HubPages’ New Facebook Recommendations Feature

RecommendationsAs part of our continued effort to improve your experience on the site as both a reader and writer, we’ve just added a feature that allows you to see what your Facebook friends have been liking and sharing on HubPages.

“So… what is it?” you ask, “And is it shiny? Or made of chocolate?”

In fact, it’s a “Recommendations” box you’ll find at the bottom right corner of every hub that shows the recent activity of your Facebook friends and other readers on HubPages.  At the top of the box (if you’re signed into Facebook) you’ll see hubs that your Facebook friends have recently liked and shared.  At the bottom, you’ll see the hubs that the entire community has been liking and sharing.

Why are Facebook Recommendations useful on HubPages?

  • It’s a way for you as well as your readers (both Hubbers and non-hubbers) to see what Facebook friends are sharing and liking on HubPages
  • It shows you what is currently popular amongst Facebook users
  • It’s a way to boost traffic across hubs
  • It allows the crowd to read what is most popular

Facebook plugins such as this are common on news sites because they allow browsers to get an idea of what the moment’s hot stories are and lead to relevant information.  We’re trying to bring a bit more of that hot, cutting-edge content spin to HubPages.com, plus we’re also hoping to add even more of a community feel by allowing you to see what your Facebook friends have been enjoying on the site, even if they’re not hubbers themselves.

We hope you enjoy the new feature.  Let us know what you think!

HubPages Marks the Spot – HubPages’ Contest Featuring the (Treasure)Map Capsule

HubPages Marks the Spot

This September, HubPages is setting sail on its most boisterous contest yet: HubPages Marks the Spot!

HubPages Marks the Spot, sponsored by Outside.in, is all about mapping out local treasures using the HubPages Map Capsule – and sharing lots of loot with those HubBuccaneers who care to join us.  This contest has not four but five kinds of prizes, ranging in rewards from $50 (awarded to two winners daily) to $500 (awarded to the swashbuckling author of the contest’s best hub).

Topics rotate weekly and include local attractions, resources, and places to unwind, as well as more distant vacation destinations.

The value of participating in this contest is fourfold:

  1. Entrants get a chance to win awesome prizes
  2. Hubbers are able to write on subjects with which they are already familiar – we all utilize local shops and resources and are therefore de facto experts, plus the list of potential hubs one can write on each week’s theme are endless
  3. Writers learn how to create optimized, attractive, and useful hubs using the map capsule and adhering to our helpful judging criteria
  4. Hubbers writing hubs on contest topics are creating excellent articles that will continue to bring them revenue long after the contest is over

I hope you can join in on the fun – and I hope you win something too!  To be honest, there’s no losing here… unless ONE OF YE SCURVY DOGS THINKS YEH CAN GET THE BEST OF OL’ SWASHBUCKLING SIMONE!  Keep that in mind.  Because dead men write no hubs.

Introducing The First Ever HubCamp!

HubCamp

HubCamp - Your Guide to Good Hubbing

On the final week of September, HubPages is going to hold HubCamp: an in-person meeting of Hubbers in San Francisco where we’ll go over some of the finer points of becoming an effective online writer.

Wer’e still in the planning stages, but because it’s all about the hubber community, we were hoping you’d let us know what you want us to cover at this first ever HubCamp.  Below are some topics we’re thinking of covering – visit the HubCamp forum thread to let us know which ones are most important to you, and let us know if you’d like us to cover something else as well!

Potential HubCamp Seminar Topics

  • Basic keyword research
  • Selecting topics
  • Linking
  • Driving traffic
  • How to select titles
  • Basic tips on writing content for an online audience
  • A profile of the ideal hub (a description of the optimal number of capsules, links, and words based on our analysis of hub statistics and revenue)

Also, let us know if you’re interested in coming! We’d love to see you there!!

HubPages Behind the Scenes: Larry and the HubPages iPhone App

With this installment of HubPages Behind the Scenes, HubPages’ very own Larry Freeman shares his experience with creating and working on the HubPages iPhone app!  If you listen carefully enough, you can hear Ren in the background 😉

If you don’t already have our fabulous iPhone app (which, BTW, is totally free), you can download it here.

