Tag Archives: blogger

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

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

screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-7-40-27-amclick to read

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.

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

Why Are We Losing Men’s Voices on The Huffington Post? Why It’s A Big Issue.

I tried asking questions first. For a month. And got no reply from any of the Blog Team or directly from Arianna. Dear Huffington Post, WTF Is Going On with You? So, I guess I need to dig a bit deeper to see if I can understand what’s going on with the conversation about Parenting, Relationships, and Divorce at the Huffington Post.

Women *and* men get divorced, our children are along for the ride, we both make the difference in how their lives and future relationships will be managed.

I am not claiming that men’s voices have been completely shut out of the Family & Relationships sections of The Huffington Post. But I do see that the Divorce, Parenting, and Dating posts are 95% by women for women. Something bigger is going on here. Something that creates a complete imbalance in the viewpoints discussed, something that misses the fact that in traditional parenting one woman AND one man are required.

I was a Huffpost blogger with great success in the Parenting, Dating, and Divorce sections. I’m not saying I made the Front Page, but I often made the front page of these sections. And my posts are still live on The Huffington Post, gathering traffic for them, and a few click-throughs for me. And I’m very interested in keeping men in the conversation about these very important topics. I’m a contributing editor to The Good Men Project, who regularly shares content with The Huffington Post. Even last week, one of our editors, and good friend, Mark Greene was interviewed by Huffington Post about his transformative ideas about divorce and parenting. BRAVO!

But why are there no men editors in the entire staff of Family & Relationships? If you look at The Good Men project, a site that shouts, “The Conversation That No One Else is Having,” you’ll see a pretty even balance between men and women. It’s important, even in a powerful site about men that women and women’s voices are represented fairly. So why is the Huffington Post so down on men? Or is it just me?

Here’s the staff section from Family & Relationships section of The Huffington Post.

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Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 8.22.05 AMAnd while it’s not a bad thing to have mostly women, and mostly women in their twenties and thirties running such a critical portion of The Huffington Post, can you see how their perspectives might be a bit skewed? And when the Senior Editor on Divorce is also the Senior Editor on Weddings… And is, just getting married… You can imagine that “divorce” might not be one of her points of interests. And I’m guessing not part of her history, either.

I’m not sure how I would compartmentalize my enthusiasm for this major beginning in my young life, while espousing the views and pains of so many older women, and yes, men. And it’s sorry what’s happened to the sections over all. The conversation is not so much a conversation any more, it’s a blast of celebrity reporting (marriages and divorces) alongside some well-known authorities on dating and divorce. And mostly… eh hem… women.

And I have to respect the business model here. The Huffington Post is in this business to make money. And if their demographic is 90% young upwardly-mobile women, well, then I guess they’ve nailed it. But I’m pretty sure the intension that Erma Bombeck had when she convinced Arianna to start the divorce section was something more inclusive. After all, divorce usually involves two people, and 50% of those people happen to be men.

The story that Arianna tells is that she was approached about adding a Divorce section and she asked Erma why. Erma responded, “Marriages come and go, but divorce is forever.” It’s on the Divorce Masthead, though no longer attributed to her. The light went on for Arianna and the section was born and has thrived ever since.

I’ve chosen to live my life and to survive my divorce by finding the good in everything that comes my way.

I met Arianna at a trade show in 2013 where she spoke about her newest passion, The Third Metric. In that meeting of high-level communicators, she gave out her email address asking the audience to send her their ideas. And true to form, she responded to my email within a few hours of that trade show. I imagined her zooming to the airport in her limo and cleaning out her inbox with a fury and efficiency.

At that moment, she caught my voice in the post that I sent her. Here’s her emailed response to me that same day. It was a HUGE win for me.

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And 8-months later I really hit the post sums up the bulk of my writing on Divorce.

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click to read article on Huff Po
Getting men’s real and honest stories in the mix of the conversation about Parenting, Dating, and Divorce is critical for all of us.

What you see there is a picture of a dad’s hand and the hand of my two young children. I have pledged to say 100% positive about my divorce, and in all of my dealings with my co-parent and ex-wife. That’s my message. There are Good Men who get divorced. There are good father’s who try to stay connected as often as they are allowed, even when the system is stacked against them. I write The Whole Parent as a voice for men who are doing parenting right, before, during, and after divorce.

I’m not sure I’ll ever get new posts up on The Huffington Post. And I’m not sure that’s important to me any more. But getting men’s real and honest stories in the mix of the conversation about Parenting, Dating, and Divorce is critical for all of us. Sure, professionals who write about the subject and offer platitudes and brief sounds bites of men’s stories, to illustrate their points, are fine, but they are professionals, and therapists, and lawyers. Even if they’ve been through a divorce of their own, they are now making it their business to tell us what to do.

farahWhen The Huffington Post lost Farrah Miller as an editor (she was the person Arianna cc’d on the email above) we lost an experienced editor with a broader vision.

