Some Newbie Thoughts on HubPages, Stormy Waters and The Way Forward

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  1. Paul Maplesden profile image77
    Paul Maplesdenposted 11 years ago

    This is a long post, and I'd certainly appreciate you reading it, but for those adverse to large chunks of text and opinion, the TL;DR summary is:

    - HP thinks and acts as a business with a bottom line
    - They are making decisions to sustain and improve that bottom line
    - We don't understand all of the reasons for those decisions
    - HP could be better at communicating with us
    - More transparency is good
    - We're all in this together, let's act in good faith

    And now, the full post follows.

    I'm aware that there has been quite a bit of negative comment on the forums recently and that there are some stormy waters that HP are navigating.

    As a newcomer to the site (I've only been here six weeks), I do have an idealistic view, I'll make no excuses for that!

    However, I do also understand some of the realities of business (Been in the business world for 20 years and running my own business (professional writing, editing and communications consulting) for five) and sometimes I think that it's important that we understand the commercial aspects as well as the creative ones of a place like this.

    I haven't been through the Panda and other algo pain that lots of others have here; I haven't had to re-edit hubs when there are major policy changes, and so far I have really enjoyed writing here. This might make me an 'HP apologist' to some, but I really am just trying to use my skills and insight to help others here and elsewhere, together with improving my writing skills and earning some extra income - Those are my only motives!

    I know that I can't understand the pain Google and HP changes caused, and this post isn't about that. Rather, it's about putting ourselves in the shoes of TPTB and thinking about why they might make particular decisions. Now, I don't have *any* inside track here (despite what some may think!) so I am just surmising. But, I do think it's worth thinking about this stuff, because it might give us a different perspective.

    Ultimately, HP is a business that outsources its product (online content) to third parties (hubbers), monetizing it through ads and paying us a percentage as a result.

    We can *guess* at HPs motives as much as we want, but I would assume they are driven by the same ambitions and constraints that most business owners are:

    - Stay in business, generate an income
    - Adapt to circumstances, manage risks and issues (environmental factors)
    - Grow the business in a sensible way
    - Be fair to employees / hubbers

    The process flow for the HP business is something like:

    Provide platform > Get content creators > Create content > Monetize content > Pay staff and hubbers > Invest in future development > Take a profit

    Above everything else, HP has to stay afloat. This means generating more of an income than they are spending. The 40% that they retain has to pay for every part of their business except us. They *have* to keep advertising revenue coming in.

    Of course, the major 'Environmental Factor' was Google with their algo updates and lots of sites are still trying to react (and act) appropriately. Panda changed the whole game and caused a great deal of pain. Less visibility in search engines equals less revenue equals a substantial risk to staying in business. When Panda hit, content sites had to react or die, resulting in some quick-fix solutions.

    HP has put in a 'duct-tape' solution in the short term (idle hubs) - Not ideal, but they have stated before that they are working on better processes. De-indexing and losing links is a pain, but it's what we have until something better comes along (and let's hope it does soon).

    At the same time, HP has to grow their business - They have finite resources, time and money to do so. Of course, they want to invest and grow (that’s the point of a business:  generate an ROI, pay your people, pay your investors, make some money). It's up to TPTB to decide how and where to spend that resource wisely and they have access to a great deal more information, facts and figures than we do to help them make that choice.

    They need to be sure that they're implementing stuff to reasonable time frames, in a reasonable way to stay in business.

    The last part of this is being fair to employees and hubbers, and I know that is where people are feeling penalized. There have been lots of changes, some of them requiring a great deal of adapting to, some within HPs control, some definitely not.

    In my opinion, the very best thing that HP could do to smooth ruffled feathers is to communicate more effectively on what they are working on and also provide a formalized feedback route for new ideas and concerns. This could be done as two initiatives, both of which wouldn't require an enormous amount of time and effort to implement:

    1. Provide a regular update and overview of their priorities and what they are working on - There wouldn't be anything commercially sensitive or proprietary in here, but a fortnightly or monthly updates sticky thread from Paul or Simone would really help. This could cover the tactical and strategic thinking for the site - A roadmap or overview that says 'these are the things that we're prioritizing and that are important right now.' This would at least give us some insight into what is going on and provide some hope for the future that things are progressing.

    2. Create a formal feedback and ideas mechanism for hubbers to provide comment and raise suggestions - I know we have the 'suggest a feature' thread, but I'm thinking of something a bit more robust. Something like UserVoice ( ) would be ideal for this. We could make suggestions that are queued, other hubbers and staff can comment on them and we could get updates on progress. That way, we could see in one place exactly what's being requested / what concerns are and HP can provide reponses and let us know what they're doing to resolve them.

    Of course, HP can make mis-steps, no, not all questions from hubbers get answered and yes, there will always be those that believe the worst of HP no matter what. That's part of human nature and any online community. However, these lines of communication would make things more transparent, which can only help.

    I know that I've been accused of being a cheerleader for HP or a paid employee (although I do very much like my 'Mr Hat' nickname, that made me *very* happy!). But, the truth is, I'm just a regular hubber, like anyone else and also a business owner that understands when people need to make decisions to benefit the enterprises they are responsible for, whether that's the HP owners, the HP staff or us as individual writers.

    The point of this post (yes there was one) is that business realities, resources and change takes time. It can be difficult to appreciate that when we're seeing hubs idled and dropping traffic, but there are often good reasons behind the scenes and it's up to us if we trust those motives or not, but HP could be better at *communicating* those motives.

    Ultimately, I *choose* to believe that they are acting in good faith, for the good of their business and ultimately, for the benefit of the people that write here and 'create' that business.

    I know that we all *care* about HP, and we all *want* the site to do well. I think sometimes we might forget that we're really all in this together. Thanks. Peace.

    PS: I'm happy to engage in discussion about this, but just to answer some possible future questions here:

    - No, I really don't work at HP or have any interest in deliberately 'cheerleading' them
    - No, I don't have any facts to back up this post, it's purely conjecture and opinion based on my experience
    - No, I don't really understand how things have changed on the site over the last few years, so can't comment on that
    - Yes, I do think that there should be better alternatives to the existing QAP and idling process
    - No, I don’t know what those alternatives are
    - Yes, it is an epically long post
    - Yes, I do like to explain my thinking

    I appreciate that in some people's eyes this might mean my opinion isn't worth listening to, and that's fine; this was really just about providing a different perspective.

    1. profile image0
      summerberrieposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      I have read your post and pondered it and appreciate it.

      Please excuse the manner some of us approach these issues and take it in the spirit in which it is offered (something tells me you do if you read thru the Mr. Hat thread and came up smiling smile )

      I'm glad HP has finally decided to extend the "grace" period for gaining "reader engagement" . As soon as the idling program was implemented people have been frustrated with the two month window and wondered what happened to the "let your work sit for three years" and then you will see the rewards. These hubbers were ignored. It was only a whole lot of noise made in the forums that seemed to bring HP out in the open and even now this change of events has not been addressed directly.

      Same with the baglog. If hubbers do not voice their frustration (Is this Necessary thread and many more) about these horrible hubs getting to keep their feature status while quality hubs lose theirs then  I don't think HP will see these hubs as being an issue. This is a conflict between HP and hubbers from the beginning and it is  now when these hubs are not treated the same as quality hubs the noise is getting a little more high pitch.

      The same with the G+ button they took off when they change the profile layout page. Many of us pleaded with HP to put it back on...not sure what the big deal is and why they are so stubborn about us not having it? Again, you just don't get answers back at you. It is as if HP does not realize you are a real person. I really do think at times in their minds we are little one dimensional avatars when and if they finally give us answers.

