Is InfoBarrel Another Writing Site That's Doomed?

While investigating InfoBarrel as a place for additional writing, I believe that it may soon follow the others to oblivion. Here are the details.
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I have been writing online for over a decade and have published article on various revenue sharing sites.

I had saved all my old articles that I originally had published on Yahoo Contributor Network, Bubblews, Persona Paper, Squidoo, and even some posts on Tsū. All those sites have since gone out of business.

The articles I saved are much less in-depth than what I would normally publish on HubPages. Therefore I was looking for a site that accepts short articles with less substance.

My other requirements in selecting a site were that they require quality content, that they demonstrate good business skills, that they have a staff of good web programmers, and show a true understanding of Google and SEO. (Yeah – like HubPages).

InfoBarrel, a revenue sharing content writing site founded in 2008, came to my attention. After reading their terms of service I applied for an account because they met my criteria.


Downhill From the Start


Things quickly went downhill. Their present state of affairs makes me wonder how they are still functioning now!

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I discovered that many people are complaining in the forums lately about missed payments. Admin even posted in the forum saying that he handles payments manually. Wow! Imagine that!

There are also many unacceptable bugs in the system that I’ll discuss below.

I wrote to admin asking if he is still maintaining the site. He never replied. People in the forum are mentioning that he seems to be missing in action.

Many member profiles have been removed and redirected to the home page, so I suspect people are leaving.

I didn't write anything there yet and I think at this point that I'd be wasting my time.


A Theme of Failed Sites


Could this be another that will fail as so many others have? Just look at the problems so many authors had experienced with these other writer’s sites:


Bubblews


Bubblews turned out to be run by crooks with a warning on the BBB’s website. It became obvious when they took away the ability to see how much traffic we were getting.

Then they stopped paying revenue that was already earned. Then they changed their terms of service to indicate they had rights to everything we post, followed by quickly shutting down before anyone could save and delete their articles.

I was one who warned the others, and I stopped writing there and removed my articles before they shut down.


Persona Paper


Persona Paper was another obvious fiasco, obvious to me anyway. I had sent many emails to management trying to help them with their poor programming, since I have a systems programming background.

They always responded, but with excuses for not having time due to family pressures. It was no secret that Persona Paper was a mom and pop business. It wasn't even a real business because they never incorporated.

In addition, they kept their identity secret by buying a “private registration” for their domain so no one could see who actually owned the site.

Knowing these things, I was cautious and stopped writing there too. Then when they announced they had no money and they are no longer going to pay revenue, I deleted all my articles to save for a rainy day. Some people are still posting articles there, knowing that they don't get paid.


Squidoo


Then there's Squidoo. Oh, how HubPages wasted their money purchasing all the content from them. I had removed my articles (lens as they were called) long before that transition because I didn't feel comfortable with their methods. Most writers on Squidoo were pressured into writing spammy articles that were meant to sell Amazon products.

Google was getting very tough on that practice, which is why Squidoo went out of business. The problem is that those articles hurt HubPages' ranking too. Sure, they tried to teach the authors how to write for the reader, but only a few understood. Many complained instead.

Fortunately for HubPages, there were good writers among them who made the necessary changes to keep Google happy. That’s what HubPages emphasizes.


Tsū


Last but not least is Tsū, which I thought was going to outdo Facebook because they were an equivalent social sharing site with one big difference. They paid the users for posting content.

I fell for that one. I spent time posting and connecting with followers. Then one day Tsū just vanished with a message on the site explaining why they failed.


Now InfoBarrel - Complaints People Post About

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So now we come to my present endeavor, doing my due diligence investigating InfoBarrel. I’m reading so many complaints in the forum:

  • A promised upgrade that never occurred.
  • Long wait for new articles to get approved.
  • Google not indexing new articles.
  • Missing or late payments.
  • Bugs with posting articles.
  • Failure to delete article upon request.
  • Losing Google indexing when just one word is changed.
  • TOS constantly changing who owns rights to content.


