Category Archives: Leadership

How The Huffington Post Silences Writers Without Giving Any Reason (A Summary)

I’ve been a Huffington Post blogger since 11-11-2013.

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And I’ve still got an author’s page on The Huffington Post site.

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View my archive now: John McElhenney on The Huffington Post

But somehow, The Huffington Post blog team has cut off my posts and blocked me from being able to login to the new publishing platform. Here’s the top of my archive today.

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And you will notice a long gap between my last two published posts in NOV. 2014 and my most recent publications on the new Contributor Platform in OCT. 2106. I had been allowed to publish posts since NOV. 2014 but not 1 of the 70+ posts I submitted got released to the blog.

I struggled with this loss in my publishing platform. I wrote letters to Arianna, the woman who invited me into the publishing platform in the first place. I wrote letters to Brittany Wong the woman who wrote a profile about me and my journey as a positive divorced dad. I wrote letters to the email address for corrections and issues from the blog team. (blogteam@huffingtonpost.com) And for two years I got nothing.

Then The Huffington Post finally made the transition to the new platform. And in that process I was given a credential to login and create my NEW account. Which I did on October 6, 2016. I updated my profile for the new platform. I got a new author’s page http://www.huffingtonpost.com/author/jm32austin-893, and was set up to finally rejoin the ranks of Huffington Post blogger.

And so I started out with a few posts in my sweet spot topics. Divorce and Health and Fitness. And to my surprise, the new Contributor Platform allows writers to push the post live without “editor” intervention. So all four of my posts went LIVE.

And once of them, the “Dear Ex-wife” post began to trend. Within an hour I had over 3,000 views directly from The Huffington Post. And they hadn’t even added me or promoted me in a section yet. The post was taking off in the generic posting on The Blog.

Of course, I was thrilled. I looked for another post, the last Brad and Angelina post, that I could throw into the stream to up my traffic. And BOOM. It was all taken down.

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And now none of my 2016 posts are live.

What could have happened? I speculate all the time.

  1. Someone on the blog team has suppressed my publishing back in 2014. (Without telling me why or giving me recourse to remedy my transgression.)
  2. My viral post was threatening to some editor so they took it down. And then proceeded to take all of my recent posts down, to complete the suppression.
  3. Someone on the blog team saw my posts, connected the dots with 2014’s suppression and re-killed my publishing platform.

In all of these cases there is a problem if The Huffington Post is attempting to foster a community spirit with their new Contributor Platform.

The kumbaya statement of community with the Contributor Platform looks like this,

“The community we are working to build here is one where diverse, vibrant and original ideas are celebrated and elevated. We welcome posts that embody that free-speech ethos, even when those viewpoints differ from our own.”

And then comes the hard part,

“We reserve our right to remove posts that abuse that spirit of community, such as hate speech, anything overtly commercial in nature and and posts that we believe may be attempting to mislead the public in some way. There may be other times when we will remove a post that has been flagged by our community for other reasons, including matters of professionalism and taste. We hope and expect those times to be rare and we will not take these decisions lightly. But in building this community, we respect the right of its members to be vocal about their objections. When those objections arise, we will leverage the sound judgement of our editors to determine what is best for the spirit of the space we’re trying to create.”

And yet there is no mention of the community of editors, the conversation that should be had around any removal or suppression. So far, even on the new Contributor Platform I have been suppressed, on all of my posts, and not given any explanation or justification for what went wrong. And I don’t expect my record is going to be any better than it was since 2014. Maybe they’ll open a new platform and give me a credential to login there, who knows.

Three Rules of an Open Community

  1. The community rules.
  2. The community can discuss the rules.
  3. Questions about the rules should be allowed and discussed in the community.

When you take out the third rule, you’ve created the same problem you had with the old platform. When editors can suppress writers and not give any explanation then there is no community.

I realise there are thousands of writers who are willing to write for The Huffington Post for free. I am one of those writers. And there a thousands more asking to be let into the community every day. But if you really want to create a community you need to have a feedback mechanism. We are people. We are part of the community. And we deserve an explanation when our post or our entire publishing rights have been rescinded.

I have never gotten any explanation or response in two years of requesting feedback. I lucked into a loophole when the new system was brought online. And then I am merely suppressed again, without explanation or response to my repeated requests for information. I’m guessing, from the comments on my previous posts about this issue, that I am not alone in this.