      Thanks for "seeing" things.At least you have thought about our concerns as being "real" . Some fellow hubbers seem to just brush them off as "made-up".

      It seems with your bit of encouragement they are working on changing their communication with the community. Maybe a flow chart would be a good idea.   
      Happy Hubbing smile

      1. ktrapp profile image92
        ktrappposted 11 years agoin reply to this

        I believe this actually was answered at the time (I think by MickiS). The reason was something along these lines: Page load speed is a factor in Google's search algorithm and each of those social media widgets/apis (or whatever the proper term is) adds time to page load. HP saw that the G+ button wasn't being used much, so it was removed to increase speed - sort of  a weighing of costs vs benefits. Now that G+ is growing in popularity perhaps HubPages will try it out again to see if the benefits outweigh the costs, so to speak.

      2. Paul Maplesden profile image77
        Paul Maplesdenposted 11 years agoin reply to this

        Summer, thanks for the response. I love the Mr Hat nickname, it makes me grin every time I think of it!

        I learned a while back not to take these things personally - When people are frustrated, they need a place to vent; it's a healthier thing to do than to let anger / frustration seethe - it's important to blow off that steam, and to have a safe place where you can do it. (Hence me not commenting in the original hub comment thread, although it was that comment thread on Randy's hub that got me thinking and posting this topic in the first place; there's a lot of food for thought in there.)

        One of the reasons that I suggested tracking and feeding back on suggestions / concerns in a robust way is so that we can understand the progress (or not) that's being made. The truth is, people are less concerned if they believe they are being heard and are more likely to work with TPTB if there's a demonstration that things are moving in the right direction, even if progress is slow. (In other words, we hope that things will improve).

        I can see the issue with QAP and idling and the impact it has on hubbers (losing backlinks is *bad* and not something I appreciated before someone else mentioned it), just as I can see why HP needed to implement them in the first place (as a reaction to Panda). It's not a graceful solution, but if we can get an idea that these areas are being looked at and improved on, I think that will calm the waters a bit.

        Regarding the backlog etc. I think that AA covered this brilliantly in his chicken/meerkat analogy (There's a sentence I didn't think I'd be writing today!) and ultimately I think it's about HP resource and how it can best be focussed. Again, understanding a bit more about what's happening behind the scenes would be helpful and lay some fears to rest.

        Regarding the G+ button, you're preaching to the choir there, I'm a big fan of G+ (even though I promise I'm not Matt Cutts - I've even grown a beard so I look less like him!)  and I firmly believe it's just going to get more important to SERPS - I did suggest it be added back in, but we'll see.

        I think that HP does understand that we're real people, and I also think that Simone does a great job of responding to individual threads and comments, however that's a bit of a 'bottom-up' approach and can be piecemeal. What I'm suggesting and advocating for is a top-down approach where we understand what the overall thinking and plans are. That can only help.

        And of course the concerns are real, people wouldn't expend this kind of energy or express their views unless they really *cared* about both their work and the community. I think sometimes that can get lost in the melee, but ultimately, we all want HP to succeed, and one way of doing that is to demonstrate that HP can listen to us, and that we can also understand what they are doing and saying.

        1. profile image0
          summerberrieposted 11 years agoin reply to this


      3. wilderness profile image95
        wildernessposted 11 years agoin reply to this

        Summerberrie, I think part of the problem is very well brought out in the OP - HP is a business, operating under normal business constraints.

        HP instituted the idling of hubs in an effort to control the junk being put on the site.  It had problems, which they are fully aware of, but it takes time to come up with potential answers and more time to implement them.  There is no indication that anyone was ignored - this has been commented on several times in that they were working on it - but it does take time.

        We don't like the old junk on the site and want it off.  Fine, I think HP fully recognizes the problem and agrees (they've said so several times) but do not have the resources to attack both that and new hubs at the same time.  The choice has been made to work on new trash first, meaning that old trash will have to wait it's turn.

        The G+ button got little use and uses resources as well.  HP has said they are short on bandwidth - doesn't that take some?  You and I aren't real sure of why it is removed or why it can't be put back, but then neither of us are programmers and neither of us have any idea of limitations HP has.

        All of these things take resources, time and money - none of which are in unlimited supply and all of which have to conform to workable business practices.  We can't have everything we want and we can't have everything HP wants us to have at the drop of a hat.

    2. Paul Maplesden profile image77
      Paul Maplesdenposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      I just wanted to thank everyone for the quality of replies on this topic. I think it's raised some very interesting points and it's been very helpful for me to understand people's perspectives. Thanks for taking the time to contribute and debate things in a constuctive way, it's much appreciated. Have a great weekend, all.

      1. paradigmsearch profile image60
        paradigmsearchposted 11 years agoin reply to this

        Now that was complete BS. But I love you anyway. I think.

        1. Paul Maplesden profile image77
          Paul Maplesdenposted 11 years agoin reply to this

          Love you too. Wearing the hat means I cannot lie.

          1. MelissaBarrett profile image59
            MelissaBarrettposted 11 years agoin reply to this

            Is wearing a hat all it takes to get love?

            1. Paul Maplesden profile image77
              Paul Maplesdenposted 11 years agoin reply to this

              Not always, there are times it has failed.

              1. MelissaBarrett profile image59
                MelissaBarrettposted 11 years agoin reply to this

                Boxers with hearts work for back-up.  Gotta have a contingency plan.

                1. Paul Maplesden profile image77
                  Paul Maplesdenposted 11 years agoin reply to this

                  Damn, that's where I've been going wrong - I always wear my hearts on my sleeve!

          2. paradigmsearch profile image60
            paradigmsearchposted 11 years agoin reply to this

            Good faith really works with me. Too bad two fronts. It will resolve.

            1. MelissaBarrett profile image59
              MelissaBarrettposted 11 years agoin reply to this

              Oh, I believe almost everyone is acting in good faith.  wink

            2. Paul Maplesden profile image77
              Paul Maplesdenposted 11 years agoin reply to this

              I don't have much time for bad faith. Rationality though, that will always win through.

  2. profile image0
    Jane Holmesposted 11 years ago

    A great hub with some very good thoughtful information. As quickly as the world of the internet changes, digital writing, e-books - it no wonder there are ripples in the water. I'm rooting for HubPages and I do think they're working hard to fix the issues people are concerned about. Thanks for thinking it all through and posting this. Let's hope EVERYONE reads its!

  3. WriteAngled profile image74
    WriteAngledposted 11 years ago

    Of course, I fully understand that Hubpages is a business and that money comes above anything else including ethics.

    However, this does not stop me getting upset by the duplicity that arises when official messages about the importance of quality are accompanied by the very evident fact that rubbish and soft porn are allowed to remain on the site, presumably because these bring in views and clicks. Added to this is the fact that genuine authors are being hurt by the draconian measures being imposed in the name of quality.

    I really do  hate the double-speak (Hubspeak) that operates here. Hubs censored from the search engines are described as having "normal" status. Traffic = engagement, no traffic = no engagement.

    Maybe the fact that I have never worked in a commercial environment makes me so unused and sensitive to Hubspeak? On the other hand, I spent well over a decade working for an NGO, during which time I was constantly interacting with the European Commission. I thought I had met the highest (lowest?) levels of doublespeak there. I was wrong. Hubspeak matches the best in Orwell's 1984. Moreover, Hubspeak carries the same implications of burning books (= unfeaturing hubs) that is found in 1984.

    I won't recite once more the list of famous authors who would surely be unfeatured on HP due to lack of views; many have cited them before me. I do however take issue with the Hubspeak postulate that lack of views = low quality .

