How to Leave Good Comments

When we ask people why they love HubPages and chose this platform over others, they often refer to comments they get from fellow community members. Indeed, leaving insightful, meaningful comments on others’ Hubs is one of the most effective ways to spread the love on HubPages.

Not all comments are created equal. We recommend avoiding comments that are:

  • Short (e.g. “Good Hub.”)
  • Generic (e.g. “You did a great job with this Hub. I really liked it. I hope you keep on writing!”)
  • Self-promotional (e.g. “Great Hub. You should check out my Hub on X”)
  • Rude (this should go without saying)

On the flip side, we love to see comments that:

  • Are detailed
  • Are genuine
  • Refer to specific points in the Hub (e.g. “I had no idea that Blackbeard’s real name was Edward Teach!”)
  • Ask insightful questions (these might help the author improve his or her Hub or provide inspiration for a future Hub)
  • Point out any mistakes that need to be corrected (typically, these comments are accompanied by a “please delete this” note)
  • Add additional points that readers might also appreciate (“What an interesting Hub on the many uses for apply cider vinegar! I have also found that apple cider vinegar is great for red velvet cupcakes.”)

While leaving good comments does take time, it is a great way to make new friends on HubPages (and win over some Followers, too!). Making a point of providing detailed feedback on others’ work can help you read things with a new level of attention and think more critically about what it is that makes a successful Hub so successful. Of course, a great comment can also make a Hubber’s day- who wouldn’t want to pass up the opportunity to do that?

On Writing Well: Writing Groups

Writing can often feel like an isolated occupation, especially when you want feedback on your writing, or are working on a longer piece that takes a great deal of time. Many writers work from home, and miss the companionship and collaboration that other occupations provide.

Joining or creating a writing group may alleviate the sense of feeling marginalized, but sometimes writing groups can be a mixed blessing. That said, if you choose wisely, a good group can give you the sense of community, feedback and support that every writer craves.

Pros:

Creating a sense of community: Writing is a lonely hobby. Unlike art, or music, where the work is immediately accessible by others, writing is secretive, taking place in isolation. To me, one of the nicest things about writer’s groups is taking what is otherwise a lonely occupation and adding a social context where you can share your work with like-minded writers who will add valuable feedback. Which takes me to…

Feedback: As a writer, it’s very important to have constructive criticism of your writing. In the best writing groups, your writing mates will pinpoint the exact places in which your writing can be improved, and give you specific ways to improve your style, content and grammar. If you have the right writing group, you will be able to also get insight into what makes your individual writing shine. This is very helpful indeed, for often when we write, we lose the necessary distance required to see the strengths and weaknesses of our own writing. A writing group will give you that.

Cons:

Bullying: Ever watched Mean Girls? Remember how awfully mean the popular Plastics were to everyone else? Writing groups can be that way too. Writing is awfully personal – everyone has their opinions on what makes great writing, and often in a bad writing group, one person’s objective opinion of good writing gets pushed down everyone else’s throat, leading to hurt feels, despair and writing block.

Feedback too early in the process: Writing is a multi-layered process. For many writers, the first draft is just a placeholder, an outline, so to speak, to get things like structure, story arc, etc. worked out. Yet, this is a time consuming process and writers often make the mistake of sharing this work because they really want someone to recognize how hard they have worked, and validate their efforts. A well-meaning critic though can tear this apart, trying to give feedback on style and word-choice and development. This misunderstanding also leads to great difficulties for all parties.

New HubPages Site Design – Give Us Your Feedback!

As we mentioned in a previous post, the site widening that is about to take place is the first step in a more involved redesign of HubPages.com.

James Edmondson has been working on this redesign for some time now, and we’d love to give you a sneak peek at the new look.  Have a look at the work-in-progress designs for Hubs and profile pages below- and let us know what you think!  We’d love to hear what you have to say – and we hope to roll out some of these new designs soon!

The new Hub layout:

As you may have noticed, there is a small box to the left side of the Hub that contains quick links to share the Hub on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.  This box will move along with you as you scroll.

You may also notice that the sidebar has been simplified, and that there are five related Hubs shared at the bottom of the page.  And of course, there’s also the new top and bottom navigation bars- the top navigation bar has been significantly streamlined, and the bottom navigation bar has been organized slightly differently.

The new profile layout:

One of the more exciting elements of this updated take on the profile page is that it contains a carousel that does a much better showcasing your favorite Hubs than the current listings do.  Much of the page has been simplified and Hubs and your feed have been separated by a tab. James sought to give your profile page a more editorial feel with this design update, which offers more previews of the Hubs listed in the center of the page, which makes them more alluring then they appear with the current, more listing-centric design.

You  may also notice that the bio has moved from the center of the page to the top right corner, and only a short snippet appears. When you click the “read more” link on someone’s bio, the full text will appear in a lightbox, complete with social media (e.g. Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.) links so that your followers may know where to find you elsewhere online.

You can see the full-sized images by clicking on them. We look forward to reading your feedback!

Hubbie Award Voting & The Importance of Community

Hubbie AwardIn this week’s Online Writing Insider podcast, Robin and I discuss the Importance of Community in writing online (and offline, too!).

In line with this podcast theme, I’m happy to announce that voting for the first annual Hubbie Awards is now open!

To submit your nominations (votes) for each Hubbie Award, enter the username of a Hubber or URL of a Hub into the corresponding text box in our official voting form.  We ask that you only submit your votes once, so make sure that you have all the Hubbers and Hubs you want to nominate on hand before you go to the form (the full listing of candidates is in our previous post introducing the awards).

Voting will be open for three weeks (it closes on August 3rd), so you’ve got plenty of time to think about who you think should win each award, but don’t worry if you don’t have someone in mind for each Hubbie- you don’t have to submit a nomination for each award.

We look forward to seeing which Hubbers and Hubs win each award, and look forward to celebrating the HubPages community with the winner announcements on August 5th!

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!