When I first started writing for HubPages a couple of months ago, I was under the impression that they were looking for writers who had some expertise in a particular knowledge area and the skills to put together informative, well-written articles. I still believe that this is the kind of person that HubPages is looking for; however, it may not be representative of what they’ve got. I’ve noticed a lot of good and bad on HubPages, and I’ll bet you have too.
HubPages is a lot like Wikipedia in some ways. Articles can be generated by anyone. You do not have to be an authority on anything to write an article on it. A Hubber could be a true, credentialed expert, an untrained “enthusiast” or a complete loon. Different people have different motivations for writing. My own personal motivation is professional. As an unemployed professional, I need a forum for my work so I can keep my name out in the open, demonstrate that I am keeping current in my profession, and hopefully catch the eye of a prospective employer. It is in my best interests to write as well as I can on relevant topics. Others may be motivated differently. Some may want to vent and therefore use HubPages as a blog. Some may be looking for publicity for their business ventures and use it as a cheap way to advertise. Whatever the motivation, it will have a direct impact on the information quality of the article.
HubPages authors are not necessarily anonymous. The good ones will tell you a little bit about themselves. The really good ones will tell you the basis of their expertise. Look at my profile. The first thing you see is my credentials. I am quite open about who I am and why I write. I use my real name as my Hubber ID. If a Hubber won’t tell you much, be suspicious.
How to determine if a hub is a good source of information
1. Language usage: Is the article written professionally, using good English, or is it full of subject/verb disagreement, misspellings, run-on sentences, and paragraphs that seem to go on forever without coming up for air? These are all indicators of a poor article.
2. Opinion: It’s OK to write an opinion piece, but there are right and wrong ways to do it. A good opinion piece keeps a calm and rational tone, builds arguments logically, citing information sources, and leads to a logical conclusion. A poor opinion piece is a rant, with very little supporting evidence, lots of text in ALL CAPS and more than the normally accepted number of exclamation points. I have seen very poor pieces by authors with whom I tend to agree, and very good pieces from people with whom I strenuously disagree. A good, high quality opinion piece is not contingent on point of view, as long as it is well-presented.
3. Length: Good, complete information is usually found in more than one short paragraph. Enough said.
4. Citations: Magazine-style articles with ideas that come primarily from the author’s head (like this one) do not necessarily need to have citations, however, any that purport to have factual information or take part of their ideas from others should have at least a link to the original source. Some use formal, peer-reviewed journal-style citations. These are great too!
How to help HubPages maintain quality hubs
HubPages, like Wikipedia, is partially self-policed, meaning that members assist in ensuring the quality of the site. How can you help? Well, if you’re a registered Hubber, the first place to start is at your own keyboard. Make sure that you write the kinds of articles that somebody would like to read. Avoid introspective, personal pieces that may be of no interest to someone who does not know you personally. Run everything through your spellcheck software, but don’t stop there! Proofread your work at least twice with a critical eye. If you do not have a perfect command of English, do not just run your article through translation software. Those articles can be spotted a mile away, and believe me, they are impossible to read! A better idea would be to have an excellent speaker/ reader of English proofread your hubs. It’s really a shame that so many people’s good ideas are never read because their translation is poor. Don’t let this happen to you.
Carefully choose the elements other than text that you include in your hubs. Pictures should be original, sharp, well-composed, and relevant to the topic. If the first thing a reader sees is a big, pixilated photo that looks just like that omnipresent, overused Microsoft Office Clip art that we are all sick of seeing, he or she is likely to vote your hub down and move on to the next hub. Consider taking original photos that match the subject matter of your hubs. For example, when I was writing my article on medical patient issues, I took a picture with my cell phone camera of the room where my husband receives his treatments. It was a simple picture but it’s my original work, it exists nowhere else on the internet, and it goes well with the article.
Don’t overload your article with ads. A light touch will serve you well here. If you use Amazon, try to display only products that are very relevant to your subject matter. When I mention a book in an article, for example, I often have my Amazon capsule display that book only, or just a few books that are related to the topic. Keep all of the other revenue sources to a minimum. Remember that the point is to have a high-quality article that people will want to read. If nobody reads your article, there is zero chance that you’ll make any money from it.
Another way for Hubbers to help keep quality high is to Hub Hop! On your “my account” page, click “Help us out, hop some hubs.” This will take you to several hubs randomly. Read each hub and, if its quality is severely lacking, flag it. You’ll have to explain why you flagged it, of course, but bringing poor quality hubs to the attention of the staff is an important way of ensuring the quality of the site, as well as the reputation of HubPages and YOUR hub! If you see particularly good articles, vote ’em up! Consider writing a brief comment letting the author know you appreciate the great article! Make it a habit to hub hop often. Finally, reward authors who consistently produce good hubs by following them. This will indicate that they are well regarded by the HubPages community.
So, the question remains: Is HubPages a good source of information? I’d have to say “It depends.” I have seen good, well-written, authoritative articles on HubPages; in fact there are some scholarly articles with good citations. Unfortunately there is a lot of trash too. Like Wikipedia, HubPages may be a good “jumping off” point for further research. If you trust an author’s credentials and references, make your own decision about using the information in your work. Remember that citing resources from the open web is always risky.
I’d love to hear from others about how they have used HubPages in research or other work. Feel free to comment with your own experiences!
Wendy S. Wilmoth, MLIS is a librarian, independent researcher and doctoral student.
Levertis Steele from Southern Clime on August 02, 2013:
I am looking at two of your points.
1. "A Hubber could be a true, credentialed expert, an untrained “enthusiast” or a complete loon."
:D. Got to love them. Most of them do try.
2. "So, the question remains: Is HubPages a good source of information?"
