On HubPages—October 24, 2011

In the world there is much that is mysterious, or unexplained. Things that simply have no answer. Such as, "Where did we come from?" and perhaps even, "Who really built those pyramids in Egypt?"

Or how about, "Why have some links in my hubs been targeted while others are not, but pertain to exactly the same thing?"

Don't get me wrong. I don't want to beat a dead horse. I don't want to come off sounding like just a big baby who can't get over it and just move on. Still, I do think as being one who has contributed to this site, who has never before been subject to any Terms of Use violations, who has never even once had a single hub flagged by a fellow member of this site, that at least the HubPages team owes me some explanation beyond the very cold letter they sent me regarding my questions.

Please feel free to violate our Terms of Use elsewhere. Let us know if you have any questions.

Those words still come at me with shocking surprise. I have to tell you that it's not often a literal statement to make that one's jaw drops to the floor, but I must tell you I am suffering a slight case of rug burns on my chin. My jaw literally hit the floor.

Please feel free to violate our Terms of Use elsewhere.

In other words, don't let the door hit you on the ass on your way out, and thanks for nothing. That's exactly what those words mean. I don't think there really is any other way of looking at it.

Look, all I want to know, and I think it's a fairly simple and fair question, is why those hubs? Why just those links? What is it about The Boston Beer Company that separates it from a link to MillerCoors? Or Sprecher Brewing Company? What is it about MegaMillions official lottery website that separates it from the Powerball website?

Furthermore, on the subject of the Terms of Use which have stipulated that hubs cannot promote or encourage the use of, in this case gambling or alcohol, then how is it that a hub by Rosie2010 called, "BEER or RED Wine - Which is better for you?" is not unpublished? How is it that there can be a hub by GeneralHowitzer called, "Ways to Avoid Getting Drunk With Liquor and Beer?" Granted, you might be thinking, "Well, perhaps it talks about simply not drinking in the first place?"

Of course you would be wrong. It suggests pacing. It suggests things to eat that supposedly counter the effects of alcohol. In fact, in one of the suggestions GeneralHowitzer writes, "If you're the host in a marathon drinking session, hehehe, use strategies that will lessen the impact of alcohol . When you are feeling drunk already, try to vomit what is inside your stomach by hooking the rear of your tongue with your index finger. This will give you comfort and more energy to withstand succeeding bottles of beers or rounds of shots."

Excuse me HubPages team, but this promotes alcohol. This promotes drinking. In this case it seems to promote marathon drinking and offers a great method to make yourself throw up so that you can keep on drinking despite it all.

Personally I don't care. I like the hub. GeneralHowitzer is offering something of value in his own way. So is the hub about the health benefits of beer or red wine. Neither of these two hubs encourages me to do anything. I have no plans to gang up with with the guys tomorrow afternoon after work and begin a drinking marathon.

But the question remains. And I think any one of us ought to be asking it, and asking it very loudly. There is someting simply amiss here that I'm not getting. And I think the proof is simply in the pudding. That's my only point. To HubPages and the HubPages team I only say have your Terms of Use. Fine. But make sure they are not only clearly defined, but clearly administered in a way that someone can make some sense out of. Doing anything else very strongly implies there is something else going on. At the very least it implies that something is wrong with the filters. Something is wrong with the system. And when the very real question gets posed in a letter sent to them, it should pop up a red flag to the HubPages team that maybe the question needs to be looked into rather than simply popping a letter back in response that says coldly to the owner of the hub, "Please feel free to violate our Terms of Use elsewhere."

Not only is it the right thing to do, but it is the smart thing to do when you are a "private business," as they have pointed out to me in that same cold letter. In business things have to make sense, otherwise people simply scratch their heads and leave for some other place. That'll leave a business like this one hearing crickets instead of the clacking of keys.

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Comments 25 comments

Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 4 years ago from USA

All I can say is hmm. I'm speechless. I'm surprised by the way they worded things too, shocked in fact.


rmichaelf profile image

rmichaelf 4 years ago from North Central West Virginia, where the green grass grows...

