Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Paul Edmondson: Will HubPages Be Sold?

Recently, Paul Edmondson (CEO of HubPages) announced the end of subdomains. And frankly, I'm surprised that no one has openly asked him if he plans to sell the HubPages domain in the near future.

"They are too scared to ask if HubPages is up for sale soon" satirical drawing of Paul Edmondson by RoseWrites
Satirical cartoon of Paul Edmondson explaining how Hubbers are "too afraid" to ask if HubPages will be up for sale soon and how surprised he is that his TOU is null and void. © 2015 RoseWrites / All rights reserved (Click to enlarge)

The same people keep chiming in (in the HubPages' forum) about how good it will be to have all these "silos" and that the reader is given more information by replacing the author's pen name with a category.

Weird – because the URL probably already contains the topic information. If I'm going to write about an automobile, you can bet that I'll put the name of it in my title (URL).

Oh and it looks like original authors will have less statistical information about their Hubs. Paul Edmondson stated:

"Hubbers will no longer see data about their content consolidated in GSC (Google Search Console), but they can add specific URLs if they choose."


Oddly enough, only a couple of people have made mention of how much traffic they lost when their work underwent "editing" by HubPages or when their work reverted back to the HubPages domain via Editor's Choice.

Yes, now every Hub author is automatically opted-in to the Editor's Choice program.

Earlier this year, I wrote HubPages: The Truth Behind Editor's Choice and found a startling difference between what Paul Edmondson reported and what numerous Hub authors found to be true.

Main points:

  • An average loss of traffic of about 50 percent
  • Loss of income (related to loss of traffic)
  • High bounce rates
  • Loss of link juice from 301 redirects
  • Inability to track the statistics for your entire subdomain
  • Loss of author identity
  • Loss of Google author rank
  • NEW: Loss of having featured Hubs in a given category*

*Interestingly enough, I found out that only "a few Hubs are shown over and over" in some (all?) categories. Because when DrMark1961 inquired, Matt (HubPages' staff) replied:

". . . we do not show all Hubs on a subject, but only those that meet specific criteria."

Gee, I wonder what that "specific criteria" is?

I'm guessing it's the "Editbot-fixed abandoned content" that Robin Edmondson confirmed they keep on the platform. (The Edmondsons don't need to share any revenue with the original author on those).

Will HubPages Be Up For Sale?

I think it's definitely something that might happen. According to Wikipedia, as of December 7th, 2013 (before the importation of Squidoo content with and without authors' consent), HubPages had 73,969 published users.

Those published users, I'm sure, wanted to be paid. And since only "active" Hubbers are eligible to receive their deserved earnings, that meant over 70,000 people have surrendered their tax information to HubPages (who doesn't require it, according to the IRS).

Hmm, that's a "hot database" that I'm sure will command all kinds of attention and bids if HubPages is for sale.

Should Hubbers Try to Get Their Author Content Removed From HubPages?


You can cite how once the law is broken (re: HubPages - Squidoo deal) that any contract you are entered into is null and void. You are not required to uphold any contract with a company that breaks the law.

In a post by Van Thompson titled Laws Concerning Unethical Business Practices & Breaches in Contracts, it states:

"An unethical business practice that is legally prohibited may be a breach of contract, but could also be a legal violation that nullifies all or part of your contract."

Which means: YES, you CAN remove author content from the Service. And YES, you ARE entitled to ALL of your deserved earnings.

1) Cite my Consumer Affairs complaint (which is permanently and publicly available). It has garnered 25,766 views and 46 "helpful" votes to date.

2) You can also reference my complaint (NO: 61039505) which was accepted by the Federal Trade Commission on April 9th, 2015.

3) Call (it's FREE) the California State Attorney General's Whistleblower Hotline at: 1-800-952-5225 and explain the situation to them.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Will Google Compromise? Implications of the HubPages' Editbot

Anything automated that is used to trick search engines eventually becomes punishable by Google.

And so it should.

There are plenty of devoted writers and researchers online that are willing (and happy) to produce fresh, updated, relevant, useful content. Really.

Cartoon of how search engines will be fooled by the HubPages' Editbot by RoseWrites
Click to enlarge: Satirical cartoon of how search engines will be fooled by
the edits and tweaks of the new HubPages' Editbot © RoseWrites / All rights reserved 

So, I'm beside myself right now wondering how the HubPages' Edibot can be implemented (without penalty) to tweak ANY content on the HubPages website without the prior approval of original authors.

Software can be implemented that simply notifies an author of "suggested edits" – we already have it.

So why would HubPages need (or want) to use Edibot?

It's clear.