    In Hubspeak terms, I am a low-quality author, because my hubs get 0-2 views per day, despite the fact many of them have taken me more than six hours of research and writing to produce, despite the fact they are supported by my scientific knowledge and credentials, despite the fact that a substantial part of my NGO work involved presenting medical scientific matters to the general public, which is what I attempt in a number of my hubs.

    I do further take issue with the idea that low traffic is damaging. I have a web site that gets very few views. I do not have the SEO skills to push it up the ladder. However, the one or two Adsense clicks it receives every month provides a revenue from these clicks that beats the HP Ads + Adsense revenue from my hubs each time. So if my web site is not being penalised for poor traffic, why is my HP account under this constant threat?

    I am upset that HP is so unsupportive of people who do try to produce quality content but fail on the SEO side, while at the same time promoting creators of empty drivel who know the tricks and/or have the money to generate huge numbers views to their content.

    1. Paul Maplesden profile image77
      Paul Maplesdenposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      WriteAngled, I completely agree with you about HubSpeak; coming from a comms background, I prefer to use direct language and an honest approach as I find that works better.

      I don't think that the 'duplicity' is intentional, I think the issue is that we're not certain what is being done to deal with the content you mentioned (if anything). If it is 'commercially viable' content, I can see why HP would keep it up (paying the bills after all); if it's not commercially viable, is it simply in a queue or backlog and will be removed when there are the resources or time to do so?

      I think part of the perceived issue is that QAP and idling is only happening from a certain point in time forward, so new content has to go through it, but old content doesn't have the same level of rigor applied.

      That's one of the reasons that I suggested the two comms channels as I think that would give us some insight into future plans and when / if old hubs would be reviewed (among other things.)

      Thanks for your thoughts.

      1. WriteAngled profile image74
        WriteAngledposted 11 years agoin reply to this

        That's fine, but then HP should be upfront about its criteria.

        HP is currently telling visitors to its home page that they can write about pretty well anything here as long as it is quality content.

        Instead, HP should make it clear that anything is welcome (soft porn and poor literary/linguistic quality included) AS LONG AS it gains traffic, while anything, regardless of quality, that does not gain traffic is unwelcome.

        At least then we would know where we stand!

    2. Simone Smith profile image88
      Simone Smithposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      WriteAngled, I entirely understand your frustration and do want to say that any appearance of doublespeak is unintentional (though I know you have no grounds to believe me).

      Our quality system is not perfect. It's a work in progress. Yes, things are still falling through the cracks, and we're working at full speed to try to catch them.

      NOT everything is welcome on HubPages so long as it gains traffic. We have both un-published AND un-Featured many Hubs that used to make a lot of money. It is risky for us, but we're doing it.

      These things just take time. We appreciate your patience, and I'm glad you're still here and you still care enough to share your thoughts with us. That means a lot to me. smile

      1. wilderness profile image95
        wildernessposted 11 years agoin reply to this

        Addressing the "hubspeak" contention, I worked for many years in a trade rife with slang.  "Pipe", for instance, refers to electrical conduit, it cannot be threaded and cannot carry water.  It is not pipe at all, and has a formal name, but that's what it's called.

        The interior working group at HP has without doubt created its own slang and will continue to do so.  Nothing wrong with that, and it's inevitable, but when HP (you, Paul, Derek, etc.) bring that slang outside of HQ and into the forums no one understands you.  You aren't speaking a language we hubbers understand and communication falls apart.

        Probably the biggest misunderstanding is in the word "quality".  We hubbers all know what a quality hub is; in very general terms it is a "stellar" (see, I'm doing it too) hub as outlined in TLC.  But Google has a different definition and HP now has a third and maybe a fourth or fifth.  It's "engagement" (whatever that means), it's "traffic", it's a high MTurk score, etc.  We're simply not communicating when the meaning of the words change.

        Please, try to speak our language when answering emails or forum posts.  Don't redefine terms as it will be a continual fight with Nubes, just take the extra time and words to explain your message in the language we use, not yours.

        I understand the use of some things like "featured" that are defined to give a little spin, make it look good, use the connotative value of a word rather than the actual meaning.  OK, we'll accept that but please keep it to a minimum.  I do think it would go a long way in prevent misunderstandings, anger and problems.

      2. aa lite profile image84
        aa liteposted 11 years agoin reply to this

        Honestly I haven't been on HP long enough to form any firm opinions about the evilness of HP staff or otherwise.    I really am not examining every post for proof of duplicity and conspiracy.  But my gut feeling when you got rid of the 'idle' terminology and replaced it with "featured" and "normal" was that you were engaging in some very poor doublespeak.

        Perhaps I am wrong, but to me it looked like the "hubspeak" was the result of the furore that resulted from the idle program.  But I think a lot of people feel rather insulted by the idea that they could be appeased by changing words.  A hub that is "normal" is exactly the same as an idle hub, it is rather insulting that HP thinks that people will not notice, if the name is changed.

        I actually am not personally insulted, but it is not a very interesting way to conduct a grown up conversation.  Of course you could argue that conducting a conversation given all the shouting on the forums was impossible.  You would not be wrong.  But trying to solve a problem by changing the terminology is so............Nu Labour (sorry I can't think of an American-centric analogy).

        Or take the whole "engagement" question.  Recently on a forum thread about the G+ button an HP staff member, not you Simone, answered with "the G+ button was getting low engagement" when challenged by a hubber about what that meant she replied with "the G+ button got few actual clicks and also that it was not facilitating user interaction with the content"!  Honestly what terrible thing would happen if she had replied, "it didn't get many clicks".  How did you expect the G+ button to "facilitate user interaction with the content"?  What does it all mean?

    3. SimeyC profile image88
      SimeyCposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      A quick question for context - when you worked with the NGO were you able to get on the phone with people? One thing that always has and always will frustrate me is 'text' communication. On the phone, or face to face communication is often far better and it's far easier to get a point across. You can also adapt and change opinions mid discussion as ideas 'bounce' - this cannot be done on a text format (the one we currently have on the forum).

      As an example - Simone has answered the original post, but probably hasn't taking into account anything you have said - and therefore has to do another post to    address what you say - it's a very long, non productive way of discussing things and often words can be taken well out of context.

      Perhaps we need to have some kind of real chat - a monthly web chat session perhaps? Of course - I wrote this in response to your forum entry - as I move down the forum I may find that this has already been discussed - hence my frustration about text, and the redundancy it often causes.

  4. Simone Smith profile image88
    Simone Smithposted 11 years ago

    Thank you for using TL;DR on HubPages. Here's hoping it catches on!

    Regarding HubPages' motives, you're right on, though as someone with sinister tendencies and perhaps less of a good heart, I can say the devotion HubPages' leadership has to truly HELPING Hubbers and acting in their best interests (to help them be found, earn money, cultivate new lives) never ceases to amaze me. When we talk about bottom lines, it's not just "make money" or "keep running" (though that's kind of a deal breaker); it's "help Hubbers learn how to publish high quality content that provides them with a strong online presence and nice side income". As much as our actions sometimes raise ire, they're done in an effort to help Hubbers first and foremost. Believe it or not, we really, really love this community. Even when many of its members think we're out to get them (insert conspiracy theories here).

    The Featured Hubs program is just one of many efforts we have implemented in an effort to stabilize traffic after Panda. The problem is that we're dealing with a moving target (search algorithms are constantly changing), so though Hubbers don't like change, we have no choice but to evolve with the times.

    Regarding your suggestions:

    1. Love the idea. Will create a plan for implementing it today (We've talked about doing it before; I just need to friggin' do it)

    2. The formal feedback mechanism is the Forums (specifically the report a problem Forum and the Suggest a Feature Forum). We've looked at UserVoice, but we don't have the bandwidth to implement something radically different right now, and we're working on something a bit different to test out first (guess I can share more about that in the "what we're working on" thread I'll kick off next week)

    TL;DR: Thanks for the feedback and insights. You're spot on, and I'm on those suggestions (because for the most part, they're things I have the means to implement without bothering the rest of our rather busy team).