That last point I’m not sure about. Maybe they changed it back again. When I read the recent TOS it clearly states “Author's Rights: You shall continue to retain all authorship and copyrights to the Materials submitted for publication through the website.”


See What Happens When Payments are Handled Manually


There was a forum post from the admin explaining how he lost track, messed up the payments one month, and was trying to work out the mess.

In August 2016 some people saw a tremendous, but short lived, increase in earnings. One posted a comment that she saw $45 in her account and then it was corrected down to $3.

Another saw a whopping $900. He posted “I doubt they're genuine - I apparently am earning around $400 for every 1,000 impressions.”

Yes indeed - that’s impossible. What poor programming, if there is even a payment system in place.


Problems I See With InfoBarrel

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People Are Leaving


As I mentioned in the intro, I noticed that many people are leaving; even new members who didn’t even get their feet wet.

Many times when I click to someone’s profile, I end up on the home page. This is how they handle deleted accounts instead of showing an error page of some sort. That’s poor programming in my opinion.


No Delete Button


You have to contact admin to request removal of any article you wish to delete. Then it’s up to them if they oblige. Some people post in the forum that they had to try many times to get a response, some in vein.


Google Not Indexing Articles


Since I see so many people complaining in the forum about the fact that Google is not indexing InfoBarrel articles, I checked out the code and see that it's okay now.

There used to be a Google directive in their robots.txt file denying search engines permission to index. That might have inadvertently been left there after a system update. Nevertheless, that’s very unprofessional to have missed a thing like that.

I even confirmed that the sitemap is functional now and Google can read it. I even checked a few new articles and verified that Google was indexing them within a day or two.


Google Ranks InfoBarrel Poorly

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Google's ranking of articles on InfoBarrel is very poor. HubPages already discovered that Google does not like websites that combine unrelated topics.

That’s why HP is moving hubs to network niche sites, and that is proving to be very successful. I know, a third of my hubs have already been moved and my earnings more than doubled.


Amazon Cancelling Affiliate Accounts


Some members have recently lost their Amazon affiliate status because Amazon has started cancelling affiliate accounts if they advertise on sites they do not own. InfoBarrel requires members to use their own Amazon affiliate code. That’s the problem.

HubPages does not have this problem because Hubbers can use Amazon via the HP Earnings Program. In this case Amazon issues unique affiliate codes for each user, but these are registered under HubPages’ name.

Even if one chooses to use his or her affiliate code, rather than through the HP Earnings program, this is fine. They just need to include their HP profile URL in the website list in their Amazon settings to get paid.

With InfoBarrel, on the other hand, there is a problem. Profile URLs might look like forum profiles because it has the word “users” in the URL. So I think this is why Amazon is cancelling accounts used on InfoBarrel.

The people who have lost their accounts have posted in the forum about Amazon saying they canceled because they used their account on a forum site, which is against their terms of service. Once again, poor programming causes this confusion.


Infobarrel Has Many Unresolved Glitches


Title Changes Cause 404 Dead Link Error

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When one changes his or her title, the URL changes along with it and without a 301 redirect to the new URL.

Therefore all prior links and search engine indexes become dead links. Then Google drops the index in the SERPs.

Writers on Hubpages know that this can’t happen because HP makes the URL static once the hub is published.

Hubbers only have once chance to change the URL from defaulting to the title. That’s at the beginning when they start a new hub. The way InfoBarrel does it is very poor programming.


Confusion with Pen Names vs. Usernames


When a user adds a pen name to their profile, their actual username still is displayed as the sender when leaving comments in articles. This makes it difficult to know who someone is because it doesn't match the name in the profile or the author of the article.

That makes it really difficult to keep followers engaged.


Bug in CSS code


Another problem is a bug in the css code that causes embedded YouTube videos to cover the surrounding text. I couldn't even read the overlaid content on an article that had this problem.


Who’s Running the Show?