Dear Arianna Huffington Post and The Blog Team, your Statement of Community is just pretty words. Until you provide a mechanism for feedback and give all of your writers an opportunity to communicate with you, there is no community. You have created the idea of community while behaving like the same all-ruling dictator that we have come to know. Tolerance is our only recourse.

The message of your community becomes more transparently BS when you realise there are many writers that have been cut off without explanation, like myself.

I’d love to hear what happened. I’d love to know how to get my publishing turned back on. I’d love to know if you still value the 70+ posts that are still live and still generating traffic on your blog. I know you no longer value me or my voice. But I’d at least like you to tell me why.

Sincerely,

John McElhenney
@jmacofearth

Catch up on the entire Huffington Post story

PS: I’d love to hear your HuffPo shutdown story in the comments.

An Open Letter to Arianna Huffington On the New Contributor Platform

Huffington Post has launched a new publishing platform. And for part of one day I was allowed, once again to publish my articles on single parenting. And then they discovered my post going viral and they killed my account. I’m still in some odd form of stasis. I’m still ON the platform, but I’m not able to load the platform. I’m guessing the company that admins the program doesn’t have an easy way to suppress authorised users. So today, when I try to load the contributor platform it goes into some broken load/reload sequence and never escapes until I quit the browser.

Here’s what that looks like:

If you go look, my new contributor page is still online: John McElhenney on The Huffington Post. You’ll notice the last four posts, if you try to load them will result in the following screen.

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Okay, so what can be going on here? Why won’t the Huffington Post Blog Team, the divorce editor Brittany Wong, or Arianna herself answer my question about why I would be banned from publishing on the new contributor platform.

Well, the entire idea of “contributor” only holds together if you look at their community statement. Here’s the little part they put in about removing posts from the new platform.

We reserve our right to remove posts that abuse that spirit of community, such as hate speech, anything overtly commercial in nature and posts that we believe may be attempting to mislead the public in some way. There may be other times when we will remove a post that has been flagged by our community for other reasons, including matters of professionalism and taste. We hope and expect those times to be rare and we will not take these decisions lightly. But in building this community, we respect the right of its members to be vocal about their objections. When those objections arise, we will leverage the sound judgement of our editors to determine what is best for the spirit of the space we’re trying to create.

That’s all fine and dandy, but if there is no recourse, no way to ask “What happened?” then they have violated the true spirit of an open community. Apparently the blog team has oversight on the new platform. So if ONE of my posts was flagged, why were all four of them taken down? If I was given publishing credentials, why were they taken away within hours of my first post? If I had a successful post on The Huffington Post why would you suppress that post, especially if there were no clear violations of your trust agreement?

Dear Arianna,

I know you are no longer involved in the day-to-day execution of the Huffington Post. While I applaud your opening the new Contributor Platform, and even your grand gesture in the Statement of Community that surrounds and empowers the new system, I am sorry to say, the lack of transparency is death to openness. An open community means there are channels for communication when things go wrong. If your blog team never responds to a contributor and yet continues to suppress that contributor’s writing, isn’t that a violation of your own statement of community?

When you say “we will leverage the sound judgement of our editors to determine what is best for the spirit of the place we are trying to create” don’t you think that information should also be made public? If the blog team suppresses material, shouldn’t they also answer requests for information about why?

If the Huffington Post wants to create an open community bounded by ethics and moral inclusiveness, they should not also engage in hidden and unfounded suppression of valuable and reasonable material.

I am optimistic that you will answer my question about why four of my posts were accepted, published, and then suppressed in a matter of hours. I am also optimistic that you will reinstate my publishing privileges, as you so warmly welcomed me to the Huffington Post publishing family over three years ago.

Yours Respectfully,

John McElhenney
@jmacofearth (also seen on Google+: jmacofearth)

Catch up on the entire Huffington Post story

Huffington Post’s New Contributor Platform

Here’s the statement of community from the New Huffington Post Contributor Platform.

Statement of Community

The Huffington Post’s Contributor Network is a forum for ideas, discussion and diverse viewpoints. We offer a state-of-the-art platform that can help you bring your work to one of the internet’s largest audiences.

Be interesting, be entertaining, be provocative, have a point of view – but do it with a great respect for the readers and writers who join you on these pages. The community we are working to build here is one where diverse, vibrant and original ideas are celebrated and elevated. We welcome posts that embody that free-speech ethos, even when those viewpoints differ from our own.

