HubPages Staff Protocol for Answering on the Forums

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  1. Marisa Wright profile image86
    Marisa Wrightposted 12 years ago

    In the past many Hubbers, including myself, have seen the "Report a Problem" or "Need Help" threads as a way to either get a policy explained, or as a way to escalate an urgent problem when emails weren't eliciting a response.  It is now obvious that is no longer the case, as explained by Jason here: … ost1636904

    Basically what Jason is saying is that if you post for help on the forums, he and Simone are under instructions NOT to contact anyone else to ask for clarification.  They can only answer questions from their own knowledge - and we know, for instance, that they have no experience of moderating.

    I think this misunderstanding has been the cause of most of the friction on the forums recently.  I, for one, assumed that the HP staff worked together and that Jason would be able to ask a quick question of his colleagues if he didn't know the answer himself.   

    I can see why they've introduced these Chinese walls due to the pressure the moderators are under, I just wish it had been explained to us earlier.

    1. profile image0
      BRIAN SLATERposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      Marisa the problem as I see it is that instead of Jason or Simone trying to answer every issue that is raised, which is ok when they have complete knowledge of the answer, but they don't so you play guessing games for a few hours trying to speak to someone else who does. Why can't Jason or Simone just reply to the thread and say, your question has been noted and fwd'd to someone who can fully answer, please bear with us in the meantime.
      What is wrong with that.

      1. profile image0
        Website Examinerposted 12 years agoin reply to this

        My best guess: The volume of Hubbers with unresolved problems.

        1. Simone Smith profile image87
          Simone Smithposted 12 years agoin reply to this

          You've got it, Website Examiner! And you're right, BRIAN SLATER.  Each moderation involves a very close look at Hubs and a user's account, and Jason and I simply aren't in the thick of it.  If we started responding directly to everyone's questions about moderations, it would take an inordinate amount of time, and we'd likely miss something and make mistakes.
          We do our best to work as intermediaries for the time being; I hope that's OK. ^_^;;

          1. Marisa Wright profile image86
            Marisa Wrightposted 12 years agoin reply to this

            Well actually, Simone, it isn't. Sorry!

            There are two things that need to happen.

            One, there needs to be some method of escalation, if someone has been struggling to get an answer from team@ and is getting nowhere.  Right now, the only avenue we can think of is the forums, and we now know that's not an option - so how do we holler if we need help?

            Two, we need both you and Jason to say "I don't know the answer to your question" if you don't know. To give a partial answer may seem all right to you, but some people could interpret it as laziness or stonewalling (which is what has happened in the past).

            1. Jason Menayan profile image60
              Jason Menayanposted 12 years agoin reply to this

              That's exactly what we've done.

              Re: your site being labeled as an affiliate site. I told you I had no more information about that, and that you'd have to contact team@.

              You eventually did, and in less than a week, team@ resolved the matter.

              1. Marisa Wright profile image86
                Marisa Wrightposted 12 years agoin reply to this

                You're forgetting that I had contacted them within hours of receiving the first warning email, then again a day or two later, and it was only then that I posted on the forum.

                I sent them another email after the Hub was unpublished,but I still dont know which email they responded to.

                And it took some time before you clearly said you didn't know the answer.  That's what I'm trying to say - giving a vague or partial answer can look as though you're being deliberately obstructionist, especially when you're acting as the official spokesperson for an organisation. So I'm suggesting that in future, you need to clearly state that you can't answer the question.

                1. recommend1 profile image60
                  recommend1posted 12 years agoin reply to this

                  Marissa - you are banging your head on a brick wall and it will feel better if you stop. It won't BE better, just feel that way.

                  You have it pegged with 'obstructionist' One who systematically blocks or interrupts a process the answers you are getting are evasive in their manner and in usually focussing on the 'other' half of your issue.

                  The input from tame hubbers is also 'obstructionist' in that it comes from a place of no knowledge or authority and all together is a random mass  -  the whole thing together just slows down and smothers complaint and criticism, which is a very typical political ploy to cover dirty dealings,incompetence, laziness or just plain bad management.

    2. recommend1 profile image60
      recommend1posted 12 years agoin reply to this

      I do NOT see the need for Chinese walls or why Jason can't advise anyone about anything.

      If the moderators don't have a list of what is and is not allowed, guidelines for those in-between bits, a complete TOS then it might explain the confusion and plainly weird way that this change has been managed.

      If the mods do have this stuff - why not just publish it all as it forms our new TOS; why keep it secret !!!

      1. Trish_M profile image80
        Trish_Mposted 12 years agoin reply to this

        And if staff don't have all of the answers, then it is no wonder that 'Hubbers' keep 'violating' the 'rules', because, as a group, we certainly don't seem to have all off the information that we require.

