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Is Open Salon an easy way for editors to content and not hire writers?

March 27, 2009

My partner gave me information this morning about Open Salon, and he thought I might be interested in posting there.  Since we are both writers, the idea of a ready (and hopefully appreciative audience–vanity is always a problem for we pen performers) audience, the ideas were intriguing.  What’s not to like about an open discussion forum and a ready readership?  Who wouldn’t like that, right?   Well, me, for starters.

Open Salon has instituted a rating system, like a popularity contest apparently to help overwhelmed editors :

All user posts are accompanied by an option to Rate that post. This is a way for the Open Salon community to help promote content, based on user response. Users will find that a small icon indicating a “thumbs up” appears within each post. Any reader may rate the post once, by clicking the thumbs up (indicating a favorable rating). All ratings help the Open Salon editors to determine the quality of the content. We appreciate your participation!

So, now in addition to writing, I also have to comment on everyone else’s writing?  This sounds like a lot of work for someone who has maybe half hour to devote to something I love.  Now Open Salon just sounds bossy or needy, and I can’t tell which.  Blogs were created so people could write, not necessarily  needing someone else to validate their content the way a publisher would.  It’s just annoying to me.

Then Salon goes on to say that even though their editors are too busy, they are still worried about content and pick, which seems random, only good posts.  Thank God someone at Salon is making decisions for me about what is good, because most likely I am too stupid to do it myself:

Open Salon combines member-generated content with editorial oversight. Having our experienced editors curate the home page ensures quality and credibility. For this reason, editors are able to select user posts as Editor’s Picks.

Salon then makes note that their editors are able to add to anything that they want on a person’s blog post.  Open Salon owns the material then, and they can archive it and use it in the future, even if you tell them you don’t want them too.  This information comes on the Terms and Conditions page, but for serious writers, the condition ensures that the writer does not retain any ownership of their own material as far as terms of use go:

By submitting or posting User Content using the Service or the Site, you grant to Salon an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license to: (1) use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part) and distribute the User Content in or through any medium now known or hereafter invented, for any purpose; (2) to prepare derivative works using the User Content, or to incorporate it into other works, for any purpose; and (3) to grant and authorize sublicenses of any or all of the foregoing rights.

You may remove your User Content from the Site at any time. If you choose to remove your User Content, the User Content will no longer appear on the Site. However, you acknowledge that Salon may retain archived copies of your User Content, and that Salon will retain the rights to the content granted by these TOS.

Great, so now if I am ever linked to Open Salon, even if all they want to do is publicly chastise my writing, I can’t do anything about it.  Thanks Open Salon, you are the greatest!

Then Open Salon gives themselves the right to edit anything you write and pass it off as your work–not even major publishers claim this honor:

Salon editors may (or may not) modify User Content you submit as follows: (1) editing existing headlines or adding headlines to the content; (2) creating and adding brief summaries of the content; or (3) editing the text or other elements of the content.

So, true writers beware, because some Open Salon editor has complete control over whatever you write, without needing to disclose that an editor has changed your writing.  What’s the point of anyone with a serious writing career accepting this liability for themselves?  This tells me that the only ones writing here are people who are ready to give up all their writing to Open Salon editors just to see something on a blog.

Salon offers the following commentary on their editorial powers when you publish with Open Salon

Salon, in its discretion, may modify your User Content as described in these TOS. Salon will not be responsible for any claims arising from modifications that do not substantially change the meaning of the content, add new and different meanings, or result in the addition of new material that give rise to a claim.

Since I am not overly enamored with most Open Salon editors and feel no need to give up my artistic license, I guess I will just stick with this WordPRess blog.  But really, Open Salon, what do you have to offer?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Toni permalink
    January 1, 2010 9:04 pm

    In the interest of responsible reporting, you need to also include this paragraph:

    “Salon does not assert any ownership over your User Content; rather, as between Salon and you, subject to the rights granted to us in these TOS, you retain full ownership of all of your User Content and any intellectual property rights or other proprietary rights associated with your User Content.”

    I imagine that a majority of the people contributing to Open Salon don’t care about the paragraphs you cite because they have no other objective than to publish on Open Salon, and probably don’t understand the difference between rights granted and ownership anyway. You are quite right, though, that any professional writer would be nuts to agree to the rights granted, especially without so much as one penny compensation. However, already bad enough, it makes things look even worse by not including the ownership paragraph, which mitigates the abuse slightly, altho not much.

    • brokeharvardgrad permalink*
      January 5, 2010 2:58 am

      Of course, I always strive to be “responsible,” which rather laughable as a ploy, does go on to make a decent point. Yes, supposedly the writer retains “ownership,” such as it is when Salon publishes it first on their site and retains the right to republish at any time. Ownership in that sense really isn’t full ownership, is it? It’s just a limited “ownership” granted by Salon.

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