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Is HubPages Getting Desperate?

By Edited Jul 25, 2015 2 5
Paul Edmondson is featuring work that was formerly unfeatured (Cartoon)
Credit: RoseWrites on InfoBarrel / All rights reserved

It's no secret that former Squidoo authors are leaving HubPages in droves.

When Squidoo sold out to HubPages, writers were told they had a four month grace period to tweak their work. That promise, among others, was broken; many writers had their articles unfeatured in November and December 2014. 

In a forum thread titled: Not Featured Quaulity [sic], the original poster asked:
"One of my hubs from Sqido became not featured quality for three months then became featured again, what could have been the reason?"[1] 
At first glance of the OP's profile, I noticed he had the most comments on that one particular article. And I couldn't help but recall Paul Edmondson's forum post where he stated: 
"High quality comments can bring a hub substantial traffic. We've hidden comments and seen a corresponding traffic loss."[2]

How Bad is Bad?

I don't want to identify this person, but his article was riddled with errors. Simple ones - like using a capital letter at the beginning of every sentence. Easy punctuation was missed (like an apostrophe in won't). How it remained on Squidoo, I have no idea. 

Here is one (or two?) sentences from this newly featured article (mistakes and all): 

"If it is on the side you have to do two 90 degree turns gliding down. you must glide past it far enough before turning back to it so you are not to high when you reach it which will cause you to over shoot and land in the trees on the other side, and not to far because then you wont reach it and land in the trees in front of it."

I guess what surprised me more was this response by Writer Fox (who perhaps forgot to read the article): "Your Hub is featured now, so I guess it doesn't have a problem!"

Of course, some writers ushered in to help him 'fix' his newly featured Hub - even though he wasn't asking for their assistance.

But I have to wonder, what is going on with the QAP on HubPages now?

Now Hub Hopping

Does Not Include the Classic Hopper

Since I never joined HubPages, I had to figure out by reading their forum what 'Hub Hopping' was all about.

It's a way for authors to browse the work of others on HubPages. Sounds fair to me. But what I didn't know is that Hubs are entered into it before they pass the QAP (quality assurance program).

Upon further reading, I learned there was a 'classic hopper' but that has been discontinued. I gathered from several comments that this older version was more user-friendly.

But what stuck out like a sore thumb were these comments:[3] 

"I used the old hopper a lot but refuse to use the new one at all. I cannot be bothered to fill in loads of meaningless scoring parameters." ~ WriteAngled

"The new hopper is just too in-depth and time consuming for me to want to bother with it." ~ SmartAndFun

"I don't want to grade hubs like an English teacher grading essays, if I did, I'd sign up to be a QAP rater -- who at least gets compensated for it." ~ calculus-geometry

and

"It is now difficult to hop Hubs quickly and therefore I am way less inclined to hop. Also I was finding that most of the stuff being sent was garbish so hopping was just a great way to waste my precious time." ~ Dressage Husband

Is this yet another way to get authors to work for free on HubPages? I guess so. Perhaps enough helpful people will cut the costs of hiring good editors or other QAP-related salaries.

What Does Paul Edmondson Think?

Paul Edmondson "Yes, hubs show in the feed before they pass the QAP."
Credit: RoseWrites on InfoBarrel

I was somewhat surprised that Paul Edmondson ignored most of the valid complaints from Hubbers in this thread.[4] In fact, the comment (shown above) was all he had to say about it.

Up next, I show an exchange between two good writers on HubPages which might interest you.

Hmm, Paul Edmondson Says HP is Getting

"pretty good at unfeaturing/unpublishing lousy hubs"

Jayne Lancer and Marcy Goodfleisch discuss the effectiveness of reporting Hubs
Credit: RoseWrites on InfoBarrel

Why Wouldn't HubPages Get Rid of More?

Quite simply, it has to do with what HubPages defines as 'account inactivity.' In HubPages Terms of Use (TOU),[5] there are four scenarios in which authors completely (and permanently) forfeit all of their earnings.

