Do you know what an aggregator/content farm is? They are hugely successful and tons of people still give traffic to this garbage! One in particular is “Only in Your State!” Almost every state has a dedicated site, and each one is as horrible as the next!
How they work is really interesting! Let’s focus on just one recent posting in the Connecticut “Only in Your State!” It is all about the PEZ Visitor’s Center in Orange!
You don’t even have to know what any of that gibberish means! What you probably DO know is that PEZ are not German candies, they are Austrian! And that there is no such “tour” as that tweet suggests! The thought of “eating so much #candy” on a “tour” must have been written by someone who has never actually been to PEZ!
The author, Ms. Taylor Ellis, lives in Iowa! Her job as a blogger for Only in Your State is to find interesting stuff in Connecticut to blurb about! She, and many like her around the country, get paid to simply blurb a listicle using other people’s content! You may be surprised to learn that you can sell your soul and make a few bucks doing this yourself! No matter where you live!
OIYS started in early 2015 and they’ve been stealing content ever since! One fun game you can play is to click on any blurbicle for any state and try to find an original photograph! Some people spend hours, but all they find are photos from Yelp!, Flickr, facebook, and the subjects’ own websites! And many of the facebook ones are given to OIYS on their facebook pages by idiotic dingdongs who think they are getting “good exposure!” They are helping OIYS bloggers make money!
You may be asking yourself, “is this real?” Yes! OIYS is very successful and the Connecticut facebook page alone has almost 40,000 fans! Some of you may already be one! What happens if you question the author’s bonafides on Twitter as happened above? You may be lucky and get subtweeted by a content farmer!
There certainly will be “content overlap!” Especially when literally 100% of your content is gleaned from the work of others – many of whom do what they do for fun and for free! You are making money by lifting thoughts and ideas and pictures from others! What is the “angle” of OIYS? Whose “voice” is shining through? Why isn’t there a single original image?
You read it here first! OIYS is comparable to NBC and CNN! You know what? I can’t even come up with a light-hearted response to that! Holy Crap, she really did tweet that! A blogger in Iowa that vomits out 100-word blurbs of unoriginal thoughts and pictures believes that professional international news organizations with actual on scene reporters and writers who cite sources are equivalents!
Tweeting out your sources to all 33 of your followers isn’t good enough! CTMQ is 99% original writing and cites the source when it’s not! CTVisit is the state’s tourism arm and puts out press releases! Atlas Obscura does do some aggregation, but at the bottom of every article they cite their sources! CTnow employs actual journalists who write original content and take their own photographs! OIYS cites only the photos they lift from Yelp! and Flickr!
Congratulations on your degree! You should be proud! It is good to see that you are not “proud” of your “blogging work” though! You shouldn’t be! You are not allowed to write original content and you are not allowed to be remotely creative! Your former english professors would probably die on the spot to see your pathological overuse of exclamation points! When you get a real writing job that allows you to write your own actual thoughts, you will feel much better about yourself and your work!
A more creative and fun way to write that introduction centering around the relative unknown quantity that is PEZ in Connecticut can be found here! Oh, wait! You already knew that! The CTMQ PEZ page was pusblished on September 19th, the OIYS one on September 23rd. You got extra lazy this time. In the future, try not to just jump on whatever comes across your Feedly right away! It’s poor form!
Iowa City is home to the University of Iowa! The alma mater and employer of Ms. Ellis! What a coincidence! (And it may very well be! I don’t know! How does anyone put exclamation points at the end of every freaking sentence and not want to punch themselves in the face!?)
Where the heck is North Liberty Iowa and who is my superfan that averages almost twelve minutes per site visit?! No one lives in North Liberty, certainly not Ms. Ellis! Shout out to CTMQ superfan in eastern Iowa! (Seriously, twelve minutes per visit is pretty awesome!)
Oh. The University’s data center is in North Liberty so most of Ms. Ellis’ hits ping back to there! Darnit, and I was hoping CTMQ had a real fan in Iowa! Still, with such lengthy reads, she should have noted that PEZ are Austrian and not German! But pretty much every single CT OIYS post contains at least one error! That’s what happens when you don’t actually visit the things you blurb about!
The “second floor” at PEZ contains literally nothing! But rush up there! Sigh. Have anything else to subtweet, I wonder?
YAS! That’s right! And you know what? THERE IS NO FACTORY TOUR! Christ! We know you’ve never actually been there, but after spending enough time reading the sites you just mentioned, you’d think you’d pick up on that! Or did you just Google that after you got called out? Whatever!
Also, Dan and Kristien from OmNomCT went to the Visitor’s Center and wrote original content about their visit. Shawna from Out and About Moms went to the Visitor’s Center and wrote original content about her visit. Roadside America merely says it exists and then people who actually went to the visitor’s center wrote original content about their visits. CTBloggers went to the Visitor’s Center and wrote original content about their visit. VisitCT has one sentence on the place and is a terrible source for aggregating content farmers.
