There's No Room for Poetry in the AOL News Borg

Either my poetry attack against Seed.com, AOL's search engine based story assignment generator, failed or it knew the submission was poison and purged it from it's horrible body. Either way, I got a rejection letter today.

Seed.com, AOL's service that comes up with freelance assignments for the general public based on what you freaks are searching for on the web, does not want to publish one of the poems I wrote for them. I am no stranger to rejection, but being rejected by a machine is an all time low, even for me. The great thing about machines is that they are supposed to do whatever we tell them to, and we told them to share our poem with the world and it told us, "No."

We have seen this scenario before, and it was called Terminator. In six months, the sentient machines are going to send the governor of California back in time to try to kill my mother to keep her from ever conceiving me to keep me from every trying to take down the media borg. But then, the ghost of Frank O'Hara will rise up from his grave to defend her, only to learn that he is a ghost and do absolutely nothing to save the future. Poetry is futile!

Where was the flaw in our strategy? Let us see with some of the helpful advice our technological overlords sent us:

  • Is your tone helpful, informative, conversational and inclusive?: Yes, I believe that it was.
  • Have you fact- and spell-checked your article?: I have learned through personal expereince that this is not a prerequisate to having articels published on teh internet.
  • Did you employ lean prose, action verbs and descriptive adjectives?: I think so, but not sure. This is the internet, there is room to sprawl? Why do we need to be lean?
  • Did you use easily digestable, short paragraphs? Remember, less is more when writing for the Web.: Oh, maybe that is where we went wrong (PS—Tell that "less is more" rule to the Gawker TV recaps).
  • Did you utilize interesting text links, preferably to related articles on the AOL network?: Ew, no!

What have we learned? Well, if you want to write for the internet, then your article has to be friendly, spell-checked, short, with lots of paragraphs, and plenty of links to other AOL articles. That does sound like the opposite of our poetry, but we're going to keep trying to take this thing down with the very creative spirit that it is trying so hard to crush! Our full rejection letter is below, so you can share in our sadness. But we will not be deterred!

Hi Brian Moylan,

Thank you for your recent SEED content submission, Identity Info Sharing.

We're writing to tell you that your article was not accepted for publication on one of our AOL network's sites. Contributing factors may include that it was passively written, or not well-researched. Or, it may simply be that it just wasn't the right fit for the assignment.

Not all seeds take root, and that's okay. We encourage you to review your article for the following:

· Is your tone helpful, informative, conversational and inclusive?
· Did you write with a clear point of view that engages and doesn't alienate readers? Articles that read like a neutral term paper — or are absent from any spark of opinion – are usually candidates for rejection.
· Have you fact- and spell-checked your article?
· Did you add relevant and clear categories and tags?
· Did you use easily digestable, short paragraphs? Remember, less is more when writing for the Web.
· Did you employ lean prose, action verbs and descriptive adjectives?
· Did you utilize interesting text links, preferably to related articles on the AOL network?
· Did you use your real name instead of a pen name?

We are quickly working to capture the above pointers and other tips in a short style guide that will soon be available to all SEED contributors.

Until then, please visit our SEED Academy (link: http://academy.seed.com) for writing tips and resources to help you improve content quality.

Let's try again. We're looking forward to helping you succeed!

Your SEED Editorial Team