The Great Commenter Accolade

Earlier this week, we updated one of the HubPages Accolades – perhaps you have noticed!

The Great Commenter Accolade now has levels. Shown in Roman numerals, these levels, ranging from one to eight, will help you see just how great a commenter a Hubber is.

The key to leveling up is to leave insightful comments on others’ Hubs and to reply to comments left on your own work.

If you’re curious about the actual factors that contribute to the generation of your personal Great Commenter level (which is based on points accumulated), here they are:

  • The number of comments you leave on others’ Hubs (and your own)
  • The length of your comments (more points are given for longer comments, while you may get negative points for a consistent pattern of repetitive, very short comments)
  • The consistency of your commenting (regular commenters get a boost)

There is also a penalty for comments that are marked as spam or denied.

Major props to Edward Zhang and Paul Deeds for executing the change – it is far more fun to see just how great a commenter one is rather than just seeing that they leave the occasional comment.

If you did not know about the new Accolade feature, visit your profile to view your Accolades (so long as you have them set to be displayed) and see if you have it, and if so what level you’re at.  And don’t forget to leave helpful, meaningful comments on others’ work. 😀

Milestone: 100,000 questions asked on HubPages

We like to note important milestones here on HubPages, like our billionth Hub view and our millionth Hub. Milestones help remind us that we’ve come a long way as a large online writing community. One feature, our Answers section, has paired askers with answerers for the last few years, and we’ve hit an important milestone with respect to it recently: we’ve had 100,000 Questions published.

There are a few things worth noting about HubPages Questions:

  • About a year and a half ago, we saw an inflection point which put the number of new Questions on a new trajectory. That new rate has sustained since.
  • About 1/6 of Questions get moderated.
  • Each Question yields an average of 2.5 Answers and Hubs.
  • Lots of great Hubs are inspired by Questions, including Lisa HW’s How to Get Over an Abusive Relationship and Marye Audet’s How to Install Landscape Pavers. Many Hubs written in response to a Question have been, like these, great for traffic for those Hubbers who published them.

We hope 100,000 Questions is just one of many impressive milestones for the Answers section!

Feel inspired to ask a Question or try your hand at answering any of them? Visit our Answers section and have a go!

A Day in the Life of a 1950’s Housewife & The Debut of the Fascinating Fiction Podcast

Fascinating FictionToday I am happy to announce the debut of the HubPages Fascinating Fiction podcast – a podcast devoted to showcasing fictional short stories written on HubPages.com.

The first short story to be featured in this podcast was an entry in April’s So You Think You Can Write Online contest.  The judges loved it and though it did not win a prize for the day (though its author did subsequently win a prize in the contest for another Hub), we decided it deserved major kudos, and would be the perfect Hub to share in this exciting new podcast.

With no further ado, I present you with A Day in the Life of a 1950’s Housewife by Jane Bovary.  I hope you enjoy listening in, and I also encourage you to read the original Hub, which has fabulous photos and great mood music.

If you would like to recommend a short story for the podcast, or offer to contribute readings (of your own work, or that of others), send an email to podcast (at) hubpages.com 😀

HubCamp Boston In Review

HubCamp Boston took place yesterday, and we all had a blast!

Robin and I met up with Boston area Hubbers including thranax, J.S.Matthew, and Carolyn2008 at the Back Bay Hotel to swap insider HubPages tips and just shoot the breeze.  It was a blast meeting Hubbers in person and we hope that everyone had as much fun as we did!

Major topics discussed in the meeting included…

  • Hub creation
  • Choosing good topics
  • Researching good topics and competition
  • The HubHopper
  • Timing and changes in traffic
  • HubPages Elite programs

Sad you missed HubCamp Boston?  Not to worry! More HubCamps are in store, and we’re also working on developing ways in which we can make HubCamp more accessible to everyone, since our community spans across such a wide area.

If you’re in the London area, be sure to stop by HubCamp London, which is just about a week and a half away.  We’ll be meeting at the Fleet River Bakery in London on Thursday, May 26th at 3:00pm, and shall be making it more of a HubMeet style format to ensure that everyone has plenty of time for socializing- plus to have any HubPages or online writing-related questions answered.  For more information on HubCamp London- and to RSVP – visit the official Meetup page.

