Bubblews Shutdown: Where Did It All Go Wrong?
November 2015 Update
Bubblews officially went out of business. Their front page currently reads: "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."
Bubblews Updates Timeline
Now that the site no longer exists, lets look at the timeline of Bubblews' major metamorphoses, and how it impacted the site's viability.
The following article reflects my tumultuous journey through all the site's changes, seeking to answer the question I've been asking since the beginning: where did it all go wrong?
I've joined Bubblews in December 2013.
After the previously described censorship episode I left the site. That was actually a blessing because during that time I was able to land the biggest writing project of my life. There's no way I would've been able to co-author a book if I was 'bubbling' around the clock!
But eventually I got curious about the new interface and the promise of vast improvement, so I've decided to give ol' Bubblews another chance. To be fair, the new July 2014 version had many useful updates:
- no dislike button,
- a simplified notifications system,
- a simplified "reply" function,
- an automatic character count,
- a draft feature,
- free Pixabay image library,
- an option to delete your comment and other small but important tweaks.
I must say, I was impressed. But the main test was the payment system.
After rejoining Bubblews to complete my experiment, my one month stats were as follows: 104 posts, $60 in my "bank", and over 1,500 followers.
It was time to press that big green button. Drum roll: drrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr I got paid! I've never been so excited about 60 bucks before. The payment was processed exactly as promised, a month later, with no issues or delays. So it means the system works, right?
Not so fast. Just because I got paid doesn't mean that there weren't legitimate payment issues. And now that the site no longer functions, many were duped out of their well-deserved redemptions.
However, the next Bubblews' restructuring craze had left many members wondering if Bubblews is still worth it, shattering what little trust writers had in Bubblews' integrity.
Here is the list of the most important changes.
- To de-emphasize the earning aspect of the site in favor of social interaction, it was announced that "Bubblews is not a writing site," it's a social media platform. To many writers on Bubblews it came as a surprise, if not a slap in the face.
- In that same cavalier spirit the views display was removed, so the writers wouldn't be able to calculate their earnings by simply adding up likes, comments, and views numbers displayed on each post. Although many members expressed their strong preference for the views display to return, the team maintained that this was a permanent measure.
- On a positive, Captcha was also removed. To fight the rampant spam issue Bubblews briefly introduced the Captcha measure. It was a pain in the arse, but it did reduce the number of spam comments significantly.
- Drastic reduction of plagiarized/nonsense posts. Thanks to a new algorithm, Bubblews tech team was able to track and identify many plagiarizers and other violators that were abusing the system for profit. Better late than never, right? This was a massive clean-up that resulted in many fraudulent profiles being deleted and in a more readable front page.
- This next one was a doozy - Bubblews changed pay rates to make the site more financially sustainable. It is now location- and revenue-based. Translation: they paid whatever they decided to pay, there was no set compensation rate. Some members said that it's about 1/3 of a penny, because everyone's earnings seemed to drop by about a third, or that Bubblews simply stopped paying for views.
- An additional tab "History" was added to the Bank page where you could make a claim for a missing redemption, or check the status of the pending ones. This was a step towards more transparency; too bad it was followed by the removal of views and an unspecified change in pay rates.
- If that wasn't bad enough, in December 2014 the staff announced that they are defaulting on all pre-November 11 claims because of poor records keeping and 'a ridiculous amount of fraud'.
- Bubblews team members started writing posts encouraging writers to ask them questions. "Ask Me Anything" became a popular Bubblews theme, and the team's posts received hundreds of comments, with questions ranging from "where's my money?" to "what's your favorite [insert any noun]?" My observation was: You could ask them anything, but it doesn't mean they were going to answer it. The team mostly answered "bubbly" questions, ignoring those with issues, concerns or complaints, or just re-directing them to another team member.
At this point I left the site for good, although I didn't delete my profile. I had over a hundred posts and $13 in my bank, so I wanted to see if there's any passive income to be made on Bubblews. The answer is: absolutely not! My total didn't move even a bit throughout an entire year.
I knew I made the right decision not sticking with Bubblews because I was constantly hearing the complaints from the members about not being paid, or only being able to earn a fraction of what they used to earn. People were leaving in drones!
Another sign of deep trouble - Arvind & Co. stopped posting sassy quasi-inspirational messages about the great plans they have for Bubblews, and how everyone should hang in there.
Bubblews, Goodbye. We Hardly Knew Ye
I think the ultimate irony is: after all the painstaking upgrades to "save" Bubblews by lowering pay rates, hiding views and defaulting on payments, the site still went belly up.
The changes signaled growth, but there was also a lack of integrity and a deep sense of disconnect on the part of the Bubblews team from what most members wanted, and from an open transparent business model.
The staff always refered to Bubblews as 'a community' while every major decision about the site was made unilaterally, and then announced to the members in a Pearl Harbor manner.
I think amidst all the changes and upgrades Bubblews lost something essential: a sense of accountability and respect for the writers. That was the reason Bubblews didn't survive, not the changed "climate for display advertising." Even now Bubblews admins are still lying, trying to cover up what really went wrong. It was a great idea - and a helluva fun while it lasted - but in the end, you can't run a successful business without integrity and accountability.
The First Part of My Bubblews Journey
- Is Bubblews the Next Big Thing? A Personal Experiment That Ended Quickly
With all the hype about making easy money online, some people say Bubblews may be the next big thing. I've tried Bubblews for 30 days, here are the results.
© 2014 Lana ZK