Affiliate with TCoD
Affiliation is when two webmasters mutually agree on linking to one another, usually in a place specially denoted as a list of affiliates. (Note the 'mutually': if you just want to link to someone without necessarily having them link back to you, you can do that, but then don't imply they're affiliated with you.) This allows relatively new sites to gain publicity quickly if they're good enough to meet others' affiliation requirements, and the prevalence of affiliation among medium-to-small-sized Pokémon fansites is a large part of why this fandom is unusually friendly to aspiring webmasters: if you work hard enough and create a good enough site, you can theoretically affiliate with much larger sites and essentially establish a visitor base overnight.
Seeing as, well, by now my site is one of the largest of those medium-to-small-sized sites in the fandom that practice affiliation, I don't really have much to gain by it, per se, but I love the fact that good, young websites can earn the recognition they deserve so easily in the Pokémon fandom, and so I continue to affiliate in the interest of supporting webmasters with potential.
In order to affiliate with The Cave of Dragonflies, you will need to apply to me with a link to your website. Your application will then only be accepted if your website meets certain requirements.
The Kind of Thing I'm Looking For
Well, in one sentence, I'm looking for Pokémon websites in English.
As a policy, I do not affiliate with forums, oekakis or other strictly-community sites, sorry; I want to look at actual content that you created and that a one-time visitor can enjoy, not something people have to actively participate in or something that's a product of the community more than of yourself. For similar reasons, if all your interesting content is "members only" just because you want more members, I'm going to refuse. I don't make any special exceptions to this, so if you run a purely-community site, don't bother applying. Of course, you can have a website with content as well as an accompanying forum/oekaki and that obviously won't hurt you, but it won't help you either.
It must also be a Pokémon website or at least contain quite a bit of Pokémon-related content. If it has content about other fandoms, that content will generally be ignored when I look over the site. General non-fandom-specific content will count, but if the site as a whole doesn't have enough Pokémon content to be sensibly called a Pokémon site, I'd feel a bit strange about being affiliated with it.
And then, yes, I'm afraid it must be in English - there is nothing wrong with sites in other languages, but even if most of your visitors know English, only a small fraction of mine will know Dutch/German/French/Spanish/Italian/whatever, making a link from my site to yours meaningless to everyone else. Additionally, as I'd be unable to read the content myself, I couldn't enforce the same quality requirements I enforce for my English affiliates, which would just be unfair.
Finally, no pornographic, graphically violent, hateful, prejudiced or stolen content. You can have non-pornographic (i.e. not intended to induce sexual arousal) R-rated fanfiction or artistic nudity if all such material has appropriate warnings near it and there is something there for younger viewers too. Any plagiarism, character bashing, racism, homophobia, flaming, etc., however, is absolutely out of the picture. Please note that when I say "stolen content", that includes fanart you got off Google or Photobucket and don't credit the actual artist for. That is a big no-no and I won't encourage anyone who does it.
Otherwise, your site can be about pretty much whatever you like. Artwork, writing, games, information, data, opinions, theories... it's all fair game.
General Quality Requirements
In addition to those basic restrictions on what kind of site I'll affiliate with, your website will need to meet a certain standard of quality. Please be warned that as I receive a lot of affiliation requests and have been running a website and developing my ideas on what makes a good website for a very long time, my standards are quite strict compared to most - I routinely reject sites that already have many other affiliates.
If you've read my website tips and Content-Writing for Dummies, they touch on pretty much everything here, though it varies in importance (largely this is a matter of common sense - obviously I'm not going to demand you change your site's name before we can affiliate, and something like having a splash page is hardly going to be a dealbreaker, but I do definitely expect you to have something on your site before you apply for affiliation). Regardless, it's a good idea to read the full explanation here to understand exactly how I decide whether to accept or reject an affiliation application.