        1. Marisa Wright profile image86
          Marisa Wrightposted 12 years agoin reply to this

          I think the problem is we've been used to staff having "all the answers" - because in the old days, if a problem wasn't resolved in a thread, an appropriately qualified HubPages staffer would eventually turn up and give an authoritative answer.

          Call me dumb, but it's only in the last few days that it's dawned on me Jason has been appointed to act as nanny to the forums, to give the rest of the staff a chance to get on with their jobs.  Which is understandable. The problem is I assumed that, as a senior long-standing staffer, he would have a breadth of knowledge adequate to cover all bases.  I now realise that was a mistaken assumption.

          The other problem is that I forget how much HubPages has grown since I joined.  I still picture them all sitting together in a little office, so Jason would just have to lean over the desk and say "Hey moderators, Marisa is getting her knickers in a knot over some Hub - can you just check her email's in the queue?".   Then he could've come back and said, "Sorry Marisa I don't know the answer, but the team definitely has your email and they'll get back to you as soon as they can".

          I don't know what their setup is now but when I think about it, I bet many of the moderators are working from home, so it's no longer that simple.

          1. recommend1 profile image60
            recommend1posted 12 years agoin reply to this

            I like the simplicity of this explanation but it does not wash with me.  To apply the NEW TOS there must be one, to moderate hubs there must be a set of guidelines - or they will all do something different -  therefore the rules THEY use should be published so that WE can follow them.

            This is plain simple basic normal practice.

            However, homeworkers on next to nothing for a long day's work with no rules or guidelines would be one possible explanation the confusion and pure BS that has accompanied this change.

            The other possible explanation is that HP cannot publicise the rules for fear of giving evidence for a prosecution of their blatant and possibly illegal change of TOS and the broken promises of publish 'anything' and how hubs gain in value over time, and then cutting off that time value.

            Marrisa, I prefer your placatory and homely explanation but I fear that it has boogie men hiding in its closet.

          2. Trish_M profile image80
            Trish_Mposted 12 years agoin reply to this

            I help moderate a site in the USA and I'm in the UK. I cannot always easily contact the others.

            And, as you say, Hub Pages has probably grown a lot since it began ~ plus all of the recent difficulties must be putting a huge amount of pressure on the admin staff.

            I just think that a lot of upset has been caused, which is sad, because this was such a popular site when I joined and I hate to witness all of the negativity.

            Some of this could have been avoided, I think, if we had all been given an explanation of how things would be for a while, rather than many of us receiving out-of-the-blue scoldings that made us feel bad.

            But Hub Pages was under pressure to get so much done within a very short time and it would not have been an easy time to get everything right.

            However, as I said, the fact that all of the admin members don't have all of the answers must make them realise that hubbers do not know everything, either; nor will they understand all of the criticisms that have been leveled at them.

            1. Marisa Wright profile image86
              Marisa Wrightposted 12 years agoin reply to this

              Good post, Trish.  I think there was definitely an opportunity, early on, for HubPages to recruit established Hubbers and bring us along for the ride, instead of making some of us feel like the enemy.

              Unfortunately that opportunity was missed, and sadly I think it may be too late to rectify that. 

              I think of all the Hubbers that I learned from when I joined HP, and virtually none of them is still here.  I know I'm voicing their concerns on these forums, because I've heard those concerns being expressed elsewhere in other, private forums.

              Unfortunately they've all decided it's a waste of time trying to get HP to hear their concerns, so I'm the only one left trying to make myself heard.  It's clearly a waste of time, so I'm going to try not to get involved in these forums any more.  It's hard, because I have loved being part of HubPages for such a long time, it feels like home.  But the rest of the family have all left, so it looks like it's time for me to go, too.

              1. profile image0
                BRIAN SLATERposted 12 years agoin reply to this

                Your not going anywhere, we need you and everyone else who is still here. Yes Hubpages staff have been really stupid not using the sevices of people like you Marisa, but they didn't so we all have to just get on with it.
                Take a break and work on your own sites for a while, come back recharged and ready to carry the fight smile

    3. IntimatEvolution profile image68
      IntimatEvolutionposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      It has always been policy that if you really need an issue addressed, you must email the hubpages team.  Not post it in the forums.  Posting it here in the forums, allows other hub members to chime in.  Whether it is in the "report an issue" thread or not.  That is why we now have the "Elitist" among us now. 

      I have to say that before we had Elite Hubbers, Maddie and even Paul would comment more in that forum thread.  However, since their inception- I don't believe that the staff really checks that stuff anymore.  Example, the post you left and the concerns you bring up.

      Yeah, I'm sure they are under no obligation to check that thread any longer.  They have "free help" doing the job for them.  So, that's my opinion on the matter for what it's worth.