Speaking of HubMeets (HubPages’ social meetups), we encourage you to start your own, and check out our HubMeets Meetup Everywhere page to see if any Hubbers are staging HubPages Social Meetups in your area.

Thanks to those of you who made it out to HubCamp Boston.  It was a pleasure to meet you!

 

Updated Hub Layout

Unused boxes

We are in the process of implementing an update that will remove the questions and forums boxes from Hubs to give them a cleaner, less cluttered interface.  The Q&A and Forums sections of the site will, of course, remain unchanged.

One of the most interesting things about design is that the elements that are left out are just as important as the elements left in.  A great example of this concept is demonstrated through the ma seen in traditional Japanese aesthetics- which is very present in some of the best design around- Apple products, for example.

For this reason, the HubPages team has been very careful to keep the site as streamlined as possible- removing any elements that are more distracting than functional.  After analyzing some of the features that show up on the right-side of Hubs, we found that several of them were not being used by a vast majority of visitors.  So we are removing the questions and forum boxes from Hubs to provide a more engaging and enjoyable experience for visitors to your Hubs. If the Hub is an Answer to a Question, then other Hubs answering the Question will still be listed.

The updated Hub layout rolls out today.  We hope you like it!

Where Did Polka Dots Come From?

Weekly Advice from Everyday ExpertsWhere did polka dots come from? And what do they have to do with gypsies, virility, disease, dancing, and moons?

Tess45 could tell you- she has proven herself to be the polka dot expert!  Tune into this episode of Weekly Advice from Everyday Experts (Where did polka dots come from?) to learn all about polka dots- from their history and meaning to their varied significance in international culture over the years.

Though Robin and Simone cover many of the fun facts that Tess45 shares in her Hub Why Do We Call Polka Dots Polka Dots?, don’t forget to check out the original for yourself- and bust out those polka dotted outfits!

Data: The More Followers You Have, the More Traffic per Hub

Ari Lamstein, a HubPages engineer that programmed the great milestone notification emails we get, queried our database a couple of weeks ago to demonstrate that the more you publish on HubPages, the more traffic you get per Hub.

Ari’s dug through the data again to see if there’s a relationship between the number of followers a Hubber has, and how much traffic per Hub that Hubber enjoys. We suspected a fairly positive correlation, and the data bears that out.

Ari looked at Hubbers in different groups, based on the number of followers they have:

  • 0-9 followers
  • 10-19 followers
  • 20-29 followers
  • 30-39 followers
  • 40-49 followers
  • 50 and more followers

The data showed that the more followers you have, the more traffic you get monthly to each of your Hubs. Here is the data:

  • 0-9 followers: 22 Hub views per month per Hub
  • 10-19 followers: 33 Hub views per month per Hub
  • 20-29 followers: 45 Hub views per month per Hub
  • 30-39 followers: 56 Hub views per month per Hub
  • 40-49 followers: 64 Hub views per month per Hub
  • 50 and more followers: 102 Hub views per month per Hub

Here’s the same data represented in graphical form:

So why such a strong relationship?

  • The more followers you have, the more immediate readers you enjoy. This is obvious. When you publish a new Hub, your followers get notified almost immediately. Many of them will come to visit your Hubs and read. They might not be clicking on your ads, but they add value in some other ways…
  • Your followers do more than just read your Hubs. They leave comments, they rate up your Hubs, and they can promote your Hub in social media. I would also venture to guess that people clicking on links to your Hubs from Gmail is probably noticed by Google, too.
  • A large readership points to quality Hubs. Some of your followers like you as a person and want to support you, but most follow you on HubPages simply because they love your Hubs. They really want to read what you’ve written. So, lots of followers suggests high quality, something that guarantees long-term readership.

