What confuses me most about HubPages is the large number of personal, blog style articles that make liberal use of first person. "Here's what happened to me" stories are great for friends and family, but I'm wondering if they really fit with the stated goals and vision of HubPages. Many of them are also poorly written, with lots of spelling, grammar and punctuation errors. Search engines know this, and yet these people keep writing.
Can somebody explain this phenomenon to me? Is HubPages just a giant chat room for people who don't care about the English language? After two months here, I'm feeling discouraged. If it IS just a hangout for people who want to vent/explain/pontificate/whatever, with little attention to actual writing skills, I'm okay with that, but why don't they explain the nature of the site when a writer signs on? If I had known, I wouldn't be here.
This is a serious question. I didn't attack you, please don't attack me. I'm trying to decide if I need to travel on down the road.
It seems many people do mistake HubPages for a blog where they can post their personal stories. Done properly, that is fine and can be a moneymaker. And done improperly, they eventually get those Hubs unpublished. I would say for you to seek out the writers who are following the Terms of Service and producing quality Hubs and stay away from the others.
I hope this helps you. Hyphenbird
I hope you continue writing on this site. I love being here, and I do a lot of research for some of my articles. Some hubs might deal with a personal story that is a learning experience and can teach something to others. Some people on the site have physical disabilities and may write a personal story to help others deal with those same disabilities. That is what this site is all about. Welcome to HubPages.
I agree you brakel2. I know two of my hubs were written because of my own life experiences, and I know someone else may have endured the same experience. My objective in my writings is to connect with those very same people who can relate to my subjects.
HubPages is its own worst enemy in that regard! Purely personal, blog-style Hubs are against the Terms of Service, but then some HP advertising encourages "bloggers" to join, so how can they complain?
HP is supposed to be a place to write quality, magazine-style articles. A lot of people don't take the time to understand that before they join - there's no entry test! HubPages just takes a while to weed them out due to the constant flood of new Hubs.
However personally, I do think there is a place for first person articles. After all, on the internet you'll find hundreds of Wikipedia-style articles on any topic. What's the point of reproducing that? I write on dance, and I feel I can add more value by relating what I learned from my own experience rather than spouting impersonal facts.
I was under the impression that 'blog type hubs' are only acceptable to the site, if they are of very high quality and do not just contain personal trivia.
They can be 'flagged for review' if they are obviously sub-standard ~ and the same applies for any other questionable articles.
If an article is of good quality, then I think that it can stand being written in the first person. Some hubs are about personal experiences in different parts of the world, for example. They are fascinating and they have to be in the first person, if they are to work.
Poor spelling and grammar is always going to be a problem. Does one ban a brilliant piece, simply because it contains spelling errors? Sometimes these are simply typos. Sometimes they relate to the writer's education. Sometimes the writer is dyslectic or uses English as a second language. Again, if the 'English' is really poor, then the item can be flagged.
I think that many of us, like you, want to produce high quality hubs. I also think that many of us are successful.
Now that we have our own sub-domains, we are responsible for the quality of our own work.
Furthermore, the 'hub hopper' and the 'flagging' facility provide us all with opportunities to weed out anything totally unsuitable for the site.
You should, perhaps, give this experience a little more time, before drawing final conclusions.
I don't believe writing in the first person is synonymous with writing personal blogs. The trend on the internet from marketing gurus is in the direction of first person high quality, lengthier articles.
I understand your perspective because when I first began in internet marketing, I was conditioned to believe third person writing formats were more professional and engaging. Most of my hubs still are predominantly third person, but I now remind myself to use the personal pronoun to some degree, precisely because it separates my writing from the types of content farms that fill up the internet with third person, 500 word TRASH that offers no value to the reader solely for the purpose of trying to make money.
That method might have worked well over the last decade, and in fact, I recognize it did work well. These days, post-Panda, there's little advantage in writing eHow style articles with no personality that regurgitate bland details from other sources, just like a million other people are doing.
Don't get me wrong. I haven't looked at your hubs here, so I'm not referring to you specifically, but I am trying to convey that there is a legitimate strategic, SEO-friendly motive to writing in first person when it's done correctly. This type of material doesn't out-source well, so it won't be embraced by the content farm writers, but that's very little loss for the internet community, which has already been served up enough worthless content from profiteering amateurs using spinners, rewrites and Amazon Mechanical Turk authors who work for 20 cents an article.
