Upcoming Policy Changes

As we’ve mentioned in earlier blog posts, we are continuing to identify ways to improve overall Hub quality and present the most useful, interesting and informative content to readers on the Web. Enhancing readers’ experience on the site will improve our visibility with searchers, and reward those Hubbers who spend the time and energy to publish truly remarkable Hubs.  We are about to implement a few more changes to improve the overall experience of our site, aimed at removing content that offers dubious value to the HubPages community of writers and readers.

News Capsule will no longer be supported

In a few weeks we will be ending support for the News Capsule. We’ve found that in most cases, the News Capsule didn’t add much relevant information to a Hub’s topic, and often included links that were only distantly related to the topic.

If you have News Capsules in your Hubs, you don’t have to do anything – they will disappear on their own. However, if the News Capsule was somehow important to the layout of your Hub, you might want to take the opportunity to refresh your Hub a bit so it doesn’t feel as if something is missing.

Tightening up Hub quality – Affiliates

Next week, we will be introducing two changes as they relate to affiliate links. Affiliate links are promotional links that financially reward marketers for sending visitors to another site. If you have used affiliate links in your Hubs (except for Amazon or eBay Capsules), please read this carefully.

First, we are disallowing certain prohibited affiliate links, which we feel make for a poor experience for readers, and reflect badly on HubPages. These links point to sites that:

  • sell eBooks
  • promote dubious offers, such as watching TV online for free
  • contain a lead capture form
  • contain pop-ups, pop-unders, or other features that interfere with site navigation (for example, when clicking the back or close buttons)
  • redirect users to unwanted websites

Second, in certain topic areas that have become saturated with low-quality Hubs published by affiliate marketers, we are disallowing any affiliate links and holding Hubs to a higher editorial standard. Links to trustworthy sites (like prominent news sites, Wikipedia, and the like) will still be allowed, but affiliate links of any sort will not be permitted. We’re including topics like acai berries, forex, and six-pack abs among those in this new classification. Note: you can still publish Hubs on these topics; you are just now not allowed to embed any affiliate links into them. This change will only affect about 1% of all published Hubs, so not many of you will impacted.

Next week, we will put in automatic alerts that will let you know as you’re authoring a Hub or when you go to publish it, if your Hub will not comply with these rules. We will also email Hubbers with affected Hubs that need to be fixed, with at least 2 weeks to bring those Hubs into compliance before we unpublish them.

We hope this all makes sense, and look forward to the quality bar being raised once again!

UPDATE: Regarding redirects (sites like tinyurl, bit.ly and others that redirect to other sites). Redirects themselves are innocuous, but we will be able to track the full path of redirected links, and if any of the redirects pass through or to a prohibited link, then that redirected link will also be prohibited. So, if a bit.ly link passes through a clickbank link (a prohibited affiliate link), for example, then that specific bit.ly link on that Hub will be not allowed.

51 thoughts on “Upcoming Policy Changes

  1. Thanks for the announcement. I have a few questions. Some of my hubs are about Lulu.com the online self-publishing company, and they sell ebooks. But is that considered an affiliate? Or am I okay?

    And although I don’t use Hoplinks on Hub Pages, are Clickbank Hop links affected in anyway?

    Cheers.

  2. I wrote a Hub on a book I self-published. I do believe there is one link to the site so readers can preview it. Will this be affected and if so, will removing the link fix it?
    Thank you! I will comply if any changes need to be made.

  3. Hubpages is going more and more greedy everyday, and it wants to suck all the blood of publishers.
    1- It takes 40% ads traffic on all, adsense,kontera,ebay and amazon.
    2- starts own ad network which is very very slow, and dump.
    3- starts showing less ads of adsense only to promote their own network.
    4- hubpages down list continue when google slashes its percentage by 84%.
    5- Daily new policies that indirectly says GO AWAY PUBLISHERS.

  4. Hubpages is probably the worst place to publish. Their staff is incredibly unstable by accepting an article then finding something wrong with it months later. Do not use this fickle and greedy site.
    Work on your own site and get it to a PR4 or better, then publish your articles as new pages. At least you know some jerk won’t ban your whole site just because.

  5. Actually, Hubpages is making necessary changes to make sure the site remains competitive and in the good graces of Google. If they did not make changes like these we would all lose. Affiliates that put up crap articles to promote their own product is simply bad business for Hubpages and for all the dedicated writers who work on their craft and want to earn a few bucks along the way.

