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A Freelance Writing Job Board Warning

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I wanted to warn you about a new site called Contena (not actively linking to them because I don't consider them worth any link juice).

I first heard about this site over on Sophie Lizard's forum at BeAFreelanceBlogger.com. The owners are billing it as some sort of much-needed tool for searching multiple job boards in one place.

But to do this, they're illegally scraping full posts from other sites. (And newsflash: neither lead curation or aggregation, OR scraping of feeds is as new as these guys seem to think it is.)

In other words, they're not posting an excerpt or summary and then sending you to the source for the full lead and ability to apply (like I do in the All Freelance Writing job board, and which falls within fair use rules). They're copying entire job postings, including application instructions and people's contact information, and posting it on their own site -- hijacking the traffic from the sites sharing the original leads.

This is not okay. It violates the copyright of the other sites and / or people posting the ads. So my first concern is not wanting to see other writers support a site that happily breaks the very laws that protect writers' own work (and if you read the thread I linked above, you'll see how clueless the one guy is, thinking that a claim of helping people or linking to sources in some way excuses his theft).

But there's another concern here. The site requires you to register to view the job listings. So you have to sign up for something to see leads that you can already see, for free and w/o registration, on other sites. That's a pretty lame way for them to build an email list while adding no real value to you as a user. What's worse is that they don't just ask for an email address, but also your full name. There's no reason for them to insist on that kind of personal information. When questioned about it, their excuse was that they want to be able to customize listings for each users. Except when I tested the site, there were no customizations. And having a full name (as opposed to your registration email address or a username) would have no bearing on being able to offer customized listings. Again, this is just a list-building tool -- stolen, scraped content in exchange for your contact information.

If you want curated listings, stick to job boards like this one or the leads at FreelanceWriting.com. And if you want a custom collection of job board feeds, set up your own. It's incredibly easy using a feed reader like Feedly.com. Just add the job board feeds for the sites you want to follow. Maybe next week I'll share a post showing you how to do this on the blog. But please, don't support sites like this that think it's okay to rip off someone else's copyright for their own gain.

9 thoughts on “A Freelance Writing Job Board Warning”

  1. I saw the thread in question. What really ticks me off is the “We’re really helping!” BS that’s typical of people who are ignoring the obvious, which is they’re swiping content.

    Worse, he seems to talk right over the copyright issues. So what if what he has is or is not “overdue”? That’s like someone taking a ton of books and making them readily available in their entirety because one-site access is somehow “overdue” and ignoring the fact that the content is someone else’s. It’s still theft. And this guy’s high-minded for-the-good-of-the-troops view is doing nothing to address the real issue — the copyright infringement. He’s a content scraper, pure and simple.

    He’d better have a damn good attorney.

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  2. That’s exactly what he is — just another content scraper. He was informed that what he was doing violates copyright laws. He made it clear he doesn’t care. He’s not the first in the freelance writing world to play this game. And I’m sure he won’t be the last. They’re all taken down eventually. Maybe he should have done a little more research into why this exact service didn’t exist before launching it. Market research is your friend folks.

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  3. I missed this one. Thanks for the warning, Jenn. Why, when there are so many RIGHT ways to do something, do some people persist in doing things the WRONG way? (Now I’ve got my curmudgeon hat on, lol).

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  4. What’s worse, Sharon, is that he’s still trying to justify it. Why? Because they rewrite a sentence or two about how to apply (so they can pull the email address out in a box for consistent formatting). So they’re publishing email addresses w/o the owners’ permission too. Oh, and on the other forum he’s basically implying that I’m lying about the job descriptions being copy/paste. Why on earth would you keep making arguments that anyone can refute by registering? The whole situation is insane. If they can’t be bothered to learn the basics of copyright law when they want to be in a web publishing oriented business, they’re going to be in for a rude awakening the moment one of their “sources” decides it’s time for them to go. They wouldn’t have a leg to stand on against a DMCA complaint. This site is a prime candidate for how you don’t do things.

    What was kind of funny is that I was taking screenshots to send to one of the other forum’s admins (not registered so they couldn’t see that the guy was outright lying, saying content went through an “editorial team” and wasn’t posted as-is). They’re ripping off another site — a fairly well-established one that I’ve never personally been a fan of — which is doing the same damn thing! So his argument is that he’s doing the original site a favor. Yet in this example the original job poster’s site isn’t promoted or even linked to. They stole it from another site that reposts job ads in full. And that site either got it from a popular newsletter (which apparently does the same thing), or they found it on the original site (I suspect the former given the overlap that frequently happens between the two — they could always have an agreement of some sort though).

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  5. Oh no, thanks for the warning! I have just started into the world of freelance writing, and actually Contena was mentioned on a couple of ‘how to’ blogs (I will see if I can find which one exactly), and I had it open on my browser meaning to sign up (Lucky I read this post first!)

    Thanks again for the warning! Its a minefield out there

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  6. I’m not sure if they’ve changed anything in the past couple of years since I first came across them. But I’d strongly suggest avoiding any pay-to-play schemes where you can’t view or apply to freelance writing jobs without paying the “client” or a third party. Any reputable site will be getting their money from the advertisers… not from the audience they’re marketing to those advertisers.

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