Basically, the first requirement is that all my affiliates must contain some worthwhile content, i.e. something that's interesting, useful and/or entertaining and not just a carbon copy of something that's already found on hundreds of other websites. This is very important: I'm not going to affiliate with a site that feels simply redundant content-wise, and at a guess I'd wager out of all the affiliation requests I reject, this is most commonly the reason. Having a site consisting of reworded versions of a few of the game sections on Serebii.net just doesn't cut it. You don't need to have any particular number of pages, but you need to have something that really makes your site feel worth the trip, whether that's ten mildly interesting pages or one really mindblowingly awesome page. (To pass with just one page, mind you, I really mean that it would have to be absolutely mindblowingly awesome. It's never happened thus far and I suggest you don't count on it.)
I also expect a certain minimal degree of professionalism from my affiliates. While I won't demand your layout be breathtakingly beautiful, it should be clean, consistent, readable, functional in at least the latest versions of the most widely used browsers, use non-eye-hurting colors, fit with the images on the site (i.e. an image that only looks right on a light background should not be placed on a dark background anyway), load in a usable form within some reasonable amount of time, and make it straightforward to navigate around the site. You should not splatter unnecessary images or scripts all over the place. You must have good spelling and grammar, with special regard for the spelling of Pokémon names/items/places/concepts and including capitalization, punctuation and apostrophe use; again, it's okay to have a mistake here and there, and I won't expect you to follow formal grammatical rules that are routinely broken in everyday language (like not splitting infinitives or ending sentences in prepositions), but if you invariably seem to write "it's" where you ought to use "its", randomly capitalize or misspell every other word, and apply commas with a salt shaker, I will refuse to affiliate. (Incidentally, you will lose several points with me, regardless of how your spelling and grammar are otherwise, if your affiliation requirements state that the other site "must have good spelling and grammer". If there is any part of your website you should be sure to double-check for spelling errors or typos, it is any sentences demanding good spelling and grammar from others.) And in general, your website should be decently written; you don't need to have an awe-inspiring mastery of prose or anything, but I do expect you to at least paragraph your content properly, use exclamation marks only where they're actually appropriate, and have some semblance of structure and direction to your text.
Usually I will not take the quality of creative works (art, fiction, sprites, fangames, etc.) posted on the site into account, since I'm judging your website and not your drawing/writing/spriting/game-designing ability. However, if your site is completely centered around your creative work, the quality of that work is pretty integral to how worthwhile your site is to visit, and then I'm afraid I do require a certain minimal level of quality and notability. It doesn't have to be perfect or mindblowing or anything, but if it's just a gallery of simple Pokémon sprite splices, say, or just a couple of chapters of a really generic, poorly written trainer fic about a Mary-Sue, I'll have to reject you because your work currently just can't support a website on its own.
These are the official requirements for getting me to affiliate, meaning that as a general rule, if you handily pass all of them I'll accept the application, whereas if you clearly fail at least one I'll reject it. However, there are a lot of somewhat borderline cases, and in those cases the deciding factors become a bit more subjective.
How forgiving I am of mild violations of the general quality requirements ultimately depends on how much I've personally grown to like your site overall. If you've made me really want to affiliate with you, I'm not going to let it bother me that you have some mistakes in your information, for instance, even though I'll point them out and expect you to fix them. So here are some hints on what tips this personal bias factor one way or the other:
Stuff I Like
- Originality. I don't necessarily mean everything on your site should be 100% unique with nothing like it anywhere else on the Internet, but your content becomes a whole lot more interesting to me if I sense some substantial original thought or initiative behind it, and it's always a huge plus if you have something genuinely interesting or useful that I've never seen anywhere else before.
- Liveliness. There's nothing wrong with just presenting data or information in a plain form, but if you write your content or just your updates with a bit of real personality, I get the sense that there's a real human being managing the site, and I always rather enjoy that feeling. Extra points for appearing to have a sense of humour (though you shouldn't be cracking jokes to the point where it becomes distracting).