I emailed Kevin, the admin, asking if the staff is actively working on this site. I never received a reply.

I also see other people complaining about the absence of the admin. That made me wonder if this is just a one-man shop. Could it be?

Well, no. The domain is registered to Ryan McKenzie in Canada.

Two other team members are Kevin Hinton and Brad Liski who I found via LinkedIn, but Ryan functions as the administrative, as well as technical, contact.

The Admin's Avatar
The Admin's Avatar | Source

Kevin is the admin in the forums, although I’m not sure if this is Mr. Hinton since he hides behind a cat avatar.

But where are they?

Why haven't bugs in the system been fixed?

Why does Kevin excuse himself for messing up the payments so often? Where is the payment system software? Why handle this manually?

Why do I see some articles with typos and poor English when their terms of service so blatantly mention that everything needs to be of superior quality and is read and approved by a human before publishing.

InfoBarrel has some strict rules that would make any expert writer pleased to be involved, if only they actually enforce those rules and cleaned up their act.

For me, my search continues. Of course I will always put my best work on HubPages, where I can trust its success.


© 2016 Glenn Stok

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Comments 22 comments

sallybea profile image

sallybea 3 months ago from Norfolk

I have only written on HubPages and on Bubblews. The latter I found was a complete waste of time as I was to put it plainly completely bored with the whole process. I never actually made payout though I came pretty close before they folded. Interesting assessment of InfoBarrel which I have never explored and am unlikely to waste my time on after reading this. Thanks.


grand old lady profile image

grand old lady 3 months ago from Philippines

Very interesting article. I have only heard of some of these sites through you. I guess we have to be careful who we write for. I made the mistake of writing for a site that made promises than never came through. So, I tried to remove my articles and they couldn't be removed. that really sucked. I can't even remember the site now.


NateB11 profile image

NateB11 3 months ago from California, United States of America

I agree, Infobarrel is bad news. I still need to get my articles and have my account there deleted. I was just looking for another site to write for, not leaving all my eggs in one basket, but soon found Infobarrel to be pretty horrendous and not a good option.


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 3 months ago from Long Island, NY Author

sallybea - I made payout several times on Bubblews until they held back on the last payment due to me. That was when they reneged on making payments to a large number of us, claiming that they were losing money due to other people spamming the site. That's when I pulled my articles.


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 3 months ago from Long Island, NY Author

grand old lady - That's why due diligence is so important, and also to be alert to potential failures. When Bubblews started hiding stats, I knew something was up. When Persona Paper stopped fixing bugs, I knew they didn't care any longer.

These are things to make us wake up and pay attention. I didn't react in time with Tsū when they didn't care about people spamming the site asking for followers. I was happy seeing my family tree grow without any effort, and making money from posts my "children" were posting. I thought that would continue growing. I was wrong on that count! So you're right, we have to be careful who we write for.


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 3 months ago from southern USA

Thank you for sharing your insight into InfoBarrel, Glenn.

I have not heard of this site, but I have heard of some of the other sites. I would not like it one bit if I were not able to delete my article of my own choosing!

This is great information you have shared to help those thinking of writing on InfoBarrel and other sites.

Blessings


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 3 months ago from Long Island, NY Author

NateB11 - I agree about not leaving all your eggs in one basket. However, I put much more weight on how well I see a company performing technologically.

Having had a business, I notice good business strategies. Having had a background as a systems analyst, I appreciate good programming style. Having studied SEO and keeping up with Google's announcements, I see very quickly when a company is doing the same thing.

I see those things with HubPages, so this remains my home. I just use other sites for my articles that have less substance, but which I feel still have value for a reader.


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 3 months ago from Long Island, NY Author

Faith Reaper - There are still many sites I haven't heard of either. I stumble upon new ones time to time. Maybe we're better off, because many of them come and go so quickly. Those that survive are focused on a single theme. You can see why HubPages is making a network of niche sites.


vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 3 months ago from Nashville Tn.

