Even Walk says that he sees these new platforms as “content farms for good,” meaning they are mostly focused on curation of quality content, which is why I think it’s better to think of them as curation engines rather than farms — or perhaps as “artisanal” content producers, to use a popular term. Both Svbtle and Medium are clearly putting a lot of emphasis on selecting quality contributors, since both are invitation-only, and LinkedIn seems to take this approach as well (Quora is much more open, in part because it converted its existing message boards).
LinkedIn clearly has an interest in driving traffic to its site with its Influencer content, in the hope that readers of those articles might decide to stick around or visit more often, and make use of the other things that actually produce revenue for the company. But in that sense, its program is more like what some call “content marketing,” which uses content that isn’t directly monetized as a way of promoting a brand or an advertiser’s main business.
In the end, all these platforms seem to be designed to appeal to writers who may have thoughts to contribute, but don’t necessarily want to maintain their own blog. Making that easy, and curating the results so that they are of high quality, may ultimately be a way around Google’s content-farm algorithms, but in the end it doesn’t really matter if higher-quality content is what gets produced. In that sense at least, Google’s efforts seem to be working.