The Writer's Mailbag: Installment Twenty-Four
How Long Can We Go On?
As long as there are questions then this series will continue. I’m lovin’ the questions and from your comments you are lovin’ the answers, and that, my friends, is a winning combination.
So, as my dad was fond of saying, let’s do it to it like Sonny Pruitt.
You know how this works. Leave your questions in the comment section and I’ll answer in the next installment. Even if you don’t have questions, hopefully you’ll find some answers here that will clarify things for you about topics you’ve often wondered about.
Let’s get going, shall we?
From Sally: “I have been wondering if you ever find it necessary to file a DMCA report? You are so productive with your writing that I wondered if you have time to do that as well as write. I have a list of stolen hubs which I have filed reports for but somehow never seem able to rid myself completely of little red signs in my accounts page and quite honestly sometime I wonder if it is worth the effort.”
I’m going to drive a few of you crazy with my answer, but oh well. I don’t have the time to keep filling out DMCA reports when my online work is copies and stolen. Sorry, but that’s just not where my priorities are. If I was on HubPages strictly to make money and for no other reason, then it’s possible I’d be filling out those reports, but that’s not why I write online. This falls under the “I don’t give a damn” category, and that’s just the way it is for me.
Online piracy of written work is a huge problem, and it’s one that is not going to be contained or eliminated during our lifetime. Filling out a DMCA report just means you put out a brush fire while the whole damned forest is burning down around you, and I’ve got better things to do than practice futility.
From Bradmaster: “My question is on the high standards demanded by hp of the hubbers. The hp guidelines are numerous, and chilling, yet when they flag a hub for missing their hp quality mark in the sand, they use a generic computer message.
How does one go about guessing what the specific problem that they need to correct to make their hub worthy of the hp quality Requirement?
This is like trying to satisfy the public school common core requirements.
While hp wants quality writing, they lack the specific feedback to help the author make the proper changes. This is especially important when you write a several thousand word hub across dozens of text capsules.
Where in that volume of writing is the problem that generated the quality alert from hp?
In my estimation, hp quality is procedural rather than substantive in nature. There appears to be no content evaluation in the hp quality flag.”
Brad has managed to hit upon one of my biggest peeves with HubPages, namely the lack of meaningful communication between staff and writers. His question is a valid one. If we don’t know what we are doing wrong, then how do we know how to fix it?
I have had very few articles flagged by HubPages, and we’re talking about five out of almost 900, so obviously I’m doing something right. Almost every single one of my articles is at least 1250 words in length, has three quality photographs, and has two videos. Occasionally I’ll toss in a poll and sprinkle in some links, but the three things that are nonnegotiable are the three I mentioned.
As for Brad’s assertion that there is no content evaluation at HubPages….I happen to agree with him. I have seen numerous Hubs of the Day with grammatical errors that would shame a second grader, and yet they were voted the best article of the day. I don’t know who is choosing these articles for praise, but whoever it is, they need to return as quickly as possible to the School of Illiteracy. As a former teacher I am insulted and offended when poor grammar and inferior work are praised.
The Numbers Game
From ArtDiva: “Another question. I have to assume when posting articles, views come from both inside and outside the HP community? Come from sources out there using a keyword search? I don’t promote using a blog site, and rarely use social media. As stated before, not a professional writer and not familiar with all the “how to” strategies to promote written and literary skills. Your articles are very well written, directed to your audience and engage participation. My articles written very specific to my art, and do not necessarily generate active engagement. With Squidoo, it wasn’t an issue. But if traffic is low, “scores” go down here, and if going below a certain level, what happens? I would like to think others here might find “scores” a little offsetting also. Gives question to what we write. Are we just appealing to the search engine gods?”
ArtDiva, welcome to the world of keywords, and quite frankly I hate it. I’m trying to imagine Hemingway sitting in a cottage by the sea, writing “Old Man and the Sea” while worrying about the perfect keywords to raise his online viewings. The image won’t come to me.
If you are an online writer, and views are important to you, then you must play the game and use keywords to improve your view numbers. Otherwise, you will drop so far down the Google search engine that you will effectively disappear, never to be heard from again. If you desire to be successful in online writing then yes, you must appeal to the search engine gods.
If you do not write for that purpose, but rather write for the sheer joy of it, then tell the search engine gods to take their keywords and shove them where the sun don’t shine.
From Zulma: I have a question that maybe you can include in your mailbag. How do you encourage someone who has writing talent to pursue it more seriously?
Great question, Zulma, and it’s one that is near and dear to my heart. I liken it to my days as a teacher when I was constantly trying to find ways to motivate students to be all that they could be. So many of my middle school students didn’t believe in themselves, and it was my job to change that scenario.
How do you do it? I don’t know if there is any one way, but I wish more writers on HubPages would do it. I’ve mentioned before, but it is worth repeating. When I started writing full-time three years ago, I had almost no confidence in my writing abilities. Today I have a loyal following who tell me that I have some talent. Whether they are correct or whether they are just being supportive doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that their support early on was the reason I kept writing. I needed that early encouragement or I would have quit.
I think having online “friends” tell you that you have talent is a whole lot different than having your mother tell you. When we are talking about encouraging someone we are related to, it becomes more difficult, because the one who needs encouraging will always discount the encouragement from a relative because, well, relatives almost always support you with kind words. That’s their job, right?
In that scenario, I would enlist the help of someone not related to the person, and ask them for an objective opinion, and then share that opinion with the person who needs encouragement.
Another Week in the Bag
Twenty-four down. Next week we’ll hit the quarter-century mark. Not bad for a random idea for a “filler” article six months ago.
Thank you for your support and for the constant stream of questions. Keep them coming and I’ll keep the mailbag alive.
2014 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”