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How Not to Write a Poor Hub

Updated on April 24, 2011

The 'Don’ts' of being a Hubber

OK, I’ve been here less than a month and, perhaps against my better judgement, I’ve decided to put up this hub. You see; there are several Hubs that advise on what to do to become a successful Hubber and excellent they are too. I strongly feel there is a place for advising fellow novices and those aiming to start out on what to avoid doing. It may be reckless to risk being labelled an upstart but I’ve convinced myself this might, just might, steady a Hubber-toddlers' legs. Plus, there has been a lot of chatter about how the Panda update by Google has devastated Hubpages. A lot of this has been expression of outrage but, really; really? Have you seen some of the stuff published on Hubpages? I am probably risking being accused of muscling on the Hubgreeters Team’s territory but I feel it is a risk worth taking.

Automatic spinners

Whatever you do, avoid using automatic article spinners. Whether the original was yours or somebody else’s (and here you are on dangerous copyright infringement territory), fact of the matter is auto-spun articles stink. The mangled grammar and nonsensical phrases that result mean you can spot them a mile off. If you think a spun article will give you a leg up when it comes to SERP, you are living in dreamland. Automatic spinning is not efficiency, it is laziness and; when the original material is not yours, it is theft. Plus, you will have to be on something rather stronger than draught beer to read such an article to the end. For those unfamiliar with article spinners, these are pieces of software which are meant to give you different versions of the same article by changing the wording and sentence arrangements. It is supposed to be a way of appearing to have a unique article which, in reality, has been 'spun' from an existing article. That way, you get around the supposed 'penalty' of publishing duplicate content.

Give these a wide berth  for your article unless you are looking for gobbledegook output
Give these a wide berth for your article unless you are looking for gobbledegook output

Automatic translators

If there is something worse than automatic article spinners, it is automatic translators. You have an article in, let’s say, Russian. You are keen to have it on Hubpages but you believe your English is not up to scratch. Or, in fact it is, but you are just plain lazy. You decide to put it in Google Translator. After all, it is free and gives you results in, well; a few seconds. You publish it on Hubpages. Big mistake! Online automatic translators are the poor cousins of Speech Recognition programs, only with much worse results. If you speak two languages well, try using these to translate from one to the other and check out the results. You will never go back there again. If there is something you are dying to get to English speakers via Hubpages, do it yourself (if you can) or get a fellow human being to do it for you before unleashing it to your audience.

Stick to what you know. Please.

This is controversial but, believe me; it is well meaning. There are many people who ask questions here and need reliable answers. This is because they treat Hubpages as a community and in truth this community is great. As such, they think they can believe each other and why not?

However, your enthusiasm to ‘help’ in areas where you are; how to put this politely; not very good or simply one-eyed trying to boss the blind, may do more harm than good. I am a medic and I’ve read some answers to medical questions here that have made me blanch (metaphorically speaking). I’ve never climbed Everest. You will never catch me trying to advise a putative climber on how to keep warm at Base Camp.

Respect the intelligence of your readers

There is a lot of Hubs here which are out and out promotional; the sole aim of which is to sell something. Admittedly not my cup of tea but nothing wrong with that. As the saying goes, everybody to their own.  However, try and put some believable substance in the hub. That telltale air of mild desperation to please can be endearing but telling me to “drink this to add a foot to your height in six weeks” or something similar is simply insulting. Put in the effort if you want your reader to click on that link. Otherwise the mug is the one in the mirror.

Self Criticism

In an ideal world, Hubpages would be a mindscape; a hub for creativity and; you know what; creative work ought to find an outlet and is deserving of compensation. However, if the excellent creative work put here, and there is some exceptional stuff about, is drowned out by (dare I say it?), trash, we are all losers.

Albert Einstein, he of the mighty brain, has many quotes attributed to him. One of them is this: “I know quite certainly that I myself have no special talent. Curiosity, obsession and dogged endurance, combined with self-criticism, have brought me to my ideas”.

As Hubbers, I hope we can bring ourselves to exercise self-criticism.


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    • akanga1 profile image

      akanga1 5 years ago

      Thank you for your kind comment artdivision1. I try to remember my own advice every time I embark upon a writing project.

    • artdivision1 profile image

      artdivision1 5 years ago from London

      Great hub. Those auto spun articles drive me crazy. They make me feel like I'm living in the Matrix! So close to actual writing, yet so very very far away.........

    • akanga1 profile image

      akanga1 6 years ago

      Thank you Mrs Menagerie; you are very kind. I hope your 'menagerie' is giving you some space to continue producing your beautiful Hubs.

    • Mrs. Menagerie profile image

      Mrs. Menagerie 6 years ago from The Zoo


    • akanga1 profile image

      akanga1 6 years ago

      Thanks Pamela99 and Cheerfulnuts. I'm glad you approve. I hope, in some small way, it helps facilitate Hubpages being where it belongs: 'Up there'.

    • cheerfulnuts profile image

      cheerfulnuts 6 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      Love this hub. A vote up from cheerfulnuts! =D

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

      Your hub has some good information. I think the "stick to what you know tip" is also very important. Voted/rated up.

    • akanga1 profile image

      akanga1 6 years ago

      You are so so right dearabbysmom. Sterile, not-even-that-efficient, soul-less Hubs are, well; soul destroying. Thank you for the nod.

