eHow, I call bullshit

bullshit Featured

Ian Lurie Jan 25 2010

ehow - i call bullshit
There have been a lot of rumblings lately about eHow, one of many massive content farms, hurting their writers’ revenue. Accusations include:

Side note: What is eHow? Read Rishil’s article Content Farms – The Who, What, and The Why, for an overview.

I have to admit, I blew a lot of it off. I think content farms are the Devil’s work, but blatantly conning their writers seems ridiculous. And I’ve seen plenty of bloggers and forum lurkers turn into angry rabble rousers around rumors and half-truths.
But I kept hearing more and more complaints. Plus, I started hearing from folks who are pretty solid citizens.
And then I looked at the eHow terms of service. Wow.

eHow terms of servitude

I went to law school about a million years ago. And I got a D in Contracts. So I’m hardly an authority. But, as one of my professors once said: If it stinks and it’s mushy, it’s probably bullshit.
eHow’s terms are both stinky and mushy. A few tidbits:
You hereby grant eHow a worldwide, royalty-free, freely transferable, freely sublicensable (through unlimited levels of sublicense), non-exclusive license to use, reproduce, modify, transmit, distribute, publicly perform and display (including in each case by means of a digital audio transmission), and create derivative works of the Content, in any form, media, or technology now known or later developed.
Translation: We can re-use your content any way we want.
Another beauty:
You acknowledge that the posting of your Content for any period of time is sufficient consideration for the license granted herein to eHow.
Translation: We’re paying you, but we don’t have to, because the honor of having your content posted on our site is enough. So take your money and like it, loser (K, I added that last bit).
And my last, favorite one (WCP = Writer Compensation Program):
You agree that from time to time we may, at our sole discretion, modify, suspend, add to, remove or discontinue all or any portion of the WCP or the Supplemental Terms, and that we will not be liable to you or to any third party for doing so.
Translation: We can pay you less, or nothing, whenever we want.
This is a license to steal. If you agree to these terms, you have no recourse if:

  • eHow decides to once again publish your content on other sites where you don’t get compensated;
  • eHow decides to remake your content into a podcast and not pay you for it;
  • eHow decides to pay you a lot less.

Unresolved issue: eHow owes their writers some dough

eHow had US content up on the UK web site for months. While it was there, it funneled search traffic away from the US site, where writers got paid for the traffic, to the UK site, where they didn’t.
After a lot of complaints, eHow removed the content and redirected the traffic to the US. But they still haven’t paid the writers for the UK site traffic. So eHow got something – traffic – from its writers without paying them.
That’s usually called ‘stealing’.
Now you want to say, “Ian, don’t be such a bleeding heart. The writers should have read the terms of service.”

Why eHow’s actions are evil

I’m not a bleeding heart. I’m also not against writers getting published and not paid. It gets folks exposure, and it’s a great marketing tactic.
But I get pretty pissed when I see a site like eHow talk about how you can ‘EARN MORE MONEY!’ by writing for them. It’s a bait and switch: You write, you get paid for a while, and then when they decide enough’s enough, eHow can yank your earnings out from under you.
Most important, I do not like bullies. eHow is pulling together large populations of relatively naive writers and saying saying ‘sign here’. Then they get them to churn out content. And, when eHow’s margins need a boost, they intentionally or unintentionally beat them down with a ridiculous Terms of Service document.
suckah-sign.gif
This is exactly the kind of thing that makes me angry.

How eHow can fix it

eHow hasn’t laid out any kind of plan for fixing all this. Reputation management 101 says they should:

  1. Own the problem: Admit they screwed up on both the terms of service and the content duplication to the UK site.
  2. Build transparency: Show everyone how you pay them. Period. There’s no excuse for a metered system where you hide the meter.
  3. Pay your writers: Pay your writers, now, for their UK traffic.
  4. Fix your terms of service so that it would at least rate a B-.

And please, eHow, come and comment here. I’ll publish your answer. You can definitely fix this, but doing nothing is not the way.

Recent and related

tags : conversation marketing

58 Comments

  1. Former eHow Writer

    I am determined to gain this post maximum distribution through every possible avenue I have access to.
    I encourage your readers to do the same.
    Thanks, Ian!

  2. rishil

    Ian I knew of some writer discontent, but wasnt aware of this level of deviousness! Wicked Call out and right on the *ahem* money.
    *This comment is only licensed for publication on this blog and on this specific post. Traffic from any countries other than the US are only allowed to readd the first 5 characters, after which you must close your eyes and scroll down to next comment. *

  3. Ian

    @Former What I’d really like is a real discussion with eHow, minus the drama. eHow, how about it?

  4. Kim

    Good job, Ian. I doubt I’m the only one hoping this will encourage a bit more transparency and accountability from eHow and Demand Media. Will stay tuned for eHow’s answer. (But I’ve learned not to hold my breath while doing so.)

  5. Carla

    Thanks for this. I submitted it to StumbleUpon and Mixx, which I hope will circulate it more widely.