    In addition the Hubpages ads is a great way to make sure writers get paid something while Google sucks everyone dry. If it wasn’t for the Hubpages ad program I may have left but since I am actually make some $$ and earning some cash with Amazon I am going to stay.

    All I can say is at least Hubpages is proactive in announcing changes rather than scrambling around like some other revenue sharing site.

  6. I am new to Hubpages (like it a lot) and not sure what to make of the changes but do platforms like info-barrel and squidoo have the same policies?

  7. Cheeky – Lulu is an affiliate but not a prohibited affiliate, so you can use Lulu links but not in certain categories (those that have been heavily exploited by affiliate marketers: acai berry, how to get your ex back, etc.). I would sit tight and see if you receive an email in the coming weeks; if you don’t, you have nothing to worry about.

    My apologies for not mentioning how redirects work. I’ll amend the post above.

    “nitin” and “Mitch” – we know from your IP that you’re the same person. Ironic that spammers can’t even manage to stop spamming in the blog comments, much less with their Hubs.

    KT – Thanks!

    Jon – We have no idea.

  8. Diane – My comment to Cheeky Girl is probably relevant in your case. I”d wait to see if you get an email from us.

  9. I wholeheartedly support these changes. Thank you HubPages for taking proactive steps to improve the overall quality of content on the site.

    HubPages is for people have a passion for writing and have a genuine desire to contribute their ideas, stories, and thoughts with the greater collective. HubPages is NOT a platform for opportunists who want to use the medium as a way to leverage affiliate income.

    My goal with HubPages is develop an audience, credability, and authenticity with the content I produce in my niche (men’s grooming, fashion, health). This is and will remain my primary objective.

    Do I like to make money? Yes, and once my niche is fully developed, I hope to make enough money so I can do this full-time–it’s my passion. People who are passionate about topics is what HubPages needs.

    The overall revenue model HubPages offers is very fair. I don’t have time to manage and maintain the infrastructure of a website or relationships with advertisers (I’ve done this before and was miserable). I’m so thankful that HubPages does that for me; this allows me to focus on what I do best–writing good content that people are interested in reading.

    We all have a stake in ensuring that the quality and standard of content remains high on HubPages. Large search engines will reward us in the end with better placement in the search results and more traffic.

    I encourage those of you who are not hopping hubs to please help our moderators out. I’m actively promoting good content and flagging bad content daily. It’s time we purge all the dubious content from the site.

    Yours glamorously,
    Jacob

  10. The changes are welcome even though it means more editing of hubs …..oh well back to the drawing board!

    I’m liking the Hubpages ad program by the way, it’s making me hang on here!!

  11. Thank you for the update! Change is always imminent as HP grows. I am certainly not going anywhere anytime soon. 🙂

  12. Thanks for the update! This is an ever-evolving experience for us all. HubPages is a solid platform that I’m proud to be associated with. Keep up the good work!

  13. I am all for anything that improves the quality, even if it makes more work for me, in the short term.

    I just wish we could limited hub hopping and flagging to established hubbers that have an author score of 70 or 75 and above.

    Also when we flag a hub there is a comment box. I don’t see why the affected hub owner can’t get a copy of this so they know what needs to be improved. I am sure staff have to look at hubs too many times because the info given, when a hub is unexpectedly unpublished, is just to nebulous.

    Onward and upward is the name of the game and I am all for that.

  14. I believe that Hubpages has a wonderful team of caring people that makes sure that it is a win win situation. I support you guys with this new policy.

    Keep on doing great work!
    Love and light…

  15. I wasn’t really sure what direction writing for money was going at HP, but I am encouraged to see proactive steps being taken to ensure the survival of HP as a quality writing site and that the writers are being taken care of through better and/or alternate ad revenue options.

    Hope this means we will see the eradication of “hubs” that only feature sexually attractive bikini models – not that I mind seeing that except that I am here to write and have my writing seen by people who want to read and not ogle.

    I agree that HP supplies all the background work necessary for a large website that garners views letting writers have fun and reap the rewards. Thank you HP, glad to see your reaction to Google changes.

  16. I think anything that helps remove spam and unwarranted advertising and abuse of the Hubpages ecosphere is to be welcomed, even Google itself has lost a lot of its unique ability to provide quality links so it is time to say to time wasters..

