Will Lack of Quality Content be the End of Hubpages?
Whatever Happened to Quality Content?
In days gone by, a person would take out a pen and commit some words to paper because he thought that he had something to say; something to communicate to another person, or to a wider audience.
Nowadays, things have changed. Nowadays, most of those who write on Hubpages and elsewhere put finger to keyboard with a different objective; to make money. These “authors” mostly have nothing to say, and even if they did, they have no adequate means of saying it. I have even read articles by authors with a maximum 100 Hubber score whose command of English is truly woeful. Lets not forget that an author with a 100 score is showcased on the home page and looked up to as an example by lesser writing mortals and newcomers to Hubpages. We should expect and see a higher writing standard.
Far too many of the articles on Hubpages contain no original content whatsoever, and don’t actually say anything worth saying. It’s all marketing. Write a catchy headline, search the Internet, gather together photos, links to other sites, a video or three, package it all together with some Amazon and eBay advertising, and hey presto, a new hub is born. Suck the reader in with empty promises, add a few sentences of broken English, entice the punter to click on something, everyone makes money and everyone is happy. Except me!
I am tired, tired, tired of opening articles with engaging titles only to find that either there is no worthwhile content at all, or if there is, it is so badly written that I have to struggle through, wincing at the pigeon English. It can be truly painful and is often a complete waste of time.
Quite recently, I browsed at random five newly published hubs. Two were from Filipinos, two were from Indians and the fifth was from an American. The Filipino articles might just as well have been written in Swahili for all the sense they made. The Indian articles; well no self-respecting 12 year old schoolboy would submit these for his English homework, and the fifth was supposedly a book review, but simply listed quotes from the book and did not say anything original or offer any opinion about the work at all. It was utterly boring - I would rather watch paint dry.
Amazingly, even a top Hubber score in the 95-100 range is no guarantee of readability, as these too, are often non-English mother tongue individuals and so their writing is riddled with grammatical errors and poorly constructed sentences. In fact the Hubber score seems to have more to do with popularity, good community practices and revenue potential than quality. So why are these authors showcased by Hubpages? Whatever you say about the Hubber score, people do associate better scores with better quality. By assigning a Hubber a 100 score, you do place the notion in the reader’s mind that this author is “better” than an 80 score Hubber. It is time for a reality check.
But how do you gauge quality when it is so subjective? I did a test today. I chose an article by a 98 score Hubber, which was badly written and rather painful to read. I put it through Microsoft Word’s grammar and spell checker and guess what? It passed. Not a single error. True, each individual word was spelled correctly, but many of those words were put in the wrong places or used in the wrong context. The article was absolute twaddle as far as English usage is concerned, but MS Word could not detect this. I am sure that the author had already run the article through MS Word and therefore thought that the English was fine. But it most certainly was not. So what’s to be done?
Well, I would like to make a few suggestions:
- Quality check every article. This could be done automatically as the hub is submitted for publication. MS Word is no good for this, but surely there is specialist software available, or some could be written, which can flag “non-English” sentences, so that sub-standard hubs could be rejected.
- Enforce Minimum Word Count . Some of the hubs that I have stumbled across recently contain 150 words or less. Unless it is poetry, this is far too short. Yes, you can say something of value in 150 words, but it is difficult and beyond the capabilities of most authors. Short articles could be rejected.
- Block Non-English Mother Tongue. The worst of the pigeon English seems to emanate from India, China, Malaysia and the Philippines. Users from these countries can be detected by their IP address and should be blocked from publishing by default. I believe that sites such as Helium already do this. Of course there are exceptions, those who can write proper English, and so these authors could be allowed to publish after either they themselves, or their individual hubs have been approved.
- Block Photo only hubs. Hubpages is a site for writers and not photographers. There are legions of sites for photographers. Either block photo only hubs, or create a sub-domain of Hubpages especially for them.
- Featured authors. Choose authors at random to be featured or highlighted, and select hubs at random as long as they both have, say, an 80 score or higher. As Hubber score is no indication of quality, it makes no sense to only feature hubs from Hubbers with a high 90’s or 100 score.
I think Hubpages is a great site with many positive attributes, a great community, some really good writers (if you can find them), friendly helpful staff, and we can even make a few cents for our efforts. But when it becomes useless because the vast majority of its hubs are junk, written in pigeon English, or are just a series of pictures of fat, half-naked, middle-aged Indian mothers-of-five, then its reputation will suffer, and its days are surely numbered. This would be a terrible shame.
So let’s act now to preserve some quality of content. Surely quality still counts for something? Or at least it should. Let’s help to save Hubpages before it sinks under the accumulated weight of its own mediocrity.
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