  6. Nichemomma

    I have followed this as well. There are/were good points to eHow. They did pay relatively well and the passive revenue model allowed someone like me, a busy stay at home mom, to earn money even if I couldn’t be at work. I have articles that I literally wrote in 20 minutes and have made over $400 on them. For me, eHow really was a godsend.
    But.
    They do have some issues with the whole UK thing. I have blogged a bit about my perspective on the issue.
    I really hope this isn’t the beginning of the end. I hope eHow’s management gets a clue and fixes their business model. Not just for the benefit of the writers, but for their benefit too. They will not come out unscathed if they stumble now. This is going to be a major public relations nightmare that will hit major media outlets given enough time. Not to mention the lawyers I’ve run into who are pursuing legal action.
    NicheMomma

  7. Former eHow Writer

    I had posted a link to this post on their forum, Ian. It was deleted within minutes.
    It is truly unfortunate what has occurred to writers.
    I have been watching this unravel for the past several weeks/months.
    The most disturbing thing of all this is that it wasn’t until they were pressured by a small handful of savvy writers, some 6 months after posting (and EARNING, without compensating), that they really decided to do anything about it.
    This does not speak very highly of their character, or business practices, at all.
    Thank you, Ian, for this post, and for providing us with a place to discuss this issue civilly. So far, pages upon pages of MANY different user comments and concerns have all been deleted from their forum. When one user says something it can be attributed to simply wanting to cause a rise out of people, however, when quite a few concerned users say something, and their posts are outright deleted, now THAT is cause for some serious concern.

  8. ZingZing

    I suspect if you want to talk get discourse with ehow, you will have to phone or visit. :)
    Good synopsis of terms.. also in contract law isn’t it void if the contract is written to favor one party more than the other? I don’t know much but without signature and with onesideness – how enforceable is it?

  9. Yeah, right! So you can * me?

    First, do not believe everything in the forums is representative of the majority. Just sayin …
    Second, let’s see some other TOS – there’s a lot of BS out there. I’ve read a lot of it! Just sayin…
    Third, there is STILL no better place for the average Joe or Josephine to to earn money online than eHow. Don’t like the TOS – don’t sign up!
    One of the reasons the US and the entire civilized world is so financially screwed up right now is because no one reads the TOS (like your mortgage Note for example) and then when reality bites you in the a** you go crying for class action suit, government save me!
    I’m sick of reading the crying and the bitching! Don’t like it? Go to another site that will take better care of you!
    Just saying…
    PS – I really, really hate that ‘just sayin’ in case you didn’t notice! What the h*** are you just sayin??????? You’re a self proclaimed writer! Can’t you do better than ‘just sayin’??? Or do you want extra for that?

  10. Former eHow Writer

    In response to OP:
    “I’m sick of reading the crying and the bitching! Don’t like it? Go to another site that will take better care of you!”
    We have.
    Sometimes people speak and do what is right simply because it is the RIGHT thing to do.
    Just because your earnings haven’t been affected doesn’t mean it is RIGHT.
    “Second, let’s see some other TOS – there’s a lot of BS out there. I’ve read a lot of it! Just sayin…”
    Please, provide an example that takes it to THIS extreme.
    P.S. Your post is really revealing of your character. Clearly, you are a perfect candidate to write for eHow.
    I’m sure Ian would much prefer this discussion remain civil.

  11. Yep..Yep..Just Sayin

    “One of the reasons the US and the entire civilized world is so financially screwed up right now is because no one reads the TOS (like your mortgage Note for example) and then when reality bites you in the a** you go crying for class action suit, government save me!

    AGREE..TOTALLY
    LOL..i hate all that “just sayin” too..SAY WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY…GOD BLESSED YOU (i think) with the prolific use of words and your pc’s home keys…just say it d!am1n..but its the “cute in phrase” Paris had “thats hot”..some writers have..”just sayin”. its annoying.
    anyhoot
    Secret sauce or not, ehow is the best place around (content mill) or not to write. But you can’t please them all. Earnings are nothing more than opportunity, not a life long promise, they have other jobs and sources of income for that.
    additionally, the whole “content mill” stuff is getting equally as old. CONTENT IS THE NEW CURRENCY. And since there is no longer a content gatekeeper, it bugs the he!ll out of the ones who feel specially “anointed to write”. Now thats some bullshat..
    just sayin..lol

  12. Syzlak

    If content is the new currency, wouldn’t that make eHow writers the new indentured servants?

  13. Yeah, right! So you can * me?

    You haven’t a clue to my character and you have totally avoided the real issue. READ the TOS before you sign up. That’s what it’s all about!
    Please notice that the reason I am anonymous is not out of cowardice or lack of conviction but because I have seen first hand what happens to those who don’t agree with the nastiest of the forums.
    Read! Take responsibility for yourselves and stop trying to get your own bailout!
    I guarantee if eHow threw money at this everyone would shut up fast. Have you ever seen who gets paid first in a class action suit? Everyone loses except the lawyers!

  14. Former eHow Writer

    Ian,
    I would like to see some productive discourse occur here. Unfortunately, the only posts (thusfar) that are siding with eHow are so filled with so many grammar and spelling errors, and ZERO adherence to any kind of form, that it just gives the appearance that those posts were conjured up by 3 year olds.
    “Earnings are nothing more than opportunity, not a life long promise….”
    If I understand this statement correctly, why would anyone in their right mind EVER write for eHow in the first place? I’ve seen bad investments….but this has to be one of the worst investments of someone’s time and energy, ESPECIALLY if this site will be utilizing and displaying your content for a lifetime…..
    If they will be using my content for a lifetime, they had better be paying me residuals for a lifetime. This is a very crowded industry and there are tons of companies vying for the top spot who ARE transparent with their business practices, and earning’s distribution.
    I have deeply analyzed the TOS of upwards of 20 of these similar companies, and, while some approach eHow’s shadiness, I can honestly say that none have reached it thus far.
    I am still waiting for an example of a TOS that takes it to such an extreme as eHow does. Please, provide it, and we can discuss civilly. Thank you!

