The Forums sure have been interesting lately! Many Hubbers have noticed our new publishing standards and site policies, many of which have been introduced as a response to a search algorithm change (dubbed the Panda update) that Google rolled out in February.
Many Hubbers have also had to tweak some of their Hubs because of these new standards. For those of you who are affected by these changes, we understand that it can be overwhelming to update your work, and we appreciate your taking the time to ensure that HubPages continues to be the best place to publish online.
Many of you have had questions about our new publishing standards, are wondering why we’re not focusing on this, that, or the other thing, or are wondering how you personally will be affected by everything. We’ve done our best to answer these questions, though because Forums are rather dynamic, our answers have been buried.
In an attempt to make sure you aren’t kept in the dark or misled by anything going on in the threads (for, after all, this is the Wild West of the HubPages kingdom), we’ve decided to put all the answers in one place.
Each time we see a question or comment that has not yet been addressed here, we will update this thread. If you want to ask us a question that has not yet been addressed here, please leave it in the Need Help? Ask here. section (we simply can’t address everything that comes up in all Forum threads).
With no further ado, here are your answers!
5/16 - Clarified "What's the story with misleading Hubs", added "Why aren't you moderating a Hubber I flagged?"
5/18 - Added "How do I know which affiliate links I need to remove?"
Is there a description of all the new standards in one place?
Yes. I’ve posted a blog post capturing all the new changes here. We don’t anticipate making any more moderation changes for the time being, but if we do, we will be sure to communicate them on the blog and through an email well before rolling them out.
Please note that there are existing standards--those that have been around for well over a year--that we have been and will continue to be moderating for. We recently made some of those violations a bit more granular to make them easier to understand (for example, “substandard” was broken down into “poorly structured”, “dubious offers”, and others), but they’re the same violations that they always were.
Why are all these new standards being rolled out? My Hub was fine a year ago; why not now?
We’ve taken the recent Google Panda update (which affected just about every content community on the Web) as an opportunity to tighten up our content standards, to make sure that your best Hubs get the visibility they deserve with the search engines. We believe that it’s in Google’s best interest to show searchers the best quality content, so Hubs that present useful, well-organized, thorough, and eminently readable answers to searchers’ questions will be rewarded.
To that end, we’ve taken steps to identify those Hubs that do not yet comply with our new rules, let you know about them, and give you time to make any necessary changes. While it it a time-consuming chore to have to edit your older Hubs, it is necessary to make sure that our visible content maintains a level of quality that searchers should expect.
Please note that the changes have affected all of us, and are directed at Hubs, not Hubbers. All of us on staff have had some Hubs moderated, too, and have had to bring our Hubs into compliance with our rules. We’re not bad Hubbers any more than you are; we just have to meet with higher standards. We’re in this together!
Why the rolling changes?
The recent series of changes were rolled out to address Google’s Panda update and also to improve the overall HubPages experience for our community and readers at large. With regards to the Panda update, while it would have been nice if we could read Google's mind, or if Google had told us exactly what kinds of adjustments to make in order to get back in their good graces, we couldn't and they haven't. We wanted to move quickly to address the Panda update by implementing changes that we are confident will make a positive difference, and not get bogged down in spending months analyzing the anecdotal evidence. When we've reached a reasonable level of confidence about a quality standard change, we roll it out.
We completely understand that that multiple standard changes can feel wearisome. They are not staged, and they are meant to act as quickly as we can. We are trying to get your traffic to your Hubs back.
That said, we expect to not have to roll out any more changes in the near future. We have done our best to be sensitive to how this impacts our community of writers while trying to move quickly at the same time.
What’s the story with misleading Hubs?
If you see a Hub that has a misleading title (e.g. has "www.something.com" or "Facebook Login", etc), PLEASE flag it. Such Hubs do not meet site standards and we have a moderation category for it ("Deceptively Titled").
That said, we do not entirely outline all descriptions of sites and services. Existing ones, if flagged and moderated, may be republished so long as they remove deceptive wording, titles, and tags.
Why are you not prioritizing spam and spun articles first?
We are working on it. A lot of spinning is obvious, but so much of it is so subtle--you really have to have a human read it, and see if it sounds "off"--that this is something difficult to automate. Sorry that we can't magically detect spun garbage, and no one is more sorry than our moderation team! (They're the ones who have to read through all that garbage day in and day out)
A crap Hub I flagged is still up. Why?
We are working on that, too. Our moderation team is growing rapidly, so our senior moderators are splitting time between moderating, and training new moderators in order to expand our capacity. The turnaround time for evaluating a flag is currently about a week, but we hope to bring that down as more new moderators come on board.
A Hub that was moderated was fixed. How long before it’s republished?
See the answer above. We hope to bring the turnaround time down quickly. We really are working as fast as we can.
What’s the deal with affiliate links?
We do not have a complete ban on affiliate links. We are disallowing:
- Certain affiliate links (like ClickBank and Wealthy Affiliate University) that have induced a lot of poor-quality, spun Hubs.
- Any affiliate links on Hubs within certain topic areas (like multi-level marketing and how to get six-pack abs); the affiliate incentive has also encourage a very large quantity of poor-quality Hubs in these topic areas..