- Dedication. I love seeing people who have obviously really poured their heart and soul into their websites. Long, detailed pages that clearly must have not only taken many hours of writing but also many hours of preparation, research or thinking make me happy. Useful or interesting information that must have been ludicrously time-consuming to compile but which you compiled anyway makes me happy. Ties in with the originality point, as content generally doesn't really give off this vibe unless it's making some degree of an original contribution (if you've obviously spent many hours manually copying down information from Serebii's Pokédex, the awe that such effort usually inspires will be offset by the painful awareness that you were wasting your time).
- Perfectionism. I'm a perfectionist and I like it when other people are too. I gain a lot of respect for you if you appear committed to having accurate and complete information, correcting your mistakes, marking tentative or unconfirmed information as such, and so on.
Stuff I Dislike
- Sections that Suck. It's not a quality requirement that you can't have any useless pages - but if you have them I'm going to be just a little irritated, especially if they're one of the very types described on my Sections that Suck page. I'm especially easily annoyed by "My Opinions, Let Me Show You Them" pages that are poorly argued; I'm rather passionate about logic and reasoning and would much rather see people argue the opposite of my opinion well than my own opinion badly.
- Very messy HTML. I don't always look at the source code of sites that apply to affiliate with me, but when I do, I can't help cringing a little if I discover it's marked up with billions of unnecessary tables with presentational attributes, typos, deprecated tags, block-level elements nested inside inline ones, etc. You'd do well to learn proper (X)HTML and validate your site; moreover, try not to use free scripts, layouts or HTML snippets if you don't actually understand what they do and how to use them correctly.
- Being overly full of yourself, excessively immature or just a jerk. If the general impression I get of you as I read over your site is negative, I'm going to be disinclined to affiliate with you. If you rant angrily about petty things, insult the reader, hold longtime grudges against people for something they did to spite you years ago, brag about your achievements on your About Me page, constantly revel in your hatred for things, are usually destructive rather than constructive, etc. etc. etc. I may start looking for excuses to reject you.
- Everything advised against in my website tips not already brought up. If it didn't bother me at least a little bit, I wouldn't have a section on my site advising against it - though if it's not mentioned elsewhere here, it's not a priority.
- People who think this site is called "Dragonflycave". I can never quite shake the gut feeling that if your application e-mail gets the name of the site you're trying to affiliate with wrong, you're doing sloppy work on your site behind the scenes.
Applying for Affiliation
Before you apply, please keep in mind that I am picky. If you haven't picked up on this yet from reading the affiliation requirements, I deny the far majority of all the affiliation requests I get. Don't take it personally if the answer is no; it is for most.
Once you're sure you think you're up for it, you can go ahead and contact me with the URL to your website, making it clear you're asking for affiliation. Please note that you should send me an e-mail when you want to request affiliation; if you send me a PM at some forum or an IM or something, I'll almost definitely forget about it before I get around to doing it. You don't need to include a link button (unless you don't actually have them on your site anywhere), a description of what your site is about, flattery for my site or an essay on why you want to affiliate; I will be looking through your whole site and that should speak for itself, though if you want to include further information in your application, I'll read that too.
Then, once you've sent your application, just be patient. I have a somewhat notorious tendency to star affiliation requests for looking at later, only for several months to pass before I actually get around to going through them all. If you don't get a reply, don't be alarmed or think you have to send it again; odds are I received it but the mood to respsond to affiliation requests has yet to hit me since.
Once I do get around to your affiliation request, I will go to your site and work my way down your menu in order. The general rule of thumb is I read every page, but if you have fanfiction or other creative work that isn't the main focus of the site I will just skim it, and if you have a huge amount of similar content such that part of it can reasonably be expected to be representative of the whole, I will only pick out a few samples (in other words, if you have a Pokédex I'll view only a few entries in it, and if you have a complete walkthrough for a game I'll just read a few sample chapters to get an idea of what it's like). If I make up my mind early I may give up before I've finished, but usually I don't.