  15. Yep..Yep..Just Sayin

    “If content is the new currency, wouldn’t that make eHow writers the new indentured servants?

    I guess I’m one of those lucky slaves/servants who feels I can come and go on the “plantation” as I please. Ehow is just one feather in my hat. I’m not married/tied to writing there. What I am enamored with, however, is information is changing our economy. And instead of some people really grasping the change and leveraging it-they beat the hell out of ehow, I suppose for “pioneering” such a concept-to get paid for information. What most SHOULD be uncovering is the fact that the information model is pretty flat now and its an open game. Literally no barriers to entry anymore.
    In my slave vernacular…”We’s free now”…(at least those who haven’t constructed slave/master relationships in their OWN minds with ehow. But hey..thinking makes it so right?

  16. Yep..Yep..Just Sayin

    “If content is the new currency, wouldn’t that make eHow writers the new indentured servants?

    I guess I’m one of those lucky slaves/servants who feels I can come and go on the “plantation” as I please. Ehow is just one feather in my hat. I’m not married/tied to writing there. What I am enamored with, however, is information is changing our economy. And instead of some people really grasping the change and leveraging it-they beat the hell out of ehow, I suppose for “pioneering” such a concept-to get paid for information. What most SHOULD be uncovering is the fact that the information model is pretty flat now and its an open game. Literally no barriers to entry anymore.
    In my slave vernacular…”We’s free now”…(at least those who haven’t constructed slave/master relationships in their OWN minds with ehow. But hey..thinking makes it so right?

  17. Kim

    Looks like there are a few eHow plants here, but at least everyone gets a chance to speak–UNLIKE eHow’s forums, where all of the pro-eHow comments are kept and the dissenters are deleted.
    I’m flabbergasted by the whole “leave if you don’t like it” attitude. Writers were counting on eHow to act in good faith. They invested their time and talent in eHow at a time when jobs were in short supply, and the loss of that investment has seriously hurt many families.
    If those who suggest “love it or leave it” had deposited money in a bank that decided to steal THEIR investments, I doubt they’d walk away quietly and start over somewhere else.
    And since when is eHow the best place to write? Its model lets eHow mine the analytics data, delete the high earning residual articles they would otherwise owe money on for years, and replace those articles with content they pay one low fee for–keeping the high rankings and most of the backlinks.
    Critical thinking skills, people, come on. It’s not that difficult.

  18. onesideness - how enforceable is it? Yeah, right! So you can * me? Read more: eHow, I call bullshi

    eHow plants? What you’re saying is anyone who does not agree with you must be just a plant for eHow. I guess it’s not possible that there are any satisfied writers on eHow. (You know, those who can pay their mortgage with their life-long residual income.)
    Since you do not want to address the real issue of taking responsibility for accepting the terms of writing for eHow which is my only point, I see no further point in increasing this blog’s Alexa rating by contributing to pointless banter.
    Best wishes!

  19. JP

    “You acknowledge that the posting of your Content for any period of time is sufficient consideration for the license granted herein to eHow.”
    I thought that meant that even if you put an article up and remove it that the TOS would apply. At least that’s my interpretation.
    I agree that writers should read the terms. I did. I also appreciate eHow expanding, except that they created competition between the UK and the original articles. eHow talks about plagiarism a lot and there is even a tacked thread to report sites. This is an issue not only because of copyright, but because it takes away traffic thus money. Isn’t this what eHow has done?
    The term content mill doesn’t sit well with me either. I think puppy mill. Who likes puppy mills? Maybe that’s what people think about eHow. Despite everything they have done wrong, I have learned a lot about writing online by being involved with the website.
    Thanks for writing about this and I hope eHow will answer.

  20. Louise

    eHow is full of Bull!
    They are deliberately holding back on their writers and doing everything they can to keep every last penny possible.
    Demand Media is most likely going to stop using eHow writers within the next year and those devil worshipers that parade the eHow forums like they own them will be taken down a notch.

  21. IloveeHow

    Ok, I love eHow. They have paid me every single month for a very long time no matter if I write any new articles or not. I love how the “former ehow writer” calls out to Ian to do something when someone says something good about eHow-pretty typical. Anyone who does not join in the bitching club is called every name but nice in the forum and when the ones who like eHow would dare to engage in any sort of debate, these posters just rant and rant- it is funny to sit back and watch actually. Anyway, ehow did make a mistake with the UK thing but people are just so crazy about it when hardly anyone can actually prove they lost any money at all. How could anyone even prove they lost money when the pay scale is secret? (which it should not be).
    I find this whole thing kind of funny…Now “former eHow writer” will get all mad and throw a fit to Ian for people posting good things about ehow- funny stuff right there.

