The Scent of Evil

Fascinating FictionIn this installment of the Fascinating Fiction podcast, I am happy to present a short but very good story written by WillStarr: The Scent of Evil.

This is the first Fascinating Fiction episode with a short story narrated by another Hubber.  Morten Rand (aka Website Examiner on HubPages) was generous enough to record his reading of this story- and has recorded over 100 hours of fiction reading on his own as well!  You can read more about Website Examiner’s podcast recording experience- and get some tips on the process- in this interview he did for a recent HubPages newsletter.

If you would like to contribute a recording (or short fictional story) of your own, email us at podcast (at) hubpages.com.

Major props to WillStarr for this powerful story (this is not the last appearance this prominent HubPages fiction writer will make in the Fascinating Fiction podcast- stay tuned for more).  Be sure to read the original, and visit WillStarr’s profile to read more of his work.

HubCamp London in Review

It was a rainy afternoon today in London, but HubCamps are always a go, rain or shine!

It was a blast to be joined by CASE1WORKER and CMHypno who took a trek into the city for the meetup.  We got together at the Fleet River Bakery for a lovely afternoon filled with HubPages chat and plenty of caffeine!

Some of the topics we discussed were typical HubCamp fare- keyword research, researching one’s competition before publishing, and legal image use.  We took a look at a couple of keywords to research their competitiveness, and also discussed the differences between articles that perform well in search engines and those that do well on social media.

We also touched on the subject discussed with the greatest heat in the forums these days: the Panda update.  While we all acknowledged that many of the changes we’ve rolled out regarding higher publishing standards have involved a lot of work, we agreed that in many ways, the Panda update is positively impacting HubPages.  After all, it has encouraged us to focus on what matters most- HubPages as a site for writers.

Now that I think about it, violent algorithm changes are sort of like economic recessions- they reduce financial income for a time, but remind folks about what really matters.  In life, that might be friends and family; on HubPages, that’s writing and community!  Though we have seen some tumultuous traffic changes, we are lucky to have been given the opportunity to reassess our values.

Big thanks to CMHypno and CASE1WORKER for making it out for the Meetup – it is always a real thrill to meet Hubbers in person, and it was especially cool to meet the talented authors of some marvelously written Hubs.  Both have written some fascinating historical and academic Hubs (amongst other types) which you really ought to check out!

We’ve got another HubPages-run meetup coming up- it’s going to be one to remember!  Keep an eye out for future updates- we’ll be revealing the details soon! 😉

Cyberculture and Zen Buddhism… Whaaa??

Weekly Advice from Everyday ExpertsWhat does cyberculture have to do with Zen Buddhism?

A lot, actually.

In an impressive academic exploration of modern technology and ancient philosophy, lukecore on HubPages discussed this very issue, and in this episode of Weekly Advice from Everyday Experts (Cyberculture and Zen Buddhism), Michelle Padro and Yours Truly have a look at his essay.

Ready to contemplate the concept of self, question everything, and discuss quantum physics?  Good! Here we go!

… and if you would like to see the argument in its eloquent and pure form, check out lukecore’s original essay: Cyberculture and Zen Buddhism.

Kontera phased out on Monday, June 6

This is just a reminder that we will be phasing out Kontera in-text ads on Monday, June 6th. After that date, no Kontera ads will be displayed on Hubs. This follows an announcement made by Simone a couple of months ago.

To check the status of your Kontera account, earnings balance, and payout thresholds, please visit the Kontera website and click on My Account.  Questions to Kontera can be sent to support@kontera.com.

If you do not already have an affiliate account with Kontera, you do not need to take any action.

 

Being a Social Writer

Online Writing InsiderThough the world of online writing is full of interaction- through comments, likes, shares, tweets, and more- there is still something to be said for getting one-on-one feedback on your work, either in the digital space or IRL.

In this episode of the Online Writing Insider (Being a Social Writer), Robin Edmondson and Simone Smith discuss the benefits of meeting with other people to discuss your online writing.  They also discuss the use of Meetup as a great means of meeting with likeminded authors- HubPages, for example, offers HubCamps and HubMeets to help its writers connect and trade tips and feedback in person.

Are you interested in getting involved with HubCamps or HubMeets?  Check out the official meetup pages at http://www.meetup.com/hubcamp/ and http://www.meetup.com/hubpages/.  And if you’re near London, be sure to stop by HubCamp London!  It’s TOMORROW at 3:00pm!

Weekly Topic Inspiration: The Next Generation HubMob

For a couple of years, HubPages has offered a special program called HubMob, which offers a new search-friendly topic each week that Hubbers can write on as a group.  HubMob has been an excellent help to those looking for an extra challenge, a cure for writer’s block, or simply the opportunity to write in a more social setting.

Last Monday, Princessa announced that she and the HubMob team will be retiring.  On behalf of HubPages staff and the entire community, I want to thank team HubMob for everything they have done!

If you enjoyed participting in the weekly HubMob, don’t worry- we’re rolling out its next generation this coming Monday: Weekly Topic Inspiration.

