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The Demise of InfoBarrel: Another Failed Content Site

As an author with a business background and articles on over 20 niche websites, I tested various content sites and predicted their downfall.

The Demise of InfoBarrel

The Demise of InfoBarrel

How I Detect Potential for Failure

As a systems analyst, I research the issues that plague content authoring websites when deciding where to publish my articles. As a result, I experimented with posting articles on many content sites, such as the Yahoo Contributor Network, Bubblews, Persona Paper, Squidoo, and Tsū.

I could see their problems and even warned other people in their forums. I expected all along that they would eventually fail. All those sites have since gone out of business.

I wrote the following review when I tried writing on InfoBarrel and updated it with the final results after its anticipated demise.

Requirements for a Revenue Sharing Content Site

I have strict requirements for selecting a site where to publish:

  1. They must demand quality content.
  2. They must have a staff of good web programmers.
  3. They must demonstrate professional business skills.
  4. They need to display an understanding of Google and SEO.
  5. They must hire editors that help authors improve their content.

My Initial Observation of InfoBarrel’s Flawed Business

InfoBarrel was founded in 2008 for writing and publishing articles, and I found many unresolved problems when I created my account in 2016.

I discovered links to technical information pages merely redirected the reader to the home page. That meant no one ever cared enough to complete the site's setup.

In January 2021, their website was down for several days with a message stating they were getting some upgrades and would be back online in a couple of hours. Unfortunately, that lasted for several days, and I began encountering numerous problems.

After finding many bugs, I wrote to the admin, asking if he is still maintaining the site. He never replied, and people posted in the forum that he seemed to be missing in action.

Complaints People Had Posted

When I did my due diligence investigating InfoBarrel before posting articles, I had read many complaints in the forum—such as these:

  • A promised upgrade that never occurred.
  • A long wait for new articles to get approved.
  • Google is not indexing articles.
  • Bugs with posting and editing articles.
  • Failure to delete articles upon request.
  • Many people complained in the forums about missing and late payments.
  • Continually changing the Terms of Service statement about who owns rights to the content.

As for those missed payments, the admin once posted in the forum, saying that he handles payments manually. Wow! Imagine that!

People Began Leaving

I noticed many author profiles were removed and linked to the home page. That meant people were leaving, even new members who never got started.

Besides that, it was very unprofessional to redirect to the home page instead of showing an error of some sort. In the case of a closed account, they should display something such as, "This user is no longer on InfoBarrel." I guess they just didn't want to admit that.

Redirecting closed accounts to the home page was unprofessional.

Redirecting closed accounts to the home page was unprofessional.

InfoBarrel Had Many Unresolved Glitches

I'll describe all the problems I've discovered when using the site and by reading posts from other users in the forums.

Problems With Payments Handled Manually

I found a forum post from the admin explaining how he lost track, messed up the payments one month, and tried to fix the mess.

In August 2016, some people saw a tremendous but short-lived increase in earnings. For example, one person commented in the forum that she saw $45 in her account, and then it was adjusted down to $3.

Another person saw a whopping $900. He posted, “I doubt they're genuine. I apparently am earning around $400 for every 1,000 impressions.”

Yes, indeed—that’s impossible. What poor programming! Assuming there is even a payment system being used. That forum post from the admin does seem to make it clear that he handles payments manually.

There Was No Delete Button

You had to contact the admin to request the removal of any article you wish to delete. Then it’s up to them if they oblige. Some people posted in the forum that they had to try many times to get a response—usually in vain.

When one changed their title, the URL changed along with it without a 301 redirect to the new URL. That created a dead link, which sends a 404 error code to one's browser. Therefore, all prior links posted on social media, and search engine indexes, were broken.

A good practice is to make the URL static once an article is published, and it should never be changed unless a 301 redirect can be assigned.

Confusion With Pen Names vs. Usernames

When users added a pen name to their profile, their actual username was still displayed as the sender when leaving comments on articles. That made it difficult to know who someone is because it didn't match the name in the author's profile.

A Bug in the CSS Code

A bug I discovered in the CSS code caused embedded YouTube videos to cover the surrounding text. I couldn't even read the overlaid content on an article that had this problem.

