An Overview of New Publishing Standards

To ensure that HubPages continues to be the best place to write online, we have introduced new publishing standards over the past several weeks.  These new policies are designed to ultimately provide benefits across our entire community of writers. While these changes in our publishing standards are designed to improve the overall quality of HubPages’ content and writing experience, we understand that it can be somewhat difficult to keep track of the new rules.

For the sake of simplicity, here is an overview of the recently-added standards:

  • First Capsule Standards:  We no longer allow the use of Amazon, eBay, News, RSS, Comment, or Link capsules as first full-width capsules
  • Word-to-Product Ratios: For every Amazon or eBay product featured in a Hub, there must be at least 50 words of original text
  • Pixelated Images: Pixelated (grainy) images are no longer allowed on Hubs (and keep in mind, watermarked images were never permitted)
  • Affiliate Links: We no longer allow Hubs to link (directly or through redirects) to affiliate or commerce sites which are prohibited under the HubPages rules (e.g. Clickbank and sites that sell eBooks, promote dubious offers, contain a lead capture form, redirect users to unwanted websites, or contain pop-ups, pop-unders, or other features that interfere with sight navigation)
  • Over-Saturated Topics: If you publish a Hub on a topic that is overly saturated on HubPages.com (e.g. MLM, 6 pack abs, forex, acai berry, etc.), your Hub will be held to a higher editorial standard, and you will not be permitted to include links to affiliate offers (though you are still welcome to include links to trustworthy sites such as major news sites or Wikipedia)
  • Duplicated Content: While we used to allow some duplicated content (e.g. if it also existed on your blog and so long as you did not link back to the source), it is now required that all content published on HubPages be unique to the site

You may notice that the policies regarding pixelated images, prohibited affiliates, overly saturated topics are new.  If you have any Hubs that don’t currently adhere to these standards, don’t worry.  We will send you an email letting you know which Hubs require revision, and you will have two weeks to amend those Hubs.  If you do not have time to revise them in the first two weeks, they will be unpublished, but as soon as you revise them and resubmit them for publication, they can be reviewed and republished.

HubTool Alerts

We are also adding automatic alerts to the HubTool to let you know if you’re at risk of violating one of these site policies, so you don’t have to worry so much about whether a Hub will be moderated after its is published.  If you see a warning message, read it carefully.  It does not mean that your Hub will be moderated; it simply means that you may need to make some tweaks or be aware of heavy competition.

Here is an example: if you write a Hub about quitting smoking, you may see a warning reminding you that Hubs promoting the sale of tobacco or tobacco-related products violates our Terms of Use.  In this case, you need do nothing, because obviously your Hub is not promoting the sale of these things.  If your Hub gets a warning letting you know that it is on an over-saturated topic, you may want to make an effort to ensure that it really does offer something of value above the thousands of other articles on that same subject–and keep in mind that it will be held to higher editorial standards–and make sure it doesn’t have any affiliate links in it.   Other warnings are simply present to remind you that you need to add a bit more text or remove a few extra Amazon products, or that you’ve accidentally included a prohibited affiliate link.

The News Capsule

As we pointed out last week, there is one final change that will be rolling out: we will be discontinuing the News Capsule.  There are no changes that you will need to implement on that end; just keep in mind that if your Hubs contain News Capsules, they will disappear, but the rest of the Hub will remain unchanged.  You might want to edit the formatting on these Hubs, but otherwise they should be fine. Thanks to those of you who have worked hard to update your Hubs- adjusting our writing to meet new site standards is something that we’re all working on- even Paul Edmondson has had to revise some of his Hubs in the past couple of weeks.  The great thing about this spring cleaning is that in the end, HubPages will be a better place to write and read awesome online articles than it ever has before!

46 thoughts on “An Overview of New Publishing Standards

  1. I love the new, more strict standards. I only write at HubPages because I believe in their higher standards.

    It is refreshing to surf Hubs and see such quality work and people that really do want to write well and be part of a community.

    Thanks!