    1. Paul Maplesden profile image77
      Paul Maplesdenposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      Thanks for the response Simone - I know I can go on a bit (A lot?!) hence the TL;DR intro.

      I do believe that HP has our best interests at heart, ultimately,  good writers = decent content = impressions = ad revenue. That's why I choose to believe that HP motives are honorable, because:

      1. Without hubbers there isn't a business
      2. I haven't seen specific activities initiated within HP (that weren't a reaction to something external like Panda) that harms hubbers
      3. I think that people generally act in good faith (I know, I'm an idealist and all)

      I appreciate the feedback on my comms suggestions. Although I understand you don't have the resources to implement something like UV right now, if I could make a compromise suggestion? Track all of the ideas / suggestions that hubbers come up with and create a sticky thread with updates against each one and update it once a month (it could even be part of the ''what we're doing thread'.

      So, it could be like this (Example follows):

      HubPages - What we're working on

      An update from Paul E / Simone
      - Weekly Topic Inspiration - WTIs will now focus on new topics to create relevant content for those areas and drive traffic (in place)
      - New HubPages Features - We're looking at several new monetization channels for hubs; we can't share specific yet but will share our thinking in March (In progress)
      - Idled Hubs - Providing a warning system on hubs that are about to go idle - Our engineers are in testing mode on this and we expect to launch it in late February (In progress)
      - QAP - Refining QAP to bring it down to 12-28 hours (In progress)
      - Backlog
      etc. etc.

      Feedback on hubber suggestions and ideas

      - Add Google Plus Buttons - We''re looking into this but it's on the back burner at the moment; we'll review it again in March
      - New Forum Layout - No immediate plans to progress this
      - Change broken link color - Being tested by our engineers; will roll out in February
      - Article Cache / Bookmark - Currently in early development, expect to start testing in April


      This will hopefully not provide too much overhead but would still let us know how our ideas are being considered (and hopefully generate more good ones).


    2. CMHypno profile image82
      CMHypnoposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      Sorry Simone, but this comment is the best laugh I have had in ages.  I can't remember the last time HP implemented anything remotely helpful and idling hubs has just led to a mass rush for the exit.

      'If you really care about  hubbers concerns as you say, why don't you listen to every hubber's concerns?  Just because a hubber is angry about an issue, does not make them wrong on an issue. There are two sides to every issue, yet somehow the way things are being done is just polarising hubbers to either extreme

      Doesn't mean you have to even change the way HP is going, just be honest about things and treat all the writers even handedly.

      The people who are the most angry on these forums are actually the ones that care the most and have the guts to stand up and honestly say what they think.  They are the most loyal, because they are still here fighting for what they believe to be right despite feeling like they have been kicked in the teeth.

      My account is dwindling because I'm removing idled content on a weekly basis.  Wish I didn't have to, but I'm not going to jump through the tweak, idle, feature. idle, tweak hoop.  Some of these hubs have been around for several years and by being idled they have lost all the benefits of that.

      The irony is that I currently have a hubber score of 97 but my hubs are not 'quality' so are being idled, so something is out of kilter?  Just be honest and admit you want hubbers who churn out 'bums in bathroom' hubs for traffic and money. It is your site, so you can choose what you want to do with it. just be honest and say that.  Drop the mixed messages and be clear what types of hubs you want and what you don't want, because like WA said the old 'come and write what you want' is just not true any longer.

  5. ajwrites57 profile image87
    ajwrites57posted 11 years ago

    Thank you Paul for setting forth a thoughtful, thorough, positive, proactive, balanced, courteous and professional critique of Hubpages with your forum posting. Jane, Write Angled and Simone, thank you for your additional  responses and comments to Paul's posting. Often, an outsider's or newcomer's opinions are so important, especially from one who is as knowledgeable as Paul appears to be! I'm new to Hubpages also and am trying to create professional Hubs with the help and advice of the Hubpages Community. I have been hesitant to post in forums because I don't understand much of the inner workings of HP and how Google impacts what we do here. I am learning, however. Also, it appears to me that there is too much discourteous and unprofessional postings on forums including many personal attacks instead of logical, thoughtful remarks. Moderation and circumspection is warranted on the impact this has on individuals and the community. This is disheartening, no matter how disillusioned or injured some may be. I will continue to write and monitor these discussions. thanks so much to all!

    1. ktrapp profile image92
      ktrappposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      I couldn't agree more; thoughtful responses are so much more productive than those that are rude and unprofessional. I've been here for over 19 months now, and I have to say that I find the rude comments of late, especially when hurled directly at another person, to be extremely disheartening and counter-productive.The fact that you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar seems like a lesson that some adults still need to learn.

      I think the best way to learn about HubPages and Google is to go directly to the sources. The information in The Learning Center here is very helpful and consistent with quality guidelines that Google has suggested. I also like to read through Google's Webmaster Central Blog. I often refer to the bullet list in this blog entry on creating quality web content: http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot. … ality.html

      1. Paul Maplesden profile image77
        Paul Maplesdenposted 11 years agoin reply to this

        Ktrapp, thanks for your thoughts. I really like that list of good content tips as well, in fact it was through reading that list that I came across the top twenty list for creating great content from CopyBlogger (which is based on the list you mentioned). I posted the CopyBlogger list here if you're interested:

  6. LCDWriter profile image89
    LCDWriterposted 11 years ago

    As a fellow newbie, I wanted to say thanks for your thoughts here.  Interesting and full of good ideas.

  7. aa lite profile image84
    aa liteposted 11 years ago

    Of course I agree with you about HP being a business, needing to make money (and a lot of us also care a lot about making money here, nothing wrong with that).

    However, I would disagree about us being employees or subcontractors of HP.  The big difference is that we own our writing here, HP doesn't buy our hubs, it provides a platform on which we can publish our stuff.  In some ways it is more like a partnership.  Of course HP owns the platform, and put up all the money for starting this thing, so of course they get to make the decisions about how it is run.

    Imagine if I inherited a lot of great heritage chickens from my great aunt, however the cruel old woman left her farm to my brother, with whom I've long been at war.  So I have these fantastic chickens, but no place to put them.  One day, I meet you, my friend, in the pub, and tell you of the problem.  It just so happens that you've inherited a big farm, but you're not sure what to do with it. 

    After the third pint, the obvious solution occurs to us, I house my chickens on your farm, we sell the eggs and split the profits 60:40 (those were really some fantastic rare chickens).  For a while everything is great, everybody wants to buy our eggs and the partnership is doing great.

    However, there is still a lot empty space left on the farm.  Another friend of yours has come into possession of some cute meerkats, he thinks they have a lot of commercial value, but he's not sure where to keep them.  You quickly suggest that he can keep them on your farm, and split the money with them.  I dislike the meerkat idea, they are noisy and aggressive and stress out my chickens.  However I don't really have much of a say about this, it is after all your farm. 

    You're not that happy with the meerkats either, but they do bring in a lot of money by being used in commercials on TV.  Our partnership is no longer as friendly as before, but things go on ok.  Until one day it is discovered that meerkats might be carriers of spammolia, a dangerous virus.  People suddenly hate them, and they boycott our farm, and don't buy eggs from my chickens anymore. 

    Obviously we are both devastated by the situation and we both need to find a solution.  I think we need to go on an all out meerkat cull, terminate them with extreme prejudice.  You think it would be better to invest in expensive equipment and set up a complicated laboratory to test the meerkats, and S1K (schedule1 kill) only the ones that are carrying the disease.  Of course it is your farm, so you do what you think is right.

