A Review of InfoBarrel: Will It Be Another Failed Content Site?

Updated on August 16, 2018
Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn writes mostly for HubPages with well over a million views. However, he has an interest in examining other sites for research purposes.

Besides being a writer on the network niche sites of HubPages, I have a technical background as a systems analyst. This gives me the ability to research the issues that plague many content authoring websites.

InfoBarrel, a revenue sharing site founded in 2008 for writing articles, was one of my experiments. It is not a scam, as I see many people asking about on the Internet, but it does have its problems. Here's my review.

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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.
  5. Yeah! Like HubPages!

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 2018 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 found some links to technical information pages just redirect to the home page. That means that 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 huge 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 often be missing in action.

Complaints People Post About

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

  • A promised upgrade that never occurred.
  • 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.
  • Constantly changing the TOS statement of who owns rights to 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 redirected 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 my opinion. 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 and messed up the payments one month, and was trying to work out the mess.

In August 2016 some people saw a tremendous, but short lived, increase in earnings. One 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 admin to request 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 his or her 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.

This can’t happen on HubPages because the URL is static once an article is published. Writers can only change the URL from defaulting to the title when they start writing a new article. However, InfoBarrel's method is very poor programming.

Confusion with Pen Names vs. Usernames

When a user adds a pen name to their profile, their actual username still is displayed as the sender when leaving comments in articles. This makes it difficult to know who someone is because it doesn't match the name in the profile or the author of the article. That makes it difficult to keep followers engaged.

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 Had Canceled Affiliate Accounts

Some members posted in the forum that they had lost their Amazon affiliate status because Amazon has started cancelling 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.

Even if one chooses to use his or her affiliate code, rather than through the HP Earnings program, this is fine. They just need to include their HP profile URL in the approved website list in their Amazon settings to get paid.

You might think this can be done with with InfoBarrel too, but there is a problem. Profile URLs look like forum profiles because they have the word “users” in the URL. This is not recognized as a top level domain, so I think this is why Amazon was cancelling affiliate accounts that are 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 don't know if this issue was resolved. As of mid 2018 the user profiles are still the same, so if the problem had been resolved, it would have had to be done on Amazon's end.

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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 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 again and I found the following directive:

User-agent: Googlebot
Disallow: 

Once again, they were denying Google access so that articles cannot be listed in their 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 they 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

This 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.

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

Who’s Running the Show?

Back 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 complaining about the absence of the admin, which made me wonder if this is just a one-man 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 | Source

The Admin Admits the Truth in April 2017

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 keep operating the site as it is.

Source

Status 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 the business of running InfoBarrel, as Keven admitted in his post I showed you above.

  • The site remains very much broken according to ongoing posts in the forum.
  • Why can't they fix the payment system software so they don't 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.comm but that URL just forwards to the home site.

In addition to all that, I see writers who have been on InfoBarrel since 2010 with over 100 articles and less than 20,000 views. If their articles weren't combined with unrelated subjects and low quality in a content farm, a practice that Google dislikes, and if they didn't constantly block Google, these authors should have had over a million views by now. I say that from experience.

Their TOS blatantly mentions that everything needs to be of superior quality and is read and approved by a human before publishing. So why do I see some articles with typos and poor grammar?

Any serious writer would appreciate these strict rules. Low quality hurts everyone else on the site. If only they actually were to enforce those rules and clean up their act.

© 2016 Glenn Stok

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    • Glenn Stok profile imageAUTHOR

      Glenn Stok 

      4 weeks ago from Long Island, NY

      Zia Uddin - Hence the title of this article.

    • aziza786 profile image

      Zia Uddin 

      4 weeks ago from Birmingham

      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 profile imageAUTHOR

      Glenn Stok 

      4 weeks ago from Long Island, NY

      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.

    • aziza786 profile image

      Zia Uddin 

      5 weeks ago from Birmingham

      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 profile imageAUTHOR

      Glenn Stok 

      3 months ago from Long Island, NY

      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 profile imageAUTHOR

      Glenn Stok 

      5 months ago from Long Island, NY

      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,

    • swalia profile image

      Shaloo Walia 

      5 months ago from India

      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 profile imageAUTHOR

      Glenn Stok 

      2 years ago from Long Island, NY

      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.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      2 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      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 profile imageAUTHOR

      Glenn Stok 

      2 years ago from Long Island, NY

      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.

    • RonElFran profile image

      Ronald E Franklin 

      2 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      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 profile imageAUTHOR

      Glenn Stok 

      2 years ago from Long Island, NY

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

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      2 years ago from The Caribbean

      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 profile imageAUTHOR

      Glenn Stok 

      2 years ago from Long Island, NY

      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 profile imageAUTHOR

      Glenn Stok 

      2 years ago from Long Island, NY

      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.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 

      2 years ago from Chicago Area

      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 profile image

      LindaSmith1 

      2 years ago from USA

      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 profile imageAUTHOR

      Glenn Stok 

      2 years ago from Long Island, NY

      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 profile imageAUTHOR

      Glenn Stok 

      2 years ago from Long Island, NY

      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 profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      2 years ago from USA

      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.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      2 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      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 profile imageAUTHOR

      Glenn Stok 

      2 years ago from Long Island, NY

      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 profile imageAUTHOR

      Glenn Stok 

      2 years ago from Long Island, NY

      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 profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      2 years ago from southern USA

      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 profile imageAUTHOR

      Glenn Stok 

      2 years ago from Long Island, NY

      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 profile imageAUTHOR

      Glenn Stok 

      2 years ago from Long Island, NY

      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.

    • NateB11 profile image

      Nathan Bernardo 

      2 years ago from California, United States of America

      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.

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 

      2 years ago from Philippines

      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.

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      2 years ago from Norfolk

      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.

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