When Google begins fully implementing the more social aspects currently in testing for the engine, I suspect you'll quickly find that writing with personality and as an individual is much more engaging with users. The old style of product promotion will be very unlikely to survive when SERPs are more heavily influenced by user-feedback and bounce rates.
The argument against first person is that it is ego-centric. These days, many readers enjoy knowing they are reading something actually written by a real person with a unique personality. A big aspect of HubPages is forming connections with other authors on the site. A bit of first person can help establish that.
I do agree that purely personal style writing detracts from the site, and that is generally written in first person, but you could argue just as well that third articles saying the same thing a thousand others have detract from the site, too. In both cases they simply provide nothing new of value.
I looked at your profile Marie and found a sad hub you wrote in the first person..yourself. I'm sorry for your loss BTW
Marie, no one is holding you at gunpoint. If you are truly disappointed there is a way to terminate your account.
It's not an attack. I'm just saying - you always have a choice.
Yes there is a lot of junk. But, there are also a lot of very well written articles on this site. Those blog style articles can be flagged for being purely personal.
However some of the first person articles do offer advice and information that is helpful to the general public.
You'll find lots of postings debating grammar/spelling problems etc. Some people get very defensive about it.
It certainly sounds like you'd be happier elsewhere.
I think that most folk seeking out articles devoid of any personality, head first to sites like Wikipedia. Perhaps you could register as an editor there?
There are all kinds of writers here, but the site is not a "giant chat room". Hubs are supposed to be written in good grammar. They're supposed to be unique, informative, and useful. First-person Hubs are allowed, provided they're aimed at offering the reader something (as opposed to venting about one's bad day at work). So, while first-person writing is allowed, "purely personal" (not of any particular insight, information, or usefulness to the reader) is considered, "substandard". At the same time, creative writing (including poetry and fiction) is allowed.
This site is different from any other writing sites in that ways described above. Many other sites want absolutely nothing but, say, a 400-word web article on PVC piping (or something like that).
As a freelance writer (over 30 years) in my "day job", I write on here as a way of having a chance to write something more casual (or else a way to share ideas or, to be honest, things I think I've learned through one means or another.. I don't want a second job that's not even as pleasant as my first job. I want a free-time endeavor that's kind of fun and pays me too. This site does that.
I'm a big one for writing from assimilated knowledge. Readers don't know that I've done the research or study in the past; but I'm not here in a professional capacity. I write because writers don't always want to regurgitate information that's already out there. Sometimes writers want to present their own ideas/knowledge and maybe get readers to question some of what IS out there and being presented as fact. One reason I've often chosen to make it a point that I've had personal experience/exposure to a subject is to let readers know that if I question or embrace some information that can be found in research, that question or approval of the idea comes from reasoning rooted in personal experience/observations.
The aim on this site is that Hubbers are supposed to aim for quality writing. There are all different kinds of "quality writing", and this site gives people the flexibility to choose what kind of "quality writing" they want to do (whether that's presenting recipes, poetry, or "standard web articles").
This site is now set up in a way that each writer's quality will be measured based on the individual writer - not on how many low quality Hubs may or may not be posted. I don't think you've read nearly enough Hubs (or else you're focusing only on those that are lower in quality), because this site has, in many ways, a whole lot larger number of pieces of solid writing than many of the "standard-web-article" type sites have on them.
There is a wide variety of styles of writing on HP. You will find a mixture of all kinds of hubs. Depending on your topics, often first person adds a personal touch which will inspire a reader to continue reading. Readers search for different reasons. Not everyone is simply looking for information. People want to feel connected and first person can add that element that is missing from AP style writing. If I want to read that style of writing, I'll read a newspaper.
Search through the topics and you'll find very informative, interesting writing. I find HP a fascinating place to find unique and very well written articles.
i don't usually write about my own experiences but do include some of mine into a few hubs to make it interesting and more personable. I've received positive comments about that
I think that, especially since no particular style is stressed here (i.e. another site where I write requires all AP style and second- or third-person, for instance), you end up with a really mixed bag of everything. Since a lot of the success here depends on your own marketing and self-promotion (not all, but it sure helps), I think it's still worth writing, and it does pay better than some other sites I've been on...at least, pre-panda and now that the sub-domains are here. Personally, I do write in first-person for most of my reviews, have some experience-based articles that are first-person (old ones, I don't do that anymore), and sometimes will add a personal paragraph to the beginning of articles where it's relevant or adds something to my message -- i.e. I have an age-gap article that starts out explaining that my husband is 27 years my senior.
