How to Become a BOTW Editor

Occasionally I field questions on the topic of who edits the Best of the Web Directory products, and how one becomes a BOTW editor.

Posting about it here hits the following two birds with one stone:

  • A) To serve as a map for those interested in the role
  • B) It will serve notice we are in growth mode and could use more folks with the talent and interest in editing here.

What are the different editor roles at BOTW?

BOTW Staff Editors – Employees -
These are employees that work out of our New York Headquarters. Their primary functions include handling the commercial submissions to multiple BOTW products… including but not limited to the BOTW Directory, BOTW Blog Directory, BOTW UK and Ireland Directory, BOTW Local, etc….

They work under the same guidelines as the other editors, so sites they deal with are placed, titled and described no differently than sites handled by any other editor. Staff eds aren’t really the subject of this post… for that you have to talk to the guys at HQ. [See BOTW Careers]

The Nerd Herd – Contract Editors -
This team of contract editors does NOT work the commercial queues. The team is composed of dozens of longterm directory editors, most of whom learned the role and proved themself via many thousands of edits in a volunteer capacity at other venues. They do handle the Free queues (see prior blog post) for BOTW, BOTW UK, and the Blog Directory, but *most* of their edits come from hunting down sites they consider “Best of the Web” material.

They handle most taxonomy and hierarchy issues, quality control, add necessary crosslinks, and fill areas that would be under-represented if we relied solely on submissions. Several are responsible for monthly “What’s New” posts and Daily Editor Picks in the various directories. The structure of The Herd is extremely flat by design. They are a team of peers, and IMO probably the best collection of directory editors in one place.

They work from wherever they are (hence the reason I avoid using the cam on Skype) and are paid monthly based on the contributions they make. They do not have a “quota”, and though they try to pretend otherwise when staff’s around, most would probably do this even if they didn’t get paid for it.

BOTW Local Editors – Contract Editors -
BOTW Local is a free map-based service that directs people to brick and mortar businesses. The Premium Submissions to Local are handled by staff editors, and the guys editing the Free “Jumpstart” submissions were initially recruited from the ranks of the Nerd Herd. They handle many thousands of sites submitted for free to the BOTW Local’s “Jumpstart” queue monthly.

The documentation in Local promises an up/down call inside 6 months for free submissions, but the reality is the editors there have kept the time to a fraction of that… and are improving on already good response times as we’re adding additional support for them. Like the rest of The Herd, they’re paid based on what they do.

Volunteer Blog Editors
Volunteer blog editors are as the name indicates non-paid, but the program covers a variety of needs. Just as most of The Herd got into the directory world by volunteering to edit some area of interest and discovered they have a need to organize that borders on mental illness, I’m sure there are others like them (OK, us) out there.

The volunteer blog program allows even those without a history of editing to get into an area of interest and share the blogs they think are “Best of the Web” with others by adding them to the directory. Though they are doing so in a volunteer capacity, they are part of our editing forum and have an excellent chance to learn from some good folks.

They also put themselves into an excellent position to move into our paid editor corps should they show the desire and the ability.

How would someone join one of these groups?
If someone wanted to become a member of The Herd, our contract editor corps, there are two ways…

  • -1- Have an outstanding history of directory editing elsewhere and contact me directly. That’s an available option, and assuming a level of verifiable experience it’s a perfectly legitimate route.
  • -2- Enter via the Volunteer Blog Editor Program and do a sterling job… and whether you express an interest in being a member of The Herd or not, you’ll probably get an email from me asking if you’re interested.

CODISALS – aka: The fine print
— a) There is no monetary reason for doing it via method 1 vs method 2… as there is also a volunteer actions requirement in the Herd payscale at the start. The number isn’t large compared to what most of us did as volunteers ourselves, but FTR, in the very beginning the Herd pays the same as the Volunteer Blog Program… which eases paperwork in the event someone signs up and just doesn’t stick.

— b) Yes, you CAN add your own sites as long as they…

  • 1. Fit the criteria for an add
  • 2. Get no favors in titling/ placement/ description
  • 3. You have access to that section…

BUT… in the event that’s all an editor joins for, or if they go into freelance competition with the commercial queue, it would be dealt with swiftly. A single button can undo those adds. BOTW editors take their credibility personally, so I wouldn’t even have to find it myself.

How Much Does The Paid Crew Make?
The editors aren’t in danger of replacing Bill Gates on any list Forbes publishes, but it’s a lucrative way to engage in what was once our hobby. We’ll discuss specifics in a less public setting, but some make an excellent “2nd check” and some do it as a primary income.

They’re paid on production, so editors get a raise whenever they want, it becomes effective when they do.

Where to go from here if interested?

Those that need to contact me directly (ie – Method 1 above)
Use my email: robjones @ . I’ll repeat this is not the best route if you don’t already have heavy directory experience which is easily verified. Doesn’t mean we must know each other personally, just means this route assumes you’re seasoned, know the ropes, and there is info for us to go on available.

Those going the Vol Blog Editor Route:
Go to a category in the BOTW Blog Directory where you’d like to edit for starters, click on “Become an Editor” at the bottom, and fill out the quick online application. The Blog Dir has a fairly flat tree, but if you’d like to improve your chances of acceptance, start lower instead of higher. Doesn’t take long, and could lead an enjoyable past time sharing sites you discover with others… or even a career change.

That’s it… if interested, follow the directions above and we look forward to talking to you. Hope you have a great day. ~ Rob

Charity Party During SMX East

Get Out the Party Hats, it’s SMX Charity Party Time
SMX East is on the way, and BOTW wants you to enjoy the trip. Come join ‘em and the rest of your friends at Town Tavern NYC (134 3rd St… Corner of Ave of Americas) on Monday Oct. 5th from 8-11pm.

