I started writing on the web 15 years ago on a website that wanted reviews on products. I wrote very subjective reviews that were very short, and weren't particularly written well. After 12 or so years I began to work on Squidoo and finally Hubpages. I asked for advice on one of my first hubs and was given quite a lot of interesting feedback and advice. Had I not received this advice I probably would have languished and not had much traffic. With the advice I was able to look at my work objectively and begin to improve my writing, my content and ultimately my 'craft'.
I am not the best writer in the world, and if you really look at some of my older hubs they are poor and would not probably be considered good enough to be featured - so when we come across poor writing, poor content or poorly written hubs should we discourage the writers or try and assist them in improving their writing and their content?
Personally I don't believe we should have a witch-hunt to get rid of garbage - I feel we should try and nurture anyone who comes here and see if they can become better writers.
I know there are quite a few of the most successful hubbers who took a while to learn their trade (myself included).
I personally do not understand why so many people are ready and willing to show other people's short comings - imagine if we did that in every aspect of life. In my job we get many students just out of college - they are bright but have no idea of how to apply their knowledge in the real world - imagine if we simply derided them for their lack of experience in the real world and forced them to leave!
The US (and the UK) are proud of the way in which anyone who is willing to work hard can achieve greatness - let us try and nurture those who don't quite get it yet rather than highlighting the fact that at the moment they are not good enough.
BTW I'm not saying that poor content shoudln't be unfeatured - of course it should - mine included - I just feel that as a community we need to nurture the new writers rather than gather around and throw eggs!
I have been known to leave a snide comment or two under pointless/nonsense/just plain bad Hubs, which I guess makes me "discouraging"... but normally I just flag 'em and move on to the next one. I gotta tell you though, I am seriously considering taking a break from Hub Hopping for a while because the onslaught of crapola is starting to make my brain hurt.
I've also probably been more of a douche than usual when dealing with sub-par/crap/spam Hubs in the past week or so, because I just gave up tobacco and the nicotine withdrawal is making me grouchy... so I take it out on the spammers and their gibberish Hubs.
I think it depends on whether someone asks for an opinion/feedback or not. You said you asked, and it has worked out well for you.
I know this is going to come across as awful, but I don't "appoint myself" feedback-giver, guide, teacher (or whatever) of anyone else, as far as the quality of something goes. I'm not a fan of "we all work together to make all of our stuff better". I'm more the "every man for himself, and if HP doesn't approve of something they'll let the Hubber know one way or another" type.
On the other hand, if I know someone is starting something new I do try to be encouraging/helpful somehow, but without offering my two cents on whatever they've doing. I won't join "witch hunts" on this site, but I don't see it as my job to "nurture" anyone either. People are grown-ups. I'm not interested in having anyone else appoint himself "nurturer" of me, so I don't do that with other people either. I know exactly what I'd have to do to make my own Hubs be viewed on this site as "higher in quality" than they are. I have my reasons for doing them my own way. I just assume anyone who writes stuff that doesn't measure up to latest idea of "what Hubs should be" has his own reasons. Often, those reasons for people with the worst quality Hubs are a) not caring, b) being lazy, c) thinking they can make money even though they barely know English, d) general sleaziness. I think someone who cares will either carefully go over the Learning Center and/or ask. But, I'd agree that deriding is uncalled for and doesn't serve a constructive purpose.
That is the problem! There is no place for people like this here, because they just drag down the site and make it less successful for everyone else.
I wish HP would take a more proactive attitude in clearing the place of the above garbage. Until then, I fully support all measures by hubbers to flag and/or name and shame this rubbish on the forums in order to get it out of here.
I think this depends on how "bad" the writer is. If it's a case of somebody starting to write on the web, or new to HubPages then they can benefit from advice.
When I started writing, not very long ago, I think my big problem was the "wall of text phenomenon". I am naturally verbose, and was used to writing in an environment were long sentences and paragraphs were the norm. I would probably have benefited from somebody telling me to break the text up.
Just a few days ago, I answered somebody's question on the forum about featured hubs, her hub was way too short to be featured. In cases like these helping a "bad" writer can do some good. And I didn't call attention to her hub anywhere else on the forum, it was a normal mistake by a new hubber.
I think the hubbers that we are "witch hunting" are very different. They don't want to become good writers, they just want to publish their spun by machine (or outright copied) articles because they still think they can make money that way. The purveyors of hot Indian auntie pictures are not bad writers, they are not writers at all.
Then there are the people who don't have a good command of English. I don't think HubPages is a language school, I don't think any of us can have any hope of teaching English from scratch. Surely written English is a basic qualification for writing here? I wouldn't sign up to a French writing site with my long forgotten O'level French and expect to be welcomed there. I would not demand to be accepted to a ballet company on the basis that they should be supportive and help me "improve".
