Aviva Directory

Discussion in 'Jobs I Have Had' started by Ken Anderson, Dec 25, 2015.

  1. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2015
    Messages:
    7,458
    Likes Received:
    9,815
    For the past several years, my wife and I have been working for Aviva Directory, sometimes working as many as fifty hours a week, but more recently we've been doing thirty hours a week each.

    My wife and I met while working for the Open Directory Project, which is now known as DMOZ, so this is something we've been doing for a very long time.

    We work from home, and set our own hours, although there are times when something comes up that needs to be done right away. We work thirty hours a week, but that can be done in three ten-hour days, six five-hour days, or any other arrangement. For the most part, we work on things that need to be done in order to improve the directory, deciding which things these are for ourselves, although the owner of the directory sometimes assigns projects.

    For the past year, I've been working my way up from the bottom of the alphabet, adding categories and sites to various state categories. Along the way, I learn a lot about the cities and towns that I am adding to the directory. Right now, I am working on the Lathrop, Missouri category. The business model is we add useful sites to regional and topical categories for free, which are available for free to anyone browsing or searching the directory pages. But, because we don't add every site that might be relevant to a category, other site owners will pay to have their sites added as well.

    For example, a specific town might have twenty motels, hotels or other lodging facilities. While building that category, I might add five of them. Usually, I'll choose the independent hotels or bed and breakfasts, whose sites are otherwise not easily found on Internet searches. Any of the other fifteen hotels or motels might pay to have their sites added as well, either individually or, in the case of a chain, something they will pay to have pages for thousands of their hotels added to the directory.

    A listing in a reputable directory will not only bring visitors to the listed sites directly, from people who are browsing the directory, but the listings will help their placement in search engine results as well.

    A few years ago, I was asked to fluff up the directory's Channel Islands categories, which includes the Bailiwicks of Guernsey and Jersey. What an interesting category that was, so much so that I even bought a novel that was based in the Channel Islands during the Nazi occupation.

    A few month ago, I came across a blog that had referenced these categories and thought they needed to be refreshed, so I spent another couple of days there, replacing bad links and searching for new ones to add.

    Every category has a brief description of the topic of the category but sometimes we write short articles as well, such as the one that I wrote for our Anabaptist category. The idea is to eventually have articles for most of the categories but that's a tall order. Most of our Paranormal categories have articles, but it'll take a while to have articles for each.

    We have never met our boss, as we have communicated only be email. Still, we have worked for him for more than a decade, and hope to continue much longer.
     
    #1
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2015
  2. Holly Saunders

    Holly Saunders Veteran Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2015
    Messages:
    21,461
    Likes Received:
    6,470
    Oh the channel Islands are beautiful.....they are also a Tax haven for many , many, multi national organisations as well as individuals...
     
    #2
  3. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2015
    Messages:
    7,458
    Likes Received:
    9,815
    Here's what I do for a living. Although I edit all over the directory, for the past year or so I have been pumping up the regional categories of Aviva Directory.

    I am working my way up through the states, from the end of the alphabet. I am currently on Missouri.

    I find a site that includes a good list of villages, towns or cities within the state, such as, in the case of Missouri, the state page.

    Beginning a the top of the alphabet, I do a Bing search on the city and the state. If I can find at least five web sites that are related either to the community itself or to businesses, churches, organizations, individuals, or anything else within that city or town.

    If there is already a category for that community, I will expand the description of the city or town, using whatever source I can find but being careful not to simply copy the description from Wikipedia or the official town site. I will then add more sites to the category.

    Otherwise, I will create the category as long as there are at least five sites that pertain to it. I will add subcategories as long as there are at least five sites for them, as well.

    For example, if there are at least five church sites, I will create a "Faith & Spirituality" subcategory, and add from five to eight church sites. I try not to add all of the ones that I can find, unless I can find only eight, because the business model is that those that are not added might be willing to pay to have their site added to the directory. This is especially true of businesses, such as hotels, restaurants, or law firms.

    When I add a site, I will enter the URL, give it a title, and give it a description, usually two or three sentences, one describing the business or organization, and another describing the site itself.

    Right now, I am on Richmond Heights, Missouri. As we don't currently have a category for Richmond Heights, I have done a search. I can see that Richmond Heights has a population of nearly nine thousand, so I am sure that I can find at least five sites to create the category.

    I will add the official town site and, if there is a Chamber of Commerce site, I'll add that, along with any sites for the town's police, fire or ambulance services, any economic development commission, schools, libraries or museums, since these will seldom pay to be included.

    I will also add a few random businesses or churches.

    If, during my search, I come across a few church sites, a few restaurant sites, a few retail store sites, or any other type of site, I will do a more definitive search to see if I can find at least five of any of them. Sometimes, I'll add a category for four, but usually five is the cut off point.

    Richmond Heights is more difficult than most cities or towns. As an inner-ring suburb of St. Louis, some of its businesses or churches have St. Louis addresses, so I have to actually look them up on the map. Additionally, some Clayton sites carry Richmond Heights addresses.

