One Writer's Idea Of The Ideal Writing Site
For quite some time now I've been trying to figure out if there's some way for me to write about the things I want to write about, now that HubPages (and pretty much the rest of the Internet) has made so many changes in the interest of quality.
The subjects that most interest me don't tend to lend themselves well to the "magazine style" that HubPages has been emphasizing. Because those subjects don't involve concrete nouns (unless you consider human beings "concrete nouns" (which, of course, they are when it comes down to it). The thing is, more often than not I prefer writing about the abstract nouns, which are the things that go on between people and the things they go through, or experience in life. Those things are things, however, that are covered already (and certainly best and well) by authority sites, so I can't really see approaching those subjects from the angle of "from-personal-exposure/experience/viewpoint" and the throwing in the additional element of links to authority sites. After all, people who find a Hub that comes from a "first-person type of thing" have probably either already eliminated the idea of looking on authority sites, or else they've already searched them, themselves. Basically, I just haven't really known what I should be doing with my Hubs, so I (prematurely, maybe) deleted a big bunch of them, mostly because I was thinking in terms of search engines and not among those Hubbers who just write "for the sake of writing", regardless of how much traffic or money they get.
In any case, I haven't really known which Hubs to get rid of, which to keep, and/or which ones to fix or otherwise change. At this point, I still have a whole lot of older Hubs that I do plan to remove; and my most recent plan has to been to get rid of them, write a bunch of new ones to add to the relative few I plan to leave with this particular profile. (In other words, ending up with a handful of oldies-but-goodies and eventually building up a decent amount of "newies-and-even-betters". Since online writing (and in particular, writing on HubPages) is an extra-time thing for me anyway, I don't really see myself building up too many "newies-but-betters" too quickly.
So, in the meantime (and in view of the fact that not a lot of activity is going on as far as my adding new Hubs goes), I thought I'd kind of separate whatever I have with my profile here by just kind of thinking aloud (but not aloud, of course) on some of the issues associated with Internet writing and the fact that so many writing platforms are disappearing from the landscape. In other words, temporarily kind of clearing my head of whatever mess I have left with my partially dismantled account and remaining Hubs and at least kind of marking a point where I can start any new Hubs (and I don't particularly plan to stop writing on HubPages at all) without feeling like I can't do that without cleaning up the old stuff first.
Over the last couple of days I've run into yet other discussions about how Yahoo Contributor Network is yet another "writing site" (as online writers/content-producers often call such sites) closing. Those of us who have spent any time writing online in one capacity or another have watched any number of changes happen, only to watch yet other changes happen (sometimes at least for awhile until yet another bunch of changes happen).
In only a relative-few, short, years so many of us have been left with our heads spinning (and I don't "spinning" as "article-spinning", although there's certainly plenty of that, among a bunch of other Internet-specific and questionable practices that have led both to more growth and demise, depending on whatever Internet-related issue is involved).
In any case, without yet again re-hashing things that anyone involved with Internet writing has already re-hashed a zillion times with a zillion different combinations of people, in a zillion different online discussions; and without turning this Hub into a whole, big, complicated, discussion of my own aims and experiences as an online writer; I thought I'd just go wild (at least as "wild" any writer-type tends to go), and mentally create my own dream, writing, site of the revenue-sharing variety.
Personally, I kind of have a love/hate relationship with the Internet because I pretty much only check e.mail, shop, do serious research for something I'm writing, or else do something like go to YouTube to find videos for something I'm writing. Once in awhile I'll be in a conversation with someone who asks if such-and-such a famous person has kids, or what year such-and-such a movie came out, and I'll look up that kind of thing (truly, not often at all).
I don't use social sites (except for the Google+ profile and Facebook-enough to be able to see some relatives' offerings (but of my eleven "friends", two of them are my daughter's cats). I've set up pages on "the main" social sites in case I ever want or need them one day and in case anyone, for some reason, asks. For one thing, I don't have a lot of time or opportunity to socialize anyway. For another, I use my socializing time for offline socializing. Basically, I write - for one reason or another. Sometimes online. Sometimes not. Sometimes for money. Sometimes in the hopes of money. Sometimes for future money. Sometimes for a little more money than I have now. Then, when I'm not writing for money I write for other reasons, and when I'm in need of a break I write whatever I feel like writing if/when I have the time or inclination.
Without getting into a whole thing about who processes information "visually", who processes it through auditory means, whether there are really visual-processers and auditory-processers at all (that's one of the latest arguments); or whether some people are just such neatniks they can't stand a page that brings to mind the term, "visual vomit" (and that's been known to show up even on some authority sites that are nothing about revenue-sharing with their expert-contributors), here's my idea of what would make a high-quality revenue-sharing site:
What I, Personally, Wish There Could Be As Far As A "Writing Site" Goes
If I just indulge in imagining my "dream writing site" - where one could go to either write or read any number of different types of things...
Here's what I wish (and maybe this is out there, but I just haven't found it since I pretty much do no no socializing and only write one type of thing or another:
First page: Nice and clean with as few distracting images as possible (because my "verbal mind" doesn't like mixing words with pictures that don't accompany the words - and using images to accompany different words means adding more images).