In all other cases, affiliate links are allowed, although, naturally, all Hubs must adhere to our content quality policies.
I use some affiliate links in my Hubs. How will I know if my Hubs are affected?
Please wait for an email from us. If you have any Hubs at all that come under our new rules around affiliates, that email will let you know. Please note that the new affiliate standards actually affect a very small percentage of Hubs.
I got a warning on my Hub. What does this mean?
These are automated warnings triggered by some of the words you used in your Hub. Be sure to click on the warning and read the text below it. In some cases, those instructions might tell you that you might be writing in a content area that doesn’t allow affiliate links; in that case, if you have no affiliate links, you’re fine and can ignore the warning. In other cases, there might be specific suggestions or instructions we’d like you to follow.
Since these warnings are automated, it’s entirely possible that they may not, in fact, apply to your Hub. If that’s the case, please feel free to ignore the warning.
What’s with the wording of violation emails? They’re mean.
We understand that some think they're harshly-worded. When we soften them, people complain that we're not being specific enough. We are checking to see if this is something we can have the community help out with (thank you for the suggestion, Marisa and Michael).
My Hub was moderated, I made changes to it, and I resubmitted it for publication - and it is still not published! What gives?
We try to review and re-publish Hubs that have been amended within 72 hours. That said, we have recently taken on some new (lovely!) moderators, and our existing moderators are somewhat overloaded with training, so there may be some delays when it comes to the normal backlogs of not only submitted-for-publication Hubs, but flagged Hubs as well. We're sorry for any delays- we're doing the very best we can to catch up!! In the mean time, thank you for your patience.
You have said that Hubs published on topics that are overly saturated on HubPages.com (e.g. MLM, 6 pack abs, forex, acai berry, etc.) will be held to a higher editorial standard, and cannot contain affiliate links. Where can I see a complete list of all topics?
Instead of forcing you to always go back and check a complete list of the over-saturated topics online, we've built automated warnings into the HubTool that will warn you if you appear to be veering into those topic areas. If you're not trying to sell something or playing with the subjects that most commonly grace the spam folder of your email account, however, you probably don't have to worry about whether or not you'll be writing within these topic areas.
What about eBooks? Am I not allowed to promote my own?
There seems to be some confusion about what's allowed and what's not allowed. There are some ebook purveyors (like clickbank, which promotes books like "How to Get Your Ex Back" and "How to get rid of Man Boobs") that attract people who spin articles or paraphrase marketing language in the form of a useless Hub. These are the types of links we are forbidding; high-quality Hubs with these links are extremely rare.
If you want to promote your own ebook that you're offering for free, feel free to do so. If you're not sure if the ebook platform you're using will be prohibited, please just wait for an email in the next couple of weeks. We don't have a complete list, and exposing a complete list will just allow spammers to engineer workarounds.
What’s the story with the different Google Panda updates (1 vs 2?)
Each person is different, but on the whole, Panda 1 (US) affected us quite a bit more than Panda 2 (non-US). You can take a look on Quantcast for overall site stats that are fairly reliable.
Is SImone Smith human?
Negative. She is a meat popsicle. And just checking to see if you’re still reading.
In reality, a lot of the misunderstandings that have lead to some drama in the forums come from not reading warning emails, warning messages, alerts, and site policy through and through. If you get an email from HubPages, or see a warning on your Hub, please read it. Chances are it will be quite reasonable.
Can I use Amazon UK links?
These are considered affiliate, but not prohibited affiliate links. This means you can use them, but not in those areas (like acai berries, how to get six-pack abs, etc.) that we've said are overrun with low-quality garbage. If you're not sure about whether you've written on one of these topics, just wait for the email in the coming weeks. In the future, you'll know as you work on a Hub, since an alert will come up telling you.
What’s with the HubPages Ad Program layouts?
Some have suggested that when you're logged in, you see more ads. That is not the case. Hubber traffic is minuscule compared to search traffic, and ad revenue from Hubbers is also minuscule. You can take a look at this blog entry to see how layouts look with Program ads, and with AdSense alone. It also explains why we reduced all ads. (Keep in mind that if you don't like the Program, you can always shut it off and use AdSense exclusively!)
Has Paul Edmondson publicly addressed the Google change or given our side of the story to Google?
Yes, Paul posted on behalf of HubPages in the Google Webmaster Forum in a thread where those who have been affected by the Google Changes have been asked to post. He wrote a blog post about it here.
So we’re not allowed to post affiliate links and we cannot put as many Amazon / eBay products in short Hubs... why are you trying to hurt our earning potential?
Funny thing, that. We have actually made those changes to protect the earning potential of everyone on the site. We have found that excessive use of Amazon and eBay capsules, as well as a preponderance of affiliate links, especially when used in the mass volume of (largely valueless) articles in over-marketed topic areas, are not good for the health of our site- let alone the health of the Internet.
We’re not banning all Amazon and eBay products from Hubs. We’re doing our best to prevent misuse of these features. People have used them in excessive ways to generate low-quality content.
Why is HubPages changing the ad layouts and the number of Amazon/eBay products allowed?
