It’s Not Rockgut?

Once upon a time . . .  actually about a dozen years ago when I was enrolled in the Master of Professional Writing Program at USC, I started what was intended to be a novel. It might have turned out to be a pretty good one had the characters and situations I developed at the beginning kept going. But I am better at beginnings than at whole books so within a few chapters it fizzled out. Nevertheless, I still have an affection for the opening, which took place in MacArthur Park near downtown Los Angeles. A homeless man had awakened with his empty bottle of what I then termed “rockgut” beside him on the sidewalk.

It was only later than I learned the term was “rotgut,” something that at least in my own mind I have not been able to live down because it leapt from wherever it had been lurking into the forefront of my mind when BiblioBuffet’s web developer, Frank Nilsen, used the term “link rot” to describe links that were no longer working. We were talking about the frustrations of having BiblioBuffet’s recommended sites—all those pages under the Books & More Books and About Us sections—go wacky when the URL changed.

When BiblioBuffet was still in the original development stage I knew I wanted to include pages of links that would be of interest to our future readers. Eventually, I came up with Book Donations, Books Festivals (both U.S. and international), Bookmark Blogs & Sites, Book-Related Blogs, Book-Related Sites (these latter two were split when they became too large for a single page), Literary Humor & Games, Places We Like, Shopping for Booklovers, and Writers’ Resources. Under About Us is (no surprise) About Us, Meet Our Contributors, Submit Books for Review, and Write for Us.

It’s the former one that drives me crazy at times because each of those pages is filled with links. Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to check them as regularly as I’d like  so when I do I invariably discover sometimes one but often more dead links. Excuse me, link rot.

Bloody thing sounds like a mold invasion. It’s just about as bad too. I dislike the idea that our readers click on something only to find it dead (rotted out?) because it’s probably a natural assumption that maybe the rest of the links are dead too. So every once in a while I go in and clean it out. Spit and polish the descriptions. Verify the addresses. See if a book festival’s URL has been taken over by a porn site. (This actually happened once, though I won’t name the festival to spare them embarrassment.)

So the last week during the final phase of our platform upgrading I spent two days hunkered down at the computer, forcing myself to look at link after link after link. It was hard not to get distracted by the computer’s Solitaire games or by the Internet or the cats. And sometimes I did. But I did stay with it until the end. So as of  . . . well, not today but at least last week, we have fresh, shiny working links.

Plus, we have more pages in the works. These will take longer to get up as I have to write descriptions for each link, a time-consuming task. And while I don’t want to give away the ideas until they are ready, I think we have some new and damn good goodies for you. Not a shred (bottle?) of rockgut in the place. I promise.

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