The HubPages "Author Bio" Feature - A Personal Take On This Long-Needed Feature

First, Just A Note

HubPages has just implemented the new feature that allows for author bios that relate to a Hub to be added when/if appropriate. More on the author-bio's feature can be read in the HubPages blog (or in the official announcement on the HP forums.) The announcement of the feature can be seen as an "official announcement" in the forums (and contains a link to more information, which is the announcement present in the HP blog). There's also a forum discussion among community members. Links to both can be seen on this page.

I have reasons for thinking that my own thoughts on the subject of author-bio's were best offered in a Hub, and away from that community discussion. Below, in this order, are a) my general thoughts on why the author-bio feature is a great one (and by the way, authors can store up to twenty-five bio's with their HP profiles), b) some of the "background reasons" for writing this particular Hub, rather than posting my thoughts on this new feature in the community forum, and c) some overall thoughts on my own particular challenges of having been a Hubber for over seven years within the larger picture/context of the whole online-writing picture/evolution over those (and a few more) years.


De-Emphasizing A Pen-Name Can Mean Limiting Involvement In The Community Forums

Since I've been in the process of de-emphasizing the pen name under which I've done a lot of my free-time/more casual writing (but also because if a forum thread interests me it's most often the case that I'll have quite a bit to say on the matter - therefore tend to write a super-long post), I try to limit my "contribution" to the community forums under the pen name. That wouldn't seem to matter much for some people who write on this site; but because I'm closing in on eight years on this site, and because almost half of that time has been "post-Panda" time, I've got my account (this one) in a state of upheaval of one kind or another. Because of that "upheaval" if anyone who reads what I have to say in community forums were to click on my profile and see what's left of what was once a few hundred Hubs my "two-cents' worth" (two-dollars' worth?) in the forums isn't going to look all that credible

Back To My General Thoughts On The Author Bio's

With the exception of having decided to try out the author-bio feature on this, and a very few other Hubs I have about writing and/or writing on HubPages; I haven't done anything with the feature yet because many of the Hubs I have on this account are either on their way out, in need of changes, or otherwise not worth bothering with much; and the account I have that I'm planning to do more with is almost empty anyway. That doesn't mean that I don't think author bios may pretty much be the thing that HP needs to encourage/enhance credibility. I haven't been to Yahoo Answers for ages (if it still even exists), but somewhere along the way over the years even THEY offered a feature for people to who answered to say something about what it was that made them think they were qualified to answer. And THAT was on a site that offered no form of pay/revenue share to contributors. :/

There are so many different types of Hubs that people can write that I think the author bio feature is great. I can think of people on here who write some really beautiful articles that are based on research only. Those really, nicely, done Hubs kind of speak for themselves; but I think a bio that simply says, "professional freelance writer" (or even one that lets people know someone is "writing on the side" (but takes it seriously) may encourage some readers to look more into the person's profile for one reason or another.

The person who is, say, a hairdresser "by day" but who has spent a lot of time in doing something like, again, say, baking cakes of one kind or another; can add that in their bio. Not only, I think, will that kind of thing make readers expect/accept a maybe more casual approach (to some extent) to things like tone, style, and grammar; but I think it will encourage Hubbers to write about their "own areas" without having to add, say, 500 words (or more) of explaining why it is they know what they're they're talking about at least with regard to the subject of THAT Hub. This is another kind of Hub that kind of speaks for itself, but the problem for people who write that kind of Hub has been (I'm assuming, because I don't bake cakes period. :lol:) because a one-size-fits-all approach to "making it look professional" has caused problems for a lot of people. One example is that thing, "Never use the first person. It isn't professional." As a result a lot of people have gone with using only "an authoritative voice", which amounts to something (essentially), like, "So-and-so is a hairdresser by profession but is writing about cakes for kids - and it's pretty clear that so-and-so is neither a professional baker nor professional writer." In the meantime, "so-and-so" may have been baking cakes for kids for forty years (or whatever) and may know any number of tricks/techniques not covered in "conventional authority" sites. To me, that may be the only or best way that "so-and-so" can compete with authority sites (and anyone else who has articles/material about the subject of cakes for kids.

All that aside, encouraging people to write about areas/subjects in which they "legitimately" have some edge and/or something different from authority sites off will probably discourage a lot of people from researching (so often online) stuff online, not knowing the subject well enough to recognize what is the best research and what is not, in general, offered in re-hash form, all over the Internet in one place or another. Even some professionals (or one kind or another) have their own site on which they offer a condensed re-hash of articles in their own area. So many of them compete with other sites in that area that they can "all look alike" too. (And those sites are sometimes where people who write Hubs that they shouldn't be writing in the first place may get some of their re-hash/condensed info too.)