In any case, (as both a reader and writer) I'd like to see a nice, clean, first "directory type of page" with something like "Information By Experts" (with subject areas under the heading). "Official experts" could be people who are professional "whatever's" or people who have otherwise a lot of expertise in areas such as gardening.
Then I'd like to see something like a category for insight/information by non- experts but people who have really had a lot of personal exposure to/experience to their subject (non-fiction but useful/insightful material). If information/insight was involved I'd like to see a standard block that let readers know where the person gained that information (something like, "has been quilting since childhood") and/or a link to a more in-depth description of where the person gained the knowledge, insight and/or proven results.
Then I'd like to see, maybe, Opinions/Essays
Maybe I'd break it down to also include a heading for personal stories that aren't as much useful/insightful as just stories written for the sake of telling a true story..
Since there may be too many subjects to be able to have a clean enough front page I wouldn't have a problem with having to click away from the front page to get a "section" I was interested in - where I could then leave and go back if I just wanted to browse to read other stuff. (Kind of like Helium Network had, only as far as I know (and I don't know much about them once they got set up), there wasn't just one, easy-to-see place that didn't really just take people off to the other "site" (and kind of the same with YCN).
So, on the clean (but easy-to-see/use) front page of my dream site I'd add the usual stuff about "click here to sign up" "about us", and all that. (This is pretty much what Google tells people - to have a front/landing page that's easy for readers to find what they want and know what they're getting.)
In my dream scenario there could be the right kind of formatting, guidelines, etc. etc. for the different types of material. If there was, for example, a serious first-person type of article (like the 3000-word first-person-type stories in some magazines or a serious, longer, article by an expert in a field that requires something other than pictures of cookies or necklaces) I wouldn't discourage writers from big blocks of text because when you're reading about some serious subjects you "get mean" if a) you keep having to scroll past space and/or b) you're never really sure if "that was the end" or if there's still more to go looking for.
In one, quick visit to the site's (presumably fast-loading and easy-to-read) home page I could find what I wanted to browse with only one click, not be bothered looking at a bunch of other stuff and and becoming overwhelmed and "mentally confused" by "a big visual mess" that's either too much "nothing" or else not enough of anything a human browser wants to find.
Step 1: The person/visitor (key word, as they say, "person"/"human being") who has come to the home page clicks once to find the kind of reading he's interested in, and get to a simple list/directory of subjects.
Step 2: The browsing human visitor clicks on whatever subject or type of subject he wants.
To me, whatever goes on from there, or exists wherever on "whatever-page" can depend on the type of material and/or what works or is appropriate for the site. Personally, I wouldn't have a page that assaults human/visual browsers with a big mess of subjects and/or pictures associated with them; BUT - again, on my personal-dream site - if there had to be that I'd have it be something the human browswer (particularly from outside the site) might have to click on from one of the cleaner, first, pages. (Maybe something like, "Click here if you're interested in browsing a giant mess of every kind of subject and writing in the book - even though this site is neither a book nor an eBook nor any other publication that has paper pages." :)
I wouldn't frown on reasonably brief articles or extremely long ones. Maybe I'd put the number of words discreetly where human browsers could see how long each article is and decide if he wants to read it, skim it, come back another time (maybe when he isn't on his smart phone curing the rush-hour commute.
As far as links go, I'd allow links to "more information on this" to authority sites, maybe links to either the author's own site or else other material on the same subject, with each piece of writing on the site; as well as any of "the usual" links to sites like the Google+ profile, Pinterest, and any of the other usual stuff (that people who are verbally inclined and may/may not be Internet-socializing inclined – and I mean “genuine socializing, not e.schmoozing-for-the-sake-of-promoting-oneself or one’s own stuff)..
And What About People Who Are Using Smart Phones?
Well, I'd leave it up to them to either read some things or not, and I'd point out to contributors that they're taking a chance by writing some types of material on the site s? As far as I can see, though, smart phones seem to either be staying the same size they are now (same-size screen), being made smaller by companies that are trying to attract people who don't want a big smart phone (maybe because they already have tablets, readers, and whatever else) or else who want a bigger ones (maybe because they don't have or want to use those under some circumstances).
And About Images...
Oh... and while I'm mentally creating my personal, dream, writing platform for people who, for one reason or another, want to write and/or read material written by people who care about the reader (regardless of the subject or the means by which the reader found the page), I would require all images to either be the author's own images; or, in the case of material written by professionals in one field or another, images specificially associated and absolutely necessary to enhance the message. (For example, if someone who has rebuilt transmissions for decades wrote an article about "x step" in that process and needed a picture he couldn't create himself, I'd allow that.) If there's one thing I like to see gone from the Internet completely it's those canned images with the white background that people use when they write about subjects like psychology or relationships. (If I see one more of those white-background pictures with one mean-looking person pointing a finger either at another mean-looking person or else a borderline-cowering victim; I think I'm going to - truly - start throwing rotten eggs at the screen!)
