Proof That Getting Entertainment Traffic Is Possible With HubPages

One of my favorite reports that I look at each day is called ‘User Traffic Trends’ that shows me the type of traffic that Hubbers are currently getting as compared to the traffic that they were getting last week. It ranks the Hubbers according to the percentage of increase from the prior week and it’s a great way to find some interesting Hubs that have seen a boost in the amount of eyeballs that they’re getting every day.

Well, today when I was looking at the report I noticed that a Hubber named Paulie was up near the top thanks to a Hub that she published back in 2007 titled: The Duggar Family America’s Creepist Family?. I found this recent traffic spike fairly interesting for a few different reasons:

  1. The Hub was written nearly a year and a half ago and it’s just now seeing some significant traffic. This shows that part of being a Hubber is being patient with the Hubs that you write. Also, after doing a little bit of research it looks like the recent spike could be due to new episodes of their show on the Discovery Channel that are getting ready to kick off.
  2. The Hub is an entertainment-based Hub, which is normally a very hard topic area to get traffic from due to the fact that there is more written on the web about entertainment than pretty much anything else. It also shows that getting a Hub written early about something that might not be super popular yet isn’t a bad idea either.
  3. The traffic that the Hub is getting is mainly coming from search (sweet!), which is normally not the case when you see a big traffic spike over the span of a week or so. Usually when something like this happens it’s due to a Hub taking off on a social bookmarking site such as StumbleUpon or Reddit.

To me, it’s always great to see that well-written, entertainment-based Hubs like this can find their place in the search engines and can create some significant traffic. Although a little patience was required for this particular Hubber, her topic choice and content are now seeing the rewards of writing on HubPages.

This Week’s Tasty HubNuggets

Each week a super-cool and mountain-bike-loving Hubber funride selects 10 well-written and high quality Hubs that have been published within the last few weeks by a new Hubber. He then publishes a Hub that includes links to each of the 10 that he chooses, as well as a brief summary of each and a Poll Capsule that allows the HubPages community to vote for their favorite.

After a few days of voting we choose the 5 Hubs with the highest amount of votes and these Hubs are magically turned into our HubNuggets of the week, which means that they get sent out in the weekly newsletter that reaches over 40,000 active Hubbers. It gives the new Hubbers some great exposure and a little reward for publishing some great content all while giving the community a good sense of what we here at HubPages feel like are great examples of quality Hubs. We have a lot of fun with it and it’s a great way to get to know some of our best, new Hubbers.

Well, today I decided that I should probably do more than just send these out in the newsletter each week and let everyone on the Interwebs get a taste of the delicious HubNuggets, too. The 5 winning HubNuggets for this week are listed below — be sure to give them a read if you have a minute, they’re all 100% pure super-HubNuggety-awesomeness.

  1. The Dance Bars Were Shut Down In Bombay. After That… [view]
  2. Top Ten Things To Consider Before Becoming an Exotic Dancer [view]
  3. Learn a New Language in 2009 [view]
  4. Ways the Economy has Changed America [view]
  5. Greek History: Lesson 2–The Formation of the Polis [view]

Rockin Joe Interviews A Hubber

As I was browsing the web today (aka ‘working’), I decided to see what Rockin Joe was up to over on his HubPages tribute site — the cleverly named PrettyWasted.com. Once I was on the site I quickly noticed that he had done something on his own that was pretty sweet. he had taken it upon himself to interview HOUELLEBECQ, one of the more interesting Hubbers that he’s seen publishing lately.

One of HOUELLEBECQ’s Hubs titled Top 10 Things To Consider Before Becoming an Exotic Dancer was selected as one of the 10 potential HubNuggets this week that get sent out in the newsletter every Wednesday and for one reason or another it caught Rockin Joe’s attention. Check out the interview that he gave HOUELLEBECQ over here when you get a chance and while you’re at it go place your vote for the potential HubNuggets, too. I mean, it is your Hubber-given right.

Crowdsourcing: the Book

In my view, one of the coolest terms out now is Crowdsourcing.   This is a term that was first proposed by Jeff Howe of Wired Magazine in June, 2006.  His goal with the term was to call attention to the emerging trend of user-generated content.  Implicit in the term is the idea that the communities underlying user-generated content, as exemplified by Wikipedia or HubPages, are very similar to open source communities that have brought us Linux, Firefox Browser, and multitudes of software that are available on websites such as sourceforge.net.

I have been especially interested in all this because I think it sheds insight on why HubPages has been successful and why HP keeps growing in popularity.   Very high quality content can be created by giving anyone the chance to show what they can do.  Most of what gets produced may not be of the highest quality but a small amount will reach surprisingly high levels and best of all, this is quality content that would not have been available through traditional publishing channels.

