FEB BOTW Promo: A Lovely Valentine

Happy Valentine’s Day
If that’s a surprise to you, you’re probably already in trouble.

Before you go hustle down to the local Target to wrestle the rest of the poor schlubs that forgot, just to win the last heart-shaped box of candy with the crease where it was hit by a forklift, maybe you should think outside the box of chocolates.

How about a gift that has less calories and more value?

No, not diamonds or something real expensive. Just never know if they’ll appreciate the sacrifice. I mean, I went big last year… and my wife hasn’t even *touched* the floor sander I got her. It was a really nice one too. Some valentines just don’t appreciate the grand romantic gesture. Go figure.

Maybe you oughta shoot in the middle and get him/her something nice for the website, like a BOTW submission or two?

If that’s something you’d like – Discount code is FEB20
Works on any of the following directories… BOTW Directory, the BOTW UK & Ireland Directory, and the BOTW Blog Directory. For details, see 20% Off BOTW Submissions.
BOTW February Promo Code

Whether you do it for your valentine or yourself…
Thought I’d mention we’re at mid February, and the 20% off promotion expires at the end of the month.

Of course if you think it’s a silly gift suggestion… don’t blame me, I’m not the guy looking for gift ideas in the middle of the holiday. ;P

Y’all have a great valentines day. ~ Rob

20% OFF BOTW Submissions

Just what you’ve been waiting for… 20% OFF
First BOTW promo in months… and it works in the BOTW Directory, the BOTW UK & Ireland Directory, and the BOTW Blog Directory. If you’ve been waiting for a break, here’s your chance to submit to one or all of these premium directories at a substantial discount.

This is UNLIMITED thru End of Month
You may use this for multiple site submissions, submissions to multiple directory products, or any combination of multiple and submit you want. As long as it’s still February 2011 and you’re submitting to the directories named above, this discount code works. Nice eh?

20% off BOTW Submissions in February

Procedure to Submit Site
To submit your site for consideration, go to the appropriate category in the directory to which you’re submitting and click on the link at upper right that says “Submit Site”. Follow the prompts from there. If you need a hand picking the best category, you’ll find some tips here: Selecting a Category When Submitting.

Be sure to enter the Promo Code: FEB20
This discount program IS commisionable for BOTW resellers, so resellers, we look forward to working with you on these.

Note to Serial Procrastinators:
Don’t feel bad, I never started my homework on time either. Why waste a good weekend when there’s Sunday nite? Figured it’s worth mentioning February is only 28 days long…  plan accordingly. [Yeah, having an odd month in the year is evil, but nobody asked me.]

That’s all the news that’s fit to print. You guys have a great week, and get those submissions in while they’re cheap. :)

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

Is Your Directory Past the “Use by” Date?

Best if Used by Dec 31
Anybody that’s ever shopped for milk knows the first thing you do before putting it in the basket is to check the date that says “Use by {insert date here}”. If the date isn’t right, it isn’t fresh, and you don’t want to pay for it. Unfortunately, directories don’t have a “Use by” date clearly stamped on them. Nonetheless, if they aren’t kept fresh, like milk, they begin to stink.

Hey… Let’s ‘Slap Up’ a Directory!
Two conversations brought this topic to mind. The first came when I was involved in a discussion about domaining. Somebody was asked about the pain of renewing domains that weren’t producing, and his response was something along the lines of ‘If I don’t have a specific purpose yet I just slap up a directory’.

Fortunately this took place in a forum, so he didn’t hear me blow iced tea all over my screen.

NOTE: He’d shoot me if he saw this, but I’m comforted in the knowledge that more people read the entire TOS on Microsoft Windows 7 than anything I put in a blog.

Doing a Directory “Right”
A directory can be the easiest bad work someone ever does or the hardest good work, and there just isn’t any middle ground. We have dozens of editors working on ours, and anyone that’s ever done a directory right knows you can’t keep all categories perfectly up to date, but if you apply enough manpower you won’t be AS behind as the other guys.

Anyone that slaps up a directory as a placeholder is wasting the time of anyone that submits a site there. Oh sure… you can put up a hierarchy of links and populate it with some out-of-the-can database which may have been around a while, but if it doesn’t take serious ongoing work, it’s a waste of bandwidth.

I know here the team that seeks out and adds sites for free just because they belong in the directory is bigger than the crew that handles commercial submissions. Given the price tag, that’s a really big commitment to keeping it fresh.

That brings us to the other conversation
A friend in the directory biz was talking about writing a post on what makes a good directory. That’s a pretty short list IMO, cause there are only a few differences, but they make a vast difference in the value of the product. That said, here’s my list.

What Gives a Directory “Value”?

-1- Editorial Integrity
Simply put, that immediately rules out any auto-accept directories and all directories where the titles and descriptions are left intact regardless of what they say, and sites where placement is determined entirely by the submitter. If a human didn’t review the site and make an up down call based on the value of the site, didn’t give it a realistic description, and didn’t put it in the right place, the directory is trash.

-2- Freshness
If a directory gives you a several year old snapshot of the world, it isn’t a directory, it’s an internet archive. Face it, if you opened Time magazine and the tech section was arguing the merits of VHR vs Betamax technology… you might decide to read Newsweek (or at least you’d take a good book next time you visit the dentist).

-3- Not ONLY Accepting Commercial Submissions
There are just too many categories that will not get commercial submissions, so if a directory contains those categories but only accepts sites that drop cash on them, quality won’t happen. That’s why we offer free non-commercial listings in the BOTW Directory, free adds in the Blog Dir (commercial or otherwise), and free “Jumpstart” listings in the Local Directory. The object is to find fresh material not tracked down by our edit team.

Someone could reasonably argue that a well built hierarchy is a fourth criteria, and sure, without proper organization you don’t have a directory, you have a list… but that’s just a nuts and bolts thing. In a directory edited over many years by many hands there are going to be overlaps to unravel and such, but that’s just the mechanical side of the job, time consuming, but like proper spelling, just an expected part of the task.

Investment Drives Value
I’ve had people mention that it can’t possibly take {insert $$$} worth of an editors time to review their site, but the reason this directory differs from others is the investment made well beyond the site review. The value added by the guys that add sites NOT submitted to the commercial queue is one of the reasons BOTW products have value to begin with. The investment of the owner drives the value. It could be an investment in time, or money, or manpower, but good directories don’t happen, they are built.

Yeah yeah yeah… “Content is King”, we’ve heard it before
Hey, it’s simple, but true. The big issue in a good directory is proper content, properly described, properly placed, and constantly added. That separates directories that offer value from the ones that hold a place until a URL sells.

Now I have to go compare notes with my friend who wrote the post about her criteria for a good directory and see how we match up. My guess is we’re probably pretty close.

Meantime, hope everybody has a safe time celebrating the New Year. Best wishes from the crew here. ~ Rob

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 @ botw.org . 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

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