OPPORTUNITY: BOTW Volunteer Blog Editor Program

UNCLE BOTW WANTS YOU

UNCLE BOTW WANTS *YOU*
In the past BOTW began a program for volunteers to edit in the blog directory… basically like Dmoz, Wickipedia, JoeAnt, et al… a cool way for the OCD among us to bring order to chaos and categorize a little corner of the web. This program had gone dormant of late, so we’ve learned from the experience, built ‘em a new fora, and started fresh.

Before working for BOTW, I volunteered at Dmoz for 8 1/2 years. I’m not new to the concept, nor suggesting anyone do anything I havent done. Executed correctly it’s pretty fun and very educational, and not a bad form of networking either.

GROUND FLOOR OPPORTUNITY
This effectively puts those we approve now in a charter member spot… not dissimilar to being one of the first eds at Dmoz or Wickipedia. This is a good opportunity, especially for those that’d like to see how a top-notch directory functions. We will of course be happy to see those that contributed before as well as new applicants.

FTR – It probably doesn’t look bad on a resume either. Most of us in this industry waste a lot of time on the web, being seen giving back in a visible volunteer capacity isnt a bad thing. :)

CAN WE ADD OUR OWN SITES?
Needless to say such volunteer programs have some fringe benefits in that they also allow those participating to include their own qualified sites. If you have sites that qualify, if you don’t add them it’s your fault, not ours. We just ask that you add other quality sites as well and treat ALL sites fairly.

Don’t join JUST to add your own of course, it is totally unnecessary. We already have a free review queue, and even the express queue isn’t expensive enough to warrant a ruse for a serious webmaster… so it’d be a waste of your time and mine.

REQUIRED CAVEAT RE: Abuse of Login
Important Safety Tip: If someone appears to be present ONLY to add their own sites, or tries to become their own discount “paid review queue”… their login will be summarily executed, and the big UNDO button comes into play. This is an opportunity meant for “the good guys”.

One Other Potential Benefit
Prior to this we’ve mostly relied on folks we knew from other directories when filling holes in the contract editor (ie – paid editor) ranks for BOTW’s Main directory. I had a great opportunity when I got involved with BOTW, and I shared it by bringing over a sampling of the best and brightest web editors I knew.

My hope is to build this volunteer program in the BLOG Directory and grow our own… then we can as opportunities arise plug holes in the paid ed ranks with the stars we find. The ideal applicant has some experience with directory structure, a passion for blogs, and is an active forum participant. Forum participation helps immensely and is the heart of such a program. Like to get some good folks to help grow the community.

TO BECOME A BOTW VOLUNTEER BLOG EDITOR
Go to the BOTW Blog Directory, click on a category of interest, then hit the “Become a BOTW editor” button. The app process is pretty simple, takes a few minutes.

Note that BOTW is an English only directory. Not a slight, we just don’t have staff versed in a lot of other languages. As such, a mastery of the English language is required (even if you can’t always tell I fit that criteria either).

When I get an opportunity, my first thought is to share it with friends. Hope to have some of you aboard.

~ Rob Jones

The Directory Biz is Not a Zero Sum Game

Not So Random Forum Thoughts
Anyone that’s reading this is no doubt a regular on one or more forums. With the admission I’ve shown rough edges plenty of times, the post below is commentary, not a sermon. Still, the concept below is sound, and the good news is there are some great guys in this industry. To them… Thanks!

ZERO SUM GAME: A contest in which there are a finite number of points, and the acquisition of a point for one player is the equivalent of a loss of a point to the other(s). You can only have one winner.

EX: THE CAKE
If I get a large piece of cake, it decreases the amount YOU can have.

The directory industry has two constituencies; submitters and surfers. In both cases the number of potential individuals is too large to quantify. Even if they were in small supply, neither will limit themselves to one provider. If a surfer can’t find what he wants, he looks elsewhere. Neither will submitters avoid all other directories because they’re in ONE. If you get good traffic or lots of submissions, it doesn’t stop me from doing it.

THE ZERO SUM ADVOCATES
Sometimes one might get the impression that our industry is a zero sum game. Everyone’s seen a poster passionately detail the evils of some directory… only to find the speaker is affiliated with another directory, and speaks ill of ALL other directories.

We can’t agree on everything… but is it necessary to denigrate other directories? Didn’t dad always say if you sling mud, you’re gonna get some on you? We tar each other, we diminish the whole group.

THE GOOD NEWS: Heroes Still Abound

Fortunately there are plenty of folks that work and play well together. As an example, before coming to BOTW I noticed their results page offers the surfer links to the same same category in several other directories. Basically… “If we don’t have it… you might try these guys“. What? You pointed them to a competitor?! Cool.

I’ve always been impressed by the “rising tide floats all boats” people. Feels good to be around those who know putting others down won’t make ‘em any taller. Shows a confidence that doesn’t require bluster to support it.

It’d be nice to see *more* of this exhibited in forums, there are so many ways we’d all benefit. That said, there are a lot of heroes out there on the web that live the rising tide credo daily. To them I say Hey… I wanna be like you guys when I grow up. Thanks for being there!

Lend a Hand

In a departure from our stance on the Web Directory, we have opened up the Blog Directory to volunteer editors.

We unofficially launched the volunteer program about 10 days ago, and have since received more than a few applications. Now that some of the bugs have been worked out, we felt we would officially announce the volunteer editor program. (Not to suggest all the bugs have been taken care of.)

So what is it, and why should you care?