Robin Edmondson stated March 23rd, 2015 in a forum post (since removed), but I kept a screenshot:

"... some of the accounts we are editing are abandoned."

And by "abandoned" she means "inactive."

Inactivity – according to the HubPages Terms of Use means ANY of four conditions. And, here's the kicker: you forfeit any and ALL of your earnings if these apply to you.

1) No change to your earned balance for over six months (so, if you have $100 sitting for 6 months plus a day, HubPages doesn't "roll it over" – they keep it).

2) Your account has expired tax information (even though the IRS made it clear that HubPages does NOT need it). To make matters worse, in this recent InfoBarrel forum thread, I cited proof that one person could not even obtain food stamps "because she filled out tax information" for HubPages and unfortunately "a pay statement needed to be submitted." Sadly, she hadn't even made the minimum $50 payout on HubPages.

And herein lies the proof that Google needs (and I corrected the Wikipedia page) that HubPages' first email to ALL former Squidoo authors qualifies as PHISHING.

That email stated:

"Welcome to HubPages! We are thrilled to have you join our community. We just finished importing ..."

Wait, I didn't join. Do you see how manipulative the wording is? This is phishing. Why? Because further along you must do four things to access YOUR content and collect YOUR deserved earnings.

Yes, both your content and earnings were kept from you, until you permanently joined HubPages.

What? Permanently join?

Yes, also in the HubPages' Terms of Use (as I explained in this InfoBarrel forum thread):

"You may not remove your author content from the Service."

So, you see, not only were Squidoo authors under duress to join HubPages (or forfeit their final pay from Squidoo), but writers had no idea that they needed to permanently join HubPages AND surrender their current tax information (including SSNs) simply to access their own content and earnings.

And those are just two (of the four) conditions that the Edmondsons feel makes an author "inactive."

Back to Edibot and What Google Needs to Consider

On October 12th, 2015, I asked in the AdSense Help Forum if what Matthew Meyer had posted 2 weeks ago in the HubPages forum was true. Oddly, no one responded for a week! So, I asked the follow up question: 

"Can someone from Google (at least) confirm what Matthew Meyer (HubPages' staff) is claiming? RE: "on-going issue with AdSense's servers"

Guess not.

And it's funny, but Matthew Meyer's latest update (25 hours ago) makes NO MENTION of the AdSense servers. He's carefully worded his update which now reads:

"Google is aware of this issue, but, unfortunately, we do not have an ETA for a fix at this time. There is a message on the AdSense association for profiles to warn of this on-going issue. That message will be removed and this forum will be updated when we have more information regarding Google fixing this issue."

Why do I get the feeling that this is more about Edibot and not AdSense servers?

I sincerely hope (as mentioned in my post Can the HubPages' Editbot Fool Google and the Public) that Google will make it a violation of Webmaster Guidelines to create or edit content that wasn't editorially placed or vouched for (or that was artificially changed) without the prior approval of original authors.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

InfoBarrel Author of the Week: JadeDragon (With Vic Dillinger)

This week, I finally tracked down and was able to interview (with Vic Dillinger's help) the elusive JadeDragon on InfoBarrel

Photo by Philip Shoffner on flickr (CC-by-2.0). Images of Vic Dillinger, RoseWrites, and JadeDragon's avatar (all used with permission) added October 11th, 2015 via Pixlr.
Background photo by Philip Shoffner on flickr (CC-by-2.0). Images of Vic
Dillinger, Me (RoseWrites), and JadeDragon (all used with persmission) 2015

And he, my friends, may just be Canada's answer to The Most Interesting Man in the World (from the Dos Equis beer ads). I knew JadeDragon was a Canadian the second he mentioned in an InfoBarrel forum post that Ed the Sock rocks!

Now with all this testosterone in the room, I tried to keep up with Vic and JadeDragon. So I decided to fly everyone out to JadeDragon's favourite nude beach (read on to learn more).

Begin the Beguine

Bruce Lee image and cropped marquee lettering from Enter the Dragon, 1973, Warner Bros, Fair Use; composite with JadeDragon avatar by Vic Dillinger, 2015 "Enter the Jade Dragon"
"Enter the Jade Dragon" (Bruce Lee 1973
Warner Bros image, Fair Use, composite
JadeDragon avatar by Vic Dillinger, 2015)
Vic: Straight up, you gotta explain your InfoBarrel avatar to the peeps.  When I first encountered it, it led me to conclude you were an Asian chick and that was your baby pic.  I now know you’re a Canadian dude and that’s your offspring’s baby pic, so ’splain that, please.

