How to Be a Good Hubber and Online Citizen

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Hubbers are more than just members of HubPages as the impact of their work (not to mention their online activity) extends far beyond the bounds of HubPages.com.

By publishing work online you are acting as an online citizen.

This role comes with privileges as well as responsibilities.

To maximize your privileges, we recommend that you step up to your responsibilities as an online citizen by adhering to the following best practices:

We invite you to explore these principles in greater depth below.

Where Do You Stand Now?

Do you see yourself as an active internet citizen?

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Give More Than You Take

The most successful Hubs are those that contribute unique value to the world. This principle can be applied to your online activity in general.

Before posting anything online, be it a Facebook post, a tweet, an article, or a comment on a Hub, we recommend asking yourself:

  • Will someone else find this to be useful, interesting, or entertaining?
  • Is this contributing something of value to the online world?
  • Does this reflect positively on my online reputation?

You might find these questions to be obvious, but each and every one of us can slip up from time to time, especially given our tendency toward burnout, the pervasiveness of bad advice online, and the ease with which one can forget the humanity of one’s readers and online colleagues.

Should you try to take more than you give (that is, provide little value while attempting to drive traffic and sales), you will be quickly met by failure and disappointment.

The more open you are to the idea of giving things away (that is, sharing your expertise, insights, and passions) while expecting nothing in return, the more likely you are to get far more than you would ever have expected otherwise.

Set Realistic Expectations

Most people who make the mistake of attempting to take more than they give online have also fallen into the trap of setting unrealistic expectations.

If your online activity is driven primarily by a motivation to quickly:

  • Make money
  • Drive sales
  • Get famous

Stop. In addition to setting yourself up for disappointment, you are almost certainly ensuring your failure. One does not simply make money, drive sales, or get famous online without expending effort. Even when one is willing to put in a lot of effort toward one’s online ventures, it will still take quite some time before even moderate success, if any, is achieved.

If you are not intrinsically motivated to create content (or do anything) online simply because you enjoy doing so, you are not likely to succeed.

Does this mean that it is not OK to want to make money, drive sales, or get famous? Absolutely not. Those are perfectly fine things to desire, and they may very well be within your reach. That said, it would be a profound mistake to expect significant achievement to just fall in your lap.

True online success requires:

  • A lot of trial and error

  • A great deal of research

  • A great deal of effort

  • The ability to provide something of unique value

  • The ability to meet an unmet need

If you are not willing to bring these things to the table, walk away.

Don't Swallow "Get Rich/Famous Quick" Schemees Hook, Line, and Sinker

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What to Expect from HubPages

Before we go any further, let us make some important clarifications about HubPages:

  • Becoming successful on HubPages takes a lot of work and talent. To do well on our site, you have to be truly passionate, good at writing, and adept at expressing information in a mixture of visual and written formats. Successful Hubs take a long time to research and write. They cannot be published quickly and effortlessly.
  • On HubPages, you are not likely to gain significant earnings or viewership within your first year of publication, even if you regularly publish high quality Hubs (this is a long-term game).
  • Once you do build up significant viewership and earnings on HubPages, your earnings will still be modest (think hundreds of dollars a month) and will not be enough to support you exclusively.
  • You may indeed find work and other media opportunities through HubPages, however nobody is going to offer opportunities to you unless you develop a good online reputation and provide unique, valuable work.

Celebrate Sharing Online

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Share and Share Alike

Sharing is one of the most important values of the internet- its very purpose, after all, is to facilitate the exchange of information.

We therefore recommend that you maintain an open mind when it comes to celebrating others’ willingness to share while also sharing as much as you can yourself.

There are many ways to celebrate the internet’s flare for sharing as a Hubber, including:

  • Helping others by sharing free advice in the HubPages Forums
  • Providing encouragement and tips to members of the community through insightful comments on Hubs
  • Giving your images Creative Commons licenses that enable others to use them in their work so long as they attribute you and link back to your work

Promoting photographers who give their images Creative Commons licenses by showcasing their work (properly, of course, and with correct attribution) in your Hubs

Don't Leave Abandoned Profiles in Place

A half-finished or empty account is like an abandoned house. Do not contribute to the "urban blight" of the internet by letting abandoned accounts sit around!
A half-finished or empty account is like an abandoned house. Do not contribute to the "urban blight" of the internet by letting abandoned accounts sit around! | Source

Maintain Your Accounts

Just as a good citizen of your local community would maintain his home and front yard, respond to phone calls, and be generally accessible, a good online citizen will maintain her active accounts and respond to mentions and messages in a timely manner.

