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Discussion in 'Jobs I Have Had' started by Ken Anderson, Dec 25, 2015.
Done, and now I am going to bed.
I am currently still working on the Michigan category, working my way down the alphabet in Cities & Towns. Having just completed Dollar Bay, I have moved on to Dorr, which doesn't have a category yet because I am still writing the description, but when it does, it will be there.
Noticing that I had left out the Reformed Churches when I updated the Faith & Spirituality category a while back, I took a break from Michigan to do that. I'll probably be redoing some of the descriptions in the next day or so because I am expecting a couple of books to use as resources. Some I keep, but others I buy used on Amazon or eBay, use them while I am working on the categories, and then resell them. Sometimes I get quite a bit more on the resell than I paid for it, and usually, I can break even or come close to it, anyhow.
In reviewing websites for the directory, I am frequently left wondering what the purpose of a website is, in the minds of those who created the content.
Repeatedly, I come across companies whose websites don't even tell me what it is that they produce, and others that, from their site, provide "solutions," whatever the hell that means. Most school websites don't even tell visitors which grade levels they teach, so if I were moving to a new town with a fifth-grader, I wouldn't be able to determine which school they would be attending from the school website. Over and over again, I come across church sites that, beyond a rather generic "statement of beliefs" that doesn't tell me much, don't give me a clue as to how to describe the church. Even when a church is part of a denomination, they seem to be ashamed of this affiliation because, except for the Lutheran churches (for some reason), they rarely divulge their denominational affiliations on the site. When building a category for the directory, I often leave websites out because it's too hard to come up with even 500 characters worth of useful information from the website. Many church websites have more information about COVID, LGBTQ+, and social justice than they do about anything even remotely religious.
I am now looking at a website for a church called The Foundry Church. That might be a catch for a description. Why does it have that name? Is it housed in an old foundry building, or is the word intended to be metaphorical? But no, the site doesn't mention anything about it. There's no church history, no denominational affiliations, nor an indication that it's non-denominational. They believe in God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and I have an address and telephone number. Beyond that, pretty much nothing.
Historical Society websites rarely include historical information. I am more likely to find a history of the town on the town website than from the Historical Society, and, while town comprehensive plans or master plans used to include a wealth of information about the municipality, they are now little more than statements about how green they are and how woke they are.
Ken, you may have said before but just in case you haven't, exactly what is the purpose of the Aviva Directory?
Just so you don't think I'm ignoring you, that's a long answer that I won't be able to get to until tomorrow. This is the last day of my work week so I have to focus more on that tonight.
OK. I'll let you live, then.
For the past couple of weeks, I have been working on the Alternative Medicine section, which includes such topics as Acupuncture, Ayurveda, Chelation Therapy, Holistic Medicine, Homeopathy, Naturopathy, Osteopathy, Apitherapy, Aromatherapy, Biofeedback, Herbal Remedies, Colon Cleansing, Color Therapy, Crystal Therapy, Ear Candling, Earthing, Feng Shui, Magnet Therapy, Pranic Healing, and so on. There are others, but I have only gotten as far as Pranic Healing so far, and am currently working on Qigong. Other categories are there but the descriptions are minimal, so what I am currently doing is enhancing the descriptions and going through the listed sites, removing those that are no longer in existence or which are useless, adding new ones, and enhancing the site descriptions as well.
Some of this stuff makes sense to me but others are difficult because my eyes keep rolling, and others are hard because the Chinese stuff is, well, I suppose I could say that it's foreign to me. Of course, my objective in writing these descriptions is not to offer my own opinions but to be more objective than that, erring on the side of whatever therapy I am discussing because, let's face it, no one is going to submit their ear candling website to the directory if our description of it is entirely negative but, at the same time, cautions are introduced where reasonable.
Noticing, a year later, that I never did answer your question, I will try to do so now. Web directories came about at about the same time as search engines, but early search engines covered only a tiny portion of the web, and the algorithms didn't allow for sensible results much of the time. It's sort of gone full circle on that last part today, but that's another subject.
However, as search engines got better and better (before Google and, to a slightly lesser degree, Microsoft, turned them into advertising and agenda machines), web directories became less popular, driving a larger and larger portion of the website traffic. However, several of them have remained, but they don't employ as many people as they used to.
Frustrated by search engine results from Google, we're seeing a slight resurgence in people using the web directory, although I'm sure that they also use search engines; which is fair, since we use search engines to put together the directory. However, in searching for websites covering a particular topic, we will often search hundreds of pages of search engine results and other resources, and we also describe the topic.
Websites included in the better web directories have been added by a human being who decides whether it's pertinent to the topic and includes a brief description derived from an actual viewing of the site, and that can be helpful sometimes. On the downside of that, for example, there are only three people maintaining our directory, so it may take a long time for a useful site to be found and added by one of us, and we also have trouble keeping up with sites that are no longer good or whose topics may have changed since we put the site in the directory, to begin with.
This brings us to the other purpose of the directory: its business model. While the sites that we come across, and our job primarily involves searching for new sites and new topics, are added by us for free, the chances of one of us coming across someone's new website are low. Thus, if they want their website to be included in the directory, they can submit it for an annual or one-time fee, and the directory's owner will decide whether or not to add the site, since we don't add junk even if it is paid for, and then one or the other of us will later review the site again, perhaps changing the description to be more objective, if the site owner or submitted used advertising words when it was added, and we might move it to a more appropriate part of the directory if the one it was submitted to wasn't the best one.
That's it, and I've been doing this for one directory or another since 1998.