  22. LS

    They have taken the articles down from the U.K. site now, and that has already given my revenue a boost. I don’t expect to ever see anything from the U.K. traffic. But, as long as they don’t pull this again, I won’t pull my articles from the site. It would be a huge hassle to do so.
    I have a LOT of content there, and I really don’t need any more hassles from them. The U.K. issue is really just the tip of the iceburg with them lately. There have been a lot of things that seem a little shady, like high-earning articles being deleted and replaced with DS articles.
    Of course, I also write for DS. Sometimes it seems as if the company is gobbling up the Web and dominating the Web writing game for a lot of people.
    However, eHow is not the shadiest of the content sites- that prize goes to HowToDoThings.com. That site recently stopped paying us our rev share altogether and didn’t bother to tell anyone. People were, and perhaps still are, writing the articles not knowing that the rev share was suspended suddenly and for no reason.
    Then, they took our articles and started selling them as leaflets on Amazon. That one really wins the ***hole prize as far as I’m concerned.

  23. Chameleon

    You know eHow is a big company that can and should stick up for itself. If you are here siding with them and being anonymous don’t pretend it is because of backlash. The worst that would happen is your articles would be one-starred and we already know that doesn’t mean anything. More than likely you are either just a plant or were not affected and are in need of drama.
    As for eHow: they have given themselves a reputation of being a great place to write and earn and -though not surprising – a move of this nature (the current UK situation) was out of “the norm” even for eHow.
    They have functioned for years using the same TOS and have done so in a manner in which writers were not so blatantly unappreciated. So, yes, those who are frustrated have every right to be so.
    And for the record I choose to be anonymous not for fear of one stars but because eHow has proven that they are not adverse to “screwing the writers who stand against them.” I have continued on with eHow and will do so until I see whether these practices are soon to become the “norm” or not.

  24. Dogbert

    Wow, I see we have biases from both sides of the fence on here today. So, I’ll try to bring some middle ground to the discussion. First of all, it is rather unfair that eHow has not reimbursed the writers for the UK articles. I understand that many writers are quite heated about this and with good reason since they were expecting the same treatment and double the exposure since they were on UK and US versions of the site. However, it was kind of them to have eventually taken down the eHow UK articles when they could have just said, “Read the TOS. You chose to write here, so live with it.” Still, it would be more professional for them to pay the writers.
    Second, while some of the eHow bashing threads were deleted, not all of them are deleted. I know I’ve written a few angry eHow threads and they were not deleted. In fact, Julie actually replied to one and she’s one of the voices of main eHow website (along with Rich). Some are deleted and others are not. I have no clue why. I can think of at least one forum where people are treated a lot worse in terms of freedom of speech.
    Also, some of the people who do go on there and bash eHow don’t even have any articles published on the site. Some take them down and spend days posting nothing but thread after thread of angry eHow bashing. I don’t mind a few, but if you already removed your articles then you don’t need to spend days–and weeks on occasion–bashing eHow. One or two threads about how much eHow sucks is enough…no need for 10 from the same author. We get it.
    eHow is far from perfect and I do agree that transparency would be great. I agree that eHow can definitely improve. However, it does have some good points as well. I write for multiple websites and so far eHow is earning more (even with the UK fluke). It also helps provide some additional income for those who need it. I agree that it can be better, but it’s not exactly a cesspool of hate.
    Also, I am not an eHow plant. I don’t let the website control my thoughts. I have bashed it for some of it’s practices in the past and I’m not afraid to speak up against them. However, calling someone a plant b/c they want to give an alternative view is like devaluing the input of people, which is ironic since that is what some individuals are saying eHow does by deleting threads. eHow has its good and bad points.

  25. Former eHow Writer

    “How could anyone even prove they lost money when the pay scale is secret? (which it should not be)”
    WHY should it be?
    There are 50+ similar websites out there, and very few of them keep this a secret. Do you understand the shady benefits behind hiding behind a “secret algorithm”?
    There is nothing in Google Adsenses’ TOS that requires a company to keep this revenue share a secret. Naive writers are led to believe that the amount of people they friend, or comments they leave, or articles they rate, are somehow involved in this “algorithm”. In fact, a new writer to eHow is immediately bombarded with tons and tons of friend requests….not because someone REALLY wants to be your friend….but, because somehow these writers believe this equates to higher earnings.
    ….or established writers feel they can get another ad click from an ignorant writer.
    Isn’t it great to have a “secret algorithm” that you can just alter earnings distribution at will, and have members stand up and argue “…but, it’s a secret algorith”. It’s not necessary, nor is it required. On that premise, it’s impossible not to view it as a ploy or cover up for even further shady dealings.

  26. Former eHow Writer

    “I have a LOT of content there, and I really don’t need any more hassles from them.”
    This is the complete spirit of tolerance that is palpable on their forum. Many writers disagree but, then say “Hey, it’s Ok, because eHow pays the bills”….or….”I don’t like what they did, but at least my earnings haven’t been affected…”…..
    I know some people are in financial situations where they need the immediacy of the income. That’s fine. It doesn’t make what they did right.
    You can write wherever you choose to write, however, this is not the type of relationship I would be seeking with a website that I would hope to have content hosted for years to come.

  27. a note about ehow cheerleaders

    Something that outside observers might not be aware of when it comes to users who continually defend eHow and/or attack those who question eHow…many of the most active eHow cheeleaders (antagonists) on the eHow forum are people who were selected to attend special retreats at the eHow headquarters in past years. Outsiders might read their posts and think “hmm, if there are eHow contributors who defend eHow’s actions, it can’t be that bad.”
    These members who attack those who question eHow’s policies are not like the rest of us. They are contributors who have a direct line to eHow staff. Who knows if they are compensated under the table. But they are extremely biased toward eHow because they have been granted certain privileges that others have not been granted. And yes Amy Kuncaitis I am talking about you.

