What’s New at BOTW?

So… What have you done lately?
Funny you should ask, cause I was planning to write something about that today. [Yeah, that's the convenient part of blogging, you get to make up your own test, then grade it.]

If anyone is ever curious about what kind of sites or how many get added here daily, there’s a quick way to get a look. In each of the general directories… BOTW and BOTW UK & Ireland, as well as the BOTW Blog Directory… you can get a quick look (by day and by category) at exactly what got added to the directory. Just go to the main index and click the button labeled “What’s New”.

Here’s the button for each:
Best of the Web Directory – What’s New
Best of the Web UK & Ireland Directory – What’s New
Best of the Web Blog Directory – What’s New

Sample Output

What s New 1 24 2011

In the screenshot above, you’ll see the top level categories to the left. If a category is shown in BLUE… it means sites were added to that section that day. You can click on the category name and see the sites that were added.

To the right there are archives for each day so you can see what was added on that day, and you can also click the button at bottom of page and see ALL sites added that day in THAT directory. [SAMPLE].

NOTE: If you plan on looking at all of them for any given day, bring a comfortable chair. It includes adds made by submitters to the commercial queues for each, adds submitted to the FREE queues, adds by our Volunteer Blog Editor team, and adds made by The Herd just to flesh out the directory.

Just mentioning that so those that are curious what type sites or volume of sites are added here need not guess. It’s a pretty well rounded group on any given day, and which categories get hit will rotate depending on who is working which section that day.

Just A Little Boost for the Sites
Having them highlighted there is just one of several methods we use to give ‘em a little extra visibility. [The general idea of adding sites is making sure people can find them... novel concept, eh?]

That’s it, nothing earth shattering… just a bit of info on how the place works. Hope you’re having a great week. [We're having a busy one here.] :) ~ Rob

The day THE tool dies

Techs v Chimps
While working on something years ago I saw an email from a tech pop up and I read it. Mostly I look out of curiosity, like a chimpanzee armed with a copy of Moby Dick. I really don’t know what I’m reading, but it’s fun to look. Us non-techish types just depend on guys that DID get the tech gene to grease the machine as needed and magically keep the various operations we depend on daily going.

How they do it I don’t know…
…because absolute ignorance of their methods is a requirement of the non-compete agreement I signed long ago with the powerful Tech Union… the ISPWCDS (International Society of People Who Can Do Stuff). For all I know there are magic wands and bloody rituals involving volcano virgins.

If so, probably just as well that I don’t know, cause finding a virgin to sacrifice in this part of Texas is not gonna be an easy task. Apparently nobody’s willing to take one for the team these days.

Striking Terror into the Un-Backed-Up Heart
Anyway, while reading the note from the tech about some system that had gone down I saw a reference to him having rebuilt the database with a year old backup. It occurred to me I have no idea how often the wizards back up stuff cause it isn’t part of my job to watch theirs. My blood ran cold.

WHICH system did he just do that to? The mind begins to race.

  • - Did I lose the cool new payroll tool, without which I’m lost?
  • - Do I still have the supporting tools to do it manually?
  • - Was it the directory? Did I lose a years edits & submissions?
  • - Did we lose billing information from that period?
  • - Did I turn off the coffeepot? (sorry… ADHD)

Spit it out man! Hurry, translate the techese lingo into something to set me at ease. I’m scared and I don’t even know where volcano virgins hang out!

False Alarm… THAT Time
Turned out it was some minor system that didn’t affect my life… but then and there I learned two valuable lessons.

  • -1- Back up EVERYTHING… frequently
  • -2- Always have an extra set of trousers at the office

Losing THE Tool
Is there any one tool or database that you’d freeze in terror the day it quits working? If you’re in a role that is heavily dependent on computers, the answer has to be “Yes”.

What happens when there is a glitch? Most of us in the web world remember when Dmoz went down half a decade back due to a random “oops”… someone accidentally overwrote their database with an op system and didn’t have systematic backups of a nature to quickly repair it. The site was down for months while a brave few cobbled it back together from scraps of backups and RDF dumps wrapped in duct tape. It was the nightmare lesson of all time. Had the operation been a for-profit setup how would they have fared?

Bottom line, there are tools you use every day. Sure, you back up your data religiously, but how about the other things you rely on? Do you have them covered too, or would you be in terror when a glitch hits?

Avoiding the ‘Comfort Zone’ Trap
As systems get more and more reliable, it is easy to get complacent about backups and system redundancy. I know the guys we have here do a great job watching these things, and am glad it isn’t up to me… but everyone needs to think about it. Is there data on a laptop that is ONLY on that laptop? How bout the iPad, or the smart phone? Is the data therein synced with another device?

Just food for thought. And to paraphrase… God Bless Techses.

Hope everyone’s having a great week. ~ Rob

Qualities of a Quality Directory

This really is a continuation of the prior post, “Is Your Directory Past the “Use by” Date?“. I’ve been following a pretty good discussion over at the V7n Webmaster Forum on the topic of Attributes Of A High Quality Directory. The points I covered in the prior post here seem to have been pretty well covered there, but there are some others mentioned that are probably worth discussing here.

I won’t bother quoting the members, possibly because it might be some kind of intellectual rights violation, but more likely because some of them know where I live, but I’ll refer to the concepts covered.

One that jumps out early on is the point that submissions should be judged on the merit of the site without regard to any financial consideration. In my opinion that falls into the “editorial integrity” characteristic that I discussed in depth on the last post here… but I didn’t specifically mention it.

That point is one of several reasons why good directories typically charge a non-refundable “review” fee, not a “listing” fee. Directories that bring quality editorial work to the table *must* be willing to reject sites of low quality.  Period.

That point was covered very clearly by Matt Cutts in one of the many videos Google has been kind enough to provide to keep people from having to guess what they do or don’t think, which as you might guess is a bit of a high priority for a lot of folks. Rather than paraphrase… I’ll let them speak for themself on that topic:

That video is brief, but it covers some good points. It isn’t really necessary to be listed in scores of “fly-by-night directories”, (and that is a quote), but being listed in quality directories is still nonetheless a good thing. Good directories serve several useful functions in helping index the best sites on the web.

It also mentions why paying a review fee at a quality directory is not considered “a paid link”. There’s simply a huge difference between submitting to some auto-accept directory vs submitting to a directory that will evaluate the site and place it properly… or yes… reject it if it doesn’t meet the standard.

I notice he also mentions the part about a good directory going out and looking for sites to add, not just waiting for submissions. [I'm always so proud of him when he agrees with me, but I probably won't get away with saying it was my idea.]

Moving back to the discussion at V7n, I notice a few talking about PR as if it is a magic indicator. The presence of that number can be a red herring, and if a directory doesn’t have the other attributes of quality, remember that when something looks too good to be true… it probably isn’t true. Everyone knows somebody who slapped up a directory on a dropped URL. Don’t confuse cause and effect. Rich guys may drive nice cars, but not every guy driving a nice car is rich. Best to look at the big picture, not just a magic number.

Aside from that, I was pleased to see a lot of directory owners in that discussion talking about editorial integrity, quality content, and generally covering the bases I hoped to cover in my previous post. There will probably always be some quickie directories out there, but it’s great to see input from others that are doing it right.

Of course knowing how to do it right is step one… maintaining that course daily is the tough part. On the bright side, it does give me job security.

Hope everyone has gotten started off on a great 2011.

Best wishes ~ Rob