I know you are not the only one having had one or two or whatever, of your hubs or links considered to be in "violation" of the terms of use and also without explanation. Also, their hubs had very little in difference with many other hubs on similar subjects, if not the same. Everything you mention about the inconsistencies, well, I am seeing in many other places.

Seems a ripe situation for someone else looking to participate in the market to take advantage of... we may find ourselves at another site where the rules of the game are applied consistently, and communications to participants are offered in a polite, social and considerate manner....


Xenonlit profile image

Xenonlit 4 years ago

That was clearly unprofessional and should have been pushed up the ladder. I just started writing here after being a member for 2 years, so I have not had any problems yet.

Thanks for the heads up.


breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 4 years ago

I am shocked. I say keep writing and ask for an answer from a human and point out how rude your response was. Unbelievable!


EndaMac profile image

EndaMac 4 years ago from Belfast

I actually have no problem with Hubpages having some sort of governance. I have also noticed the exact same thing with ezinearticles. Panda restrictions have really spooked them and in my opinion they are over reacting and it will settle down.

The terminology is beyond belief and rude if the truth be told. My big moan is you can never talk to anyone and get a decent explanation.

When I see some of the utter rubbish that is on here, I do get amazed by how that standard is allowed to remain.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States

I think you should try to get an answer from one of the staff also. I understand that Hubpages is attempting to upgrade the quality but rules need to be applied equally across the board, so writing to one of the upper staff doesn't seem unreasonable.


Springboard profile image

Springboard 4 years ago from Wisconsin Author

Barbara, it DID cause me to have to read the letter at least twice. ;)

Rmichaelf, very true. Opportunity is a door that gets opened through necessity sometimes. There are a lot of smart people here on this site. Some of those are not only writers, but second as entrepeneurs. And one thing about entrepeneurs, they know how to look for what makes a popular thing popular...and then know how to look for its weaknesses that they can capitalize on and offer something better for. Happens ALL THE TIME in business. If THIS business sees fit to not listen to the complaints, and not tailor its business to the needs of its writers, someone will come along with a better idea and snatch this whole thing right out from under them. Google did it with search engines. Walmart did it with department stores. Apple is doing it with Blackberry.

The HubPages team might want to make sure they've got either something in the works to start up if this thing loses steam, or a few pennies tucked aside to draw on when the gravy train ends.


zzron profile image

zzron 4 years ago from Houston, TX.

That sounds like a real rude thing they said to you and very unprofessional.


Sneha Sunny profile image

Sneha Sunny 4 years ago from India

I too am curious to know why only those hubs got unpublished whereas the other two with similar kind of links did not. This may happen to others as well. I think hubpages should give an answer so that we could understand and avoid the things that are not allowed.


Springboard profile image

Springboard 4 years ago from Wisconsin Author

Xenolit, I thought about doing that. Pushing it up the ladder. Unfortunately I think the ladder here has few rungs, and so I'm not sure about how effective I could be in getting anywhere. I have the power to at least write here about it, in this forum, and discuss the issue with all of you. My peers. My fellow hubbers. If the message here gets up there to the top rung of the ladder in a quiet, back door sort of way, I'm okay with that. One thing is for certain, I doubt I'll be the only one who will write such a series of hubs as I've found myself writing recently. Nor am I the first to have done it. As I said before, the ball is in HubPages' court. Only time will tell if anything changes.

BTW, welcome aboard. Despite my recent misgivings, it's still a great place for writers to meet up and share feedback. So long as a hub of yours doesn't get targeted unfairly, you should find yourself happy here. If you should find a hub unfairly targeted, I look forward to reading about it. :)


pauldeeds profile image

pauldeeds 4 years ago from Berkeley

I think the policy on alcohol is stated rather clearly here, where it says "You may not create Hubs that sell, or link to sites that sell beer, wine, or alcohol. Further, links to alcohol related sites that require visitors to verify their age are prohibited":

http://hubpages.com/faq/#beer-wine-alcohol

This prohibition essentially originates with the AdSense Program Policy, which has similar prohibitions:

http://www.google.com/adsense/support/bin/answer.p...