    ~Allie

  2. All these rules are really effective if someone publish a fully unique and useful hubs.

    Moreover, I like this as these rules can also be applicable to any personal websites to publish contents and earn revenue from Google AdSense or others…

    Thanking you,
    rancidTaste

  3. Thank you for the info! It is very helpful.

    I would also like a detailed explanation on how the changes effect the use of Amazon capsules. I am a bit confused on their usage.

    For example, if I were to write a hub about the Top Ten albums of a specific genre could I include an Amazon capsule linking to those specific items in all ten cases? Would that be over promotion?

    An example that is less specific (concerning the 50 word rule) would be, if I am writing about topical materials that one could use (say as college study tools), could I include an Amazon “keyword” Capsule with each or any topic, or would I need to have 50 words that are product specific?

    I am truly quite confused about these issues.

    • Hi Mandrake – Yes, you could absolutely include an Amazon Capsule (with one item, probably) for each of the ten albums, but if that’s 10 total items, then your Hub would have to contain at least 500 words of unique, original words.
      For your second question: No, the copy does not need to be product-specific, but it still must be relevant to your Hub’s topic. If you had a Hub on college study tools, then Amazon Capsules with highly-relevant keywords should be fine (although you should preview what Amazon serves up, because if they’re bad matches, then they might not be relevant to your Hub). – Jason

  4. I really applaud these moves to try to maintain (actually lift) the standard of published Hubs. Bacause of the sheer volume of Hubs published, the work of the moderators is really cut out and I don’t envy them. In the end it is the quality of the output that will make or break Hubpages. A move in the right direction.

  5. I’m confused. I have a Hub about choosing a green web hosting provider. I happened to look at it this morning and, for the first time, saw the following message: “Warning: This Hub appears to be about web hosting.” Well … yes, I guess it is. But is that bad? Why would that warrant a warning, and how would I “correct the problem”? I am absolutely in favor of improving the quality of HubPages, but if warnings are going to be automatically generated, I think they need to be more explicit so that authors will know what the problem is and not be left guessing, as I am in this case.

    • Brian – The warning says that if the Hub is truly about web hosting (which it is), then you simply can’t have any affiliate links in it. If it doesn’t have any affiliate links, then you’re good to go. 🙂 -Jason

  6. I’m still looking for clarification on the use of multiple RSS feeds and personal tags (like the ones we used for the 60DC or to create topic-specific RSS feeds).

    They’re not mentioned above?

    • Marisa – We treat RSS feeds like a group of links (all to the same domain), so they must follow the same rules: must be directly related to the Hub’s topic, and no more than 2 external links to the same domain. (For this latter limit, you can’t have an RSS feed and a non-RSS feed to the same domain in the same Hub) I can’t imagine that a topic-specific RSS feed to Hubs should cause any sort of problem.

      EDIT: And about unique tags: those well-known by staff (like 60dc) should not be moderated, but it’s possible an obscure one could be moderated if the moderation team doesn’t know about it. You might consider using normal-word tags, since you can limit those to Hubs within your account anyway. – Jason

  7. Jason–The RSS capsule “broke” (apparently) on or before last Thursday, about the time the News capsule was disabled. Since they are somewhat similar, I wonder if that had anything to do with it. The RSS problem has been mentioned in the forums, but I haven’t seen any cognizant responses. It’s subtle; it appears to “save,” but upon exiting, it’s not really there.

    • Howard – You’re right, it’s a bug. I’ll file a ticket with engineering about this. Thank you for letting me know! – Jason

  8. Thanks for pointing out the RSS bug, Howard. I noticed it today when I tried to add an RSS feed to my latest Hub with no luck.

    I am excited about the new higher standards at Hubpages. I’m sure we all welcome changes that add to the credibility of the site.

  9. I have a hub that was flagged as having affiliate links. I have since changed them to a link to another site of mine. It is not a redirect, but the article does have the affiliate link.

    I just want to clarify that this is okay under the new rules. If I understand it correctly, a redirect is not acceptable, but an article that is a “pre sell” page is okay.