Amazon Canceled Authors’ Affiliate Accounts

Some members posted in the forum that they had lost their Amazon affiliate status because Amazon has started canceling affiliate accounts if they advertise on sites they do not own. InfoBarrel required members to use their own Amazon affiliate code. That was a problem.

To give you an example of due diligence, HubPages avoided that problem by allowing writers to use Amazon via their HubPages Earnings Program. Amazon issues unique affiliate codes for each user, but they are registered under HubPages.

You might think InfoBarrel could have done that too, but there was a problem. Profile URLs looked like forum profiles because they had the word “users” in the URL. That was not a top-level domain, so I think that's why Amazon canceled affiliate accounts people used on InfoBarrel.

The people who lost their affiliate accounts had posted in the forum that Amazon was saying they canceled because they used their account on a forum site, which is against their terms of service. Once again, poor programming causes this confusion.

I last checked that particular issue in 2018, and the user profiles were still the same, remaining against Amazon's rules.

Google was blocked from InfoBarrel articles!

Google was blocked from InfoBarrel articles!

Google Was Continually Blocked From Indexing Articles

Since I saw so many people complaining in the forum about the fact that Google is not indexing their articles, I decided to check their robots.txt file. This file instructs search engine robots on how to crawl their pages.

When I first checked that file in 2016, I found a Google directive denying search engines permission to index. That might have inadvertently been left there after a system update. That’s very unprofessional to have missed a thing like that.

They eventually discovered their mistake and corrected it so that search engines would index their articles again. However, when I rechecked this file on August 1st, 2018, I found the following directive:

User-agent: Googlebot Disallow:

Once again, they denied Google access, so articles could not be listed in the SERPs. However, other search engines, such as Bing, were not blocked this time.

They kept putting that directive back in robots.txt. I don't know why their programmers did that! It serves no purpose that would be advantageous to their authors.

I checked a few articles by putting their titles in Bing, and they showed up as expected. But when I searched the same titles with Google, they did not appear in the SERPs.

Things changed quickly. Just a few days later, on August 6th, 2018, I noticed they removed the directive that disallowed Google indexing—maybe because they read my warning and were alerted to their mistake.

Their updated robots.txt file now had the following directive:

# robots.txt for Sitemap:

That was a valid statement, showing search engines where to find the sitemap. There were no more directives that would block search engine indexing. At least not when I last checked. However, there's another problem now. Their sitemap is a mess!

I looked at their sitemap.php file, and all it does is recursively point to itself. What about the articles? That is crazy! They obviously don’t know what they are doing.

The following was their sitemap file as of August 6th, 2018:


Who’s Running the Show?

In 2016 when I first tested the site, I emailed Kevin Hinton, the admin, asking if the staff was actively working on this site. I never received a reply.

Other people complained about the admin's absence, which made me wonder if this is just a one-person shop. So, with further investigation, I discovered that three people were involved with the business.

  1. The domain is registered to Ryan McKenzie in Canada. He is listed as the administrative contact and the technical contact.
  2. I also found another team member via LinkedIn: Brad Liski. But it's not clear what his duties are.
  3. Kevin Hinton is the admin, although I’m not sure if it's actually him since he hides behind a cat avatar, as shown below (very unprofessional, in my opinion).
The Admin's Avatar

The Admin's Avatar

The Admin Admitted He Had No Time for It

In April 2017, Kevin posted the truth about their affairs in the forum. He admitted that they were not able to put the time into it and would just keep operating the site as it is.


Quickly Worsening Developments

Here is where things stood when I checked in 2018:

  • The last system update was in July 2015, with version 4.0.
  • According to ongoing posts in the forum, the site remained very much broken.
  • They never fixed the payment system, so they needed to make payments manually.
  • The directive that disallowed Google to index articles kept reoccurring.

The Final Blow

I was shocked at the incompetence when I checked in on things in mid-2020.

No Security Protocols Used

Every legitimate website began using the Transport Layer Security protocol (TLS) a few years earlier. That provides three types of protection: Encryption, Data Integrity, and Authentication. You'll know it's secure when you use "https://" in front of the URL.

I noticed InfoBarrel is not providing a secure connection. The only way to get to it is with "http://" before the URL, which is not secure.

