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Discussion in 'Jobs I Have Had' started by Ken Anderson, Dec 25, 2015.
I am praying that I still have this job. The Aviva Directory site has been down for a few days now. It seems that the hosting company simply shut down without notice. The owner hopefully has a backup that will work, and he'll be able to get it going again soon but I am worried. My wife and I both work there, and have come to depend on the income.
That sounds scary, Ken. Here's hoping things are resolved soon and you are back in business.
@Ken Anderson , I hope with all my heart that things work out and you and Michelle will be able to continue your work.
Okay, he is getting it back up again. I lost eighteen hours of work last week and my wife lost more than twenty, but maybe he'll have us working extra hours to catch up. At any rate, it looks like we're not out of a job. There was a time when there would be two or three other directories I could be working for but times have changed.
Everything is up, with no loss of data. We start work again tomorrow.
One of the things that I do is find useful websites and add them to the directory, giving them a title and a description. To write the description, I view pages of the site and describe what the site is about. Every now and then, I try to add a site to the directory without noticing that I had already added it to the directory before. Then the directory will refuse it. What I have noticed tonight, I have seen before, and that is that I will have often given the site an almost identical description today that I had given it seven years ago. There are any number of ways that a website can be described, and another person would have certainly described it differently, but I often do the same thing with it that I did years ago.
You're a creature of habit!
I'm always surprised when I read something I wrote awhile back because I think it doesn't sound at all like me or something I would say.
A couple of weeks ago, I was pulled away from the Faith & Spirituality category to beef up our Local & Global regional categories. We have started using longer category descriptions. Originally set to allow no more than five hundred characters for a category description, that was increased to two thousand a few months ago, and to five thousand characters more recently, in order to provide additional information about the subjects we cover, and also in the hope of encouraging the search engine spiders to better index our pages. I like that in itself, but I really enjoy the opportunity to learn more about each of the continents, countries, states, and cities that we include in our regional categories, but about every topic that we cover elsewhere. So I have been replacing brief category descriptions with longer ones, as in Kiribati, which I would probably never have even heard of if not for my job.
Okay, I have finished the job in our Local & Global categories, I think, unless it turns out that he wants more done there, and am back where I left off with Protestant Denominations in our Faith & Spirituality category, I am concentrating on lengthening the category and site descriptions, and checking to be sure that they all work, but will also be adding subcategories when indicated.
Working on the Lutheran category today, and probably for a while, given that there are several Lutheran denominations.
As I've mentioned, I have been working in the religions category for a while now. What we're doing is expanding our category descriptions up to 5,000 characters in length, whereas they were originally 200, and then 2,000. The Christianity categories were often interesting, and I learned a lot about various denominations, but they weren't nearly as challenging as the ones that I know even less about. I just finished with Islam, and have started Judaism, the objective being to describe the categories and site listings in such a way as to be informative, using either a neutral or positive perspective.
Since I don't know as much about Islam and Judaism as about Christianity, I have to refer to other resources. In doing so, I use online resources as well as books and other publications. As an Amazon Prime member, I can often find some useful ones for free on Kindle, or through their borrow option, but I sometimes buy them as well. Not wanting to spend more money than I earn, I rarely pay more than $10 for a Kindle book unless it's one that will be useful for several categories. I sometimes buy used books on Amazon or eBay as well, and then let my wife put them up for resale when I'm done with them. Often she gets more for them than I paid, so it's more of a temporary investment.
The problem with this is that I have to be careful not to plagiarize anything and, for that reason, I rarely look at Wikipedia. Although Wikipedia usually has just the kind of information I'm looking for, I too often find that they use wording that I might have used if they hadn't already used it, or perhaps their having used it puts it in my head to the point that I have trouble thinking of another way to say it. Anyhow, I find it easier to avoid Wikipedia as much as possible.
When done, I run each category through Copyscape to check for any inadvertent plagiarism. There are many times when I didn't copy something from someone else, but nevertheless used many of the same words, so that amounts to the same thing. When I find that, I have to at least change my wording, if not the entire approach.
Neutrality can be a problem, both with Islam and Judaism. The English language evolved in a Christian environment. The very words that we use, as native English speakers, are loaded with Christian concepts and assumptions. Christianity grew in an era of conflict with Judaism and is, to some extent, defined in opposition to Judaism. In some ways, Judaism can be more difficult even than the Eastern religions, like Buddhism.
Christians often view Jewish people as those who didn't accept Jesus as their Messiah, while Jewish people don't define themselves around Jesus at all. Many of the points of differentiation between Christian denominations are questions of the significance of faith and works, while Judaism doesn't consider them to be opposing concepts.
The terms that Christians might use to define their faith are not the same as those that would be used by Jews or by Muslims. Terms that are commonplace in Christianity, such as resurrection, salvation, baptism, forgiveness, conversion, justification, prayer, and many others, are often words that are used in Judaism, but they don't necessarily have the same definitions.
I have several books that were used as textbooks, in classes on world religions, but I can't use them because they were written by Christians who were describing other religions that they deemed to be wrong. That's not what I am looking for. On the other hand, clearly, I can't spend the time that it would take for me to really understand Judaism and the various Jewish movements because I am expected to complete several categories in a week. So I look for concise introductory resources on Judaism that are written by a Jew, and on Islam, by a Muslim.
Overall, I spent more time than I had hoped to on Islam, and am doing the same with Judaism. Next, I'll be going to the Eastern religions.
I don't often have trouble with words but, particularly when I am working on site descriptions all day, sometimes I find myself using the same verb repeatedly, given that most websites do pretty much the same thing. Some time ago, I created an image file of words that may be commonly used in site descriptions so that I can just pick one out if I get stuck. I use this as the background for one of my monitors.
My recent browser polls (Gadgets & Tech Talk) were prompted by the fact that I am currently working on the Web Browsers category in Aviva. If you look at it soon, you'll see that it has a minimal category description, skimpy site descriptions, and probably some listings that no longer exist. It will look much better when I'm done with it, probably before the day is over.