Accessing the Archives

Lately I’ve been getting e-mails from people who’ve recently discovered the Gluten-Free Guidebook. That’s always welcome, but some of these messages have been a little… odd. One asked for information about restaurants in Turkey. Another asked specifically about Istanbul. Another about Barcelona. Yet another wanted restaurant suggestions for New York City. In each case, I stared at the e-mail, wondering why the person had bothered to write to me when the information they were looking for was available on the site. It’s not as if I keep a secret cache of restaurant names. If I know about a place, it’s almost certainly on the site. Then I got an e-mail praising the site, but adding that it would be even better if there were a search box.

I was baffled. There is a search box. It’s right above the tag cloud. You know, the one filled with place names — like Turkey and Spain and New York City — that help people quickly locate what they’re looking for.

But it hit me suddenly that people are having trouble finding what they need on the site. There’s so much information packed into it, that it can make a specific restaurant harder to find — especially if English isn’t your first language.

So, to make the Gluten-Free Guidebook easier to search, I’ve restructured the sidebar that runs down the right side of the page. The search box has been moved up, so that it’s immediately visible when you open the homepage. Underneath it is the tag cloud, which has the names of places (such as Istanbul, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Toronto, and New York), that have been featured on the site frequently. But the tag cloud isn’t all-inclusive. To find information about a city that doesn’t appear in the tag cloud, such as Barcelona, just type it into the search box. All posts that include Barcelona will come up in your search.

There are more than two years of posts on the site, and I hope that these changes will make it easier to access all of that information. If it doesn’t come up in the search box, it’s not on the site.

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After my last post, about why the Reader Report Contest needs more entries, I received a couple more. That’s great, particularly because all of the entries I’ve received at this point are about places that haven’t been featured on the site before. I’m grateful to the people who’ve written them for sharing such helpful information. But most of the people reading this post still haven’t entered. The deadline is June 30, 2010. The guidelines are here. Wherever you are, I look forward to reading your Reader Reports.

Reader Report Contest Update

Officially, the deadline for the Gluten-Free Guidebook’s Reader Report Contest closed on Monday. But I got an e-mail on Tuesday from Fernando de Barros Pereira that changed my mind about that. Fernando sent me his entry for the contest (a fantastic guide to Sao Paulo, by the way), and in his e-mail, he wrote “I have one suggestion: make all reports available, because they are a valuable tool!”

He’s absolutely right about that. But here’s the thing: there have only been two Reader Reports entered in the contest.

I know that there are a lot of people who come to the Gluten-Free Guidebook looking for information. If Google Analytics is to be believed, there are more than 2,000 unique visitors to the site each week. The Gluten-Free Guidebook’s Facebook group has more than 900 members, and more than that have signed up to get all posts delivered directly to their in-box. Even if there is a lot of crossover between those categories of readers, that’s a lot of people coming to the site to look for information.

I know people are busy. The Gluten-Free Guidebook isn’t something I write for money. It’s a volunteer effort, and it works best when people contribute. Wherever you live, and wherever you’ve traveled, you’ve got something worthwhile to put into a Reader Report.

Here are the submission guidelines. The deadline is now June 30, 2010. If you have found the Gluten-Free Guidebook helpful, I hope you’ll find the time to give something back to others.