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.


  1. Thank you, once again, for keeping us up-to-date on what is going on there. It is really shocking!

    1. Dear Deborah,

      Those Squidoo articles gave HubPages a huge pool of content to tweak (and trade) for content they share revenue 60/40 with – the "active" users. [Of course, that 60/40 may have changed since Hubbers cannot disclose ANY part of their earnings now].

      Remember, HubPages keeps everything from what they deem "inactive" accounts (including charities). So, even if you, the "active" user are seeing a 50 percent decrease in income; HubPages is probably trading out your page or putting a "Editor's Choice" label on another one where they keep 100 percent of the earnings on – I proved this in my InfoBarrel article:

      HubPages isn't losing money . . there are essentially "two sets of books" here. Only you, the active user on HubPages, is losing income.