  28. Former eHow Writer

    “Now “former eHow writer” will get all mad and throw a fit to Ian for people posting good things about ehow- funny stuff right there.”
    Did you even take the time to read Ian’s post before commenting? He cited real tangible excerpts from their TOS. There is no way that TOS will stand in the face of a Judge/Jury. Just watch.
    If you would like to “post good things” about eHow, that’s your perogative. Noone is stopping you from supporting crooks. Unfortunately, your defense of them doesn’t speak very highly of you at all…however wrong, you are entitled to your opinion.

  29. I’m not earning tons on ehow but I can say that their business practices definitely lack.
    -Stealing writers copyrighted content and using it elsewhere (UK site)
    -Deleting accounts of those that complain
    -Crushing the Pink Elephant Aviator passive resistance movement
    -Deleting forum posts that raise questions
    -eHow spokesperson Rich is even deleting his own forum posts that raise issues he can’t handle the heat on.
    I’ve been blogging about this train wreak for a while now. Some people rely on ehow to pay mortgages and to live on. Treating your business partners like sh!t is just not cool. http://www.innovativepassiveincome.com/ehow-uk-site-is-not-paying-us-writers/

  30. Anonymous

    eHow is now deleting forum comments to spin the truth–and lies–out of control.
    This comment, responding to another member was posted tonight:
    “Maybe what everyone is missing is that the site was never in the UK. It was and is located in the US…”
    This was the response that Rich, eHow’s rep, gave:
    “Actually we have an office in the UK.”
    Another user then asked:
    “So Rich, are you saying the UK site server is located in the UK, and not in the US?”
    And when that question was deleted, the same user asked:
    “Rich, why did you delete my question? It wasn’t disrespectful or against the terms of forum use, and I am trying to avoid making assumptions.
    Are you saying that the UK website server is physically located in the UK and not in the US? Because I would like the opportunity to apologize and correct myself if I was wrong about this.”
    This second question was promptly deleted.
    So Rich’s comment that they have an office in the UK seems to imply that the UK website is located in the UK. And by not allowing this question asking for clarification, it has the effect of leading people to believe that the UK server is located in the UK.
    “Leading people to believe” seems to be what eHow does best.
    Sorry for the long comment, Ian, but if eHow won’t answer the question on their turf, then they’re going to have to answer a whole lot more on someone else’s–sooner or later.

  31. Kim

    I see the point a couple of readers made about my “eHow plant” comment, so I will explain: More than one eHow member has recently claimed to be a “secret forum moderator,” and this seems to be born out by the fact that the “wrong” posts manage to quickly be deleted 24/7.
    That would be tough to achieve without other members helping from the inside, considering the two official moderators have to sleep sometime.
    So yes, I do believe eHow is not above sending people to other venues to do their PR.
    That said, @Dogbert would not be one of them, in my opinion, as I have to concede he is reasonable and logical, even though we don’t agree.

  32. Chameleon

    I’ll concede to a poor choice of wording but I do beg to differ. Devaluing IMO is what those who are constantly telling others who have suffered to shut up and and take it or leave. There is something to be said for standing up for what is right.
    Not everyone is going about it the right way and the bashing has gotten out of hand on both sides. However, what is getting lost is that many have seriously lost out – some more than others. Those people do have a right to be upset and get answers – they also have the right to say “Hey, I’ll not be treated this way!” without getting jumped on for standing up for themselves.
    I personally have been down nearly $100/mo since shortly after the start up of the UK site. That number has started to balance out though since many of my higher ranking article url’s that previously only showed UK results have been corrected.
    The saddest thing to me is that all of this could have been avoided if eHow had chosen to take the higher, more respectable, road instead of getting greedy.

  33. Amy Kuncaitis

    Hey “a note about eHow cheerleader”,
    Please don’t single me out and make this about some jealous feelings you have about people who were invited to the WeHow event. I have been with eHow almost 3 years, and yes I am a cheerleader for eHow, they have been good to me. I do think they made a grave mistake with the UK ordeal. I don’t think they are perfect. I do try to stay positive and productive with the forums and eHow in general- there is no reason to be so angry about that.
    There were something like 25-30 people invited to the WeHow event-why single me out? Just because I have a different viewpoint and it is not yours does not mean I am the enemy. I have never once attacked someone personally unless I was defending myself. However, some others have attacked me, my character, and more and then turned around and said I was attacking them- very childish.
    Anyway, there is no reason to call me out by name and hide behind some anonymous name. It has nothing to do with Ian’s post what so ever.

  34. Nice encapsulation of the UK controversy, Ian. Personally, I’m not surprised that something like this would happen and I bet they’ll get away with it without any significant negative repercussions.
    I do agree w/ the commenter immediately above me. eHow could’ve avoided any and all controversy by handling the situation better.
    You recommend that they pay up for the UK content. I wonder if the mechanisms were even in place to determine what the earnings were, etc. Plus, if they do pay up everyone should keep their fingers crossed that they take your transparency advice, too. Otherwise, they can shell out something to smooth things over and then just dial back the pay-o-meter in a month or two to make up the difference, lol.