    • dearabbysmom profile image

      dearabbysmom 6 years ago from Indiana

      I especially love the "stick to what you know" tip. I might even add "or stick to what interests you". I like to read hubs people write out of passion, not ones where the topic was grabbed from outer space to produce one more article. That always shows.

    • akanga1 profile image

      akanga1 6 years ago

      Thanks Deborah; you are very kind! I'm not sure whether I would call this 'wisdom' but the nomination is surely much appreciated especially at this time of finding one's feet.

    • Deborah Demander profile image

      Deborah Demander 6 years ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      Congratulations on your hubnugget nomination. I appreciate the points you make, and hope others will learn from your wisdom.


    • akanga1 profile image

      akanga1 6 years ago

      Thanks ripplemaker!Don't you think use of auto-spinners is a form of fraud? I think so. Plus, the results aren't something any proud writer would want their name associated with. Yes, I'm chuffed about the nomination. Spurs me on.

    • akanga1 profile image

      akanga1 6 years ago

      Thanks Denise and Tipoague. I'm glad you loved the Hub. I have updated the section on 'spinners' for those in the dark. Just don't get tempted.

      Writeonline, you are very generous! Thank you so much for the kind comments. I followed your example and read all the nominees' hubs. Another 'awesome' marked on yours. Love your style.

      Elayne001, thank you so much for stopping by and the endorsement of the Hub's contents. You are so right. Jack of all trades isn't a badge of honour and, at times, it can be dangerous

    • elayne001 profile image

      Elayne 6 years ago from Rocky Mountains

      Great points, IMHO - humility being one of the best. I have learned much from branching into areas I did not know so much about, but we should not appear to be an expert when we do that. Well taken. Congrats on the nomination.

    • profile image

      writeronline 6 years ago

      Congratulations on your HubNugget nomination. As a fellow nominee, I'm in the process of reading everyone else's work. But of course, I've already read, and commented on this article,(which is just as excellent, the second time around). Cheers.

    • tlpoague profile image

      Tammy 6 years ago from USA

      I have no clue what an automatic translator or sutomatic spinners are, but think that you have some interesting and helpful tips here. Thanks for sharing and congratulations on your hubnugget nomination.

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Wow! What a great hub-I loved it. Thanks for sharing such valuable 'tip'. I'm afraid I am ignorant, however, regarding your reference to: automatic spinners. What is that?

      Congratulations on your hubnugget nomination and welcome to hubpages. I'll be checking out your additional work. Now, get busy and tell all your family and friends to vote for your hub in the hubnugget contest.

      BTW-I hit the buttons on rating your hub across the board.

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 6 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      No to automatic translation and automatic spinners! :) True, true!

      Friday the 13th Hubnuggets News: Congratulations! Your hub has been nominated on the Hubnuggets!

      Also, do participate in the forum and share your delight with everyone!

      Read and vote!

    • sholland10 profile image

      Susan Holland 6 years ago from Southwest Missouri

      I am a newbie, and I am sure I am going to make mistakes. I do try to put ads on my hubs that I think are helpful and reject those that I think are off-base. I wish we could delete the ones that do not fit that come in a collection of 3 or more.

      I haven't run into any that were proposing sales pitch yet. I would probably want to "flag" those because I look at this as a writing community to share with other hubbers.

      Your hub has great advice, and I will remember it. Thanks for writing it.

    • profile image

      your cybersister 6 years ago

      I learn something from nearly every hub I read. I am so new to all of this that, thanks to you, I learned (amongst other things)what a spinner is. I have been surprised at how many of the hubs I have visited do seem to have been created to sell products rather than share ideas. I prefer the hubs that express ideas, tell stories. or ones you can learn from.

    • rebekahELLE profile image

      rebekahELLE 6 years ago from Tampa Bay

      I think your hub has valuable advice for those who listen.

      There is nothing wrong with a self critique, and putting ourselves in the searcher's seat. With the huge amount of people writing online now, (precisely because they may have read one of the hundreds of hubs of how to make money with Google adsense), there is a lot of junk to wade through. Thumbs up for discouraging article spinners and translators!

    • akanga1 profile image

      akanga1 6 years ago

      Thanks Dablufox and Writeronline. I have to say some of the stuff put here is so unbelievably awful that it undermines the whole ethos of open publishing platforms. Let's see if we can nudge fellow Hubbers whose exclusive contribution is spam to change their ways (or may be take the door).

    • profile image

      writeronline 6 years ago

      Nice job. Absent the self-criticism you advocate, and I applaud, hitting the HubHopper is all we can do, I guess. But, in these days when we're supposed to believe that Google is at least as clever at content-spotting as any of us, and that Google's owners "believe in high quality content", I wonder why it's so hard for them to develop a self-cleansing system, so the real crap never makes it into the real world? Especially with spun articles. Surely a nonsensical set of words is as easily noticed by Google as by us mere humans?

    • dablufox profile image

      dablufox 6 years ago from Australia

      A pretty good hub for someone who's new to hubpages. I regularly hubpage hop and I would say 80% of hubs are a waste of space and about 30-40% I flag for being either spam or just downright useless - 200 words or less!

      I see nothing wrong with informing readers of great products of solid value especially if the writer puts in a solid effort, does his/her research and provides a feature rich entertaining hub.

      I hate to see hubs with shallow or very little content yet filled with Amazon products or hubs which are only published for backlinks.

      There is nothing wrong with promoting your content, its how its done that's important.

      Nice Hub!