HubPage Questions and Answers; the Support of an Internet Community
HubPages is an Internet site where one can write web pages for public consumption using convenient easy-to-manipulate templates. At the time of writing I have been a member of HubPages for 19 months, and during that time what have I done? Well, I've published web pages - 'hubs' as they are known. That, after all, is surely the primary reason for joining the site - to write articles on subjects which are of interest to me in the hope they might also be of interest to others.
Of course HubPages likes to think of itself not just as a publishing site, but as an online community of writers. But what is a community of writers? A bunch of people independently writing their articles under one collective banner? Or can it really a genuine community, offering supportive advice in all aspects of life in an atmosphere of friendship and mutual encouragement? In this page I write of one specific example of the support which a writing community can offer in a region of the HubPages website to which I have rarely ventured.
Questions and Answers
One facility on HubPages is 'Questions and Answers' - a place where anyone can ask a question about pretty much any subject, and others will hopefully provide an answer. Of course some of the enquiries posed are to do with aspects of writing hubs, how best to use the templates, maximising views of hubs, making money from hubs, etc, though a better place for such issues are the 'Forums' where more involved discussions can be undertaken. Under 'Questions and Answers' all sorts of other queries can be raised which are designed to provoke different types of reply.
Some questions are just simple requests for information, and I confess I sometimes wonder why the questioner doesn't just look up the answer on Google, as a simple Internet search may reveal the information in seconds. However I do respond if the answer is one which I can easily give.
Some questions are designed to provoke a controversial debate and I tend to steer clear of them. One time I got involved in a forum conspiracy theory question with a brief comment. End of story - until a reply was posted which upped the stakes somewhat. So I then spent several hours putting together some further arguments of many hundreds of words ... only to find a few hours later, a riposte which was twice as long raising all sorts of new points. At this point, I had to give up - it would have taken too much time to continue, without a likelihood of either of us changing our opinion!
The third type of question is one which canvasses non-controversial opinion or asks advice - information which cannot be so satisfactorally uncovered in an Internet search. These, for me, create the most productive correspondence, and the kind I most enjoy. It is also the kind of question which I recently posed ...
OK, it's time to come clean. I've never been a big initiator of questions. It's not the reason I joined the site. I joined to write and publish, not to ask questions about subjects unrelated to hub writing. If I want information, it's usually information of a purely factual kind which I can find elsewhere. As for discussions, I may post in the Forums, but the time available to me is often an issue - not so much to pose the question, but because I feel an obligation to respond to the replies with courteous or considered comments, and that takes a lot of time. In 'Questions and Answers', the number of questions I've posed to date can be counted on the fingers of two hands.
The Questions I Posed
One Sunday recently certain aspects of this dispute came to a head with a phone call of extreme unpleasantness. The experience left me emotionally drained and tense, my heart pounding and my head ready to explode. There was no one to turn to, and no motivation to think about anything else. All I could do was to dwell on it, and worry about it. As usual, I was spending time that day on HubPages, but I wasn't even in the mood to concentrate on writing a hub, so I thought instead I'd see if any other HubPage members had something to say on my situation.
So I posed the questions:
- How do you cope when you cannot prove your innocence, even when you know you have behaved correctly?
- How do you deal with a slur on your character that you can't disprove?'
Then I waited, though not with any great anticipation.
The Problem Which Initiated a Question
Everyone of us has a life away from HubPages, and mine has not been too good of late. Many elements to my life have not been the way I would wish them to be. One specific issue however has relevance to this page, and it concerns a family dispute. I must say I am not prepared to go into details because it is a complex and private issue which has not reached its conclusions. Secondly, even though I know my actions have been well intentioned, only my side can be given in these pages and that would be unfair on the other party involved. However, the dispute has led to some allegations which are distressing and which cause great offence. Because the only person who knew exactly what was said and done with each family member is sadly no longer with us, it is impossible now to prove or disprove any allegations, but that has not prevented them from being made against me.
Warmth and Support Received on Hubpages
The most delight I have received from HubPages in my time here has been the recognition and compliments I have received from people whom I do not know, for the hubs I have written. It is always a source of immense satisfaction when a hub is well received, as it allows one to believe that the effort has been worthwhile.
But there is more to life than writing hubs and more to support and encouragement than receiving favourable comments or accolades. The 'Question and Answer' (and the Forum) facilities afford an opportunity for this to be appreciated, and that is something I have discovered through these two questions. The first notification of an answer came through soon after initiating the questions - it was a considered and thoughtful reply. Then another flashed up on screen, and then another. More and more responses came flooding in as that first evening wore on, and with each there was a small uplift in my spirits. Within 5 hours at least 15 answers had been received. Whether that sounds like a lot or not, it is far more comments than I have ever received in the first few hours to one of my hubs. The selfless desire of people to chip in and contribute their views has been both revelatory and heartwarming.
Why the good response? Perhaps the mutual interest in writing gives a motivation to help others within the community. Perhaps the ability to write both coherently and thoughtfully means that members feel able to contribute effectively to questions like this. But perhaps the fundamental point is that most people are basically good and enjoy helping others and that's why they contribute. Whatever the reasons, every one of the responses - even those which suggested approaches which were not applicable to me - were intended to be constructive and helpful, and every one of them made me feel as though I was among friends. I thank them all.
Alongside each answer there is an opportunity to choose it as 'the best answer'. I intended doing this, but in the circumstances I decided to forego this, because I felt it would be unfair on many other supportive and warm responses to single one out as 'better' just because it might be more appropriate to my particular case.
My Feelings in the Aftermath of the Correspondence
I remain on HubPages primarily because I want to write web pages and bolster my writing with self-confidence gained through hubbers' supportive comments. Other elements of the site remain secondary to me. However, the experience resulting from these questions demonstrates conclusively that HubPages is a site - and a community - where people can share and support in all sorts of other ways. The site is not so vast that one may feel totally lost and inconspicuous, while the organisation is such that one's contributions and questions can be read, not just by established 'friends' or 'followers' (unlike on some social networks) but by almost anyone who chooses to visit the relevent features of the site. This makes HubPages a better place than I had imagined for inspirational exchanges, and I must encourage other writers who feel the need, to use it as such.
In the aftermath of these questions, one of the most helpful contributors contacted me privately by e-mail to say that he had been facing some frustrations of a broadly similar nature within his family which he hadn't disclosed in his answer. He said that reading the other comments from other hubbers had been helpful to him, and he was grateful for this, and had gained support from the replies. Clearly I am not the only one who has benefited from the 'Questions and Answers' facility on HubPages.
Link to My Other Pages
- Greensleeves Hubs on HubPages
I have written other articles about Hubpages as well as reviews of other peoples' hubs. I have also written on various unrelated topics including travel guides, film reviews, science and astronomy, and many more subjects accessible at the above link