March 26, 2001-- Newsletter #123

By Joe Burns

Goodies to Go (tm)
March 26, 2001--Newsletter #123

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Greetings, Weekend Silicon Warriors,

Remember the last newsletter, the one all about the anti- slamming bill and how it died in committee? Well, not so fast. The Unsolicited Commercial Electronic Mail Act of 2001 was just passed by a Congressional Subcommittee. The bill rolls along to the Energy and Commerce committee chaired by Louisiana Representative Billy Tauzin.

If you'd like to read the bill yourself, go to:

Once there, Word/Phrase search:
"Unsolicited Commercial Electronic Mail Act of 2001"

Or Bill Number search:
H.R. 95 (entered January 3, 2001) ~or~
H.R. 718 (entered February 14, 2001)

This may also die in committee, but then again it may not. The big sticking point, as many of you pointed out, is the reliance on Spammers to take you off of their lists. Many of you suggested that when you did reply to the emails, the sender didn't exist or the URL offered wasn't valid. And on it goes...

Did you hear...

Welcome back Mir. The spacecraft crashed harmlessly into the Pacific Ocean. Those in Fiji, and surrounding areas, were witness to the Russians displaying the greatest game of Tetris ever played.

Did you see Madonna's latest video? If not, then you may never. At least you may never see it in its original form. VH1 and MTV aired the uncut version of "What It Feels Like for a Girl" late Tuesday night. The video showed Madonna and an elderly woman going on a crime spree. It was deemed too violent for regular rotation. The cable channels proclaimed that the airing was a one- time-only broadcast. Not to sound cynical, but I have a hard time believing that. I'd bet it'll Web-cast again before too long.

Juno has revamped its service agreement. Here's the deal. When a user is not using his or her computer, Juno wants to use the computer's computational power to crunch data. The company would divide the work over thousands of computers on a voluntary basis. Wow - put it all together and that's a lot of power. My father uses Juno for his email. It's only a matter of time before he calls and asks me if he should allow it. I hate to say no, but I would until I read that there are no big bugs with the system. Juno is stating that customers are mainly receptive to the idea. If that's the case and it's not a PR move to get more people to sign up, then I'd tell Dad to wait until the first test subjects have either complained or praised the move.

Now onto today's topic...

I've been thinking about offering an award.

This by no means suggests that I'll start offering the award anytime soon or that I ever will, but as of late I've been thinking about giving out an award.

I guess it all came to head when I was watching a promo for the Oscars and I thought that a great award image would be my goofy head on an Oscar statuette. I think I'm the only one that feels that way. No one I tell is finding it all that funny. I think it would be a scream.

Getting back to my award concerns, if I were to offer an award, what weight would it carry? Some might suggest that it would carry a great deal of weight because it would be from HTML Goodies. I guess that might be so but the world of awards has become something that many just ignore because the entire concept of winning an award has somewhat lost its luster. It's been put on a par with placing a counter on the homepage. It's nice but no one really believes the high numbers anyway.

I say that because HTML Goodies is a magnet for awards. If you go to my awards page, you see something like 75 award images. In reality, the site has been given easily over 300. I might put it closer to 400 total.

So why don't I display them all?

The reason is that only about one in four carry any weight. The vast majority of awards I receive, and I assume most sites receive, are awards that were created by a brand new site that's looking for a link back in order to grow traffic numbers. The award-granting site cared far less about giving me an award than it did about getting a link posted on an HTML Goodies page. I can usually tell which awards are simply looking for a link by the graphic they send along.

A site that is serious about its award usually has a very nice, attention grabbing, graphic. I received an award one time that was a black field, 200 pixels by 200 pixels, with the text, "Mike's Web Award" in white. "Award" was misspelled. I'm serious. I can't make this stuff up. I'm not that clever.

I guess an award from HTML Goodies would carry some weight because, well, it's from Goodies. In addition, I would have the design team at produce a stunning graphic and I would have someone check the spelling. Furthermore, I would be giving the award because I think the site deserves the award and not because I am trying to gain traffic. It would be a heartfelt bestowment with no ulterior motive.

I can also tell if an award is what I consider a "true" award if I can go to the site bestowing the award and read a list of qualifications a site must meet to even be up for the award. The more qualifications, I think, the better the award.

I am a fan of awards that are given because a site meets the requirements of a certain group of people. My most coveted awards are those from sites that check Web sites for clean content. By posting the award I am saying more than I simply won an award. I am saying that my site is approved for children to read without running into nasty words or off-color jokes. I have a few awards from sites that proclaim Goodies is good for high school students and for those working on a university page. The awards mean something past a link back and a graphic. I did something to win it. I created a site that helps someone and someone else is recognizing me for it.

OK, so I'll need a nice graphic, I can live without a return link, and a list of qualifications. I can do that.

Now the question is, how often should I offer this award?

I mean if I give out ten a week then I'll have awarded 520 over the course of a year. Every site will have one. It would be like everyone-wins-a-trophy-day at school. I believe for an award to really carry some weight, a site must give out fewer awards than the next guy.

Maybe one a week is enough. How about three a month? What about one a month?

One a month would certainly be a heck of a deal. It would set aside a single site that meets some list of standards, which I haven't quite come up with yet. However, I think one a month is a little too little. I like the concept of three a month, over three categories. That way I can proclaim it's just about one a week and technically it is only one winner per month, but in three different categories.

I was thinking of topics in the realm of:

Best First Site
Best Middle or High School Student Site
Best College or University Student Site
Best Site by Someone 55 or Older
Best Help Site (I don't really know what this means)
Best Personal Site
Best Business Site
Best Site Design

OK, those are pretty good ideas, but how does one win one of the Goodies awards? I don't want to simply surf around and bestow awards. I want the award to go to someone who at least knows HTML Goodies.

Fine. It seems that in order to win an award from HTML Goodies, one would have to have his or her site submitted to Goodies. That way I at least know the submitted site has had some contact with Goodies.

Should I allow the author of a site to submit to win the award? Should I only accept sites nominated by someone other than the author? Should I allow both?

Obviously I would accept sites in categories. I would set aside three separate mail folders and the nominations would roll in. Now it's time to pick. This is actually the easiest of the questions. Who would pick? I would. It would be my decision and the decision of the judge is final.

Then what?

If I had my way, the process would start all over again. I would erase all the entries and accept all new entries. I understand that many of the same people would simply resubmit and that's fine. My reasoning is that for the award to have any weight, every entry must have an equal chance each time a decision is made. I don't want to have a mental list of which will win next month and the month after that and the month after that.

Each month we start anew. Besides, the site that didn't win this time around may win the next time around. It may be updated. It may be better than before. It may be revamped into a stunning piece of work. By starting fresh each time around, I can see the sites in a new light each time around. Those who get tired of resubmitting would stop and the pool would narrow each month.

That would help to make the award even better. Smaller pool. Better quality. Better sites. I know that might not always follow, but I can dream, can't I?

I want to give an award but it has to mean something. It has to be an achievement. It has to be something that says something to the users of the winning site.

I don't know that I'll ever do it, but if I do...I want to do it right.

I want winners to post the award not simply because they won but because it's something they're proud they've won.


That's that. Thanks for reading. I enjoy my weekly 1000 word rants. I enjoy them more knowing someone will read them.

Joe Burns, Ph.D.

And Remember: Here's a Travel-Channel statistic I found rather interesting. Of the around 6 billion people in the world, about a third of them eat using a knife and fork, a third eat using chopsticks, and a third eat using their fingers.

Here's another from the same adult African elephant eats almost 400 pounds of food per day.

The elephant, however, uses a trunk.

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