    But it all takes a lot of time, the testing equipment is expensive, setting up the laboratory is complicated.  Really there is no way you can test all the meerkats (many of which have escaped their cages and have gone feral) on the farm, so initially you will  only test the ones your friend brings in from outside. 

    Obviously this does nothing to alleviate the anger of the townspeople who are still not buying eggs from me.  So you come up with another plan.  Since the spammolia virus frequently, but not always, causes lethargy in its carriers, you will quarantine any animal, chicken or meerkat that is lethargic.  Since my chickens are so stressed out by the meerkats, a lot of them are lethargic, even though there is no basis for believing that they can be spammolia carriers.  I am very upset by the implication that my chickens are diseased.

    After a few months the situation is far from good.  The townspeople still hate us and don't buy my eggs. The testing procedures for spammolia are inaccurate, infected meerkats are still coming in.  You keep talking about needing to fine tune the procedures.  You've quarantined many of my innocent chickens but I keep coming across diseased meerkats which are running free.  I've made a hobby of catching them and displaying them publicly to show everybody how ineffective your methods are.  You point out that you are making progress in your tests, far fewer spammolia carriers are coming through, and you are sure that in a few more months we will be rid of the virus, people will realise that and will start buying eggs from the farm again.

    I become quite angry, accuse you of unfairness in your quarantine procedures, that you prefer some animals and that you have pets.  The shouting matches get so heated that you ban me from coming to the pub (which you also own).

    Sorry this ended up being much longer than I expected. On my other window I have a hub in progress which I am now very bored with so I'm procrastinating.

    TL;DR The chicken started it!

    1. ktrapp profile image92
      ktrappposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      Just curious, does the farm have billboards all over it? And I'm wondering, since you've built separate, sturdy chicken coops for each chicken (i.e. sub-domains) aren't they less stressed out by the meerkats and more protected from the spammolia virus?

      BTW - A+ for most creative forum comment in the history of forums!

      1. Paul Maplesden profile image77
        Paul Maplesdenposted 11 years agoin reply to this

        I thought it was brilliantly creative too - I wish I could create analogies that effortlessly! Alas, I'm only good at writing boring how-to's!

      2. aa lite profile image84
        aa liteposted 11 years agoin reply to this

        Ha ha @ ktrapp, no billboards.

        But I'm glad you asked about the sturdy chicken coops.  This was tried (I couldn't go into all the details in a forum post), and it actually worked quite well initially.  For a brief period (from August to February I think), the townspeople were happy to buy eggs from the isolated chickens.  However, as people in town kept falling sick with the virus, possibly not from the farm at all, rumours started spreading that the this was not an efficient anti-spammolia measure, and the boycott restarted. 

        The truth is that the townspeople can't really be bothered to learn about virology and form a truly informed decision, just like the Google algorithm can't really tell about quality the way a human does.

        @Paul Alas anologies and funny stories don't get traffic, and I'm not very good at writing how-to' you might be better off than me.

    2. Paul Maplesden profile image77
      Paul Maplesdenposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      AA, I agree with your point that we aren't subcontrators or employees and removed that from my original post. As you say, it is more like a partnership agreement.

      I also think your analogy is brilliant, well thought out and entertainingly explained and breaks down the issue nicely. I think you've hit the nail on the head in terms of new chickens and meerkats vs existing ones and how that can be unfair.

      The issue is of course how we ensure we wipe out the spammolia virus in the first place in a way that's fair to everyone. I don't have the answer to that, but I do think that if I worked on the farm and I had a virus running around, I'd want to know what quarantine procedures were in place, how they were being enforced, if they controlled the virus and when we could expect them to be lifted.

      Hopefully that's something we'll see and the farm owners will be happy to communicate to us. Good luck in finishing your hub!

      1. sallybea profile image95
        sallybeaposted 11 years agoin reply to this

        I for one am just grateful to have one Paul Maplesden on HUbPages- very much a spokesman for new people like myself and who also talks plenty of sense and gives some good advice.   I reckon we should let him let him speak for us whilst we get on with the business of writing quality Hubs.  The chicken story gets a stop score from me by the way.

        1. Paul Maplesden profile image77
          Paul Maplesdenposted 11 years agoin reply to this

          Heh, I'm not a spokesperson, at least not intentionally and I don't really want that responsibility (I've never really been very good at politics).

          I'm just bringing my perspective and throwing a few things out there and although I appreciate (very much) the vote of confidence, I'd also be delighted to see others expressing their opinions (whatever they may be) in an open and constructive way.

  8. Randy Godwin profile image60
    Randy Godwinposted 11 years ago

    It's great to have so many newbies weigh in on the present problems HP is going through at this time.  Of course, none of them have experienced the terrible loss of traffic we have.  Many of us have had hubs on the first page of Google only to have them fall far beneath those consisting of short spammy articles which in some cases are clearly deficient in answering a searchers queries.  In this case the question of ''quality,"  not HP's definition, but that used by almost everyone else in the world, leaves something to be desired.

    The use of Hubspeak, as some have referred to it, is obviously a means to make the situation sound better than what it is, not just shoptalk as some have suggested.  When a company uses such tactics it indicates they are merely trying to slip something by those who know no better, and apparently it works for some.  Personally, I see it as a disingenuous ploy.  There is no place for it by a company which strives to be seen as an honest business and I particularly resent it from HP. 

    This is especially true for the word "quality."  Every time I see this term used by either Simone or any other staffer it makes me cringe.  As a writer--yes I know some may question my ability as such--words have  certain meanings to me, and for a site claiming to be for writers this is particularly obnoxious to me.  This goes for using the word "engagement"  also.  I'd rather HP use the real words as a real writer or reader would use in such a situation.

    Changing the meaning of words--remember the ludicrous "elite" word used for the HP greeters not long ago--really gains you nothing but contempt from those of us who understand their real meanings.  Stop playing games with the writers, it does nothing but cause even more problems.  I don't think you need to compound those you already have.

    1. MelissaBarrett profile image59
      MelissaBarrettposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      I will take a rare opportunity to agree with you... on a point.

      I'm ok with the featured/unfeatured thing.  That's a pretty concise way of saying either featured on your page/Google or not.  I wish that engagement was saved for actual engagement (time on hub/bounce rate) rather than traffic.

      1. wilderness profile image95
        wildernessposted 11 years agoin reply to this

        +1  That was my thought, too, on engagement.  They must be talking about time on page, and no other option occurred to me.

        1. aa lite profile image84
          aa liteposted 11 years agoin reply to this

          They could measure other things, like using the poll capsules, using the picture slideshows, if you've embedded a youtube movie, whether the punter turns it on.  Stuff like that.  Of course all this just translates to longer time on the page, but I could imagine an argument being made that this shows more "interaction with the content" then just just sitting there and reading it.

          But I've never seen any confirmation that these things, even time on page, are actually taken into account.  It's possible that right now "engagement" just means traffic, but there are plans in the future to really measure engagement.

    2. Paul Maplesden profile image77
      Paul Maplesdenposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      I agree that many of us new members haven't been through the pain of Panda and I can't imagine how frustrating it must have been to see so much hard work be devalued. I know that's one of the driving factors behind changes here, and I can also appreciate why Panda itself, and the reactions to it have caused significant issues.

      I'm not a fan of 'linguistic garnish' either, but I don't think that's just HP's fault. Having spent many years in a business environment, those buzzwords were *everywhere* (engagement, strawman, quality, touch base etc.) It's easy to fall into the trap of using that language, and as someone else wisely pointed out, it *is* a useful shorthand when you're discussing stuff internally, it just doesn't work so well for external communications.