  35. I think the terms and lack of transparency on the part of eHow is the reason that there is so much crap in the How’s. I wouldn’t try most of the steps that folks publish out there. The whole system has turned into nothing more than a quick buck, literally a buck.
    I have few articles out there, that quite frankly are crap too and as long as they keep sending some change to my PP Account I;m good. But, I save my good stuff for my blog or guest blogging It’s a poor attitude to have but its clear they are taking the bulk of the money so who cares.

  36. Bob

    Please send this to the newspapers or post it in Google News! This will really force eHow to do the right things concerning writers.
    You have intelligently expressed what so many eHow writers have felt. There had been a fear to speak out on the forums, because of eHow spies and tattletakes.
    Until these few writers got fed up, eHow had the flavor of Nazi Germany, in that other members would report back to the the Party if you said anything negative about what is going on.
    Many have seen eHow’s retaliatory hand as high paying articles are dumped or non-related ads are put on articles. No Freedom, no Peace!

  37. Jake

    Undoubtedly some of eHows employees will post here to try to discredit what writers are saying. I can smell em! Bullshit

  38. Crunchy Data

    @A Note, it’s chicken-shit to hide behind an anonymous ID and call someone out by name. If you feel compelled to do so, then put your own name out there, too. You made some interesting points, but you negated them by calling Amy out.
    @Amy, there are several of us who strongly disagree with your stance on eHow, but we do not condone your name being used this way and we want you to know that.
    And let’s stick to the issues. It’s ridiculous to make this a flame war between eHow members. Let the eHow reps come here and speak for themselves, as they’ve been cordially invited to do.

  39. I started with eHow in May of last year, and initially was very pleased. From the first day I made money writing in supposedly non-hot genres, with just a few articles.
    After a while, you start to notice things. I decided not to bother ‘friending’ anyone after I read their articles. Mind-boggling, the crap that eHow allowed/allows to be published. Misspellings, non-sensical titles, grammatical errors, false information…. not to mention the articles that aren’t articles, they’re just spam written to present their affiliate links. It’s hard to take a website seriously that has such low standards.
    You should hear the caterwauling whenever sweeps hit. I read many of the deleted articles, and couldn’t agree more- they were garbage. Too bad some fairly good articles got swept with them. Perhaps I didn’t complain because none of my articles got axed.
    That said, I kept in my little corner, read the forums, but didn’t comment often.
    Now that the UK thing has happened, though, it has shed light on the overall picture of what eHow has been doing, and it’s less than positive.
    As I pointed out in a recent forum post, the fact that Rich now says that redirecting readers from our UK articles back to the original author implies that it was purposeful in directing them away to begin with. Obviously those UK views were not reported to us, nor was any revenue shared with us. They have redirected our articles back to us, but our profiles and article lists still appear on the UK site. Why?
    If someone from the UK was searching for ‘How to make Perfect Hash Browns’, and Google took them to my eHow article, they’d get their info from me. I’d get a possible revenue, and eHow would keep the rest. Why would a UK reader need to have that info delivered on a UK site, unless there was an incentive to eHow- like not having to pay revenues?
    Are UK hash browns that different from the ones in the US? Maybe I should write another article, ‘How to make Perfect UK Hash Browns’ in order to compete with eHow competing with my original article? The whole thing is just ridiculous. The whole pushing of eHow as ‘passive income’ is silly, since it relies on eHow to continue paying their ‘secret algorythym’ for years. An algorythym they can change daily without letting you know. Or stop paying whenever they’ve set up some other deal.
    eHow got caught with their hand in the cookie jar, and they don’t even have the decency to act embarrassed. I, like many eHow writers am going to protect my last cookie by rewriting the content, posting it to my own sites, and asking any backlinks to follow me there.
    I didn’t know about the whole ‘certain writers getting asked to eHow conferences’ thing. It certainly explains some of the conflict going on now. I’d be interested to find out how many of the writers who attended those conferences have seen their revenue drop drastically, like myself and many others have seen.
    Your article is spot-on, and I’ll be linking to it- not so much because it’s about eHow, but because it is about moral and ethic business issues. Our US business models seem to have divorced themselves from being bothered with that over the last few years.
    PS- I resent the comparisons to the mortgage fallout. I read my mortgage papers. I had spotless credit. I put down over $80k on a modest home in a stable area. I got a 5% rate. I did not borrow against my equity. I didn’t count on the high unemployment rate #15% and up#here causing numerous families in my area to default on their homes, causing my home’s value to plummet 33% in one year. I’ve now lost the $80k I worked 20 years to save, and my mortgage is now upside down. I cannot sell my house for 2/3 of what I paid for it because the homes on the next block are being auctioned for half of that, and I’d prefer not to still owe $50k on a house I don’t own anymore. I know it makes you feel superior and smug to think that eveyone who has or might lose their house is because they are losers, or didn’t read contracts, or they didn’t speak English, or whatever your snarky reasons are- you’ll sing a different tune if it happens to you or one of your loved ones. And with that kind of attitude, it sounds like you think eHow should be getting bailed out by us, just like the banks did.

