Seed, a service AOL launched last year, similarly pays freelance journalists to write on subjects in demand. For example, Seed recently asked for short, 100-word blurbs on “Your best packing tips.” Entries are edited for quality and accuracy and then posted on AOL sites. Vetting outside contributors and thoroughly editing the submissions is crucial to keeping AOL’s brand intact, Armstrong says. “I don’t think we would call it user-generated content,” he says. The company’s January acquisition of StudioNow, for $36.5 million, will let videographers post content on AOL sites for pay.

The problem, really, is that AOL doesn’t want to have to pay for crap material. Which means they have to pay to vet it.

The trick of course is to make each bit of content creation a joint venture with the author, where everyone gets paid for the upside, like what we’ve built at l33tsauce.com.