3 Ways To Improve Experience for Contributing Writers

#1

1. Don't run pop up ads on their content.

When someone wants a story to be free to the public, it should be free to the public. A pop up ad to buy shoes or create an account is a major barrier to reading the story. We are removing this barrier.

2. Make it easier to read more stories by the contributing writer.

In Hacker Noon 2.0, we are going to test for ways to increase the likelihood that a second story by the same contributing writer is read. Currently when you publish on Hacker Noon, you have to leave the story page to gain access to more stories by the author. We are experimenting with a sticky author bio so that contributors can curate their top 3 stories and make them accessible on all their story pages. example:

3. Give the contributing writer the power to make a prominent call to action on their profile page.

When you contribute to another site, it helps grow your community and overall internet presence. Most contributing writers have ways that their readership could help them. By designing a prominent call to action on the contributing writer profile page, we can help contributors gain more from their readership. Simple use cases could be ‘buy my book,’ ‘demo our software,’ ‘subscribe to my newsletter,’ ‘subscribe to my patreon,’ ‘now hiring,’ or whatever creative CTAs that our contributors come up with. I think this could make their Hacker Noon profile a page that helps drive real business activity.

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What are the killer features you'd like to see in Hacker Noon 2.0?
#2

We’d really appreciate feedback on this point. What sort of a CTA would you like on your profile page?

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#3

Yes, yes thank you.Thank you. As a marketer who hates this stuff: bless you.

@Dane “We’d really appreciate feedback on this point. What sort of a CTA would you like on your profile page?”

Share a story. I know it’s goofy, but I just want more people to read more things. I could always have a CTA, personally, that goes back to the brand website, but…readers giving an extra tweet or something would be amazing.

Having a set of options would be good, because I imagine that it could be abused in some way (?) How are you planning on implementing this?

Or! https://ko-fi.com/

Tip a writer with some coffee. :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

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#4

One of the best ways to improve experience is also editor-contributor interaction. While I am relatively a new contributor, I seriously have mixed experiences in relatively quite short span.

My first 2 articles took some time to get published - due to a submission error from my side - partially because HN submission flow wasn’t clear to me first. Editors went out of their way to get them through pipeline to accommodate the delay.

My last submission did not get reviewed for 7 days. Currently, there is no simple acknowledgement of where in the workflow one’s article lies - and I am sure this will be done in line with publishing platforms for things other than written content. Like when it is in queue, under review, and published / rejected. If rejected, a sensible reason what guidelines it failed to meet. If published with some constructive feedback, there should be a space that writers can look into.

What is definitely despised by even newbie contributors is the way feedback is imparted - at least by some editors in their wee hours.

My last article which was rejected got this feedback from the editor:

"Sorry, cannot publish it."

This, not in my mailbox, nor in the editor follow up thread, but in medium.com account notes section.

Such feedback is maybe justified for SPAM that medium has been publishing due to its non-curated platform - and I have reported it to them time and again - with no acknowledgement.

But it is surely not justified when HN is differentiating itself as a well-curated technology publication (and near-futuristic platform).

Problems:

  • The article in question was about tech interviews, and even to this day, a simple google search on “tech interview hackernoon” fills up my browser page with articles professing less research than I did assessing an interviewee’s mindset.

  • Still if it sucks, say so, with clear guidelines as to what went wrong, what is missing, what could make it better past some revision. Most importantly, how it fell apart from the guideline of publishing. Give examples. Otherwise, stop being editor moderated platform simply to progress towards being a huge sized trash can that medium has lately become - with people posting about their each and every shell scripts with some documentation - content that should either land on reddit or stackoverflow rather than a blog platform.

  • Lastly, the article in question was reviewed by someone from blockchain background - not to judge someone by their tagline, but if there is considerable gap between editors credentials and article tags, it’s red-flag in the long run.

  • Let’s have a process: have multi-step editing rounds. Let more than one editors review single submission - if or if not - the author feels the feedback wasn’t constructive. We are at the confluence of multiple streams wherein tech is transforming every aspect of life, and someone inclined to just one domain will surely do injustice to contributors’ efforts of weeks and months. If you are throttled for resources, say so up front that it’s WIP, not contributor’s shortcoming.