  40. A couple bullet points:
    1. There are valid legal concerns with the whole UK mess. I have spoken to lawyers about it myself although I am not party to a class action lawsuit, nor am I planning to join one. But I was curious about the legality of the UK site. And there are some issues that could be argued in court if anyone decided to pursue it. So. For the people who think eHow writers need to just ‘suck it up’ re: the TOS, ummm, no.
    2.There are people who are compensated either directly or indirectly from their association with eHow. This does skew the discussion. We have ebook authors, ehow writers who earn affiliate income off the ebook authors, bloggers, people who have gone to corporate eHow events etc… So I do agree that there are biased parties in this conversation and that does need to be kept in mind. Some people may financially benefit from being happy happy about eHow and are not going to undermine a lucrative income source by saying anything different.
    This is one reason why I have never endorsed any particular ebook or signed up for any of the affiliate programs.
    Nichemomma

  41. eyeballs hurt

    I agree with what Ms. Freeman said completely. I never took eHow too seriously to begin with, and have been guilty of contributing my fair share of junk for a few bucks. The UK situation has destroyed my last shred of respect for the site, and I am totally done with it. Over the years I have received positive comments from people who have been helped by my serious articles, and that does make me feel good about eHow. But their business ethics suck, and I don’t want to be a part of them at all anymore. I can get the same few bucks posting them on other sites or my own. Being a part of eHow gives me a rotten feeling in my gut.
    @Kim and A.K.–I don’t see how Ms. A.K. got “called out” since she is very open about her association to eHow on those forums yonder.
    @glorybug–I have seen at least 4 conference participants who have take a pro-eHow stance. If you are curious, you can search the forum for some threads about We-How (or whatever it is officially called) and cross reference some names.
    It is truly bizarre that they would “need” a UK clone site. As an American, I visit websites that are based in the UK, and I don’t have any problem getting the info I need. It does seem like an elaborate scheme to shaft us.

  42. Could be just me, but I posted earlier today to a thread on eHow about the internet press coverage, where there was definitely a derisive tone taken with the writers who aren’t too happy with eHow right now, and I now cannot find the thread.
    This does not mean the thread is not there. I am a bit OCD and have Fibro-fog, so I may just be missing it, but I looked for it several times, and cannot find it now. Is it standard to have whole threads removed?

  43. I think I just answered my own question.
    I checked my recent activity, and it showed that I posted to a thread called- eHow news on the Blogosphere.
    When I click that link, it says-
    “We are sorry, the page that you are looking for is no longer available.
    Click here to return to where you came from. ”
    So, I guess the answer is yes, eHow does remove entire threads. Funny, because that thread appeared to me to have a lot of posts supporting eHow.

  44. @ glorybug – Yes, they are deleting posts that seem to disagree or shed less than glowing light.
    @ nichemomma – Very good point about people who benefit from eHow being prosperous. If someone is launching an eBook and so forth this wouldn’t be a great time.
    @ Amy – I do not support you being singled out on this site. You are not problem, eHow’s actions are the problem.
    @ eyeballs – It is one thing to disagree on the eHow forum, but to make one person the issue is not okay (in my mind).
    The issue: eHow took our writing and didn’t compensate us. They lied about it being a problem and said it was “holiday fluctuation” among other things. There was likely a loophole they didn’t close up otherwise they wouldn’t just take them down for fairness.

  45. Alrady

    I attended ehow in 08.. I started a part time business on how to ehow. I have promoted the 3 or 4 main ebooks and received compensation from a couple. I have an ehow blog that earns precious little (ehow.com/alrady) and have supported and dissed ehow whenever appropriate.
    Don’t assume because someone went to ehow or has a book that they are biased. I have been more vocal than some of my other friends but I am sure NO ONE likes to lose money if its out of their control. Some may not be convinced that what was happening was in fact ehow’s fault. I don’t know – I DO know that I am supportive of those that have been deeply impacted by this UK situation. I do love ehow and writing there and a lot of the perks.

  46. Well my blog must be subscribed to by Rich (eHow staff) or at least read by him.
    Late last night I published another blog post about eHow’s awful PR Crisis Mgmt and within minutes I had a private message from Rich on ehow disputing one of the points I made (that they are banning members).
    Can I assume that the rest of what I said is correct? Who knows, but I know they are screwing this up royally in the PR department. Way to wreck a good business!
    I posted Riches comment into my blog post – judge for yourself.

  47. @Alrady–I think you are the exception. I have great respect for you.
    Also, I forgot to mention there is a group of concentrated anti-eHow people who are muddying the water. There’s a lot of weird group dynamics going on from what I can see.
    You really have to do your research and verify what you hear about eHow because you can’t really trust what people say.
    Nichemomma

  48. LynnW

    I do not trust eHow and their practices. I hope they turn things around, but I am not counting on it. I think everyone needs to remember this is about eHow and their business practices and not about individual members. I don’t think it is right to get mad at each other because of differences in viewpoint. Please refrain from pointing fingers at each other. Amy K may have a different viewpoint than some of the people on this blog, but she did not deserve to be trashed here. She is entitled to her opinion, just as anyone else is. Please keep this about eHow, not the members. There are a LOT of good people on both sides of this.

  49. smith57

    ehow can turn things around by compensating writers for their content at the UK site for 5 – 6 months.
    JPwriter – there was likely a loophole they didn’t close. I think so, I’m not a lawyer, but my guess is that it may have to do with UK copyright laws, more specifically using someone else work.
    Alrady – Yes you have been the only ehow member with a side business derived from ehow that have criticized ehow for this issue, truly an exception.
    Not everyone was affected financially in the same manner – I feel really bad for those members whose earnings plummeted as a result of the mess.