    • Bill – It might not be. If you redirect through or to another site that is primarily a vehicle for an affiliate, then that can be an affiliate link, too. I’d recommend removing all links before submitting for publication. – Jason

  10. The main problem I am having is the fact that many of the hubs I publish are anti political establishment and they are all flagged for one reason or other.
    The worst case was one hub which had “broken links” which still worked and were in fact links within hub pages to other writers.
    Google panda is to me a destructive algorithm designed to seek wording which is against the “main stream” controlling political elite and eliminate from the net under the guise of “high quality publishing standards” or to put it another way mindless middle of the road none offensive inane pap which upsets nobody but manages eventually to control all material available to stop the spread of free thought.
    Yes you may claim that its inclusion in Hub pages will enhance payment to the writers but it will only enhance payment(in my opinion) to those who toe the party line and do not have any other agenda but to believe that all governments are good.
    I also find that Sarcasm is not included in the panda trawl as this article reveals:-
    http://hubpages.com/hub/Education-free-money-for-us-all
    Removed for being substandard yet nothing but praise from those who read.

    • Kevin – Your Hub was moderated for no other reason than it has enough grammar mistakes to interfere with its readability. I strongly encourage you to do an edit on it and resubmit it for publication, so that it can be republished. There is nothing wrong with expressing your opinion, and you’re still free to do that. – Jason

    • Hi Edward – I’m afraid it would. If you’d like to repurpose your Hubs into a book, we suggest unpublishing the Hubs. 🙂 – Jason

  11. Jason — Thanks for your response about my web hosting Hub. It’s still not quite clear to me, though. The warning only says that the Hub appears to be about web hosting. It doesn’t say anything about affiliate links. Putting 2 and 2 together, am I correct in deducing that web hosting is an over-saturated topic? Is that why no affiliate links are allowed? Is there a list of over-saturated topics somewhere (the blog post just gives a few examples)? If not, how would a Hub author know that a topic is considered to be over-saturated?

    • Hi Brian – In that “black box” at the top of your Hub, you can click on the notification itself and it will give a deeper explanation of what’s going on. Essentially, our content detector thinks your Hub is about web hosting. If, in fact, it is, then we just want to make you aware that Hubs about this topic will be held up to a higher editorial standard, and affiliate links of any kind are not allowed (although you’re free to link to major news sites, Wikipedia, and the like). If your Hub is top-notch and has no affiliate links, you can safely ignore the warning. Only you and admins can see it, no one else.

      Yes, web hosting is an over-saturated topic. We don’t post a complete list, since it can grow, but we are going to enable the content detector to let you know while you’re writing a Hub in the future. The over-saturated topics are those that have been very popular among affiliate marketers. – Jason

  12. Thanks, Jason. I hadn’t realized that the warning statement was a link to additional information. My Hub originally had two affiliate links and still has one, so I’ll remove it. Thanks for the clarification.

    • Hi Maritta – It looks like it’s the beachbody.com link. If you remove that, you should be fine. – Jason

  13. No reason to use hubpages any more. Links are no follow and now no affiliate links.

    You just lost half your userbase by kissing the back end of Google.

  14. Thanks for the update. All sites are doing this. At lease you are offering writers to make adjustments – some sites are not even doing that. In the end, quality will matter no matter what Google or Bing or Yahoo do!

  15. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that Google got out of this totally unscathed. And I’m sure they’ll be much happier with the less competitive atmosphere you’ve created for their advertising!

  16. Dear Paul and Gang:
    I don’t have any problem with the ordered changes. I would like something done about new hubbers coming on line and immediately following people. Most are innocent, probably, but I think a minimum of 5 or 10 hub articles should be required before newbies can ask to follow others or to be followed themselves. I have no doubt you are aware of this.
    While I have your attention, how about adding levels in some way ti lift the “100 ceiling.” Maybe with colored stars or something similar. (“100 and a blue star, etc.). Writers who hit the ceiling and stay there much of the time cannot do any better. Again, I am sure you have reviewed this.
    Welll toodlepip…Robert

  17. I don like your new rules, for affiliate links, Ive put a lot of work into writing my article, how am i suppose to link to my product now, can i use my website? or is that forbidden now also?? If i can’t do either i will cancel my account and tell you thank you for wasting my time on all the articles i wrote, also you must understand we live in a new generation where mostly everyone shops on line, its better, i don’t have to wait for the store to open, its 24 hrs and i can get anything i want at anytime, so the internet is the best way to shop, in time the whole world will be like that, and what you gonna do then change your rules again. i feel like i wasted my time!!!!!!