Some helpful tips to live by:

  • Update your content when it becomes out of date
  • Respond to emails, queries, and questions in a timely manner
  • If you create an account, complete the setup process (add a profile picture, a bio, etc.)
  • If you create an account, use it, or clearly explain that the account is a placeholder, and let people know where/how you might be reached (a Twitter account with one tweet will make you look somewhat pathetic)

It is important that people see a complete identity behind the accounts you create; not just a blank profile image and a half-finished bio or some furtive posts. The more three-dimensional you make your HubPages identity (and any other online identity), the more likely people will be to trust, follow, and appreciate it.

Create Your Own Laws - And Stick to Them!

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Create Your Own Code of Conduct

A great proportion of one’s trustworthiness lies in one’s consistency. To make your online behavior consistent, we recommend thinking through and establishing a code of conduct, then sticking to it.

This code of conduct does not have to be published; it simply helps to have a reference point that clearly establishes what you will and will not do online.

Here are some questions your code of conduct should be able to answer:

  • What is my purpose online?
  • How do I respond to or moderate comments?
  • How do I respond to and handle rude behavior from others?
  • What tone do I utilize in my writing?
  • What subjects do I specialize in?
  • What subjects do I avoid?
  • What is important to my HubPages identity?
  • What is not important to my HubPages identity?

Your code of conduct and personality as a Hubber may evolve over time- that’s fine. What matters is that you present your friends, colleagues, and followers online with a personality that is consistent.

What About You?

Do you have an online code of conduct?

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Avoid Getting Caught in Online Fights

In almost all cases, you'll end up displaying yourself in an unflattering light.
In almost all cases, you'll end up displaying yourself in an unflattering light. | Source

Maintain Courtesy and Professionalism

Truly great Hubbers and online citizens in general do not get caught up in online drama, intrigue, flame wars, or pettiness. They do not speak ill of others. They react calmly and politely (if at all) to even the gravest of insults.

It is not easy to do this. But ultimately, maintaining your professionalism online can save you from a lot of personal hardship, stress, and damage (and let’s not even go into about the favor you will be doing to your online reputation by always taking the high road- we could write volumes on the subject).

Sometimes the easiest way to maintain your professional polish online involves avoiding sensitive subjects.

By straying away from expressing your opinion or getting involved with discussions related to the following things, you can avoid an immense amount of potential conflict:

  • Religion
  • Politics
  • Race

Are you discussing race, politics, or religion? Tread with caution.
Are you discussing race, politics, or religion? Tread with caution. | Source

Weigh In!

Is there any controversial subject you JUST CAN'T AVOID?

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Even the most graceful, dignified individuals look foolish when engaging in online conflicts.
Even the most graceful, dignified individuals look foolish when engaging in online conflicts. | Source

Should someone go out of their way to leave an insulting comment on you work, post a snarky response in the Forums, speak ill of you elsewhere on HubPages (or anywhere online) or send you an insulting message:

  • Disengage
  • Do not respond
  • Delete the offending content, should it be within your power to do so

If you must respond (we really, really do not recommend doing so), be succinct and professional.

Attempts to do the following will likely amount to nothing more than a worse problem, more stress for you, and the embarrassing degradation of your online reputation:

  • Change the other person’s mind
  • Attack the other person
  • Defend your view
  • Defend your reputation (ironically, the best way to defend your reputation involves not engaging at all)

When responding responsibly to antagonizing online behavior becomes too much to handle- if you do not feel you can keep from responding to a rude remark or attack- close your browser, turn off your computer, and walk away. Go for a walk outside. Spend some time with your family.

A bit of fresh air can provide a lot of perspective. Ultimately, nobody cares what that @$$#&!# said in the Forums and neither should you.

What Constitutes Harm Online?

It's easy to tell what counts as "harm" in the physical world, but do you know how you might be causing harm online?
It's easy to tell what counts as "harm" in the physical world, but do you know how you might be causing harm online? | Source

Do No Harm

The idea that you should do no harm as an online citizen should hardly require mention, except for one important consideration: it can sometimes be difficult to tell what actions online harm others.

We therefore recommend not only taking care to not engage in harmful action, but to learn about seemingly-innocent actions that can actually do harm.

Common examples include:

  • Inadvertently violating others’ copyright by using copyrighted images in Hubs without permission
  • Using someone’s Creative Commons-licensed work without properly attributing them and linking back to their work
  • Tarnishing someone’s experience on a social media site by flooding it with links to your content
  • Harming your own reputation by only posting promotional content (e.g. links back to your Hubs) to a social media channel
  • Not considering the consequences of a message you publish (that it might hurt someone else without helping anyone or contributing useful information to the collective body of online knowledge)
  • Sharing private or sensitive information about another person

The best advice we can give on this front is to be informed about online content and to think about the potential consequences of your actions before you take them.

Protect Yourself and Protect Others!

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