Kate Swanson wrote her first novel at 15, created her first blog in 2006 and has been writing for profit, and creating websites ever since.
Like any site which involves public participation, HubPages has some unwritten - and unofficial - "rules". It can be confusing for a newbie, because different groups on HubPages have different versions of those rules!
These first few rules apply to everyone:
If you're trying to make money online, self-promotion is vital - but the social side of HubPages is a promotion-free zone. It's meant to be a refuge from all that! Promoting yourself to our small community has little or no impact on earnings anyway.
It's rude to:
- Post comments on Hubs which include a link to your own Hub, website or blog.
- Post Fan Mail to a Hubber which includes a link.
- Create forum posts which include a link, except in the "Improving Your Hub" forum.
If you post links in your comments, the Hubber will likely deny them anyway. By all means mention you've written a related Hub, but let the Hub owner decide whether it's worthy of a link.
In a similar vein, it's impolite to:
- Sign up to follow hundreds of Hubbers indiscriminately.
- Send emails to other Hubbers asking them to follow you.
- Create forum threads asking Hubbers to follow you.
- Create multiple forum threads in quick succession just to get noticed.
It's fine to open more than one account at HubPages. For instance, you may have one account where you write on serious business subjects and one for your writings on sexy lingerie.
It's not acceptable to have multiple accounts, if the purpose is to whip up contentious debates with yourself on the forums, to comment on your own Hubs, or to follow yourself. Such alter egos are called sockpuppets and regarded as the lowest form of life on HubPages.
Horses for Courses
The "rules" above apply to all Hubbers. But every now and then, you'll see other etiquette "rules" being discussed in the forums. That's because different people use HubPages for different purposes.
There are two main Hubber "types", so let's look at why their paths diverge when it comes to etiquette.
Many writers join HubPages to be part of the writers' community. For them, being a Hubber is about gaining readership and respect within a supportive community. These "social Hubbers" set very high standards of etiquette. For them, politeness means you must:
- Read, rate and comment on Hubs as often as possible
- Reply to every comment that is left on your Hubs, even if it's only "thank you"
- Interact in the forums
- If someone follows you, follow them back (unless they're clearly a spammer).
Social Hubbers tend to set great store by comments, accolades and followers, partly for their own sake, but also because they think they're helping each other make more money on HubPages. In fact, these features do not help generate income in any way whatsoever.
Social Hubbers typically earn less income, because they're not focussing on their paying audience, which is outside HubPages.
That's why what I'll call "business Hubbers' are less likely to follow the social Hubbers' demanding etiquette. And that's where it's important to remember that politeness also means respecting the way other people use HubPages.
There is also a large (but less visible!) group of people who join HubPages as a way to earn a living online. Of course, they don't rely on Hubs alone - though I do know one Hubber who pays her rent with them (Relache).
These Hubbers think of HubPages as their workplace, and behave accordingly.
Think about how you behave at work. Of course you want to socialize with your colleagues, and help them out when they need it - but if you're going to spend all day chatting over coffee, your business won't make any money, will it?
There's a good chance you've never heard of the highest-earning Hubbers, because you rarely see them commenting on Hubs or following other Hubbers. They're too busy working! And that's OK! They're not anti-social: many of them, like Darkside, are very helpful to newbies in the forums. But they've grasped an important rule:
Your customers are outside HubPages. Time spent in the HubPages community is time spent ignoring your customers!
Respecting Each Other
I've explained the two extreme Hubber "types", but most Hubbers are somewhere in between.
Even the most disciplined "business" Hubber enjoys a break from the hard work of Hubbing to browse a few Hubs or forum threads, make a comment or two or help out a newbie Hubber. And many "social" Hubbers are also hoping to make some money from their Hubs.
So the two types of Hubber often find themselves interacting, which can lead to some friction. Social Hubbers can get upset if they leave a comment and no one thanks them, or if they follow someone and aren't followed back, whereas business Hubbers can't see how they've offended!
Neither side should feel pressured to change - but both sides need to understand and respect each other's right to use HubPages in a way that suits their own needs.