It appears you've also intentionally misquoted the email that was sent to you, which said, in response to your claims of a "LEGAL RIGHT to free speech" and your statement that "The hub WILL NOT be modified, and if it remains unpublished, will simply be republished elsewhere":

"HubPages is a private business, not a public entity. Like most websites, there are many topics which are protected under free speech that are not permitted on websites like HubPages. Please feel free to publish any content that violates HubPages Terms of Use elsewhere. Let us know if you have any questions."

Misquoting us does not bolster your case, nor win you any sympathy from me.


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 4 years ago from London, UK

I am sorry you have been hurt and hurt it dowes. I lso had to take a hub down about the the famous footballer Aguero. I was told that it was published already and I copied it although I didn't and never would. For some reason it never showed the warning when I put up the heading. It also said that I copied word for word. I did repeat a speech he made, of course, but that didn't mean I copied the other writer's work word for word. As I said, I would never stoop so low. So you see I know it hurts but now let it go. What to do. Take care.


Springboard profile image

Springboard 4 years ago from Wisconsin Author

Pop, the question is how to get to a human? Or perhaps the other begging question is, how to get to one that makes sense? :)

Endamac, I agree that SOME editorial control over content is permissible, even encouraged. But I think that control has to be very, very slim and limited if the site owners are going to call it a self-publishing site. When you start drawing the line on talking about legal engagements, I think that's taking things too far. Especially when, in my case, the articles that got taken down were very tame. There was nothing in them that would ever be considered inflammatory, inappropriate, or anything that a child could not read. The entire situation I've run into here is really perplexing. It's just a ridiculous thing in my opinion.


Springboard profile image

Springboard 4 years ago from Wisconsin Author

Paul, what I'm looking for here is not sympathy. I'm looking for an explanation. I'm looking for you to tell me why a link to MillerCoors is okay and a link to the Boston Beer Company is not. I want you to explain to me why a link to Powerball is okay but a link to MegaMillions is not. I think it's a simple question. It deserves a simple answer. You have yet to provide that other than to simply cite a few generic statements from your Terms of Use.

Look, as I have said many times, I can accept things that make sense. I cannot accept things that do not, and clearly the decision that was made with regard to my hubs do not make any sense.

Furthermore, I told you exactly what I will do with the hubs in question. I don't see why that needed to be added in any of the hubs pertaining to the argument. I made those cases clear in all three hubs on the subject that I would not modify the hubs. They WILL be published elsewhere. You're not an editor and this is not a magazine, so why would I change them? You don't want them here, for whatever reason those hubs have been targeted, and so fine. It's no sweat off my back to publish them somewhere else. By the way, you ARE violating my free speech...at least here. And you did not apparently read the hubs in question, which I would have appreciated at least the courtesy of. None of those hubs are anything inflammatory, inappropriate, nor do any of them promote any activity. And as I pointed out in this hub, there are SCORES of hubs that have links exaclty like mine, that have content exactly like mine, that have NOT been unpublished like mine.

I'm not trying to start a war with you. What I want to do is help you to make this a great site by having it fit your needs, as well as the needs of its writers and readers. I think you owe at least that to any one of us. And might I only add that however you try to slice it, your email response to me was cold and rude, and the way it is worded says exactly what I have said here it says.


Springboard profile image

Springboard 4 years ago from Wisconsin Author

Pamela, seems I may have gotten to one through the back door. Hopefully what I can do going forward is open up an open, fair, and honest discussion with the writers and the staff of HubPages. I'm working on a hub as we speak that will do exactly that. I think we need to be able to communicate as a community, and we need to act as a community if we are to be considered a community. The saga will continue, and I think should help us all to get a better experience out of this place we love to write. I don't want to be a part of closing doors. I want to be a part of opening them. By the way, if I'm wrong in something I'll take my lumps as well. To do anything less would be less than fair, and absolutely counterproductive. This should prove interesting going forward I think, and the fact that at least Paul Deeds has decided to show up should make the process not only productive, but constructive. HubPages is ours as much as it is theirs, and so it goes...