      When language is used well, it should remove barriers, not create them. I think that the things that would help to reduce the barriers between HP and its hubbers are:

      - Honest use of language that we can all understand
      - Letting us know what is happening with idled hubs, QAP and old content / backlog
      - Creating some better communications channels / updates
      - Explaining the thinking behind suggestions or other concerns raised by hubbers

      This can only help.

      (On a personal note, I think you're a great creative writer. I read a very thought-provoking and powerful hub of yours a couple of days ago and was quite moved by it.)

      1. Randy Godwin profile image60
        Randy Godwinposted 11 years agoin reply to this

        Thanks Paul, and I'd like you to realize I have nothing against you or your attempts to make things better here.  And no, you certainly cannot understand completely what many of us have gone through since Google has slapped HP so hard for the spun junk and other spammy articles which, by the way, is still here on the site.

        No matter what excuses HP has given for letting them remain on site they are still here and still causing Google to downgrade our work.  Personally, I'm not going to trust HP until they do something to get rid of this dross.  I'm lucky that I don't have to buy into the excuses made by TPTB simply to make a few coins here, but I realize others are not so fortunate and have no option but to do so.

        I also realize HP is  business--how can I not with this being used as an excuse for their questionable actions lately by so many of their protagonists--but sadly, merely because it is a business is no excuse at all as there are plenty of bad businesses around today.  And in my opinion, some should simply go the way of the dinosaur and close their doors if they cannot treat their writers with more respect.  Hubspeak  is an insulting way of trying to spin the actual meaning of words which they are reluctant to use and nothing less.

        Simone herself has not been here long.  I appreciate her trying to help things out but she has no clue as to what others--many of them long gone now because of the way HP treated them--experienced while on this site.  And as others have pointed out, I do care about HP despite what some infer about my questioning the way things are going now.  Not for HP, not much anymore, but for the good people who have placed their hard work into HP's hands and been betrayed for their efforts.

        And yes, HP needs some sort of public relations person who can actually answer questions by the writers and not simply talk to them in some sort of code which only makes things seem more suspect.  I'm sorry, but there is no one here who has the ability to do this effectively.  Not Simone, not Paul E, and especially not the tech guys who certainly don't claim to be writers.

        My suggestion is for HP to be honest with the members.  Yes, I realize this is a new concept for HP, but I wish they would try it sometimes.  I would have a lot more respect for them if sometimes they would answer, "we don't know" instead of trying to act as if they do.  And really, I don't think they do know.

        Yes, I've heard the suggestion it would put the "ultra secret algorithms" in jeopardy, but this seems a bit silly, because as as far as I can tell, there are no other companies clamoring to copy a failing enterprise.  This same excuse is used by Helium and other content farms and is laughed at as the excuse is here. 

        But I've had my say here.  The old saying "walk a mile in my shoes" is particularly apt in this situation, especially to those of you who are still crawling.  smile  Y'all have a good day now, ya heah.

  9. AMFredenburg profile image72
    AMFredenburgposted 11 years ago

    Hi, newbie, here, only involved since September, with 4 active Hubs and having amassed a total of $2.01 in earnings. I used to write for eHow/Demand Studios before it eliminated user-provided articles and began to publish only articles assigned by it. I've written a bit for DS since then, but work very slowly and can't justify the research needed sometimes to create quality content for DS in a way that nets me a living. 

    I still edit for DS, somehow surviving the massacre that occurred after Panda, so I see all the constrictions that authors have to deal with there (I *am" one if their constrictions). HubPages is a welcome opportunity to write about what I want to write about, and I hope to eventually develop a bit of an income so I'm not enslaved to the accounts payable departments at the academic presses I freelance for (right now one AP dept. is at 42 days and counting to cough up the cash on a very large job).

    HubPages does have a way for writers to ask questions; I used it when I was trying to get my sister to sign up under my referral tracker. I clicked on "FAQ" and "Contact Us" and asked a question, and within a few days I got an answer. Not terribly speedy, but effective, and I managed to get my sister's account listed under my own. Perhaps making that option more prominent would be a good use of HubPages' efforts.

    Regarding quality, HubPages is waaaayyyyyyyy more lenient than Demand Studios; I enjoy reading Hubs and have come across some phenomenal ones, but have also seen articles that I would have applied my "Lizzie Borden" method of editing to ("Lizzie Borden took an axe / and gave her mother forty whacks....) or, using DS's absolutely legitimate editing standards, rejected outright. HubPages offers a complicated way to create a multimedia Hub that can generate income for both itself and the contributor, and right now, at 4 hubs and 2 bucks, I'm inclined to look at it as a gift horse and not peer too intently into its mouth. I've got a lot to learn about creating lucrative Hubs. Maybe if I came to rely on it for a substantial percentage of my income I would feel differently.

  10. Marcy Goodfleisch profile image83
    Marcy Goodfleischposted 11 years ago

    While we are at it (or you guys are at it, and I'm arriving late to the party), it would be great to factor in some of the issues on the threads about poor English, as well as a thread just posted by VocalCoach, a respected writer here, asking how to raise her Hubber score (the thread is titled something about getting a few hubs reviewed).

    Using the excellent and entertaining analogy about chicken farming, and the most astute observation that this is a partnership (rather than an employee or contract situation), maybe it would be good to create a balance of input into how standards are set, and where the egg farm should head as it goes forward. If someone (whether meerkats or another species) is systematically offering poor-quality goods under the broad name of the chicken farm, it is harming the entire farm and downgrading the value of all products.

    Similarly if the internal mechanism for 'rating' one chicken/egg producer against another regularly ranks the flawed or poor quality produce as being of the same quality and value as the genuine Grade A produce, consumers are being tricked and given deceptive information, and will start taking their business elsewhere. And the farm workers have no clear idea of what is needed to have accurate grades attached to their work. After all - egg thieves and those who put stones in the nests and call them eggs are ranked along with the honest farmers who have integrity.

    1. aa lite profile image84
      aa liteposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      Marcy, I think we need to be careful not to take the "partnership" idea too far, I don't think HP is going to be run by a staff/hubber committee.  But I do agree with the OP, better communications, without the sugarcoating HubSpeak would be good.

      It would be nice if we had an indication about when the bad stuff on the site will bad stuff on the site will be assessed, if ever. 

      I've seen that a forum thread is now started for people to post the spam, engrish etc. that they find that is still featured.  Perhaps HP could work with us, we bring all that stuff to one place, that forum thread, and they prioritise it for removal.  The stuff I've seen on various threads was so bad, it takes only a few seconds to realise it shouldn't be on the site.

  11. Lisa HW profile image64
    Lisa HWposted 11 years ago

    Note:  This post turned out way, way, too long; but it covers a lot of stuff I've been wanting to say for a long time.  But, because I know a lot of people aren't going to read all this; I've separated it with a line.  My main point is above the line.  The rest of my post is just thought-spewing/stewing, venting, etc. etc.  You know what set me off on the venting thing, though:  The comment about how HubPages is a business (the comment, not the individual OP in particular, by the way).

    I always appreciate, respect and value a thread that aims for real discussion/substance on these forums; and with regard to the OP's suggestions for HP might do, I'm not even addressing that half of the post.  I don't see it as aimed at me.  I certainly see nothing particularly wrong with the suggestions, though.  I can only justify/explain the length of my post here by pointing out the length of the original thread and mentioning that if someone apparently on HP for such a relatively short time has come up with all these issues to mention, one can only imagine what a few years of build-up of issues-without-really-airing might result in.  (This is in NO WAY a dig at anyone who hasn't been on this site for very long.  How long someone has been on a site certainly is no reflection of his capacity to come up with sound ideas and/or with as much right to share them as anyone "older" has.)