Did you know that a large majority of Hubbers are in the 0-9 followers category? If you’re a Hubber that’s publishing great Hubs that people should love reading, then make sure you grow your regular readership and enjoy the benefits of a rapt audience. Here’s how we suggest you do that:

  • Find Hubbers whose Hubs you like. HubPages is an enormous community of talented writers whose interests run the gamut. Browse through your favorite topic areas, and find some Hubbers whose Hubs are a pleasure to read. Look especially for those who engage with their readers in their Hub comments.
  • Leave comments. I’m not talking about the “great Hub!” or “follow me!” kind. Leaving sincere, insightful comments allows you to make a genuine connection with the Hubber. Often, the Hubber will want to check out your Hubs as well; they’ll want to know a bit more about the person who left an intelligent, heartfelt comment on their Hub.
  • Follow those Hubbers you really like. You’ll be counted among those readers who wants to be apprised of their Hub publishing activity. Leaving some fan mail on their profile on why you’ve chosen to follow this Hubber marks you as someone who’s worth getting to know better on HubPages.
  • Answer Questions. In our Answers section, there are thousands of Hubbers posting questions every week. You can answer questions that are up your alley in the form of a short answer, or in the form of a Hub. Those asking will often appreciate high-quality answers, and follow those providing them.
  • Help other Hubbers out in the Forums. All sorts of Hubbers, especially newbies, ask questions about how to do things in the Forums (particularly in the Need Help? forum). If you know what you’re talking about, help another Hubber out. Often gratitude for help will take the form of following you.

Knowing that your Hubs will be read by an audience is one of the most gratifying aspects of publishing on HubPages. And, importantly, there’s no reason anyone who writes great Hubs shouldn’t enjoy an audience here. Sometimes taking the first step of being a great follower will be just the thing to grow a group of dedicated followers of your own.

How to LEGALLY Use Images In Your Hubs

The Online Writing InsiderThough it might be tempting to type a keyword into Google Images and use the first attractive photo that comes up, adding copyrighted images to your online articles is essentially stealing (and in other words, illegal).

In this episode of the Online Writing Insider (How to Legally Use Images in Your Online Articles), Robin Edmondson and Yours Truly discuss how to go about finding and adding others’ images to your online articles in a legal manner.  Listen in to learn the basics of proper image attribution and Creative Commons licenses, and to also discover our favorite online resources for free (or low cost) images.

If you would like to read a more detailed guide to legal image use on HubPages, check out the tips in our Learning Center.

Is there an online writing issue you would like us to discuss in a future podcast? Let us know in the comments!

Boston, Ho!

For those who live near Boston, here’s a big heads up – HubCamp Boston is this Sunday, from 3:00 to 6:00pm at the Back Bay Hotel.  The hotel is quite the lovely place, and we’ll have plenty of cookies and coffee to keep us going as we chat!

Robin Edmondson and I shall be present, and we’re very excited to help you up your online writing game, plus answer any questions you might have.  HubCamp Boston will be good for new and veteran Hubbers alike, and we hope to engage in as much fun socializing as productive collaboration.

If you are interested in attending, be sure to stop by the Meetup Everywhere page and RSVP.  If Boston is too far away, you can always follow in Glenn Stock’s footsteps and create a HubMeet or HubCamp of your own.  And if you’re within reach of London, be sure to go to HubCamp London on Thursday, May 26th!

HubMeets & Glenn Stok

HubMeetsWhile we have two official HubCamps coming up (one in Boston, the other in London), Hubbers all over the place are organizing awesome HubPages Social Meetups (aka HubMeets) of their own.

One such Hubber is Glenn Stok.  He hosted his first HubMeet this March and has another planned for July 9th in Long Island, NY.  If you have any questions about the event, check out Glenn’s forum thread, and if you can make it, don’t forget to RSVP on Meetup by clicking the “I’m Going” button 🙂

Even if you don’t live near Long Island, you ought to check out the interview below. Glenn was kind enough to share a bit more about his experience with HubPages Social Meetups, and he shares some great insights that might help you launch a HubMeet of your own!

HubPages: What inspired you to start a HubPages Social Meetup?

Glenn Stok: Several things inspired me. When I first read about it in the forum I immediately recognized meetup.com since I’ve been using it for eight years. I once organized a meetup group myself, so I know how they work. But now I’m also in a few groups that other organizers handle very well…A hiking group, a dinner social group, and a museum lovers group.