Please remember that ad layout changes that lower your earnings lower our earnings as well. We earn the exact same way you do. We wouldn’t be reducing the number of ads allowable on Hubs if there weren’t a compelling reason to do so. The changes we have instrumented are made to protect the earning potential of everyone on the site.
What's the story with RSS feeds? Have HubPages' RSS feed standards changed?
While our publishing standards regarding RSS feeds have not changed, we have become a bit more active about sticking to them.
RSS feeds are only a problem if:
1. They link to an external domain that is also linked to in the body of a Hub or in the Links Capsule (this counts as being Overly Promotional)
2. The links in that feed are unrelated to the subject of the Hub
About that second point - if you want to link to more Hubs written by you, make them related Hubs. There's a guide on how to do that here: http://learningcenter.hubpages.com/hubb … -rss-feed/
I heard that Hubbers have been moderated for having tags on their Hubs that do not directly relate to the subject. Does this mean I am at risk of getting Hubs unpublished if they have HubChallenge or HubMob tags on them?
As a rule of thumb, please only add tags related to the subject of your Hubs.
We are totally fine with including tags related to HubChallenges, special programs on HubPages, and contests (e.g. all contest entries for our last contest have a WritingContest tag). We will also not moderate Hubs for having tags related to Hubber-initiated programs that we know about such as 60DC. However if the tag is very obscure, and if our moderators don't recognize it, it might be moderated for being unrelated. So when you do decide to add community-related tags to your Hubs, try to stick to the mainstream ones
I am seeing warnings in the HubTool that FREAK ME OUT. What gives?
Those warnings are there to help you publish a Hub that meets HubPages' publishing standards so that it does not get moderated down the line. The warnings are based on automatic filters, so they'll not always be perfect, but they should help to let you know if your Hub might be at risk.
If you see a warning as you Hub away in the HubTool, I recommend the following course of action:
1. DO NOT PANIC
2. Read the warning
3. Actually read the warning
4. Check to see if your Hub does indeed have any of the issues our automatic filters think you might have
5. Amend any issues
6. Do a little dance and carry on!
Though the warnings might seem daunting, we're just trying to save you trouble by making our rules and policies more easy to keep track of. Memorizing everything would be burdensome- so we are just giving you automatic warnings instead!
Why are summaries not automatically loading anymore?
Having a unique, custom summary (a 2-4 sentence description of your Hub) communicates to the search engines and Web services that make use of them that your Hub is high-quality and important enough for you to write a description for it, certainly more so than an automatically-generated one.
From now on, try to make a habit of adding a custom summary to each Hub before publishing. Writing a custom summary takes very little effort, but doing so can help your Hub gain extra visibility among some search engines and websites, so consider adding this activity to your regular Hub publishing routine.
Is HubPages trying to drive its best Hubbers away? Does HubPages hate us????
Yeah, it is a silly question, but a lot of forum posts have been hinting at this. Let’s say that we DO hate you. That we want to drive you away and make your life miserable. And that we don’t want you to make ANY money. How would that work out? Well, the site would get pretty boring, and well... we would have to change our mission from making HubPages the best place to write online to... something else... maybe the best place to make writers miserable. And we would also probably cease to exist. Since without you, we’re nothing but a bunch of extremely good looking people.
So, no, we don’t want you guys to go - we don’t hate you. We want you to stay and feel loved by us.
The truth of the matter is that every single thing we do on this site is out of love for the community. We’ve changed our publishing standards because we want to ensure that HubPages continues to be a good place to write, publish, and be found online. Consider things from our perspective, and you will hopefully see that this is true.
If not, please do feel free to blame me, Simone Smith, for I am the one behind every single evil move that HubPages has made. When I’m not busy drowning puppies, I’m busy thinking of ways to make you squirm.
Why aren't you moderating a Hubber I flagged? That Hubber has a lot of spammy Hubs
We can not ban an account just because a lot of their Hubs are not in compliance with our rules. If all of them are, we can; otherwise, we just have to review each of that Hubber's Hubs for compliance, which is time-consuming. Since our moderation team has more than enough work to do right now, we are not prioritizing reviewing accounts with a mixed history of violations to sift out those that are in violation. Of course, if you flag any individual Hub that is in violation, our moderation team will have a look.
We also have a tradition of giving people second chances; we do not ban accounts unless there is a well-established pattern of not rectifying Hubs to our satisfaction but resubmitting them over and over again. We hope everyone can understand our policy on that.
How do I know which affiliate links I need to remove?
If you received an email from us saying that you have too many affiliate links, affiliate links in restricted areas, or prohibited affiliate links, click on the link to the affected Hub.
On the Hub itself, at the top in the black box (which only you and admins can see), you will see a notification along the lines of "WARNING: This Hub is at risk of being unpublished for linking to prohibited sites".
Clicking on that notification will tell you exactly which links needed to be removed in order to bring the Hub into compliance with the rules. You can do this at any time; please don't wait until your Hub is unpublished before bringing your Hubs into compliance.
Going forward, if you are writing a new Hub and use a link that is prohibited (or an affiliate link in a restricted area), you will get a notification and be unable to publish the Hub without taking out any link that's not allowed.
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