Also, you might be interested in a more detailed walkthrough of the current iPhone app features that Larry shared earlier on the HubPages blog, and you might also like to have a peek at Appceletator’s Titanium software development kit that Larry mentions in our interview.

As you’ll see in the interview, Larry is already hard at work on some awesome new features that shall come to the app soon, so keep checking back- plenty of awesomeness is in store.

HubPages’ Billionth Hub View

Angela Harris' Sponge Cake

Angela Harris' Sponge Cake

At 11:41am on a warm New England morning, a sweet-toothed anonymous Internet adventurer ventured forth in search of one thing and one thing only: sponge cake recipes.

What did this intrepid explorer discover? Nothing short of our very own Angela Harris’ Sponge Cake Recipe – a short but sweet recipe hub first published in 2008.

Little did this mysterious Internet traveler know that he/she was the billionth person to view a HubPages hub. Indeed, as of this Tuesday’s Sponge Cake Recipe hub view, hub pages hubs have been viewed over one billion times!

This is a really fun milestone in HubPages history and goes to show that people love reading our content as much as we love writing it!

Congrats to Angela Harris for authoring the billionth-viewed-hub.  I wonder who will be the author of HubPages’ two-billionth viewed hub… Could it be you?  I bet we’ll find out sooner than one might think!

The 60 Day Challenge: Another Cool Hubber-Launched Initiative

Perhaps you’ve noticed some buzz in the forums about a new challenge, not a 30-day challenge, which is the most common format we see, but rather a 60-day challenge.  This is a repeat of an effort launched by sunforged (interviewed for the HubPages blog last year) and is a great example of the cool initiatives hubbers independently launch on HubPages.

What makes the 60 day challenge particularly special is that it involves not only churning out hubs, but learning how to create good hubs.  Says the modest sunforged (who, by the way, is a new father!): “The background of The Challenge outlines comes mostly from stuff that was happening at Hubpages already – just all jammed together into one event with added elements of quality control and morale boosting via a writer/publisher workshop method.”

englightenedsoul

What is it like to go through the 60 Day Challenge? englightenedsoul was kind enough to share her experiences with us in the following Q&A:

HP: How did you first hear about the 60 Day Challenge?

ES: I heard of the 60 Day Challenge from the forum post made by Sunforged on Hubpages.

What did you initially expect from it?

Honestly, when I first joined I didn’t knew really what to expect. I looked at few experienced hubbers hublog and then made my goals for the 60 day challenge. And through collaborative efforts I achieved most of those.

What makes the 60 Day Challenge different from other HubPages challenges?

I would like to quote KCC Country’s word’s here. I think it is a perfect answer to this question:

This 60-day HubChallenge is more aggressive approach to writing hubs and following up with the proper promotion of them to optimize results. You will be strongly encouraged by your fellow hubbers to stick with it because it will benefit the entire group.  The 30 Day HubChallenge is like going to the gym a couple days a week where this 60 Day Challenge is like having a team with a personal trainer 7 days a week.

What was the hardest part of the challenge for you?

The hardest part for me was to complete my 30 hubs in 30 days. I really ran out of ideas but Sunforged’s tutorial hub really helped to overcome it.

What was the challenge’s greatest reward?

The challenge’s greatest reward would undoubtedly be the knowledge I gained from it. I also, got to interact closely with a team of talented and quality writers. They all have helped me at every step, showing me what to write, how to write, layout, keyword research, promotion, SEO and what not. In fact, even if I hadn’t earned a penny I would have still considered the challenge successful.

What kind of impact did the 60 Day Challenge have on your affiliate earnings?

The 60 day Challenge have reinforced the belief in me that I can make a living online and can make a living online at hubpages alone. Before the challenge I hardly used to see $3 a day in adsense, but now I am averaging $3-$4. The major impact of this challenge was on my Amazon affiliate earnings. In my first six months at hubpages, I never sold an item on Amazon but after the challenge, in the last 1 and a half months I have sold items worth $594 and earned $31.75 in commission. This challenge has made Amazon my first love.

Do you plan on doing the challenge again? What would be the benefit of doing so?