  50. Wow, I interviewed a gal a year or so ago who was making pretty good money with eHow, so I figured they were on the up-and-up. I personally prefer to keep the rights to all my content, publish it on my own sites, and keep 100% of the revenue, but sites like eHow and Associated Content always seemed like an option for folks just starting out (it certainly does take a while to build up one’s own sites). It’s sad to hear that these companies are taking advantage of their writers.

  51. Crunchy Data

    Ian, thanks for SCARING EHOW STRAIGHT! You rock.
    eHow just announced on their FIRST EVER VIDEO BLOG that they had been “unable” to pay for article views on the so-called “UK” site (located in the US), but they had hear the “buzz” and the “chatter” and would now generously compensate for those views.
    Now let’s see how eHow defines “generous.” I hope they get a better dictionary than the one that defined “truth in advertising,” and “conflict of interest.”

  52. roro

    Hmmm….I wrote only one article in my life for Ehow. Why not more? Because I have other way to get money from articles. But I do wach these sites because I am after links. Another scam site is Bukisa. Also xomba was having problems in the past.

  53. I’m making progress with a Demand VP. I raised the redirect failure for new articles and he got right on Rich. In fact Rich got on the forum, made some promises and used the Apology word for the first time ever. Rich is likely a good guy but lacks authority or guidance.
    For a good laugh check out CrunchyData’s new eHow Dictionary http://crunchydata.com/the-unofficial-official-ehow-dictionary

  54. seeker

    I have to agree that many of the articles written on ehow are copied from else where. In fact, i saw this one writer at ehow who made more than $200 a month. that person wrote the worst of all things i ever came across on ehow. i mean the stuff that she wrote originally had no instructions which form the basis of ehow articles. moreover, others that seemd alright were stolen from other people. i actually noticed it when i found out that she tried to rephrase another person’s article, yet ended up with similar terms and idioms. i reported it, but ehow never removed the article. so i think somehow the site plays favoritism.

  55. THE PREACHER

    Here are the facts. EHOW is one of the buggyest sites you will ever write on. The publisher wizard they use is constantly breaking down, eating up half you articles steps, or freezing your articles in limbo so you can’t get at them and no one can read them.
    Communication sucks. Day in and day out writers are asking the same questions and getting no answers. And when eHOW does respond, it is usually a warning threatening action against you and your account. No PR skills what so ever.
    But as others have already stated , the UK site, eHOWs secret brain child, has split the community of writers right in half and has everyone going at one anothers necks. Secret, yes, their secret UK site. They secretly mirrored all U.S. writers articles onto both sites, without any of the writers permission to do so. They then made money off those articles, thousands upon thousands of articles, and told no one. When someone stumbled upon their secret site, it all came to a head and the eHOW UK scandal was born.
    EHOW insisted their UK site had caused no one any harm, and for a lenghty time, refused to answer any of the writers questions. Many writers took down their articles, many left the site. Others threatened to leave, and finally ehow agreed to remove all articles of U.S. writers from the UK site. In the meantime, many U.S. writers found their once thriving articles had stopped earning. That’s right, eHOW, by mirroring the usa site over to the UK site, had messed up the url’s, so many writers LOST A LOT of money during this time. Ehow then insisted all U.S. writers articles were no longer on the UK site, and that the profiles would be removed.
    As it turned out, many articles were removed, but many more were not. Not only that, but all newly written articles here in the USA were still being cloned in the UK site. So where are we today? Well, the articles are finally removed, but ehOW still refuses to compensate U.S. writers for all the actual money they lost while their articles stopped earning. EHOW instead came up with what they called a generous compensation, not for money lost from all this, but for what they deemed the value of each writers articles were during the months the entire UK thing unfolded.
    Say what? So many writers generous compensation came to under $10, many more recieved under $!. But how could that possibly be? We are talking about writers who had hundreda of articles and who lost hundreds of dollars? Easy to explain, the valus of the U.S. writers articles were not worth spit during that time, because eHOW killed their article links when they mirrored the two sites together. They continue to refuse to compensate U.S. writers for all that lost income, even though eHOE profitted from those articles. Remember, U.S. writers were paid nothing for their articles while they were on the UK site, but eHOW had ads on those articles and pocketed all the earnings.
    The latest news is that outraged writers are demanding that their UK profiles, placed their from the U.S site without the writers permission, be removed. EHOW has said NO. U.S. writers are also demanding the right to edit those profiles, which contain their personal informat. Again, eHOW today has said NO. And eHOW refuses to take down the comments that were placed on their articles. Say what? Why the hell would a company remove the articles, but leave the profiles and comments? I smell a rat, and so do many others. I would strongly recommend that no one sign up at that site. They will steal your articles, and your earnings, and not give it a second thought. This company operates more like a scam then a business

  56. F-ehow

    LOL………now ehow dropped their writers…what a bunch of scammy white collar crooks.

  57. I personally am glad that ehow writers are discontented. I own a web site with all original content and have been on the web for over ten years. Almost all my content has been rewritten by ehow writers without my permission. They change it just enough so I would have a hard time going after them for copyright abuse. My content are crafts and who wants to read how to make a craft without seeing a picture. Why can’t they come up with their own ideas instead of just copying everything on the web and rewriting it? It’s a horrible site. It’s just people who make money off of other people’s ideas. Type in my web address and see the thousands of articles that use my ideas. At least they give me credit some of the time. I never read the crap.

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