It's easy enough for the hobby-crafter or cook to post images of his/her own stuff. For the person who wants to write about helping his children get through some horrible thing in life the choice is either to post images of the actual horrible-thing or else something like pictures of crying strangers (on white backgrounds or not), and - really - the person reading that kind of material generally is there to look at pictures.
Once Upon A Time In A Land Called, The Internet"...
Once upon a time there was no such thing as the Internet - and then there was. Before there even was the Internet people imagined what such a thing might be able to do. Then again, some, maybe, never could have even imagined it. Either way, first there was the Internet. Then it started to evolve at mind-boggling speed. As it has evolved (at least to those of us watching it for a long enough time), it has gone from something primarily reserved for the technological-minded and/or business-minded (and, of course, somewhere along the way came the beginnings of socializing online).
When I first started writing online a whole lot of people seemed to think that proper English grammar wasn't even important. In fact, there was some hostility aimed at anyone who dared suggest it was. The big thing was, "This is a whole new world," or "This is a whole new time." The other "big things" were "Nobody reads any more," and "People on the Internet have a short attention span." In some ways, and in some instances, some of those things were true.
I'm not going to turn this "story" into much more than it already is because those of us who have been here for a few/several years already know it, and those who have not either don't need to know about it or already do anyway.
The point is that both before and after Google's infamous Panda roll-out, there has been upheaval and head-spinning for a whole lot of online writers and writing platforms. There are blogs, of course (and blogs have evolved as well). We all know that companies like Google offer free blogs to anyone who behaves reasonably well on them. On one site or another there's usually one or another kind of opportunity to have ads added and earn from them. With getting further into THAT whole thing about free blogs, marketing blogs, paying to market blogs, or trying to get free advertising by socializing on sites that claim they don't want people pushing their own stuff on them; the thing is, with every layer and/or round of changes it seems as if the voice of the some of the very people the Internet was supposed to (or else has the potential to) connect takes a backseat.
Over the years when people have asked why HubPages doesn't do what so many other sites does with regard to approving who writes on the site (which may be requiring a writing sample or resume, and/or take at least a basic writing test), the reply has always been that HubPages wants everyone to have a voice.
To be candid, I don't know whether that's the real and/or only reason HubPages has had; but now there's Bubblews, which makes the same claim/asssertion - that the idea behind the site is for everyone to have a voice. Again, I have no idea if that's true or if Bubblews is just a matter of trying get eyes on ads in as big of numbers as possible. After all, there's the revenue-sharing factor on both sites. (The only reason I only mention these two sites is that I've abandoned all the other similar ones a long time ago, not that HubPages and Bubblews are really all that similar.)
The thing is that ever since we all started hearing about how the Internet is a whole different world, and the world-in-general has changed with the times; I (and a lot of other people) have said (or at least thought), "Yes, the times have changed and the world has changed; but human nature doesn't change." (and it doesn't). Oh, and let's not forget the post-Panda, "That was then. This now."
So, as new-Internet-thing after other new-Internet-thing has cropped up in effort to accommodate and/or capitalize whatever it is people want or need on the Internet; somehow - at least in the world of online writing, and as The Magic Eight-Ball has been known to say) all signs always seem to point to moving away (in one direction or another) not so much from allowing people to say what they want to say, but from doing much of anything to get heard (read) what so many of them have to say.
Human nature is in everything we do; and somehow it just seems to me as if no matter how much progress the world seems to make, in terms of becoming a better place and better world; somehow it seems to take some wrong turn and head itself off in the direction of leaving a whole lot of the proverbial "little guys"" in No-Man's Land. Why? Most often it's because one or another kind of "little guy" isn't seen as someone whose voice should be heard (and certainly not as someone who has something worthwhile to contribute). No, "little guys" are supposed to shut up and listen to what the "big guys" tell them about the world - not the other way around.
And, it isn't even always a matter of "little guys" being heard or having a voice. It's also (more and more these days) a matter of some little guys getting their proverbial cut of the proverbial money-pie.
Whether it's HubPages, Bubblews, or whichever other sites may still be out there or may crop up under different names; I imagine that in time someone will come up with some new, better, version that, maybe, helps assure those little guys either their own voice (or an opportunity) or a place where someone can speak for and/or to them. After all, the Internet world changes quickly, and the offline world changes almost as quickly. All I know is that the Internet shouldn't be a place where (and I'm quoting here) "nobody cares what you think or have to say if you're not already famous" (or just too little-a-guy in general) - because not every little guy either wants to maintain and market his own blog/site, or even could if he wanted to.
If it takes ads (Google or otherwise) to offer some of the kinds of material that would otherwise not likely to be read, that's fine with me. I just hope that the whole idea of "writing sites" (in some incarnation of "kind- of- how- we've -all- known- them") aren't eradicated in the name of "a better Internet world" or "writing for the reader" or "writing for only the searcher" or "making advertisers happy" because, after all, the world has changed, the times have changed, the economy has changed, and lifestyles have changed; but human nature and needs have not.
Little by little (or maybe quite-a-bit by quite-a-bit), the Internet powers-that-be seem to be learning that somewhere along the way a lot of people took a wrong turn along their own journey - only to discover the end of the road. I seriously hope that was then but this is now.