I’ve been a Huffington Post blogger since 11-11-2013.
And I’ve still got an author’s page on The Huffington Post site.
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.
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. (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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.
And now none of my 2016 posts are live.
What could have happened? I speculate all the time.
- Someone on the blog team has suppressed my publishing back in 2014. (Without telling me why or giving me recourse to remedy my transgression.)
- 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.
- 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
- The community rules.
- The community can discuss the rules.
- 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.
Catch up on the entire Huffington Post story
PS: I’d love to hear your HuffPo shutdown story in the comments.