Hi Glenn. Thanks for the heads up with InfoBarrel. Glad I didn't waste my time on this writing site as I did with Bubblews. I'm sure I'm not the only writer missing payments for articles written. I bailed out before they went belly-up but unfortunately didn't remove my articles. Glad I've held on to hub pages all these years.


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 3 months ago from USA

You had me at problems getting paid. I don't like it when people don't know what they are doing or they don't follow through. Best to stay with HP anyhow.


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 3 months ago from Long Island, NY Author

vocalcoach - Me too Audrey. HubPages is proving to be doing all the right things, and it's obvious that they care about the business.


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 3 months ago from Long Island, NY Author

FlourishAnyway - You said it Shelly! I'm glad I've put my important work on HubPages. Payments are always like clockwork every single month. That's how it is when things are automated properly.


LindaSmith1 profile image

LindaSmith1 2 months ago from USA

I don't worry about any of this anymore. Having my own sites has eliminated all of the problems. My sales have soared through my own sites, I don't have to share commissions or deal with the content farm crap.


heidithorne profile image

heidithorne 2 months ago from Chicago Area

Glenn, before your article, I had never heard of InfoBarrel. So I'm glad for the education!

I found HubPages through a popular blogger who pointed it out; otherwise, I would have never discovered it since I previously hosted and managed my own blog.

I know HubPages has had challenges and complaints from other hubbers over the years I've been on it. But I have had a positive experience from the get-go and have met some wonderful writers (like yourself) through it. As well, with their tech team (who does a pretty good job, people!), I've been able to offload a good deal of the back-end admin headache for my blog to the HP system. I'm staying unless something dramatically changes for me or HP.

Thanks for another informative post! Have a great weekend!


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 2 months ago from Long Island, NY Author

LindaSmith1 - That sure is a solution. I set up my own site as an index to my articles arranged by topic, but I don't monetize it. It's just for the purpose of making it easier to find my articles. But I have used AdSense on my business site and that worked really well.


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 2 months ago from Long Island, NY Author

heidithorne - Thanks for the compliment. And yes, I agree with you about HubPages. I'm glad I'm here too. It's sad how so many people complain about things without understanding that they are simply keeping up with Google's ever-changing requirements.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 months ago from The Caribbean

Thank you for sharing these details of your various online writing experiences. Very thoughtful of you like a big brother trying to prevent the younger siblings from making the same mistakes. I appreciate it.


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 2 months ago from Long Island, NY Author

MsDora - Ha Ha. It started out as a rant, but then I decided to rework it and I made it into a hub.


RonElFran profile image

RonElFran 2 months ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

Glenn, I considered InfoBarrel for the same reasons you did - to have a place to post shorter, less in-depth articles that are not suitable for HP, such as the ones I used to post on Yahoo Contributor Network. I never joined, first of all because of the same issues you identify, particularly not being able to delete my posts without having to petition admin to do it at their leisure. Plus the fact that a major site redesign promised several years ago has yet to happen made me think IB is far from thriving. I'm sorry for that, because I still would love to have a viable replacement for YCN.


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 2 months ago from Long Island, NY Author

RonElFran - You're very smart to have paid attention to the obvious red flags with InfoBarrel. I was stunned when I read all the forum posts about the promised upgrades that never happened over the years. What really got me was when I found out that admin manually does payments every month rather than automating it. I decided not to publish anything there also, just as you had.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 2 months ago from Dallas, Texas

Interesting information here, Glenn. I signed up to write on InfoBarrel a few years ago. I ran into the same issue with having to ask the admin to delete an article, then, having him question my reasons! I kept hoping that the site would take off, but was discouraged by the redundant front page emphasis on a couple of writers and their income. HubPages moved away from that a few years ago, thankfully.


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 2 months ago from Long Island, NY Author

PegCole17 - You're not the only one who became discouraged with InfoBarrel. I see a lot of dead links to profiles, which redirect to the home page. That indicates people are leaving.

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