I have a tendency to like to organize things. Even as a teenager I organized a group of friends to help the local police and ambulance service by relaying emergency requests that we picked up on CB radio. CB stood for Citizen’s Band and was used in the 60’s and 70’s, long before cell phones.

When I read Robin’s post in the forum about HubPages using the Meetup platform for local HubMeets, I thought it would be a great way to meet other Hubbers who live near me. So, knowing about meetup, enjoying organizing events, and the desire to get local Hubbers together in a productive way, all led me to jump in and give it a try.

How did the first one go?

Well, the platform meetup created for this is new and still has some bugs. It’s called “Meetup Everywhere” and there are other organizations beta testing it, not only HubPages. When I tried to create the local group it was forced into a different geographic location. I noticed some other Hubbers have had the same problem. But Robin was very helpful with reporting these problems and meetup made a quick fix to allow us to edit the name of the location. That didn’t stop it from created invalid groups, but at least it let us correct an active one. So I was on my way.

I decided to plan the date far ahead to give it time for the news to spread. The “Meetup Everywhere” platform is not tied in with the rest of meetup.com, so people who had meetup accounts were having trouble signing up. I also noticed I can’t see my HubPages groups under my list of groups. So I have to use a direct link to the HubPages Community under meetup. I think this has caused us to lose some people who may have tried to sign up.

I’m not saying this to complain. I’m mentioning this because I realize it’s a new platform and it needs to get through its growing pains. For that reason I feel the first meetup was a great success even though we only had four out of six people. The way I look at it…it’s a start. Two other Hubbers who signed up but didn’t attend really missed a fun evening. I hope they come to the next one.

We all had a tremendous amount of energy so the conversation just kept flowing. Each one of us shared individual thoughts on writing.

I talked about what I had learned in my 18 months of studying the forums and from reading other Hubbers Hubs. I also tried to make it clear how important I felt it was to keep up with the news and discussions in the forums and with other Hubbers who are known to provide tons of useful information.

Everyone else was full of energy and gave a lot of helpful ideas. One fellow had a unique way of firing off constant questions for the purpose of giving us ideas to write about. It was like rapid-fire brainstorming! We all kept notes so we’d have something to elaborate on later for a possible future Hub. A lot of useful stuff was coming up!

Did you learn anything from other Hubbers at the Meetup that helped you improve your online writing?

You bet! Bob was giving a lengthy explanation about something. Then I said, “You just wrote a Hub! You must have spoken about 1000 words and well organized too. Now if you only had typed it you could publish it without any further effort.” Rich came up with a solution. He told us about his idea of using a voice recorder while talking so you have something to transcribe later. It’s a lot easier than trying to come up with all those thoughts again while in front of the keyboard.

So what I learned was that we find it easier to explain things verbally than to type it up. Sometimes when one explains things, it comes out perfect and needs little modification.

Why not leave a voice recorder on while talking on the phone? Some of my Hubs come from conversations I’ve had when I help a friend on the phone. Then I later write about it. Recording, even just my side of the conversation, can be quite useful. So many times I feel I said it better the first time around. Then when I sit down at the computer I wonder, ‘Now what was that what I said?’ I feel like I’ve got to create it from scratch again.

So I think a voice recorder can be a useful tool for a writer. Great idea I had learned at this HubMeet.

Could you tell us a bit about the next one you have planned?

I feel that since six people signed up and four of them came to the first meeting, we had a good start. It needs to be given a chance to grow. Hopefully all six will come next time. Maybe even some new ones.

A lot has happened since our first HubMeet that we can discuss at the next one. I have an agenda planed but of course I’ll welcome input from everyone.

My plan is to review the Panda Update and how things changed. I want to discuss what we were doing wrong and what we did right. I also want to examine what Google is looking for to give better search results. I think it will make for good conversation at the next HubMeet and maybe give us some ideas for new things to write about.

 

.     .     .

 

Glenn Stok’s next HubMeet is definitely going to be interesting and a great opportunity for all attending to up their game- and have a good time, too!  Be sure to check out Glenn’s review of his first meeting, and here’s hoping you can make it to the second one!

If you’d like to start a HubMeet of your own, check out the HubMeets forum and drop Robin Edmondson a line.