A: Yes, I'm actually a guy.  Jade is, in fact, my oldest daughter, and that was a recent picture when I started using it. Her bright pink jacket pops on the page and it gives me a kinder, gentler look, so I will not be changing the photo. Jade is in Grade 1 now, and yes she is an amazing girl of mixed race.  While no one in my family is Chinese, I've done business in China, where they gave me the name “Da Long” or “Big Dragon”.  [Hmmmm . . . “da long” . . . eh?—Vic
[Rose grins: Told ya, lots of testosterone.]

The words “Jade Dragon” sound good together—they evoke a rock-solid cultural art object in people's minds—and created a unique online identity for me.  I live in British Columbia, source of much of the world’s jade, which is another interesting tie-in to my online identity.  [That particular factoid was unknown to me.  Did you know that, Rosalita?—Vic] [Rose: Nah, I don't keep track of crap like that Vic, I'm in Toronto].

Rose:  JadeDragon, you immediately struck me as someone who gets to the point and who has a sense of humour. For example, in this forum post someone asked about how to avoid "calls to action." You chimed in with, "The rational [sic] is we want people to stick around for the ads, not click off to some other site ASAP.  Also if calls to action were allowed every other article here would be "Click here right now to my junk site."

Also, you have the Number One article on InfoBarrel’sTop 100: World's Top 10 Most Dangerous Airports.

Vic interjects: What’d you do to tweak that particular article so that it bumped the one by IB Originals (which had, I think, around 20 million views) outta the top spot (where it had lived for, like, a year) so suddenly?  Did it go viral overnight or what?

A: Vic has the #2 spot on the Top 100 as I write this and he wants that #1 spot.  [You better believe I do!! I’ve been there a few times before and I want it back!!—Vic]  However, Vic owns more articles on the Top 100 then the next 3 or 4 authors together, so he is doing well enough.

The Top 100 is a list of the top scoring articles under InfoBarrel's quality scoring algorithm. While the actual scoring system is secret, IB Admin was pretty clear about what they are looking for. I simply took several of my top scoring articles and tweaked them according to IB's published guidelines. One day, weeks later, the algorithm was tweaked (I presume, because I did nothing at the time) and one of my articles hit #1. I also suspect that the IB Admin made an adjustment to their top article that knocked it down the list, so maybe it was not so much what I did but what IB Admin did. 

The actual sequence of articles in the Top 20 is not important, reflecting differences in the fraction of a single point as determined by the algorithm.  I can't say that #1 is better than #15 for example, for they all obviously score well against what IB has decided is the ideal combination of factors. 

Rose: Just so our readers don't think the Top 100 is an old boys' club, women are well-represented on the Top 100 too. Since we're comparing junk size: mommymommymommy has a few, LavenderRose and DebW07 have eight, Yindee has a couple, Amerowolf has a few plus the most homepage features (at a whopping 305). Both classicalgeek and I have one on there – there are probably a few more that I'm missing (but you get my drift).

Academics ’n’ Sech

Vic: I read your item on Constant Content about making bank in the realm of extreme couponing by using discount gift cards as a means of cutting purchase costs.  [An Extreme Couponing Tactic Not Often Discussed.And it was useful; those interested in this kind of extreme shopping should definitely check it out.

Free-use clip art; lettering, airbrushing, and composite by Vic Dillinger, 2015 "Will write for Food!"
"Will Write for Food!" (free-use clip art;
lettering, airbrushing, and composite by
Vic Dillinger, 2015)
Is this the sort of thing for which you truly have a passion, or are you writing more (sometimes) to be SEO friendly (versus actually caring about your topics—I’ve prostituted myself many times for money writing about junk I have not one whit of interest in)?

A: I actually have tried many of the things I write about, include extreme couponing. I rarely write about stuff I find boring, because I'm interested in so many things. I like writing, and do it for fun. The money is a fun way to measure success. 

Vic: So, what are your favorite subjects for articles?

A: Travel, interesting history and places, and financial topics.

Rose is back: What is your educational and/or work background? What was your best job? Your worst one?

A: I'm likely unemployable. I've always worked for myself in business, especially real estate and related businesses.  My BSc is in Business Administration, followed by another year or so worth of other legal and real estate related university courses.  

I try to keep learning all the time, including through a Scout-style group where I'm training for youth leadership. I take a global outlook on life and volunteering so, for example, this week I wrote answer keys that will be used worldwide for helping kids earn patches in tents and viruses.
[Vic: “In tents and viruses”?  Can you elaborate on that?] 
[Rose: I think Hannah Gold would know he meant "badges that can be sewn onto a uniform" for patches. The "tents" and "viruses" must be the topics or subjects, I think. But then again, I never made it out of Brownies.]

