Closing Down Shop – Snooze Fest Hugg.com will Disappear at the end of the Year

“It’s Digg for Green.” When you first access hugg.com’s homepage, that’s the message that pops up by its logo. Unfortunately, the user generated database of green articles never caught on like Digg, and as of next Monday, November 17th, it will not be accepting new submissions. At the end of this year, Hugg.com will be closed for good.

[social_buttons]At the top ofΒ  Hugg.com‘s homepage is a message that says “Please Read”:

On November 17th, 2008, Hugg will no longer accept new submissions or registrations. Hugg will remain publicly viewable until the end of the year, at which time Hugg.com will be closed. The Hugg.com domain will be directed towards a new feature on the TreeHugger forums where participants will be able to post and comment on interesting green links (coming soon). We welcome you to the thriving community at the TreeHugger forums and hope you’ll join us now to carry on the discussion. Go ahead and poke around on the forums – we think you’ll like it and enjoy conversing with such a diverse group of intelligent, passionate people!

We would like to express our gratitude and appreciation to the many Hugg users who have poured time and energy into providing the community with tons of great content. Unfortunately, due to increasing maintenance costs, we can no longer provide Hugg with the resources it needs to continue.

So what happened?

I have no insider information, no behind the scenes scoop. But I did a little searching, and it seems that the site which started out with great potential became a snooze fest. When the site underwent a redesign in 2007, users began to complain. The new design lost visual impact. Users found the organization of the site difficult to understand. Users began to drop off and the traffic that many people got from their submitted stories dropped off, too.

The lack of a search feature to find out if a story had already been submitted was also mentioned by several users. And my personal complaint about the site, often after taking the time to submit a story, it would be flagged as potential spam to be reviewed by someone on staff. Often it would take days before a completely legitimate story that had been flagged appeared. Sometimes it never did.

In other comments, I found that many people felt that after Discovery bought Treehugger (which is the parent of Hugg), Discovery let it flounder. They didn’t put any effort into caring for or improving the site. And now, they are closing it.

There are others that can take its place, though. Two other social networking sites MindBodyGreen and Care2 also accept user sumbitted green stories and allow users to rate them. Hopefully, these sites will learn from Hugg’s problems.

Image courtesy of tomeppy on flickr

  1. Bobby B.

    Just when I was thinking about taking a hiatus from being “sustainablog’s” chief antagonist, Robin presents me with a reason to keep ruffling feathers. What would become of my good friend’s creation if I quit stirring the pot? Would it wither and die? Would you people start thinking that everyone in the world actually agreed with you? Maybe, just maybe, my efforts will fetch him a better price when some major player seeks to buy him out. If so, I wonder what my cut will be?

  2. graham hill


    if you want to reach out and talk to someone at treehugger/planetgreen about what happened from our perspective, our emails are easily available.

    discovery has been a great help to treehugger and the green movement. hugg just didn’t ever grow enough to be worth the amount of effort dealing with spammers etc.. and we only have so many hours to work with.
    it was a hard call for us to make but it needed to
    be made.


  3. Alan Graham


    I run many of the community aspects of TreeHugger, including the forums.

    Yes it does seem that all six complaints you pointed to preferred the old Hugg design, but the fact is that Hugg served an audience interested in green issues before Digg had an environmental section. Now that Digg has added the environment, it seems everyone is better served letting them do what they do best (we love Digg) and allowing us to focus on our other community aspects…like our forums…which btw (with over 6,000 topics and 50,000 posts) we think are one of the best locations for people to have civil discussions on the environment.


    While Hugg is going away, we’re simply bringing the community into the forums and pouring our prior Hugg resources towards our constant dedication to be the best online source of everything green.


    Alan Graham
    Community Liaison

  4. Robin Shreeves

    Bobby – don’t take a hiatus. I can always count on your taking me away from my mundane tasks at least once a week to formulate my responses to you.