    • Skneaa – Did you receive an email from us? We are only prohibiting certain affiliates, and any affiliate links in certain topic categories. – Jason

  18. yes Jason i did receive an email , and most of the products i promote Ive tried them and gave my feedback on them, is that fair to anyone else like me?? i don’t know what to do with hubpages if this is the case, I also got my own website, can i redirect my readers to my website and from my website to the optin page? or is that forbidden? if it is forbidden and against the rules what must i do cancel my account because i had no choice, Jason i run a business online and hubpages was a link i put on my website for my readers not only to read my content on my website but also the content i have on hubpages, so not only do i have to modify my content on hubpages(which has links on my articles) i also have to modify my website now, which can be time consuming and work i never ask for, hubpages new policy will now kill my back links and the content i write for my website is quality content, my articles i write for my website are on the 1st page of goggle since January, please feel free to check out my website and its articles, copy and paste the titles to my articles in Google search engines, bing & yahoo and you will see where there at, there on the first page, if that is not quality content then i guess i don’t know what i am talking about, why are you guys changing your rules?? is it because to many writers are throwing links every where, if that’s the case its not fair to the many good writers who write QUALITY ARTICLES out there running a business.
    If you have any ideas on what i can do i am all ears!! if not and things stay turmoil not only will you lose my self as a member but half of your user base will be gone because of these changes.

    Thank you; Skneaa………….

    • Skneaa – I’m sorry you feel that way but we made a decision that will improve our site’s quality of content. The vast majority of our users do not use any affiliate links, much less those in the prohibited areas. In reality, the change affects only a small percentage of our traffic, but removing the incentive will vastly reduce the numbers of poor-quality Hubs. Thank you for your comment. – Jason

  19. Thanks for the response Jason; Just a word of thought………………

    If you want quality articles on your website may be hubpages should hire some editors to review the articles written so they can throw away the junk and keep the quality, to my knowledge that’s what EZINE ARTICLES DOES AND THAT’S WHAT HUBPAGES SHOULD DO TO, its not fair to the many good writers who write QUALITY ARTICLES, i write articles for ezine articles and it takes anywhere between 1 or 2 days before my article gets approve, Why? because an editor(and they have many) reviews the article for pass or fail and ezine articles is an excellent site and i am sure many will agree with me, there rules are enforced for quality content only!! So the good writer don’t have to suffer for the bad writers mistake. Just a word of thought………………………………………

    Thank you.
    Skneaa

  20. Goodbye hubpages, I wrote good content for this site and was sometimes rewarded for it when someone decide to buy through my affiliate link. Now it seems that hubpages want us to add content for their site so only they benefit, well sorry I can put my quality content elsewhere. Remember who got your site to where it is today. That is all.

  21. Skneaa – Thank you for your comment. We certainly agree that high quality standards are important.

    Tom – You can certainly continue to earn via Google AdSense, the HubPages Ad Program, Amazon Affiliates, and the eBay Affiliate Program. Additionally, non-prohibited affiliate links are allowed in most content areas

  22. “You can certainly continue to earn via Google AdSense, the HubPages Ad Program, Amazon Affiliates, and the eBay Affiliate Program.”

    The commissions on these affiliate programs are poor in comparison to what I can earn with Clickbank so that is one of the reasons why I use them. Another reason is that Clickbank has quality products which are the ones I promote. Sure they have some poor quality products too but so does eBay and Amazon. If I did use one of the methods of earning as described, what’s to say that a few months down the line, you decide that you don’t like that either and cut off that income stream too?

    What you should have is staff to review pages so then you could weed out the spammy hubs. I am upset by these changes because I feel you are just tarring us all with the same brush.

    • Tom – Thank you for your opinion. We have no plans to discontinue any of the current income options, except Kontera, which was never a popular option.