DO YOU SEE THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN YOUR UNCITED SOURCES AND THE CRAP YOU SPRAY ON THE PAGES OF OIYS?
Here’s the thing. I’ve ignored this crap for a year since first noticing the pattern. I am not mad at Ms. Ellis. I actually feel sort of badly for her. She’s being used by the parent company she works for, and obviously she has no choice in how she blurbs her content and grabs her pictures. That’s the framework she must operate in. I’m sure she knows it sucks, but is hoping to parlay it into a real writing job somewhere. I don’t believe for one second that she is remotely proud of the effluvia she must produce a few times per week, especially as a recent graduate with an English degree. I wish her the best of luck after she leaves OIYS behind.
OIYS itself, however, sucks. But they are hugely successful – which sucks even more. They’ve probably convinced their freelancers that what they do is actual writing. It’s certainly not journalism, but Ms. Ellis’s suggestion that OIYS is comparable to NBC and CNN kind of scares me. Sites like OIYS completely diminishes the work that is done by journalists and creative content writers.
She and her bosses are getting paid for her blurbicles and NOT visiting the places she’s writing about. Many she cited (in tweets to 33 followers and never on OIYS or on the facebook page with 40,000 fans) do this as a hobby and are NOT getting paid. OIYS is using others’ work to “write” their own paid work. OIYS is taking work from unpaid people and using it to generate money as a for-profit enterprise.
That is NOTHING at all like CNN and NBC (or, frankly, CTMQ). Yes, they cover the same stories, but with their own reporters. If they can’t or don’t, they cite their sources. While OIYS isn’t exactly plagiarizing from me or others, it is still stealing.
And it’s pathetic. YAS!
Charles Monagan saysSeptember 24, 2016 at 10:13 am
Bravo! I used to write copy for the state Tourism Office and I see many of my words and ideas copied by this disreputable site. I doubt the folks at ctvisit care because in their view anything that draws people into the state is a plus. But as a professional who wrote or edited literally millions of original words at Connecticut Magazine over 25 years, I hate what onlyinyourstate is doing. They are parasites.
Twelve Mile Circle saysSeptember 24, 2016 at 5:25 pm
I sympathize as someone who has been similarly ripped-off over the years.
A. Nonymous saysSeptember 24, 2016 at 10:07 pm
At one point when OIYS was soliciting a writer for CT, I inquired. When I was told how they operated and wanted “articles”, I said no thank you. It was clear from very early on that their writer has never visited any of the places. It’s sad that it gets so many hits and traction on facebook and other social media, yet people don’t realize that other people really do all the work.
Johnna Kaplan saysSeptember 25, 2016 at 6:55 am
This is amazing, I’m so glad you posted it. It’s also depressing, because the proliferation of websites like this have virtually eliminated the field I decided (silly me) to go into almost a decade ago. Why pay a travel writer to come up with an original idea and go cover a location when you can dupe some young naive wanna-be into compiling a listicle? They probably believe they’re the next Pico Iyer. And readers believe they’re getting real information, which is even worse.
Anyway, I’m so sad she didn’t list The Size of Connecticut as one of her “sources.” Just kidding, I am not sad;)
Brian David Crawford, DTM saysSeptember 29, 2016 at 3:30 pm
The first sign they’re not a legitimate site is they didn’t spend 10 minutes registering a unique ID for each and every state. I’d trust something that’s called like “OnlyInConnecticut” way more than “OnlyInYourState” because then at least they know I’m in CT.
It’s like when I get the robo call saying “your business has an opportunity to open a new line of credit” and i’m like really? My company went bankrupt 3 years ago and now I’m working for the man.
Rachel saysApril 25, 2017 at 10:41 am
You may be surprised! Your credibility is destroyed by this one bad writing habit! If you use and exclamation point after every sentence, you sound like a complete idiot! It makes your website look ridiculous!
David Bonham saysJuly 16, 2017 at 8:28 pm
So how does oinys make money from these hack writers who do not seem to have any morals, ethics, or respect for copyright law?
Jessica Flock saysJanuary 13, 2018 at 1:34 pm
Thank you for providing some insights into the Only In Your State company and articles. Its very frustrating that these websites and social media pages get so much attention, shares and exposure to the public. I live in Wyoming and the woman who writes the articles for our state lives in Idaho. The large majority of comments to her articles are about the inaccuracies, over simplifications and mis-characterizations which are present. I hope more writers, like yourself, and photographers, whose work is stolen, will speak out and sites like these go out of business.
Thomas Jude saysJanuary 18, 2018 at 8:23 pm
I posted this article on my Facebook page and was blocked by an administrator within 24 hours. My guess is they don’t like criticism or the truth. Sad.
Steve Markos saysFebruary 27, 2018 at 3:06 am
I’ve been looking for a way to take down this company for copyright violations, but unfortunately they are protected and untouchable. Therefore, I have gone after the writers, though for far less money. For those that may not know, web sites that host third party content, such as Facebook, are protected from copyright violations that result from content posted by users. A recent 10th Circuit court case found hired contractors to be users, and thus the companies like Only In Your State are not liable, even for those they hire.