We reserve our right to remove posts that abuse that spirit of community, such as hate speech, anything overtly commercial in nature and and posts that we believe may be attempting to mislead the public in some way. There may be other times when we will remove a post that has been flagged by our community for other reasons, including matters of professionalism and taste. We hope and expect those times to be rare and we will not take these decisions lightly. But in building this community, we respect the right of its members to be vocal about their objections. When those objections arise, we will leverage the sound judgement of our editors to determine what is best for the spirit of the space we’re trying to create.

All good and fine until you cross some invisible boundary and are silenced without so much as a peep about why, how you can get reinstated, or what the fuck happened. For over a year now, The Huffington Post has allowed me to POST on their internal publishing platform, but then have refused to go live with any of my content. This is while 75 or so posts are live and gaining traffic for the site on my profile page. I still get traffic from The Huffington Post every day.

But then HuffPo moved to a new platform.screen-shot-2016-10-11-at-1-50-32-pm

And the Contributor Platform was born. And last week, I used my credentials in the form above and was promptly given access and publishing rights to once again go-live on The Huffington Post.

Here’s my new contributor page: John McElhenney on The Huffington Post

There’s only one problem. When you go to the first four posts…

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So my question is this. What happened the first time and why didn’t the blog team respond to my 10, or so, requests for further information? What happened this time and why was my account suspended just as one of my posts was generating significant traffic? I’ve asked Brittany Wong, my old Divorce editor, as well as the blogteam@huffingtonpost.com to explain what’s happened, and to help me correct the problems so I can get back to publishing on The Huffington Post. My guess is I’ve fallen into some “contributor” slush pile and they simply ignore all requests from these “former” contributors. But why wouldn’t they come out and say that?

The statement above gives them the right to take down anything that is found too offensive or commercial. But none of my posts were self serving.

It seems to me that someone on The Blog Team at the Huffington Post has suppressed my publishing rights. Then in jumping to the new contributor platform my credentials slipped through the cracks until that same someone noticed a post of mine going viral. Someone shut my posts off, all four of them, and they have never given me cause or reason for doing so. And in the spirit of community I would think that would be the least they could do. If you’re going to have a spirit of community, you need to be transparent about the rules and allow for questions. Then you answer the questions so the entire community can read them and abide by the updated marching orders. When the information is suppressed everyone suffers.

I’m going to continue to ask the “team” what’s up with my contributions. But I may eventually have to sue The Huffington Post to get an escalation that will get me an actual answer. But I don’t want an answer, I just want to have my publishing turned back on so I can add to my HuffPo archive. Doesn’t seem like too much to ask, in the spirit of community.

John McElhenney
@jmacofearth

Catch up on the entire Huffington Post story

What Will You Make Your Life About?

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Always be arcing back towards what you want to be known for, for your heart’s desire, for what gives you the most joy.

LETTER EIGHTEEN

Finding your purpose sounds like a really daunting task, and I have run away from that phrase for my entire life. But figuring out what my life is going to be about is easier to do.

Let’s do some simple math around some of the big things my life COULD be about.

  1. Marriage and Kids (or divorce and kids, as in my case)
  2. Career in… (today it’s marketing, tomorrow it’s writing)
  3. Passion doing (today it’s playing tennis and playing music)
  4. Great at doing (marketing, writing, relationship navigation)

Today I would not say that my life is About writing, but it’s going that way. Even this post is another step in that direction. I am leaving behind a trail of words, songs, phrases that I hope, in the long run, define my full and happy life. My life today IS full and happy, but I’m still “working” at a number of things I’m good at, and a little bit passionate about, but they are not my life’s work. Oh, those heavy phrases again. I’m not so much into “life’s work” as finding my passion and letting that define my purpose.

I believe that my creative life is a celebration of the spiritual life I lead. I believe in God. And in that belief comes my understanding that my celebration of the human spirit (song, poem, drawing, anagram) is a celebration of God, or my God-given talents. And, of course, it’s a lot more than talent, we’ve all got talent. My life well-lived is about commitment and tenacity. I will continue writing no matter what. And in my early 50’s I’m quite confident that I’m writing better than I ever have. Stories I wanted to tell in my 20’s and 30’s are now within my narrative powers. Reading over my first novel, I’m excited to retell the entire tale from a more mature, more convoluted perspective.

If you are the narrator of your life, what’s the first line of your movie?

Here’s a run at mine: “In 105 years, John McElhenney never quit writing songs and poems. He finished a new song hours before he fell asleep for the last time. Here’s the last recording of Mr. McElhenney, a joyous love song to his wife.”

