Update 2019: It’s been almost 7 years since I left About.com, but I still get ticked off when I think about the insult of it.
All these years later, hundreds of my articles are still available, but no longer at About.com. A few years ago, they changed the health sites’ umbrella name to VeryWellHealth.com and that’s where the articles now reside.
I get frustrated because they continue to update the article dates – as if I wrote those articles a short time ago – when the truth is some articles are as many as 14+ years old! If you find an error or an update, or a broken link, I’m sorry – I have no access and cannot edit the article.
(Update July 8, 2012: the carnage continues as we hear of even more About.com experts (guides) being terminated, some of whom have been sharing their expertise for 15+ years. The fear among still-employed writers is palpable.)
About.com is on a campaign, disposing of experts (formerly called “guides”) with no explanation, abruptly cutting them off, providing no opportunity to bid goodbye to fellow experts or site readers, simply kicking them to the curb. Poof! Gone! See ya! The end!*
It’s disturbing enough to be sent packing from any relationship one has, but even more so when the reasons are suspect, and when it becomes clear that management, beyond being spiteful, makes poor decisions.
They made their poor decision-making MY problem. Sadly, we will both pay the price.
In my case I can at least stand proud, proud of the excellent work I produced in my almost-7 years of writing almost 2,000 articles and posts for About.com Patient Empowerment. I started the site, built it to just short of a half-million pageviews a month, ranking steadily in the top 25% sites in the network. I have so many emails from readers that tell me they were being helped. The experience, for the most part, was incredibly gratifying – and that was my compensation.
It’s true – the gratitude I received was always worth far more than the paycheck (which wasn’t nearly what you might think.) I heard frequently from my readers with great questions or stories. There were times I would receive a thank-you email that would drive me to tears – good tears – tears of appreciation that someone took the time to let me know how they were helped.
That is what I will miss the most.
I’ve made a living helping people get what they need to improve their outcomes from their journey through the healthcare system by teaching patients how to stick up for themselves to get what they need.
Thus, I have led by example, by writing this post. What was done to us now-bounced writers is egregious, probably illegal, and, simply, disrespectful. I’m having my say right here in protest of bad decision-making and its ripple effect. I don’t know how About.com’s management sleeps at night.
If you currently write for About.com, then be sure to keep copies of everything you’ve written backed up (thankfully I have backups of everything) and gather non-about.com email addresses for friends and colleagues you would like to stay in touch with. (Thankfully I did that too.)
If anyone ever asks me “What is it like writing for About.com?” I would have to tell them that the platform is good, the opportunity to help people is good, the paycheck is a little better than no paycheck at all, and the interface with management provides a great example of empty cheerleading, ego-driven, fear-imposing decision-making, and an environment of “hey! you never know!” (If you have considered writing for About.com, and decide to go ahead, be sure to read your contract carefully. And remember – they believe experts to be disposable.)
I’m a resilient woman. Anyone who can take on the healthcare system – and win – with such drastic and dramatic results doesn’t let this sort of insult get her down for very long. Mourning is important – yes – but standing back up, brushing myself off, and getting on with my important work is even more important. And so I will.
I will continue writing, responding to those who need help, and yes – I will even link to my articles published at About.com as long as they remain unedited, and until they are no longer valid or go out of date. As I said – I am proud of the work I did there.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel!
*Yes – I did ask for further explanation when I replied to this email. I also asked for a copy of my contract (which I never received but later found my own copy of) and for confirmation that About.com would live up to their contractual obligations for end-of-contract compensation. The only explanation I have received is reiteration that it was a “business decision” – just like in the email above. I was also told they would live up to their contractual obligations. We’ll see if that happens.