Payments Discontinued

In February 2020, InfoBarrel announced they could no longer pay their writers. Their excuse was that PayPal eliminated the API used for making payments.

They claimed they were working on an alternative payment method but admitted they didn't have the financial resources to do that.

Site Down for Maintenance

As of January 2021, they've been down for several days. Offline for many days and claiming it's for updates is not professional.

The InfoBarrel Publishing Platform No Longer Exists

InfoBarrel's web SSL security certificate expired on August 28, 2021. As a result, all web browsers now warn users the site is not secure and block access to protect visitors from possible malware.

A year later, in September 2022, their SSL certificate has not been renewed. Some web browsers will allow you to bypass the security warning to visit the site. In that case, you'll see a single page where Ryan McKenzie (remember him?) says they decided to devote all their attention to a new project. The entire platform for publishing online content has been removed.

© 2016 Glenn Stok


Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on October 12, 2019:

C D Hundley - Stick with HubPages. You’ll do better here. All you need to do is write stellar articles that will be curated on the vertical niche sites where the earnings is better. See my list of tutorials with tips and advice for HubPages writers.

Christopher Hundley from Pennsylvania on October 12, 2019:

Thanks for the article. Reading some other hubs and articles online about writing sites, this was a site I was considering as a fallback. However, not being able to delete the articles, as well as folks not putting the time in, has led me to take this off my list. I was on another site where the admins could not put the time in, which was a really bad experience. They have since gone under. Thanks again.

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on November 12, 2018:

Zia Uddin - As I mentioned in this article, there is no delete option. And as you can see from the comments people have left, the admin has not obliged to the requests to delete articles.

There is no known recourse. If you publish on InfoBarrel, you may never get control of your content back again and therefore will not be able to republish somewhere else without being considered duplicate content.

You can only try to submit your requests repeatedly, but InfoBarrel admin may just ignore all your requests.

Zia Uddin from UK on November 10, 2018:

I have 8 articles on infobarrel that don't deserve to be there. They were written and posted over 5 years ago and now I can't get them deleted. I also haven't accepted their latest t&c's, nor did I enter my personal details and paypal email which they require.

I wonder why it's so hard for them to close my account completely together with the articles after contacting them a few times.

The articles are still live for no purpose at all on google. They are buried deep in the SEO or google indexing or whatever it's called because I checked with a plagiarizer software and it picks up my articles from infobarrel. This means I can't repost these 8 articles on HubPages. What do you suggest I do?

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on June 21, 2018:

Shaloo Walia - In addition to your own blogs, you should concentrate on your articles on HubPages. Many recent changes are helping improve our earnings. For example, advertises bid for ad space on our hubs with the new Header Bidding. We also have the Q&A feature now that can bring more traffic if used correctly,

Shaloo Walia from India on June 20, 2018:

I lost all my articles when bubblews shut down. Now I keep a backup of my articles. After dabbling with a lot of writing sites, I am focusing on my own blogs now.

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on September 21, 2016:

PegCole17 - You're not the only one who became discouraged with InfoBarrel. I see a lot of dead links to profiles, which redirect to the home page. That indicates people are leaving.

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on September 21, 2016:

Interesting information here, Glenn. I signed up to write on InfoBarrel a few years ago. I ran into the same issue with having to ask the admin to delete an article, then, having him question my reasons! I kept hoping that the site would take off, but was discouraged by the redundant front page emphasis on a couple of writers and their income. HubPages moved away from that a few years ago, thankfully.

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on September 16, 2016:

RonElFran - You're very smart to have paid attention to the obvious red flags with InfoBarrel. I was stunned when I read all the forum posts about the promised upgrades that never happened over the years. What really got me was when I found out that admin manually does payments every month rather than automating it. I decided not to publish anything there also, just as you had.

Ronald E Franklin from Mechanicsburg, PA on September 15, 2016:

Glenn, I considered InfoBarrel for the same reasons you did - to have a place to post shorter, less in-depth articles that are not suitable for HP, such as the ones I used to post on Yahoo Contributor Network. I never joined, first of all because of the same issues you identify, particularly not being able to delete my posts without having to petition admin to do it at their leisure. Plus the fact that a major site redesign promised several years ago has yet to happen made me think IB is far from thriving. I'm sorry for that, because I still would love to have a viable replacement for YCN.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on September 10, 2016:

Thank you for sharing these details of your various online writing experiences. Very thoughtful of you like a big brother trying to prevent the younger siblings from making the same mistakes. I appreciate it.

