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Is InfoBarrel Another Writing Site That's Doomed?
While investigating InfoBarrel as a place for additional writing, I believe that it may soon follow the others to oblivion. Here are the details.
I have been writing online for over a decade and have published articles on various revenue sharing sites. My main focus is writing on HubPages since they know how to keep up with SEO and with Google's requirements. However, I like to experiment with testing other writing sites, which all seem to have poor business methods.
I had saved all my old articles that I originally had published on Yahoo Contributor Network, Bubblews, Persona Paper, Squidoo, and even some posts on Tsū. All those sites have since gone out of business.
My requirements in selecting a site were that they require quality content, that they demonstrate good business skills, that they have a staff of good web programmers, and show a true understanding of Google and SEO. (Yeah! Like HubPages).
The next one I tested was InfoBarrel, a revenue sharing content writing site founded in 2008. After reading their terms of service I applied for an account because they met my criteria.
Downhill From the Start
Things quickly went downhill. Their present state of affairs makes me wonder how they are still functioning now!
I discovered that many people are complaining in the forums lately about missed payments. Admin even posted in the forum saying that he handles payments manually. Wow! Imagine that!
There are also many unacceptable bugs in the system that I’ll discuss below.
I wrote to admin asking if he is still maintaining the site. He never replied. People in the forum are mentioning that he seems to be missing in action.
Many member profiles have been removed and redirected to the home page, so I suspect people are leaving.
I didn't write anything there yet and I think at this point that I'd be wasting my time.
A Theme of Failed Sites
Could InfoBarrel be another site that will faill, as so many others have? Just look at the problems so many authors had experienced with these other writer’s sites:
Bubblews turned out to be run by crooks with a warning on the BBB’s website. It became obvious when they took away the ability to see how much traffic we were getting.
Then they stopped paying revenue that was already earned. Then they changed their terms of service to indicate they had rights to everything we post, followed by quickly shutting down before anyone could save and delete their articles.
I was one who warned the others, and I stopped writing there and removed my articles before they shut down.
Persona Paper was another obvious fiasco, obvious to me anyway. I had sent many emails to management trying to help them with their poor programming, since I have a systems programming background.
They always responded, but with excuses for not having time due to family pressures. It was no secret that Persona Paper was a mom and pop business. It wasn't even a real business because they never incorporated.
In addition, they kept their identity secret by buying a “private registration” for their domain so no one could see who actually owned the site.
Knowing these things, I was cautious and stopped writing there too. Then when they announced they had no money and they are no longer going to pay revenue, I deleted all my articles to save for a rainy day. Some people are still posting articles there, knowing that they don't get paid.
Then there's Squidoo. Oh, how HubPages wasted their money purchasing all the content from them. I had removed my articles (lens as they were called) long before that transition because I didn't feel comfortable with their methods. Most writers on Squidoo were pressured into writing spammy articles that were meant to sell Amazon products.
Google was getting very tough on that practice, which is why Squidoo went out of business. The problem is that those articles hurt HubPages' ranking too. Sure, they tried to teach the authors how to write for the reader, but only a few understood. Many complained instead.
Fortunately for HubPages, there were good writers among them who made the necessary changes to keep Google happy. That’s what HubPages emphasizes.
Last but not least is Tsū, which I thought was going to outdo Facebook because they were an equivalent social sharing site with one big difference. They paid the users for posting content.
I fell for that one. I spent time posting and connecting with followers. Then one day Tsū just vanished with a message on the site explaining why they failed.
Now InfoBarrel - Complaints People Post About
So now we come to my present endeavor, doing my due diligence investigating InfoBarrel. I’m reading so many complaints in the forum:
- A promised upgrade that never occurred.
- Long wait for new articles to get approved.
- Google not indexing new articles.
- Missing or late payments.
- Bugs with posting articles.
- Failure to delete article upon request.
- Losing Google indexing when just one word is changed.
- TOS constantly changing who owns rights to content.
That last point I’m not sure about. Maybe they changed it back again. When I read the recent TOS it clearly states “Author's Rights: You shall continue to retain all authorship and copyrights to the Materials submitted for publication through the website.”
See What Happens When Payments are Handled Manually
There was a forum post from the admin explaining how he lost track, messed up the payments one month, and was trying to work out the mess.
In August 2016 some people saw a tremendous, but short lived, increase in earnings. One posted a comment that she saw $45 in her account and then it was corrected down to $3.
