I wrote recently about learning to differentiate between blogspam and self-submitted content on meritocracy-based sites like Digg and Reddit. My goal was to try and reverse the negative programming we all have towards reading self-submitted material. I attempted to do this by showing how it differs from spamming — which is taking someone else’s writing and submitting it from your site to try and steal ad traffic.
But even more important than asking readers to appreciate self-submitted content is the call for people to write and submit their own. Nothing limits the quality of what we read more than the idea that it’s socially unacceptable to self-submit.
There are thousands upon thousands of good writers out there — people who could be improving the quality of what we see here everyday. But we won’t ever experience what they have to offer because there’s nobody to bring it to our attention. What are the odds that their stuff is going to be randomly “discovered”? Not good. The only only option is for them to drop the socially ingrained false-modesty and present it themselves.
Remember that writers submit their work to publishers; they don’t wait for it to be found. Artisans have shows and invite lots of people, and academics submit to their respective journals. In short, submitting original content for peer review is crucial in any community that values intellectual progress.
So to all of you who think you have something to offer — show us. Getting someone else to submit it for you is more shady than doing it yourself, and it’s not going to be discovered on accident. If you’re doing anything to increase your chances of being seen (SEO, word-of-mouth promotion, etc.) you’re already playing the system. Accept this and have the balls to submit your own material if you think it’s worth reading.
The filter for good content on these sites is the voting system, not the source of the article. The approach that is best for the community is to get as much content into the system as possible and allow the voting to work for us. We cannot afford to discourage high-quality writers with foolish source-based filtering.
If we as readers want superior content then we need become part of the solution. That means 1) appreciating quality writing even when it’s submitted by the author, and 2) creating and submitting our own material without fearing the stigma of self-promotion.: