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Bubblews Final Review: Time To Say Goodbye
It's all over! Bubblews has shut down
On 11/15/2015 the following appeared on the Bubblews site:
After being up and running for almost 3 years now we regrettably need to inform you that we will be shutting Bubblews.com down. The climate for display advertising has drastically changed and made it impossible for us to sustain the business model and operations.
We want to thank everyone that was a part of this journey. We wish you all the very best.
In typical Bubblews fashion, the shutdown occurred without warning, and without allowing contributors opportunity to retrieve their posts. If you try to access any of your articles, you get a 404 error.
So, this is indeed a final goodbye to Bubblews.
Note: You may be able to recover some of your Bubblews posts.
See How To Recover And Reuse Your Bubblews Articles
My original article, written prior to the shutdown, follows:
This will be my fourth article about my experience as a Bubblews user. I expect it will be my last. It’s time for me to say a final goodbye to Bubblews.
For me, the final straw was laid on the back of the Bubblews camel when it seemed I wouldn't be able to delete my existing posts.
My inability to delete my Bubblews articles raised concerns
At the height of my participation in Bubblews I had 770 articles posted. Then, in November of 2014, the site made the unilateral decision to withhold money legitimately earned by writers (saying the funds to make those payments “never existed”). That’s when I began to delete articles. I started with those I felt I could quickly transfer to other sites. That first wave of deletions left me with 622 articles on Bubblews.
But when I went back to the site a few days ago to begin deleting additional articles, I found that although there is a “Delete” icon, it didn't work for me.
Clicking it took me back to the front page of the site, thereby giving the impression that the article was removed. But it was still there. I had seen comments from other users on the site about not being able to delete their articles, so it seemed that the site was not allowing deletions.
But after being alerted by readers that some had been able to delete articles, I did some more checking and discovered that for some inexplicable reason deletes done under the Firefox browser did not work, while deletes succeeded if the browser was Chrome.
But that false alarm about being able to delete my articles prompted me to check out the Bubblews terms of service concerning deletions. I found that even if they are allowing deletions now, they claim the right to refuse to do so at their option.
The Bubblews Terms of Service now give them perpetual rights to your work
Although most users are probably unaware of it, Bubblews has made a highly significant alteration in their Terms of Service. Despite there being a statement on the Bubblews TOS page saying “These are the terms of service for UserVoice, the service that powers this support portal, not for Bubblews itself,” it’s clear that the listed terms are binding on Bubblews users.
Here’s what these new terms of service have to say about content posted on the Bubblews site (emphasis is mine):
- You give the party (the “Account Holder”) who owns the domain name [Bubblews] …a non-exclusive, royalty-free, worldwide, perpetual, irrevocable, fully-sublicensable license to publish and use your Content. In addition to the right to publish, you also grant the Account Holder under said license the following rights, without limitation: (i) the right to reproduce or copy or create derivative works thereof; (ii) the right to transfer, deliver, and sell the Content…
- You understand that the Account Holder has no obligation, either express or implied, to develop or use your Content and that no compensation is due to you or anyone else for any inadvertent or intentional use of your Content…
- You hereby irrevocably release and forever discharge the Company and all Account Holders…from any and all actions, causes of actions, claims, damages, liabilities and demands…which you now have or hereafter can, shall or may have against the Released Parties or their respecting successors and assigns with respect to the Content…
In other words,
Bubblews now claims the right to use a writer’s work for as long as they choose, in any way they choose, with absolutely no obligation to pay the writer anything at all for their work. And the writer has absolutely no right to legally contest whatever use Bubblews may choose to make of their work.
Bubblews essentially asserts co-ownership of my work
What particularly disturbed me about the way Bubblews made this massively significant modification in its TOS, is that I, as a user, was not advised that any such change was imminent, and was given no opportunity to remove my content before the new terms of service were put into effect. From my perspective, Bubblews surreptitiously and unilaterally changed the terms of the agreement it had with me in a way that deprives me of control over my own work, and did so in a manner that ensured I would have no recourse.
Under the new terms of service, Bubblews can do anything with my content that I can do, including changing it, building on it, republishing it, or selling it, and all without my consent or even knowledge.
In my previous reviews of Bubblews I drew attention to my belief that the major issue affecting the site was its lack of integrity in the treatment of its writers. This change in the TOS is, in my opinion, a stark example of the truth of that characterization.
Reasons to leave Bubblews once and for all
Finding that Bubblews had taken a significant amount of control over my content without even notifying me led me to do some additional investigation into the state of affairs at the site. What I found is, to me, profoundly disturbing.
There are three major issues I found in my examination that, for me, now disqualify Bubblews as a site in which I should invest any of my time.
- They continue to treat users with a lack of integrity.
- They continue a pattern of paying some of their writers while not paying others.
- The site appears to be basically on autopilot, receiving no attention from management
Let’s examine each of these issues in more detail.
Bubblews lacks integrity in the way they deal with users
This issue is exemplified by the way the site changed its terms of service, to the detriment of writers, without notifying them, and without giving them a chance to opt out.
This, however, is hardly new behavior on the part of the Bubblews management team. They have demonstrated throughout the site's history a pattern of making unilateral, apparently arbitrary decisions concerning their obligations to users without notifying them of what was being done or why.
For example, the site has received numerous complaints that it closed users’ accounts, thereby relieving itself of the obligation to pay any monies owed, without notification, without explanation of the reasons (beyond claiming there had been some unspecified violation of the terms of service), and without providing the user an opportunity to take corrective action.
In my opinion, Bubblews’ reputation for unethical behavior is well deserved.
Bubblews continues a pattern of failing to pay some writers what they are owed
I saw a number of comments from writers on the site complaining of lack of payment (redemption) of money they were due. Here’s a sampling:
- “I have been sending tickets and email without any reply (except 1) searching for my redemption from May 14, 2015.” (Posted in August, 2015).
- “It has been over 90 days since I redeemed and nothing.”
- “Nope, not been paid - getting on for 6 months now. Kissed it goodbye.”
Some users were elated when Bubblews appointed a moderator (screen name @Nameless), hoping that she would be able to facilitate their getting paid. It soon became evident, however, that the moderator was not in the loop as far as payments were concerned. At one point she posted that she couldn’t say how long it would take to receive payments, adding, “If I do learn anything definite that I can pass on I will update.”
Eventually the moderator stopped posting on the site, prompting questions of “where is @Nameless.” She returned for what so far appears to be a final post, saying,
I wish too that I could belay everyone's fears for the fate of this website but that is impossible as I have had no communication from the top. I believe they may only be waiting to see how well Bubblews holds up on its own before making any further decisions as to its fate. As to whether or not I will return in my position that remains to be seen.
That brings us to my final major reason for leaving the site for good:
Bubblews management appears to have abandoned the site
A frequent complaint I saw voiced by users is that the site appears to be running on autopilot. Not only do writers get no response to their queries to Admin, but there has been no communication from the site management for some time. At the time of this writing, co-founder and CEO Arvind Dixit’s latest post is four months old.
Many of the writers whose comments I saw voiced the fear that this lack of management visibility portends the demise of the site. “No communication from the top spells disaster,” one said.
Moderator @Nameless was pretty clear in her appraisal of the current state of the site:
[Bubblews management] may only be waiting to see how well Bubblews holds up on its own before making any further decisions as to its fate.— Bubblews Moderator
That’s hardly a recipe for confidence in the future of the site.
Do you personally think it's time to leave Bubblews for good?
The lack of integrity at Bubblews is reason enough to leave
One relevant consideration I didn’t bother to mention is the fact that earnings on the site are extremely meager. One writer lamented that she had written numerous posts over an 8-1/2 month period, earning a grand total of $23. Even if payment were assured, for most people it’s just not worth the effort.
But for me, neither that nor any of the other practical issues are the main consideration. Any faith I may once have had that Bubblews might evolve into a site that could be trusted to deal with writers in an ethical manner has been totally shattered. From now on, as far as I’m concerned, it matters little what they say or promise. Past history shows, in my opinion, that they are not to be trusted.
I won’t be posting any more articles on Bubblews. For me, it’s time to leave.
© 2015 Ronald E. Franklin