Come do a little conference networking and have a good time.

Besides friends & free booze (wait, we need more?)… there will be raffles. As usual, proceeds go to charity, so the fun is for a good cause.

Prizes include:

  • SMX West All Access Pass (or SMX East 2010) ($1395)
  • SMX Advanced All Access Pass ($1395)
  • 5 Search Engine Land Premium Memberships ($149)
  • 2 SES New York Conference Pass ($1395)
  • SEOmoz Advanced SEO Training DVD ($499)
  • SEOmoz 1 year PRO membership ($799)

Tickets are $50 (again, all goes to charity since Best of The Web and Clix Marketing are picking up the bill). Proceeds will go to fight Blood Cancer and Multiple Myeloma, and the receipt for the ticket will keep your accountant happy at tax time.

Tickets are available at: .

Of course if you can’t make it, you can still help by purchasing raffle tickets, but it’ll be more fun with you there. Hope you can make it.

Volunteers – The Other White Meat

Volunteers – The Dmoz Days
Having spent the better part of a decade working at what some of us exes refer to as “TOD” (The Other Directory)… I still have fond memories of the time there. Entered as a rookie webmaster that ran across it back in its early days (1999), and over the years there learned a ton about the internet, SEO, and of course the nature of volunteer work.

If ya can’t laugh at yourself…
As the directory there grew it managed to become a target of a lot of folks. Some of the criticism was valid, some not, but inside it was common practice of some of us to sorta make fun of ourselves based on the stereotypes. Sure, some of the stereotypes were spot on… but as is the case in many instances, a lot were just imagined. Either way, you can argue or you can laugh, and laughing is much better for the blood pressure.

BOTW Volunteers
We have a volunteer program at BOTW too, in our Blog Directory. Obviously not of the same scope as theirs, but then we have a core group of OCD types on staff here that edit like a few thousand volunteers each, which negates the need to rely heavily on our volunteers.

We keep the program available because it offers folks that’d like to add sites at their leisure in an area of their interest. Since we rely on the paid staff for the bulk of our input, the volunteers arent under pressure to produce. They are like guys collecting butterflies… they add the ones they like to the collection when they run across them.

Maintaining the Integrity of the Program
Having heard for a decade that the Dmoz volunteers only join to add their own sites (ok, that’s occasionally true, but more often not)… the policy we’ve adopted with our volunteers is pretty simple. If someone gets a volunteer login and vanishes after a couple of adds… those are removed. Our program will not be subject to criticism for that particular reason… better to have a few that enjoy it than many that abuse it.

How Does the BOTW Blog Vol Program Work?
Basically adding blog sites is pretty simple… you pick an area of interest, you add sites that fit the criteria. If you have a site in that field, start with the other related blogs in your own blog roll. Look at related sites on THEIR blog roll. Piece of cake.

Can we add our own?
Sure. Long as you aren’t here just for that purpose, no problem. Consider it a bonus for helping. Just be aware that if we do Quality Control checks and find someone added the same site 4 times in the same category, we execute the adds, their login, and if they’re nearby… the editor. [Dang, talk about "tough love".]

Honestly, there isn’t generally a problem when we get volunteers, and as we did in my early days at Dmoz… we have a pretty good time in here. Much to be said just for the social interaction with some of the folks here, and if you enjoy what you’re doing it really isn’t “work”. [Don't tell Greg or Rob I enjoy this, they still think I'm laboring away at this job.]

Bottom line, if assisting as a BOTW Blog Volunteer appeals to you, we’re always happy to look at new folks. Just fill out the app correctly and you’ve got a fair shot at getting in. Let me know if you have any questions.

Regards ~

Rob Jones
Proud Member of The Nerd Herd
Best of the Web

OPPORTUNITY: BOTW Volunteer Blog Editor Program


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.

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. :)

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.

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.

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

BOTW: Who ARE These Guys? (1)

A Look at One of the BOTW “Hired Guns”

There’s been a little talk among directory insiders about those that “sold out” to get a paycheck for editing on the BOTW directory. As we watch 24/7 coverage of the effects of hurricane Gustav, it seems appropriate to point out the example set by one of the members that apparently fit that description.

One individual we’ve been glad to welcome to our crew is Brad Banner. Brad is a former Dmoz Admin… and currently one of the guys we heavily rely upon for the wealth of knowledge he brings to the table. I had the opportunity to “meet” Brad almost a decade ago when we were both relative newbies editing a directory back in ’99. In subsequent years the privilege of meeting him personally came up a few times, and it was my privilege to take advantage of all of ‘em.

Brad is one of those people that was frequently responsible for building things but seldom took credit for it. Fortunately for all, his contributions were rightfully recognized by those in higher circles, and he was rewarded with increasing levels of responsibility. That was probably more fortunate for us than for him. He had more important things to deal with… not the least his own veterinary practice AND the issues of being a single dad. Still we were always happy to have his easygoing but knowledgeable input.

But Frankly He’s Been Shirking Lately…(?!)
Lately his input at BOTW has been limited, as he has been busy elsewhere. Notably he’s been working on and martialing input for the Gustav Wiki. That site helps match those in need due to the current crisis with those who can help.

Heroes for Loan: Inquire Here
There just isn’t enough to say about guys that drop everything that makes them money to volunteer on behalf of those in need. He doesn’t consider himself a hero… but if you don’t already have one of your own… let me recommend one of mine.

Thanks for all you do Brad. Your work here is appreciated… and we’re glad to share you with the rest of the world as needed. Thanks.

Regards ~ Robjones

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