Epinions - Two Years Post Script
On February 25, 2014, the online writing world lost one of its best active review sites when Epinions announced to its membership that its business model was no longer sustainable. Epinions, to date, remains visible, but nobody can submit new material, nor can anyone rate or comment on the pieces that appeared on the site, beginning in 1999. Thankfully, they paid well when they were active, and let the membership download all of their pieces to zip files to republish elsewhere.
Even before Epinions went inactive, some of the membership touted a competitor that began in 2012 called Bubblews. People could review there, or they could blog. I'm not one of those prone to sharing personal experiences, but Bubblews seemed quite generous to those who could fire off short pieces - to a point. They realized too late that people found ways to take advantage of the payment system. When Epinions closed, Bubblews received a flood of new members that had once submitted to Epinions. In time, Bubblews changed payment policies drastically, which prompted many of my old Epinions colleagues to leave, as well as many of the good new writers I met on Bubblews. On November 15, 2015, Bubblews closed its website completely while I was reading and rating new submissions one November Sunday night. This ending proved even more unceremonious than the closing of Epinions. As I understand my Bubblews situation, founder Arvind Dixit maintains the right to publish or sell the old Bubblews pieces anywhere he wants. Given the increasingly stingy ways Dixit treated membership, I certainly won't shed any tears if Mr. Dixit and his associates never make a penny from the old articles.
It's not that the later years of Epinions didn't show signs of inconsistent member treatment and a lack of responsiveness to some issues in its later years. Three of the more productive members of the site received tickets for behavior Epinions deemed inappropriate, though I always believed the allegations to be dubious. Meanwhile, when one Epinions member made harassing remarks on my pieces, and another lifted a piece from me and took credit, I reported both members. Rather than remove either member from the site, Epinions did absolutely nothing, though fellow members made sure these people got the lowest ratings for their work, thus guaranteeing them no pay. In the final months, they maintained control of the new products added to the database instead of letting category leads have input. That move persuaded me to to take many new pieces to Bubblews in 2013. Little more than two years later, both sites ended active membership.
Thankfully, I also applied for membership with HubPages, where I have discovered a few of the former Epinions and Bubblews members. I've come to terms with fewer page views and less lucrative pay. At least this place isn't eBay, who acquired Epinions years ago. These days, eBay asks me to share my views on products I have bought there. I have no intention of giving them any free pieces, since their legal counsel believed that Epinions members should not be paid. I'd rather wait a long time for another payday than volunteer my services to a place that once gave me a little pay every month.
As was the case with high school, the old writing communities reached a point where the time came for everybody to move to some other place. I can imagine that some former colleagues have had enough of the changes and ended their online writing endeavors. I've twice read announcements recently that they could no longer remain active. Every move I make is one I wish to have some sort of permanence. All of us in online writing deserve that, as well as a business model that proves profitable for all involved. I don't want to hear Pomp And Circunstance in my head from an online writing site. As regards HubPages, I move forward with it. It's the only thing I can do as I try and share some of my life's passions with those who care to read. To those who have cared to read so far, I thank you.