Will InfoBarrel Be Another Failed Content Site? - ToughNickel - Money
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Will InfoBarrel Be Another Failed Content Site?

Author:

Glenn Stok is a systems analyst with a Master’s Degree in Computer Science. This informative article is based on his professional insight.

I found many unresolved issues with InfoBarrel while researching the site. As a systems analyst, I have the ability to research the issues that plague content authoring websites. I'll explain the reasons why I feel this one will eventually fail.

InfoBarrel was founded in 2008 for writing articles. It is not a scam, as I see many people asking in forums, but it does have many problems.

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Requirements for a Revenue Sharing Site

When I first began writing online, my requirements for selecting a site were the following:

  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.

How Can InfoBarrel Still Be Functioning?

When I first created my account on InfoBarrel in 2016, their state of affairs made me wonder how they are still functioning! I find it amazing that they are still in business in 2020 after so many other sites went belly up.

I had experimented with posting articles on many other sites, such as the Yahoo Contributor Network, Bubblews, Persona Paper, Squidoo, and Tsū. I could see the issues they had, and I even warned other people in their forums. All those sites have since gone out of business.

As for InfoBarrel, I discovered some links to technical information pages merely redirect the reader to the home page. That means no one ever cared enough to complete the setup of the site.

I also discovered that many people were complaining in the forums about missed payments.

After finding a considerable number of bugs, I wrote to the admin asking if he is still maintaining the site. He never replied. People post in the forum that he seems to be often missing in action.

Complaints People Post About

When I did my due diligence investigating InfoBarrel before posting and 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.
  • Missing or late payments.
  • Bugs with posting and editing articles.
  • Failure to delete articles upon request.
  • Continually changing the TOS about who owns rights to the content.

As for that last point, they changed it back again. When I read the TOS recently, it clearly stated:

“Author's Rights: You shall continue to retain all authorship and copyrights to the Materials submitted for publication through the website.”

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

People Are Leaving

I noticed that many member profiles have been removed and now linked to the home page. That means people are leaving, even new members who didn’t even get their feet wet.

Redirecting to the home page, instead of showing an error of some sort, is poor programming. In the case of a closed account, they should display something such as, "This user is no longer on InfoBarrel." I guess they just don't want to admit that.

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Infobarrel Has Many Unresolved Glitches

I'll describe all the problems I've discovered by 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 work out the mess.

In August 2016, some people saw a tremendous but short-lived increase in earnings. One person posted a comment that she saw $45 in her account, and then it was corrected 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 admin does seem to make it clear that he handles payments manually.

There Is No Delete Button

You have 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 post in the forum that they had to try many times to get a response—some in vain.

Title Changes Cause a "404 Dead Link" Error

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

A good practice is to make the URL static once an article is published, and it should never be related to any title changes after that.

Confusion with Pen Names vs. Usernames

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

Bug in CSS Code

A bug I discovered in the CSS code causes 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 InfoBarrel's 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 requires members to use their own Amazon affiliate code. That’s the problem.

HubPages does not have this problem because writers can use Amazon via the HP Earnings Program. In this case, Amazon issues unique affiliate codes for each user, but these are registered under HubPages’ name.

You might think this can be done with InfoBarrel too, but there is a problem. Profile URLs look like forum profiles because they have the word “users” in the URL. That is not a top-level domain, so I think this is why Amazon was canceling affiliate accounts 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 terms of service.

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Google Is Constantly Blocked From Indexing Articles

Since I see so many people complaining in the forum about the fact that Google is not indexing their articles, I decided to check out their robots.txt file. Webmasters create this file to instruct search engine robots on how to crawl their pages.

When I first checked that file back 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 did discover their mistake and corrected it so that search engines would once again index their articles. However, when updating this article on August 1st, 2018, I decided to check that again, and I found the following directive:

User-agent: Googlebot
Disallow: 

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

They keep putting that directive back in robots.txt. I don't know why their programmers do 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 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 were alerted to their mistake by my update to this article. Maybe they are watching me, who knows.

Their updated robots.txt file now simply has the following directive:

# robots.txt for http://www.infobarrel.com/
Sitemap: http://www.infobarrel.com/Sitemap.php

That is 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.

Below is their sitemap file as of August 6th, 2018:

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Who’s Running the Show?

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

Other people were complained about the absence of the admin, which made me wonder if this is just a one-person shop. The domain is registered to Ryan McKenzie in Canada. He is listed as the administrative contact and the technical contact.

I also found two other team members via LinkedIn: Kevin Hinton and Brad Liski.

Kevin is the admin in the forums, although I’m not sure if it's actually him since he hides behind a cat avatar as shown below:

The Admin's Avatar

The Admin's Avatar

The Admin Finally Admitted the Truth

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

Status Confirmed as of August 2018

There are three people involved with running the business — Kevin, Ryan, and Brad — but they can't devote the time to running InfoBarrel, as Keven admitted in his post that I showed you above.

This is where things stand:

  • The site remains very much broken according to ongoing posts in the forum.
  • They can't fix the payment system, so they need to make payments manually.
  • The directive disallowing Google to index articles keeps reoccurring, as I discussed above in this article.
  • The last system update was in July 2015, with version 4.0.
  • The last reported bug fix is still from 2010. It sure looks like they stopped supporting the site.
  • A new site structure was announced in 2015, stating that outstanding quality content will be moved to Open.InfoBarrel.com, but that URL just forwards to the home site.

Status as of July 2020

I check in just to see where things stand, and I was shocked at the incompetence.

No Security Protocols Used

A few years ago, every legitimate website began using the Transport Layer Security protocol (TLS). 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.

Recently, 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, claiming it is because Paypal eliminated the API used to make the payments.

They claim that they are working on an alternative payment method, but admitted that they don't have the financial resources to do that.

So it's questionable what will happen next.

© 2016 Glenn Stok

Comments

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.

Phillip Davidson 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 - Hence the title of this article.

Zia Uddin from UK on November 12, 2018:

It's no way to treat their customers like that, it will put them off from writing for them ever again. I hope they thrive.

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 August 21, 2018:

I recently updated this article with the latest information on InfoBarrel as of August 2018. They are barely hanging in there after the admin admitted he has no time for it anymore.

This article has also just been accepted by the editors for the ToughNickel niche site.

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 Northeast of 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.

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

MsDora - Ha Ha. It started out as a rant, but then I decided to rework it and I made it into a hub.

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.

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

LindaSmith1 - That sure is a solution. I set up my own site as an index to my articles arranged by topic, but I don't monetize it. It's just for the purpose of making it easier to find my articles. But I have used AdSense on my business site and that worked really well.

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!

LindaSmith1 from USA on September 10, 2016:

I don't worry about any of this anymore. Having my own sites has eliminated all of the problems. My sales have soared through my own sites, I don't have to share commissions or deal with the content farm crap.

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 Idyllwild Ca. 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.

Blessings

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

grand old lady - That's why due diligence is so important, and also to be alert to potential failures. When Bubblews started hiding stats, I knew something was up. When Persona Paper stopped fixing bugs, I knew they didn't care any longer.

These are things to make us wake up and pay attention. I didn't react in time with Tsū when they didn't care about people spamming the site asking for followers. I was happy seeing my family tree grow without any effort, and making money from posts my "children" were posting. I thought that would continue growing. I was wrong on that count! So you're right, we have to be careful who we write for.

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.