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Understanding Hub Content Rules and Guidelines

Updated on March 9, 2015

"...but my Hub was fine up until now...?"

I made this Hub after seeing dozens of authors on this site for weeks, months or even years when they suddenly have a Hub flagged and find out they don't actually know the rules that govern what is and what is not acceptable content on HubPages. Not only are there rules about the content on this site, those rules sometimes change.

You'd think that when people did something like register to use a site, they'd read the Terms of Use so that they understood exactly what sort of legal contract they'd just entered into, but it turns out that well over 95% of people are willing to sign up blindly for nearly anything.

If you really want to have a productive (and profitable) HubPages experience, it's well worth it to learn the content guidelines and rules. After all, if your Hubs break the rules, they'll be unpublished by the admin team (regardless of how old they may be) and then you won't have page views, readers or any potential for advertising income.

Things To Avoid When Making A New Hub

All of the above types of content can result in a Hub being flagged and reviewed (or unpublished) by the HubPages admin team.
All of the above types of content can result in a Hub being flagged and reviewed (or unpublished) by the HubPages admin team. | Source

"...but I was told by someone..."

When you sign up for a website, it's standard that the rules include something that basically says that by signing up, you agree that you have read all the rules, understand them all and agree to accept them all.

You need to actually read the rules yourself because if you just ask around, there's a HUGE risk that someone will tell you something not accurate or true, and it can cause you to lose things like an AdSense account. And on the internet, there are a lot of situations (like an AdSense account) where you don't get to apologize and get a second chance...

Just the FAQs

At the top of every HubPages page, in the righthand corner is row of words that are really buttons. When you click on them, menus appear, unfolding downwards. In the middle of the menu that unfolds under your user name is a small button that reads "help." This is one of the most helpful of all help pages on HubPages, as it leads to the Frequently Asked Questions list. This is a reader-friendly version of everything said in the Terms Of Service, along with other common questions about the site. The "questions" are found in the blue boxes that run down the righthand side of the page, grouped into topic categories and if you click on a question, it will jump you down the page to the specific answer. If you haven't ever read the entire page before, it's really a good idea to do so.

The Terms of Use

Section four of the HubPages terms of use is all about what's NOT allowed in Hub content or what sort of conduct is prohibited. Here are just a few of the points specified. As a HubPages user or Author, you may not create

  • Content or links that is pornographic, defamatory, libelous, tortuous, vulgar, obscene, invasive of privacy, racially or ethnically objectionable, hateful, promotes or provides instructional information about illegal activities, or promotes any act of cruelty to animals.
  • Use Hubpages, the Website or Service to violate any Federal, state or local laws. Your Hubs must comply with all local laws regarding online conduct and acceptable content.
  • Link to pages or sites that are unrelated to the topic and content of Your Hub.
  • Impersonate another Author or any representative or employee of Hubpages.
  • Create Hubs for any illegal activities or to promote or make solicitations for any illegal or unauthorized activity.
  • Harass, threaten or intimidate Authors or others who use the Service.

Really, since every user on the site has legally agreed to abide by these terms (and more), it's important to actually read this entire document.

Be Careful What You Pay For

One thing that is listed in Google's AdSense terms of service that many Hub Authors miss:

Sites with Google ads may not include or link to content regarding programs which compensate users for clicking ads or offers, performing searches, surfing websites or reading emails.

Here's where you can read more about Google's AdSense Program Policy. Remember, if it's against the rules to Google, it's also against the rules at HubPages.

Flagging Hubs (or if you got Flagged)

"Flagging" a Hub is when a site user sends an alert to the HubPages admin team to let them know that something about the content of a Hub may be breaking the rules. The flags are not seen by the Hub author. They are just to alert the moderation team that something may be wrong. If the moderators get a lot of flags about a Hub, they'll be sure to take a look at it quick.

In the end, it's up to the moderators to decide whether a Hub is actually breaking a site content rule or not. If not, the Hub just stays "as is" and the author will never know. If a true problem is found, the Hub will be unpublished and an email will be sent to the author letting them know just what the problem was with their Hub. The author then has to edit or fix the content to comply with the rules. At that point the author clicks the "resubmit for publication" button and the Hub goes into a queue to have it manually approved before it will go live again.

