You No Longer Need to Report Purely Personal Content (Yay!)

We have long emphasized that HubPages is not a blogging platform as it is not designed to be a place where people talk only about themselves or their personal lives or publish articles around a fixed theme (HubPages is instead a place to share informational articles that are not necessarily related).

For quite some time, we have actively moderated Hubs that qualify as being “Purely Personal” (we define “Purely Personal” content as that which would most likely only appeal to someone who already knows and cares about the author). Because our Quality Assessment Process now dictates whether or not a Hub gets prominently Featured on HubPages and made available to search engines, these moderations are no longer all that necessary, except for extreme cases in which the Hub in question also borders on being “Low Quality”, a separate publishing policy violation.

Why have we stopped worrying so much about Purely Personal Hubs? If nobody cares about a Purely Personal Hub, it will simply get low ratings, not be Featured, enjoy a peaceful life of solitude, and not run the risk of lowering the perceived quality of HubPages’ collective content*.

We are therefore removing the Purely Personal option from our reporting interface. This will save moderators’ time and spare you the hassle of reporting that which you think may be Purely Personal**.  Worry not; those Hubs will take care of themselves.


*I do not mean to say that personal articles are inherently of low quality; they simply do not make sense on a site designed for sharing didactic articles.
**We still very much appreciate your help reporting other Hubs that do not meet HubPages’ publishing standards. Thank you for having our backs!

Moderation Policy for Recipe and Review Hubs

With a new feature announcement, new rules aren’t far behind. As Simone announced last week, Hubbers will be able to create Recipes and Review Hubs using Special Layout Options. Here are the rules for this new feature:

1) Don’t use Recipe Capsules for non-recipes

The Recipe Capsules include Cook Time, Ingredients, Instructions, and Nutrition Capsules. Because these capsules are identified as Recipe-related by search engines, they cannot be used in non-Recipe Hubs. If you decide to share your “Recipe for a Romantic Weekend” or your “Recipe for Destruction!” with the world, don’t use these capsules to do so.

2) Ratings Capsules belong only in Review and Recipe Hubs

The Ratings Capsule is the most important capsule for Recipe and Review Hubs, and should only be used in those two types of Hubs. The Ratings Capsule will be based on the subject of a Hub, not a Hub itself.  Up and Down votes are there for Hub feedback.

We will notify authors when they have mistakenly used these capsules, and give them one week to make the necessary changes before unpublishing the content.

To review all of our existing rules, check out the Violations section of the Learning Center. We will not be reviewing all the Recipes and Reviews that are published, so if you notice a Hub in violation of these rules, please flag it!

If you have any questions on these or any other rules, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Publishing Standards for Video on HubPages

Soon, Hubbers will be adding video publishing to their repertoire. Before this feature is released, I’m going to give you a quick overview of the types of video content that will not be permitted on HubPages. All of these rules are slight modifications to our existing rules, outlined here in our Violations section of the Learning Center. We will not be reviewing all Videos that are published, so we encourage Hubbers to flag any Hub or Video they encounter that violates our Terms of Use. The Moderation team’s workflow depends on community flags to keep the site clean!

Adult content

This rule is fairly straight forward. No sexually suggestive nudity, pornography, lewd or provocative images, explicit or profane content, and no promotions of adult websites, services, or products. As always, our standards for adult content are more lenient than the standards of our advertisers, therefore ads may be disabled on sensitive content that is acceptable for publication on HubPages.

Mature content

Videos depicting fighting, gore, violence or links to any site containing mature content will not be permitted. Self-defense instructional and minor dramatized violence will be allowed, but videos of gruesome assaults, wartime causalities, or domestic violence will not permitted. In addition, content that contains depictions of illegal activities will not be permitted. For both Mature and Adult content rules, ask yourself if you would be comfortable presenting your video to your children. If you wouldn’t be, the content may not be appropriate for HubPages.

Overly Promotional content

Video advertisements, just like written promotional flyers, will not be permitted on HubPages. Unbalanced discussions on a particular product or service, especially when accompanied by links, email addresses, or other contact information will be strictly prohibited.

Poorly Structured, Watermarked, and Pixelated content

A Video with distorted, warped, or excessively noisy audio, watermarks, or pixelation will be considered low quality. In addition, a Video that has no discernible value independent of your other Hub content will not be acceptable. If you encounter problems in your video file after the uploading process, please do not hesitate to contact us – it may be a bug!

Content that is not recorded in English

Content that is primarily recorded in a language other than English, even if it contains subtitles, will not be permitted on HubPages. Tutorials on how to communicate in a foreign language may be permitted, as long as the majority of the content is spoken in English.

Purely Personal content

HubPages is a wonderful place to find others with similar backgrounds and interests that you share. We ask that you reserve diary entries, whether video or written, for your personal blog.

Content that infringes on copyright

If you are not sure that you have the rights to use the content you are publishing on HubPages, do not publish it! Copyright issues are complex, so we encourage you to brush up on copyright rules before using any media that you did not create from scratch.

How HubPages Moderation Works

Moderation Work Flow I attended a launch party for a new user generated content startup here in San Francisco three months ago. I asked one of the co-founders how they were going to handle undesirable content. His answer was to make the platform as open as possible and use automated systems to take down rules violations. He figured that they would eventually need to get a part-time person, perhaps an intern, to help review the more tricky issues. He even used the dreaded word “outsource” to describe what would happen if the site outgrew this process. His response was not an outlier. This is an unfortunate and common approach to content moderation among budding web companies. Having no plan for consistently and thoroughly enforcing a website’s Terms of Service results in user confusion and advertiser dissatisfaction. Maintaining a high standard of quality for a large user generated content site requires a dedicated, trained team of moderators.

The HubPages moderation team is six people strong, more than enough to handle our current workload and enough time for some of us to take on fun side projects, like being a judge for the HubPatron of the Arts contest. We handle most of the support emails sent through the contact us form, and ensure that at least three moderators are working every day.

Of course, an issue every company has to face is scalability. To review all 1,700 Hubs published every day, our moderation team would have to become larger than the full staff of HubPages. For a scrappy startup, growing a single department to this size is not possible.

To help bring the review process to scale, our engineers have built many wonderful and fabulous tools. First, they created several automated systems that run at all times. Our main system is affectionately known as the Maddie Bot, so named for Maddie Ruud, the HubPages Community Manager and first dedicated content moderator. Along with the Maddie Bot, we have over 40 filters that crawl all content on HubPages as it is created. These filters are fed words from several sources, including moderators who notice a pattern of negative behavior associated with a word or phrase (“umpteenth” is favorite of article spinners, for example). Anything the filter feels is suspicious may generate a warning for the author, and will be flagged for our review if it is published.

Another tool that might look familiar to Hubbers is the Moderation Hopper. Though it shares some DNA with the Hub Hopper, it is much more robust. This hopper is a HubPages moderator’s home base. From this tool, a moderator is taken to a flagged hub, where the content is reviewed and a moderation decision is entered into the database. Once this decision is saved, the moderator is taken to the next Hub in the queue automatically. This repeats until all the Hubs have been cleared, moderated, or republished.

Unfortunately, moderators and our trusty robots can only do so much. Along with our automated systems, we rely on Hubbers who familiarize themselves with the rules and flag content for moderator review. These flags are necessary for ensuring HubPages remains a high-quality option for authors seeking an open publishing platform.

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 (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!