Even something like video games... I know NOTHING about those (truly as "nothing" as there can be - no, even less than that); so overlook my over-simplifying here. But, the twenty-five-year-old who has been involved with video games may have how-ever many years of experience (from his childhood/teens on) that may make him someone whose ideas are well worth reading/paying attention to.

True, it may be easy for someone to whip up a quickie author bio that's fake, but i think, combined with something like having a well established/well-rooted, author profile (though in some cases that won't even matter much anyway, I don't think) offers just that much structure/guideline to help writers on here to know how best to approach one kind of Hub or another (or whether to even write it for this site at all). It gets back to that same old thing of "fewer Hubs of the highest quality is better than a zillion Hubs of low/lower quality"

Both "content farms" (or one kind or another) and writers have often found themselves with a giant mix of "mess" on their hands with regard to different types of writing/material. Maybe I'm wrong, but I really think this one feature will work from any number of angles (for readers, searchers, writers, the site - whoever/whatever) to cause/drive far more of a shift in the right direction (for everyone) than all the grammar nazis (lower case "n" intentional, BTW) and throw-back (and not always all that current) SEO rules out there.

And Now Back To The Matter Of De-Emphasizing The Pen-Name

And so, because of my own situation within the context of my writing on HubPages (and to some degree, elsewhere); and because I'm still not sure how to better organize or present the Hubs I have associated with this account (if I present any of them at all, for that matter), I thought I'd make use of my own, personal, "interim time" by at least adding some current Hubs (even if they're only about writing Hubs or, in some cases, writing in general).

It turns out that "phasing away" from a long used pen-name isn't always as simple as one might think (at least not for some writers). When I say "de-emphasizing" I don't necessarily mean "killing off" or "sudden retirement of" that name (and the writing associated with it). When a pen-name has long enough roots that is has become a "mini-business" separate from, but also kind of a "branch" of a writer's broader endeavors (but also when things like income and tax forms are involved, not to mention whatever semblance of a "brand" or consistency a writer has), the choice of "just-don't-use-the-pen-name-any-more/delete-or-change-the-name-on-everything-you-have-ever-written-online-and-just-start-new" doesn't always work in favor of the person who has done a lot of writing.

Sometimes, of course, there's something to be said for "just start new" or "clean starts" - not always or in all cases.

Saying That Hindsight Is 20/20 Isn't Exactly Saying Anything Original, But......

Most of us have heard the old saying about hindsight's being 20/20. 20/20 vision is never a bad thing to have, regardless of the circumstances, situation and/or issue. While I have no guesses as to where, exactly, any number of things related to online-writing may go (or for whom/what it will or won't "go" at all).what is 20/20-clear to me at this point is that how complicate anyone's online-writing picture is can be a matter of how many different types of writing he does; and even whether his work comes more "from a place of marketing" or a "place of writing".

The whole online-writing picture has changed dramatically over the last four or five years, with more and more changes coming along since then. Saying something like, "I kind of envy people who start online writing today, as opposed to ten years ago," is kind of like the old thing about parents/grandparents telling those stories about walking to school six miles in the snow.

When all is said and done, it doesn't really matter whether someone actually did walk six miles to school in the snow or start writing one kind of thing or another online six or ten years ago. What matters is trying to work with whatever "20/20 of now" we have, even if it eventually turns out that it wasn't as 20/20 as we thought (or that the measure of "20/20" has changed).

I have no doubt that some of enthusiasm for the new author bio's stems from the old "walking-in-the-snow" days of "write anything you want to write, and if it's unique or useful it may make some money." Needless to say, that covers a lot of "what one wants to write" (and how he ought to write/present it)".

I do kind of envy people who start new or start clean without the muck of old stuff and instead with the advantage (and hindsight) of starting in more recent Internet-writing times. Also, however, I kind of envy the people either simply transferred older material somewhere else, fixed up older stuff, or just closed whole online-writing accounts they had and moved on.

For now, I'm still pretty much knee-deep in the giant mix of miscellaneous muck that either needs to be cleaned up, thrown out, sorted out or somehow tied together with what isn't muck in a way that doesn't just make sense to any potential readers, but a way that will work well with my own aims at a writer and/or a person, depending the aim.

Any time there is a job that isn't as simple as it would seem, or that's more complicated than it might seem to someone who hasn't, say, walked that six miles in the snow; the best way to figure out where to start tends to be to start with the easiest thing and see what goes on from there.

For now, I've decided to write a few Hubs about writing and/or writing on HubPages and make my account a little more current than it has been since I've been in my "what-to-do-with-this-mess-on-this-account" mode.

After all, and pen-name issue aside, what better trial use of the new author bio's is there than to write about writing from the viewpoint of having been on HubPages for as long I have been. (As part of my "de-emphasizing" I'm disabling the comment box on this particular Hub. I may/may not do differently on any future Hubs that aren't about writing/HubPages.

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