Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The HEED-onist Rises

I'm thinking of applying for a Feature Writer position at Right now I'm a Contributing Writer there. The CW earns money when people click on ads, and when they get to fifty articles they earn a 10 percent bonus on those clicks. If one is a FW, the bonus changes to 20 percent and, when you get to 100 articles, it changes to 30 percent. A FW has a slightly higher commitment for writing articles, and must write so many articles in the category they are FW of. I would like to be FW of engineering, but that's taken and I don't know if I want to wait around and hope it is relinquished.

Yesterday, I learned the the FW position for Environmentalism is open. I learned that somewhat by accident. I had been planning to write some articles on Earth Day, this being the 40th anniversary of the first Earth Day. Yesterday I was researching ED for some in-house CEI purposes, and decided to make an article out of it. Hopefully I'll be able to write four or five related articles.

Why now, you ask, when ED is not until April 22? Well, just as in print publishing, articles in on-line publishing need some lead time. The problem is how Google and other search engines index articles, which includes some of how Suite101 pages are organized. Google, I take it, is not constantly crawling the web to find every new article. The web is too big, and just as a city will plow the snow off the main roads first and the side roads second, the search engines must prioritize. Some areas of the web they crawl regularly, some less frequently. Suite101 has a home page for each category of articles, and on each of those home pages is a list of latest articles. Google crawls those pages multiple times a day, and the new articles get picked up right away and indexed. However, once the article falls off that page, as newer articles are added, Google somehow de-indexes the article.

Also, I understand that Google et. al. gives a page rank boost to new content. So in the first few days of a web page's appearance, Google gives it a boost. However, once the new page boost ends, a page sinks to lower ranking in the search. It then has to sink or swim on its own based on quality, back-links, and whatever other factors the search engines put in their search algorithms.
So that all means that if I want my articles to stand out from the Internet crowd as much as possible as April 22 draws near, I have to write them and get them posted now. The lead time in on-line publishing is much shorter than for print, but there's still a lead time.

So I posted the article, then went to the home page for Environmentalism to see how it looked among the new ones. When I got there, I didn't see the picture of the FW for Environmentalism. A light bulb flashed. Ah ha! There is no FW for Environmentalism. Why, that's something I could probably do. I was one once--an environmentalist--and still believe in much of what the movement stands for, though not what I consider the excesses. Perhaps I could apply for and get this position and add some balance to the environmental debate on the WWW. I'm thinking about it. The time and creativity commitment is really minimal. I would probably change my article mix at Suite101, but that's no problem. I'm taking a day or so to ponder and pray about it, but will probably make the application.

Those of you who didn't know me in college are probably wondering about the title of this post. The student environmental club at the University of Rhode Island was H.E.E.D.--Humans to End Environmental Deterioration. I joined right away freshman year (fall 1970) and became active. I never was an officer in the club, but made some significant contributions. Some one of my friends at college (not sure which one, though I think it was CJN) started calling me the Hedonist, getting a chuckle out of the play on words but not really getting the spelling right. So that became one of my college nicknames, and continues to this day among the (un)informed.

I suppose, if I get that FW position, I will once again be the HEED-onist.


Gary said...

OK with me, but just don't write anything silly about climate change or I'll be all over it.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Good luck with whatever you decide.

David A. Todd said...

Gary and Poppy:

Thanks for the comments. I applied for the FW position, and found two others have already applied, and the editor isn't going to make a decision till the end of February. Each candidate has that time add articles to the categories and prove themselves.

And Gary, you know I wouldn't join the whacko fringe of the movement. I'd just remain the HEED-onist I've always been.