Another saw a whopping $900. He posted “I doubt they're genuine - I apparently am earning around $400 for every 1,000 impressions.”
Yes indeed - that’s impossible. What poor programming, if there is even a payment system in place.
Problems I See With InfoBarrel
People Are Leaving
As I mentioned in the intro, I noticed that many people are leaving; even new members who didn’t even get their feet wet.
Many times when I click to someone’s profile, I end up on the home page. This is how they handle deleted accounts instead of showing an error page of some sort. That’s poor programming in my opinion.
No Delete Button
You have to contact admin to request removal of any article you wish to delete. Then it’s up to them if they oblige. Some people post in the forum that they had to try many times to get a response, some in vein.
Google Not Indexing Articles
Since I see so many people complaining in the forum about the fact that Google is not indexing InfoBarrel articles, I checked out the code and see that it's okay now.
There used to be a Google directive in their robots.txt file denying search engines permission to index. That might have inadvertently been left there after a system update. Nevertheless, that’s very unprofessional to have missed a thing like that.
I even confirmed that the sitemap is functional now and Google can read it. I even checked a few new articles and verified that Google was indexing them within a day or two.
Google Ranks InfoBarrel Poorly
Google's ranking of articles on InfoBarrel is very poor. HubPages already discovered that Google does not like websites that combine unrelated topics.
That’s why HP is moving hubs to network niche sites, and that is proving to be very successful. I know, a third of my hubs have already been moved and my earnings more than doubled.
Amazon Cancelling Affiliate Accounts
Some members have recently lost their Amazon affiliate status because Amazon has started cancelling affiliate accounts if they advertise on sites they do not own. InfoBarrel requires members to use their own Amazon affiliate code. That’s the problem.
HubPages does not have this problem because Hubbers can use Amazon via the HP Earnings Program. In this case Amazon issues unique affiliate codes for each user, but these are registered under HubPages’ name.
Even if one chooses to use his or her affiliate code, rather than through the HP Earnings program, this is fine. They just need to include their HP profile URL in the website list in their Amazon settings to get paid.
With InfoBarrel, on the other hand, there is a problem. Profile URLs might look like forum profiles because it has the word “users” in the URL. So I think this is why Amazon is cancelling accounts used on InfoBarrel.
The people who have lost their accounts have posted in the forum about Amazon saying they canceled because they used their account on a forum site, which is against their terms of service. Once again, poor programming causes this confusion.
Infobarrel Has Many Unresolved Glitches
Title Changes Cause 404 Dead Link Error
When one changes his or her title, the URL changes along with it and without a 301 redirect to the new URL.
Therefore all prior links and search engine indexes become dead links. Then Google drops the index in the SERPs.
Writers on Hubpages know that this can’t happen because HP makes the URL static once the hub is published.
Hubbers only have once chance to change the URL from defaulting to the title. That’s at the beginning when they start a new hub. The way InfoBarrel does it is very poor programming.
Confusion with Pen Names vs. Usernames
When a user adds a pen name to their profile, their actual username still is displayed as the sender when leaving comments in articles. This makes it difficult to know who someone is because it doesn't match the name in the profile or the author of the article.
That makes it really difficult to keep followers engaged.
Bug in CSS code
Another problem is a bug in the css code that causes embedded YouTube videos to cover the surrounding text. I couldn't even read the overlaid content on an article that had this problem.
Who’s Running the Show?
I emailed Kevin, the admin, asking if the staff is actively working on this site. I never received a reply.
I also see other people complaining about the absence of the admin. That made me wonder if this is just a one-man shop. Could it be?
Well, no. The domain is registered to Ryan McKenzie in Canada.
Two other team members are Kevin Hinton and Brad Liski who I found via LinkedIn, but Ryan functions as the administrative, as well as technical, contact.
Kevin is the admin in the forums, although I’m not sure if this is Mr. Hinton since he hides behind a cat avatar.
But where are they?
Why haven't bugs in the system been fixed?
Why does Kevin excuse himself for messing up the payments so often? Where is the payment system software? Why handle this manually?
Why do I see some articles with typos and poor English when their terms of service so blatantly mention that everything needs to be of superior quality and is read and approved by a human before publishing.
InfoBarrel has some strict rules that would make any expert writer pleased to be involved, if only they actually enforce those rules and cleaned up their act.
For me, my search continues. Of course I will always put my best work on HubPages, where I can trust its success.
© 2016 Glenn Stok