Martha Bienert from Tempe, Arizona, USA on April 26, 2017:
I'm a newbie and this is the second article I've read, and it is Very Helpful! Thank you! I read some comments, too. I agree with Peachy that an important thing about this site is the polite language. I realized that That is the reason I'm taking a serious look at this community. You all come forward as intelligent, thoughtful, and polite people! So happy to be here!
Jim Laughlin from Connecticut on March 21, 2017:
Good Hub. I was totally unaware of the etiquette. I find it very interesting, though.
NuIfEm on May 04, 2016:
Its important to show good etiquette, so that we can get along with other hubbers. Thanks, Marisa for sharing this information =]
The Write Life from The United States on December 18, 2015:
Very well written. Thanks for sharing!
Charito Maranan-Montecillo from Manila, Philippines on July 30, 2015:
Thanks for these guidelines, Ms. Marisa! I was formerly with Squidoo, but I hope to find my right place here on HubPages.
McKenna Meyers on July 02, 2015:
Thanks for sharing your knowledge. I like Hubpages because most everyone is positive, supportive, and helpful. I get so sick and tired of the nasty comments written on other sites. It's nice to have a forum like Hubpages for sharing information and ideas.
skperdon from Canada on July 02, 2015:
Thank you for writing this hub Marisa. I am going to read it again to make sure that I haven't missed any of your tips.
Jay De Ocampo from Philippines on July 01, 2015:
I'm new here and glad this article is the first thing I've read. I think the rules and etiquette guide said in the post is right, every online community have rules and we have to respect that so we can have some harmony :)
peachy from Home Sweet Home on February 07, 2015:
getting along with hubbers takes a lot of patience and no vulgar words scatter across
Kathy McGraw from California on September 19, 2014:
This sounds very much like the platform I was writing on. You have the people that spend all day in the forums, then those that go to be helpful a bit and leave. You have those that beg, borrow and whatever for followers, and as you said are the Social ones, and those that no one barely knows as they go about their business. I appreciate reading how it works over here, so thank you!
Kalafina on September 16, 2014:
So glad to read this. Within a few days I got a follower who said 'glad you are here. Check out my Hubs. I am sure you will find something to enjoy. Then included a link to their hubs.' I was a bit miffed and upset over their behavior. Makes one feel a bit cheap, like all you are is a potential click. Especially when the rest of the message gave the impression they had not so much as glanced at anything other than membership time. You don't have to read a single of my hubs but at least glance at a few titles. Maybe we both love travel or have health issues. Who knows? Thank you for this Hub. It feels good to know that their behavior is not HP worthy etiquette.
Tanya Jones from Texas USA on September 13, 2014:
I came across this hub when I first migrated over from Squidoo. It's a nice addition to my list of helpful links for Squids making the journey as well. It's always very helpful to learn the culture and timbre of a community. Love the hub.
Fay Favored from USA on August 17, 2014:
Thanks for the information. I've been reading posts here to get a feel of how Hub Pages works and this has been helpful.
William Leverne Smith from Hollister, MO on August 16, 2014:
For sure! Nice summary. I've found what you say as true, as I've explored the site and lived with the site, for some time now. Thank you for sharing. Very useful! ;-)
Sunil Kumar Kunnoth from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India) on August 01, 2014:
It is a good hub with informative and useful tips. I do endorse your view that "you've never heard of the highest-earning Hubbers, because you rarely see them commenting on Hubs or following other Hubbers" for I know a hubber very personally who behaves that way. I don't wish to name the hubber here but who has got an accolade for 10 Millions! I am happy that most of your tips are what I am already following. Thanks for sharing.
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on July 27, 2014:
@ChristinS, that's why I wrote this Hub. People have no right to be offended if you don't thank them for a comment or give a reciprocal comment - they just need to realise that you are a business Hubber not a social Hubber, and respect everyone's right to use HubPages in a way that works for them!
Christin Sander from Midwest on July 27, 2014:
I completely agree. I've tried to be more social as I have offended a few people in the past with lack of comments on their hubs after they commented on mine etc. It's not that I'm intentionally being rude or unappreciative; just trying to manage my time well. When you get hundreds or in your case thousands of followers, there's simply no way to keep up with every single hub all of them publish! Thanks for the great hub on etiquette.
