Delicate Arch Arches National Park Utah
Photograph ©2020 by Brian Cohen.

Thank You For 15 Years: The State of The Gate 2021

Wow. Has it really been 15 years?!?

As of 15 years ago today on Friday, August 18, 2006 at 8:33 in the evening Eastern Daylight Time, The Gate was unofficially launched with this article pertaining to liquids and gels — and what is allowed to be carried aboard an airplane and what is not allowed.

Where have the years gone?!?

I thought I would touch upon what changes have occurred within the past year at The Gate with this article — as well as about what I am thinking for the future.

Thank You For 15 Years: The State of The Gate 2021

Riga Latvia
Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

Since the last State of The Gate article was posted one year ago, more all-time records pertaining to readership and views were shattered at The Gate

…and The Gate is still weathering the 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic, as I do not plan to stop writing for it anytime soon. Even though I have had more time to finally tackle some trip reports and reviews from trips which I have taken over the past seven years and intend to post articles pertaining to them, I am still sifting through literally thousands of photographs and numerous videos — but I have started to post them; and more on that later in this article.

A New Theme For The Gate

Bryce Canyon National Park Utah
Photograph ©2020 by Brian Cohen.

Primarily because the entity which was responsible for the creation of the prior theme — which was used for almost seven years by The Gate — no longer supported it, a new theme for The Gate was finally implemented live on the evening of Friday, July 30, 2021 with a refreshed layout and design.

I wanted a theme which highlighted my photography over the years — especially as I estimate that at least 85 percent of the photographs which are used at The Gate are taken by me. Many other weblogs — including at BoardingArea — use stock photography or its equivalent. For me, my photography is original content which helps The Gate stand out against any other weblog.

The new theme has inspired me to the point where I have finally started to post my trip reports and reviews — which are now called experiences — as well as a new feature called Sunday Morning Photograph, which is a new series of short articles where I highlight at least one photograph that I have taken over the years to which you can relax and enjoy at your leisure on your Sunday morning.

Despite a lengthy period of testing, bugs and minor glitches are still being worked out with this new theme.

Otherwise, I have been very happy and satisfied overall with the now current theme for The Gate.

Of course, comments and suggestions are always welcomed.

Comments Section Remains Open With Virtually No Moderation

Bogotá Colombia
Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

Despite the fact that some readers of The Gate post comments which are so unnecessarily vile that they can be analogized to defecating in my own living room after inviting them to dinner, the Comments section of The Gate will remain open to all readers who want to post whatever is on his or her — or your — mind…

…especially as an increasing number of weblogs, mainstream media outlets, social media sites, and other entities worldwide are significantly restricting the basic right of freedom of speech. Sometimes I will visit one of them and wonder why their Comments section is not riddled with comments which criticize what is written — until I realize that they are moderated; and some of them are moderated substantially.

I often learn from your comments — especially when you call me out on an error which was committed by me. I have no problem apologizing and owning up to my mistakes.

After all, I am only human.

Anyway, I believe that you should express whatever is on your mind — and I intend to keep the Comments section open for as long as The Gate exists.

Besides — if someone is taking the time to leave a vile comment for me at The Gate, then he or she is leaving someone else alone…

Itinerary and Main Guide Articles

Hippopotamus Safari Kenya
Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

A series of itinerary and master guide articles was launched two years ago and contain links to separate articles pertaining to particular destinations as part of an effort to better organize The Gate. They will also double as an impetus — and a reminder — for the remainder of unwritten articles to be written. Each itinerary and master guide article is a work in progress and will be completed once all of the articles have been written and posted.

The first of the itinerary and main guide articles was posted two years ago today; and it pertains to Easter IslandIceland and the Rocky Mountains of Canada have been since added as well — and newer articles pertaining to Easter Island have been added since. Among the many destinations to be included in this series in the future are Kenya, Morocco, Andorra, Oman, Chile, South Africa, Luxembourg, Egypt, and Poland.

Consolidated Article of Itinerary and Main Guide Articles

An item is part of the main menu of The Gate which will include links to all of the aforementioned itinerary and master guide articles for a quicker search of the trip reports and reviews of many destinations to which I have been.

In the meantime, you can access the consolidated article — which is a work in progress — here.

Top 100 Articles of 2021

New York
Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

I have updated the list of the top 100 articles in terms of readership over the past six years at The Gate as a point of reference out of the almost 9,500 articles which I personally have written — and that does not include articles which were written by other authors; but that does include the hundreds of articles which resided at FlyerTalk…

…and speaking of FlyerTalk, the hundreds of articles which resided at FlyerTalk from Wednesday, May 4, 2011 through Thursday, July 31, 2014 had finally been reunited here at The Gate last year; and The Gate is once again whole. The formatting and photography have already been changed in some of the articles — and that will continue slowly when time permits.

By the way, the top article for the past five years has finally been unseated. Find out which article is now the most popular

YouTube Channel

The Gate has an official channel on YouTube, which was launched in 2017; and seven videos were added over the past year in addition to the 35 videos which were already there, for a total of 42 videos at the time this article was written.

I have more videos on deck — including more from my trip to Iceland in 2018 — and although it still needs to be tweaked, I have a custom instrumental jingle of sorts already created for videos for The Gate.

Video interviews with guests are also still being considered to be added.