As I read, I will be taking down notes on errors I spot, potential violations of the affiliation requirements, general things that bug me, nitpicks, and any other comments I have. These will be included with my response, no matter what it is, for your benefit; it's advice on stuff to change or improve, and the way I see it, it would be a profound disservice to you to look critically through your whole website and not give you all the potential advice that crossed my mind in the process. Depending on my mood, these notes range from being fairly condensed (on my scale) to basically amounting to a free site rating; if you'd prefer one or the other, just say so in your application. Occasionally they get kind of grouchy if I'm tired or in a bad mood at the time, but they're always written with the best of intentions.
By the time I've finished reading through the site and taking notes, I'll generally have made up my mind about whether to accept or reject you. I'll summarize my final thoughts on why I accept or reject your request and finally send you that along with the notes.
If I Say No
Too bad! But that only means there's all the more reason for you to continue working on your site and improving it. My response e-mail will explain to the best of my ability what about your site made me reject it, complete with my notes on whatever issues I took with individual sections - which means you've basically been provided with a pretty thorough breakdown of what you should do to fix it. When I reject an affiliation request it is always my sincere hope that that will inspire the webmaster to work hard and do better until their site passes my affiliation requirements with flying colors. If it hurts to be rejected, I'm sorry - but the correct response to constructive criticism is to read it carefully, try to understand where it's coming from and use that information to improve your work until the criticisms no longer apply. My goal is to help you, not to tear you down.
If you wholly don't understand where I'm coming from, you can ask; if you understand it but disagree with it, you can argue your case if you like, but do note that I've been doing this for a long time and odds are if I see a problem with something, I'm probably not alone. If you disagree with me on principle and are willing to stick to that principle even if it hurts other people's opinion of your site, I have great respect for that and would love to hear your side of the issue (I might easily reconsider if your reasons are sound), but please don't just dismiss whatever I say that you don't personally see anything wrong with at the moment; it's easy to get defensive and dismiss sound advice out of pure misplaced stubbornness, and if you do you'll probably regret it later. I know this from experience; trust me on it.
You are free to ask for affiliation again whenever you like, just as long as you've very visibly improved the site since I last rejected you; if I find that easily fixable mistakes that I pointed out in my last response are still around, I'll get the impression that you're not really listening to me, which will make me considerably less inclined to consider you for affiliation. See the FAQ entry on the subject.
If I Say Yes
Awesome. I'll almost always have nitpicks even for requests I accept, and generally I expect you to do something about them, at least the more objective ones (such as misinformation); completely failing to fix something serious I pointed out could make me reconsider affiliating with you.
In my reply I'll note whether I've put up your button already or whether I'll get around to it later. Unlike with responding to the affiliation requests themselves, I really will put up the button soon if that's what I say; it just means at the particular time I responded to your e-mail, I wasn't easily able to access the site files. My affiliate list is randomized on every pageview, so once I do get your button up, it will have no fixed position on the list; this is done to give all my affiliates equal representation. I don't care where I am on your affiliate list, so just put one of my buttons (or a text link) on your list however you happen to organize it. If you need a shorter version of the site's name for any reason, please use "TCoD" rather than "Dragonflycave" or anything of the sort.
I generally go through all my affiliates periodically and remove all those that are either down or don't appear to have been updated for more than three months. (I also usually ignore affiliation requests from sites that don't seem to have been updated for more than three months by the time I get there, as I tend to assume the webmaster has already moved on.) If I've taken your site off the affiliate list and you revive it or it comes back up, by all means tell me and I'll put it back on the list. If you'd rather just remove my button and go on your merry way without being affiliated with me, you can of course do that too.
I might also remove you as an affiliate if changes to your site lead to it no longer fulfilling some of the other affiliation requirements, such as if you remove all your Pokémon content and turn it into a site about graphic design or something, if you put up porn or stolen material, if you have a sudden personality transplant and turn into the biggest jerk that ever lived, if you take down my button for no reason, etc. Unlike some people I do regularly visit all of my affiliates to see how they're doing, so don't think I'll just never notice.
Page last modified January 12 2012 at 02:24 GMT