Barnabas founder says COGs to blame for missing links
By Mac Overton
The proprietor of the Churches of God's largest site on the World Wide Web of the Internet is a little riled at some of his fellow Web-site hosts. Alan Ruth, who operates Barnabas Ministries at www.biblestudy.org, is peeved that Web users who want him to link to their sites are reluctant to reciprocate by linking back to his.
Mr. Ruth maintains the largest Sabbatarian Church of God site on the Internet from his home in Farmington Hills, Mich. (See "Barnabas Hires Helpers to Expand Largest Web Site," The Journal, May 31.)
He's glad to provide what he considers a major ministry of service to the scattered brethren of the Churches of God. But he gets a little miffed when other Sabbatarian groups who want him to link his Web site to theirs think they don't need to reciprocate.
(For the benefit of unwired Journal readers: A link is a small area of a "page," or computer screenful of information, broadcast from a Web site. A link can be a line of text or a graphic element that, when clicked on with a mouse pointer, causes another page to appear on the screen. The new page can be a page on the same Web site or another. The links mentioned in this article refer to connections to other Web sites.)
Mr. Ruth's site received about 22,000 "hits" (visits to a Web site's individual pages or internal links) in May. However, hits alone are not an accurate indicator of the number of people visiting a site, he says.
For example, if a visitor downloads an article and three pictures during the same visit, his activities will register as four separate hits.
Two more-significant counts, he says, are visitors and page views. Based on those criteria, Barnabas Ministries garnered an average of 850 visitors a day, with about 2,000 page views per day. This means that the average visitor looks at about three pages when visiting www.biblestudy.org.
Mr. Ruth says he is careful to provide extensive statistics about his site because "in the Churches of God we were notorious for manipulating statistics."
By the end of May 2000 his site had received more traffic than in all of 1999.
"Last year 67 gigabytes [67 billion characters] of material was downloaded," he said. "By the end of May this year 73 gigabytes had been downloaded."
Mr. Ruth said that, with a few exceptions including The Journal's Web site, other sites who want to link to his do not reciprocate. An extreme example, he said, is longtime Church of God elder Garner Ted Armstrong, founder of the Intercontinental Church of God and the Garner Ted Armstrong Evangelistic Association, both based near Tyler, Texas. Mr. Armstrong, says Mr. Ruth, "doesn't link to anybody."
Also, Mr. Ruth said that 18 months ago he received a request from personnel from the Church of God International, also based near Tyler, to link to his site. He said he responded that he would be glad to link if they would reciprocate and offer a link back to www.biblestudy.org.
"After that I never heard one word back from them," he said.
He said his experience has been similar with several other groups.
Some make the excuse, he said, that they disagree with something that might be available on Mr. Ruth's site.
"I look at whether the majority of information is of God," he said. "I don't link to Baptists, to Roman Catholics. If they break their link to my site, it is because they are ashamed of God."
He said some sites that don't wish to reciprocate attract more visitors via the link to his site than they attract directly to their site. In contrast, few people visit his site through links from other sites.
"It's one-sided, but, hey, if they don't want referrals I remove them from my link. It's a weak excuse to say that they don't want to link to me because there may be some small items on some of the links they don't agree with."
He cited as another example a link he formerly maintained with the Church of God Eternal's Web site. After longtime CGE elder Bryce Clark left that fellowship, Mr. Ruth received a letter from the CGE directing him to drop all links to the CGE's site and cease publishing literature from that organization.
Mr. Ruth said he does link up to Mr. Clark's new fellowship, the Bethel Church of God of Eugene, Ore.
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