Wherever success is found, there are typically 101 people, companies, and organizations that are ready and willing to overthrow the most innovative leaders in their respective industries. The eHow website platform is one such leader in an ever-expanding user article submission, revenue sharing model, world that many freelance writers have become more and more familiar with. Whether their encounters, with the eHow platform, are purely positive in nature, or they are painfully ridden with terrible user experiences founded in consistent poor feedback, and a bouquet of unexplainable website glitches, eHow has currently solidified itself as a leader in a booming industry.
That doesn't mean that they are safe by any means.
While the title of this article is bleak, at best, my hope is that it will serve as a warning sign, of sorts, to others who are contemplating engulfing themselves entirely in the eHow website platform. As great competition has emerged in the industry of user-submitted "How-to" articles, many similar websites have also come knocking on the door of the eHow platform traffic monstrosity. With several million unique page views occurring monthly, it is no surprise that eHow would be a formidable opponent that is ripe for dethroning. Unfortunately, this article is also meant to serve as a projection of a consortium of negative eHow experiences that have been consolidated, and aggregated, in this one simple article.
As a rather short term eHow writer (for just reason), to my surprise, I encountered many disgruntled freelance writers in my casual exploration of both their website and forum. While no website is without its imperfections and flaws, the consistent theme of disgruntlement led me to further research the individual complaints and plights of those particular writers. After all, no matter how much management or leadership strives to make everyone happy, it just isn't possible, reasonable, or realistic in a world full of inherent compromises between the leader(s) and the followers. It is, unfortunately, when these screams of mistreatment, disregard, and sheer user neglect reach resounding levels that they warrant the writing of an in depth, exploratory article such as this one.
The for-mentioned experiences have occurred to me, as well as, many former eHow users.
While the minority of passionate eHow article writers may boast of several hundred dollars per month earnings, there is a whole faction of these disgruntled writers who have actually been gravitating away from the eHow platform for a variety of reasons. Fundamental to their business plan, in accordance with their seemingly lack of customer service, there are many emerging companies that do what eHow does, although, they simply do it better. Companies such as Info Barrel, and Instructables, do several things that eHow doesn't do, and, if this pattern is maintained, I have absolutely no reservations in predicting the gradual demise of the eHow writing website platform.
1) The eHow platform has very limited, and unclear, guidelines regarding article submission. Whether you agree with this statement, or not, this is wholly evidenced in their need to conduct massive, site-wide, article sweeps seemingly every month. Had their article submission guidelines been much more clear, and thorough, they would never have had to worry about conducting these massive article sweeps. While these 'sweeps' are done specifically in order to safeguard the quality writing that appears on the website, the fundamental need for them is deep rooted in the fact that the eHow platform is governed by unclear guidelines and user expectations.
In any system, or model, that presents an opportunity for riches, it is common sense to assume that many users will do whatever it takes to game the system. This occurrence is certainly expected, however, in order to weed out these users, many dedicated and passionate long term eHow users have fallen victim to their wrath through the expression of their unrelenting fury in article deletion, coupled with nearly inexistent return user feedback.
Many quality freelance writers, like myself, have simply packed up shop and have moved elsewhere.
2) Without certain barriers to entry, eHow has been unable to regulate the quality of writing work that is displayed on their website platform for the entire world to see. While this is one element attributable to many successful websites, this requirement is typically derived from a series of painful compromises between leader and follower. However, it is the most innovative of website creators, who have had the understanding of the mentality of their users, which have employed these requirements from the very beginning launch of their respective website platforms.
While examples of worthy case studies can be given out to no end, companies like Info Barrel are able to ensure quality user submissions by implementing a simple control that requires manual staff approval of every new user's first ten articles. For as far as I can see, no such requirement exists on the eHow platform. This lack of requirement may be perceived as both a blessing, and a curse, dependent upon who one talks to. Unfortunately, for a serious website platform that seeks long term growth and viability, in an ever crowded marketplace, eHow's inability to maintain complete control over their own website has put them on a quick path to becoming inexistent in the next few years.
What typically has ensued, relation to eHow, is a continual need to conduct article 'sweeps' long after their platform has already launched. Had they implemented this control since the beginning, there would still be users attempting to game the system, however, much control would have been had over their overall influence. As a downside to these massive site wide article sweeps, many long term eHow users have fallen needless victim, with their most prized, and highest earning articles, being deleted with little to no feedback.
3) The payment scheme of eHow has always seemed to be ridden in mystery and uncertainty. While a similar website like "Instructables" does not compensate their writers for articles submitted, they have been in no short supply of members who are passionate about sharing for the sake of sharing. They have developed a massive community around the ideal of shared knowledge. Users swear by the benefit they have obtained from reading articles on Instructables so much that they are ready and willing to contribute their writing to this platform, in order to simply help others be successful at whatever "How-to" task or activity they are pursuing and attempting to accomplish. As has been proven time and time again, internet users tend to be more open, and willing to contribute, to just about any website who's leaders are open and transparent with their intentions.
For this reason, I have personally gravitated to such websites like Info Barrel, who make no reservations about immediately sharing that contributing writers will make a guaranteed 75% to 90% of all Google Adsense advertisement earnings associated with their displayed content. This is the type of transparency that eHow, although meshed in complex legal jargon, could learn a thing or two from. As members of eHow are consistently left to feel neglected, and misused, don't be surprised if you see a massive exodus away from eHow to such communities as Info Barrel and Instructables. Rest assured, this has already begun to occur, and will not alleviate itself any time soon, at least until eHow truly listens to its users in much the same way that the Instructables, and Info Barrel, websites do.
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