  • Lastly, HN has good faith of so many quality contributors in its growth story. I am not the first one, and nor I will be the last. I became HN shareholder due to work of countless quality contributors, and less due to editors who make one-shot decisions. One futile week to have inconclusive feedback could well be utilised to create a free blogspot / wordpress blog and get some hits + applauds rather than 0 views and bad morning filled with sorry, can’t publish it.

  • However irrational it may sound, people buy with heart and justify with their minds. And that’s true for contributors as well.

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#5
  1. Make it easier to read more stories by the contributing writer.

One CTA I’d love to see is something along the line of “Hire the Writer”.

For those of us who live from their pen, it would be a powerful way to translate the exposure into an additional revenue stream.

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#6

Hi Nirav,

Let me start by apologizing for making you feel bad about this. It is never the intention and as you rightly pointed out, we go out of our way to accommodate contributing writers.

Having said that, we aspire to make things as smooth as possible for the writers. As a writer myself, I know what rejection feels like, what not getting any feedback at all feels like. I’ve written more emails to Forbes, TechCrunch, and so on and never even heard back that I’ve lost count.

At Hackernoon, we try to be better than that. You must’ve noticed, in your edit history that I even tried modifying your story to make it publish-worthy. However, I couldn’t do that without performing a more comprehensive rewrite, something that I personally do not like since it erases the intent with which the author had written the article.

Tell you what, as an olive branch from me, I’ll help you rewrite the article and we can publish it together.

As for the communication channel between editors and writers, I pledge to be more communicative and not become what I myself hated for the longest time. Thank you for the wakeup call.

Multi-step editing looks good on paper but you’ve seen how slow things progress in a corporate environment. That’s a multi-step process and we all know it only ends up making the process longer. We’re always available on Twitter/Facebook/Email in case some articles fall through the cracks during this transitive period.

Lastly, thank you for voicing your concerns. It shows that you have faith in us and that is what drives us to keep improving.

Thank you.

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#7

Hi Utsav

Thank you for summing up your feedback about my article. I must applaud the responsiveness of HN community towards contributors’ grievances.

Efforts made out of the way - at this seed stage - will surely lead to a huge fertile tree in very near future, let’s work towards there.

To everyone in HN team:

I, like everyone else here, believe that this community is a great place not to improve upon each other (our articles can do that job better than ourselves :slight_smile:) but to improvise the processes to make everyone’s presence here productive.

In other words, if any of my suggestions are taken up by HN 2.0 design team in ways I am unable to devise (since it’s you guys who get your hands dirty to make things happen), I will be more than glad to know - that there are no contributors (like myself today) rattled over the overall submission process - irrespective of rejections.

Back to my submission:
That said, it’s quite human to be glad over the fact that my article has chance to be published :slight_smile: Kindly advise how we can go about it…

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"Did you review my stories?" thread (for stories 4+ days overdue)
#8

Hey @niravbhatt.cpp, jumping in on a few of these points.

This is an area we need to improve.

@austin is working on this. Automating simple notifications like “editor is reviewing your story” or “your story has been scheduled to publish at day/month/year” will go a long way. But overall the direction we’re headed is more interaction between contributing writer and editor on site.

Our help section is long overdue, I’ve been putting a lot of time into this. Pointing people to clear red flags and ways to improve is important. It will be live later this month, and we are setting it up so that the help section is connected to Google Docs - so I think this setup will allow us to iterate and publish help content quickly.

Publishing is a little bit irrational. I appreciate your honesty.

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#9

could it not be custom? I.e. contributor inputs text for the call to action and a link?

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#10

Hey it will be custom on profile page to start. We are very curious what use cases make the most sense, will find when/how people use it I suppose.

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#11

Nirav, thank you so much for explaining to the team what challenges you’re facing with the current contributor experience of HN. As part of the design team, I’ve actually started diving into how we can improve the publishing experience for everyone involve. The current workflow is not my favorite, but that means we can only go up from here. Finding where the breakdowns are occurring and leading to delay in your content being put out there is extremely helpful, and the level of detail will only help us to create a more transparent process for you all.

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