Writing: Onward and Upward

Q:  Can you tell us what prompted you to start writing?  And I’ve noticed you haven't been as active on InfoBarrel lately, so I checked out your blog Innovative Passive Income. I found it endearing to read that your number one goal is "Being involved with my daughter growing up—I don’t want to miss her childhood like my father missed mine." How is that going?

A: I've long enjoyed writing, which stems from enjoying reading.  I got into writing online, including blogging, as a way to teach myself SEO and online marketing for use in my conventional businesses. You can't really take a class on this ever-evolving field, so the best way to learn is to do. 

The plan worked; for now, when I deploy my knowledge of internet marketing and SEO, I find my business is far ahead of the local competitors. 

Vic: When you gonna get back to writing on IB again?  [I’m on hiatus there until 4.0 kicks in—I’m tired of my layouts looking like amateur night at a high-school yearbook staff meeting.]

A: I've been too busy in my offline businesses for my blog or writing a lot on InfoBarrel lately.  Everyone experienced a drop in income from online articles about the same time as I got super busy offline, actually. Further, I just can't make the kind of money Pat at Smart Passive Income does off his blog.  Well, maybe I could but I'd need to put a lot more effort into my online business hobby to the neglect of my brick-and-mortar businesses.

Winning an IB Contest took a lot of effort, not something I'll try again. That kind of burned me out on creating lots of content at once.

Q: How did you end up on InfoBarrel?

A: I started writing for revenue share on eHow, but was pretty disgusted with how they treated their writers. I started blogging about the eHow debacle. In the process I ended up finding IB, trying it, and recommending IB to my blog followers. I believe I brought over about 75 writers who used my referral link, most of whom did little or nothing unfortunately. 

Globe Trotter

Rose: After I looked at your articles on IB, I came away thinking, ‘Gee, JadeDragon knows about some of the weirdest and wildest places in the world.’ 

Here are just some of the titles:

And yeah, the first thought I had was 'how many nude beaches has this guy been to?'

A: I LOVE travel, culture, history, and the unusual, perhaps because of all the reading I did as a kid.  I've visited 32 UN countries, 49 US States, 19 Mexican States, and all but one Canadian Province. 

My adventures include getting a rental car stuck in the sand in the middle of nowhere in the UAE, circumnavigating the world west to east.

I've been really close but unable to go to some places I really wanted to. I remember staring wistfully through a chain link fence across the border into Iraq from Kuwait during the Gulf War. I would have gone in but the border was just closing for the night and my travel mates were not up for the adventure. We were surrounded by US forces, including hundreds of humvees on flat decks. My cell phone provider did message me "Welcome to Iraq . . .” and something about roaming access.

Chain link fence photo by  Evil Erin on flickr (CC-by-2.0). JadeDragon's avatar used with permission; talk bubble and text by RoseWrites added October 17th, 2015 via Pixlr.
Background image of chain-link fence by Evil Erin on flickr (CC-by-2.0)
JadeDragon avatar (used with permsiion), talk bubble and text by RoseWrites
I also stood on the shores of Newfoundland in February looking with displeasure at the inaccessible French islands of St Pierre and Miquelon. Before driving out there I failed to figure out the ferry was a seasonal service!

Otherwise if I get close to a border I get across it come hell or high water.  I talked my way into Kalimantan (in Indonesia), only on foot, even though I lacked the pre-issued paper visa required at the remote border post (they lack internet to check passports electronically).  I also accidentally drove into Saudi Arabia with no Saudi visa, no multiple entry visa to return to Kuwait, and no Arabic language ability to get out of that no man’s land. Both the Saudis and the Kuwaiti's decided I was not worth detaining for too long and that the crazy Canadian should leave.

Somewhat Inappropriate Questions (entirely voluntary):

Q: So, tell me how many nude beaches have you been to?

A: My best nude beach escapade was linking up with a Chicago lawyer we met in Montego Bay, traveling to  Negril on Christmas Day, and then bluffing our way into the Hedonism Resort by him making up false friends called the Wallabies.  We arranged a guided tour of the resort on the way back to the beach and our friends. [So, I’m guessing the answer to Rose’s question is “one”?—Vic][Rose chimes in: Vic, obviously he lost count.]

Vic: Rose told me in her interview that a great bad girl moment of hers was when she “dated” The Kings (the whole band). [Not TRUE and nice try deleting my words Vic]. Gimme a bad boy moment of yours, preferably one that led to jail time, deportation, or a rash.

Prison photo by Danny Bradury on flickr (CC-by-2.0). Drawing of prison guard, talk bubble and text by RoseWrites added October 16th, 2015 via Pixlr.
Prison photo by Danny Bradury (CC-by-2.0)
Drawing of prison guard, talk bubble and
text by RoseWrites, 2015
A:  No rashes or diseases, and I've never been deported except by the Saudis but I was asking to be let back out of their giant sandbox.  