Since the term first appeared in the Wired article, it has taken a life of its own.  Thankfully, in August, Jeff released Crowdsourcing, the book.  This is a very ambitious attempt to catalog the trends underlying Crowdsourcing.  How did it emerge? What’s happening?  Where’s it going?

In my view, the book succeeds exceptionally well as an overview of the current state of the trend.  The book is very readable and provides a solid foundation on some of the most popular crowdsourced websites.  Crowdsourcing depends on an active community that can’t be driven solely by the money.  The money, as a rule, is small for most, but has the potential to be large for a few.

Crowdsourcing depends on a high tolerance for failure.  If you give the ability to publish to everyone, there is a very good chance that most of it will not be very good.  But that’s ok.  The goal is to highlight the quality content that would otherwise not be available.   At HubPages, we promote quality through easy-to-use tools, a hubscore that provides feedback to authors and readers, and policies that encourage high quality content (no spam, gambling, or adult content).

The new infrastructure of the web has greatly reduced the costs of publishing and in this way, greatly reduces the cost of failure.  When publishing required major resources by the publisher, the barriers to publishing were high.  Content had to get submitted, approved, and then after a time, edited into a book or magazine.  Howe’s discussion of these trends is extremely good.

The book has a lot in common with Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody which I have written a hub about.  I think that both books complement each other and I recommend both to those interested in the subject.  Jeff Howe also a crowdsourcing blog which is worth visiting to get his latest views.

Categories and Tags: Why Not Have Both

When Joshua Schachter first came up with the idea of tagging in 2003, most people didn’t get it.  Del.icio.us had its strange url and offered the seemingly simple idea of social bookmarks and tagging.  Today, Delicious is seen as one of those classic technology stories.  Start up innovates, gains a buzz, and sets off a technology storm.  Indeed, when Yahoo! purchased Del.icio.us in 2006, it was quite a catch.  (As a footnote,  Joshua Schachter who left Yahoo! in June, 2008 has now announced that he is an employee at Google.)

While tagging is great and in today’s Web 2.0 environment, pretty much essential, we at HubPages believes that it is not enough by itself.  While tags provide a very nimble way of organizing content, they have limitations as a mechanism for thoroughly organizing a web site.  There is a skill in coming up with the right set of tags and not everyone has the time or the interest in making sure that each of their hubs has the appropriate, popular tags associated.  It is hard to imagine that any tag will be used consistently and reliably by all authors.

We’ve created a tag suggestion tool to help people come up with tags.  There are web sites galore that help people figure out which tags they should use.  But even with these tools, tags have many limitations.  How many tags do you use for any hub?  What happens if someone mistypes a tag.  Should we have a tag spelling checker?  What happens if one persons add an ‘ing’ or adds a hyphen.  The strength and weakness of tags is that they are imprecise.

At HubPages, to address these limitations with tagging, we’ve decided to add categories to HubPages.  By categories, I mean a set of terms that are fixed and organized hierarchically.  There will be overlap.  For example, if a topic fits in two places, we will have a “See Also” reference.  We recognize that it will take some time for hubbers to get used to categories.  For this reason, an author will be able to change their mind as to which category or subcategory their hub belongs.  But the rule will remain that each hub will belong to one and only one category/subcategory at a time.

Categories were the standard approach before Joshua Schachter’s innovation and as a way of organizing content in a definitive and reliable way provide many benefits.  In our view, allowing users to flag their hub with both a single category/subcategory as well as tags is the way to go.

A category hierarchy is pretty much static.  It provides a way of navigating through the site and making it easier to find related content.  If it is chosen correctly, it provides a way of giving a full survey of web site content.  If you are looking for ideas on what to write about, a category hierarchy can help you survey what’s out there.  Tags are great ways to deep dive but categories are better for a high level survey if they are well chosen.

That really brings up the major reason why categories often have a bad reputation.  They are surprisingly very difficult to get right.  Deciding where something fits in can be frustrating.  Real life does not fit cleanly into categories.  A well written hub may easily fit in multiple categories.  A category by its very nature is an oversimplification: it emphasizes only one dimension of a multidimensional entity.

That being said, I would still argue that categories when they are well chosen are very useful.  One of the most successful categorization schemes is Roget’s Thesaurus put together by Peter Mark Roget in 1852.  When I was in high school, it was a must-have for writers as they searched for interesting words.  The cornerstone of the library reference section was dictionaries, thesauruses, and encyclopedias.