I don't think anybody is "witch hunting" for pleasure, out of a nasty desire to make fun of other people. Paul E has mentioned that Google told him HP has a "quality problem", the site's traffic has flatlined after the fall last summer.
I don't think it's the witch hunters who are at fault, it is the people who publish the rubbish in the hope of making a quick buck. I know the perceived wisdom is just to leave it to HP staff, the idling program, the QAP etc. to sort out the low quality, but it has been several months. Lots of decent hubs have been idled while rubbish continues to be featured, and the QAP and hub hopper at the moment are not doing anything to address the hubs that have been around on the site for years.
It's not that I disagree with flagging poor content, spun content etc. However the minute we begin posting links to these we begin to open up a very large can of worms. Where do we draw the line. Poorly written - who judges what is poorly written? If I write a hub on Excel it is by default going to be poorly written in some respects as it's nearly impossible to write a fully grammatically hub on a subject like this - but to the right person who's looking for the tutorial it'll make perfect sense.
Do we start posting links to hubs with less than 100 words?
Do we start posting links to hubs with grammar and spelling errors - there goes about 100 of my hubs?
Personally were I new to this site I'd prefer someone to come and really give me some insight into what I am doing wrong. Even subtle comments can help.
"I like the idea for this article, but I got lost with the broken English - please look at the learning center to see how you can make the aritcle better" - and then flag.
I asked for people to look through all the recently featured hubs and count how many were actually poor content that shouldn't be featured - no one took up the challenge. On the small sample I took I would say that 95% were very good, good or adequate with 5% either very badly written or simply too short. I know there is a lot of dross hitting the 'hopper' - but it seems quite a lot of it is not getting features - again someone can prove me wrong here of course!
So if the QAP is filtering out the majority of bad content then that's a good thing....
I'd prefer to see a forum entry aimed at new writers "New Writers - example of well written content" - and then we all list hubs that are very good....
Good point. It's easy to point out a few (or a lot) of badly written hubs and complain that the QAP is doing anything, but we don't actually have any idea of how many it's catching. 1 per day? 100? 500?.
Yes, it is easy to point out a lot of badly written hubs are making it through the process, Wilderness. Thanks for making my point for me.
Again no one is disputing this fact. I just want to know if it's a minority - i.e. 2% of all featured hubs that went through the QAP process are crap - I'd accept that margin of error - I would not accept a 10% margin or probably a 5% margin.
I cannot assess any system without objective statistics...not stats from HP - but stats from a broad spectrum of users...
What happened to those who were hawking the "it's just business" line? Seems to be a double standard for some with the touting of "quality"--whatever that is these days--but then they don't want to rid the site of pure junk. Make up your minds, willya!
I never said you did, Simey? But are you saying some haven't?
No absolutely - I agree with you that some have.
I'm trying to look for objective ways of finding out if the QAP process is working:
Traffic - nothing conclusive either way yet. Very hard to prove either way.
Featured Hubs - we all know there is some real crap getting through - how many decent hubs are getting through as a proportion? If it's 98% quality v 2% crap then that's good - if it's 50% quality 50% crap then that's bad.
QAP system - HP have agreed there are flaws with being unfeatured to quickly and seasonal hubs - it remains to seen if they can fix.
Mturk - still unsure whether this is a good thing or not - when it first started I was worried as anyone could do the HIT - now there are stricter rules I feel that it should be better HOWEVER I am concerned (like you) that the 'quality' that is the standard is set by a small group - I'd prefer if there was a wider 'control' group with some outside influences...
Yes, well we've discussed this before and as we absolutely do not know what percentage of junk versus "quality"--I hate having to put quotation marks around a word any idiot knows the meaning of elsewhere--gets through the process. So guessing is not helping anything, Simey. HP knows but is not saying and this in itself is not conducive to better understanding of the QAP. I find this a bit confusing as the program has been in effect for a while now.
Agreed - that's why I have not guessed! On my small sample of about 30 or so featured hubs - the rate of good hubs was very high - but when I did this, it would have been night in some of the countries producing the most 'crap'. Also one person sampling does not give us a very good 'poll' as it's in the eye of the beholder. The more people that sample the better!
Also - if HP said '85%' were good - no one would believe them - that's why we need objective hubbers (if they exist ) to perform their own tests. We also have to consider that some of us (well maybe not me) will have very high standards - and while we'd love to have a site which producing 100% top quality writing, that will never happen - average quality will be featured - that's a simple fact of life.
+1 "Also - if HP said '85%' were good - no one would believe them". All too true, and that's a problem all right. And HP will never be 100% perfect in getting only top quality writing which is going to result in the same thing; "junk" hubs that will be complained about.