I don’t know what to do. I only know that I’ve chosen to live my life and to survive my divorce by finding the good in everything that comes my way. Have I lost a lot in the process, yes. But I have also gained a new voice, a resonant voice that comes from deep within me, and sings out MY STORY, and ultimately, MY POSITIVE STORY OF DIVORCE.

I think men need to be in the conversation, and I would like Arianna Huffington to address this lopsided conversation with the same vision she had when she started the section with her dear friend. Women and men get divorced, our children are along for the ride, both partners have a huge impact on our kids lives and future relationships will be managed. If only a small percentage of the posts are by men, and 90% of those men are relationship professionals (lawyers, coaches, and therapists) rather than fathers, then the conversation on the Huffington Post is written by women and to women. That is not a not a holistic or healthy conversation at all.

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

reference:

The Social Media ROI Acid Bath – Harmful If Swallowed (response to Tim Walker’s post)

kodak-stop

  • By all means, keep asking, “How will we know when we win?” Social media deserves as much discipline as any other area of business.
  • In those areas where you can measure ROI connected to specific social-media efforts, by all means do so. ROI is a useful tool — a fundamental tool — when it’s used right.
  • Understand that, sooner or later, social media will probably become as pervasive for your business as e-mail, phones, or face-to-face communication. That’s neither good nor bad — but it’s a good idea to be ready for that day before it’s staring you in the face.

(and the final hook: “Your thoughts?”)]

I love this discussion.

I think we need to dissect “social media” for a minute. To throw all of the types of social media into the SM bucket is a little like trying to find the ROI of “marketing.” Talk about being able to move the numbers around as you would like… So let’s talk about the specific forms of social media engagement and see how they develop or come into focus in the acid bath.

Exhibit A: Twitter. (The poster child of a revived social media revolution. Heck even Oprah’s into it, at least for the month of April she was.)

Can Twitter have a positive ROI? Yep, pretty simple example is Dell’s Outlet tweet. Spitting out coupons and deals 24/7 to a growing number of followers. And Dell claims over $1m in sales at this point. (i) low, (r) high. Innovation level = 0. Nice to be early into the process, but there’s nothing innovative about using a new social media platform as an RSS feed or broadcast channel. As massive numbers of legitimate companies and scammer schemes hit Twitter to follow Dell’s success, we are beginning to recognize the value of a single tweet. Or, as the case may be, not recognise the uniqueness of the tweet and instead drive the value of Twitter as a “channel.”

Twitter Verdict: Investment – almost free. Does take time to build followers, but there are games and systems to help you reach critical mass without much “original content” necessary. Return – as an RSS channel for business Twitter has fine stats. For people interested in subscribing to businesses Twitter feeds, I suppose the value is in the eye of the beholder. But the principle of Twitter is not as a broadcast channel to pitch your deals and contests and MLM business opportunities. Well, okay, it IS for that if that’s what you are looking to do.

But the value of Social Media definition of Twitter is about relationships and connections. “I follow you on Twitter,” is a common refrain at networking events. And people are much more likely these days to give you their Twitter ID rather than their email address, often event attendees have written their Twitter ID on their name tags. I am John Mac, but I am also @jmacofearth.

The value that I see in Twitter is in the one to one connections I can make with people and in the value that I try and provide by filtering good and relevant content to my “followers.” I work at creating and hunting down good content for the people who read my Twitter stream. And as Tim O’Reilly said recently in his Twitterbook talk,

  • In social networks you gain and bestow status on those you associate with
  • A key function of a publishing brand (that’s your personal Twitter brand) is the bestowal of status by what you pay attention to
  • If you only pay attention to yourself you are not as valuable to your community
    • You don’t learn as much from your readers
    • You don’t bind them to you by amplifying their voice

An excerpt from my capture of the Twitterbook chat: Twitter Notes and Ideas from Tim O’Reilly #Twitterbook on Fluent Search

Exhibit B – Facebook and Facebook Apps. Again a good example of embracing social media on Facebook comes from Dell with their Social Media for Small Business page. With over 33k fans. That’s certainly success in terms of numbers. And to their credit, Bob Pearson, former VP of Communities and Conversations for Dell, set up this Facebook “community” with success in mind. It is perfectly done, for a Facebook page.

But as a FAN of this page, what do I derive as a member? Well, they have links to some interesting content. And Dell team members are constantly pushing up questions and discussion topics for the fans to participate. But is there much “social” going on within the Business pages of Facebook? In terms of pure numbers I would say, Dell’s Facebook page Social Media for Small Business is more about showing up at the conversation rather than driving business. Perhaps a halo effect is created when visitors come to this page and get resources they can use. And with Dell’s recently stepped up advertising spend on Facebook (their ads are popping up on almost every page for me) perhaps the “social” aspect warms prospective customers to the Dell notebooks over the HP notebooks. Perhaps.

