Goodbye Squidoo. Hello Again, HubPages
In my view...
When Squidoo Came Tumbling Down
You know how you can be so surprised by an event that you shake your head, blink your eyes and wonder if there's a mistake?
Something can be so outside your expectations, you have to shuffle your mental departments around to make room. Then, there's the dishonesty and betrayal that has to be accepted if what you're seeing happens to be true.
Could the Seth Godin who writes books about personal integrity and passion do something so slimy? Could he all but grab a sack of cash and run, leaving his supporters and followers on Squidoo like the self-absorbed captain of discount cruise liner about to sink?
Yes, and yes.
The Bombshell Message from Seth Godin
Godin, who along with his original partner, Megan Casey, had ineptly maneuvered Squidoo into an iceberg known as a Google Panda update, popped in a cheery letter, artfully timed for a lazy late August afternoon when he could be sure the fewest people were around to object, announcing that he'd sold out to HubPages without actually saying he'd done so.
Being a longtime Hubber, reading that all my 350 lenses would soon become Hubs didn't bother me much. Although I haven't had the time to be very active, I've respected the tough choices HubPages made to stabilize its authority on the internet. These were choices Seth and his team were loathe to make and let the site sour instead.
Godin, essentially, for cash, turned the content created and curated by writers he served badly and failed to support competently over to a team that will inherit great content, some of which they will have to deal with painfully.
For several years, Seth Godin neglected Squidoo, but when he saw dollar signs, he woke up and went for them. The funny thing was, he sort of bragged about it, like he was doing the community of Squidoo writers a favor.
He was, I believe, because HupPages will make a great home, but that wasn't his real motivation.
I have this cartoon image of cash falling out of Seth Godin's back pocket as he flees the shipwreck he dozed us into.
Squidoo Crumbling Update
Just a few days after Seth Godin's brusque, deceptive announcement, in the face of outrage across the internet, he's backed off some of the worst elements he forced on his writers. At the same time, HubPages has stepped in to mitigate much of the anger.
- Maybe running for cover, Godin has left follow up messages to "The Squidoo Team" or one of its members. His mug, then, was absent from the announcement that they were rolling the minimum payout to $1.00, from a recently installed $25, thus guaranteeing that money earned by writers would not be confiscated, as originally announced, and turned over to the Acumen Fund, a charity with which Godin is involved.
- In a series of blog posts and answers to forum questions, HubPages has aggressively opened its arms to the Squidoo newcomers, offering a generous (tentative) four months for lenses transferred to be required to meet the new TOS. With an openness unknown to Squidoo, HubPages has taken pains to explain what they expect to function well after the transfer and what might cause problems. Squidoo writers have been more accustomed to unexpected malfunctions and invisible, possible nonexistent tech support.
On Facebook groups previous developed around Squidoo, a clear optimism is rising. Many have positive expectations about what's to come.
Squidoo, a Brief History of Catastrophe
There are a few wonderful things to love about Squidoo...
- From inception, Squidoo by design shared half their profits with charities. As lensmasters, funky term though it was, we even got to participate in choosing which charities. Hooray for Seth, Megan, Corey and Gil!
- No other site was ever as visually sumptuous as Squidoo. It was designed to be nice to look at and to be a great place for photos.
- Squidoo, with its open platform and easy access to Amazon and eBay sales and Google Adsense revenue, was a great place to make money for creating content. A lot of people prospered until Google stepped in in early 2013.
- It's unlikely any writers' platform had so much rah-rah spirit and encouragement or as many innovative ideas for inspiring and providing space for great content. As a creator, you always felt like you had cheerleaders behind you, happy to see you succeed. Hooray for Bonnie, Robin, Tom and Susan!
But as we all know, the internet is a kind of free-for-all that makes easy pickings for cheaters, spammers, con artists and frauds. Expert after expert told eager listeners that Squidoo's easy access and lack of rules made it easy to use the free platform to make money without actually creating any value.
Seth Godin and Megan Casey were at fault. By the time I joined, nearly four years ago, Seth was off somewhere, too busy counting his cash or something to be involved in the site, leaving it to Megan. Megan, in one of the first posts I read was explicit: if you wanted to make money on Squidoo, you'd make it on Amazon and other affiliate sales, not on content.
So, what do you think happened? For one thing, Megan abruptly left shortly before the roof caved in, leaving the survivors at HQ to figure their way out of the disaster.
We were rolling along, some of us making decent money. In spite of Megan's sage advice, I was doing nicely with Adsense sharing on lenses that weren't designed for product sales. I'm a writer and didn't show up to pitch products. Those who did, did great too because Google sent scads of search traffic their way.
Of course, the bad guys pushed it too far in their greed, spinning out thousands of lenses that were little more than catalogs of Amazon links. Seth Godin and company cheerfully raked in the dough until, one day, somebody over at Google said something interesting?
"Wait a minute? Why are we sending them traffic for posting content anyone can find with a couple of clicks on Amazon?"
The next Google update acted like a fine strainer, filtering a lot of the junk out. Traffic tanked, and the Squidoo management team was shocked - shocked! - to find that every spammer on the planet had been creating junk content on Squidoo.
Next, Squidoo scrambled to adjust. Godin even dusted himself off for an appearance or two. Chastened by Google, they began purging content, which was a good idea but mismanaged in two important ways.
- They did it with a meat ax, blocking and locking content and forcing out creators willy-nilly to try recovery by content cleansing. Life isn't black and white, and while they caught and ejected a lot of garbage along with the clowns who created it, they hammered a lot of people who had followed the very rules and values Seth and company had pushed. Bad blood and resentment was everywhere.
- It's more subtle, but equally important that, at no time, then or now, did Seth Godin or anyone else on the Squidoo team admit to a single mistake. No apologies were offered. Numerous people lost years of well-intended investment in Squidoo and even those of us who were never punished for bad content suffered the revenue drop anyway. Godin and company didn't seem to think they had anything to do with it. Which is why his dumping Squidoo and leaving everyone still there hanging did not come as a big surprise. Integrity is not the man's finest quality.
Give the HQ Team credit, especially Bonnie, for keeping the faith, never letting down and continuing to innovate, even while catching all the flack that should have gone to Seth and Megan. New formats and ideas showed up. They found new ways to encourage and help writers create the their niches.
We are lead to believe it wasn't enough, that Squidoo didn't have the resources to continue, but maybe that's not quite all of it.
Maybe, as he has done with other businesses, Seth got bored and decided it was time to cash in.
HubPages, Here We Come
The import of Squidoo content will have a major impact on HubPages, a good one, I'm sure.
I realize that Squidoo's notoriety for creating catalog lenses has made some Hubbers leery. I can understand that. I would be too.
But I think you will be pleasantly surprised. Although Seth Godin has taken a knee, many great creators of content who feel betrayed by him will be a strong, ongoing addition to the HubPages community.
Squidoo sends a strong legacy of product reviews that are carefully crafted and well-liked by search engines; how-to lenses that are better than any I've ever seen elsewhere on the internet; tons of recipes to inspire your cooking skills and an abundance of damn well written narrative content on topics from women in the military to worldwide travel.
I hope you will welcome us into your community as we would you, if things had gone the other way. A lot of Squidooers are leery too, the transfer being tainted by betrayal, but once they get to see the strengths of HubPages, they will be happy to be here with you.
Get to know me...
- Amazon.com: David Stone: Books, Biography, Blog, Audiobooks, Kindle
You can find all seven of my books on my Amazon Author Page.
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© 2014 David Stone
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