Example: I hate the Indian Auntie hubs and would love to see them gone, but are they a quality issue? Are they a lower quality than photos of Hawaii or waterfalls? They're not pixelated, they're not excessively cropped, they're not low resolution, so what's the problem? Pretty pictures are pretty pictures wherever they are or what the subject is - using a personal dislike of the subject matter to determine "quality" doesn't make a lot of sense. (Still want them off, but am honest enough to admit it's not a quality issue. Maybe I'm a censor at heart.)
The problem is that Google Adsense see them as a problem - therefore they should at the very least not show Ads.
We already know some of these hubs are a problem as HP--along with the rest of us--has been penalized by them. But money versus "doing the right thing" always wins out here. We cannot compete with this mindset.
This is always the hardest thing for me to get my head around, and something that Wilderness bought up.
If a hub about sexy women exists, is well written, has decent pictures (that are attributed correctly) and does not contain anything against HP Tos then it should still be featured - however there should not be Ads as this can cause problems with Adsense.
The problem is that until the TOS specifically says that 'no form of nudity, semi-nudity, bathing suits etc. are acceptable, it becomes very hard to ban something simply based on their being a scantily clad man or woman.
Do they, though? Adsense has ads on far worse stuff all over the net; do they really consider a bikini clad woman offensive enough to slap the site? Adsense is a total prude, but I don't think it's gotten to the point that a bikini draws their ire.
Besides the Google search engine is totally separate from the Adsense portion of the company and they don't pass information. And if you believe that, I have a bridge I'd like to sell....
HP have to err on the side of caution - if something could be penalized by Google Adsense then it should have no Ads.
Agreed, and it does make a good excuse. Still, it's not a quality problem and I'd hate to see the Turkers instructed to fail anything with a bikini in it. Or underwear, or Daisy Duke shorts or....you get the idea.
HP walks a very fine line between outright censorship and necessary compliance with Adsense - so far they seem to have done well and overall I do applaud their efforts there.
I just hate the Indian Aunties.
If they don't see such as a problem the idle program is useless, as many of us already realize is the case.
While you may be willing to build morality censorship into the QAP, most are not, and many like and use the photo category for much more than Auntie pics as well.
I merely point out that a general censorship such as that is acceptable. WA has said many are pixelated and that's a very good reason for getting rid of them, but just because I don't like them isn't.
1. Many of them are pixelated/watermarked
2. The vast majority are stolen
3. Most of the women featured are not in the least pretty.
1 & 2 - agreed - should not be on the site.
3 - not sure if you can remove a hub for having ugly women on it!
I haven't seen hardly any pixelated, though I'm sure there are some. Same for watermarking, and that is a definite TOS violation - I will definitely flag for either offense.
The large majority probably are stolen (another violation) but proving it is another matter. Copied, however - duplication of material is a violation, too.
Yes, most are not pretty, but neither am I. Still publish my avatar, though...
And why would people not believe them, Simey? Is is because so many things they say lately is unbelievable? Their lack of transparency is the reason for this, not because they have been straight up with us on this program, that's for damn sure. But this is simply a moot point as they've certainly not given their take on the percentages of crap versus QRAP making it through. And of course, one man's crap is another man's "quality" on HP. No doubt about that!
But don't hold your breath for them to give such because if were working at all they would shout it to the rooftops like they have the AP program and the mentees who seem to be the only ones who get the HOTD anymore. Do you actually believe these are the only folks who create quality hubs or is this simply a way to justify the AP program? I'd wager a large majority of these "paid for" hubs will be idled shortly. Wanta bet?
Personally I think that anything that has the potential to divide (HOTD, 'a' badge, greeter badge) should be abolished. No matter how fair or unfair these systems are, there will always be a discussion that will be argumentative simply because 'something' is being highlighted.
"And why would people not believe them, Simey?" - it's like the old 'cry wolf' situations - HP could be honest for the rest of their existance, but once there's a perceived 'lie' whether it's real or not, all trust disappears. Anything they say now will not be believed. It's not a good thing.
How can this be changed? I simply do not know - better communication will help and may regain trust - but it's not going to happen overnight - not picking on you, but it's going to take a lot of time and honesty for you to regain your trust simply because of what has happened to you and others - (and I agree that you should be sceptical). You mentioned Paul's response - whether or not you like it, that's about as honest as he could be (based on my arguments about quantative stats) - he cannot make any comment about traffic because he does not have proof(and probably never will have). As for quality - as you point out, this is subjective- will always be.
I feel there is a movement towards more open communication - but it has to be improved and has to be consistent. Aside from that, not much else can be done....