Pollyanna Jones from United Kingdom on July 27, 2014:
Thank you for this great guide. As a newcomer to HubPages, I found it very informative and useful. Voted up!
Kathleen Odenthal from Bridgewater on March 29, 2014:
Very informative hub containing pertinent information if you would like to succeed here at hubpages. Thank you for this piece and I look forward to reading more from you!
Amie Butchko from Warwick, NY on February 03, 2014:
Thanks, Marissa. Your hub has taught me a lot of things I really just didn't realize about writing on HP. I think I will be a better hubber for this.
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on December 28, 2013:
@B. Leekley, I missed one of your questions.
The original purpose of following was to be notified of new Hubs by writers you admire. However, some "social" Hubbers now see it as "friending" rather than following, and see it as a courtesy to follow everyone who follows them, even though they may have no intention of reading their work.
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on December 28, 2013:
@B. Leekley, it's all about keyword density, and it's less important than it used to be, because Google places less emphasis on that now. The idea is that your Hub needs to have a good proportion of words related to your topic, to ensure Google understands the purpose of your Hub. If you then add lots of comments which include NO words related to your topic, you're diluting your content.
By "meaningful" I mean, contributing to the discussion. "Excellent" or "thanks" shows appreciation but contributes nothing meaningful. Also single-word comments are often used by attention-seekers and are therefore viewed with suspicion.
Brian Leekley from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on December 28, 2013:
Up, Useful, and Interesting. I am thankful for this hub and its many very good points.
Please clarify, "Too many meaningless comments dilutes the keywords on the hub." Thanks. Why would someone write something that is meaningless? Depending on what I have to say to express my reaction, my comments are on a spectrum from practically an essay to one word, such as, "Excellent!" but they are all meaningful. Also, what does the content of its comments have to do with the contents of the hub? Have you explained this relationship in another of your hubs, or do you know if there has been a forum discussion about it?
I follow hubbers whose work I admire a lot for one reason or another. Is there a reason to follow hubbers whom one is unlikely to read?
I wish that HubPages would add a checkbox feature that when checked would make a comment "for your eyes only." That would be handier than writing an email, or than adding a "read and delete" note to a comment, to call attention to a typo or other easily corrected error.
Yves on October 10, 2013:
Congratulations on your hubbie award! I am so glad I found this article. I had no idea about the social hubber vs. the business hubber. I had thought that we must always be social--that this was the whole point of Hubpages. Now I see that I was quite wrong with regard to the whole money making thing. This is not to say I will no longer socialize, but I will now begin steering my focus toward the business avenue without worrying about the accolades, etc. (Although I love accolades and they do provide incentive to keep writing.)
Anyway, I appreciate your having helped me. Up, useful, awesome.
Audrey Selig from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on September 30, 2013:
Hi Marisa - I wanted to read this article to see if I have been doing all the right things in the community. Thank you for writing such a thorough hub and a fantastic read. I noticed an interesting comment about how to tell a hubber ways to improve. I read an article recently filled with text and no photos or videos. I felt free to mention those items. Several people have mentioned ways to improve my hubs in comments, and I appreciated those suggestions. You have been such a help to me and others in the forums and are able to remember so much information. I appreciate those teaching skills. Good luck in your endeavors. Audrey
Geoff Morova from South Dakota on July 07, 2013:
Great Hub! Thanks a lot for the useful info.
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on May 22, 2013:
It's a delicate issue, Marsha. You can send the Hubber an email (go to their profile, clickon "fan mail" and look for "send [hubber's name] an email". However, that means you reveal your email address to the Hubber, which may or may not be a good idea. One option is to create a separate email address specially for that purpose.
The other option is to write a comment on the Hub, giving your feedback and finishing with, "please feel free to delete this comment once read, as it is not intended for any eyes but your own". Most experienced Hubbers have their comments set so they don't appear until they're approved, meaning the comment will never be visible to anyone if the Hubber deletes it.
Marsha Musselman from Michigan, USA on May 20, 2013:
One thing that I've been curious about is whether there is a place on a particular hubber's page to leave private comments? When I see problems with punctuation or similar issues it's hard not to bring those up, but I know that many would not want others to read what is said.
