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Advice for new members

  1. NatashaL profile image81
    NatashaLposted 19 months ago

    Please understand that writing Hubs takes time and effort.  If you're here looking to make quick money, you're going to be disappointed.

    Before you ask for help to improve your Hub, please remember the following:

    1. If your first language isn't English, and you fail QAP, your command of English grammar and conventions is probably the problem. Before you try to make any other changes, visit a site for ESL learners to learn how to correct the grammar and usage mistakes.  Visit writing Hubs here for advice.  And by all means, read similar Hubs that passed QAP.  Consider honestly why those Hubs passed and yours didn't.  If you are unwilling or unable to invest time in improving your English, don't be surprised when subsequent Hubs also fail QAP.  You may need to put other Hubs on hold and fix the problems with the ones you have.

    2.  Rushing leads to mistakes.  Some members have already admitted here that they were in such a hurry to just get a Hub out that they didn't bother to double check the Hub's category or the grammar and usage.  This is the wrong attitude to have.  If you don't take time to carefully check every aspect of your Hub before publishing it, why should anyone else care about reading it?

    3.  Understand that advice is given in a spirit of helpfulness.  Demanding "easier suggestions" because you don't like the advice you got shows a lack of appreciation for those who take time to offer advice.  Often, the "easier suggestions" you want aren't going to address the true problem.  Please respect others' time and don't take advantage of their willingness to help.  Many of us don't mind pointing out a few areas that need work, but it is presumptuous and unreasonable to ask us to go through your Hub sentence by sentence and tell you exactly how to fix all the problems. 

    4.  Read the advice others have given and received.  You may find something that benefits you. 

    5.  Check your formatting and layout.  Are subtitles and visual elements arranged in an efficient yet visually appealing manner?

    6.  Specifics are always better than generalities.  If you post a general statement, expand on it. 

    7.  Unless you are an expert on your topic, you need to cite and link to reputable sources.

    8.  Avoid hyperbole and overuse of adjectives or exclamation points.  Strong material will elicit excitement and interest on its own.

    9.  Write for your readers, not for yourself. What may seem obvious to you may not be obvious to your readers.  Clearly explain any acronyms and jargon.

    10.  Paragraphs should be succinct yet thorough.  Use the fewest words necessary to effectively convey your message.  Being succinct shows that you respect your readers' time.

    1. theraggededge profile image99
      theraggededgeposted 19 months agoin reply to this

      Let's hope they pay attention. Perhaps this should be a sticky post?

    2. TIMETRAVELER2 profile image99
      TIMETRAVELER2posted 19 months agoin reply to this

      Excellent advice. There is nothing that irks me more than to take time to offer advice and have the recipient be rude about it or worse.  This happens quite often and causes people to stop helping others.

      1. DrMark1961 profile image99
        DrMark1961posted 19 months agoin reply to this

        I just took the time to answer a newbie´s questions on here but have yet to see the response. I am not an English speaker and never wrote on the internet before 2012, but I have about 5 million page views and make a decent income here, so I really feel like I can help many people who come on here with "why wont my hub pass QAP?"
        I read that nasty answer to you from the Indonesian guy who told everyone that he is closing the forum because of the comments. I am amazed that you, Marisa, and a few others are still nice enough to help.

    3. Kylyssa profile image97
      Kylyssaposted 19 months agoin reply to this

      I agree with number seven. Unfortunately, HubPages does not. They clearly don't want us to link to sources, because when they move a hub to one of the vertical sites, they remove the sources.

      I feel very uncomfortable about the removal of the sources and resources from my hubs on health issues and homelessness. I feel like the percentages and facts I state are stronger with the links to the reports and studies from the appropriate agencies than without them.

      1. NatashaL profile image81
        NatashaLposted 19 months agoin reply to this

        <sigh>  That's actually discouraging.  I've always believed that it's important for your credibility to cite any sources you consult.  I don't quite understand how, if asked, I would refer a reader to more information.

        I went through the Learning Center, and I thought it was all right to, for example, make a word link to the Guinness Book of World Records if you're talking about a world record (make the title a link).

        I'll continue to tell a new member to at least cite sources for general statements.  (Instead of "Avocados are good for your skin," I think an author should write, "According to the American Dermatological Association, avocados benefit the skin by...")

        Thanks for the heads-up.

        1. Marisa Wright profile image98
          Marisa Wrightposted 19 months agoin reply to this

          I think the problem is that the citing of sources is running up against HubPages' rules about links having to be relevant.

          So for instance, if you are writing a Hub about avocados, then linking to a site about avocados is fine - but linking to a site about dermatology is not.  Which is a nonsense, but I think the problem is they are paying people to apply rules and those people don't have any discretion to bend them.

          1. Kylyssa profile image97
            Kylyssaposted 19 months agoin reply to this

            You'd have a point if they only removed unrelated links. If you are writing about homelessness as it impacts LGBT people and link to the results of studies about homelessness and LGBT people, they remove those links. If you write about lupus skin care and link to articles on authority sites about lupus skin care, they remove those links as well. If you link to where you've quoted a definition, that link goes, too.

