Writing this article is long overdue.
Rather than come off as just another 'disgruntled former eHow user', in this Info Barrel article, I will be writing a very knowledgeable and researched approach to why I truly believe the Info Barrel website platform isn't just flat-out better than eHow, but, I also truly believe that Info Barrel's business model, functionality, and core business practices are so revolutionary to this industry, that I am prepared to make a formidable and compelling case for it compared to just about any other similar revenue share company/website out there today.
For this Info Barrel article, we will be dealing specifically with Info Barrel, as it relates to eHow. As you proceed to read this article, bear in mind that my views aren't exactly 'popular', however, what is RIGHT, isn't always popular. Interestingly enough, since I began being outspoken about many things, many writers have begun to become really keen and knowledgeable with regards to what continues to occur at eHow, as well as industry wide. Even though I don't participate in discussions, at the time of this writing, there is a 90+ page thread available, on the eHow forum, where writer's most fundamental questions and concerns have not been addressed in their entirety for one reason or another. While many threads have been deleted, surprisingly this thread has been allowed to remain as a very revealing manifestation of faulty community management.
The following points are reasons why I believe Info Barrel is better than eHow. Please, feel free to leave a comment disputing, or expounding upon, the points I make available in this Info Barrel article.
1) Transparency in Revenue Share Distribution and Compensation. Perhaps one of my biggest criticisms of eHow, as well as a handful of other websites in this industry, is the fact that they don't share, with their hard working writers, the percentage of revenue share allocated to them. Some writers have been perfectly fine with this level of inexistant transparency, while others have gravitated to other places.
Here is what I think....
Courtesy of people like Bernie Madoff, select politicians, and even professional baseball players who have now been coming out about past steroid use, fundamental transparency is becoming something that, I believe people in general are learning to value more and more in our society, and that principle is becoming a deep-rooted hallmark of our culture. Not only have they been 'valuing' it, but they have also been expecting and demanding it. While this spans across industries, I strongly believe there is a wave of sentiment emerging amongst the revenue share industry, in general, where writers are valuing themselves and their work high enough that they are beginning to demand this transparency. Websites/companies that are transparent, are beginning to be noticed and are rising to the top gradually--while subtly taking away market share, as evidenced by their growth statistics and trends.
On thing I am particularly sensitive to is the fact that, yes, there are individual people, who need to make a living, that run these websites. They need to make a profit in order to stay in business. Unfortunately, the emergence of very competitive business models, in the natural evolution of business, can very well take market share, as they are able, as people simply gravitate to the website that offers them the most.
2) Generosity in Revenue Share. Under the guise of a "secret algorithm", there really is no way to know just how "generous" eHow has been to it's writers. In fact, I will contend that, based on past documented dealings of eHow staff and management, I would not discount the fact that a "secret algorithm" inherently presents quite a few mischievous and deceitful "perks" and "benefits" to a company that is hoping to maximize profit in whatever way possible.
Here are some questions I will leave you to ponder about eHow's "Secret Algorithm". Rather than get angry at me, I ask you to seriously consider and contemplate them.
What benefits, if any, would a website have for maintaining a "Secret Algorithm"?
Is it possible that this "Secret Algorithm" could be applied inconsistently over its user base of tens of thousands of members?
Does Google's Adsense Program specifically require websites and Adsense Sharing Communities to hide the revenue share percentage they share with writers? If not, then why does eHow insist on keeping it a secret?
3) Staff and Management Responsiveness to User Feedback and Concerns. For the purposes of this Info Barrel article, there is a BIG difference between merely reading a user's comment, and taking real deliberate action to expand website features, or address concerns. The same publishing issues that were being "dealt with" in August 2009 (when I stopped writing for eHow, and subsequently removed all my articles from their platform) still exist even today (March 2010). Perhaps it is wrong of me to 'expect' so much of a website or company, however, as a website that earns millions of dollars each month, there is no excuse for these problems, bugs and glitches to not have been fixed by now.
What has resulted are many members who simply feel that they are not being listened to. In fact, some have had to devise 10+ step "work-arounds" in order to just get the hard work of their passion to publish correctly. Unfortunately, the reason for such bugs, glitches, and sheer mismanagement of their website has very deep historical roots. When a website, such as eHow, funnels thousands of dollars towards advertising its website to college students and work-at-home-moms, it DID notice a significant increase in membership over a short period of time. With this influx of membership came a website platform that was simply incapable of changing or adjusting to meet the ever-growing and evolving needs of users.
4) Diametrically Opposed Philosophies of Growth, Sustainment, and Platform Upkeep and Maintenance. To expound upon my previous point, both websites have clear differences with regards to their fundamental philosophies and business model. Where eHow was perfectly content with growing their website quickly, while generating as much profit as fast as possible, Info Barrel has opted for a more gradual, slow, and controlled form of growth. The very interesting thing about Info Barrel, though, is the fact that it is fully within their ownership's capability and resources to grow their website in the manner that eHow did, HOWEVER, they have refused to succumb to the desire for instant gratification. Instead, while crafting a website they hope to stand solid for a very long time to come, their philosophy has clearly revolved around the fact that they truly value the feedback given by users.
This relationship has fostered an atmosphere that has begun to assume viral growth similar to the Facebook's of this world. Without their users, they would be nothing, and this fundamental philosophy revolving around utmost adherence to customer service, place Info Barrel in a position echelons about eHow. On many occasions, my emails with general questions and concerns, simply went unanswered by eHow staff and management. As a breathe of fresh air, whether on their forum or via an email, not one of my questions or concerns, to Info Barrel staff, has gone unanswered for more than 24 hours--in fact, on many occasions, they have been answered long before 24 hours.