    ..do not get stuck in the door on your way out…

    Bottom line… Hubpages is a type of Club, either play by their rules or leave. I do find some of the changes frustrating myself since they eat up a lot of time making mods but in my calmer moments I understand it is for the betterment of all…

  17. It’s time to say good bye to Hub Pages. These guys are just over reacting and making the site a bad experience for their main revenue source… the writers. Long live affiliate links, long live click bank!!

  18. Can’t say we’ll miss “writers” like you, Trishan. We prefer those that actually have something to say, not something to sell.

  19. [NOTE FROM JASON: This was flagged as spam by Akismet – I unspammed it. My guess is that a few of the “poison” words might have triggered it.]

    I value Hubpages and understand why staff are attempting to improve the standard of content published within the site – I flag very poor content myself.
    However, I received a series of emails from HP today informing me that a number of my articles have been unpublished for one of the following reasons;

    Dubious offers include, but are not limited to:
    * “Watch TV/movies on your PC” content
    * Promotion of cell phone spyware
    * Promotion of HCG supplements/injections
    * Promotion of MLM or network marketing programs
    * “Run your car on water” content
    * Promotion of cash gifting schemes

    As the only option above that fits my content is network marketing I decided to study HP terms of service AGAIN to see where this topic was identified as unsuitable….

    surprise! nowhere…

    I have over 100 articles in this niche – all 100% unique and high quality. All unbiased and non-promotional and written from experience. I do not believe this to be a good move by Hubpages and have written to say so but wanted to flag this within the community as it appears your attempts to educate the uneducated masses within this site at times result in Flagging Frenzy from people who have too much time and too little knowledge on their hands.. (if I’ve offended anyone reading this – I can live with that)

    Network marketing and the companies operating in this area of business for the most part are ethical and legal companies. The problems occur when unethical marketers provide biased information and encourage the wrong people to build an income from home within this niche. None of my articles do this – in fact, I don’t even build a network marketing business!!!

    So, the bottom line is this; your new flagging reasons have caused me it seems and will cause others to lose faith in this site – I have already lost over 25% of my traffic due to Google and now it seems I am due to lose even more due to Hubpages itself. As someone who has used the site and contributed to it for over two years this is a poor way to treat your community.

    • Neil – I took a look at a couple of those Hubs which were moderated. All you have to do is remove all links in them, and you should be fine. – Jason

  20. I am very new here but hope I have something to offer to this enjoyable site. I love HP and find it a million times easier to create articles on than Squidoo. I haven’t figured out the Taxes thing for Adsense (I am in Canada). I do have Clickbank links on some of my Hubs and hope they are tasteful enough to stay, but if not so be it. I will still keep writing as I am hooked!

    Cheers for the good work. I know how difficult moderating can be and you can’t please everyone so keep your eye on the goal of the “greater good”.

  21. Ha ha you mean “writers” out here don’t sell Amazon and eBay stuff??? Ed are you reading what’s your staff is saying? And by the way even selling requires saying something of value 🙂

  22. Like Diane, I have my own ebooks. I do not remember ever mentioning or linking to them from here, but I wonder if having them at my own site is a bad Panda signal.. Maybe I should “nofollow” my own links, though Google might consider that link sculpting.. Oh well..

    I’m glad to see HP getting tough. I hope it works.

  23. Jason

    I see my comments from yesterday on this article have not been published – why is this? I made my argument and points in an educated and informed manner and requested a response from Hubpages to my concerns on this issue. I have been writing on HP for over two years, have over 600 followers, an author score in the 80s and a good knowledge of my subject matter and my comments have not been published ? I can only suggest this is because they contradict with the HP “fan base” who will agree with everything you put forward without question.

    As someone who understands social media well I would question your decision to delete my comments on this article.

    Neil Ashworth

    • Neil – You posted a comment here? I am looking through the comments now, maybe it was caught by Akismet (the WordPress spam filter). We certainly publish all non-spammy, non-abusive comments, even those that “dissent”. 🙂
      – Jason

  24. Neil – I can’t find any comments you left previously. There is nothing in the trash or spam or pending queues from you. Your opinions are respected… but I just don’t see them.

    And I wonder about that, Tony! I hope that people’s links to their own ebooks are not penalized. That would be pretty odd, though if the entire industry has been so abused, spam-wise, I could see Google putting ALL links, even reasonable ones, in its we-are-not-so-sure-about-you bucket.

    And Trishan- yes, we enable Hubbers to share Amazon and eBay products on their Hubs, but they’re intended to be complementary. Hubs that do not present value to those who are not interested in buying anything are considered spam and moderated as overly promotional.