I absolutely would do this challenge again. This time the benefit would be tremendous as I would not be repeating the mistakes as I made in the first challenge. Also, I will be using the knowledge I have gained from the first challenge. I am expecting atleast a 300% increase in my performance as compared to the first challenge. Infact, if everything goes as planned, it will help me realize my dream of earning online. Looking forward to it.

.     .     .

If you’re curious to read more about the 60 Day Challenge, check out our Learning Center entry on Hub Challenges.  While there is another 60 Day Challenge coming up soon, its space is limited, so chances are it’s already full!  That said, there is nothing to stop you from following sunforged’s guidelines, getting your own group together, and doing the Challenge yourself!  As sunforged proves, it is perfectly possible to take something on HubPages (the Hub Challenge), customize it, rally some friends, and create something truly amazing.

Happy 4th Birthday HubPages!

That’s right, HubPages is now four years old!  It is strange to think that only four years back, the site had only just launched- especially because today we’re ranked 58th on Quantcast with 1.2 million daily global visits.  Not bad, eh?

The most impressive thing about the past four years, at least in my opinion, has been the amazing community of writers that has sprung up around the site.  Over its short existence, HubPages has become an impromptu family, a place to sharpen writing skills, an online article-writing academy, and a vast pool of information for millions of people. Who knew that HubPages could be so many things to so many different people!

To honor this momentous milestone, the HubPages team got together yesterday to celebrate!

Paul Edmondson gave a speech, we sang in honor of HubPages and ate delicious cake…

… and Mellie wanted to try a piece too!

Celebration is taking place online as well.  From a festive forum thread to well-wishers sharing kind words on our Facebook page, we’re feeling quite appreciated, and want to share the love with you too.  We’ve got some really amazing surprises in store this September, October, and November already- and more is being planned every moment!  Keep a sharp eye out- this past four years may have been great, but you ain’t seen nothin‘ yet!

Get Ready for the Richest Display Ad Units on the Web

HubPages is always ahead of the curve, so it should come as no surprise that we’re about to roll out one of the coolest, niftiest, most interactive ads on the web.  Check out the unit!

The Largest, Richest Display Ad Units on the Web

This display ad was created as part of an advertising partnership with ClickTurn, an online leader in dynamic display advertising.

What is particularly exciting about this ad is not its size, but rather its potential for interactivity.  The demo above, for example, includes embedded YouTube videos (don’t worry- they’re not on autoplay and the sound is muted), as well as home, Facebook, and Twitter feeds.  The whole thing is like a miniature website- it’s fascinating!

Another cool aspect of this ad is that it does not interrupt your text the same way some ads can – your block remains intact and nicely framed by the colorful adverts, thus giving it a glamorous magazine feel instead of a spammy internet-junkyard aftertaste.

As you can tell, I’m quite excited about this- I hope we shall start seeing these on more hubs soon!

If you’re interested in reading more on this development- hop over to the official press release.  Also be sure to check out our advertising page for more details.

Akirchner Explores Copyright Quandaries on HubPages

akirchner - taking the initiative!

akirchner - taking the initiative!

Copyright and correct attribution are matters most of us would rather not think about.  It is, after all, so easy to be ignorant of the rules and conveniently snag photos, charts, graphs, and all other forms of information from other places online and use them to our hearts’ content.  But alas, this would be wrong- and illegal.

In an epic quest for righteous hubbing, the venerable akirchner actually made the effort to look in to the copyright issue, and created a brilliant hub to guide us through the process of legally using images, videos, charts, and graphs on HubPages.

Though I recommend you read the entire hub, which includes not only her own advice but a good number of helpful links and videos, here is a sneak peek of akirchner’s findings on Creative Commons material:

The Creative Commons issue is a huge one and I will not delve into that in more depth so as to keep this readable and easily understood. However, suffice it to say that ANY image that we use that is not our own should be either a part of the PUBLIC DOMAIN or should be licensed for COMMERCIAL USE under a Creative Commons license. If it is not, we are in violation of copyright law. Pure and simple, there are imprints on these images if they are obtained over the internet, and someday, somehow we might be filed against for a copyright infringement for using these images. The creator can efficiently track where and how many times the images are displayed on the internet.

