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Testing the Waters of the World Wide Web
I started tracking the number of hits on this web site when I first kicked it off in November of 1996. The first month was really slow. Only my friends knew about the site. I made a point of registering the site with Yahoo and Alta Vista, but this turns out to be harder than you would imagine. For some reason, it takes ages for Yahoo to process a new listing. Although I started trying almost immediately, it wasn't until mid-December that I had a Yahoo listing that worked the way I wanted it to. I made it so the brief Yahoo description of The Writing 69th included both Walter Cronkite's and Andy Rooney's names. This, I figured, would bring more people to the site. It did. The first week on Yahoo the site had 84 hits, more than ten times what it had been getting previously.
Alta Vista is peculiar too. They say that if you give it the main address it will search out the rest of the links. After waiting weeks for it to do so I took the bull by the horns and fed it every address associated with this site. By searching obscure words that I knew existed in each page I was able to check that Alta Vista had actually indexed all of the pages. Occasionally pages would disappear from Alta Vista's index and I would have to re-submit them.
Early on, I was consistently getting about 100 hits a week. This seems a rather modest number, but I was proud of it nonetheless. My reasoning in creating a web site was to take advantage of the search capability of the Internet. I figured I would put up the story along with some unanswered questions that I hoped someone would be able to help me answer. If a relative searched on the name of a long-lost uncle, then maybe they would contact me and add something to my knowledge of the events. Unfortunately, after the first few hundred hits I only got a few e-mail responses. The majority simply wanted addresses for Cronkite or Rooney. When I included that information on the site, the number of e-mails I received dropped accordingly.
This backwards search for information is a little like fishing. In creating this site I have baited a hook and tossed it out of my boat. The result was not been quite what I'd hoped for, but I have heard from students, historians, veterans, children of veterans, World War II enthusiasts, newspaper reporters, and even some documentary film makers.
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Copyright 1996-2003, Jim Hamilton
Questions? Send an e-mail to jim@greenharbor.com