We'll see where it ends. :)


rmichaelf profile image

rmichaelf 4 years ago from North Central West Virginia, where the green grass grows...

Excuse me Paul, but your reply is an excellent example of a bureaucratic mindset and crafted reply. It doesn't really seem to answer the writer's question as much as provide an indirect response avoiding a well articulated question posed in an attempt to clear up a point and move the conversation on towards clarity for all.

You do get an "A" for for a management inspired answer. Sure moved it from your in box to your out box... It doesn't have to be this hard for springboard or others looking for concrete guidance does it?


Springboard profile image

Springboard 4 years ago from Wisconsin Author

Zzron, it is. And it was. I can't for the life of me understand why HubPages would want to deal with any of its writers in such a way. It really is sort of like biting the hand that feeds you. Granted, most of what I write is opinion, and maybe the HubPages staff would prefer I write about things that can be linked to products and services which probably generates more revenue for the site. Still, I'm a participant, and I make a contribution I would think, and that should help to make this site better, and help to keep it of interest somewhere in Internetland. Maybe.

Sneha, me too. And unfortunately we still don't have an answer even after Paul Deeds stopped in here to drop his two cents about the letter, and not about the reason for it. I'd still like to know. Why just those links? Why just those hubs? Why does a hub about Las Vegas NOT get pulled for promoting gambling, but a hub about the lottery does? Why does a hub about the Great Recession, and things made in America get pulled for a link to a beer company that is the last large American beer company left? None of it makes a bit of sense, and neither does the lack of an explanation by HubPages.


pauldeeds profile image

pauldeeds 4 years ago from Berkeley

We have provided a comprehensive guide to the publishing rules in our FAQ, starting here:

http://hubpages.com/faq/#what_is_allowed

We do not review every Hub for compliance, but rather ones that have been identified by links or keywords that they contain, or that have been flagged by the community. There are about ten thousand Hubs published every week, far more than we can read. If you see a Hub that you believe violates our rules, please flag it.

In regard to why one link might be listed as prohibited, but not another, links are classified at the domain level. Links to the Sprecher Brewing Company are prohibited just like Sam Adams, they just haven't been evaluated yet. As the warning that identifies particular problematic links says just below the links "It is your responsibility to remove any links that match the description above. This list is provided as a courtesy".


Springboard profile image

Springboard 4 years ago from Wisconsin Author

Paul, with all due respect, if you really want to be a true writer's site then you HAVE to read any hub that pops up through some or other filter. I think it must be about context. Context in writing says it all. If you read my lottery hub, for example, I think you'll find little reason that it should be unpublished, despite any links provided. Everything is in context, and the links are there not to PROMOTE, but to provide additional information about what was talked about in the hub to make a personal, informed decision. Filters should be used to identify POTENTIALLY inflammatory, inappropriate, or demeaning material. They should not be used to simply pull everything lock, stock, and barrel that simply uses a term, or provides a link. I simply think you need to evaluate this. Doing anything less will make the entire process of writing cumbersome, and quite frankly, in the end, will render the entire site useless to anyone, especially its readers, because this is sort of the beginning of something often referred to as "unintended consequences." By the time you get done hashing out a bunch of rules, and denying a bunch of links, writers will have little to write about, and they'll spend so much time fixing this and editing that that they won't bother to write anything at all here anymore.

The bottom line really becomes if you want to have editorial control over content to any degree, then you must act like an editor. That means you have to read material and decide based on the context of material and links whether something is benign or problematic. If you don't want to be an editor it's probably best to leave writers alone, and simply evaluate something an actual reader flags and make a decision based on that.


Alexander Mark profile image

Alexander Mark 4 years ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon

Springboard, I see you are still publishing hubs and I am most definitely going to hit the "follow" button on your profile. But, your treatment has been atrocious. I have never had my hubs censored, but I am seeing it all around me from other hubbers.

