THE MISSING LINK
The Missing Link, this is a personal gripe that has been going on for a good two years and for the reasons stated below is now being publically aired. Firstly, read the following:
"Dear Tim, I must say that your ever growing website is a real hit amongst us Dartmoor Guides - essential reference material and a must for all. Well done!" (11.02.07, full transcript available on request).
The above is an extract from an email recieved last year, as you can infer it was written by one of the official guides who works for the Dartmoor National Park Authority. Legendary Dartmoor has been online for just over two years and I have recieved many such emails as can be seen from the Visitor's Book. Apart from the messages listed there I recieve many more emails from people seeking answers to various Dartmoor related questions which, wherever possible I always try to help. I have also had several emails asking why the official Dartmoor National Park Authority does not include a link to Legendary Dartmoor from their website, good question! In order to find out why I have sent three emails to them asking that very question and have never recieved the courtesy of a reply. So having tried the conventional route of communication and recieved no reply, I will now try the more public method and see if this has any better luck.
If you look at the, "About us", page on the Dartmoor National Park Authority's website - HERE, you will see that one of their mission statements reads as follows, "The statutory purposes of National Parks as stated in the Environment Act, 1995 are ... "to promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of the National Parks by the public" Have I totally lost the plot or does this website in some small way not provide an opportunity to enhance the, "understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of the", Dartmoor National Park?
Firstly, I will say that this is not a case of, "sour grapes", I do not need a link on the official Dartmoor National Park Authority's website. Currently Legendary Dartmoor is attracting well over 1,000 hits a day and is continually ranked 5 - 7th in a Google search for the word, "Dartmoor", the site statistics can be seen HERE. Which incidentally is usually 4 - 6 rankings below the official DNPA website so I am not trying to attract visitors to this website via a link.
Ok, so what is the purpose of this page? Simple, just to draw attention to the typical attitude of the Dartmoor National Park Authority and get some 'official' recognition of this website. As can be seen from the links page there are a whole host of Dartmoor related websites which presumably are intended to provide information for anybody visiting Dartmoor? In which case does Legendary Dartmoor fit into this category? How much more use is this website to the average Dartmoor visitor than say the NFU, a Slope Soaring Club or the South Devon Healthcare Trust?
Recently I visited the Peak District and whilst there called into their visitor's centre in Backwell and got into a conversation with one of their guides. The topic of Dartmoor came up and I mentioned that I run this site, amazingly the guide had seen Legendary Dartmoor and commented how he wished there was such a site for the Peak District.
As far as I know there is no abusive language within these pages or unsuitable images, wherever possible any information is fully referenced to the Harvard standard and to the best of my knowledge correct. There are currently 563 pages of which 553 are directly related to Dartmoor and 10 out of area pages. So I would assume that the site content cannot be an issue? That means one of several things, somebody has an issue with the actual website, somebody has an issue with me or the DNPA's Information Technology department can't be bothered to regularly check and update their links page. Strangely enough there is at least one dead link currently sitting on their website which would suggest a lack of something?
I can easily accept that nobody asked me to compile this website and it was therefore of my own choosing, I will readily admit that I get more pleasure out of compiling the pages than any person would visiting them. But nevertheless there has been a lot of time, effort and expense gone into Legendary Dartmoor for which a simple link is but small recompense.
But here is the dilemma, whilst there is no better place on earth to visit than Dartmoor it now involves a round trip of 200+ miles for me to get there. Diesel is now £1.11p a litre which in old money equates out to £4.99p a gallon, this in turn means a minimum fuel cost of £25.58p per visit. On average the journey takes about 2 hours there and 2 hours back which during the winter only allows for 8 hours 'moor time'. Now, again nobody has asked me to do it and I have no problem with paying the costs, it's my choice. However, there are just as many fascinating aspects to Monmouthshire and in some cases many more which is local to where I now live. In addition I have been approached to look into the possibility of building a similar website as this for the area with the added bonus of some funding. It would mean far less travelling, a greater and easier access to local libraries, record offices, more utilisation of time and a source of expert knowledge in the form of University scholars. It seems that across the border people are keener to see their area promoted.
So, for anybody who thinks this is a case of 'teddy out of the pram' about such a trivial thing as a website link you are probably right. On the other hand there is a matter of what I have always been told will be the death of me - principal. I know only too well that this website makes no difference to the number of people visiting Dartmoor but unless I have wasted many, many hours I would like to think it provides some easily accessible information to enhance those visits??? Clearly the DNPA's own guides seem to think it helps them. Does that not merit some 'official' recognition on the links page of the Dartmoor National Park Authority's website?
Having read this article I would now ask of you one of two things, if you think I am totally barking and up the wrong tree please send me your views - HERE. If on the other hand you think there is a point to what I say please send your views to the DNPA - HERE. I thank you for your indulgence.
I have recieved an email from a visitor who sent their views to the Dartmoor National Park and in return recieved the following reply:
“Thank you for your comments on the DNPA website. It is our policy only to link to sites that contain information that is specifically relevant to the Dartmoor National Park, where the content supports National Park purposes, and is of a non-commercial nature. I'm sure you'll understand that if we were to host links to every website for which we received a request we would end up with a very long list which would be difficult, if not impossible, to manage on an ongoing basis.”.
From that it can be assumed that according to Jo Miller this website does not, "contain information that is specifically relevant to the Dartmoor National Park". In that case I humbly apologise to every visitor that has ever entered the portals of Legendary Dartmoor for misleading them. In my defence, I was under the assumption that every page was relevant to Dartmoor but clearly they are not and so must pertain to some other illusionary land that looks similar to Dartmoor. The hundreds of books used in the research of this site were written by authors also under the same illusion and the numerous photographs are just optical illusions. In essence I have wasted countless hours writing about a fictitious place and would have been better off writing fairy stories. Come off it, there is no question that the information within these pages is not specifically relevant to the Dartmoor National Park!
The Dartmoor National Park only links to sites, "where the content supports National Park purposes", fine, again refer to their own website and see the following:
The statutory purposes of National Parks as stated in the Environment Act, 1995 are: to conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the National Parks. to promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of the National Parks by the public.
Well I will concede that this website does nothing to, "conserve and enhance the beauty and wildlife", of Dartmoor but I would suggest by simply recording many of the folklore and traditions of the moor this website is conserving the cultural heritage. As stated above it does promote opportunities for the, "understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities", of Dartmoor.
Lastly we come to the question of whether this site is commercial or non-commercial, granted for the past five months I have placed some Google adverts on every page. On average these earn me $2 a day which roughly equates out to £1 or £365 a year and I would like to meet the person who would classify that as a commercial venture.
I would therefore argue that in each qualifying factor for being 'officially' recognised with a link Legendary Dartmoor ticks every box. So, I have now written directly to Dr. Bishop the Chief Executive of the Dartmoor National Park but I shall not hold my breath:
Actually, I do beg their pardon, after writing a letter on the 11th of February I finally recieved a reply on the 19th of March. The basic run of the letter was that this page is regarded as being, 'extremely unhelpful' and that in order to get a link the page must be removed from the website. Secondly, there is an issue with the two graphics on the home page of this site, despite hand drawing the two ponies it appears they are causing copyright issues as they are too near the present DNPA logo. Fair enough, I have now changed them but I think I will carry on being, 'extremely unhelpful' and leave this page up thus forfeiting any link.