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on September 10, 2016:

heidithorne - Thanks for the compliment. And yes, I agree with you about HubPages. I'm glad I'm here too. It's sad how so many people complain about things without understanding that they are simply keeping up with Google's ever-changing requirements.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on September 10, 2016:

Glenn, before your article, I had never heard of InfoBarrel. So I'm glad for the education!

I found HubPages through a popular blogger who pointed it out; otherwise, I would have never discovered it since I previously hosted and managed my own blog.

I know HubPages has had challenges and complaints from other hubbers over the years I've been on it. But I have had a positive experience from the get-go and have met some wonderful writers (like yourself) through it. As well, with their tech team (who does a pretty good job, people!), I've been able to offload a good deal of the back-end admin headache for my blog to the HP system. I'm staying unless something dramatically changes for me or HP.

Thanks for another informative post! Have a great weekend!

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on September 09, 2016:

FlourishAnyway - You said it Shelly! I'm glad I've put my important work on HubPages. Payments are always like clockwork every single month. That's how it is when things are automated properly.

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on September 09, 2016:

vocalcoach - Me too Audrey. HubPages is proving to be doing all the right things, and it's obvious that they care about the business.

FlourishAnyway from USA on September 09, 2016:

You had me at problems getting paid. I don't like it when people don't know what they are doing or they don't follow through. Best to stay with HP anyhow.

Audrey Hunt from Pahrump NV on September 09, 2016:

Hi Glenn. Thanks for the heads up with InfoBarrel. Glad I didn't waste my time on this writing site as I did with Bubblews. I'm sure I'm not the only writer missing payments for articles written. I bailed out before they went belly-up but unfortunately didn't remove my articles. Glad I've held on to hub pages all these years.

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on September 09, 2016:

Faith Reaper - There are still many sites I haven't heard of either. I stumble upon new ones time to time. Maybe we're better off, because many of them come and go so quickly. Those that survive are focused on a single theme. You can see why HubPages is making a network of niche sites.

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on September 09, 2016:

NateB11 - I agree about not leaving all your eggs in one basket. However, I put much more weight on how well I see a company performing technologically.

Having had a business, I notice good business strategies. Having had a background as a systems analyst, I appreciate good programming style. Having studied SEO and keeping up with Google's announcements, I see very quickly when a company is doing the same thing.

I see those things with HubPages, so this remains my home. I just use other sites for my articles that have less substance, but which I feel still have value for a reader.

Faith Reaper from southern USA on September 09, 2016:

Thank you for sharing your insight into InfoBarrel, Glenn.

I have not heard of this site, but I have heard of some of the other sites. I would not like it one bit if I were not able to delete my article of my own choosing!

This is great information you have shared to help those thinking of writing on InfoBarrel and other sites.


Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on September 09, 2016:

sallybea - I made payout several times on Bubblews until they held back on the last payment due to me. That was when they reneged on making payments to a large number of us, claiming that they were losing money due to other people spamming the site. That's when I pulled my articles.

Nathan Bernardo from California, United States of America on September 09, 2016:

I agree, Infobarrel is bad news. I still need to get my articles and have my account there deleted. I was just looking for another site to write for, not leaving all my eggs in one basket, but soon found Infobarrel to be pretty horrendous and not a good option.

Mona Sabalones Gonzalez from Philippines on September 09, 2016:

Very interesting article. I have only heard of some of these sites through you. I guess we have to be careful who we write for. I made the mistake of writing for a site that made promises than never came through. So, I tried to remove my articles and they couldn't be removed. that really sucked. I can't even remember the site now.

Sally Gulbrandsen from Norfolk on September 09, 2016:

I have only written on HubPages and on Bubblews. The latter I found was a complete waste of time as I was to put it plainly completely bored with the whole process. I never actually made payout though I came pretty close before they folded. Interesting assessment of InfoBarrel which I have never explored and am unlikely to waste my time on after reading this. Thanks.