Although I joined hubpages several years ago, I only wrote my first hub last week, so I'm still learning my way around.
I plan on checking out some of your other hubs. I found this by reading some of your comments on one of the forums.
RTalloni on May 03, 2013:
So interesting and useful. Thanks for sharing insights and info that help us think through the issues!
Susan Bailey from South Yorkshire, UK on April 27, 2013:
Some good points here Marisa. I'm not sure which category I fall into. I blow hot and cold on the commenting and following people thing
Ceres Schwarz on April 12, 2013:
Thanks for the useful information especially for new hubbers like me who are still continually learning more about HubPages. I agree with what you said about respect. Whether one is a "business'" hubber or a social networker, what is important is for everyone to respect each other.
Anna Haven from Scotland on March 04, 2013:
Great information for a new person and explained clearly. Thankyou.
Agnes on December 31, 2012:
I am new here, but I already love HubPages, and its community. Great hub: a lot of information, very useful tips - thanks!
Chen on December 26, 2012:
So very informative, this is another great hub. Everyone should read this. Glad I did, now I don't have to worry about accidentally making any Hub faux pas. Thanks so much.
Laustk on April 12, 2012:
Really a great Hub :-) Thx for sharing
Alexander Silvius from Portland, Oregon on November 30, 2011:
This is THE hub to cover the issue of HP etiquette, thank you. I have a hard time recognizing change, and my forum thread was partially in reaction to not understanding the evolution of HP.
In the beginning (I mean, when I joined 3 years ago), HP made it clear that although you could make money, it wasn't a lot. Now, there are people who make a living here. I also want to be one of those people, but the sad fact is that an aspiring HP writer has to give up the idea that one must be completely involved in the social life of HP. I will still try, but passing another small milestone as to the number of followers I have is pushing me toward the capitalist end of things. Good to know it is an acceptable change.
Very wise words Marisa.
Mike's Corner from Maryland on February 04, 2011:
Very helpful hub for a new hubber like myself, Marisa, thanks for the great info.
Pat Abbott from Wales on January 20, 2011:
I'm brand new here and found this information really useful so, thanks!
Sam from Tennessee on November 28, 2010:
voted up & beautiful! Thanks for this informative hub and the explanation of the different types of users.
RocketCityWriter from Alabama on November 19, 2010:
Thanks for the hub, I've been wondering about etiquette and the demographic of HP since I started and this covered them both!
Shawn Scarborough from The Lone Star State on August 03, 2010:
This is a great hub. Thanks for taking the time to put this information together.
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on July 12, 2010:
@internetwriter, my point is that those two things can be opposites: if you spend a lot of time being a social Hubber, you'll get traffic from other Hubbers, but the HubPages community is only small. You won't start making good money until 80% or 90% of your traffic is coming from outside HubPages.
Internetwriter62 from Marco Island, Florida on July 12, 2010:
Thanks Marisa, that hub was an eye opener, I'm kind of a social hubber that wants to have lots traffic. I agree, we all need to respect one another, after all it takes all kinds. You give excellent advice.
Rebecca E. from Canada on June 09, 2010:
Marisa- I have to admit, this is an awesome, and I;ll say this for me, I am used to be social hubber, the one who wrote hubs simply to write, but the longer I have been here the more I find I am moving towards a new facet, that of a business hubber.
This hub shows me how much I have to learn from the really serious hubbers out there, who make the money they make... I suspect you are included in that list.
George Poe from United Kingdom on April 25, 2010:
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on April 18, 2010:
@FCEtier - you don't "need" to be in the forums - it doesn't contribute to income. You may like to join in the Hub-related threads, though, as there's a lot of opportunity to learn.
No, one sentence isn't sufficient, especially if you're commenting on the Hub of a serious Hubber. Too many meaningless comments dilutes the keywords on the Hub. Write a meaningful comment, or settle for "thumbing up".
Chip from Cold Mountain on April 18, 2010:
Yikes! I'm too new to know about the forums. Maybe I don't need to be there anyway? I do have interests beyond writing so I hope people don't think I'm spamming when I leave a short comment.
