To be clear, I think they do a fairly solid job with their political reporting, with a good though limited staff. And they do okay as a consolidator of news from other sources. Mainly, though, I'm referring to how poorly they handle the blogger end of things, which was pretty much how the website came to attention and fame. They still get some good blogs, but mostly that's a distant thing of the past.
(I challenge you to go to the site and even find a listing of who writes blogs for them. Once upon a time that was highly promoted. Now, I can't even find myself there.)
I have a few friends who blog for HuffPo, and their experiences are the same. And since the site has changed over to its new "blogger platform" (the technology how bloggers post there), it's plummeted. Mind you, it's easier to get things posted, since whatever you write now is published immediately. But it's not only not easily accessible on the site, but if you did a search for it on the Internet...you literally could not find it. (I asked about this when I did a search for one of my articles.) They only will "index" a piece if they "promote" it on the site. So, you can only find most blog stories if you're given the direct address by someone, or if you know where to find that person's blog page.
And woebetide the writer who has a question for the Blog Team. Once upon a time, there were editors I dealt with, though they've all left. Arianna Huffington has even left. Today, for the past couple years, the landscape has been very different. There have been numerous instances where I've asked basic questions half a dozen times without getting a reply, following up over and over to no avail. Only twice, when I kept writing relentlessly and it got up to, say, 10 times (really), someone took pity and answered with a pithy, wildly-unhelpful reply. Just a stop above the lines of "We know your call is important to us, please stay on the line."
These days, indeed for the past few years, I've given up writing original material for HuffPo. For many years, I would write three articles a week for them, every week. Now, I post something maybe once a month, if I have an article that I've already written first here on Elisberg Industries or elsewhere, I'll then cross-publish it on the Huffington Post.
Which brings us to the tale.
I had a technical question for them. With their change to the aforementioned new platform, something wasn't working correctly, so I wrote in -- making sure to give the email a subject line of "Tech question." And that did get answered.
It wasn't a resolution, so I wrote back to explain that what they said wasn't working and described the problem further. And the fellow replied again! In fact, it took about five emails to fix things, and five times the Blog Team fellow actually responded. And acknowledged appreciatively that I'd discovered a glitch, which he fixed.
Feeling that I now had a real HuffPo Blog Team human who was responding and answered five whole emails and was helpful and had even thanked me for finding a problem, I thought it was a good time time finally get an answer to a question that had long be gnawing at me and others. I wrote a very polite, low-key email with the question. In fact, rather than paraphrase it, here is the actual email I sent so you can decide for yourself if it's polite and low-key or not. I wrote --
Dear [Blog Team Person's Name Withheld]
It’s fixed. Thanks much. I appreciate it.
I also have an odd question which you probably can’t answer, but what the heck –
A slight background. I’ve been writing for HuffPo since February, 2006, over 600 articles. For the past decade, I had at least 90% of my pieces made “Featured Posts,” some on the home page. I’ve had one of my HuffPost pieces included in a political anthology published by Congressional Quarterly, have been invited on talk radio as a result of articles, and was even hired -- in part because of my pieces -- to write for Al Gore. But since the switchover to the new platform, I don’t believe a single one of my articles has been “Promoted” or whatever they’re called now. Even my most-recent article, which was my annual overview of CES, which I cross-publish on HuffPo from my tech column written for 15 years for the Writers Guild of America, didn’t get Promoted for the first time ever. And each time when I write in to ask about it all, I always get zero response.
My question is – is there a reason my articles are no longer getting Promoted?? Have my pieces fallen through the cracks, or is that simply the new policy? Without a piece being Promoted, there really isn’t much point to really “publish” something on the Huffington Post, so that it can merely exist floating in the ether.
As I said, I don’t expect an explanation, but since you actually answered my tech glitch question (and resolved it!), I did want to take the opportunity to ask.
That aside, thanks again for fixing things.
I didn't get an answer.
It's been two weeks. No answer at all. Still.
I did finally write back, saying that his lack of response was my answer, and thanked him again for his previous help resolving the tech issue. And no, I didn't get an answer to that, either.
[Side note: My many references thanking the fellow for all his kind help in fixing the problem were the one thing I acknowledge fudging just a little. To be clear, he was helpful, and I did appreciate it. But the problem was a very real technical glitch on the site that was exacerbated further by a poorly-stated general email sent out to everyone that ultimately was wrong, and my correspondent's initial replies had been pithy and incorrect, and the problem remained. It was only when I kept writing back in to explain that there was an actual technical problem on the site that they were unaware of until I brought it to their attention did it finally get fixed. But it did get fixed, and they and he get points for that. I just thought it was a good idea to stay as deeply polite as possible and keep the one person who actually took the time to reply on my good side. Silly me... As soon as I asked an editorial question, silence.)
But that's the Huffington Post today. I don't blame the fellow at all -- that's another reason I was polite with him -- from too much evidence of my own experience and others it seems pretty clear that this is all a policy decision. And if some of my articles here seem a bit testy about the organization today, this above is as good an example as any as to why. I do like their political coverage. But clearly, they just couldn't care a flying fig about anything that relates to unpaid bloggers filling their site with free content anymore.
Then again, the Top Trending piece yesterday on the HuffIngton Post was a no-doubt fascinating article they'd posted titled, "My First Time Masturbating." So, quite clearly HuffPo liked and approved that. So, maybe most people should consider changing the topics we write about. Except...well, speaking only personally, I really type so much better with two hands.