I personally found these terms unreasonable which is why I publicly protested the importation of my work from Squidoo to HubPages.

And in an attempt to garner sympathy from users, I found the forum thread, How much is HubPages worth?, only tells half the truth (at best).

Writer Fox and Paul Maplesden came up with fairly similar sums of money - that is, if HubPages were operating as an ethical company.

Since page views are what matters, Writer Fox made the following rough calculation:

Monthly page views right now are 51,499,536.  Forty percent of that is 20,599,814. A page view is worth about 1/2 cent = $102,999 per month. Paul Maplesden's estimate was $109,000 a month.[6]

Oh but that is just part of the income Paul Edmondson is collecting - my estimate is that's merely 20% of it.

The Truth

Remember those comments left on poorly written Hubs? Paul Edmondson is pretty sure they help. It's because former Squidoo comments all have a link back to HubPages. Yes, every comment you ever made on Squidoo provides a link to HubPages with the spammy line:

"Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages account."

So the reason a lousy Hub will be kept published (or magically become published) might actually have more to do with maintaining these commenter links from reputable authors.

If someone types in Steve Kaye and finds he commented on hundreds of (what appears to be) HubPages articles, people will naturally form an opinion that 'Steve Kaye endorses HubPages.'

It's like free advertising from honest, ethical people.

These Former Squidoo-Only Comments

Predate the Transfer of Lenses to HubPages

Steve Kaye's comments on Squidoo now point to HubPages
Credit: RoseWrites on InfoBarrel

Consider These Facts

For people who were away the last couple of weeks in August or were otherwise unaware of what transpired, HubPages imported their work anyways.

Apparently, HubPages feels that no response = consent.

This was sadly apparent when Aneegma's work was 'edited' by a HubPro editor. Robin Edmondson reasoned that after three unanswered emails, it was her right to drastically alter this author's work. What's more, there was no sign that Aneegma was the one who wrote it afterwards.

Robin Edmondson edits authors work after 3 unanswered emails
Credit: RoseWrites on InfoBarrel

Now Consider All of Those People

Who Didn't Agree to the Transfer or Who Died

I'm sure some people will rightfully refuse to give HubPages their SSN. Did you know that according to HubPages TOU, these people all forfeited their earnings?

Therefore, HubPages gets to keep 100% of their earnings - yes, that includes Amazon and eBay revenue as well (since those are internally allocated by HubPages).

To be clear, this includes people like Naiza Oclares (who died in 2013). HubPages is posting 200 of her articles. People like me who never joined HubPages. (HubPages is posting 277 of my articles).

Oh, and I recently received an email from HubPages stating my work has been viewed 10,000 times (which also means HubPages has had their ads viewed 10,000 times too). Wonder about my clicks or sales? No idea. HubPages hasn't told me a thing.

As of February 25th, 2015

Naiza Oclares HubPages profile and my profile (without my consent) and email confirmation of 10,000 views
Credit: RoseWrites on InfoBarrel (formerly sousababy on Squidoo)

The Complete Equation

If monthly page views are 51,499,536 and each page view is worth 1/2 cent = $128,748.84

Let's say 20% of authors on HubPages have somehow forfeited their earnings, that would leave 60% (not 40% for HubPages to collect on) = 30,899,722 views x 1/2 cent = $154,498.61 per month.

Oh but let's not forget eBay and Amazon revenue - which HubPages allocates internally.

Inserting Paul Maplesden's numbers (but remembering that 100% profit goes to HubPages for those who forfeited their earnings):

Amazon revenue is probably (at least) $60,000 and eBay around $4,000 per month.

The truth is we will never know what happened to the money from empty accounts and we have no idea how much Amazon and eBay revenue they might be generating.

Conservatively speaking, I feel HubPages brings in at least $218,498.61 a month. And I haven't even factored in what might be going on with those SSN numbers and other advertisers (besides AdSense).

My gut tells me HubPages pockets at least $500,000 per month when you look at the total picture. There is only a small portion of statistics we know about and can verify.