5) Bugs and Glitches Are Remedied Expeditiously. While addressed earlier in this Info Barrel article, this really is deserving of being an entire point, in itself, altogether. It is one thing to promise users that something will be fixed, and it is quite another thing to actually do it. Talk is cheap, and for a website that earns millions each month, there is no reason for eHow to NOT fix these issues expeditiously. Unfortunately, what I believe has occurred is a website that funneled thousands of dollars at advertising to work at home moms, so much so, that it grew way beyond its own means to maintain itself. Their platform went way beyond the point of no return, and, quite honestly, if past trends are any indicator, I really don't believe there is any intention (or ability) to fix these so deeply embedded issues. Those who choose to write for them have to decide if they want to just "suck it up and live with it", while having to applying a 10+ step "work-around" every time they publish articles, or if they would rather gravitate elsewhere.
6) No Intentional Pitting of Writer Against Writer. One very noticeable and palpable occurrence on eHow is also what I would deem a 'mistake' that is fundamental to it's platform's functionality. Where both residual and contributing writers exist, the animosity held between both is extremely palpable, and is certainly noticeable. As a result of their "contributing writers" always seeming to gain degrees of favoritism, as well as continual front page recognition, even great articles are destined to be hammered relentlessly with low star ratings. This intentional pitting of writer against writer has promoted a very unhealthy atmosphere that is actually really quite counterproductive to growth.
Case in point, the current eHow frontpage article, as written by an "eHow Contributing Writer", really isn't THAT bad of an article, however, it has been bombarded with a slue of low-star ratings.
7) Diametrically Opposed Approaches to What Search Engines Really Want. If you speak to 10 different people, you'll be destined to hear 10 different methods or strategies that one should apply to better their search engine ranking. The uncertainty, I believe, is what Google has sought in order to keep people from 'gaming' the system easily. Their are things that I've tested, and others have tested, the we strongly believe are effective.
Let me just say, clearly eHow has done something right, however, their escalation to the top of search engines occurred long before some very competitive business models were launched and entered this industry. What worked for them in the past, I don't believe will work for them in the future.
One particular aspect of SEO is the core philosophies regarding length of articles. While eHow staff and management have openly advocated the writing of 'shorter' articles, Info Barrel has assumed an entirely different approach to this philosophy. As perhaps one of eHow's selling points, they openly encouraged writers that their platform offered a great opportunity to write short 2-3 sentence "how-to" articles. What resulted were a ton of very simplistic, and borderline 'crappy' articles that have catapulted off the inherent search engine authority of eHow. The only reason these articles are ranked so high is because of this search engine authority, but, as the internet continues to evolve, those who actually are proactive enough to write longer, quality, content will stand a formidable chance of competing with those particular articles, especially as Info Barrel continues to grow and gain that search engine authority.
To take it a step further, Info Barrel has actually even openly incentivized longer articles. I believe the owners are keen to the fact that "time on site" may actually be a contributor to how search engines view a particular website. Just think, if you had written a very high quality 1,000+ word article, wouldn't you think that people would stay and read your article? This "time on site", I believe, is just one element of Info Barrel management's recognition that article length is actually viewed highly by search engines. Info Barrel's steady ascension up to the search engine rankings only seems to validate that longer articles are viewed more highly than the shorter articles that eHow has formed it's business plan around.
8) The Ability For Writers to Publish in Multiple Formats. What was effective for eHow, in the past, I don't believe will be effective as the internet continues to evolve. Granted, writing just simple "How-to" articles was a revolutionary idea, however, I truly believe that eHow's website platform, by its very nature, was really quite self-limiting since its inception. The ability to publish in only one format inherently limits writer's flexibility and creativity. Where some may grow tired of published "How-to" articles, multiple article publishing choices inherently allows Info Barrel writers to have more options as far as templates to write. On eHow, some may just not feel like writing a "How-to" article one day, and may contribute absolutely nothing of substance to the site on that day. In comparison, if a writer is tired of writing in "How-to" format, on Info Barrel, they do have alternatives that afford them not only creativity and flexibility in publishing, but it also keeps the website itself from loosing content that could have been published, but wasn't published.
*Disclosure: Yes, for the last 5 months, myself and Jason (jcmayer777) have been writing 6 eBooks about Info Barrel. My opinion and general outspoken nature, about eHow, began LONG before I started writing the books. I truly believe they are setting a horrible precedent in this industry, and while I would love to see others write for Info Barrel, there are a good 30-50 other similar companies that share revenue in a similar fashion.
I am not 'just' speaking out about eHow as some massive elaborate sabotage ploy in order to further my own 'agenda'. Doing the right thing isn't always popular. I have been writing for similar websites for years now, and I would put alot of money on the fact that Info Barrel will eventually become a foremost leader in this industry. The truest revelation of Info Barrel's management's knowledge and skill, as mentioned before, is the fact that they have resorted to slow growth of their website, while it has been fully within their means and capacity to grow this website significantly faster. This restraint is very revealing of their knowledge of how exactly growth SHOULD be conducted on a website like Info Barrel--slow and steady, with appropriate interest and customer service that has helped to form and shape the website as it continually evolves.
Tools I Use for InfoBarrel: Market Samurai Keyword Tool, The Best Spinner, My 6-Book InfoBarrel Success Course, Unique Article Wizard, and more to come soon....
*Fellow Info Barrel writer, jcmayer777 and I, created this 6-book course over 5 months!...We launched it on WarriorForum at a VERY highly discounted rate...You can see it here:
(This banner currently links to the highly discounted WarriorForum thread!)