  25. Jason – I see my comment has now miraculously appeared “awaiting moderation” 😉 ain’t social media great sometimes!

    here is what I said..

    I value Hubpages and understand why staff are attempting to improve the standard of content published within the site – I flag very poor content myself.
    However, I received a series of emails from HP today informing me that a number of my articles have been unpublished for one of the following reasons;

    Dubious offers include, but are not limited to:
    * “Watch TV/movies on your PC” content
    * Promotion of cell phone spyware
    * Promotion of HCG supplements/injections
    * Promotion of MLM or network marketing programs
    * “Run your car on water” content
    * Promotion of cash gifting schemes

    As the only option above that fits my content is network marketing I decided to study HP terms of service AGAIN to see where this topic was identified as unsuitable….

    surprise! nowhere…

    I have over 100 articles in this niche – all 100% unique and high quality. All unbiased and non-promotional and written from experience. I do not believe this to be a good move by Hubpages and have written to say so but wanted to flag this within the community as it appears your attempts to educate the uneducated masses within this site at times result in Flagging Frenzy from people who have too much time and too little knowledge on their hands.. (if I’ve offended anyone reading this – I can live with that)

    Network marketing and the companies operating in this area of business for the most part are ethical and legal companies. The problems occur when unethical marketers provide biased information and encourage the wrong people to build an income from home within this niche. None of my articles do this – in fact, I don’t even build a network marketing business!!!

    So, the bottom line is this; your new flagging reasons have caused me it seems and will cause others to lose faith in this site – I have already lost over 25% of my traffic due to Google and now it seems I am due to lose even more due to Hubpages itself. As someone who has used the site and contributed to it for over two years this is a poor way to treat your community.

  26. Jason

    The links within those Hubs are to the company website – they are NOT affiliate links – Google actually likes to see content with authority outbound links – a link to the company website for information on the company would be considered an authority link – your advice makes no sense.

    Neil

    • Neil – Be that as it may, we still have made a rule to have no outbound links on Hub in these topic areas. If we allowed some links, our moderation team would be involved in countless, endless conversations about which links to allow and which to not allow. There are lots of Hubs that review programs or debunk scams without using any outbound links whatsoever, and they have done very well with their traffic. Sorry that spammers have spoiled it for all of us, but that’s why the rule stands. – Jason

  27. @nitin – You are more than within your rights to criticise Hubpages as a platform, but at least make your argument coherent and logical. Firstly, the revenue share has never been higher than 60%, you entered into that agreement when signing up and started publishing. The ad share on those users who have been referred by other hubbers is actually 60/30/10, with Hubpages taking 30%. I wouldn’t imagine that any less than 30% would have been sustainable even pre-Panda.

    Secondly, the ad network was planned long before the panda update, and had the panda update not have happened would have resulted in many hubbers, including me, earning far more money. The introduction of the ad program and other events are entirely unrelated.

    Thirdly, as per your point about the number of AdSense ads being displayed, you are fully able to disable the HubAd program on your 60% share. You will see four AdSense ads if you wish, nobody is stopping you from removing the HubAd program and the ads shown on the other 40% are not the slightest bit relevant to your potential earnings. Four AdSense ad units is actually more than the number permitted for most sites (excluding link units). How many do you want? Fifty ad units?

    Your fourth point has absolute no relevant to your assertion that Hubpages are greedy, that is an external factor. What is your point with that one?

    I can’t argue with number 5, and don’t get me wrong, I am a disgruntled hubber who has stopped publishing. But I can not be supportive of strawman observations or unfounded accusations. If you had said that Hubpages should have actively reached out to the community to devise a clear and concise plan of action then I would have nodded in agreement, but I can’t personally hold Hubpages to account for four out of your five criticisms.

    And that is coming from somebody who has plenty of criticisms himself.

  28. Hi Jason,

    I sell Avon and I have a hub that reviews Avon products with a link to my Avon page. Is that acceptable under the new rules?

    • Hi Amy – It depends. If it’s in one of the restricted categories, it’s not. However, makeup is not one of them, so it should be OK. If there is a problem, you’ll get an email in the next day or two and you’ll have a couple of weeks to fix it. – Jason

  29. While I am no sure about the steps Hubpages are taking to rectify the current drop in traffic, I agree with Ryan that Hubpages are being far from greedy.

    After the promotional period This is Freelance will definitely be dropping back down to 60% or maybe 70% depending on performance, earnings are just not vaiable otherwise.