    I see that there are negotiations underway for merging Richmond with Clayton, so if I were unable to easily find at least five sites for the category, I might not bother, since someone would have to go back in and change it if the two towns were to merge.

    As it is, it looks like I'll easily find at least five sites but I won't take the extra time that it would take me to determine which of the sites with a St. Louis address are actually in Richmond Heights.

    So, for Richmond Heights, I will create the category and add five or six sites that I can find easily, and then go on to the next town.

    I will make a point of mentioning Clayton in the Richmond Heights description so that if the two cities do merge, someone searching on Clayton will find this category as well, which is what I did when I created the Clayton category a while ago.

    This is how the Richmond Heights category came out. Some cities are much larger, with several subcategories.

    That is what I have done for a living for the past couple of decades.
     
    #3
  4. Chrissy Cross

    Chrissy Cross Veteran Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2015
    Messages:
    15,026
    Likes Received:
    13,773
    I've been in Clayton, Missouri. My son lives across the river from St. Louis so we there a lot. Plus all the nicer surrounding areas of St. Louis.

    Missouri is a pretty state in my opinion, it's just not mentioned a lot as a trip destination.
     
    #4
    Karen McKenzie likes this.
  5. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2015
    Messages:
    7,458
    Likes Received:
    9,815
    I have worked for four of the six directories listed in this article.
     
    #5
    Yvonne Smith likes this.
  6. Yvonne Smith

    Yvonne Smith Very Well-Known Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2015
    Messages:
    4,828
    Likes Received:
    6,959
    That seems like it would be a very interesting thing to do, @Ken Anderson , and I would guess that both you and @Michelle Anderson enjoy the variety and learning so much about lol of the different areas that you do research for.
    The webpages you linked to look like they would be really helpful; but I have never heard of this directory before, let alone ever used one.
    Is it hard to find that kind of online work like you are doing ? I think that this is something that would be a great job, once a person learned how to do it.
    I don't have the kind of computer skills that you have; but if I did, this would be something that I would enjoy doing, too.
     
    #6
  7. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2015
    Messages:
    7,458
    Likes Received:
    9,815
    Directories aren't nearly as popular now as they once were, although there are hundreds of them. Some of them are one-man operations, and many of them are all but worthless. The better ones have been around for quite a while and employ people who have been doing this for quite some time, mostly those who began as volunteer editors with the Open Directory Project, now known as DMOZ. My wife and I met while working for the ODP, as it was known then. Actually, we began even before it became the Open Directory Project. She started in 1998 as one of the first editors, and I started some time after that.

    At that time, most people used directories to find what they were looking for on the Internet since search engines were clunky. Now, most people use search engines although the better directories still get human visitors. Nevertheless, a listing in the better web directories will enhance a site's placement in the search engines so they still have a place.
     
    #7
    Bill Boggs and Yvonne Smith like this.
  8. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Very Well-Known Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2016
    Messages:
    3,843
    Likes Received:
    3,431
    @Ken Anderson
    The list of categories for Missouri fails to list the town of Black, a not inconsequential town when compared to Bunker, which IS listed. Just so you know! :)
     
    #8
  9. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2015
    Messages:
    7,458
    Likes Received:
    9,815
    Black is an unincorporated community, while Bunker is an incorporated city. We don't exclude unincorporated communities if we come across them, particularly when they have their own post office but, just now, when I looked, I found only three sites for the category in the first six pages of Bing results. Black was on the list that I used but since "black" is also a word, every site relating to anything black in Missouri shows up in the results. So I get sites about black bears in Missouri, including the Missouri Black Bears, race issues in Missouri, black studies, black squirrels, school sites referencing blackboards, and even schools that have black uniforms. It probably didn't seem worth the bother. If someone from Black, Missouri were to submit a site to the directory, then we'd revisit the issue.
     
    #9
    Frank Sanoica likes this.
  10. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2015
    Messages:
    7,458
    Likes Received:
    9,815
    I have been popping into the forum frequently every day, and try to post at least a few times a day, but I haven't spent a lot of time here, creating new topics, etc. I have been working on the Paranormal section of the directory, and that's sort of a difficult one because, while I enjoy some parts of it, such as ghosts and hauntings, it takes a lot for me to gather up a lot of excitement for clairvoyance, Atlantis, crop circles, and some of the other sections. I still have to work on crop circles, cryptozoology, Illuminati, occult, subliminal messages, time travel, totem animals, and UFOs, which seems like most of them, but there were a lot of subcategories to clairvoyance and paranormal research. That will be the case in cryptozoology too, but I sort of enjoy that one. Although there are sites in all of these categories, some of them are no longer good, and I am expanding the category and site descriptions, and adding new sites, and probably some new subcategories.
     
