Column #257 Fairclough and Nickolson — Two Smart Guys who aren’t Mates
June 1, 2006
Fairclough and Nickolson — Two Smart Guys who aren’t Mates
There are two things in life that intimidate me.
The first of course is women. How when I look straight into their eyes every single one of them on Earth knows that I’m really trying to sneak a peek down their shirts, I just do not understand. It’s a mystery.
The other is computer techies. Don’t ask me why. I suppose it’s like having a conversation with a Brit or for that matter a woman – no matter how slowly they talk or carefully they explain something to me, I just don’t get it.
And even when I think I do, I’m wrong.
For this column I had to talk to a techie. Fortunately he’s not a she. His name is Ricky Nickolson and he hails form somewhere in Alabama near Corpus Christi. He and his friend Jason Hendrix, a black electric guitar player, have started up a couple of fascinating new darts websites.
The first can be found at http://www.darts100.com and if you have a darts website anywhere in the world and want to increase your traffic you should take a moment RIGHT NOW and check out Nickolson’s creation. In fairness, since starting this story a similar website has emerged in England. Created by Andy Fairclough of Superstars of Darts fame, it can be found at http://darts.gotop100.com/ and you owe it to yourself and the growth of your website to CLICK HERE TOO.
For the record, Nickolson and Fairclough do not exactly see eye-to-eye on things. This has to do with another website that Nickolson created, a kind of electronic darts newspaper called The Oche (at http://www.theoche.com), which is also worth checking out. It’s a sort of one-stop shop for all the darts news that is wafting about the Internet.
What happened is that Nickolson discovered that Fairclough had not registered a domain name for his very popular Superstars of Darts website (probably the most popular in the world). So, apparently after a weekend binge on Rogue Dead Guy Ale (an Oregon microbrew made from fermented cow dung) Nickolson registered Fairclough’s website as his own domain and directed traffic to his new http://www.theoche.com website. It’s all very complicated, particularly if you’re like me and don’t know what a “domain” really is.
When Fairclough discovered what happened the thing quickly escalated into a major international incident which Peter Jennings reported on in detail after he died. In short, Fairclough went ballistic and called Nickolson a “poopy head” and Nickolson shot back by calling Fairclough a “turtle booger.” Fortunately the situation calmed before things got really ugly because Nickolson was too busy registering the domains http://www.microsoft.com, http://www.google.com and http://www.ebay.com to be bothered any further.
So back to local news. What exactly is http://www.darts100.com (and http://darts.gotop100.com/) and why might they be worth a look? Since I’m no techie I thought the best thing would be to ring Nickolson and have him give you the straight poop. Here’s a transcript of our conversation.
“Hey Ricky, this is Dartoid. I’ve got a few questions about one of your websites. Got a minute?”
“Hang on. Gates is on the other line. What an asshole.”
After a minute Ricky returns.
“That you Ricky?”
“Yeah, yeah. Microsoft bastards, too damn cheap to take out a frickin’ domain name. Yeah, I’ll answer your questions but you gotta promise me something.”
“Tell Fairclough to screw himself.”
“I’ll pass it along.”
So Nickolson (who didn’t really say any of the crap above) explained how eight or nine years ago he and his friend Hendrix were involved with an online game called Strikeforce. That was when they dreamed up an idea for a ranking system for game-related sites on the Internet. The things was, at the time the many games sites that are out there today didn’t exist. So there wasn’t much point in taking the idea further.
It remained in the back of their minds until about a year ago when they realized there were enough darts websites to get their old idea “kick started and populated enough to hopefully attract the interest of the other darts sites.” So they built their site, added a couple of their own darts sites, something called http://www.EZchalk.com (an online scoring system) and http://www.SteveCoote.com (Nickolson is the webmaster for professional darter Steve Coote) and went from there.
“Being friends with Nick Williams, the mastermind behind Paul Williams’ website, it was easy enough to talk him into adding his site as well. From there I just started spamming and instant messaging everyone who I knew was in some way related to a darts website and threatened to publicly release the photographs unless they agreed to meet my demands.”
Shelia Hadley, the webmistress for the Professional Darts Players Association (PDPA) at http://www.pdpa.co.uk/ had been helpful when Nickolson was first working on the Steve Coote website so Nickolson contacted her. “I thought of her when the http://www.darts100.com website was just starting and she immediately signed up not only the PDPA but several other darts websites as well. I didn’t realize how many irons in the fire that lady has! Her portfolio is huge. As you can imagine, she is very busy but she has always taken the time to correspond with me whenever I’ve asked and she is an absolute pleasure to work with.”
So of course I asked Nickolson the question that I know, right at this very moment, is on all of your minds. “Wait a minute Ricky. Are you telling me you have photos of Shelia!?”
The rest is pretty much history as there are now over one hundred darts website registered at http://www.darts100.com (though only the most frequented 100 appear on any given day). Fairclough’s http://darts.gotop100.com/is over half way to that mark and it only started a couple of months ago.
The process is simple for both of the sites. First, you click to them. Second, you register your darts website and your banner or logo. Third, you put a little graphic of Nickolson’s and/or Fairclough’s ranking website on your website. Then, and this is the amazing part, each day Nickolson’s and Fairclough’s websites keep track of how many people visit your site and rank your website as to where it stands in popularity among all the other sites registered. But they are about a lot more than this.
Nickolson is proud to say that what he originally expected would happen has happened with his http://www.darts100.com website. His prediction was that http://www.darts100.com would borrow from some of the popularity of the top-ranked sites on the list and encourage traffic to the lesser known (but still worth visiting) sites elsewhere on the list. This is exactly what is happening.
In Nickolson’s words, “When a user of a http://www.darts100.com website out there, wherever it is in the world, sees the odd graphic, he or she will often click on it and be carried to the http://www.darts100.com page. Once there, they will see ninety-nine other darts sites that they can visit, all ranked in popularity, many of which they probably never knew existed.”
Indeed, when a site first signs up Nickolson initially receives a lot of traffic from the new site to his http://www.darts100.com. But then, after a couple of weeks, when the “regulars” have all clicked on Nickolson’s graphic, the traffic begins to reverse. People who come to the http://www.darts100.com website and discover new darts websites on the ranking list, and see the rankings change each day, become curious and begin clicking on the ranked websites and are carried to them.
So, again in Nickolson’s words, “In essence the traffic to http://www.darts100.com is only borrowed and repaid with interest because we send far more people out to our listed sites than we get coming into ours. Not a bad way to unite the darts Internet community and introduce people to new sites.”
As of this writing both Nickolson’s and Fairclough’s websites have room for more registrations and could easily expand to formally list more than just the top 100 in any case. If you operate a darts-related website you really should take a moment to list your site: this will certainly gain you traffic. If you don’t have a website but just want to go to websites where the majority of the most popular websites are listed and can be reached with one click, Nickolson’s http://www.darts100.com and Fairclough’s http://darts.gotop100.com/ are the only places to go.
There are of course a few big name darts websites conspicuous in their absence from Nickolson’s and Fairclough’s ranking websites.
The British Darts Organization (BDO) isn’t listed at either but that’s probably because either 1) they don’t want to be seen by the world at the bottom of both listings, or 2) they are about to go out of business.
Phil Taylor’s website is not listed at either, probably because there is no money in it for him.
America’s National Darts Association is not listed at either because, well… the sites are about darts.
The Professional Darts Corporation is not listed at either. Neither is Bull’s Eye News or the American Darters Association. I don’t know why.
Of course, Nickolson’s website isn’t listed at Fairclough’s website and Fairclough’s website isn’t listed at Nickolson’s website. This I can explain.
From the Field,
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