          2. NatashaL profile image81
            NatashaLposted 19 months agoin reply to this

            When I said, "cite," I meant only that writers should mention where they got the information, not necessarily that they should link to the source.

            /me slithers away to take links out of my Hubs <sigh>

  2. Rupert Taylor profile image99
    Rupert Taylorposted 19 months ago

    Spot on Natasha. I see many eager first timers who seem to have the idea this is an easy way to make money. It isn't. Writing is, as the famed sports reporter Red Smith once said, "Is simple. You sit down at the typewriter and wait for the beads of blood to form on your forehead."
    The single biggest problem I see is a wobbly grasp of the English language. I often take a paragraph and point out all the errors of grammar, spelling, and punctuation and note that these are repeated throughout the text. I suppose my comments might come across as a bit harsh, but I think it's important to get across the message that the writing is sub-standard. I see no point in going easy on someone who will never make the grade as a writer in English.

  3. RonElFran profile image100
    RonElFranposted 19 months ago

    Great advice, NatashaL. Maybe you could turn it into a hub so that it's available long term.

    1. NatashaL profile image81
      NatashaLposted 19 months agoin reply to this

      Great idea, Bro. Ron.  I just might do that.  big_smile

  4. Fiona Jean Mckay profile image95
    Fiona Jean Mckayposted 19 months ago

    You can also sign up for a free account at Grammarly that will check for "critical" issues and help you to correct them. It catches a lot more than Word does. It will also tell you how many non-critical issues there are but if you want to access that information you have to have a paid account. I use it frequently.

    1. NatashaL profile image81
      NatashaLposted 19 months agoin reply to this

      A lot of us recommend it for members who don't speak English as a first language.  The problem is that some think of it as a substitute for improving their command of English.

      I deliberately left this advice out because we have already had at least one member come here after failing QAP and lament that, according to Grammarly, nothing was wrong with his Hub's grammar and usage.  Several of us went to read the Hub in question and saw several errors that had not been picked up by Grammarly.  The member was given examples of errors in word choice, but  his response was, "Run it through Grammarly yourself."

      Grammarly is a helpful tool, but it doesn't replace the nuance that a native speaker brings.  Members need to understand that before submitting Hubs.

      Thanks for commenting.

      1. Fiona Jean Mckay profile image95
        Fiona Jean Mckayposted 19 months agoin reply to this

        True Natasha.

    2. mchllhwgt profile image84
      mchllhwgtposted 19 months agoin reply to this

      Thank you. My grasp of my mother tongue is good and although I think I'm a decent writer I have so much to learn. Grammar is my nemesis therefore my confidencee is low. I'm putting an awful lot into my first few hubs. I'll be sure to try grammarly. Thanks again

      1. TIMETRAVELER2 profile image99
        TIMETRAVELER2posted 19 months agoin reply to this

        Even native speakers of English often have problems with grammar and structure, so you are not alone.

      2. NatashaL profile image81
        NatashaLposted 19 months agoin reply to this

        Totally agreed.  English is difficult even for native speakers.  I used to teach it, but one of my ESL adults actually had to explain what a "modal auxiliary verb" is, because I hadn't been taught in advanced grammar class.  There's so much  we learn just because we've been immersed in it, but we couldn't explain the reason if asked.  (One of my ESL adults wanted to know why we say, "I see the moon right now," instead of "I am seeing the moon right now."  I had a hard time explaining that to her.)

        Used properly, Grammarly can be a useful tool.   I have it installed on my browser as a "last line of defense" before I consider submitting a Hub.  Often, I keep the Oxford English Dictionary open in a separate tab so that I can be sure I'm using a word properly.  (Remembering the difference between continual and continuous still gives me fits.)

        So long as Grammarly is used as a tool and not a crutch, I'm totally on board with it.

        I think this is a beneficial discussion.  big_smile

  5. Kingsley Iyoke profile image97
    Kingsley Iyokeposted 19 months ago

    Very useful and important advice for new hubbers. I total agree with number 9

    1. NatashaL profile image81
      NatashaLposted 19 months agoin reply to this

      Thanks for joining the discussion, Kingsley.  big_smile  #9 can be a tough one.

      1. Kingsley Iyoke profile image97
        Kingsley Iyokeposted 19 months agoin reply to this

        Lol.. Its really tough for me, but am still learning and hoping to improve more

  6. Rupert Taylor profile image99
    Rupert Taylorposted 19 months ago

    I have always found George Orwell's advice on writing in his essay "Politics and the English Language." to be a good guide

    1.Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
    2.Never use a long word where a short one will do.
    3.If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
    4.Never use the passive where you can use the active.
    5.Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
    6.Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

  7. Becky Callahan profile image89
    Becky Callahanposted 19 months ago

    Excellent advice, especially #9. It is easy to forget that you writing for the reader, and seeing things from a reader's point of view does take extra time and effort. Don't take understanding of any part of your story or article for granted.