    #10
    Last edited: May 24, 2017
  11. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2015
    Messages:
    7,458
    Likes Received:
    9,815
    For the past couple of weeks, I've been working on the Faith & Spirituality section of the directory. Having finished the Paranormal section, I am in Christianity right now. When writing category descriptions, I try to avoid online research because I don't want to use something that someone already has online. Although I can use the information and write my own articles, it's easier to use actual books. Fortunately, in the Christianity section, I attended a Bible college and also inherited a large part of a pastor's library, when he didn't want to move everything with him to Pennsylvania, so I have several large shelves worth of Christian resources, as well as stuff on Judaism, Islam, and some others.

    Although our category description are limited to 2,000 characters, which isn't a lot, I try to fit a succinct description of the topic in that space, and I might turn to three or four books in order to get it. The books also help me to categorize the topics.

    This is what my workspace looks like when I'm creating new categories.

    062917-office.JPG

    When I am researching something online, I'll use both screens, and one of them is a very long one, so I can easily put up a couple of browser windows. Sometimes I'll just have a DVD playing on the second screen, or leave it on the forum or Facebook.

    Some topics are easy and straightforward, often requiring anything other than what I already know or can look up. Others are more difficult. For descriptions, I try to take a neutral stance, or at least not an oppositional one. So when I complete the Christianity categories, and turn to Islam and Judaism, I don't want to use a Christian resource on these religions, just as I wouldn't use a Protestant resource to describe Catholicism, because they are inherently biased.

    Since I don't have shelves full of books on every topic, and our local library is rarely open, I often buy used books on Amazon and on eBay, if I can get a good price, get what I need out of them and then let my wife sell them. Often, she's able to sell them for more than I paid for them. At other times, we might take a loss but it at least evens out.

    Besides the category descriptions, I write articles for categories every now and then. These articles are generally not descriptive of the category, since I have already described the category. Instead, they might go more in depth on one small part of the category topic or even take an oppositional point of view. The articles are spider food, intended to boost the page's standing in the search engines, but they also help to make the directory stand out from some of the others, being more of an informational site than simply pages of links.

    Ella behaves herself. When Cutie is in the cat bed, she will reach over and grab my hand when I'm using the trackpad. Maybe she thinks I'm playing with her when I move my hand on the trackpad, or perhaps she's just demanding my attention.
     
    #11
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2017
  12. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2015
    Messages:
    7,458
    Likes Received:
    9,815
    Now I delve into Catholicism. Having to add 2,000-character descriptions to each of its subcategories, as well as perhaps creating more subcategories, and reviewing sites, I suppose I'll learn more about the Catholics.
     
    #12
    Bill Boggs likes this.
  13. Bill Boggs

    Bill Boggs Very Well-Known Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    May 13, 2015
    Messages:
    1,231
    Likes Received:
    1,436
    Well, this all sounds very interesting to me. Your work space looks a whole lot like my retirement space but I have only one Mac and an iPad. Do you need to know any coding to do what you do┬┐ Well, keep popping in and informing us.
     
    #13
  14. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2015
    Messages:
    7,458
    Likes Received:
    9,815
    No, no coding involved.
     
    #14
  15. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2015
    Messages:
    7,458
    Likes Received:
    9,815
    I am working on the Catholicism section now, and I can tell you that those Catholics are prolific when it comes to web sites. Every section of every order, religious institute, congregation, lay organization and whatever is just loaded with web sites, and I have been bogged down in research trying to figure it out, since most of them go by three or four different names, and have changed names over the years, and many of them are similar, if not identical.
     
    #15
    Chrissy Cross likes this.
  16. Chrissy Cross

    Chrissy Cross Veteran Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2015
    Messages:
    15,026
    Likes Received:
    13,773
    Have fun! :)
     
    #16
  17. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2015
    Messages:
    7,458
    Likes Received:
    9,815
    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.
     
    #17
  18. Bill Boggs

    Bill Boggs Very Well-Known Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    May 13, 2015
    Messages:
    1,231
    Likes Received:
    1,436
    That sounds scary, Ken. Here's hoping things are resolved soon and you are back in business.
     
    #18
  19. Shirley Martin

    Shirley Martin Veteran Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2015
    Messages:
    7,159
    Likes Received:
    3,841

    @Ken Anderson , I hope with all my heart that things work out and you and Michelle will be able to continue your work.
     
    #19
  20. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2015
    Messages:
    7,458
    Likes Received:
    9,815
    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.
     
    #20
    Bill Boggs and Chrissy Cross like this.
  21. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2015
    Messages:
    7,458
    Likes Received:
    9,815
    Everything is up, with no loss of data. We start work again tomorrow.
     
    #21
  22. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2015
    Messages:
    7,458
    Likes Received:
    9,815
    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.
     
    #22
  23. Chrissy Cross

    Chrissy Cross Veteran Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2015
    Messages:
    15,026
    Likes Received:
    13,773
    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.
     
    #23
  24. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2015
    Messages:
    7,458
    Likes Received:
    9,815
    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.
     
    #24

Share This Page