By in Writing

When Your Relationship with a Writing Site Sours

Web writers often put a lot of faith in the sites they write for. They trust that the site will use their content ethically and in accordance with the terms of use. They trust that the content will remain accessible, and that if no rights were ceded that they will be able to remove the content from the site if they choose to. Most of all, they trust that the site will pay the agreed upon amount, in a timely fashion once it has been requested.

Lately we've been hearing a lot about sites that have closed down , and also about sites that locked down user content . An additional problem is sites refusing to delete user content when requested, and sites not paying users as agreed upon.

I've just been looking through complaints on the Better Business Bureau's (BBB) web site, and it seems a lot of the users who complain are getting cheated for two main reasons:

  1. The user has no proof of the content submitted or the payments requested, or is accused of trying to game the system by changing the content after the fact;

  2. Updates to the site's terms of use are being applied retroactively , such that the wait time for a payment is drastically reduced or the user has suddenly lost the right to delete content from the site.

You can prevent this happening to you by making sure that you always save a copy of your posts on your computer (and a backup on the cloud, or on a backup drive!) Whenever you request a payment, take a screen shot that includes the date of the request and a proof of the amount. If you can include a proof that the payment has been promised by a certain date, then save that proof too.

For most of the BBB complaints that were resolved in favour of the user, the user specifically mentioned having screen shots as proof of the information included in their account of the events. Keeping complete records of your writing and your transactions with paid to write web sites, can make the difference between being paid and not getting your full payment.

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Image credit: Complaints button by Stuart Miles/Free Digital Photos

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bestwriter wrote on December 3, 2014, 5:10 AM

I also read somewhere that using one's own name helps as one can claim copyright.

manni wrote on December 3, 2014, 6:01 AM

what is BBB exactly.. some user said its about Bubblews complaints

AmyBoo wrote on December 3, 2014, 6:12 AM

Can you help me? I dont know how to screen shot! I have a windows 8, asus. Thanks to anyone that can help :) x

Dawnwriter wrote on December 3, 2014, 6:21 AM

Most of us never read the site's terms of use which can change almost arbitrarily. It is a bit intimidating to take a complaint to BBB but sometimes we are left with little options.

Anja wrote on December 3, 2014, 6:46 AM

The biggest problem as I see it is the ability of the sites to change the terms of use whenever it suits their needs and apply the terms retroactively and without remedy to those affected. Every site I have belonged to has done that, even this one. In some cases, it has cost me my content, in other cases, it has cost me money.

scheng1 wrote on December 3, 2014, 6:57 AM

I have written online long enough to know the importance of saving all our work.

nbaquero wrote on December 3, 2014, 7:42 AM

manni BBB is the Better Business Bureau is an Organization that rates the Businesses in the US for their Practices, if a business is not adhering to those ethical guidelines their rating is degraded. Users can file complaints against them and have the BBB help resolve the dispute.

nbaquero wrote on December 3, 2014, 7:53 AM

Ruby3881 Very good points. Still from what I read, it seems that most of the claims are succesful.

LoudMan wrote on December 3, 2014, 11:07 AM

Yes. Definitely keep screenshots of all payout requests and other crucial details/activities.

Kasman wrote on December 3, 2014, 4:02 PM

It was including a screenshot in a claim for a 'lost' payment that eventually persuaded Bubble Ooze to cough up what they owed me.

Donna_Thacker wrote on December 3, 2014, 7:43 PM

It's terrible what online writers have to go through just to be paid such a small amount as these sites seem to think is "decent" pay. But what's a person to do when they are just trying to make a living?

LoudMan wrote on December 3, 2014, 8:31 PM

Others might try standing up for the ooze but, if I ever meet Arvind in person, he's got an a$$-kicking coming. :)

OldRoadsOnceTraveled wrote on December 4, 2014, 12:28 AM

Try hitting Ctrl +PrtScr, which should copy what is visible on the screen. Then paste the image into Paint or another photo program and save it. That works in Windows 7. If you have OneNote, I think it has it's own screenshot technique that you can use to paste a screenshot into it.

celticeagle wrote on December 4, 2014, 2:32 AM

I wouldn't use cloud but I have always done my writing on a notepad and then cut and pasted it into the site I am writing for. I do this with my articles, blogs, etc. Then I put at the top when I posted it and where. Worked great for me and then I always have a copy of my work I can look back on.

Ruby3881 wrote on December 4, 2014, 4:12 AM

BBB also covers businesses and consumers in Canada :)

AmyBoo wrote on December 4, 2014, 5:10 AM

Ohh, thank you very much, Im off to try it now x

nbaquero wrote on December 4, 2014, 7:36 AM

Ruby3881 Thanks for the clarification, I did not know that. emoticon :smile:

manni wrote on December 4, 2014, 8:22 AM

oh ok. thanks a lot for clarifying my doubt friend

CoralLevang wrote on December 4, 2014, 9:02 AM

I lost a lot of respect for AD when he specifically told me that he would see to it to handle situations and did not (for a dear friend/colleague of mine whom I referred.) Unfortunately, there was no screen shot for each of the two payments, but there is a paper trail. My friend just dropped it after several email exchanges from us all. But that was $88 that should have been paid. He also shared that it wasn't worth his time to keep fighting for under $100. I would do it on principle. LOL

LeaPea2417 wrote on December 4, 2014, 1:10 PM

I wonder if anyone has specially gone to the BBB and reported bubblews for all it promised during it's big reset and not providing? They basically lied. I should look that up online and see.

AliCanary wrote on December 6, 2014, 12:20 AM

My screen shots do not include the date (well, the newer ones do, but not the unpaid ones), but of course there is a date on the picture files from the day it was taken. I also do have an email stating that I will receive payment. They are probably counting on people not pursuing things, though, especially people from other countries.

AliCanary wrote on December 6, 2014, 12:21 AM

Also manni , you don't have to be in the United States to complain; just the business does. Bubblews is registered in San Francisco, California.

AliCanary wrote on December 6, 2014, 12:23 AM

You should also have the Clipping Tool, which is even easier to use (it looks like scissors cutting out an oval shape). That's how I save screen images.

AliCanary wrote on December 6, 2014, 12:24 AM

You are lucky. I have screen shits for EVERYTHING, and they continue to ignore my requests.

crowntower wrote on December 6, 2014, 4:15 AM

That is cool to know. It is really hard to fight to the sites owner alone, because they will just shrugged their shoulder and look away from your complaints. Writing is not an easy job, just like what others thinks.

WordChazer wrote on December 6, 2014, 4:06 PM

Thanks for this. Unfortunately too late for me and the latest kid on the block. I can't be doing with that any more.

AbbyBiha wrote on December 10, 2014, 7:42 AM

I have not been paid and it is already pass the 100 days from the other site and I have written to them again and again.

Katherina201 wrote on December 14, 2014, 7:42 PM

Thanks so much for the information. I'll try to keep it in mind when I finally decide to start actually writing.

simplysara wrote on December 19, 2014, 4:52 PM

Thank you for the sound advice. I get the sense it's coming from the voice of experience. I am starting to write my articles offline ahead of time so I can have my own copy. Taking of a screen shot pf payout requests seems like a logical best practice.

VinceSummers wrote on December 19, 2014, 8:57 PM

I think we can both recognize one outstanding such site. Just within the last 24 to 48 hours, the administrator admitted (this is December) that he had cut down payouts since November (it seems he's trying to make things retroactive). In fact, I have a complaint on BBB for the site and will mention the attempt at retroactivity.