I did spend time in a Mexican slammer for a crime I did not commit.  I was strip searched, had my belongings and shoelaces taken (in case I tried to hang myself), and interrogated in several languages.  

I ended up cleaning the holding cell for them, getting permission to order pizza for the guards and myself, chilling in the squad room with a lawyer turned detective who spoke perfect English, and eventually having my accuser charged with obstruction, giving false statements, and other Mexican crimes.

[Now THAT’s a feature film right there, kids!!! GREAT stuff!!!—Vic]

Q: Ever go out all day without wearing underwear (and like it)?  [Not that anyone cares, but I never wear skivs; commando only, and I prefer my wimmen that way, too.]

A: [sound of crickets chirping]

Vic: Got any hobbies other than making gourmet grilled-cheese sandwiches shaped like Canada’s Prime Minister?

Vic Dillinger Creation 2015 "Prime Minister McCheese"
"Prime Minister McCheese" (Vic Dillinger, 2015)

A: I build igloos in July and of course I know your second cousin in Toronto, which is only 4,400 km from my home. 

Rose chimes in: Yeah, when I was a server/bartender, I'd say "a table of four Americans is louder than 10 Canadians." They are (generally) louder, more demanding, but they are also more generous.

Q: What is the most daring thing you've ever done in your life?

A: According to a US Marshal, sleeping in my Jeep in Arizona a few miles north of the border, right on a major drug smuggling route. 

Q: What are your thoughts about the "Free the Nipple" campaign? [My thoughts are clear on that subject—as long as I’m the one picking which nipples get to free-range, then I’m good with it.—Vic]

A: Nipples are a cultural thing, and culture varies by time and place. One of my favorite preachers, when asked about makeup (which some conservative Christians condemn), said famously "If the barn needs painting, paint it." In Canada the courts have found that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms includes the freedom of everyone to go topless.  I support everyone's legal freedoms, but if the barn needs a tarp, tarp it!  [I hear ya!—Vic]

Vic: Got any tattoos?

A: Nope, but I own a tattoo parlor.  (Yes, I am serious).  [Oh, the irony!  You should get some ink, though.—Vic]

Q: As a Canadian do you have any sure-fire ways to ways to pluck a Canadian out of a crowd or telltale signs of an American in your midst (besides being asked if you have any tattoos)?

A: Famous Canadian author Pierre Burton once wrote that the defining characteristic of a Canadian was they are NOT an American. Canadians are the ones that refused to rebel in 1776, rebuffed the American attempt to absorb them in 1812-1814, and continue to maintain a distinct culture and lifestyle while 90% of us live within 100 km of the US border. Any Canadian can be easily spotted in a crowd—just look for the person that seems like a very polite American and speaks with what you incorrectly assume is a Midwestern accent. [Except for those Frenchie Québécois—they’re rude as hell!!—Vic]

Ending Notes by Vic Dillinger

JadeDragon has managed to maintain a positive online presence.  He has helped many a newb get rolling.  He is a true veteran of InfoBarrel, still slogging it out with the rest of us for lo’ these many years.  If you have a chance to stop by and check out his material (whether on IB or elsewhere) do it: you may learn something.

The man does know a thing or two about the world so if he gives you some advice, my advice is: “Take it!”

Thanks, JadeDragon, for all you’ve done for InfoBarrel (and I know there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes, unsung things you’ve done to help), and thanks, in general, for being an all-around good guy.

Even if you are a Canadian. [Remember Vic, you are outnumbered here–Rose].

Rose's Windup

Tune in again next week or catch up whenever you want by checking out my Google Collections: InfoBarrel Author of the Week and InfoBarrel Newbie of the Month.

Funding for A Blog for the Underdog is provided (in part) by my earnings on Zazzle (because I didn't want to spam the h*ll outta my blog). To date, I have 237 "slice of life" and humorous products available for purchase in my Sousababy Zazzle store. Need a special design? Contact me there.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

InfoBarrel Author of the Week: LPerry (With Vic Dillinger)

InfoBarrel Author Vic Dillinger Co-Hosted on Blog for the Underdog
Vic Dillinger Ready for Interviewing
September 2015 (© Vic Dillinger, 2015)
This week I have a special announcement. Not only did I hear back from three amazing InfoBarrel authors, but Vic Dillinger agreed to co-host the show.

And I was tickled by how much he contributed to this interview with the lovely and talented LPerry. Without me even asking, Vic put together four images for this piece.

