’t say anything. :)

Funny stuff…

Comment provided January 21, 2007 at 11:37 AM

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22

Lance:

Using you as my inspiration and with the intention of casting off my somewhat “myopic” experience of EzineArticles – i.e. I very rarely stray from the “Business” sections – I ventured into the Sports section: As an ex- rugby/soccer/cricket player, I thought I might add my views in these sections and guess what? I immediately felt at home, just as soon as I saw your name – is there any limit to your knowledge?

Now that “Golden Balls” has announced his intention to spend the next five years of his career with the Galaxy, I will contribute often to the Soccer section.

Thaddeus: (Yep I remembered the second “d” – note to Lance!)

Obviously, my case was “the one in hand”!!

Comment provided January 21, 2007 at 4:00 PM

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23
Pamela Beers writes:

Hey Chris, Fluffy is the cat’s meow.

As far as the topic of quality is concerned, EZ articles is always inspiring, informational, and helpful. The value of each article is dependent on what each reader is looking for.

There are enough articles out there to satisfy just about anyone’s desire to learn something new or expand upon what they already know.

I have a few of my favorites, reading at my leisure, without spending any money on a magazine subscription. AND I can read in my jammies. Can’t do that at the library…unless I want to get locked up.

Comment provided January 21, 2007 at 4:47 PM

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24
Lance Winslow writes:

Thaddeus states (1);

‚¬“For instance Lance Winslow has received over 3 million page views but he has no target market so those 3 millions hit would be good for only about 400 quality hits for Ed Weiss and the piano.‚¬

This statement is so way off the reality that you really need to retract it, so that folks can remain respectful of your comments. Quite frankly you do not know what in the Helck you are talking about! In fact one of my articles, here at EzineArticles.com is listed in a US Patent from Lockheed Martin Corp. on Virtual Reality Air Traffic Control Simulation Systems and Gesture Controls in Augmented Reality see page 2;

http://www.google.com/patents?vid=USPAT7129887&id=i0J7AAAAEBAJ&dq=Lance+Winslow&jtp=1

In fact I have been contracted from folks all over the world with technologies such as Ocean Wave Hydro Systems, Super Lifter Blimps, Solar Laser Energy Systems, Martian Colony Architects, Advanced Aerospace Designers, just to name a few THIS month. Our Think Tank Website has crashed three times by traffic hits. All the while you are writing articles on masterbation techniques for men? Come on, you have no moral authority to comment on my writing, topics or traffic targets.

Thaddeus states (2);

‚¬“I respect what you have done because you were the first to do it and without reading your articles I might not have written any articles as well.‚¬

That is incorrect and a falsehood, not only do you not respect such accomplishments, you admit you judge without observation, knowledge or experience. I will request that you retract your statement here and tell the truth.

Thaddeus states (3);

‚¬“As for your goal of getting people to ‚¬“start thinking again‚¬ wouldn’t that require them to already have started thinking before they read your articles.‚¬

NO, that is not a point of logic. Humans are born with the ability to think, some where along the way many have surrendered their minds to the TV set. Waking up those who have lost their way is possible, even if they are stuck in a rut prior to the reading of one of my 10,250 articles.

Thaddeus states (4);

‚¬“I used you as an example because you are the biggest name on ezine and at the same time since your target is the entire human race even you can realize how your articles would have little benefit to someone looking for information regarding music or the piano.‚¬

That is not true because folks who play piano are known to have a higher IQ by an average of 10 pts, to the rest of the population. Those folks are thinkers and will not be stuck in limited thought. Humans are not linear in their thoughts, people have multiple interests; that has been my observation. Humans have desires, hobbies, dreams, goals, small businesses, careers, play sports, watch sports, think about politics, religion, life, philosophy, our Earth and they have personal relationships with others and their toys; cars, planes, boats, jet ski, ATV. Humans have to deal with government, laws, education, healthcare and all sorts of things. So, I just cannot buy this argument of yours. I am offended by your comments.

Comment provided January 21, 2007 at 7:36 PM

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