Yes and No. HubPages is full of the good and not-so-good
I agree with you that HubPages has piles of great information, along with a lot of junk.
This is the good I see in HubPages:
I like informative hubs that can be easily tested and used (i.e., recipes, how-to essays)
I like literature (poetry, short stories, and other genres of literature.)
I enjoy interesting personal experiences.
I like hubs about places to visit, along with great illustrations.
I enjoy hubs about interesting people, animals, and exotic plants/flowers.
I like hubs about the strange/the unusual and the unbelievable.
I like hubs about the outdoors (land, sea, forest, mountains, and the sky).
I like hubs that teach frugality (foraging in the outdoors, quick nutritious recipes that cost little, family outings with low cost, how to budget and save).
The very controversial hubs can be a mess when hubbers and commentators get out of control.
Some hubs about social, universal, and personal issues can be more opinionated than researched and may not be considered reliable.
Very interesting hub!
Wendy S. Wilmoth (author) from Kansas on December 27, 2012:
Calculus, I totally agree! Those are my pet peeves too!
Belita Lynum on August 20, 2011:
I'm so glad I found your article! This should be a "must read" for people like me who are considering becoming hubbers. Great Job and very informative.
Wendy S. Wilmoth (author) from Kansas on August 06, 2011:
Tricia Mason from The English Midlands on July 06, 2011:
Interesting to read, and very clear and informative!
That's how all hubs should be :)
Wendy S. Wilmoth (author) from Kansas on May 03, 2011:
Yes. I hate seeing the endless "how to make money onlne" articles, and try to write about unique topics of which I have some knowledge. I agree that too many people consider Wikipedia to be the be-all and end-all of information sources (see my article on Wikipedia). I too am frustrated at HubPages' scoring algorithm, especially as it concerns articles I've already written that do not change, but their scores change daily! I can't understand why an article that does not change has a higher quality value one day than the next. I'm beginning to suspect that HP really is a content farm after all. I haven't given up quite yet, though. Thanks for your thoughtful comments!
writeronline on May 03, 2011:
More quality work, Wendy. Well done.
As one of those writers whose work you "don't always agree with", but "think is written well",(from your fanmail, thankyou), and also sharing approximately the same time Hubbing as you, I must say that I'm more than disappointed at the enormous disconnect between what HP tells us (insists on reminding us), constitutes a 'quality Hub that will rate'; and the reality of much of what they happily publish, every day. Which apparently rates its tail off.
That's not to say the site doesn't have an enormous body of very good, and very helpful work. I'm just disappointed that it continues to be swamped by new stuff, that isn't. My particular peeve, is the endless stream of "How do I write to earn?" questions from people, who, if they took just a moment to check the site resources, would find all kinds of potentially beneficial answers. Like this article of yours.I tried to add more to that, with a new hub the other day. But, I doubt it will rate; it requires an attention span of more than 2.5minutes...
As to your comments about questioning (as a reader)whether you're finding reliable information, I think that's part of what I find aggravating. These days, you can 'be what you say you are' online, no proof or evidence required. And people settle for that.
For example, I wrote a hub with questions about Carbon,CO2 and Climate Change, which began an interesting dialogue in the comments section, from people with considered views. I also received a curtly dismissive comment, which annoyed me so much I deleted it, saying "What a waste of space this all is. If you want answers, it's already published (sic)on Wikipedia."
To me, that would be the blind being led by the partially-sighted. But I wouldn't be surprised to find it really is the information source for many of our politicians...
Anyway, keep up the good fight. I'm still trying myself. Cheers.
Wendy S. Wilmoth (author) from Kansas on April 16, 2011:
You are too kind. I love helping people navigate the sea of information. I guess that's why I became a librarian!
Alejandro Paci from Mumbai on April 16, 2011:
Informative, suggestive and a qualitative-ly written. This should be made 'the article' in the hubpages home page. Voted up and useful.
Wendy S. Wilmoth (author) from Kansas on April 16, 2011:
JS Matthew from Massachusetts, USA on April 16, 2011:
Great Hub! You tell it like it is.
Ghost32 on April 11, 2011:
Nicely done. I break about half of the rules you mention on a regular basis, but at least I do it knowingly.(Or is that WORSE?! LOL!)
Had to get some ALL CAPS in there....
Voted Up, Useful, and Awesome.
Wendy S. Wilmoth (author) from Kansas on April 03, 2011:
Thanks for the vote of confidence!
Sherri from Southeastern Pennsylvania on April 03, 2011:
PS: Voted up and useful, and "Like" on fb, too.
Sherri from Southeastern Pennsylvania on April 03, 2011:
This is one of those Hubs that ought to be a must read for anyone who wants to publish here. I applaud you for taking a stand and speaking out in a well-written persuasive piece.
Wendy S. Wilmoth (author) from Kansas on March 31, 2011:
Thanks for your comment!
Audrey Selig from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on March 30, 2011:
Very useful hub. You have learned much information in two months and are willing to voice your opinions. I admire that in you. You write from your academic experience. Thanks for sharing.
Wendy S. Wilmoth (author) from Kansas on March 30, 2011:
daravuthz from Cambodia on March 30, 2011:
Thank for sharing Wendy, vote up and useful :)
Wendy S. Wilmoth (author) from Kansas on March 29, 2011:
Thanks, furnitureman! I really love helping people navigate the sea of information. I like your carpentry articles too. When I get some spare tme I may build something.
furnitureman from Manila, Philippines on March 29, 2011:
Very well written, Wendy. I read it from start to finish and I really have digested everything. Thanks for the tutorials and your professional advice for all of us, especially for me since I am new to this field. Voting up. Very useful hub. By the way, thanks for following me. More power and may God bless all your efforts.