On the day of the interview, the photo at right is how Vic showed up at the studio: smoking and drinking Rolling Rock.

And yes, his eyepatch looks part of the ensemble – but it's not. Vic recently underwent eye surgery and needs to keep it on for another week.

Vic, we are all wishing you a speedy recovery and continued good health. Ah, keep up with your meds (and booze and smoking, I guess).

Our Special Guest

LPerry Avatar on InfoBarrel / Used With Permission
InfoBarrel Author LPerry
Used With Permission
LPerry is someone who caught my attention in InfoBarrel's forum.

When Seekyt changed hands (again), mommymommymommy (Hannah Gold) posted the news in InfoBarrel's forum.

LPerry's impassioned posts immediately resonated with me. She reminded me of how I felt when Squidoo sold out to HubPages.

I completely understood her rage.

Here's a snippet of what she told us:
"I have 448 articles that I want off that site immediately. They have inserted their AdSense into all my content and locked me out from removing anything."
Well, of course I had to chime in (even though I never joined Seekyt). And in that forum thread I came to revere LPerry.

Getting to Know You

Q: One of the qualities I've noticed you have, LPerry, is putting things into lay terms. And you use analogies. I quite like that quality. I'm guessing that you've had to explain things to morons, many morons (like me). Do you teach? What other occupations have you had? Best one? Worst one?

A: It's funny that you mention teaching.  After my parents declined to accept my ballet ambitions as a real career, I went to college to study Early Childhood Education. I had a very short stint as a Pre-school Teacher, but burned out from having to talk too much. I have had several retail jobs: Woodward & Lothrop, Sears, Montgomery Ward, and Hecht Company for fun money and discounts.

Little by little I drifted into the healthcare field and became a Certified Hospice Aide. The best job I ever had was working for my county hospital making visits to post-op patients, cancer patients, and comforting those who went home to die. Although I still do this today, I am venturing into Veterinary Office Administrative Support. I adore animals. [Vic: I adore bunnies; I know Rose likes kittehs.]

My very worst nightmare job was in high school as a food server for the elderly residents of a nursing home. My sister and I were hired together, part-time in the evenings. The dining room consisted of four round tables with four residents at each table.

Lee Coursey (leeco on flickr) cropped image of "Inside the Thirsty Whale Tavern" (CC-by-2.0) Talk and think bubbles with text added by RoseWrites October 6th, 2015
Cropped image by Lee Coursey on flickr (CC-by-2.0)
Talk and think bubbles with text by RoseWrites
No sooner did the dinner shift start, then the residents started calling to me, "Miss, you forgot my prune juice! Miss! We don't have any butter. Miss! Where are the forks? Miss! We need napkins. Miss! You forgot our water. Miss! I can't have salt, I need salt substitute. Miss!"

I grabbed my sister and hightailed it out of there before the food was even served. I didn't last 30 minutes. 

To this day, I have the utmost respect for ANYONE who can do that for a living and not be bald from stress. In case you are wondering, I was the older sister with the car, so she had to quit when I did or walk home. [Vic: “I’m going down, sis, and I’m takin’ youse wit’ me!”]

Q: On your profile page, you leave instructions for readers that wish to comment. I'm guessing you've had a jackhole (or several) bother you in the past. Is this true? And do you care to share anything about it? [Vic: I would point out that no one can “moderate” comments on IB articles—you can only delete the ones you find too ornery.  I like ornery, though—gives me a chance to publicly point out stupidity in others.]

A: I was so angry and peeved the day I wrote my IB profile page. I was very naive about the Internet in general back then. I actually thought that people would show MORE restraint with their communication methods because it would be online as a permanent record of their "manners". Doesn't that sound ridiculous?

In the weeks prior, my articles were being stolen left and right. People were leaving rude comments on my blog and Xomba articles. I had a few people starting debates with each other and forgetting why they stopped by my article in the first place (much like the Yahoo experience of today). 

After being comment-stalked by a serial debater on IB, I couldn't take it anymore. Normally I am very peaceable and dislike argument for argument’s sake. My feathers have to be very ruffled to jump into a debate with a stranger online. Perhaps rude isn't the right word.
InfoBarrel Authors RoseWrites and Vic Dillinger Wearing Pale Pink
Me & Vic Dillinger's Avatar (modified) Used With Permission

For example, I would mention loving the pale pink color of a sweater. I would then get a comment like this, "I don't know if you can call that pale pink. Anyway, nobody wears sweaters like that anymore." 
[Vic: I like pink.]
[Rose: Yeah, me too.]

Now I understand that I was being "flamed" on purpose by individuals who have serious issues. I had to make the same type of announcement on my blog; if you don't like it, leave. Don't comment. Just go away. 