This true figure is probably higher since (as Jayne Lancer mentioned) she reports 95% of the Hubs in her feed (for various violations and low quality) yet only 11% have been acted upon.

Makes you think about what's fair and who is being exploited, doesn't it?

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Comments

Feb 25, 2015 3:06am
LeighGoessl
Another interesting read Rose. Sorry I don't really have any true input on this, but I did find it interesting HP will leave up low quality in favor of old comments, but are seemingly messing with otherwise good articles.

Anyone I've talked to recently who has been looking for a new site is staying far away from HP at this time.
Feb 25, 2015 1:45pm
RoseWrites
Thank you for taking the time to read my articles about how Paul Edmondson conducts his business. It's especially kind of you, Leigh, considering you aren't even a user on HubPages.

I believe it will become more obvious, in time, how little HubPages cares about authors. Some people have received a "3-day to fix it" warning from AdSense already (which could mean the whole site is in jeopardy of losing its AdSense account with Google).

And it appears that HubPages is dealing with some questionable advertisers - there's been numerous complaints about 'rogue' ads.

I'm glad writers you know are steering clear of HubPages. I don't think they can keep up their numerous ruses too much longer. I'm still bothered that in order to get paid, users need to give HubPages their tax information (I would think this is illegal).

Thanks again for dropping by, you always make my day.

Warmly,

Rose
Feb 26, 2015 2:58am
LeighGoessl
Oh, thanks for the heads up about rogue ads! Occasionally I will read an article on HubPages, but I've had one computer fried due to a rogue ad already.

I don't know if requiring a SSN is illegal though - it used to be a person had to earn $600 in a tax year before it was required on writing sites (American companies have to report this level of income to the IRS to my understanding). This was around 2010, and am not clear if that has changed, but if it has not, there is no reason why HP needs it (is the average writer really earning that much on HP? I'd venture to guess not too many...)

When the kids were applying for jobs, some companies ask for it on their online applications. I told them they were not allowed to apply to those...a company should only need the SSN if they are actually hiring the person..not a potential hire.
Feb 26, 2015 3:57am
RoseWrites
In 2011, PayPal began reporting to the IRS those who earn more than $20,000 or have acquired 200 or more payments in a year. Only sellers who exceed these IRS thresholds will receive a Form 1099-K from PayPal.

HubPages only pays its users via PayPal (as far as I know).

However, it's important to note that NOT receiving a 1099 form doesn't automatically mean people don't owe taxes on their income - it still needs to be reported.

It's not illegal to ask for a SSN; but I question how 'legal' it is to make it a condition of receiving earnings. It is still stated in HubPages TOU:

"In the event of Inactivity, the entire amount of an Earned Balance in Your account will be permanently forfeit by You (and You hereby waive any claim relating to the dispute of such payment and disclaim any and all interest in such funds).

"Inactivity" means [among three other reasons]: "Your account has expired tax information that is greater than six (6) months beyond the date of such expiration.

For more info from PayPal: https://www.paypal.com/us/webapps/mpp/irs6050w

Feb 26, 2015 3:57am
RoseWrites
This comment has been deleted.
Feb 25, 2015 1:45pm
RoseWrites
This comment has been deleted.
Feb 26, 2015 3:58am
RoseWrites
The deleted comments were duplicate posts - sorry 'bout that.
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Bibliography

  1. "Not Featured Quaulity." HubPages Forum. 24/02/2015 <Web >
  2. "Impact of Massive Hub Editing." HubPages Forum. 24/02/2015 <Web >
  3. "My hub hopping experience." HubPages Forum. 24/02/2015 <Web >
  4. "Awful quality of hubs that show up in my feed." HubPages Forum. 24/02/2015 <Web >
  5. "HUBPAGES TERMS OF USE." HubPages. 24/02/2015 <Web >
  6. "How much is hubpages (dot) com worth?." HubPages Forum. 25/02/2015 <Web >

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