  23. No doubt everyone would have seen the changes Google’s Panda made to the URLs. Instead of having the title in the URL Panda has changed it to categories, i think all content sites were hit by this change. Does this have any effect on rankings?

  24. HP Management, it sounds like you are saying that any article with an affiliate link in it is going to be suspect and may be branded as low in quality. Surely you don’t mean this.

    If you provided a clearer rationale for limiting the use of affiliate links, people wouldn’t think it’s solely because you aren’t earning any money from them. Here are some questions I have.

    – What is wrong with Clickbank, one of the largest and most reputable affiliate networks on the Internet?
    – Why sites that sell ebooks? Amazon sells ebooks (oh, but you get a cut of those sales, don’t you?)
    – What constitutes a “dubious” offer?
    – What is wrong with lead capture forms?
    – What exactly is an “unwanted” website?

    If you provided detailed responses to these questions, perhaps hubbers here would understand how their use negatively impacts HubPages (other than monetarily) or how their use constitutes spam.

    I agree with the people here who believe you should be focusing on the QUALITY of the content itself and not the fact that the hub contains affiliate links. Jason’s 5/10 response to Skpneaa was non-responsive in that regard.

    I don’t see anything in your new rules that defines what you consider quality content to be (or what spam is, for that matter). I believe quality content is content that has two major characteristics: 1) It is informative (i.e., it provides useful information that benefits the reader) and 2) it is well-written (i.e., it is well organized and easy to read, and the writer has taken the time to edit his content to remove grammatical errors and misspellings before publishing it).

    Again, if you would just provide a clear and detailed statement as to why affiliate links are singled out in the new rules, then perhaps we would have a better understanding of your reasoning. Otherwise, it gives the impression that you are limiting affiliate links because you don’t make any money from them.

    I’m trying to give you the benefit of the doubt, but if you continue to evade people’s questions, then I may very well consider leaving too, and that would be unfortunate because I really like writing on the HubPages platform. It would also be hard to recommend HubPages to new online writers as well.

    One more word about affiliate links. It seems a little cold-hearted that you would eliminate a means for people, many of whom have lost their jobs – myself included, to make a decent living to support themselves and their families in these hard economic times. This is why many people here are so upset. Affiliate and network marketing are legitimate means of earning a living; otherwise, sites like Google, eBay, Amazon and Konterra wouldn’t be using it to sell their products.

    • Hi Patrice – We are not eliminating all affiliate links. You can use them, except in certain restricted categories. Also, certain affiliate links, which either create a poor experience for users, or which are associated with poor-quality content on HubPages, are not allowed at all. We have also not singled out affiliate links in our new rules; we have also made a number of new standards that we detail in the blog post that will raise the overall quality standards of the content on our site.
      While HubPages might not be the appropriate home for some of your affiliate-driven writing, we hope you understand our commitment to maintaining high quality standards. – Jason

  25. Jason, thanks for your quick reply, but I’m still confused.

    – What constitutes a “poor experience for users” and how exactly do each of the restricted affiliate link categories you list (e.g., Clickbank sites, sites that sell ebooks, sites containing a lead capture form, and unwanted (?) web sites) result in this poor user experience?

    – What constitutes “poor-quality content” and how exactly do each of the restricted affiliate link categories contribute to this poor quality?

    This is a valid request for clarification. I am simply trying to understand your rationale for limiting these affiliate links. You may provide a reason or reasons that make perfect sense to me, but without the clarification I have requested, the limitations appear unjustified.

    Perhaps HubPages needs to create a separate blog entry or new hub in the Learning Center on the issue of these restricted affiliate link categories, explaining in more detail precisely why these restrictions were imposed.

    • Patrice –

      A poor quality experience are sites that promote dubious offers (claiming to be free, but requiring payment nevertheless, for example), interfere with browser navigation, etc. I didn’t say that all the prohibited affiliates do this, but some of them do.

      Poor quality content is exactly that. We tend to get a lot of poor quality content when people are promoting certain affiliate offers. Not all of it is poor-quality, but most of it is.

      I hope this clears things up.

  26. I have a hub that was flagged as having affiliate links. I have since changed them to a link to another site of mine. It is not a redirect, but the article does have the affiliate link

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