When a Hub is flagged, clicking the "flag" link brings up a list of common problems so that the person reporting it can check off what they think is wrong. This helps Admin review the Hub and find the problem more quickly.

It used to be that HubPages only ever looked at Hubs if they were reported by site members but with tougher standards coming from Google and other search engines, as of 2013 the entire site is slowly being reviewed by the moderators. There are also new publishing standards and practices in place. This is ruffling the feathers of some long-time site members as Hubs that were "okay" a few years ago now aren't, but nothing on the Internet stays static and Hub guidelines have always changed somehow every year since the site was first created.

If You Get A Hub Moderated And UnPublished...

  1. It's not for "no reason." It's for violating one of the site rules.
  2. Admin sends an email to the Hub owner/author when they get unpublished telling them what the specific violation was. If you don't understand exactly what the email they send you says, you can reply to admin and ask them for further clarification.
  3. You can get Hubs that were administratively unpublished re-published if you bring the content into compliance with the rules. Remember, the edited Hub will need to be checked by a live moderator in order to be republished if it was manually flagged. Hubs that incur repeated violations can be penalized with the new "irrevocable" status, meaning they will never be allowed to be republished ever again.
  4. If a large number of your Hubs contain prohibited content or are determined to be substandard, your account can be put on manual review, aka "probation." This means nothing will be published when you click the publish button until it has been reviewed by someone from the moderation team.
  5. If your AuthorScore (the number that appears on your Avatar) falls below 75, all outgoing links on all your Hubs are going to have "nofollow" tags attached to them. This is HubPages way of telling the search engines that they don't think your content is a quality product. And if your AuthorScore really does drop below 75, you can be sure there's something you're doing wrong.

Flags and Definitions

Here is the list of "flags" and the reasoning behind them. These were expanded and updated following the Google "Panda" algorithm adjustment that occurred in February 2011.  Enforcement of these rules was also made more consistent.

  • Adult - Contains nudity, lewd or provocative images, sexually explicit content, or links to adult or pornographic sites.
  • Overly Promotional - 2 or more links to a single site, purely promotional, or teasers that require you to follow a link to read the full story.
  • Mature - Graphic violent or medical images, excessive profanity, or other content not suitable for a general audience.
  • Unrelated Links or Products - Promotes sites or products that are unrelated to the content.
  • Purely Personal - Not useful, interesting, or easily understandable to someone that does not know the author. This may include Hubs written in the style of a blog or personal journal.
  • Deceptive or Miscategorized - Incorrectly categorized, has a misleading title, or has unrelated or excessive tags.
  • Watermarked or Pixelated - Contains photos or videos that are low resolution, pixelated, or prominently watermarked.
  • Copied Content - Contains content that appears to have been copied from another Hub or site. Please include URL below. If your content was copied without permission, please follow these instructions for filing a DMCA complaint instead.
  • Spun or Poorly Translated - Nonsensical or difficult to read, as though it were created by an article spinner or automated translation tool.
  • Not written in English - Primarily written in a language other than English.
  • Low Quality - Short or unfinished, rife with spelling or grammatical errors, contains a large number of broken links or videos, or is poorly formatted.
  • Alcohol or Drug Sales - Contains content promoting, or links to sites that sell beer, wine, alcohol, prescription or illegal drugs, or drug paraphernalia.
  • Gambling - Contains content, or links to sites, that promote gambling for money.
  • Abuse - Has been promoted using spam, including email, comment, blog, wiki or other types of bulk unsolicted messages.
  • Weapon Sales - Contains content, or links to sites, that sell weapons or ammunition.
  • Hate Speech or Personal Attack - Contains a personal attack, racist content, or hate speech. This can be either in the Hub or in the comments.
  • Other - Violates our Terms of Use in a way other than those listed above

Content Comments

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  • relache profile image

    Raye 2 years ago from Seattle, WA

    The only thing harder than keeping up with the rules on HubPages is making a Hub about the rules on HubPages!

