Is HubPages the Most Visited Small Web Site in the World?

One of the fun parts of my job is talking to people about HubPages who have never heard of it.  This is not so surprising considering that if you read most articles on social media, crowdsourcing, blogging, or social networking, HubPages is rarely mentioned.  If you check the Quantcast 100, most of the websites there are well-known names: Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Wikipedia, Netflix, Amazon, Microsoft, etc.  This makes sense.  These are giant sites and most of their visitors are either members or customers actively using the site’s services.  The most popular sites are for the most part: large and well-established.

For most of these sites, their users and their visitors are pretty much the same people. For HubPages, this is not the case. Most of our visitors will never sign into HubPages and they probably won’t register.  According to Quantcast, HubPages gets visited each month by approximately 20 million unique visitors.  Of this 20 million, roughly 160,000 logged in and did something on HubPages.  Just to be clear, that means that our members represents only 0.8%  of our visitors.

While 160,000 is a number to be very proud of, it is not a giant number.  These 160,000 people were responsible for roughly 55,000 hubs published and roughly 80,000 forum posts on approximately 3500 topics.  That’s a healthy amount of activity.  And yet, these numbers are quite small in relation to giant web sites out there.

Facebook, which is quite open about its numbers, has 400 million active users, 60 million status updates each day, and 5 billion pieces of content shared each week.  I mention a giant like Facebook to point out how small HubPages is in comparison.  And yet, if we judge by U.S. traffic, Facebook is has only 12 times the reach of HubPages (as measured in terms of US unique visitors: 124 million for Facebook compared to 11 million for HubPages) even though their output is more than 1,000-fold greater than the output at HubPages.

Being able to get even this close to Facebook is a big deal.  HubPages is currently ranked #89 in the U.S.

Still, my point is that in terms of the top-100 web sites, the size of the HubPages is still relatively small.  Those 55,000 hubs were published by 15,385 different people and the 80,000 forum postings came from 2,398 different people.  If we define an active user as someone who writes at least one hub a month or makes at least one post in the forum, then in the last 30 days, the number of active users was 16,242.  These 16,000+ were responsible for all the hubs created and all the posts in the forums.

Supporting these 16,000 follks are 14 HubPages staff.  When I started at HubPages almost 2 years ago, there were only 4 people listed on the HubPages About page.  I was #4 (after Paul Deeds, Maddie Ruud, and Fawntia Fowler).  I mention this only to show that HubPages is still a small web site.

I am not sure at what point a web site becomes a  medium-sized site.  We have over 700,000 hubs at present.  At the rate we are growing, we will have over a million in less than a year.  It may be when we hire employee #50 or employee #100.  But when it happens, I have no doubt, that I will be a bit nostalgic for the present time when our active community is small and our reach is rapidly growing.

Crowdsourcing: the “crowd” is key to its success

Just last year, an article in Forbes.Com attracted lots of attention with its criticism of Crowdsourcing.

“Crowdsourcing” refers to the phenomenon of opening up a web site to the public and seeing what happens.  The term was invented by Jeff Howe in 2006 who used it to describe popular web sites such as Wikipedia and iStockPhoto.

The article in Forbes titled “The Myth of Crowdsourcing” was written by Dan Woods.  While he acknowledges that crowdsourcing can be very successful (the $1 million dollar Netflix Prize, Wikipedia, and Open Source software), he believes that the success in these examples comes from highly motivated individuals and that the crowd for the most part is irrelevant:

There is no crowd in crowdsourcing.  There are only virtuosos, usually, uniquely talented, highly trained people who have worked for decades in a field.  Frequently, these innovators have been funded through failure after failure.  From their fervent brains spring new ideas.  The crowd has nothing to do with it.  The crowd solves nothing, creates nothing.

