Wikipedia for Commercial Use

I thought that this thing that I got in the mail the other day was kind of weird.

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On the surface, it’s supposed to be a contractor referral guide that’s clearly advertising supported – why else would they have paid to print and mail me a copy? In a quick read through his website, the business model is actually that this guy picks the businesses himself as opposed to simply featuring any business that writes him a check, so ok – whatever … I don’t know who this dude even is, but whatever…

What really caught my eye, however, was when I started flipping through the relatively thin book and took notice of a number of familiar links at the bottom of most pages:

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Basically, they’re using articles from Wikipedia as filler material in between all of the featured businesses! Totally legit, just like the people who reprint entire books worth of content from Wikipedia, but I guess being a writer myself, I just can’t help but think why include this stuff except for the reason that you need to fill space and you want to put something there, but you don’t want to have to pay for it.

I mean, is there really much benefit to the reader by reprinting Wikipedia articles like these alongside referral ads for businesses that do them???

I guess I’d like to think that if it was important enough to put a guide of sorts together to highlight the best in these home repair fields, then maybe it might be worth paying a couple of hundred bucks to a freelancer to write something … anything that’s a tad more specific to what you’re trying to do than just pulling free entries out of an online encyclopedia?! Again, totally legal and all, don’t get me wrong, but maybe throw together a list of Ten Ways to Improve the Value of Your Kitchen or How Professional Cleaning Can Save You Time and Money to get a little more personal than Wikipedia does.

And you know me, love me some Wikipedia, but this just seems lazy to me.

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