Q: After reading Unitards And Leotards For Men - Professional Garments For Male Dancers, I have to admit, the leotard for men with a white shirt sounds extremely sexy (think I'll get my man-servant to wear that).

Image of Vadim Muntagirov in London  production of Swan Lake,, Fair Use; additional free-use clip art, airbrushing, composite by Vic Dillinger 2015 for "Package Enhancing Tights"
Package Enhancing Tights
(Vadim Muntagirov; Fair Use; additional
free-use clip art, airbrushing, composite
by Vic Dillinger 2015)
Also, do male dancers wear jocks or something? Because they look like they are really packing something (compared to swimmers). 

A: Professional male ballet dancers wear a garment called a dance belt. It is very much like a jock strap. The front portion is quilted, the hips are elasticized and the back fits like thong underwear. It's typically made of opaque material so it doesn't show through tights. The quilting creates that extra "presence" in the front groin area.

Vic: I recently did a photo shoot with my wife in which we wore Renaissance-period clothing.  I wore tights; mysteriously the woman taking the pics said I did not need a cod-piece!  Tights rock! [You do the math.] 

Rose returns (after being somewhat distracted): But seriously, do male dancers ever do "pointe work"? And if not, I think ballet is healthier for men than women. I have seen some women's feet looking pretty abused from years of ballet. How are your feet? And do you recommend any other form of dance?

A: Men on pointe cause huge debates in the ballet world. Traditionalists feel that a male dancer cannot move in the delicate, graceful way a female ballerina can. Although there are male dancers that will go on pointe as part of a practice class, people prefer the traditional roles. Men dancing in tutus on their toes are seen as comedians. Les Ballets Trockadero is a good example. The heavier weight of the male dancer makes it harder on their foot bones to tolerate pointe work long term. 

Ballerinas take a real beating on their feet. It's amazing how effortless they make it look. They get bunions, blisters, and bruising. Their toes can be bloody after a performance.

I took pointe from age twelve to age twenty-two.  I have a wonderful collection of pointe shoes, but don't go up on my toes anymore. I have bunions, but I attribute those to old age.  

Other than Classical ballet, I personally love Tap dancing, traditional Irish dance and watching Ballroom competitions in the Latin dance genre.

Rose interjects: Well, hats off to Mr. J. Leotard who invented the eponymous apparel item. I also wonder if women "swooned to see men in such tight clothing" (but then again, he wore a mini skirt—at least that’s what it looks like from that photo in your article).

LPerry: Speaking of swooning, I took my 89-year-old Grandmother to The Kennedy Center to see a ballet. When the male dancer came out on stage in his tights, my Grandmother's eyes became as big as quarters. All she did was mutter, "Oh my . . . oh my . . . oh my!"

Rose: So, what happened to the mini skirt for men? (I can almost feel Vic holding himself back from commenting).

Vic: I’d wear a mini-skirt, but I’ve already been to jail enough times already.

Pro-Arch for best possible arched foot for ballet dancers on Amazon
Amazon image of Pro-Arch
To purchase, see LPerry's article
Rosie comes back:  Given my background in orthotics I had to read your article Ballet Arch Enhancers - Do They Really Work?

I can understand how an arch would need to be anatomically deformed to become "banana foot." And, you are absolutely correct when you wrote:

"Although Svetlana may have gained added flexibility from her daily practice routine, she was most likely born with an incredibly high arch to begin with."

And gee, that device to stretch arches looks like the female equivalent of a barbaric male enhancement device.

I also thoroughly enjoyed your piece, Boycott Internet Job Searching - Get A Job Faster The Old Fashioned Way because of the blackhat recruiting and prying for personal identification (like SSNs) that you mentioned. And I loved your ten reasons for going “old school” (this is a must-read for any job seeker, of any age).

Paul Reubens (aka Pee-wee Herman) at 60th Annual Academy Awards, Apr 11, 1988 (photo by Alan Light, 1988, used with permission)
    Pee-wee Herman (Paul Reubens) photo by
           Alan Light / Used With Permission
Vic: In your writings (on HP as well as IB) I notice you focus a lot on consumer goods (clothing, jewelry, etc.) as well as the ballet-oriented material.  You are a capable writer: any chance of your leaving your comfort zone and writing, say, about longshoremen any time soon?  Maybe a quick bio on Pee-wee Herman?

A: I do write a lot about products. Before I learned how to make websites I was aiming for sales through articles. Now I write product articles to see if the topic/product gets enough traffic/sales to build a website around.

I am writing a children's eBook and outlining another book.