Most Only In Your State writers stick to using Creative Commons or other free content (did you know that if you have a Public Setting on Facebook that any content you post is free to be used by anyone for any purpose?). I have caught these writers taking photos from my Trip Adviser reviews (no such agreement as Facebook), my direct web site, and from sites that I have licensed by photos to, so not all of them follow the rules. Unfortunately, without having any idea of what sort of financial situation these writers are in, you can only go after them for a few hundred dollars a photo. I collect on 100%, because they know that if they don’t pay up that the lawyers are coming after them next, and they won’t be asking for a few hundred bucks (I give everyone a chance to pay the going rate).
Chris Williams saysFebruary 27, 2018 at 11:42 pm
This article is ridiculous. I’m sorry, but if you use “crappy” in the tile of your article, throw an exclamation point every where it is not needed, not to mention use of the word “Christ” and “sucks” in the article itself, you don’t get to attack another site on what they write. Nor will I, or anybody with an ounce of sense, take you seriously. And to actually insinuate that this terrible article and the website it is posted on is somehow on the level of CNN or NBC is ludicrous. You chide an OIYS writer for doing it, then do it yourself. You’re both wrong. CNN and NBC are reputable news sources; this an article primarily written for the purpose of trolling. So, the writer bases this CNN/NBC comparison on the use of original content? Well, guess what? When a 13 year old writes on her blog, “OMG, I think Tom is totally hot,” that is also original content, but it doesn’t make it good.
Also, Only In Your State does write original content, it just uses commons free photos because I am guessing it is a bit difficult to drive all over the state taking pictures, while also writing an article every day, including weekends, which they appear to do. That’s the point of commons free photographs and like websites, to be shared. If someone doesn’t want their photos shared, that is their prerogative. They can keep it off commons free websites. And many of them have been to the places they write about, which you can tell if you have been to those places yourself. Being well-traveled, I have read many pieces on their site that includes details you will not find in general articles about a location. When I am looking for somewhere new to visit, OIYS, among other sites, is great way to learn more about it. Additionally, they do not claim to be journalists, nor do they market themselves that way. They do exactly what they claim, write articles about great places you might want to visit. This is called travel writing.
But you go ahead and keep trolling, its clearly what you are best at. That’s probably why this “crappy” article is mysteriously missing a byline; I would want to remain anonymous, too.
Steve saysFebruary 28, 2018 at 7:45 am
Good one. You almost got me. For a second, I thought someone was actually defending a content aggregator. LOL.
Thanks for the laugh,
Totally Anonymous author of this page
Tonya saysApril 24, 2018 at 2:15 pm
I agree with you, Chris Williams. I too like to use Only In You State, among many other sites, to plan trips. I like the informal information it gives you. And the writing is nothing, nothing, like the writer of this article posted. BTW, I just got asked by someone if they could use my photos that I posted on Facebook in this foody group for their article, and they’d credit me. No one stole anything. I have no problem sharing, for now. At least until I get my own blog going.
Cecilia Jerdone saysJune 25, 2018 at 10:01 am
Do you understand how OIYS rationalizes their use of photos from Flickr specifically? They are clearly a for-profit company, so how can they claim to meet the requirement of non-porift use?
I understand that specific uses may be deemed “non-profit,” even when conducted by a business, but the uses I see on OIYS seem clearly designed to earn income. They sell ads all over their website, one can sponsor a landmark so that OIYS will write an article about it, they sell clothing in their emails, they have a “shop” section on site. What gives?
They also do not link to the CC license in their credits, which is another violation. I don’t see how OIYS can get by with this on such a massive scale. Does Flickr just wash its hands and tell its users to hire a lawyer and good luck?
I also think it bears note that OIYS credits its photo sources in the most invisible way possible, with the lightest grey text and tiniest font possible. That’s pretty despicable and shows a real lack of good faith.
I agree that the site is a parasite and often inaccurate, but what really gets me is the fact that OIYS is a commercial entity and appears to me at least to not meet the requirements for Creative Commons use. Does anyone understand how they get by with that? The explanation above about Facebook is helpful. What about Flickr?
Are they in fact NOT meeting the terms of the CC license but getting by with it because it is up to individuals artists to sue?
Thanks for any advice or insight you can give. I really appreciated this article.
Carole Reid saysNovember 14, 2018 at 11:32 am
If you are going to criticize grammar, watch your own. You don’t “feel badly” for someone unless you are blind. Otherwise you will feel for them but just won’t reach them. Being condescending is such bad form.
Steve saysNovember 14, 2018 at 1:08 pm
You are correct of course. Mea culpa
Of course, as one person with a full time job away from this site writing loads of non-advertiser-supported content without an editor or, really, time to proofread… I’m going to give myself a pass. OIYS is a pox.
Jay saysMarch 10, 2023 at 2:23 pm
In the article about Ginnie springs in Florida, they did not mention the great snorkeling and diving experiences. I’ve been there, camping and diving. It’s a great family spot to visit or camp