Are there CC licenses on websites enabling us to use images? You bet! If you use the Creative Commons link here, you can search for all sorts of images that are legal to use – whether they are digital images, videos, charts and graphs. Then if you attribute them properly, you will know that you have legally used them.

akirchner also points out many other important copyright issues to consider including…

  • Fair use
  • Use of others’ video content in your hubs
  • The use of charts and graphs
  • The correct way to give photo attribution until HubPages develops a better method (which it will)

Though akirchner was incredibly thorough in her work, there were still some issues on which she was unsure- I’ll share them with you (as you’ll also probably wonder about these things), and include some answers too!

.     .     .

akirchner: Best practice – flickr image with text capsule beneath pic with a hard link back to Creative Common licensed image – whether it is a chart, graph or digital picture – or how to do this legally?

Simone: For the time being, the best way to offer correct image attribution on HubPages is to include the name of the image’s creator and a URL to its location online.  In the future, we’ll be rolling out with a better way to give photo credits.

Website image usage – only use images from a website that has a Creative Commons license clearly visible – then attribute by text capsule beneath with a hard link back to the website where the image originated?

Yes.  Unless an image has been found via a creative commons search or is specifically listed as a creative commons image, you probably shouldn’t be using it.

Video usage – are all youtube videos acceptable as embedded links to use in the video capsule or do we need to do a Creative Commons search on any and all videos before incorporating them into our hub?

Not all YouTube (or Vimeo, Revver, etc…) videos will be playable outside the main site.  If you can successfully embed a video into your hub and play it, you are free to use it- no creative commons search necessary.

Attribution of videos? If we use an embedded video from youtube or elsewhere, do we need to attribute it as well with a text capsule stating who uploaded the video to the source or regarding licensing?

Videos do not require attribution as they act as direct links to their source, and are not capable of being embedded into and playing on your hub unless their owners are willing to share them.  In other words, if your video plays and embeds properly, you have the right to include it in your hub.  That said, some people upload content (such as movie and television shows) to which they themselves do not have the rights.  For a short time, you may be able to embed and share that video through your hub, however this illegal video will eventually be taken down, leaving you with a video that won’t play.  For this reason, be cautious when embedding videos into your hubs- if you think the person who posted it has stolen the content, avoid using it.  The best way to go is to create your own original content and use that in your hubs!

If we want to use graphs and charts – if we cannot find a Creative Common licensed graph or chart that we need, may we create one and list the source as an attribution but then using graph or chart software to create and image, then post that new image to our hub?

Yes.  Think of it this way: all images of graphs, charts, and tables should be cited the same way that a photograph would be cited.  If, however, the content is written and you are simply cutting and pasting it into a table on your hub, all you need to do is share your source.  Text must be quoted, but is free for you to use if it has been published online- so long as you cite it correctly.  Images are far more complicated- not all of them are there for you to use as you like.  If you see a chart or graph you adore, but cannot use the image, I’d recommend using and citing the data (which is fair game) and creating your own original image.

Fair use – how does it apply to images, videos, charts and graphs on Hubpages if importing from another website more specifically?

That depends on the nature of your hub and what your goals are in writing it, as well as the site from which you are pulling this information or imagery.  I would refer back to the criteria you listed in your hub when making decisions on a case-by-case basis.

Now that we have all of this knowledge, should we go back and redo any images, graphs, videos, charts, etc. that might be considered a violation of copyright law?

Absolutely.  Just because we didn’t know the rules before doesn’t mean that we’re exempt from them.  Law-breaking is law-breaking, so I’d go back and check those hubs!

.     .     .

What akirchner has done with her personal research and hubbing is similar to what Ohma has done with HubTrails– by starting something independently, she has inspired us at HubPages HQ to take more action.  In the near future, then, you can expect us to publish a series of official Learning Center guides and video tutorials on working with copyrighted material and giving correct attribution.

What’s the moral of this post?  If you want something on HubPages (or heck… the world) to change, start something yourself! The rest shall follow.

Thanks akirchner!!