Google is discontinuing Knol because it is not a profitable enterprise. Our site here showcases "sign up to make money". As we all know this has changed dramatically and thus I must ask, why are we really here?
Writing articles that are 1500 words in length is a commitment that most writers "seeking to make money" do not have the stamina to withstand.
Why are we really here? Are we misleading people with the term "earn money"? Are we really an online magazine? If we have 220,000 writers and 28 million readers, isn't our site site really about the readers?
The Internet has changed and is changing dramatically. Google has detailed the money is not in writing. Are we positioning HubPages correctly for who we are serving?
Are we an online magazine offering information along the lines of National Geographic for the 28 million readers? Or are we a "money making" forum?
Who are we today? Who do we wish to "be" and to "serve" in the future?
I think you ask a valid question. A few years back many of us wrote on free writing sites for.....drum roll please....the fun of it! We reviewed each other's stories, shared our mutual interest in the written word, and bounced ideas off each other. Of course, back then, writing a piece about the virtues of a product was called advertising, and advertisers surely hired writers to boast about their product.
HubPages is very similar to those writing sites. Take away the 'money-makers' and you're left with writers who love to write. We love to see what other writers are doing and talking about. We read as much as we write. That's why were still here.
The future of HubPages will be one of adaption. Without heavy filters in place to give Google precisely what it wants on the search engines, sites like this one are going to have a real tough time appeasing corporate search engine giants. Or, it becomes an artist's site (or magazine, as you stated), and boldly proclaims this on their front page.
There are a lot of magazines out there besides National Geographic. I don't think that telling people there's the potential to earn money here means the site is nothing but a money-making thing. Every business involves the aim to make money, and writing is a business (and a business that can encompass a whole range of writing "products", from straight information to sales copy to children's books (and on and on).
I don't really know what you mean about Google "detailing" that money isn't in writing. From what I can gather, Google has outlined that it wants stuff that's well written and that stands out from "everything else" that out's there, as far as offering the reader something goes. Earning money through ads is, of course, a very different thing from being paid for x number of words in a piece of writing.
My interpretation of "magazine quality" is that a Hub stands on its own and is something that might show up in one kind of magazine or another. Magazines have everything from National Geographic-type stuff to Vogue (fashion) or Woman's Day (lots of recipes and decorating ideas/pictures) type of stuff. Humor articles, opinion, first-person-stories, how-to's, book excerpts, sometimes jokes or quotes or quizzes show up in magazines. Some of the "less frivolous" magazines have few pictures and mostly text as far as articles go (and ads, of course).
Magazines pay contributors. I don't think the reality of earning money or offering the potential of earning money means that the writing on a site like this (with Google ads) isn't supposed to be about the reader. I think all writing should be about the reader, even if the material is a first-person story that aims to share something with the reader in a way that will help him better understand some situations or in a way that will make him either feel less alone (if he's got his own similar story) or at least entertained by "a good read".
I'd be interested in seeing (discussing/debating, maybe) more on your take on what you think a site like this should be, what your own standards of "for the reader" are; and whether you think that anything less than, or different, from a National Geographic-type article is "low quality" (but also whether you believe that's the only kind of article that will ever earn a money here, or else that's the kind that can't possibly earn any money here)..... (In other words, I don't quite know exactly what you're getting at, but I think it would be a worthwhile discussion. )
Google is not the only search engine and we writers and readers need to remind them of that fact. Start using the other search engines and show them who's boss.
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