    The top part of the post, though, is essentially aimed at "the general public".  Since I fall under that I'd like to point out something about that whole "HubPages is a business" thing that we see on here, over and over again (as if everyone who doesn't come across on here as "all commercial" doesn't already know that or, worse, as if people whose APPARENT focus and overall approach doesn't clearly give off "business-minded vibes" are clueless about business.   I don't want this come across as angry here, because I'm just offering my version of "straight talk" to this thread; but, honestly, if I see yet one more Hub, or one more forum thread or post, that "wisely" informs everyone else that HubPages and/or the Internet "is a business" my head just my explode.
      I really think that (and give people credit for) that most people are more than well aware that HubPages is a business.    In both the offline world and online world there is often the tendency for people who eat and sleep business-talk, and who are engaged in very commercial efforts/approaches in their work to assume that anyone who doesn't come across the same way is clueless about business, finance, marketing, etc. etc.   I know that nobody who doesn't know how often this over-used and well worn "information" ("HubPages is a business") has been mentioned is directing it at me, personally; and I know people mean well with their "news flashes" about it; but I really suspect that the vast majority of people (at least the grown-ups and those who write reasonably decent material, regardless of what kind it is) are more than well aware of the fact that - here goes again - HubPages is a business.  There are the people who don't seem to care a whole lot about earning or traffic or whether HP is a business.  They aren't generally the ones who are voicing complaints/concerns/questions (etc.) about the state-of-affairs with traffic and changes.  People who are concerned with traffic or whether their Hubs are viewed as "high quality" or "stellar" are generally more than well aware that this site is a business; and are often people who have made their own online-writing business by being on a number of sites like this - not just this one.

    I came from a corporate environment in a good-sized company before I started my own little "take-projects-from-home" business when I went from having one child to starting to have more.  I set up my whole, little, business; and I spent a whole lot of time studying up on the very different angle of business (one-person business) than the aspects associated with working at good sized corporation (where my own projects related to marketing, scientific areas, medical products/procedures, corporate planning and new ventures).  I'd also written for newspapers and edited scientific materials for publication.  Separate from all that, I'd been collecting a bunch of writing with the idea of marketing it when children weren't quite so young (and when I therefore would have the time to include marketing into whatever else I was doing), so I spent a lot of time learning about that aspect of freelance writing.

    So, when I first started writing online I wasn't clueless about business OR writing.  It wasn't all that long ago that I first started writing online, and I was pretty much horrified at the cesspool that was the Internet.  People who even dared to raise the matter of grammar, or who dared to write anything longer than 400 words tops (and 200 was seen as perfectly fine), generally met with (at best) condescending reminders that "the world has changed" and that "people have changed".  At worse, people met with hostility.  I don't mean to send out a far-flung, blanket-generalization, insult (because I know a whole lot of people are every bit, and often far more, "with-a-clue" about their own thing as I am; but here goes (and don't take it personally, anyone):  I saw the Internet as being full of "technical people" who didn't have a clue about writing, English grammar, and/or human nature; and as people who were under the impression that the invention of the Internet meant that human nature and offline-world business had changed as much as the latest available technology had.  Yes, the world had changed; but human nature (and that's what's behind real-world business, whether in the running of business or on the consumer end) doesn't change (no matter how lifestyles do).  I also saw the Internet as full of people young enough not to have lived in a world in which everyone had computers in their homes; and who therefore had come to see a divide between "the old, computer-less, generation and a newer, computer-savvy one".  I just took the Internet for "as it was" and did my thing, because I figured eventually (and as it became more and more part of the "real" world), the Internet would eventually catch up and "get with the real-world program".

    In any case, I had my "serious" writing, which was my business; and I saw the Internet as having potential for "expanding my business" to include writing that I wanted to, rather than writing someone else wanted me to do.  I wanted to get away from writing "straight commercial/straight information" type stuff and instead do what so many writers (or just people) hope they they can do, which is share things I've learned about life (in any numbers of areas) with people who may benefit, or else try to help (corny as this sounds) "promote understanding" in a world that I've only really realized is so completely lacking in understanding of others since I've lived the extra couple of decades of adult life that I have.  Anyway, the non-business-looking stuff I write doesn't mean I'm clueless about business.

    I'm not looking to HubPages to "further a career in novel-writing" , help me to learn how to write better, or give me a new life (etc. etc.).   I don't pretend to know anything about running a site like this one; and I pretty assume the people running the site a) know a lot more than I do about it, and b) are doing their best (after all, HubPages IS A BUSINESS roll .  HP doesn't want to fail).  My business is my writing, but I approach my writing business the way, say, Amazon approaches its business:  I offer a wide variety of stuff in a wide variety of areas.  Google has its agenda.  HP has its.  I have mine.  I'm not going to focus even a tiny part (the online writing) of my writing efforts on someone else's agenda.  That may work over the short term, but it won't over my own long-term.

    I'm not one who does a lot of complaining about changes at HP.  I've just gone with them and don't necessarily think they're bad (for HP or for some writers).  I think I'm like a lot of those people who do speak up, though, in really wondering whether SOME of what's being done now may take HP directly into being a major content farm (with lots of pictures) rather than away from it.  Maybe HP wants to be the biggest and best content farm online, and maybe there's more money for all involved if that could happen.  What I can't "reconcile" (or something) is that there are lists about what Google might view as "high quality" and there is the HP standard for a "stellar Hub".  The two aren't necessarily the same thing; and then there's the thing that Google says people shouldn't do what they think Google will like anyway.  A recent list that showed up (somewhere on the forums here and elsewhere) includes "something that hasn't been seen before".  Maybe "the biggest, and most polished, and highest-quality, content farm" would be something nobody has seen before; so I'd think that might be make HP OK in the eyes of Google (if that's the aim).  So that serves HP's agenda, but not necessarily the agenda/purposes of people who don't want to do "content-farm" type stuff (even with pictures and polls) but whose stuff might actually be "liked" by Google (or readers in general, and readers do still exist in the world).  This would explain why so many people with decent-quality stuff do better away from HP.  I'm fine with the idea that HP appears to be going in a direction other than one that matches my own writing preferences.  (There are a whole lot of sites and publications that don't happen to match my own writing aims - and don't judge my "writing aims" by the Hubs I have left on here; I've taken out a half/third of what I once had on here, and that stuff has been the stuff I see as "better quality"  writing.)  What I think has a lot of HP writers confused or aggravated (or whatever) is that so many don't know what they should be writing, should be leaving, should be deleting, etc. etc.  People know what "high quality writing" is, but that doesn't necessarily match the definition for "stellar Hub".  People know what's on those lists of what Google might think is decent quality, and that doesn't always match "stellar Hub".  As someone else said above, HP doesn't  (or can't, maybe) just out-and-out tell people, "Look.  We don't want this kind of stuff on our site now. "  People are adults.  They'd be fine with it.  Instead there are often mixed messages from HP.  At the same time, these days so much of the community seems to have been groomed (or whatever) into accepting that "a stellar Hub" is the only thing that's not "crap" on this site; so we have good writers being sent all kinds of messages essentially that their kind of writing is crap (at least on this site).  It's not surprising, and it's not hard to understand.  It can just be confusing to get so many mixed messages, or else to get no messages at all.

