Directories: The Mark Twain Syndrome

Rumors of My Death…
Mark Twain once ran into a situation that paralleled an experience of his fictitious Tom Sawyer character… ie – he was reported as dead,  and was in the unique position of being alive to hear it. His response was to send a note, something along the lines of  “Rumors of my death have been greatly exagerrated”.

Strangely it happened again, when a ship on which he was traveling experienced a delay and there was speculation that he’d been lost at sea. Hearing the tale after he reached port, he penned a news article announcing a personal investigation into the matter…

“You can assure my Virginia friends that I will make an exhaustive investigation of this report that I have been lost at sea. If there is any foundation for the report, I will at once apprise the anxious public.

I sincerely hope that there is no foundation for the report, and I also hope that judgment will be suspended until I ascertain the true state of affairs.”

On a Related Note… I hear “Directories are Dead”
That one gets repeated occasionally in webmaster forums. Funny thing is if you pay attention it’s almost always stated as grave fact by somebody that just happens to want to sell his own personal site promotion program… *guaranteed* to make your website run faster, jump higher, and attract supermodels.

[Be the first on your block to buy, kids, supply is limited!!!]

In one recent case it was stated as fact by a guy that was touting massive numbers of forum sigs as the new road to marketing a website. My thought there is that I DO notice forum sigs, and agree 100% having a site in the sig of your personal ID is ONE excellent marketing tool, *provided* it is… (A) the real thing and (B) your posts are frequent and knowledgeable, and (C) in the right forums. Nothing wrong with that. I personally generate direct traffic to sigs I think look interesting.

BUT Spam is still, as always… edible
All the above considered, the guys selling the idea of creating thousands of fake profiles (especially by bot) are ignoring the fact that any forum worth reading will regularly delete those as spam. Just as Askimet and other plugins of that genre are rapidly reducing comment spam in blogs, improved moderation software (and moderators familiar with the tactic) are rapidly making spam profiles a waste of time.

Even if such links remain after the ban, there’s the dubious honor having your site promoted by a character that has “BANNED” beside his name. Doesn’t do wonders for reputation or credibility.

Spam and The Law of Unintended Consequences
As an added bonus, in forums I’ve moderated, once a site has been promoted by spammy methods, the mere mention of that URL tends to raise a red flag about any member that later mentions it as a valuable resource… a direct result of the previous spam attempt.

Somehow I’m thinking that *can’t* have been the intended outcome when somebody paid a guy to promote the site in forums, but that’s the reality of letting your site be associated with spamtastic promo methods.

Consider the Source (and observe poultry product safety)
Basically the “directory is dead” stuff is often tossed out by guys that wish it were so in order to get folks to put their eggs in a different basket. By a no doubt fortunate coincidence, the guys saying so are almost always in the business of selling such baskets, and will gladly provide you alternative basketry as soon as your credit card clears.

When it comes to getting a website in front of people, I don’t think ANY one basket is a safe place for those future hatchlings. If somebody says their special method is a great replacement for all others, just put your hand on your wallet and back away.

Meanwhile over at a different analogy…
Even directory submissions, though a valuable tool for getting a website in front of folks, should be just ONE of many clubs in your bag. Face it, no professional (or even a talented amateur) goes golfing carrying just “their golf club”. There’s a reason.

Oh well, returning to the original theme…
If you hear reports of my own death, please tell my wife to quit fantasizing. 🙂

Y’all have a great day. ~ Rob