For the most part, I have to say that the second- and third-person articles are the best money-makers. That doesn't mean they're devoid of personality, but it does mean that you focus your narrative on your reader rather than on yourself. Honestly, the people reading usually don't know you, so they really don't care what you think (except in reviews, and other areas where opinions are the point), they just want the relevant information.
...and, yes, there IS a lot of bad English here. If you run into anything exceptionally bad, please do flag it. It takes a lot of people to find all the bad ones .
Some of the best written hubs I've ever read I found on my page... just say'n
HubPages is for so many, not just for professional writers. There are those who are just dabbling and trying to find there niche' and others who are working up to becoming an expert. We do have many professionals who write on HP too. One must believe that HP is an area of opportunity for many and if you find error with there work, simply send them a courteous e-mail so they can correct the error.
There are many places on the Internet where I have found spelling and grammatical error with professionals writers too. Everyone needs the opportunity to express themselves and our community is alive with expression.
Or -- a courteous forum post to point out their typo?
...okay, I go climb back under my rock now. Oh, wait, I'm already there .
Marie, I'm deeply offended by your personal attack and.. ok, nevermind, I'm just playin'..
Seriously though, for many people, especially new writers, writing in the first person P.O.V. is simply what comes naturally. Many professional authors have done this and achieved great success with it, so I don't see it as necessarily a bad thing. HubPages provides a platform for both new and established writers, and with the new subdomains, articles are now individually ranked, so anothers writing style doesn't affect anyone else's.
Actually, some of the best information that I've acquired have came from those informal "blog" styled articles.
Speaking of blogs, chat rooms, etc., HubPages is none of the above. It is a platform for serious writers to post articles that they are passionate about. While there are quite a few "unprofessional" hubs out there, they are they tend to be removed fairly quickly as soon as they're found.
So where does HubPages fit in the grand scheme of things? In my opinion, it's a semi-professional writing site. Blogs are usually kept by those who simply want their voice to be heard, without regard to writing styles, correct English, etc. At the other end of the spectrum, sites such as Constant Content and About pay you a one time fee for your articles, but they can be extremely hard to get in. This would be more similar to writing for a magazine or similar print media. HubPages lies somewhere in between, leaning more towards the professional writer rather than the amateur.
As a freelance writer, I've found HubPages to be one of the best sites out there. I've been here for a little over a year and a half, and it's been a very rewarding experience. Granted, I didn't start making a good income from the site for several months, but it's provided me with a constant stream of income after I reached that first payout. Many of the articles I publish here were originally written for print media but never made it. It's nice to have a place where I can put those articles so they can still be read.
Give it time, keep writing, and keep promoting. Since you have your own subdomain here, you're ultimately in charge of how well you do.
I think of HP as a magazine style site with a mix of content. I read a fair number of magazine articles by guest columnists where they talk in the first person, about their experience or viewpoint of something. It is not essential to know who they are, or their back story - the article is self contained.
That would be where I aim - it makes a connection with the reader, it's more of a chat style, it's easy to read. Perfectly valid in my opinion.
"Take the large grommet and attach it to the smaller one".
"I took the large grommet, man that's big, and tried to attach it to the smaller one. Meanwhile the wife is pointing out..."
And so on. Have never sold a damn thing.
You are identifying the use of first person with purely personal writing and with bad style and grammar as if the three are inseparable. This is not the case.
Purely personal, as I understand it to be defined here, is a piece of writing about the little events of the author's life that is of no potential interest whatsoever to anyone else, except possibly family and close friends of the author.
Writing in the first person does not necessarily imply purely personal in that sense. For example, a product review containing statements such as: "When I used XXXX, I found that it was easier.... "; and so on can actually be more valuable than an impersonal review. It makes the reader feel that the author has actually tried out the product rather than simply regurgitating the contents of other people's reviews.
Opinion pieces on politics or whatever, while personal, are a valid literary style, although they need to be presented with skill, style and erudition to be of value.
