Friday, October 9, 2009

Reasons for Deletion - Common Sense?

You'd think common sense would be a good thing, wouldn't you?

And actually you'd be right. Common sense is something that eHow believes its prime readership has. There may be a lot of people who don't have common sense, but eHow is not catering to them.

When eHow deletes an article for "common sense" what they mean is that the article that conveys basic information that most readers can think up for themselves, and if they are motivated enough to Google it, they probably have already thought of it.

The classic "common sense" articles are those that tell people how to do simple everyday things that we all know how to do. One common example is the article that tells people how to look something up on the internet. (Think about that for a second. The people likely to find our article about how to look things up on the internet are those who looked it up on the internet!)

If your article could be summarized by "go to this site or reference" or "follow instructions", it doesn't matter how many additional tips, hints, and explanations you add. The article will eventually be deleted.

On the other hand, there are some excellent articles that are written for people who don't know some very basic things. These are often written by people with a very high level of expertise and skill - either in the subject matter or in training beginners. These articles often have a lot more substance and depth. If you feel your article fits in this category, you may want to write it anyway and risk deletion. Of course, you should realize that writing such an article requires a lot more skill than other kinds of articles. If your article has any other flaws, the two combined will certainly doom it to deletion.

Now...not all "common sense" articles are basic topics. Sometimes an article on a more advanced topic is still handled in a simplistic way. We usually write these kinds of articles when we are pushing the envelope - trying to write an article where we are not fully expert, or trying to write too many articles at a time. (We all do that sometimes.) For instance, if you are not a Human Resources expert and you wrote "How to Negotiate a Big Raise" just from ideas you got by thinking about it really hard, then odds are our reader (who is deeply concerned about getting that big raise) has already thought harder and deeper than you have. What value are you bringing to the reader?

NOTE: that article still may be of use. For the person who never even thought about asking for a raise, your ideas may spur them to action. But it's NOT an eHow article. It actually is the sort of article that can be great for a blog. So if you like to write these kinds of articles, you should consider starting a blog (or at least saving them up for a blog later on).

In the end, "common sense" is one of those subjects with a big gray area. It's a judgment call by eHow's editors. Just don't forget that "common sense" articles are seductively easy to think up, but they are very hard to write well. (This is a subject I'll probably come back to.)

Next Up: Is it Really Spam?. (Back to Series Index.)

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