To put it simply, a Content Farm is a site which publishes garbage. Items, full of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) terms garner thousands of hits and Adsense revenue, but are of no value.
This paragraph is the kind you will find on a Content Farm;
Today many people are concerned about KEYWORD.
All over the world people are discussing KEYWORD.
Because of all this interest in KEYWORD many sites
focusing on KEYWORD have sprung up. Some give
useful information about KEYWORD, and some
do not have very much to say about KEYWORD.
The article will continue for two pages using KEYWORD in every sentence or so and spicing it with NEXT KEYWORD. Nothing is being said, no information is being given, but there are lots of Adsense ads, lots of Amazon ads, lots of Ebay ads.
The user who entered KEYWORD in a Search Engine would arrive at this article and find it worthless. However, Adsense is paying the site to put its Ad here. And, of course, those who would write such an article know how to use Proxy servers to log on as someone else, click a few of the ads so as to boost their revenue.
If there was no Adsense then Google wouldnt have cared. But as mentioned, Google was not only directing people to rubbish but was paying to put ads on the rubbish. This caused a change in Googles algorithm.
Google, to its credit, warned the public exactly what it was going to do before they did it, thinking that persons who Owned writing sites would quickly set about cleaning up their stables.
Some sites made an effort, some didnt. Those that made a serious effort, hiring Mods, reviewing work, escaped the categorisation. Those that didnt were marked Content Farm and started with a negative value.
When a user entered a term in a Search Box; even if all the words matched an item on a Content Farm, other sites, which might only have one or two of the terms, would rate higher. Even if all the terms were on the article if it was published by a Content Farm it would be beyond page 28; meaning no one who uses Google should find it.
Many sites suffered a fifty percent decline; (Compete.com is useful here). Some Content Farms ceased to exist others limp along.
Many writers dont know that a site is categorised as a Content Farm, or havent heard the term, and cant understand why they published this great article and get no hits.
Stumbleupon and Digg have virtually followed Google and dont show particular sites. Persons who recommend them will find one hit, theirs, after a year, because these Networks do not in any way shape or form support what is termed a Content Farm.
Hence it is not only Google who draws aside in disgust, they are joined by the major Networks which quarantine the Farm.
Why would an owner of a site let this happen?
Many couldnt care less. They make X dollars and have a few part time Mods who take a dip into the ‘earnings of the writers. The Mods have other things to do so it might be only after work or for a few hours on the weekend that they even log on to the site.
As far as the Owner is concerned it is too much work and/or too expensive to have every article moderated and some offer a ‘flagging option so that those annoyed by the rubbish can flag it and if/when a Mod logs on, it will be removed or ignored.
In early days when there were only a dozen or so sites, each fighting to be better than the others there were active mods. Now, as there are hundreds of writing sites as well as personal blogs the few pennies shared isnt worth the effort.
This is why an online writer needs to investigate sites before they publish.