Many a web site has tried to create a perfect hierarchical organization.  I remember the early days of Yahoo! when it looked like its human-organized directory was going to be the definitive way to organize the web.  Before Google showed us the power of search, it really looked like directories were the way to go.  Here’s an old article from CNET that talks about human powered search being the winner in 1999.

Directories have many limitations.  The web is unbelievably dynamic at its very core and changes more rapidly than any human-powered directory.  Another problem is deciding which categorization is the best.  What is intuitive to one person may be completely baffling to the next.  People tend to have their own, personal way of organizing web sites.  This is one of the great appeals of Delicious which gives users the ability to tag web sites their own way.  Still, despite these limitations, if categories are done right, they become a useful navigation device.

As a child, I was a frequent visitor to our local library.  I learned by heart the Dewey Decimal system invented by Melvil Dewey in 1876.   With this knowledge, I could browse the entire library by going to the appropriate section for any topic.  History and Geography was in the 900s.  Science and Math was in the 500s.  Of course, you don’t need to know the categorization scheme to take advantage of it.  Once you have the library index number for a book, you can find similar books very close to it on the shelf.  The real value is the ease with which you can find related books.

At HubPages, we are not trying to do anything as complete as the Dewey Decimal System or Roget’s Thesaurus.  Our categorization will only be three-levels deep.  Our thinking on this is that three levels of depth gives people the opportunity to pinpoint their topic area for a hub without going into too much detail.

We are planning to put this together with participation by the Hubber community.  We will present our proposals for topic categories in the announcements section of the forum.  Our plan is to give Hubbers time to review our categories and provide feedback.

To get the ball rolling, I have listed below our currently planned top level categories:

  • Art & Writing
  • Automotive
  • Birthdays & Holidays
  • Business & Jobs
  • Entertainment
  • Fashion
  • Food
  • Games, Toys, & Hobbies
  • Gender & Relationships
  • Health & Beauty
  • Home & Family
  • Personal Finance
  • Pets & Animals
  • Politics & Social Issues
  • Religion & Beliefs
  • Science & Education
  • Sports & Recreation
  • Technology
  • Travel & Places

So, what do you think?

This is a work in progress so feel free to post your comments to this blog.

Yeah, We’re Moving’ On Up! HubPages Cracks Top 200 Websites In U.S.

According to Quantcast, at some point during the holidays we officially broke through to the top 200 most trafficked websites in the United States (we’re #192 as of this writing). This is an amazingly awesome accomplishment for me and the rest of the team here who work each day to continue to keep HubPages the best place to write on the web and it’s also a testament to the quality of Hubbers that have been writing original and informative content every single day.

At this pace we’ll break through the top 100 sometime in the next few months, which will be an even bigger deal. The top 100 is a lofty goal, but it’s where we all think we belong. Here’s to continuing to help HubPages grow and grow and grow and grow in 2009 – it’s going to be a fun year.

I think that it’s time for The Jefferson’s theme song:

We’ve Added Some Bling To The Hubtivity With Milestones

Today we announced a new Milestones feature that adds some sweet, new bling to all of our Hubtivity streams, which shows all of the activity of the Hubbers that I’m a fan of. This gives a whole new life to all of our Hubtivity streams and we rolled this new feature out for a few specific reasons:

  1. We wanted to be able to highlight and showcase more of the amazing Hubbers that we currently have publishing. This will give some of our better, but lesser known Hubbers more face time with the community.
  2. We wanted to reward and recognize the Hubbers that are making significant contributions to HubPages on a consistent basis. These Milestones allow us to better show our hardest working Hubbers how much we appreciate them.
  3. James, our rockstar designer, simply had the urge to sketch up some old school looking medals, so we thought that this was the best way to let him do it. He’s odd like that sometimes, but that’s why we keep him around.

Movin’ On Up: HubPages PageRank Bumps Up To A 6!

How PageRank Works (pretty simple, eh?)

I had heard rumors that Google was updating their infamous and somewhat mysterious PageRank which basically ranks every site on the web on a scale of 1-10 based upon the trust level of their content. The formula for how this is actually calculated is a type of Internet folklore and is not publicly disclosed. It’s a number that many websites take a lot of pride in and although it’s nothing to become obsessed with it’s a great indicator of your good(or bad) graces with the Internet gods over at Google.

Today as I was emailing one of our super-rad Hubbers, ProCW, he confirmed the PageRank updates and was the first to let me know that in the process HubPages had been bumped up from a PR5 to a PR6, which is really great news! Like I said, this is nothing to go completely crazy about, but it does show that Google is giving our content some extra love by bumping the trust level of our content up a notch.