Meet the Staff! An Interview with Camille Harris

Camille Harris plays a pivotal role as part of HubPages’ support team (and has also published some fascinating Hubs).

Don’t you wish you knew her a bit better? Now is your chance! Check out Camille’s answers to your interview questions in this latest installment of our Meet the Staff blog series.

Paradigmsearch: Do you get cable?

Nope. I don’t have a TV.

ngureco: Do you ever feel bad when after a hard job you do not receive the recognition and praise that you deserve from Hubbers?

Good question! Initially I felt like there was an undercurrent of negativity directed toward the Moderation team, so it definitely wasn’t the greatest welcome to HubPages. There was no recognition or praise to speak of. As the months go by, I interact with more and more users and do feel appreciated. I have also gained a greater appreciation for how much work goes into writing Hubs and can understand why people get frustrated when their Hubs are moderated. So long story short, I no longer feel bad and instead try to put myself in the Hubber’s shoes.

ngureco: Do you feel challenged when you suspect a certain Hubber may be more conversant than you in some issues to do with HubPages?

This happens quite often, particularly in the Forums. I don’t feel challenged; I’m usually just impressed and inspired to learn more about HubPages.

AEvans: When does your work day begin and when does it end? Do you work 24/7 or ever go through HP withdrawal when you are away from the computer?

I usually begin my day at 5 or 6 AM and end around 5 PM. I don’t work straight through, and instead take a long break around 10 or 11 AM each day. I try to work a few hours on Saturdays and Sundays as well. And nope, no HP withdrawal when I’m not on, although I do often think of all the Hubs I could write that I never get around to.

wordscribe43 : To all: what’s your favorite thing about San Francisco?

Believe it or not, I’m not San Francisco’s biggest fan. I think it’s dirty and people can be a bit closed off here. However, I really appreciate the city’s diversity. One can see women walking in saris, panhandlers, business people, and tourists snapping photos all in the same block. I love the beautiful rainbow flag flying in the Castro and the many festivals we have throughout the year celebrating our diversity. I’ve not experienced this level of heterogeneity anywhere else I’ve traveled.

Marcy Goodfleisch : Another question – when Paul and any of the rest of you come to Austin for SXSW (or anything else), will you PLEASE let those of us who are Hubbing in Austin get together with you?

I was in Austin the last week of March and LOVED it. I actually considered moving there, but we just put down roots in Marin County. Austin is as wonderful as everyone says – you’re lucky to live there, Marcy!

Meet the Staff! An Interview with Matt Meyer

One reason why HubPages is a splendid site is that Hubs are carefully monitored and cared for by a skilled team of moderators. One of these all-important protectors is Matt Meyer, who is the next subject in our Meet the Staff interview series!

We’ve given Matt some of the questions you offered to HubPages staff members in the forums. We hope you enjoy Matt’s answers and come away appreciating the cool people who are responsible for the high quality content we have all come to expect on HubPages.

What do you love about your job? What do you hate (or love a whole lot less)? – Marcy Goodfleisch

I dig the variety of experience and areas of expertise that each Hubber brings to their writing. I see something that I didn’t know much about almost every day. I really do not like spun content!

If you could give Hubbers one piece of advice, what would it be? -wordscribe43

Write about what you know and enjoy, not what you think will get more traffic.

Do you still watch cartoons? What cartoons do you like to watch? -prettydarkhorse

I am a fan of animation and created some short animated films years ago. I used to watch the Sunday Fox shows, but have tired of them a bit. I currently watch The Life and Times of Tim and Bob’s Burgers. I need to watch Akira again!

What is your comfort food? -ripplemaker

I love tater tots and MorningStar Farms’ BBQ Riblets (they are kind of like a vegan version of the McRib) even though Riblets contain wood pulp! I am also a sucker for most anything with peanut butter. Fried peanut butter and jelly anyone?

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.