    Graham and Alan – thanks for the insider point of view. Everyone needs to make choices based on their limited resources – time, money, man power, etc. I have no doubt that your company will continue to serve the green community in really great ways.

  5. Ivan Storck

    As a potential user of hugg.com, I found many usability challenges prevented me from returning to the site.

    SustainLane.com also allows users to post stories and review them.

    But I think Alan says it best – now that Digg has an environment section, and a friend network, it’s easier and more efficient to post / digg on there.

  6. Jeffrey

    i’m with Ivan. I can’t tell ya how many times i REALLY tried (or at least wanted) to throw myself head-long into hugg…but the challenges proved too great.

    i love that digg has a new environment section, but the broadness of digg often seems like a usability issue to me as well.

  7. Jeff McIntire-Strasburg

    @bobby… no worries… we’re not going anywhere… but we do want you to stick around!

    @graham and alan: thanks for jumping into the discussion. I can’t speak for Robin, but I saw her post as focused on user experience; as a frequent, long-time user of Hugg, I have to largely agree. Hugg 1.0 wasn’t ideal, but there was a community there, discussions were frequent, and TH gave attention to the site with daily posts. That did seem to change with version 2.0, which coincided with Discovery’s acquisition of TH. It did feel like Hugg had been abandoned. Obviously, I know nothing about internal discussions and decisions, and I definitely understand the kinds of business decisions that have to made regarding resource allocation, etc. But, I can say from a user perspective that it felt like Hugg was left to wither and die after the acquisition…

    With that said, I look forward to seeing the new offering within the forums. TH is in a unique position to create a social media space for the green web: you guys have so much credibility in this arena. I think Digg’s environmental section (which has been around about as long as Hugg… can’t find exact dates) has become a default for many. Sure, Digg promises the opportunity for massive waves of traffic and such, but I don’t think it’s yet approached a true sense of “green community” possible with a space like this — just look at the comments (same with Reddit). Traffic is nice… a place to attract loyal users to various green properties is more important to all of us, though. You guys are the leaders of the green web, and can use that positioning to create something uniquely valuable… and profitable, I’d bet.

    Again, thanks for your comments.

    @ivan: Good to see you here, man…! Hope you continue to drop in.

    @Jeffrey — thanks also for stopping by, and hope to see more comments from you!

  8. Robin Shreeves

    I’m glad some of the users are weighing in on this. I only joined Hugg a few months ago, and at first I thought I must be missing something. Some other part of the site that was more interactive. But I eventually realized there wasn’t. I would post my articles, along with articles from other sites, dutifully, but on several occasions, my friends on twitter would see a tweet from me saying “Hugg hates me again.” To which I’d always get an empathetic tweet or two back.

  9. graham hill

    thanks guys.

    couple of points:

    1) hugg not getting as much attention
    as it may have warranted had nothing to
    do with us being acquired. trust me, there
    are plenty of things that have not gotten the
    attention they might have and this is true pre
    and post discovery. there are generally too
    many projects and too little time.

    2) i can guarantee you that hugg was live before
    digg had an environment section as a) we would likely
    not have done it if digg already had one b) using the
    tagline “it’s like digg but for green” wouldn’t have
    made any sense if digg had had the enviro section (and we should have changed it after they launched). i say this to clarify and not to brag, it was an obvious move for digg and was likely planned before we ever even thought of doing hugg.

    Again, we’d have loved to keep it going but with the amount of spam and development needed for the small amount of traffic that it generated, our efforts in terms of keeping the lights on and pushing the movement forward are better placed elsewhere. we’re sorry to have to close it down..i love the site.


  10. jason wachob

    i’m sorry to see hugg go. even though we were competitors, hugg and everyone behind them at treehugger, paved the way for green web publishing. i’m happy to say that mindbodygreen is amidst a redesign and i look forward to feedback from the green community.

    -jason wachob
    founder, mindbodygreen.com

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