Helium bans first-person writing. However, if you look at the overall quality of Helium articles, so many are dire, being devoid of useful information as well as dry and tedious in the extreme. A heavy-handed dictum banning one or other style of writing does nothing to ensure quality.
The writer's wife was becoming irritated by the writer's habit of referring to the writer, as, the writer, rather than saying "me" or "I".
The writer would enter the room and address his wife as "Hello to the writer's wife". On her response he would request formally that "the writer would like a cup of tea" whereupon the writer's wife would swear at him and tell the writer to "make the writer's own frikking tea".
Sounds like the writer has a sensible wife LOL!
The writer's wife keeps the writer grounded whenever he thinks he is a bit better than what he actually is.
oh Mark, you are hilarious... oh sorry, "the writer" is so frigging hilarious!
Wow! Thanks to everybody for some useful feedback. Y'all point out things I hadn't thought of (which is what I was hoping you would do).
Thanks for the welcome, Brake. My background is in AP style nonfiction writing. I've written hundreds of those 400-word treatises on [PVC pipe] that LisaHW mentions, so third person just seems natural to me.
For the past few years I've been learning about SEO and internet content, and I agree with wychic that third person seems to be more of a money-maker. I try to research my ideas first to see if the topic hasn't already been done to death.
So.... thanks again. I think I might hang around here a while longer and loosen up a bit as far as my hang-up on using first person. But I don't know if I will EVER be able to overcome my disdain for sloppy "grammar doesn't matter" writing.
I like Mark's view of "self-contained" first person and will strive to emulate his wisdom. Now if I could just be as dern funny as he is......
I've scanned some of your Hubs and I do hope you "hang around here".
Something that makes HP unique is that there is a place here for any writing style. If you have a message and the ability to convey it within the HP rules, then go for it. There is no HP rule against using first person, and using first person is going to be the very last criterion that anyone is judged on.
My writing background may be similar to yours...an emphasis on accomplishing a task, being objective, following a prescribed set of standards. That's pretty restricting!
On HP, I found I could fulfill all of my writing interests...how to, research, persuasion, memoir...in any voice I chose.
You've only been here for 2 months. Give it a year while you continue to get the input of Hubbers like the ones who have participated in this forum thread.
I totally agree with your comment Sally's Trove. I certainly am not the most perfect when it comes to grammar, I write mostly poetry and in prose form, regardless of the person I am conveying my scribe in.
Sure I see many struggling with grammar, yet they are all students here, wanting to improve their style. So I for one am not about to criticize them in any way, the cream always floats to the top and there are many incredible writers here like you and hopefully Marie Brannon will give Hubs a chance.
One of the things I like most about this site is the variety of styles allowed in writing. I've always been one of those objective researchers writing in third person, but here I've learned to use my personal background to create my hubs. I always try to use proper grammar but I'm enjoying the switch to first person. As long as the writer proves they are knowledgeable about what they are writing, I think first person POV can add personality to the article. I've enjoyed most of the first person hubs I've read.
In sales, "They" say to always tell only third person stories. The idea is that it helps to get the other person's preconceptions of you out of the way to allow them a blank slate on which to paint their own commonality.
It's an interesting theory.
It IS better... IF you are not engaging or capable of creating commonality and an emotional connection with the listener.
If you are able to draw the listener or reader in by virtue of personality, and create an empathetic bond between you, then it is much more powerful to let them live and breathe through a character they now care about... you. People don't weep for strangers.
Without that connection, it's probably a hinderance.
I agree. The narrative perspective doesn't mean anything if the writing is engaging.
All those grammar and writing "rules" are meant to create uniformity. Ostensibly, that is meant to facilitate communication, because, as we all know, despite how carefully we try to explain anything, there are always people who do not extract from what we write (or say) what we intend. When writing informative stuff that is meant to instruct, removing all obstacles that might impeded the reader from absorbing the instruction is cool.
That said, boring is boring. Somewhere between instruction-manual monotony and a "two guys walk into a bar..." approach lies the secret to profitable online writing.
Or you can just do like I do and write nothing of depth for nothing of value. Takes all the pressure off.
I've always looked a "two guys walk into a bar..." as a mere stepping stone toward a narrative oblivion worth exploring.
A "happy medium" is somewhere between there and "Pull my finger."
What's missing in this thread is the concept of reader- or audience-based communication.
