Here I am With My Tabby Cat-I spent far too little time with her while I was fretting about Hubpages
Source: Flora Breen Robison
Vinaya Ghimire interviewed me twice this year. The first time he interviewed me was for my writing and music as well as my thoughts on online writing. Originally intended for Hubpages, he published it on Wizzley, the website where I now publish.
Next he interviewed me on my experience being cyber-bullied while I was on Hubpages, and how I eventually was banned there. He wanted to publish this interview on Wizzley too and tried to do do, but it was un-published and locked out from the website because they believe it should only be published on a personal blog. Therefore, I talked it over with Vinaya, and I have decided to publish it on my own personal blog.
After the break, you will find the whole of the interview with Mr. Ghimere, my friend and an excellent interviewer.
Copyright Vinaya Ghimere and Flora Breen Robison 2012
A True Account of Cyberbully on HubPages
Online writer Flora Breen Robison talks about how she was banned on HubPages and how she was able to move her contents from HubPages to Wizzley.
Flora Breen Robison is a writer, a poet and an artist. Prior to writing on Wizzley, Flora published her works on HubPages. In this interview with Vinaya Ghimire, she talks about her HubPages experience and shares her trauma associated with Cyberbully on HubPages. She gives her side of story on being banned on HubPages. Flora also explains how she was able to move her online contents from HubPages to Wizzley.
You were doing wonderful on HubPages, what made them ban you?
What eventually banned me was far removed from the original problem I had. I had no troubles at all until December 2011 – six months into my time on HubPages. Even then, there was no way to tell what would happen. I got into a forum argument with a friend of mine over bidding sites for writers and an article I had written about my asking people to not accept less than one cent per word when bidding. The friendship has since been restored, but the reason that this argument is the start of my story is that it brought me to the attention of the moderators on the site when I contacted them about what to do. Unfortunately, they didn’t respond to me until nearly a month later and I had to guess what to do when I had other disagreements – I guessed badly.
I’ll skip the actual issue details I had until I get to the next question, but I will say that 2012 has been a nightmare from New Year’s Day on that site. In February, there were a lot of mental health awareness articles being written and because of the issues I had, I was reading them a lot and making comments about my own mental health as a result of the issues I was having – the comments I made were entirely related. But people I will discuss in the next question started flagging all my comments because they thought I was making passive aggressive comments about them rather than direct comments about me. Eventually they contacted me with an example that ironically was about me saying that I was unable to be truthful to someone and still avoid being misunderstood that honesty is the best policy. These were all referenced in the article itself. But for that specific comment to be the example used made me lose my temper.
As I had been trying to discuss mental health – not fan mail (see next question) – I was told that authors cannot be made to delete comments but that if I wanted to avoid problems with others I should police myself. To think I wasn’t allowed to talk about my frustrations even on articles designed to discuss these topics was too much for me. I wrote a poem and published it explaining how all the authors who wrote articles with my comments must delete my comments because I had no free speech and detailing how one person had manipulated a whole bunch of people and I could prove it and I would not stand for it and gave examples. I then left a link to the hub on all the relevant author hubs. It was meant to be a creative way to tell people that the attitude of HubPages moderators was screw you if you are being bullied – you cannot expose people on this site even if it is true. It is true that often things can only be done until a bullied person has done something extreme that will then involve the police. Most bullied people don’t take this route, so I was put on probation. From then on, everything I published had to be approved by the moderators first – even poems about my cat. And since my cat was old and ill, I didn’t really want to write about her. Meanwhile, I love to write about any pain I feel so as to make the pain go away. That is my way of healing, and this avenue was no longer open to me since I had no control over my domain.
I won’t go into any details about how I tried to get people to help me understand the exact details of what I was allowed to say in comments and what I wasn’t allowed to say, but I will say that I was never told exact details until late into my probation and the staff realized that I was feeling persecuted, unfortunately, too late for me as by then I wanted nothing else but to get away from people who were flagging me and I was getting nothing done except fretting over being flagged: one more flag and I would be banned.
Another problem was that this happened on March 1st, the day that Youtube changed its policy on video links. That is what finally signaled my demise, not the comments or hubs I wrote. I ended up with a large number of links that were broken and needed to be fixed, all my poetry based on song titles were broken. I was overwhelmed. I decided to try and fix them all at once – I shouldn’t have bothered – and when I submitted them for approval, the moderators found a bunch of problems with photos and tags which had been there for months. This suggests to me that the moderators don’t read anything that hasn’t been flagged.
I had always referred to these poems as “Song-title Poetry” but they called that a deceptive tag and they didn’t like my photos either. I was frustrated with the time I would have to spend fixing them instead of looking for a new job, but it never occurred to me that these tags and photos would get me banned as lots of hubs would simply remain unpublished while the authors themselves were not banned. But I was submitting 25 of them in one day with no order as to when they were originally published. I was doing this by alphabetical order and I guess they decided that I should be punished for the tag earlier so why not now?
That is just I guess because I was never given an explanation and my account did remain open. My account would be closed, I had been told, based on comments I make being flagged. I simply went to the website after being offline for a few hours and found “Sorry, this user has been banned” on my profile page. Yet my account was still open and I was still in charge of my new Question and Answer domain. The ads were still on there and I can still ask questions after submitting them for approval. Therefore, it had to be the tags and photos.