Not bad.

What’s your narrator going to say about your life in 20 years? Can you begin working towards a few of those ideals now? Can you arc your career closer to your passion? In my case, I am a writer. And while I’ve shied away from being a copywriter, I have made a fairly good living writing words and building strategies for companies. I’d rather put my words to use for more enlightening subjects, but hey… we all gotta eat.

So how does my life stack up so far in my four categories?

  1. Marriage and Kids (35% of my time)
  2. Career in… (50% of my time, working)
  3. Passion doing (5% of my time playing or writing)
  4. Great at doing (10% of my time writing and building my empire)

It is my hope that I can continue to angle my life and work towards the 4th quadrant in my system. As I am gearing up for book proposals and screenplay submissions, it is a big harry goal to write as my job. One breakaway title and I could do it. But I must keep my momentum up even without the fame and fortune. What I have in my court is that tenacity. I’m never going to stop writing. And as long as I keep getting better, my writing in 10 years is going to be amazing.

Do what you have to do to make a living and support the lifestyle you want to live. But always be arcing back towards what you want to be known for, for your heart’s desire, for what gives you the most joy. That’s the goal in life worth pursuing.

3-09-16

John McElhenney
@jmacofearth (also seen on Google+: jmacofearth)
permalink: http://uber.la/2016/03/going-make-life-about/

Now Available in Print and eBook Format!
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supportive references:

image: artist at work, creative commons usage

The Huffington Post LIE

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Dear Me, Congratulations on getting your by-line on The Huffington Post. We’re glad you decided to give us publishing rights to your content for free. We hope you enjoy your experience here. We’re awesome. Welcome.

THE DAY I WAS WELCOMED TO THE HUFFINGTON POST BY ARIANNA HERSELF, I WAS THRILLED.

And the succession of 50 odd posts I got published on the site was also a thrill.

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And I generated quite a bit of traffic for my blog The Whole Parent. It was a match made in heaven. I was writing a positive co-parenting blog and The Huffington Post was benefiting (still benefits) from my writing. What I got in return was traffic, a by-line and bio page on The Huffington Post. Boom. I had arrived as a writer.

Then last November, as in a year and 2 months ago, my last post appeared on The Huffington Post under the Fitness and Lifestyle banner. See, I’d been doing so good, I had started publishing from another blog on The Huffington Post as well. But without a whimper or reason, my publishing never progressed beyond submission. And I continued to submit my work religiously.

In general they do reserve the right to NOT publish your work. But I had a 95% publish ratio. We liked each other. I even had a viral hit that was published under the Women banner. It was about dating.

You know, they even wrote a piece on me about being a divorced dad and my divorce survival skills. Another great honor. I started asking the blogteam@huffingtonpost.com questions about what was going on. And I got ZERO responses.

I still have no idea what happened. Does The Huffington Post have a kill button that censors a writer, causing their posts not to show up in the slush pool of available articles? Did someone take offense to something I had written? Had I gotten too big for my britches? Well, it wouldn’t be so bad if I had a clue what I did, or who black-listed me. But I heard crickets.

So I reached out directly to Adrianna. She, in fact, is who personally invited me to the Post. I reached out to the editors of each of the sections I had published with before. Health and Lifestyle, Parenting, Dating, Divorce, Dads. And somewhere along the chain of command, even their responses were shut down. I heard nothing. It seemed there was nothing I could do, but stop publishing, or trying to publish on The Huffington Post.

But my publishing credentials are still live. They are still generating traffic from my content. And they are still not publishing any of my writing. I’m ready to take this to the next level. Now it’s personal.

Let’s look at the editorial board for my biggest section DIVORCE.

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I’m pretty sure Brittany is the woman who wrote the Huff Po piece on me. Let’s go see…

7 Things That Helped This Single Dad Feel Whole Again Post-Split by Brittany Wong

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Then something funny and fishy happened.

Update 8-20-15:  I got a Twitter response from Sr. Women’s Editor Emma Gray. And just as I responded to her she deleted the tweet. (Before I was able to screen grab it. But I have the traces captured elsewhere.) Then, I’m pretty sure she MUTED me on Twitter. (A first for me.)

So when she tweeted back to me she said, “That’s above my purview.” She was saying, she had no idea why I was being prevented from getting any articles published. Why then would she DELETE the Tweet and BLOCK me on Twitter? Was I being abusive? Did someone tell her I’m a pervert, or a dead beat dad, or something that makes me offensive? I don’t know. And since she’s muted me on Twitter she doesn’t even see when I tweet at her. BAD FORM Emma Gray BAD FORM HUFFINGTON POST.