One interest off the beaten path (for me) is writing more articles about the challenges of the workplace; backstabbing coworkers, office gossip, drama, bad bosses, etc.. I have so much going on that it's hard to find time for all of my plans.

I would like to say that you, Vic, have an immense talent for writing biographies. This is something for me to think about; I tend to write about things and not about people. One day I will have to try writing a biography. In the meantime, I can always make a draft for Pee-wee Herman Joins the Merchant Marines Wearing a Tutu.

Vic: Pee-wee in the merchant marines with a tutu—that is hilarious!  You know he’s got a new movie coming out, right?

Mo’ Writin’ Stuff

Q: How did you end up on IB?

A: I followed a link from a bookmark on Xomba and decided to sign up. InfoBarrel was getting good reviews.

Q: Do you have any weird (or helpful) writing rituals?

A: What's important for me is to find this very peaceful, Zen-like relaxation in my mind before I write. Some writers call it "flow".  If I feel any type of urgency, my brain slams shut. I give myself permission to block out those things that scream for my attention and totally embrace the time I spend giving attention to my own thoughts.  Relax, breathe, flow, enjoy the process.

Q: If you could change one thing about the online world, what would it be?

A: Pop up ads should be against the law. Surely whoever invented them needs to go to prison.

Q: What famous person, author, TV character or cartoon character do you most relate to (and why)?

A: This is such a hard question! Who do I most relate to?  Let's see . . .

After giving this a lot of thought, I would say my favorite female singer, Karen CarpenterNot only is her voice the most beautiful thing I have ever heard, the emotion behind it is haunting. I can relate to her sensitivity and how that part of her flowed out to create music that touches the soul. I believe that our hidden emotions find a way of expression; many as artistic masterpieces.

Rose: Did you know that Vic wrote an incredible piece about the death of Karen Carpenter? It's currently ranked 10th on InfoBarrels' Top 100.

Q: Three or more articles you are most proud of?

A: I like my Ezine articles and one I have on Wizzley:

Q: Where can readers find you?

A: They can find me on my blog or Twitter: Pointe Shoe Brands and Ballet_News on Twitter.

Highly Inappropriate Questions 

Q: Ever made out with a male ballet dancer?

A: Well, he was a male and after dressing him in a pink chiffon ballet skirt he did dance around a bit and plant a slobbery kiss on me. Does a pet Boxer count?  [Vic: Now that’s funny right there I don’t care who you are.]

Vic: Ever made out with a female ballet dancer?  ’Cause that sounds kinda hot!

A: At my age, the only thing that gets hot are the light bulbs. 

Ballerina Farting (free-use clip art; composite, lettering by Vic Dillinger, 2015)
2015 Flatulent Ballerina (free-use clip art;
composite, lettering by Vic Dillinger)
Rose: Got any good "plié" fart stories?

A: I believe ballet schools do mandatory methane testing these days. With leotards as tight as they are, gas leak buildup could get very dangerous!

Q: If you could use a time machine, which past decade would you travel to and why?

A: Without a doubt, the 1950s. I love everything about that era: the pink kitchens, the fashions, the cars, the music, the family values, everything. Dad wore the pants, Mom wore the dresses, kids respected authority, and the world seemed so safe and cozy back then.

Q: Are there any other writers on InfoBarrel you'd like to see interviewed? And if so, is/are there any questions you'd like me to ask him, her, or them?

A: I can relate to curiosity44 as a self-taught writer. His health-related articles are very interesting; most of them have eye-opening videos. He mentioned starting a novel, so I wonder if he reached his goal of completing it.

Also Young Hopes is very nice and her articles are good. I believe she has an InfoBarrel account, but I may be wrong. She is on HubPages and Wizzley.

In Closing:

I want to thank LPerry for allowing both Vic Dillinger and I to ask about her life online and offline. She obviously has a wealth of life experience that reaches beyond the ballet world.

And since my private jet was just collecting dust, I decided to take LPerry, her grandmother, and Vic to the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, Russia. Vic felt a little lost and LPerry's grandma followed some male dancer backstage.

Jane Rahman on flickr (CC-by-2.0) Bolshoi Theater in background. Additional images added by RoseWrites Oct 6, 2015 via Pixlr.
Bolshoi Theatre uploaded by Jane Rahman (CC-by-2.0).
LPerry, Vic Dillinger, and I added Oct 6th, 2015 via

Tune in again next week when I interview a Top 100 InfoBarrel author. And hopefully Vic can co-host if he's not too busy.

Funding for A Blog for the Underdog is provided (in part) by my earnings on Zazzle. I feature over 200 "slice of life" products (many with humorous designs) in my Sousababy Zazzle store.