    Ironically, maybe, people stay because in spite of the "crap Hubs" they've had up for years, they've continued to make money.  People don't want to waste years of writing time, so they can be slow to remove all Hubs; and there's always those mixed messages about "maybe the earnings will pick up again".  They don't want to invest a lot of time writing Hubs that may/may not be featured or get traffic.  I've had my times when I've wondered if I was too quick to delete the relatively few idled Hubs I had; and by deleting some of my better Hubs my profile now has a far higher percentage of Hubs that I hate or am embarrassed by (and see as "crap").  Those, though, are primarily the "information-only" Hubs, and they're the ones that stand the best chance of getting traffic; but as a result, I've got a profile with a high percentage of low-quality writing that isn't going to "appeal" very much to Google's latest apparent standards of quality.  A whole lot of people don't really know what they should be doing or not doing with regard to hanging in, bailing, or keeping one foot on boat that could either sink or else take off unexpectedly (neither of which would do much for one's footing).

    Either way, there have always been people who know/care little about writing and only know/care about marketing/SEO (as it had always been until fairly recently).  Then there are the people who only care about using writing in the Internet-writing setting.  There are also those people for whom writing is their business.  It's what they care about for work and/or in their free time.  When this third group chooses to do things according to their own agenda, or when they focus on the fact that good writing is so often now seen as "crap" when compared to what now seems to be being emphasized on this site (and some of the stuff that does show up on this site, like spun and broken-English, stuff), it not because they're too stupid to understand/realize that HP and the Internet is business.  (Again, this isn't particularly directed at the OP here, but at all those zillions of other people who have come before him and made this same, "Earth-shattering", announcement to those presumed to be too stupid, or too naive, or too whatever, to know what's a business and what isn't.  (Of course, there are those in a minority who don't really care, or may not be all that tuned into it; but they're in a minority.  Again, most people who write reasonably decent stuff certainly know that they've signed on with a business arrangement with HP and that it's all about money for HP and those writers who care about earning it).

    A whole lot of people (maybe most) who voice "a big dilemma" about the changes on this site, and who a couple of years' worth of stuff on here, don't need the "news" about HP being a business; and they don't need the (forgive me) condescending comments about rough someone else understands how rough it is to "have one's work de-valued".  A whole lot of people just have a build up of a whole lot of pieces of writing on here, and don't really know what they should/shouldn't do about them at this point.  It's dollars and cents for a lot of those people (including me)- nothing more.  Nobody wants to prematurely or too quickly dump a few years worth of writing, but people who can earn money with their writing (in one place/way or another) don't want stuff, or efforts, wasted and without earnings either.  To add to the confusion, masses of those very "commercial-centric" Hubbers were kicked in the head with the first Panda; while those of us whose Hubs were far less commercial-centric got traffic and often earned close to what we'd been earning before Panda.  That led a lot of people to think they were wisest to stick with the less commercial-centric stuff (and they were), but then each algorithm roll-out that followed over time gradually hit more and more people and stuff.  Pandas/penguins aside, at some point there I just decided to do what's right for me, or what I think is right for a subject or me, a writer; so I have no doubt that some of my own traffic/earnings decreases are because I haven't gone along with what HP is encouraging people to do (if they want earnings/traffic).

    Second, eighth, and ninety-fourth thoughts before actually hitting "submit" on this one  (I always go between wanting to say what I want but having so much to say that it's embarrassing).....    but here goes....      (Actually, I think I may need to start "a-whole-nother", whole separate, thread to finish up with airing my "general feedback" to anyone who may have a shred of interest in it.  lol  lol)

  12. Marcy Goodfleisch profile image83
    Marcy Goodfleischposted 11 years ago

    Lisa HW posted several great points, including this one:

    "I saw the Internet as being full of "technical people" who didn't have a clue about writing, English grammar, and/or human nature; and as people who were under the impression that the invention of the Internet meant that human nature and offline-world business had changed as much as the latest available technology had.  Yes, the world had changed; but human nature (and that's what's behind real-world business, whether in the running of business or on the consumer end) doesn't change (no matter how lifestyles do).  I also saw the Internet as full of people young enough not to have lived in a world in which everyone had computers in their homes; and who therefore had come to see a divide between "the old, computer-less, generation and a newer, computer-savvy one"."

    This is so well-stated, Lisa - exactly what many of us encountered about 10-14 years ago, when everyone figured the way to get rich was to hire someone to build a website. In Austin, we had hundreds (literally) of start-ups during that era, and most have gone bust. They had young Turks (not our 'grading group') who could build a site, but knew nothing about writing content on it, or about running a business. Those kids - they were all around 22-25 - bought or leased so many multi-syllable cars that it made your head spin. To a person, pretty much, none of them incorporated experienced business professionals, none had a marketing plan (and the investors were too giddy over the potential money to even ask about that), and none of them hired decent writers.

    If you could post a website with just 50 words, why bother to have more content? If the goal was to have a website, why have a business plan? Guess what - all those expensive cars got repossessed, the self-centered tech guys all lost their jobs, and the investors lost all their money. An example - one firm blew through $65 million in start-up bucks in just 30 months, and brought in only $150,000 in revenue during that time.

    I'm not sure if this is what Lisa is saying, but it seems to me we are in a subsequent iteration of the bloodbath that happened a decade ago when the dot-com craze hit and people went broke. Google is clearly sending a message that they want GOOD content (which basically means that the advertisers want good content - meaning that it attracts people who can afford to buy what they're selling).  Advertisers don't want to pay money to have their ads posted on sites or pages with copied content, or poorly written junk that will cause the reader to immediately hit the backspace button.

    As Lisa said - it's no big news that this is a business. For most of us writing here, it's also a business. Aside from the idling program, the mTurk thing (or whatever) and other efforts, something truly needs to be done to stop the influx of junk. There were far too many examples of bad hubs (new ones) on another thread. And this doesn't even address the really bad content that's lingering here from previous years (although the idling program might be helping all of that).

    The early years of the dot-com frenzy were full of people trying to game the system by doing only one thing (building a site). Several years later, the SEO gamers came along.  Maybe now, Google has finally found ways to address the gamers and lean more toward quality content. I think they're still scrambling to find ways to do that (otherwise, we wouldn't see the Animal du Jour stuff with Pandas and Penguins).  It's all for the better, though - if we can reduce the amount of trash on the Internet, we will all benefit.

    As was mentioned early on - this is a partnership (I really like the way that was pointed out). The writers who produce good content are voicing their concerns, and without good writing, the site doesn't exist.

    1. paradigmsearch profile image60
      paradigmsearchposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      You are on a roll today.

      1. profile image0
        summerberrieposted 11 years agoin reply to this

        A very admirable one.
        you (Marcy)

        1. Marcy Goodfleisch profile image83
          Marcy Goodfleischposted 11 years agoin reply to this

          Thanks, Sweet Friend!

      2. Marcy Goodfleisch profile image83
        Marcy Goodfleischposted 11 years agoin reply to this

        Apparently so.  I need your technical advice (for real) - can I PM you?

        1. paradigmsearch profile image60
          paradigmsearchposted 11 years agoin reply to this


          1. Marcy Goodfleisch profile image83
            Marcy Goodfleischposted 11 years agoin reply to this

            I sent you a message via the fan mail link on your profile.

  13. Maralexa profile image83
    Maralexaposted 11 years ago

    This is a very worthwhile read.  TPTB does that mean The Powers That Be?  What does TL;DR mean?  Thanks

    1. rebekahELLE profile image86
      rebekahELLEposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      Yes to TPTB.
      TL; DR = Too long; didn't read

    2. Paul Maplesden profile image77
      Paul Maplesdenposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      Hi Marakexa - Yes, TPTB is 'the powers that be', TL;DR is 'Too Long, Didn't Read' - Essential for my walls of text, so I summarised.

      1. Maralexa profile image83
        Maralexaposted 11 years agoin reply to this

        Thanks  rebekahELLE and thanks Paul!


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