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Bubblews Shutdown: Where Did It All Go Wrong?

Updated on November 17, 2015

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 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?

Bubblews was a social media site with a monetary incentive to interact with other members.
Bubblews was a social media site with a monetary incentive to interact with other members. | Source

July 2014

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.

Bubblews minimum payout amount is $50.
Bubblews minimum payout amount is $50. | Source

First Redemption

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.

Bubblews: a social media site with a writer's complex.
Bubblews: a social media site with a writer's complex. | Source

October-November-December 2014

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.

January 2015

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 "upgrades" didn't save the site from sinking.
Bubblews "upgrades" didn't save the site from sinking. | Source

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.

© 2014 Lana ZK


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    • kalinin1158 profile image

      Lana ZK 2 years ago from California

      Glenn, I agree - it was so unprofessional not paying the writers who didn't break any rules! After all the efforts to restore the trust they go and do that...inexplicable. They admitted that it was their fault not addressing the fraud issue earlier (which members were begging them to do almost since the beginning), yet they are not the ones being penalized.

      My posts are still up there (earning exactly $0.00 in passive income) but I'm going to take them down, for sure. I think I heard it takes about 6 months to drop off the search engines. Thanks for stopping by!

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 2 years ago from Long Island, NY

      I stopped writing on Bubblews when they canceled my last redemption under the premise that they had "a ridiculous amount of fraud" as you had quoted. Not paying the good guys because of all the loss they had from the bad guys was extremely unprofessional and it created an ongoing loss of trust that they will not be able to undo now.

      I pulled all my posts and waiting for them to drop off all search engine indexing before I reuse them elsewhere. Google, Bing and Yahoo all have different timeframes. My posts don't even fit with their new style that you mentioned anyway - being that Bubblews is no longer a writer's site.

    • kalinin1158 profile image

      Lana ZK 2 years ago from California

      Well, it takes 2-3 months now for a redemption to come through, but a claim that's almost a year old - you probably won't see that one arrive. Overall, it's become very hard to earn anything on Bubblews so if you don't care about that, or if you have other writing sites to fall back on, you can still be on Bubblews for the joy of writing short posts...If you're into it :)

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      i was on and off bubblews due to delay in payments. My sept 2014 redemption had not been paid until now, dec 2014. I also have jan 2014 redemption still not paid. Already sent emails and the claim form but no news. very sad. Don't know whether to carry on writing or not?

    • kalinin1158 profile image

      Lana ZK 3 years ago from California

      Yes, I'm Lana Zaki! I have been absent from Bubblews myself lately. I didn't want to make a big statement, the "I'm leaving Bubblews" post, so I just kind of stopped caring...Then the other day I pop in to write a quick post, something that I put no effort into and about something I would be embarrassed to talk about, and of course, it gets featured. Sneaky-sneaky! Trying to lure me back with accolades. Not happening! A featured post used to make like $15, now you'd be lucky to get $4 (which is what I got). Yeah, turns out I was on Bubblews mainly for the money :)

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 3 years ago from San Diego California

      I suspect I know you from Bubblews. I haven't been back since they discontinued paying for views. I used to be able to make a fair amount of money via passive income, but that has gone away. Although I was extremely fond of my Bubblews friends, I don't have time to like and comment all day. That is why I am now trying to concentrate on Hub Pages, because although it doesn't pay that much I believe there is long term potential here, and it requires less work. Great hub! Oh-I just saw that you are LanaZaki. I suspected that. At least I can read your good work over here now that I am not on Bubblews very much.

    • goatfury profile image

      Andrew Smith 3 years ago from Richmond, VA

      I'm not sure I've read the new Knowledge Base Page, but I have kept up with the announcements from Arvind. I look at it like this: Bubblews allows me to earn more per day than any other writing site (for the time being), and I don't have to do any in-depth articles. In fact, I might post research snippets or extremely rough drafts for some more serious articles, and I can also post things I like to post every day, like goals and reflections on my day, or (in my case) singularity news. I'm good with that.

    • kalinin1158 profile image

      Lana ZK 3 years ago from California

      Have you read the new Knowledge base page? It seems like all they want is fluff. I'm more and more hesitant to post more serious stuff there. Plus, the earnings are so ridiculously low now... Although not as low as on HP :o

    • goatfury profile image

      Andrew Smith 3 years ago from Richmond, VA

      Sweet, connected. I think overall it's good. Don't expect much, don't self-promote, just post thoughts and no links, and it's all good, and really easy.

    • kalinin1158 profile image

      Lana ZK 3 years ago from California

      I've had a positive experience until my posts started disappearing. I came back to try it again, and I find myself in the same precarious position, where Bubblews policies are pushing me off the site, but I still find some redeeming qualities that keep me coming back. I'm &LanaZaki, I'll look for you there :)

    • goatfury profile image

      Andrew Smith 3 years ago from Richmond, VA

      My experiences with Bubblews have been overall positive. Sure, there are changes, and I wouldn't post a lot of stuff there that involves more work (I'd save that for Hubpages or Infobarrel, etc), but being fluid and having some fun getting to know some of the folks has been a good experience. I've made a few hundred bucks to boot over about 3 months (just a little over). My user name is goatfury, same as here, if you want to see how active I've been or whatever.