  • brakel2 profile image

    Audrey Selig 2 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

    This is a very useful hub, Relache, espccially to newcomers. I know it is difficult to read all the terms of service, but I printed a bunch of them when I started, so I could become very familiar with writing a hub and other terms. It is also difficult to remember everything, and you must review them for changes and just plain review them. Thanks for sharing. Blessings, Audrey

  • relache profile image

    Raye 2 years ago from Seattle, WA

    The funny thing is, article spinners tend to produce sentences like "Finally someone brought common sense within prescribed limits to the Internet" while humans actually tend to say things like "I was able to understand it when you explained it." And since you said the terms and conditions were a thrill to read, there will be a quiz later.

  • profile image

    Land Strider 2 years ago from Kansas

    I enjoyed reading your article and also look forward to more things you have written. I understand the purpose of this community and I'm beginning to think I'm gonna like it here. The terms and conditions were a thrill to read. Finally someone brought common sense within prescribed limits to the internet. Anyone can make a site about facts and tips and advice. But not many (to my knowledge which is minimal when it comes to the world wide web) penalize for lazy writing. I dig that. I can't wait to dive in. By the way what's an article spinner? That sounds like something that would be in a horror movie if it's what I think it is. The capabilities of technology these day is a little intimidating.

  • relache profile image

    Raye 2 years ago from Seattle, WA

    Molly, be sure to follow the HubPages blog as that's where new rules get announced first. Things here change a few times per year due to Google.

  • Molly Layton profile image

    Molly Layton 2 years ago from Alberta

    Thank you for these nifty guidelines. They make so much sense now.

  • Jacobb9205 profile image

    Jacob Barnard 2 years ago from Gloucestershire

    Ok awesome thank you

  • relache profile image

    Raye 2 years ago from Seattle, WA

    Yes, that is the blog.

  • Jacobb9205 profile image

    Jacob Barnard 2 years ago from Gloucestershire

    I assume this is the blog?

  • Jacobb9205 profile image

    Jacob Barnard 2 years ago from Gloucestershire

    Will do, thank you!

  • relache profile image

    Raye 2 years ago from Seattle, WA

    Jacobb9205, what you really want to do is also keep an eye on the official FAQs, the TOS/TOU, make sure you are subscribed to the HubPages blog, AND read all the threads that admin start in the forums. Got that? That's how you keep track of what's happening so you don't get flagged. Skip any of those steps and it could happen.

  • Jacobb9205 profile image

    Jacob Barnard 2 years ago from Gloucestershire

    Thank you for all of this helpful information! I'm currently reading and writing down all thing we're not allowed to do as I always like to be 100% certain my hubs won't be flagged :)

  • relache profile image

    Raye 2 years ago from Seattle, WA

    Lady G, as with all times when the rules at HubPages change, the reality moves faster than all the documentation or even the information can be distributed. Get used to this as part of how this site works, it's been a near constant state of editing for almost four years now.

  • Lady Guinevere profile image

    Debra Allen 2 years ago from West By God

    ....and even if you follow the rules your hub may be flagged when you change it or update it. It depends on who the moderator is at any given time. My garden hub that I published and it passed the QAP was just un-featured last night. I changed it to make it look better. I have never had that happen before.

  • relache profile image

    Raye 2 years ago from Seattle, WA

    Lou, glad you found this Hub helpful!

  • LouCannon profile image

    Amanda Louise Cannon 2 years ago from Wynndel BC Canada

    Very good and educational read! Thank you for sharing... I look forward to reading additional hubs that you have written!

  • ajtyne profile image

    AJ 2 years ago from North Carolina

    Well-written, clear explanation of the rules! The rules aren't meant to hinder -- they are there to ensure the success of the whole site.

  • relache profile image

    Raye 2 years ago from Seattle, WA

    OhMe, the rules on both sites are incredibly similar.

  • OhMe profile image

    Nancy Tate Hellams 2 years ago from Pendleton, SC

    Thanks. I just really want to make sure. This is a big deal in our little town and I sure don't want mess up

  • relache profile image

    Raye 2 years ago from Seattle, WA

    OhMe, I have never done anything like that, but I have comment capsules with many hundred comments in them.

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