The goal of the BOTW Blog Directory is to build the most comprehensive collection of quality blogs online – a colossal undertaking. Much like the BOTW Web Directory, each listing in the Blog Directory must meet a set of minimum listing criteria. In a nutshell, all listings must contain unique content, and be relevant to the category in which they are listed. By holding ourselves to a high level of listing criteria, we are able to consistently provide our users with timely, relevant results from the blogosphere.

Blog Directory Editors should be experts in their respective field of editing. We are looking for people who are active bloggers, proficient in their area of interest. Ideally, you’ll have some experience editing at other directories (DMOZ editors welcome!), be an active member of other online communities, and generally feel very comfortable online.

Please don’t see this as an opportunity to stuff your blogs into the directory. First of all, you don’t have to become an editor to get your blog listed. Just submit it. It’s free, so you don’t need to feel compelled to put on some big charade to get your blog listed. Secondly, editors don’t get special priviliges to stick any blog they want in. Every blog enetered has to meet the minimum site criteria, regardless of the owner. Any editor that abuses the responsibility will be dismissed.

Of course, you are allowed to put your own blog in – provided it meets the guidelines and is relevant to the category. You can put all your friend’s blogs in too. And every other blog you find that fits the bill. That’s what we are looking for. Once again though, any editor that abuses the responsibility will be dismissed. We refuse to compromise on the quality and integrity of the directory.

So why should you care? Well, you have the opportunity to get in early on what promises to be a fantastic project. You’ll be able to work with some pretty cool people building a valuable resource. If that’s not enough, editors are given an Editor Page on the BOTW domain where you are free to list personal details or other projects you are involved in. Additionally, you’ll be able to add it to your work experience, and impress all your friends and coworkers ;)

Though the editor forums are a little thin, and the editor wiki still needs some attention, we are off and running. As it goes with any new project, I don’t know how this will ultimately pan out. But you are invited to come along for the ride.

Find out more about becoming a Blog Directory Volunteer Editor.

All Your Blog Are Belong To Us

All Your Blog Are Belong To UsOne of the primary criterions for blog approval at Best of the Web is that the blog must have a history of six months or longer. About 50 to 60 percent of the blogs submitted are rejected because they do not meet this standard.

At Caslyn Analytics Profile, statistics and studies are presented which seem to support BOTW in this criterion: “Several studies indicate that most blogs are abandoned soon after creation.” Technorati presents many up-to-date statistics on the blogosphere. Dave Sifry in an article titled, “State of the Blogosphere, April 2006 Part 1: On Blogosphere Growth” discusses several statistics that relate to our six month rule. He states “19.4 million bloggers (55%) are still posting 3 months after their blogs are created.” (This is out of the 35.3 million blogs tracked by Technorati at the time of that posting.)

Blogging requires one of the most precious commodities in a person’s life: their time. As with any activity that requires time, people often start out very excited about an idea, but the excitement tapers off after the initial action. Since we realize this aspect of human nature and statistics back us up, we firmly stand by our six month standard. This rule also benefits our users, because when utilizing the BOTW Blog Directory, you know you will find active blogs in our directory.

If you receive a reject notice for lack of a six month history, please let us know when you reach the six month mark so we can review your blog again. Since only 55% are maintaining their blogs after 3 months, if you can hold out for six months you will have certainly earned your blog a second look.

Technical Ramblings & Musings

Sometimes one tequila sunrise is all it takes to put a person in the creative mood to drop the neverending to-do list and want to make a blog entry. Although I haven’t had much to write about lately, there is plenty going on at Best of the Web. The challenge, of course, is talking about works-in-progress without spilling too much of the beans. There are folks all too willing to take your blogged about ideas and beat you to market with them.

Anyhoo, we don’t have a lot of fancy charts and graphs yet like the other guys, but statistically speaking, I can tell you that we just passed a cool quarter of a mil blog post entries that power the Blog Directory Post Search. Incidentally, I linked you to a page you may or may not be aware of. It’s the default tab on Blogs.botw.org: “Posts”, but since it’s the default, you never really click on it and hence, never see how cool it is to watch new posts get spidered. Of course we’re caching them for performance so it’s not necessarily an immediate update, but still, you can see what went in within the last couple minutes. Pretty cool to think that *right now* X amount of people are finishing off an entry in their blog. I’m sure we’re going to address this, but for now you’re on the inside track, my friend.

I’ll admit that it’s a challenge to filter out the various sorts of HTML tags that most posts contain; one problem we’re having is that if the text in a link within the post is a match to your query, and then we filter out that link, then it isn’t readily apparent what exactly in the post matched what you searched for.

It looks easy until you try to build a usable blog post search; there are many many inconsistencies regarding the different feed formats and how folks are implementing said formats. But regardless of whether or not our search capabilities need more work, I think it’s readily clear that our results are still fairly high quality over a wide range of searches. You want to find who’s talking about something specific, in as recent a history as possible; well I’m pleased to report from our stats that folks are doing just that. Aside from our index, the post search “page” is among our highest trafficked pages. And of course our sponsors benefit from being displayed when a query matches any of the terms they’ve set up when they signed up to sponsor. They get relevant traffic, and we get some cash to fund the next project, which adds value in turn. And around and around we go.

Well, my tequila sunrise has just about “set” if you will. Drinking on a thursday? Ehhh… Well, close enough to the weekend anyway. I met my BOTW Blog post quota so my boss will be happy. (Just kidding: there is no quota; But I can tell you that everyone who posts believes in the project and having a quality well-known and well-respected resource). So, until next time…

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