Facebook Pages and Apps Verdict: Investment – high to low, depending on what you want to build. Return – hard to calculate the value of traffic on Facebook. Dell’s ads are spread far and wide across all levels of Facebook. And certainly there are a large percentage of Facebookers who own small businesses and thus interested in Social Media for Small Business, but as far as community goes, I have not see a Facebook community thriving in any setting. Facebook as a whole is a community of sorts. But Apps and Business Pages on Facebook seem to be more about showing up rather than showing value.

Exhibit C – Corporate Blogs.

The mother of social media is the blog. Everything else has come in the wake of this discussion-based platform. And it is impossible to discount the value of a corporate blog done right. See Oracle and AMD. For both companies the technical blogs anchor the discussions throughout their entire site. Processors, Tech Support, Technical Specifications, Engineering Input and Q & As are all part of the social media web anchored by the blogs. Forums and Discussions like specialized conversation rooms for topics spun out of the blogs.

And the poster child for NOT doing a blog at all?

Apple.

about Apple footer sitemap
about Apple footer sitemap

And how can Apple stay out of the blogosphere? I assume it is the number of fan-based and industry-based blogs that cover Apple for Apple. Not a strategy that many companies should try and emulate, Apple does not support it’s own blog. Heck Microsoft is blogging the crud out of the social media space, and Apple just chooses not to show up? Amazing.

But one statistic that give credence to Apples approach, corporate blogs have an honesty/trust rating in the 20% range. Yet I would argue that that number goes way up once you are inside the deeper blogs. For example, AMDs area on microprocessors and battery life, where the engineers and technical communities are discussing what should be done to create a common measurement system, would most likely garner a high trust value, because it is a conversation between AMD and it’s customers and not a pitch piece gussied up to look like a blog.

Corporate Blogs – Verdict: Investment – Low to Start but High to Support. Just putting up a blog and dressing up press releases will not gain your company much in terms of Return. In order for a Corporate blog to be effective it has to be open and frequently updated. The top executives don’t necessarily have to post or comment, but someone other than the marketing department has to speak as experts in their areas of the company. If it’s an engineering question it is critical that an engineer be the author responding. And you can’t just tack on this new responsibility to your staff. “BTW: Please check the blog daily and make comments.”

An example from a while back where a visionary of a company put down his rationale behind “showing up at the conversation and engaging the customer.” It was a well-articulated vision of how corporations had to take social media seriously. So the post goes up and within a day there are several well-articulated responses. And one of them in particular was very accurate in pointing out some of the flaws in the said CMO’s visionary mission statement. I stumbled upon the post a week or so after the initial flurry of activity and the CMO had not responded.

So here was a “visionary” talking about showing up at the conversation, where ever it takes place, and engaging in the discussion, and yet… NADA. I wrote to the social media team asking if this executive would be responding… NADA.

So the CMO had delivered a monologue rather than a dialogue. Too bad that the topic was about the vision of dialogue.

Exhibit D – Personal/Professional Blogs

If you are not blogging what are you doing? If you can’t think of enough topics to keep your pipeline of ideas full you are not participating in the social media universe you are merely grazing across the top of what’s out there.

In the current climate, if you are pitching yourself as a social media “anything” you’d better be participating in the process. If you’ve yet to jump in, there is no harm in that, but jump you must. Standing on the sidelines of social media and trying to comment or make sense of it, is like trying to describe the elephant by blindly holding on to the tail and making projections about what the elephant is.

So if you don’t have an opinion about anything social, start by getting involved somewhere online and seeing what takes place. Personal observation is the heart of blogging. Here’s why this works, here’s why this is lame. Here’s a great link about flying fish fillets, here’s an ROI calculator for social media. (well, here’s the Is It Worth It? An ROI Calculator for Social Network Campaigns, no endorsement from me, just the link)

Personal/Professional Blogs – Verdict: Investment to set up, free. (See WordPress, Blogger and Posterous) Return is what you put into it. But in the near future your resume will be your blog. Oh and the idea that you can separate your personal blog from your professional blog (or your personal social media stuff: Facebook pics, kids drawings, ramblings, from your professional social media stuff: LinkedIN, commenting on blogs, posting on community sites) is false. A separation barrier does not apply to Google searches. If Google dredges it up, it’s part of your resume. So think twice about that snipe, drinking pic, or rant against some political figure.

In conclusion, finally: The R on social media varies by intent and type of social media. The I also varies, but simply staying out of the game works for Apple and perhaps Steve Jobs himself, but for everyone else, you are what you write, tweet, post, comment as much as what you “claim” you do. Now go Google yourself and see what you find out about the conversations you don’t even know you are part of. And then get out there.

John McElhenney
@jmacofearth