Today HackerNoon deleted not only my profile, and every article I’ve published on the site; they also deleted every article that referenced me. The reason for the erasure is a dispute about canonicalization for syndicated content. It’s as dumb and disrespectful to writers as it sounds.
I syndicated multiple stories to HackerNoon with a correct (according to Google) canonical URL to the original content. HackerNoon removed those canonical URLs without my consent, published the articles, and refused to add them back after multiple requests citing “best practices” that they refuse to clarify.
HackerNoon management is upset by my demanding tone. After I noted that hosting the articles without the proper canonicalization stipulated when I syndicated infringed my copyright, they deleted every page of the website mentioning my name including articles that I did not write. (Update May 31, 2023: HackerNoon restored some of the pages mentioning me, but not my content)
Deleting the content was not sufficient to cure the issue. Many URLs were live for months and actively promoted by me under the belief they were canonicalized. After learning that the articles were not properly canonicalized to the original content, I made multiple requests for correction, as the articles were submitted with canonical URLs that HackerNoon editors manually removed.
Via both email, and the now inaccessible portal where contributors could communicate with editors, I have dozens of messages where HackerNoon has acknowledged my request and my expectation upon submitting of industry standard canonicalization but refused to comply despite being both legally and technically in the wrong.
At this point, it’s become clear that HackerNoon doesn’t respect those who contribute to the site. Given that the existence of the duplicate content has caused actual damages and that HackerNoon has had months to remedy the issue and refused to without a justification, I think that lawyers are the only way to solve this. I’m hopeful that once HackerNoon notify the E&O insurance, cooler heads will step in and simply comply with a reasonable request that requires little effort.
Core to this issue is that upon submitting I manually input a canonical URL for each article, and HackerNoon manually removed these URLs without my knowledge. They have not presented, and on knowledge and belief, do not have an argument that I agreed to the removal of the canonical URL. They also seemingly misunderstand the reason for canonical URLs and have made multiple, technically incomprehensible arguments that my request has only to do with passing link juice. This is not true, and I resent the assertion.
The reasons for canonicalization are fairly complex. But because HackerNoon often uses canonical URLs, unlike LinkedIn and Substack, the lack of a canonical URL is not something search engines are expected to account for when crawling. I expected the HackerNoon URL to be declared canonical in Google over the original content; I also expected the canonical tag, which I manually added to the HackerNoon syndication, to exist. To be clear, without the canonical tag citing the original work, HackerNoon didn’t have permission to host the content.
So today HackerNoon deleted my entire catalog of articles, including original work that I freely gave to HackerNoon as the sole content source. I will upload the old pieces to my website and other websites that are in my control. I’m disappointed by the behavior of David Smooke and the entire editorial team of Hacker Noon, and I advise not publishing with them.