    As the site grows I will be improving the hosting of This is Freelance, it will soon be costing me $50 a month in upkeep, it is earning me far less than that. Hubpages on the otherhand are on a different level entirely and have huge server costs to maintain a stable service, even when rolling out updates.

    And Nitin, I don’t know if you are aware but the majority of high traffic publishers on Hubpages go after Niche traffic, the ‘reports’ that claimed to show how much sites such as Hubpages dropped in SERPS had extremely limited keyword scope.

  30. @Oli – Agreed. If one man and his WordPress site on a single server needs 60%-70% then so does an almost entirely custom-coded web 2.0 platform with a room full of servers. The evidence is there, Hubpages had only just reached profitability, nobody was walking away with millions of dollars a year. Like I said, I have my criticisms, which will remain private – but ‘greed’ has never been one of them. Because the option has always been there to build up your own web properties, even if that was on blogspot, we have always retained ownership of our content (albeit, some is stuck if it gets duplicated). If you go into a shoe shop and walk out with a $100 pair of shoes, moan about the price, and go back and buy another $100 pair of shoes, then you can’t really have a problem with the price. Each hubpage is like a pair of shoes. People keep shopping, and thus, the ‘price’ has never been a real issue. You can change your shoe shop at any stage if you become unhappy with the goods, but you don’t need to tell the world that you have done so.

  31. Jason I have read through a lot of this and saw this…

    “We will also email Hubbers with affected Hubs that need to be fixed, with at least 2 weeks to bring those Hubs into compliance before we unpublish them”

    And then I see Neil complaining that the first email he got was that you guys alread unpublished his hubs??

    I thought you were going to give a 2 week warning so that we have a fair chance to get them up to par and not lose our rankings after all the hard work we did to get them to rank high.

    If you’re going to just pull the hub, email people to change them and then they fix it and then republish it… who’s to say that their hub disappears from Google for months, if it ever gets back to where it use to be?

    I would like a 2 week window as a warning about what hubs I need to change BEFORE you decide unpublish them….

    I mean sure people could scramble right now and look at all their hubs and delete all the links but in reality their hub might be fine by your new terms and not have needed to get rid of the links.

    So it’s almost more time efficient to just wait for the warning… if there is truly a 2 week window to fix the hubs before unpublishing them.

    • It looks as if those specific violations were already covered under existing standards, like “substandard” and “AdSense violation”, but now we have a new category that encompasses all of them, called “dubious offers”. Note that this specifically applies to certain types of offers that have an exceedingly high rate of exploitative use: water for gas, watch TV on your PC, etc. So, they have always been moderated, just under different definitions.

      For the new violations described in this blog post, emails will go out and then there will be at least 2 weeks to get the Hubs into compliance.

  32. Ok thanks Jason!

    That was just a bit of miscommunication on his part then.

    I’ll be on the lookout for any warnings…

    Oh Jason, does this also mean these kinds of links won’t be allowed on your profile page either?

    • Hi Ben – The restricted affiliate links (like Clickbank or those that mess with user navigation, for example) are not allowed in profiles, either. Other affiliate links are fine, though. – Jason

  33. Many of my Hubs have not a direct link to ClickBank but to CbMall. Is it considered a prohibited link?
    Thanks in advance for the answer.
    Fucsia

    • Fucsia – I don’t know if that’s a prohibited affiliate link. However, if it is, you should get an email in the coming days saying which Hubs have prohibited affiliate links so you can make any necessary adjustments. Best, Jason

  34. I am not excited about the new changes regarding affiliate links. The fact is many ebooks have taught me so much and to disallow all clickbank links seems excessive, not to mention that it hinders earning potential.

    Clickbank products are tested for quality before they can be published and furthermore, there is always a 60 day money back guarantee which eliminates the risk. Its hard to call something dubious when it offers a money back guarantee. Rather than dubious – clickbank links should be considered trustworthy and credible just based on the fact that they offer a guarantee and ebooks and courses are tested before they can be published.

    I noticed that some affiliate links are still allowed, but what kinds of affiliate links are allowed if you don’t allow links from clickbank or commissionjunction.

    • Stuart – Thank you for your comment. Unfortunately, Clickbank and certain other affiliates tend to attract spammers who publish Hub after Hub with the same, low-quality content. While you might have been a responsible marketer of their products, presumably having read them fully, it’s obvious that most are not. I’m sorry spammers spoiled it for everyone, but we point to maintaining site quality as our reason for the policy change. – Jason

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