Research: Sometimes It's The Death of a Hub
It's how we build our hubs, but sometimes it is their demise.
I have written more than one hundred hubs. For most of them my first step after deciding on a topic was to start the search for facts and statistics to support my position. I did my research.
This effort is made much easier with the advent of the Internet. Instead of a trip to the library or the courthouse and a dive into the sea of microfiche, a click here and a click there, and the information is literally at my fingertips. If HubPages had been around in the horse and buggy days before computers and all that's come along with them, we hubbers would be lucky to produce a single hub a week instead of several a day.
But we hubbers must realize we won't always be happy with what we find once we begin our search to validate our presumptions. I've started writing hubs with all the conviction in the world, only to change my mind on the subject by the end of the article. I started a hub on the tragedy of losing the Fairness Doctrine when it was undone by the Federal Communication Commission at the urging of the second President Bush. By the time I finished my research, I'd come a full 360 degrees to the opposite view.
I've also written several position papers/hubs, but in all fairness felt it was necessary to give a couple of paragraphs to opposing views. In all honesty, I've been known to add opposing statistics and facts as a result of comments I've received from other hubbers who knew more about the subject than I did. And thank God for them! A recent submission of mine on the subject of climate change is an example of this experience.
Then there have been the times when I started a hub with all the enthusiasm of the uninformed, only to turn up evidence that proved my assumptions inaccurate, mistaken, or just plain wrong. As a result, the hub goes the way of unicorns and dinosaurs, never to be seen or heard of again.
I was determined to write a scathing account of the unfairness of the retirement benefits of congressmen, only to learn the terms are not as out-of-line as I presumed from what I'd heard and read on the subject. The following is what I learned from my research.
With only a few exceptions, health and retirement benefits for members of Congress are the same as for any employee of the federal government. They pay Social Security taxes and are eligible for retirement benefits of just under $36,000 a year at the age of 62 if they have served five years in office and have not been convicted of a crime. Retirement may begin at age 50 with 20 years' service, or at any age with 25 years' service. Congressmen may opt to collect a reduced pension with 10 years of service at ages 55 to 57, depending on their birth year.
Because working in Congress is subject to the vagrancies of elections, members and their staffs receive a larger retirement payment than other government employees for each year of service. The other side of that coin is they pay a higher percentage into the retirement program than other federal workers – 1.3 percent instead of 0.8 percent.
The real perk for congressmen is that they set their own annual salaries, currently $174,000. Another perk is they may exempt themselves from pay freezes when they are set by the president for federal employees.
I planned a hub on the absurdity of not holding a vote for the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame this year (2013). I was incensed that the best pitcher in all of baseball (in my humble opinion, which I intended to support with the most important thing in the sport - stats) would be robbed of being inducted on his first ballot. It was too outrageous an injustice for me not to come to the defense of the incomparable Greg Maddux. Within moments of beginning my research I learned a vote was held - and nobody got enough votes to make the cut.
For only the eighth time in Major League Baseball history no player received the 75 percent of the vote necessary for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2013. The Baseball Writers’ Association of America has been voting on the best in the game since 1936. Failure to choose a single inductee has not happened in seventeen years. That ballot was no doubt affected by the player's strike of 1994.
Michael Weiner, executive director of the Players Association, called the result “simply unfair” and penalized players whose names were cleared of steroid use in legal proceedings and others who were never even implicated. He said making it to Cooperstown should not be easy, but the hard part should be what the player does on the field – not any other factors.
This year’s ballot featured 37 candidates, including 24 first-timers. One of those Hall of Fame “rookies” was Craig Biggio, who finished his career with 3,060 career hits. He was the leading vote-getter with 68.2 percent of the vote and will be eligible to be on the ballot next year. Players who don't get at least five percent of the vote may not be on the ballot a second time.
Hubbers are free:
We may write about anything. What a freedom. But with each freedom we enjoy, there comes a responsibility. If I'm venting my opinions, nobody can tell me I'm wrong. (They can yell at me in ALL CAPS, but they can't delete what I've written.) They are simply my opinions. But if I've chosen a topic to share factually, I must be careful to represent the facts accurately (and not just because I'm an old newspaperwoman). If we want HubPages to remain respected in the industry and not reduced to Blog status, we have to be responsible to the facts.
It's always disappointing to find I'm chasing the wrong rabbit down the wrong hole when my research shows me I'm wrong. But there will always be new things to write about. There is simply no way around my responsibility to try my best to get it right - if I'm going to write about it at all.