      1. Marisa Wright profile image86
        Marisa Wrightposted 12 years agoin reply to this

        That's true, but although that rule existed, it never worked that way in practice.  And as you say, posting questions or problems in the forums meant you could get help from other Hubbers as well as the team, which often led to a quicker resolution.

        Actually, I think that's the reason so many established Hubbers are the ones having the biggest problems with the new regime. All laws are composed of two elements - the written law, and "precedence", i.e. how the law is applied in practice.
        The way the forum worked is a good example of that.  We learned the rules based on what we read, AND how we saw the rules being applied.

        What happened after Panda was that the existing rules were suddenly being applied far more stringently.  And Hubs that broke the "old" rules were unpublished immediately - no warning email.

        For instance, there was a rule about unrelated links before - but we didn't think it applied to an RSS feed of our own Hubs.  I mean, they were related by the fact they were all by the same author - and no one had ever been unpublished for it, so it must be OK.

        Some of us used coded tags to classify Hubs.  We didn't think the rule about "deceptive" tags applied to them - they weren't designed to deceive and would mean nothing to Google.

        You had the same problem with your adult Hub.

        HP caused a lot of confusion by introducing new rules, but I had little sympathy with people who got caught out by them - they should've been paying attention!  My only concern about the new rules was that people with large portfolios should've been given enough time to revise them.

        But some of the biggest upset has come from a reinterpretation of the old rules - and when I complained about that, I was told we "should" have known what they meant.

      2. WryLilt profile image89
        WryLiltposted 12 years agoin reply to this

        What do elites have to do with it? Most elites are just that because they are greeters or involved with a project like the hubnuggets. They aren't glorified staff members, they often don't know more than the average "older" hubber and they don't have any special powers that other hubbers don't.

      3. Simone Smith profile image87
        Simone Smithposted 12 years agoin reply to this

        Ouch, IntimatEvolution.... We really do our best in the forums, but we can only respond to so much.  That doesn't mean we don't care or aren't checking.

        And the Elite have been around for ages and they're not elitist- they're awesome volunteers involved in special programs:

        The "e" is just a badge of helpful, official community involvement smile

  2. profile image0
    Website Examinerposted 12 years ago

    I think there are two different kinds of problems: Systemic issues (like technical glitches) affecting many users, and moderation issues affecting individuals. For the former, I do not see any reason why staff would not continue to work together to resolve issues being brought to their attention through the forum.

    1. WryLilt profile image89
      WryLiltposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      But I doubt anyone could argue about the latter. smile

  3. bgpappa profile image78
    bgpappaposted 12 years ago

    Very sorry to hear that Marissa.  But I agree, the very people who were so giving of their knowledge in the forums for new writers like myself are the ones that have left.

    I think you point out a legitimate problem.  If someone does not have to needed expertise, they shouldn't guess, but say "I don't know" but give a little time and I will find out.  Instead, vague and incomplete answers were given and then defensive position was taken when questioned.  That brings frustration from both sides.

  4. Trish_M profile image80
    Trish_Mposted 12 years ago

    Hi again smile

    At present, I feel torn.

    I liked the site that I joined; I like writing; I would like my writing to reach other people.

    There has been a lot of upheaval, but still my work is here, for interested parties to access, if they so wish.

    I am not very knowledgeable about keywords, SEO, etc ~ but that is for me to sort out.

    I certainly don't have the knowledge to start my own site ~ or even to decide whether other sites are better than this one.

    Maybe it's best to be positive, ride the storm, hang on to the sinking ship and hope that it rights itself.

    I think that admin, under pressure, and not knowing exactly how to respond in the circumstances, sadly made enemies of those who should have been their closest supporters.

    But they are only human and have said that they wanted to do things right and were not out to upset people.

    No-one's perfect and, unfortunately, the wording of some messages left many of us feeling completely bemused and that we were being accused of being spammers, or similar.

    And they are so busy that it is difficult to prioritise; difficult to answer our questions or understand our concerns ~ difficult for them to understand why some of those messages that we received, seemed to make no sense to us ~ and, indeed, actually sounded insulting, at times.

    Which brings me back, again, to what I said. If they don't have all of the answers; then we certainly don't.

    I'm guessing that, in time, things will settle down again. I hope so.

    If we could all support each other ~ admin and members ~ then things would probably be a lot easier all round.

    I think that I shall try to ignore the negativity and just concern myself with my writing. smile

  5. recommend1 profile image60
    recommend1posted 12 years ago

    Trish - getting on with writing and waiting to see what happens is the right thing to do in my book.  Hubpages has been a fun and useful place in the past and if it gets back its sense of humour, finds some way of reversing its lost 'face' in the way it has treated hubbers, and gets its act together, then it could be a good place to be again.

    I am waiting to see before I put anything else here, but then I have my own sites to work on while I wait smile

    1. Trish_M profile image80
      Trish_Mposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      I'll try to stay positive smile


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