I find that every organization has its injustices, whether at work or at a paper or an online journal. I have experienced the same kind of critical hounding at a supposedly "Christian" online science fiction short story magazine, where they vehemently ripped my short story to shreds. Looking back, I saw they DID make some good points but their attitude was completely wrong.

I am most unnerved by the fact that they censor hubs about guns. That seems like an anti-conservative sentiment to me, so why the ban on alcohol related material and gambling? Never mind the slutty ads or links about psychic readings that appear occasionally next to my hubs. It is confusing to figure out who they are trying not to offend.

The Bottom line is this, Hubpages is turning into a great place to publish certain things (depending on who in management likes you) and make money if you can navigate through their hypocritical rules (and you can add backlinks to your own blogs from there). So if we can abide by their rules and still enjoy writing, maybe it is good to stick around. If we want total freedom, we will need to create our own blogs and hook up with readers on the internet on our own. It's more work, but also more rewarding. But I don't think I'm ready to leave yet.


Springboard profile image

Springboard 4 years ago from Wisconsin Author

Hello, Hello, your situation reaffirms my thoughts that there needs to be a human intervention if and when anything gets flagged by a filter to determine what the ACTUAL situation is. If one is able to read through anything that pops up as particularly problematic then someone needs to go through the piece with a fine tooth comb to see what's really going on, or what's really being said, or what context is being used, or what relevance a link has to the gist of the article. As I said earlier, perhaps the site sees fit to have the use of the word "penis" send out a flag. The word alone could have both a clinical and a sexual context. One could be pertinent to the article, medical in nature, while the other could be aggregious and inappropriate in nature. But a filter cannot make that determination. Only an educated person can through reading the piece and determining the context.

As I've stated many times through all of this. This is but one place to publish what you write. If HubPages doesn't want what we write we can publish it somewhere else. It's their loss, not mine or yours. In fact, it may even be a gain. HubPages can be a rather limiting place for any real gain in one's writing credential being earned, so there may actually be other doors opened and other opportunities discovered through publishing elsewhere, even perhaps on your own standalone site. Always try to look on the bright side. You have your writing. They have you. If they lose you, you simply will go somewhere else, and if they lose enough of the writers eventually through poor management, and strict rules, this site will be nothing more than a fading memory. I certainly don't wish that upon the site, but I can't help but call out the reality.

Rmichael, I share your sentiments.


Springboard profile image

Springboard 4 years ago from Wisconsin Author

Alexander, nor am I it appears. I've been taken by the support of my followers (which BTW, shouldn't they change to "readers?") and they are why I haven't actually packed my bags just yet. Like I just commented on "Goodbye HubPages," I am not here for THEM (the HubPages staff) but for my readers. Those who follow me. I can live with some unfairness to a degree by HubOages staff so long as I still have the support of my readers, and I think, as long as my readers wish me to be here, in the end, that's all that really matters, right?


Alexander Mark profile image

Alexander Mark 4 years ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon

Right! And yes, that "followers" thing is so commercial. Oh well. Like you say, if it's possible to continue, then we should by all means. If it becomes to constrictive, it would be the same thing as writing about ladies underwear when you want to write about how a crack in the pavement reminded you of a turning point in your life. Extreme examples, but I think I'm making the point.

Glad you are sticking around for now. I'll have to remember that when they decide to take down one of my hubs, I can only imagine how angry that would make me.


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 4 years ago from London, UK

Thak you for your great reply. In the meantime I had two hubs marked as ""duplicate"" which were written one ofter the other. One is Tenko, a bookreview and the other is Wallenberg. On the second email I have got a reply that it was in Wikipedia. Gosh everything which move or doesn't anymore is in Wikipedia. So does HubPages. So don't about them or they themselves hahahaha if it wasn't so serious it would be something to laugh about. I am really devastated.


Springboard profile image

Springboard 4 years ago from Wisconsin Author

Again all, I have much appreciated the support. :)

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