Is a one sentence "atta boy/girl" sufficient to recognize someone's writing and let them know that it got read -- without people thinking it's spam?
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on April 18, 2010:
@jstankevicz, someone accused me of misunderstanding your Hub, so I'm pleased you know where I'm coming from! Thanks for the comment. I agree it's all about the balance. The social side of HubPages can be a dangerous diversion if you let it!
jstankevicz from Cave Creek on April 18, 2010:
Thumbs up Marisa! You've done a great service delineating the reasons that people write and read articles. For some it's a hobby, for some it's a business, and of course you can have blended motivations. So there isn't a strict set of rules for behavior, as some seem to think. The forums can be a scary place.
In any event, politeness and civility should be the norm. I've linked to this article on my HubPage on Commenting.
Rafini from Somewhere I can't get away from on April 13, 2010:
Good information - I am finally finding my balance here on HubPages seeing as how I'm not that social to begin with it doesn't make much sense for me to spend a lot of time in the forums. Guess I had to learn for myself, but a hub on the subject would have been welcome.
mega1 on April 13, 2010:
Thank you! We have been talking about these things and needing guidance! Well done!
Duchess OBlunt on April 13, 2010:
Very well said!
Michelle Cesare from New York on April 13, 2010:
Just yesterday I contacted Hubpages about people spamming in my Hubs using the comment section. I enjoy it when someone leaves a comment and when I go to click on their username to visit their profile, I'm then brought to some blog or website. I was informed I can switch the comment section for only Hubbers who are signed in. I also stopped following a couple of Hubbers for this one way of spam. I got aggravated. It ticked me off.
My original goal joining HP was to earn money BUT over time I found a niche I enjoy writing about. I do research and write a Hub about it. I feel if people read my Hubs and decide they like it, there is usually a link to follow within my Hub. There is nothing wrong with writing about what you enjoy but let the reader decide if they want more.
Everything you described here I happen to agree with. Thank you for writing a Hub which shares my opinion about spamming here on Hubpages.
prettydarkhorse from US on April 12, 2010:
I think that you said it all Mam! Etiquette at its best from spamming to following a fellow hubber and I am hearing it all. Thank you and you made it more clearer! Maita
thevoice from carthage ill on April 12, 2010:
bright hub write read thanks
Anath on April 12, 2010:
Happy to see someone wrote this. Some people seem to forget etiquette once they hit their keyboard. It doesn't cost anything to be polite and you can gain a lot from it. Thanks Marissa.
Aya Katz from The Ozarks on April 12, 2010:
Marisa, thanks for making all that clear. I also appreciated your very clear explanation in the forums that the star/fan relationship is usually not mutual or based on reciprocity.
Sandy Mertens from Wisconsin, USA on April 12, 2010:
Thank you for your advice.
TattoGuy on April 12, 2010:
Nice hub Marissa, if only I had read it 10 months ago lol but I have wised up now and am actually enjoying earning money intead of acting the fool. Many congrats on hitting 1,400 fans, proud to be one of them ; )
msorensson on April 12, 2010:
Thank you for writing this, Marisa. Etiquette is common sense but some of us need to be reminded time and again.
Gener Geminiano from Land of Salt, Philippines on April 12, 2010:
Well said Marissa, whew, I passed your criteria and glad I did... I follow back any follower regardless of their score, but from now on I have to be careful because some follower might be spammer. I tried making other accounts but it doesn't last glad it didn't. Its quiet unfair especially when you are arguing in forums with sockpuppets, and that really gave me a bad taste in the mouth. One bad etiquette is by attacking via back door when commenting I think that is unfair too. Yeah sometimes there are some Hubbers that will make some loud noise to promote their wares, hayz its some sort of clean manipulation eh.
Glad you brought this up. Thanks Marissa for this splendid and timely piece you just whipped out.
Buffoon on April 12, 2010:
Hi Marisa. This is useful for a newbie, so thanks. I've spend a few weeks "lurking", shall we say, to get a feel for the site. Somehow, however, stuff tends to look different from the inside than when one's looking in from the outside :-) Thanks again.