Weekly Topic Inspiration will be very similar to HubMob.  Each week, we’ll post a sticky thread in the forums sharing a new topic and pointing to a question.  All you have to do to participate is write a Hub on the week’s topic by answering that question.

In addition to forum posts, we shall also be sharing the new topics each week as events on our Facebook page to make them more convenient.  We encourage you to recommend new topics for future weeks by leaving suggestions in the forum thread or as comments on a Weekly Topic Inspiration Facebook event.  If we choose your topic, you’ll be the Hubber to ask the question for the week!

We will also occasionally offer additional guides and tips on how to cover a particular subject successfully in the online world, since we have found (and you may well have discovered) that some approaches work better than others.

For more information on the Weekly Topic Inspiration, visit our Learning Center guide.  Thanks again to the HubMob team, we’ll miss you, but look forward to seeing you around the site 😉

Winnie-ther-Pooh and the Very Important Letter

Fascinating FictionFor our second ever Fascinating Fiction podcast, I wish to introduce yet another Hub that was an entry in the April 2011 So You Think You Can Write Online contest: Winnie-ther-Pooh and the Very Important Letter by Mark Ewbie.

This poignant, humorous Hub is quite the enjoyable read.  I recommend visiting the original Hub in addition to listening in to this week’s podcast, as you simply must have a look at Mark Ewbie’s original illustrations.

If you enjoyed this story, you will certainly enjoy Mark Ewbie’s other work, so be sure to check out his profile as well!

And don’t forget- if you would like to contribute a short story recording of your own, email podcast (at) hubpages.com 😀

Addressing Panda

It’s been a bit since I posted an update on addressing Panda, so I wanted to let all of you know that we are still working aggressively on it; we are as concerned about this issue as you are, and are committed to finding a solution. Since the Panda update, we’ve been working around the clock and exploring every avenue and source of information.  We have reached out to Google several times and have spent countless hours analyzing our data, running tests, and making modifications.  Our entire goal is to lift the dampening effect on HubPages’ best authors, who are the people that create expert and enthusiast content that others on the Web enjoy.

Google has specifically pointed us to this line: “low-quality content on some parts of a website can impact the whole site’s rankings.”  Low quality has been defined very broadly.  There isn’t a list that says which page is good and which one is bad.  So, we have focused our efforts and have driven several policy changes on HubPages to help improve quality, while maintaining an open publishing environment.  Doing so with a site as large as HubPages, with many diverse authors, has certain tradeoffs.

While we desire to be as open as possible to all types of contributions, the current environment makes that challenging when one piece of content has the potential to depress other content.  We have been committed to testing and modifying the editorial policy until a balance was struck.  This is a very tricky business and like many things with search engines, the impact of a change isn’t seen right away.  We have focused on changes that we believe are good for both authors and readers in the long run, and we can understand the frustration and concerns that some of our users have experienced as result of seeing the rules change.  The web is a very dynamic environment that is changing quickly.  At times it requires rapid adaptation and innovation.  This is one of those times.

We love getting all the emails asking what people can do to help.  To those we say: keep creating great Hubs, making suggestions on how we can improve, flagging Hubs that aren’t up to our standards, and letting us know of changes you don’t agree with.  While we don’t respond to every forum thread and email, we are constantly reading and listening.  We, as a company, deeply value the opinions of HubPages’ authors.

Going forward, we hope to limit editorial policy changes as much as possible.  However, we will continue to run tests and make tweaks to improve the site.  Most changes we’ve made you don’t see, like the hidden rel=”author” tag we’ve added to Hubs that designates the Hub’s author.  Over the next few weeks we will run small tests on pieces of HubPages that work to lift the depression on high-quality content.  Improving the experience for Hubbers and readers is our top consideration as we roll out any additional changes.

We genuinely appreciate your patience as we work to get traffic to your high-quality Hubs, and are proud to count each one of you as members of our writing community.

Barbie Through the Years

Weekly Advice from Everyday ExpertsWhat has Barbie been up to over the past five decades? And what is up with her younger sister, Skipper?

H.C. Porter offers a great timeline of some significant Barbie developments in her Hub What happened to Barbie’s little sister Skipper? Plus, A Barbie Time Line for All Fans. Listen in to today’s podcast (Barbie Through the Years) as Jason Menayan and Simone Smith have a look at some of the major milestones and discuss Barbie culture in general.

Have a suggestion on future podcast, or comments on previous ones? Send us an email!

Where to Find Ideas for Your Hubs

Online Writing InsiderAre you looking for inspiration? Don’t know what to write next?

You might want to listen to Jason Menayan in this edition of the Online Writing Insider (Tips on Finding Online Writing Topics).  He shares some great tips on finding new high potential topics to address when writing online.  Follow his advice, and you’ll have PLENTY to write about  As an added bonus, the articles you publish might gain a lot of readership- and earn you money.

Do you have a suggestion for a future Online Writing Insider podcast? Send us an email!