The next day I discovered I was still being sent updates about hubs and forums I was following earlier and turned off the option to have staff contact me. After that, they were not allowed to contact me via HubPages.
What were the issues you had with other members on HubPages?
I am interpreting this question as referring to why I was put on probation in the first place. Most of the people on HubPages were wonderful and not a problem. All it takes is one person and a bad reaction from you to make the experience horrible.
On January 1st I read an article by a person whom previously I had not paid any attention at all except for a couple of articles about fellow members. In it, she described how she felt hubbers could get more traffic. One item-one – stated that she felt we should not write depressing things as no one will want to read them. I wrote a response article – how I generally respond to articles rather than in comments on the hub – where I wrote about how we are not here to cheer people up and I need to write about my pain when I am hurting as this makes me heal. I write for me. I am not the only one who does this, and if you want to avoid reading me, fine. But don’t tell me I cannot write this. After the initial interest in the article, I promptly forgot about it and forgot what I had said in the comments section etc. what I did not realize that there was a high profile hubber who gets her spies to photograph everything so that if you delete it there is still proof.
I was asked in the comment section to describe hubs that I personally don’t love, but that it would never occur to me to tell the author not to write that type of hub because all I have to do is simply not read them. I think it was you, actually, that asked a follow-up question where my answer set off the person who would eventually get me put on probation – S625. I said, innocently I thought, in a throw away comment that I didn’t see the point in writing fan letters to famous people on HubPages because they would probably never read them on that site. They would be more likely to read them if you wrote to them personally via snail mail or their personal or fan-based website. This enraged her and she filed it away in her mind.
Meanwhile, I made a huge mistake I didn’t know I was making until it was too late. I joined a closed group on Facebook, in which this woman was a site administrator. Since it was a closed group, I didn’t know what was going on until I joined. People were encouraged not only to share the hubs of members only, but actively encouraged to share hubs of people who participated in the hub sharing. To do this properly would require hours unless you shared only the hubs of people who were the most active and therefore, in your mind all the time.
One of the people whose hub I shared calls herself TS on HubPages. I don’t know what she did to set S625 off and I don’t care anymore. I care about my own life. It is not my business, either. But as part of the way of S625 to get back at her she told TS about my article written on January 1st which TS had apparently never read. I was in the middle of writing an online resume for a job that I never did get because I ended up to upset to submit my resume on time. I had to check my email for information. I found a slew of emails in which I had been tagged from HubPages originating from a post TS made in which she called me a RAT and a PSYCHO – capital letters and all. From then on I was crying and totally unable to do anything.
After I was kicked out of the group without responding to this flaming war, TS left a scathing comment about me based on what S625 told about me and the friend of mine I mentioned above regarding bidding sites. I blocked her completely. I then got an email from S625 saying I had betrayed her and TS – this really confused me as I didn’t know TS at all rally except as someone I was supposed to share her hubs on the Facebook group.
Although TS and I made up briefly via a mutual friend – she never did apologize of her own accord, something that should have been a red flag – she started to misread general comments I made about S625 without naming her as I was not allowed to do so and decided that she was being targeted. So I was once more plunged into fretting about TS flagging comments I make at 3am. No one else who knew the situation thought I was talking about anyone other than S625, including the woman on the bidding sites issue. Everyone knew what I meant, except Tammy. Again, this mutual friend tried all he could to calm her down and keep me on the site. All for naught as I was banned anyway for tags and photos.
If TS had stopped blocking me on social media sites after I was kicked off HubPages, I would have ignored her and moved on with my life with no thought of her as the issue. But she didn’t. And I realized what I should have realized all along. That if TS had not called me a rat or a psycho in the first place – however, much she was hurting at the time – I would have finished my resume on time. I may not have gotten the job anyway, but I was in no mental state from that time on to do anything online except worry about betting banned. As such, I find I blame TS more than I blame S625 now for the events on HubPages. Really. I have both of them blocked on all social media sites now. And when I told people that my feelings when I dropped a Facebook group because she joined, that they could stop following me if they objected, no one did. Most people are perfectly capable of being friends with people who cannot stand each other.
When you delete articles on a certain site and want to publish on another, there are lots of groundwork to do, such as removing the links from search engine database and removing web cache. How did you manage to move your contents from HubPages to Wizzley?
It’s a lot longer if you are trying to do this article by article, instead of your complete domain name as I did. The first thing you do is unpublish your articles, mine were automatically when I was banned. Normally you have to wait 3 weeks until the Google bot scans the web for your article and finds it doesn’t exist. However, I got help friend, a writer on HubPages, who told me how to speed up the process. You contact Google and get them to de-index your articles all at once. It takes 3 days at the most, often less time. That is what I did.
When I went to publish my first article on Wizzley, I got a message saying that it was detected as being on HP and I couldn’t publish it. I contacted the site administration as I was confused, and he assured me that the computer bot recognizes an unpublished article when it sees one and that the warning is generated automatically so it can indeed be published. I pressed publish and it was published.
I still get reminders about content needing to be original, but I publish articles and there is not a problem.