So the woman who wrote the nice post on me and my divorce survival strategy doesn’t have the time to respond to me? Or she’s not allowed to tell me what’s going on? Both of which are awful concepts.

One thing is certain: The Huffington Post is being run by children. Low cost millennials who are happy to work for recognition and ego strokes. Titles like Editor and Executive Editor on one of the globe’s leading media publishing companies. Pretty impressive to me, as well. But the youngsters are running Adrianna’s empire as she continues to cut media deals.

Adrianna had a vision for The Huffington Post. She’s too busy with her GMP and Good News love fest to pay attention to what’s going on in the inner workings of her Blog Team. And why should she. We know the power of the Huffington Post is politics. And we’re ramping up for a doozy of an election year.

So I’ve been swept under the proverbial rug. But I won’t go quietly. It’s time to blast and blanket the editorial team until I get an answer. I’ll start with the woman who wrote the piece on me. Let’s see if I can get a single response out of a single human being (young human being) about why I can’t get any of my 30+ submissions published, when I still have 50 articles live on The Huffington Post.

John McElhenney Huffington Post Archive

I never give up. The dream was big when I got accepted and added Huffington Post author to my material. Today, it’s been a year and 2 months since they pushed on of my articles live. I’m still writing at the top of my game, and still writing about positive post-divorce strategies for parenting, dating, and staying healthy. What’s not to love?

I’ve still got Brittany’s email address. Let’s see if she will share some information about WHAT’S GOING ON AT THE HUFFINGTON POST?

My by-line Googled: John McElhenney

John McElhenney
@jmacofearth (also seen on Google+: jmacofearth)

My correspondence with Arianna Huffington:

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And today I wrote Arianna a letter. Sure, the odds are low on getting any response from her, but I have to keep trying.

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Apple Design vs Windows Updates: One Company Simply Doesn’t Care

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Today I was updating my Windows installation. And get this, there were 43 updates required to get me all fixed up. Apple would never consider this an option. Their developers have more respect for the user. MSFT just doesn’t care. How else can you explain the pain of managing a Windows environment? You can’t. The people developing Windows don’t actually have to manage or support Windows environments. If they did, we’d see things a bit different.

I read today that Apple designers and developers are paid at least 50% more than other designers/developers. It’s because they think of the entire user experience, just like the Mac vs Windows. Sure, when you have a browser open the experience is about the same. But it’s the rest of the stuff you do with your computer, the filing, finding, and storing that makes the two platforms so different. Windows is like a series of folders. You store your documents in folders within folders. On the Mac you have that option too, but the visual representations of your filing system is unlimited in your ability to color, structure, and save your files in creative ways.

The Apple computer was built for creative people. Windows is built for low-cost and most efficiency. Windows literally dumbs down the options. That makes it easier to manage in large enterprise environments. Everything is in your Documents directory.

But the philosophy goes much deeper.

Today I played with a new Apple app called Music Memos. It’s free. And it was made lovingly to make recording and saving musical ideas. Apple knew musicians were using voice memos to make recordings. So someone in the group decided to make a better musical sketchpad. I cannot imagine this project would ever see the light of day at Microsoft. For one, it’s free. And second, as MSFT moved to a FREE distribution model for Windows 10 upgrades, the started charging money for things like Solitaire. What? That’s silly. Do they charge for Mine Sweeper too?

At Apple, the teams are still focused on HUMAN INTERACTION principles. At Microsoft it’s pure project management, cost containment, and ship the next version, even if it doesn’t work very well. And if it needs 43 updates, that’s not a problem, our users have always put up with that insanity. Why change now. Apple recompiles their updaters each time there are changes. And for the most part you can download ONE updater and it will bring your OS up-to-date.

Apple gets the user and writes program and interfaces around the user needs and requirements. Microsoft gets business and the need to crunch numbers both in development of Windows and by the users of Windows. If you’re creative and you’re on Windows you’re limiting your options. And you won’t see many people buying anything but Apple when they have to put their own money into the laptop. If you buy your own computer, rather than your company, you are likely to pay more for Apple’s design and Apple’s OS system that bridges from your computer, to your iPad, to you iPhone better than any Android or Windows solution.

Friends don’t let their friends do Windows.

John McElhenney
@jmacofearth (also seen on Google+: jmacofearth)