It dawns on me that I did not follow up on a previous post where I hinted that ”something really big” might be headed my way. Alas, it was not to be, and the decision has taken some of the air out of my hopes for the future.
Last spring, Answers.com approached me to ask if I would please apply to be their Insect Category Leader for their attempt to go head-to-head with About.com as a major source of online content. I complied by taking the editing test, submitting a sample blog post, and attaching my resumé. Then I waited. And waited.
I tried not to invest too many emotions and expectations in this opportunity, but it would have paid very well for an online enterprise, would have raised my public profile even higher, and most importantly let me reach a much broader audience with facts in the face of the proliferation of myths and urban legend that surround so many insects and arachnids. I truly see it as my mission to improve public understanding and appreciation of all misunderstood and feared animals, be they arthropods or vertebrates.
I periodically touched base with my contact person at Answers.com, and she was very gracious, honest, and punctual in her replies. I finally made one last contact on September 30 and received a reply the next day. The executives chose someone else to be the Insect Category Leader. I was devastated. I feel an obligation to provide at least a small amount of regular income to my marriage (one year and six months as of October 29), and I really thought this was my ticket.
I pressed for an explanation and was told that the only reason I was not selected is because I had done “work” for AllExperts.com, a subsidiary of About.com, which they see as their major competitor. Well, that “work” was all volunteer, to help build my credibility. Indeed, I was ranked as one of the top 50 experts, in all categories (remember doctors, lawyers, and others are on there, too), for 2009. The idea that a potential employer would use that against me, and assume that I would not resign from that “position” if I was hired left me outraged.
This is not the first time something like this has happened. I applied to be the paid expert for the “Pest Control” category at About.com years earlier, and their process is much more rigorous. I was new to writing for the internet, too. In the end, I was not selected for that position, either, due to philosophical differences as near as I could tell. After all, I make no secret of the fact that one of my major goals is to save people time and money by letting them know they rarely need professional extermination services, or over-the-counter chemical controls.
The only conclusion I am left with is that I am supposed to go out on my own. I am honored and grateful that the web wizard who brought you Spiders.us is willing to help me do just that. I have purchased the domain names “Eaton Insect Guides” and “Insect Field Guide,” and we are working methodically to get at least one of those sites erected. The remaining URL will likely funnel directly to the one we end up using.
The commercial site will be geared to addressing non-spider arthropods that I know people ask about consistently. I will need to solicit images of some of them. Eventually, there will be a forum component whereby users will be able to ask me, and the expanded community of people that results from having a forum, about insects and arachnids and other “bugs” they want to know more about.
Meanwhile, I will continue to post to this blog, at least sporadically, because my audience here seems more interested in learning about relatively obscure species that usually must be searched for. I appreciate your patience (and donations if you see fit) while I attempt to juggle both projects, plus Sense of Misplaced where I write about social and cultural issues and human nature. Thank you.