Before launching into a controversial topic, it is a good idea to get the definition of terms straight, so I put together a glossary of forms of content found on the web. By no means complete, please feel free to add more.
Content is a form of information, here referring mainly to text, or text and images together that form a coherent work, referred to as an article.
Free content is work legally usable without paying a fee, although legal restrictions may exist on modification, redistribution, and attribution.
Open content, generally free, may be redistributed provided it remains unaltered. Open content license also allows the charging of a fee for services but not for the OC material itself. The OC license also allows modification providing attribution information, OC license and zero cost remain intact.
Content syndication referees to the distribution of content to multiple Web sites through technologies as RSS, or catalogs of articles. The most common examples are the use of selective RSS newsfeeds to populate web pages with relevant daily changing updates.
Original content refers to work that is significantly unlike any other work as to be regarded as ‘original’. For example, an original work would be expected to pass the plagiarism test at copyscape.com. Sources of original conent include vast compendiums such as ezine articles.
Custom content, in contrast to the above forms is paid for, and developed to the clients specifications. It should be original content, without the legal limitations of the above forms as it becomes owned by the client, and may be attributed to him/her, an used in any way. A familiar example of custom content is ‘advertising copy’ describing products for sale.
Creative content, like custom content, is paid for and owned, but unlike advertising copy is significantly creative that it might engage an audience to provoke comment, controversy, be read of recreational or educational purposes. For example, blog post would generally be regarded as creative content. For example, one might gauge the degree of creativity by the number of comments received by a post.
Technical Content, while being custom and original, would not generally be regarded as creative, consisting of such things as specification or requirements documents, legal documents, and objective accounts such as financial or scientific reports.
Sites with content generated such as Wikipedia, YouTube, Flickr, and MySpace by users have taken the web by storm, now five of the top ten fastest growing web brands. User-generated content has the advantages of being free, although the legal usages of the content are not clear.
One would imagine different industries would have unique forms of content. One major example is travel industry destination content, information and media for information potential travelers about their destination. For example see here for nice visualizations.
Generated Content usually refers to html code that is generated automatically in the course of displaying documents. As such, it is convenient and saves typing html. However, generated content can also refer to program text generated to contain bait for search engines without real creative content.
A form of generated content, spamdexing, or search engine spamming, are web pages created or modified automatically from other web content expressly to improve rank and attract search hits to a website. Spamdexing is generally regarded as dishonest, though not illegal. Wikipedia has quite a good glossary of terms and techniques related to deceitful search engine optimization techniques.
Clearly, content must be original to boost the search engine rankings. It must also be creative to engage users in a blog, and provide the feedback, contributions, and excitement that forms the basis of an authority site. Ultimately, any shortcuts to search engine optimize that compromise creative quality will, sooner or later, be detected and the engine algorithms modified to drastic effect on your rankings.