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Content wrangling

July 28, 2011

I was intrigued by a recent Skilfair consultancy posting for a ‘Web consultant/content wrangler’.  Here was a new term, to me at least: ‘content wrangling’.

The posting stated that The Peak District National Park Authority ‘is looking for a talented, enthusiastic, web editor with the skills, vision and experience to update and create content for the Authority’s websites and intranet’. Then we reached the point of explanation. ‘You’ll also have the people skills to wrangle content out of busy staff and then translate their words into snappy copy.’

Herding words

I Googled ‘content wrangler’ and could not find a definition other than a catch-all expression for those who write for a website and work on ‘content strategies’.  So this is ‘wrangling’.  From the posting I imagined ‘wrangle’ to be close to ‘wheedle’ (OECD, wheedle: ‘coax into doing…persuade by flattery or endearments); perhaps not. So what is wrangle? OECD, wrangle: ‘brawl, (engage in) loud or angry argument or altercation or quarrel; herd (cattle)’. Surely not that. But what of ‘wrangler’? (OECD: ‘cowboy…’). The authority is looking for a cowboy to engage in angry arguments with staff? Now I’m confused.  I suppose that might lead to bad-tempered or ‘snappy’ copy. And then, of course, I made the association between wrangler and jeans, and jeans and cowboys, herding cattle, herding words, and so on. So perhaps this was part tongue-in-cheek: someone who whips round the office shouting ‘yeehaah’ as they wrangle (herd) words from busy staff.

Content is king

There are ‘content wranglers’ out there.  On investigation they still approve of text like ‘using personalized URLs and variable data cross-media marketing technologies with amazing results’; closer to content ‘mangling’. Returning to the original posting, perhaps I am missing the spirit of the thing. Yet this is a tender requirement and accuracy is critical. The danger is that in an attempt to be casual and web-savvy we risk projecting a less than professional image. Wranglers state that ‘content is king’; but a king is nothing without authority.

One Comment leave one →
  1. October 31, 2011 10:37

    A senior wrangler is someone who obtained the highest marks in the maths tripos at Cambridge University. I wonder why they chose that word? Are mathematicians the ones that argue the most angrily?

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