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As Silvia Killingsworth, who was previously the managing editor of and took over the Awl and the Hairpin last year, put it to me, “People love to talk about themselves, and they were given a platform and no rules.” Then the invisible hand of the page-view economy gave them a push: Web sites generated ad revenue in direct proportion to how many “eyeballs” could be attracted to their offerings, and editorial budgets had contracted in the wake of the recession.The forms that became increasingly common—flashy personal essays, op-eds, and news aggregation—were those that could attract viral audiences on the cheap.

As Silvia Killingsworth, who was previously the managing editor of and took over the Awl and the Hairpin last year, put it to me, “People love to talk about themselves, and they were given a platform and no rules.” Then the invisible hand of the page-view economy gave them a push: Web sites generated ad revenue in direct proportion to how many “eyeballs” could be attracted to their offerings, and editorial budgets had contracted in the wake of the recession.The forms that became increasingly common—flashy personal essays, op-eds, and news aggregation—were those that could attract viral audiences on the cheap.

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There were essays that incited outrage for the life styles they described, like the one about pretending to live in the Victorian era, or Cat Marnell’s oeuvre.

Some of the online publishers that survive have shifted to video and sponsored posts and Facebook partnerships to shore up revenue.

Aggregation and op-eds—the infamous, abundant takes—continue to thrive, although the takes have perhaps cooled a bit.

Indie sites known for cultivating first-person writing—the Toast, the Awl, the Hairpin—have shut down or changed direction.

Thought Catalog chugs along, but it seems to have lost its ability to rile up outside readers.

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