Saturday, January 16, 2010

What is the Big Deal with eHow Posting Articles to the UK Site

After looking at the forums on eHow and especially after seeing a reply by Rich, the eHow Community Manager, I realize there are so many people who do not understand what the problem is with eHow posting articles to the UK site.  So, for those of you who are confused and so on, let me explain.

What's Happening: has branched out their business to the UK.  They are doing this because the journalists in the UK, like the United States, have been hit hard and there is a high rate of unemployed writers.  Until now, eHow has only been available to writers in the U.S.  I do not think the UK site is actively accepting new people, but I'm not positive.  According to Steven Kydd of eHow their goal is to "recruit at least 1,000 paid freelance contributors in the UK by May 2010...[the] UK expansion is the priority now."

eHow launched the UK site with articles that are written by the U.S. members.  This is not inherently bad.  The problem is that they are not compensating, in any way, the writers who retain the copyright to this content.  Every person who writes for eHow agrees to a Terms of Service contract that gives eHow the right to publish our content.  This does include a statement about using it worldwide. The UK site has been live for over five months.
As a writer on eHow, I am thrilled that they are expanding.  I have had friends outside of the U.S. express interest in writing for eHow, but frankly we aren't always trying to write for free.

What is eHow's Pay Based On:

They have a Writer's Compensation Program that is a mysterious mathematical algorithm that figures several things and determines worth.  The eHow Community Manager commented on an article at The Business Insider stating:
"WCP participants are compensated based on the quality and popularity of their articles. While a member may submit several articles per month, they may not earn any money from these due to a variety of factors, such as title popularity and uniqueness, viewership, rating, writing quality, etc. An article’s earnings can vary month to month and it will continue to create passive income for as long as it generates interest from visitors."
This is about the closest and best answer anyone is going to get regarding payment.  Because eHow's algorithm considers "interest" and "viewership" it is imperative that an article can be found.

The Heart of the Issue for Members:

So, what's the big deal?

When a person searches in Google a list of results from all over the internet show up.  If you've searched for something you know what I'm talking about.  Search results.  Good writers try to write their articles so they rank higher in the search results than a competing article.  This is done by using keywords and search engine optimization tactics.  Suddenly Google results started showing mainly results from the eHow UK site. The only difference in articles is the extension at the end of the URL. The UK site is mirrored. When a person clicked on an article that has the UK extension then no credit goes to the writer.  eHow had not figured into their payment algorithm to pay writers when the article was viewed via the UK site extension.

The short answer is that they used member articles to fill the site, those articles ranked extremely high with many outranking US articles so much that they did not show up, and then they did not compensate anyone for these articles.   Remember when I mentioned "interest" earlier?  If a UK article is read again and again then "interest" is not being shown because the algorithm does not include anything UK.

I Don't Believe It.  Let Me See an Example of Search Results:

I searched for my blog by keywords "write fierce morals ehow".  It is listed first.  The second result just happened to be an eHow article.  Fifth is an article from eHow...UK.  The results are fairly typical and prove that the search produces results from both countries.

The Heart of the Problem Again:

The fact that any results are showing up in Google from the UK site concerns the writers because they are not being paid at all for anything UK.  Rich has postulated that this phenomenon has been caused by the members looking up their own articles and now Google has a "personalized" search feature.  Absolutely irrelevant.  As long as there are results showing up from the UK site writers are losing money, eHow is making it. 

In Closing:

eHow is wrong and it is disheartening to put faith in a corporation to have them build their brand off your backs.  They have promised to take down these articles from the UK site within the next few weeks.  This probably means several months.  No matter what anyone thinks of the quality of articles on eHow, I certainly try to stand out and write good stuff.  I contemplate the impact of writing about this UK fiasco.  It's my goal to lay out the facts as seen from a writer's perspective.  If we could unify I would strike and refuse to put new content up until the articles are removed from the UK site.

Hopefully this helped anyone who didn't understand the situation to grasp it a little better.  I welcome comments and ideas.
Edit:  June 2, 2011 - As of May 5, 2011, will no longer pay residual income on WCP articles still on the site. eHow offered up front payment to many members. It's a good idea to break eHow backlinks if you have them.


Post a Comment

Please leave a comment. Note: Comment SPAM will NOT be approved.