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Web publishers often refer to articles, videos, photos, etc. as "content" or "online content", but I feel as if this term is hackneyed jargon and also fairly vague. What alternatives are there?

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    I don't think there is a good alternative, or these publishers would not have settled on "content". – Dan Bron Dec 18 '18 at 0:03
  • how would you use it in a sentence where "content" doesn't fit? "Payload", "package", "multimedia", "embedded resource", "files"? – user662852 Dec 18 '18 at 2:11
  • Something like "The marketing team produces content, which is then distributed by the social media team." Or, "The social media team selects and shares external content on its networks." – ghurley Dec 18 '18 at 2:23
  • You could use 'material(s)', although I don't see the problem with 'content'. – Dan Dec 18 '18 at 12:12
  • Why not use the specific term for the kind of content one is talking about: articles, videos, photos, etc.? – jsw29 Dec 18 '18 at 16:54
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The traditional and formerly more usual word is 'material'. OED, B. n. 1.:

c. Text or images in printed or electronic form....

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"Content" is not hackneyed jargon; it is an HTML attribute to describe the contents of a web page. You are right in that it is vague, as it is meant to be one word that describes multiple "stuff" in the page - pictures, videos, text, and the like. If you wanted to be specific you would have to call them out as "News", "Pictures", "videos" etc.

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    To say it is not jargon but an HTML attribute is to split hairs. – Unrelated Dec 18 '18 at 1:29
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    The use of the term content implies that one is speaking from the perspective of a professional designer of websites, who is principally preoccupied with their other aspects, and thinks of the 'content' as something that will be provided by somebody else. The people who actually produce the 'content' do not think of their creations as 'content', but as newsreports, discussions, photographs, etc. That is what makes the term content a part of the jargon of professional webdesigners. – jsw29 Dec 18 '18 at 17:04
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A page could have content (sg.) encompassing various text or graphic types already in print media, as the first of the following examples shows, long before there was an internet:

Among additions to the feature page content will be a music column, short stories and at frequent intervals, crossword puzzles. — The Daily Bruin (UCLA), 17 Jan. 1936.

Editorial page content was defined as written content, cartoons, illustrations, or graphs appearing on pages clearly identified and set aside as commentary or opinion. — Michael W. Drager, Organizational Structure and Organizational Culture Influences on Editorial Page Content, 1997.

Digital media continues this usage in the same sense, always singular, as a hypernym subsuming a larger number of content types than print, such as audio and video.

In other contexts, things contained in something else are aggregated as contents, always plural — of a closet, barrel, or your kitchen drawer overflowing with odds and ends. Contents does not function as a hypernym: A broken screwdriver in your kitchen drawer is not a type/kind of contents, but a video or photo on a webpage is a type/kind of content.

It puzzles me why you would seek an alternative.

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“Content” is a more formal way of saying “stuff.” It can be synonymous with “media.”

  • Media is generally not used as a synonym of content, but instead is the transport mechanism for content. – Rory Alsop Dec 20 '18 at 10:34

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