Dan believes that the same is true for content sites such as Wikipedia:

Wikipedia seems like a good example of a crowd of people who have created a great resource. But at a conference last year I asked Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales about how articles were created.  He said that the vast majority are the product of a motivated individual.  After articles are created, they are curated–corrected, improved and extended–by many different people.  Some articles are indeed group creations that evolved out of a sentence or two.  But if you took away all of the articles that were individual creations, Wikipedia would have very little left.

So, is Dan correct?  Is crowdsourcing, as it is popularly understood, dead wrong?

In my view, to properly evaluate crowdsourcing, it is necessary to look at it from the perspective of the organization that supports it.  Netflix wanted innovation beyond what it could get in-house.  So, it offered $1 million dollars to anyone who could beat its experts by 10%.

Wikipedia began originally as a Nupedia, a free online encyclopedia whose content was “written by experts and reviewed under a formal process.”  Wikipedia was the side project that was meant to be a “feeder” project for Nupedia.

My point is that crowdsourcing is not about crowd collaboration as much as it is about opening up content to the general public using web technologies.  The alternative to crowdsourcing is going in-house for content or if you go to the public, then you make sure that an “editor” or a “publisher” is the gatekeeper before content is accepted.  Crowdsourcing in the case of both Netflix and Wikipedia occurred as an alternative to the standard, “in-house approach”.

Crowdsourcing, then, is really about opening up a process to anyone who wants to participate.  Sure, much of the content will not be as high in quality as the “in-house” method but more importantly, people who were previously outside the system can now participate.

Dan admits that the main reason for his opinion piece is that he doesn’t want people to lose sight of the importance of individuals:

So what’s my problem?  Why does it bug me that people think crowdsourcing is something it is not?  Why do I care that people think a crowd is capable of individual virtuosity? What bugs me is that misplaced faith in the crowd is a blow to the image of the heroic inventor.  We need to nurture and fund inventors and give them time to explore, play and fail.  A false idea of the crowd reduces the motivation for this investment, with the supposition that companies can tap the minds of investors on the cheap.

I am very glad that Dan wrote this.  I believe that this is a very important point.  Crowdsourcing works best when we recognize it as an opportunity for authors and contributors to “explore, play and fail”.  Indeed, crowdsourcing fails when we lose sight of the individuals that make it up or the great effort required in filtering out the best content.

To be clear, the “crowd” for me is synonymous with “out-of-house” content.

That’s why, in my opinion, the crowd is key to the innovation and quality of crowdsourced content.  If you knew ahead of time who would be providing all the value, then there would be no need for crowdsourcing:  you could do it all in-house.  But of course, you never know such things.  A web site, such as HubPages, open to the “crowd”, is the best way for the nonfamous to show their stuff.

Gettin’ busy with Cupid….rowr!

[Editors Note – Sometimes someone forgets to refill the coffee pot at HubPages Central, and our senses get so dulled that we need to call on a guest contributor to write our blog…it gets all really stressed-out.
Lucky for us, the caffeine withdrawal happened so close to a certain holiday for lovers that we found someone that we think you’re really going to like, so without further ado…well, read on
]

Yeah….

Valentine’s day only comes once a year, and once a year, HubPages let’s yours truly, Cupid, write a post about how to keep that hunk a’ love burnin’-burnin’.
So sit back baby, turn off the lights and light a candle. Cupid’s gonna show you how it’s done right….

St. V’s on a budget

Times is tough, but that’s no reason not to show that special someone all the love you got.
For those of you on a budget, Cupid went digging through the Valentine’s archives and found a timely Hub from penny-wise Hubber Jennifer about how to have a sexy, money-saving Valentine’s Day:

Valentine’s Day on a Budget

Valentine’s Tips (and a few tricks)

Maybe you’ve been procrastinating or maybe you’re trying to still trying figure out how to express yourself to your lady or fella.
If you still haven’t planned your special night, dig what AEvans has to say in:

50 ways to say I Love You on Valentine’s Day

Get Schooled

We all know about the real St. Valentine, but have you heard the whole story? Well you better get to knowin’…

This little Hub from Stevenix2001 will make for some scintillating dinner conversation before you put your move on…

Valentine’s Day: The Myth, the history, and the facts about the holiday

And for the lovelorn…

Maybe you ain’t been hit by Cupid’s Arrow yet, or maybe you just been left behind a mean mistreater. Either way baby, I know you’ll be back in the game…I invented the game!
But don’t think I didn’t forget you. Anath has a spicy Hub for all y’all that been going through some hurt:

Why I hate Valentine’s

Like I say: ain’t nothing to it baby! Love the one you’re with, or find someone to love. Either way, I’ll see y’all next year. Be good now.