I agree with you on some of these thoughts, Simey. With all of the non-answers, and/oror vague responses, we've been getting lately it certainly will be difficult for HP to regain any sort of trust from many of us. Continuing along with more of the same, however, is only going to make it worse. Perhaps when their loyal base finally gets fed up with the routine, and only the newbies and terrible writers who can barely speak English are left on the site, HP can make a few inroads into being trusted again by the "writers."
They are aware of the mistrust now. If not, then they are simply not listening. But I will tell you one thing for sure Simey, all of those who are defending this silly process now will lose all credibility if it doesn't work out and thousands of well written hubs have been banished from the site. I can promise you that too.
I'll be honest that I think the idea of a QAP is important - all the top sites have something similar - Squidoo lenses are ranked and at a certain level become unfeatured; constant-content don't get published withour editors reviewing each article!
And I agree with you - the system has to be done right - there are problems at the moment, and they have been acknowledged and changes are coming - however, if it continues to have problems then HP should throw up their hands and find some other way of assessing quality. The process is very important - implementing the correct process is far more important - I agree 100% with you on this!
New writers need somewhere to learn their craft! We were all new at one point.
Here are my thoughts on the really terrible stuff that is getting through the QAP --
It is spammy and spun crap. Why not post a link to it in the forums? These "writers" don't care about writing or HubPages, they're just trying to make a quick buck. They are obviously not going to visit the learning center or the forums to try and improve their writing or figure out how things work around here. They are just slapping stuff up and not giving it another look or thought.
Posting crappy content in the forums seems to be the most effective way of getting it removed. That's why this trend started; people are frustrated that so many times nothing happens to flagged articles, while posting them in the forums gets results. These articles are from spammers and schemers junking up the site, not sensitive, tender-hearted artists that need our nurturing. Let's post their crap in the forums and get it taken down.
Let's nurture those with promise, those who are trying, those who are reading the learning center and asking for feedback. But let's throw out the trash.
We could argue around and around all day on this but I will bring up one point.
Adding a link in the forum, then replying to that link etc. - you've just given that hub some nice back-links - at the very least break up the link!
While I disagree with doing this - I'll stop discussing it and simply ignore those forums where there are link! Maybe start a corresponding forum to list quality featured articles!
If flagging worked to get the junk taken down, there would be no need to post links in the forum. The link juice is of little concern since the articles are removed.
It should be obvious to anyone that HP is reluctant to remove the dross from the site. Only by posting it on the forums and embarrasing HP in the process will they remove it, not by simply flagging it. We've tried this before and they simply ignore the flags. This certainly says a lot about the agenda here.
+100 S&F! Talking about getting one's head wrapped around something. I cannot understand why some strive so hard to keep low class work on a site while well written hubs are being deleted daily. Are we supposed to not have any pride in a place where OUR work is published? Can we have any pride when obviously this stuff is still here? Anyone who thinks this doesn't have any idea of what they should be proud of anymore. But this just seems to be the way this place is headed these days. More's the pity!
I think you misjudge a lot of people here - most people don't think crap should be allowed to be on HP they just feel this is the wrong way to get it removed. However, it's an open forum and it does work to remove some stuff so there's nothing wrong with it continuing - those that disagree with the method simply don't have to participate.
My problem is I often look at things from a business perspective - so if someone was performing really badly and producing crap work we would talk to them and they would enter an 'improvement' program - I admit this is not appropriate for HP...
No, I don't think I misjudge anyone, Simey. I do know there are some here who seem to defend HP when they don't deserve it. Especially when they are so reluctant to communicate with people who are tired of getting the runaround. Simply ask a serious question and some can't wait to get on here and make excuses for them, usually with no fact based answers at all. I'm weary of the what if's, maybes, perhaps, and all of that. I want some clear cut answers and encouraging words from someone who knows something. I'm beginning to think there's no one here who fits that bill.
And don't give me the nonsense about secret algorithms being compromised, as I've pointed out before, no one wants to steal secrets from a failing enterprise.
I recommend everyone go check out the latest hubs if you want some real insight as to what is going on here. You'll find there is a group of special hubbers who get their work instantly featured for some unexplained reason. At least, so far there has been no explanation as to why these people are so blessed, not that we haven't asked straight out about it.
In the meantime my latest hub is floundering in the pending process going on 12 hours or more with Google having already visited it and seen the no-index tag on it. Sure, it's a creative writing effort and that's all they'll get from me until they start treating the writers equally. When, or if, my hub is featured it will appear far back in the latest Hubs listing, not on the first page where the favorites appear right off the bat. This pure sux from the standpoint of getting readers or backlinks from them, not to mention the dreaded no-index tag making sure the hub will be idled very soon. I officially protest this unfair favoritism towards some while others of us suffer the pending process and the penalty imposed by HP on our efforts. And yes, I'm ready to raise my pitchfork in protest against such goings-on unless HP gives an honest concise reason for this to be taking place.
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