Refuge For About.gone Guides

In response to's recent move to cut hundreds of topical Guide sites from its service, a new grassroots effort is helping former Guides re-establish their sites, and providing a clearinghouse of information to help users find their favorite ex-Guides.

The brainchild of Eric Ward, publisher of URLwire and a noted web marketing consultant, the Closed Guide Directory and Assistance Links page isn't intended to compete with About, nor will it actually host displaced sites. "I'm just trying to help people find resources that have been orphaned," said Ward.

The page has two parts. The first is a directory of sites axed by About, listing the site name and URL, the Guide's name, and whether the Guide is relocating the site or not.

For sites that are relocating, further details are provided, including the new name of the site, URL, contact person and email address.

The second part of the page consists of resources to help ex-Guides run their new sites without the support systems or tools provided by About. These include links to free or low-cost server space, services including web design, newsletter support, logo or graphic services, and other useful resources.

Ward is confident that once ex-Guides become aware of the Closed Guide Directory and Assistance Links page, it will rapidly become a nexus point for both ex-Guides and the users who formerly relied on their sites.

About created "one of the Web's most unique collections of guide sites, each site was run by a person, and each person spent countless hours building topical content about subjects they were passionate about," said Ward. "They were what made great, and founders rich."

"The sites that got cut loose were the most vertical topics. Those are also the Guides that for many people were the most useful."

Ward would like to see the major directories such as Yahoo and LookSmart create a new category dedicated to ex-About sites. He also believes there's a market opportunity for another large content-oriented Web site, such as Suite 101, to take the orphaned sites under wing. "They could capture all that traffic that About not longer gets," said Ward.

Though the new page is relatively sparse, Ward plans to encourage his clients to donate services to help ex-Guides re-establish their sites, and expects to see the services section of the page expand rapidly. Contributing his own expertise, he written an article entitled "Find and Reclaim the Links Pointing to Your Old Guide Site" to help Guides quickly rebuild their link popularity, and anticipates adding other articles in the future.

If you're an ex-About Guide, or want to volunteer time, information or services to help ex-Guides re-establish their sites, Eric wants to hear from you. The email address to use is Closed Guide Relocation Directory and Assistance Links

About Face at slashes staff and axes more than 300 topic 'Guide' sites from its service, with significant implications for webmasters and searchers alike.

JoeAnt Scours the Web
Despite its goofy name, JoeAnt is a web directory created by former Infoseek/Go Guides that offers several innovative features that should appeal to searchers.

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About the author

Chris Sherman is a frequent contributor to several information industry journals. He's written several books, including The McGraw-Hill CD ROM Handbook and The Invisible Web: Uncovering Information Sources Search Engines Can't See, co-authored with Gary Price. Chris has written about search and search engines since 1994, when he developed online searching tutorials for several clients. From 1998 to 2001, he was's Web Search Guide.