– Cupid

The Payout Chronicles: Over $4,000 in less than one year


You might remember Court from the Keyword Academy, who had a challenge with Ryan Hupfer back in April of last year. This sparked the 30-Day Challenge which continues to this day. In a recent blog post, Court reminds that he made $475 during that one-month challenge period.

But, as every veteran Hubber knows, you make the bulk of your revenue well after the period of time when you publish your Hubs. This has been true for Court as well. He reports that he has made $4,003.43 from his Hubs. Keep in mind that it’s just been a year, and we see time and time again that great-quality Hubs continue to earn for years.

While Court is a pro at identifying lucrative topics to write about, but what’s impressive is that he didn’t spend any time updating his Hubs or promoting them. The high credibility that HubPages has in search engine’s eyes—due in no small part to the efforts of Hubbers like you that flag low-quality Hubs—has helped high-quality Hubs get the attention they deserve.

Even Hubbers who don’t want to do keyword research, but would like to write about the topics they love, can earn. There are some important keys, though, to choosing a title to your Hub, and how to break up topics into separate Hubs, that will increase your traffic. Be sure to check out our Learning Center and learn these simple tricks before publishing your next Hub.

Is Blogging on the Decline?

Teenagers are blogging significantly less now than they were four years ago. At least, that’s one interpretation from a recent study done by the Pew Internet Project.

Here are the facts cited by the study:

  • Only 14% of 12-17 years-olds report that they blog today versus 25% in 2006.
  • Only 52% report that they comment on blogs versus more than 3/4 in 2006.

In contrast to this, social networking is on the rise:

  • 73% of wired teens are using social networking versus 55% in 2006

It is always good to take statistics with a healthy dose of caution.  ReadWriteWeb, for example, has suggested that these numbers may have more to do with the rise of Facebook (no blogging)  and the decline in popularity of MySpace (has blogging) among teens.  They propose that “it’s possible that teens weren’t ever really into blogging to begin with.”

If you check out the Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere, it is clear that teen bloggers are not a significant part of the blogging population:

  • 95% are 18 and older
  • 60% are 18 – 44
  • 75% of bloggers have college degrees

At HubPages, for example, you have to be 18 or older to open a HubPages account.

But, there is another number that is worth considering: rate of traffic growth over the last year.  Using quantcast.com as a source:

Now, compare this with the crowdsourced information sites such as HubPages and Squidoo over the past year:

While these numbers just scratch the surface, it will be very interesting to see if these numbers hold over the next year.

So, is blogging on the decline?  I don’t think I’ve cited enough data to answer this question one way or another.

Still, there is one big trend that is unmistakable:  for easy public communcation, blogging is no longer the only game in town.

Getting Ready for the Super Bowl

Many of you may already know that the Super Bowl is the most watched event on TV, but it’s possible that the most asked question on the internet is what time does the Super Bowl kick off (This page had over 400 views yesterday).

With all the content on HubPages about the Super Bowl, it’s interesting to see the Super Bowl traffic ramping up.  It makes sense because everything you need for a Super Bowl party can be found here on HubPages. Easy appetizer ideas, drink recipes, and even some snacks picked just for the  Super Bowl are all right here.  I’ve been looking for a great chicken wing recipe to bring to our friends Super Bowl Party – Thanks John D Lee.

Once all the food is ready, don’t forget to pick a Super Bowl winner.  You may not know it, but HubPages has an active football forum as well.

Enjoy the game!