A good writer always has his reader's interests in mind, and it's the writer's responsibility to meet his perceived reader's needs. It doesn't matter what voice is chosen (notice the passive) to do this.
Third-person voice can be as engaging as any other voice, depending on what we as writers perceive the reader needs to get out of the piece.
One of my favorite topics is food. When I write on HP about food, I write almost always in first person, because I have an imagined audience that I believe has their own stories about food and how it affects their lives. So I am writing for the reader who wants a story to go with a recipe. If you just want to know steps 1 - 10 about how to make yellow pea soup, don't read my Hubs. But if you want to know how yellow pea soup can be an integral part of your weekly menu planning and why, please read my Hubs.
There is no reader without a writer, and no writer without a reader.
While I agree with everything you just said, I am not mature enough to read anything that includes mention of yellow pea soup without snickering and snorting and otherwise acting the three year old.
The beauty of acting like a three-year-old is that there's endless opportunity for learning. So, there's hope for you yet?
I know you know what I'm saying. You are so gifted in making a point, sub-point, through ironic / sarcastic / dry humor...have always loved this about you. It's a gift I only have when I pray to those gods, and not even then, sometimes, not even if I offer them my first-born in return.
That's very kind of you to say. I'm glad when people get my jokes.
Truth be told, I tried to offload my firstborn for a long time. And my second. Even tried to throw in the third as a bonus.
My jokes never worked till I STOPPED offering up the family. Turns out, the god's don't want any more kids. (I could insert a funny piece of evidence from a major world religion here, but I will refrain 'cuz I have discipline like that.)
The trick is to stop offering the child now and, out of gratitude, they may give you some chunk of Jane Austen's gifts or something. Promise them you'll keep that little sucker, even if he's thirty-six and still living in your basement. They really don't want them then. Do that, and BAM, your jokes will stick at least 11% of the time like mine do.
That's a good message...stop trying and just do. Be yourself. If you make yourself understood to others even 11% of the time, well, that's a huge accomplishment.
I confess to rounding that 11% up from 2%, but I am a writer, not a mathematician.
I agree with Greg. Several of my most favorite stories are told in the first person. I believe the OP ran across some of the more personal and blog type Hubs.
Marie, I would advise you to seek out and follow writers who are serious about their work and Hide the flotsam which gets into any writers site. Please stay around and give it some time to find the ones you seek and are comfortable with. Regards, Hyphenbird.
Interesting question. My (first person) belief is people connect to each other and in order to do so you have to utilize personal stories from time to time. It allows people to put themselves into that position.
Many of these articles are done by English as 2nd language speakers from India/Philippines, that might be why. It is hard to find good quality informative articles by real experts these days anywhere. I wish hub pages does some monitoring and separate good informative articles from personal non-informative articles.
Overall it is OK and just adds lots of variety but you will have to read lots of articles to find what you were really looking for.
When there are so many freelance sites out there that offer five bucks for a 500 word article, it's easy to see why so much junk is posted around the internet. I think many of these types of people also come to HubPages with the idea that they'll make more - and yet, they can't put together a coherent sentence if their lives depended on it.
The good news though, is this: Most of the writers that don't produce decent articles also don't invest any time in promoting them. Most of the time, when I'm searching Google for something specific, and run across an article published on HubPages, it's a pretty decent article. I've found very few "junk" articles through Google. Then, now with the sub-domains, I think that'll make a huge difference as well.
I thought it was only banks that wanted our first born, I know they wanted mine a few years ago when I opened my first business as a personal guarantee, I laughed and said what good would that be, a new born? so they took my house instead, thankfully they nave had to foreclose on my business loan. It turned out to be a real WINNER of a business...he he
When I first joined HP I did a hub about my disappointment in not making any money, it was written in first person. The hub was flagged so I rewrote it. I since learned my lesson. I have two life stories that are first person but these are for helping poeple who have gone through similar experiences and need help.
I have noticed articles written blog style and wonder the same thing. I have to wonder if these people have run out of ideas to write about.
I don't mind some short stories or poetry in first person but articles about product, places and service should be purely informational.
I find that writing in first person, enables the reader to immerse themselves, and makes them feel like they apart of the story. If I was to read an article and it was completely irrelevant to something I can't relate to. Then I would most likely not even finish reading the article at all. It's sort of an advantage using the first person technique IMO.
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