HST, Soft Machine, and the Vanity Press

I’ve been too busy trying to write a proposal for the HST Cycle-16 Supplemental Call to think about blogging. If you didn’t know about the call, tough luck, its too late… And for those like me who thought, hey lets go for it cos it came out at the last minute, so nobody has had time to think about it … think again. Judging by the number given our draft submission, everybody else had the same idea… rats.

To keep my spirits up while sweating away, I have indulged one of my guilty secrets – searching for early Soft Machine clips on YouTube. I can guarantee nearly all of you will hate it, but 5% of those over 50 will genuflect. It gave me an idea for a post which I will think about when the proposal is in …

Meanwhile, I seem to have gotten my first blogger vanity press mail shot. I got an email today that says

Hi. I wanted to let you know that your blog, The e-Astronomer, has been selected as one of the web’s best blogs by the editors of Regator.com, the most selective blog directory on the web. Each blog featured on Regator is hand-selected and reviewed by an editor to ensure that its content is topical, original, well-written, and frequently updated.

It is then put into one of nearly 500 channels covering topics as diverse as beekeeping, neuroscience, books, and pop culture. This makes it easy for mainstream audiences to find high-quality posts on things that interest them. Regator’s What’s Hot List gives an at-a-glance summary of what the astronomy community is discussing right now and is a great resource for bloggers and academics.

Please let your readers know you’ve been selected by visiting http://regator.com/#badges to download a badge for your site. There is NO fee involved and you don’t have to take any action to have your blog added to Regator’s directory–it’s already there.

We know your content has value, so we aggregate your titles and summaries, but our users must click through to your blog to read the full text of your posts. In this way, we hope to drive traffic to your blog and expand your audience.

If you visit our site and find it useful, we’d be extremely grateful if you could help us spread the word by mentioning Regator on your blog.

Congratulations and welcome to Regator! Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

All the best,

Kimberly Turner
Co-Founder / Editorial Director

Only trouble is when I visited the site, my posts were hard to find, on account of bloody Phil Plait writes a new post about once three millseconds.

Seems to some kind of new aggregator / feed reader. Haven’t quite seen what the advantage is compared to using Bloglines or just reading feeds in Mac Mail.. Anybody a fan already ?

10 Responses to HST, Soft Machine, and the Vanity Press

  1. Stuart says:

    Oh look, I got the same email with my blog title instead of yours. I’d almost started to think that a real person had sent it specifically to me. You’re right that Phil seems to be dominating it somewhat even if it does only take him two jiffys to write 5 posts a day.

  2. Kimberly says:

    Hi Stuart and Andy. A real person (me) did send the emails. They are, to a certain extent, form letters, but I can assure you that your blogs were legitimately selected to be included on the site after I’d spent some time reading them and determined that they’d be useful to Regator’s users. I am an actual editor with an M.A. in linguistics and a day job as a magazine editor and I spend a lot of time trying to find the web’s best blogs for our site. We’re fairly new, which may be why you have yet to hear about us. Though we are gaining a fair following and were, last week, named by Mashable.com as one of the web’s top three “social news” sites.

    Sorry that you found your posts difficult to find on the site. They are organized on the page in chronological order (with all blogs showing) by default but when users click on posts to read them or vote on them, they can move up the list. Admittedly, we don’t have a whole lot of folks consistently browsing our astronomy channel yet, so they are mostly in chronological order. That might give some bloggers (Phil, evidently) an advantage right now, but we hope to send at least some traffic your way soon and more after we’ve grown a bit. Also, people who really enjoy your posts can click the “Favorite Blog” button, then view their favorite blogs separate from all others on their personalized page (requires an account, so you may not have seen that part).

    To answer your question about advantages over something like, say, Bloglines: We are trying to help people who might not be super-tech-savvy find high-quality blogs that they’ll enjoy. Our users might be people who don’t know how to set up an RSS feeder, or might just choose to use our site to find new blogs easily amid the thousands of poorly written sites out there.

    Hope that answers your questions. Like I said (and I meant it), don’t hesitate to contact me if you have other questions. One thing that I’d appreciate very much is if you would remove the link to the badge page from this post because that’s a link that we only give to bloggers who have been selected, and if shoddy blogs see the link and put badges on their blogs, it really hurts what we’re trying to do. It’s your blog, of course, so it’s your choice, but I’d certainly appreciate it.

    We are a self-funded, family-run startup, not a corporate entity. Three of us (me, my brother, and my husband) have been working on it for about a year and we launched it publicly about four months ago. We truly hope to provide a useful service. I know it’s really hard to tell the difference between a letter like the one I sent you and spam, but I hope this clears it up.

    Thanks for your comments.

  3. andyxl says:

    Kimberley – coo that was fast. Being hard to find my posts was just a joke about Phil Plait’s productivity ! I certainly didn’t think it was spam in the normal sense, but did assume it was meant to flatter me in order to help you …

  4. Kimberly says:

    Ah, gotcha. I can understand why you’d think that. And sure, it does help us when people blog about the site, especially since we’re just getting started, but that’s a totally optional thing for bloggers who happen to find the service useful. My main goal is to get good blogs on the site so that people will find it helpful and, through doing that, we might send you a bit of traffic so I wanted you to know what/who Regator was. Apologies if it came across any other way.

    • andyxl says:

      Kimberley – according to WordPress stats, over the last two days, a handful of people have reached my blog by clicking through from Regator.. so maybe it is starting to work.

  5. Perhaps Phil Plait is the real spambot? 🙂
    But I received a Regator invitation from Kimberly too and was vain enough to feel flattered. I like the look of Regator and am impressed that they do not pinch your material but require people to click through to your own site to read it. anything that boosts visitor numbers. I wish them luck.


  6. telescoper says:

    I feel left out now. I didn’t get any emails like this. Sulk.

    But hang on, blogs have to be “topical, original, well-written, and frequently updated”. Surely one out of four is good enough?

  7. andyxl says:

    Dear Telescoper, perhaps that nice Kimberley could tell whose ego was already at maximal volume, making any flattery of no value ? Or perhaps even the Mighty Regator hasn’t found everybody yet ?

  8. Kimberly says:

    Glad to hear it, Andy. As the site grows, the amount of traffic we send to blogs will also grow. Also, it stands to reason that some channels are more popular than others. Our humor, tech, and entertainment channels are pretty universal, so they get the most hits. We sent one blog 637 visitors yesterday. Astronomy blogs are a bit more niche, so your mileage will vary but if even a few folks click through and like your content, you’ll pick up some readers. Better than a kick in the head I s’pose.

  9. […] One. First, that Regator thing. When I wrote about it here I worried I was being suckered in to the vanity press; but I have decided I like it and have added […]

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