With little advertising, I am rather pleased and encouraged that some of the videos received as many views as they have; so I plan to further increase the presence of the YouTube channel through articles posted at The Gate.

Affiliate Links

I view income derived from affiliate links as gravy and not mandatory income. If I do not earn anything from affiliate links, I am no worse off than I was before — but if I do earn income from them, it is a nice surprise for which I am thankful…

…but that income was significantly impacted in a negative manner primarily due to the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic — especially as many companies have either stalled or discontinued their participation in affiliate programs in general; and I am uncertain at this time as to whether that is on a temporary basis or permanent basis.

Regardless — with the exception of a few basically constructive comments which might add up to the number of fingers on one hand — you have not complained since affiliate links were added to The Gate effective as of Sunday, January 1, 2017. In fact, you have been supporting the affiliate links — and I greatly appreciate that. I would like to attribute that to the thought that I am doing something right.

“As you may already know, credit card and affiliate links have never appeared during the entire history of ten years at The Gate; and that is by design, as I do not like them. Articles are not sponsored by a company; and of the extremely rare times — think fewer than the fingers on one hand — in ten years where a company will pay for my expenses, I ensure that I am absolutely clear that that does not sway my opinions and that I will remain completely honest about what I write.”

I still hold myself to the following parameters when including affiliate links in an article:

  • Ensure that the affiliate links are of interest to you and beneficial to you
  • Do not try to actively attempt to sell anything to you — keep the affiliate links as passive as possible while informing that they are being used in the article
  • Whether or not the article contains affiliate links, simply report information with articles as unbiased as possible, as I always have strived to do
  • Include constructive criticism in the article despite it having affiliate links — if an advertiser does not appreciate that my criticism can actually be helpful, that advertiser is free to discontinue its affiliate relationship with The Gate

The Gate Marketplace: A Work in Progress

Durban South Africa
Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Although a marketplace has been created in an area of The Gate which will not interfere with your reading of articles, that project has stalled primarily due to the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic. That marketplace will eventually not only include affiliate links to the services and products you already use — such as lodging, airfares, rental cars, and airport parking — but they will also include links to current sales.

I also plan on eventually adding merchandise — although supply chains have been temporarily affected by the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic. One example will be merchandise which displays photographs taken by me from various travels, as I am constantly approached by people wanting to either use or purchase those photographs.

Access to The Gate Marketplace is here. You can also access The Gate Marketplace through the main menu of The Gate.

Twitter and…ugh…Facebook

The Gate has both an official Twitter account and a Facebook account, so please be sure to follow both of them.

Audio Program

Audio Technica bulky noise canceling headphones
Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

Although it is still not yet a reality, I still intend to launch an audio program to supplement The Gate. I have always wanted to have a radio program; and technology has presented several ways of creating that possibility.

In addition to the aforementioned video interviews, I am also now thinking of also including audio interviews with various guests.

I do not like to use the term podcast; but more of them are appearing at BoardingArea — so why not?

Original Sources For Articles

Palace Seoul South Korea
Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Keeping my promise to access original sources to as many articles as possible for the most accurate information possible, I decided in 2018 to expend some extra effort in finding the original source of information for each article which I write. For issues dealing with the federal government of the United States, I search from information from the official Internet web site of the appropriate agency. For weather updates used for travel alerts, I use meteorological sources — such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the Department of Commerce of the United States for radar information and data. For articles related to points and miles, I attempt to get the information directly from the frequent travel loyalty program…

…and for articles related to the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic, I have used what are supposed to be widely considered as trusted and reliable sources — such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, and the Journal of the American Medical Association as three examples of those sources, as I firmly believe that most of the media in general has been significantly irresponsible in reporting on the pandemic, using blatant sensationalism to constantly interject fear into the general population.

Those are only four of numerous examples of using better sources for information posted in articles at The Gate — and the information provided in articles written for The Gate in general does seem to be more accurate as a result.

When applicable, I will also credit where I first found out about the information.

Fewer Regurgitated News Stories

Chilean Andes
Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

I continue to resist regurgitating most news stories because they usually do not affect you in terms of your travels, earning elite level status, saving you money, or collecting and redeeming frequent travel loyalty program miles and points.

The purpose of The Gate when it was first launched was to be the official weblog of FlyerTalk — which it was for eight years. Although I enjoyed finding discussions posted on FlyerTalk worthy of an article — and I still do occasionally do that today — when The Gate returned to BoardingArea on Friday, August 1, 2014, I wanted for it to be more of my “voice” and not reliant on FlyerTalk for information…

…but one of the types of articles I continued to do were news stories which already existed elsewhere because they seemed to interest readers. I wanted to report more on my travels and experiences and increase the amount of original content at The Gate — not simply regurgitate news stories which other people have reported — so I quietly phased out many of those articles. I will still write articles on certain news stories if I can add enough of my own thoughts or if the information can potentially be helpful to you — or if I already reported on a story in the past and an update to it is available. Promiscuous drunk naked women getting thrown off airplanes is a sure-fire way to get “clicks” and “views” which do help to increase my clicks, views, and income — but I realized that that is not how I want readers to remember the content I post.

As with eschewing pushing credit card affiliate links, I may be leaving a significant amount of money on the table with this policy — but I believe that the content which I have posted has generally improved.

I will always be the first to admit that the content which I write can always be improved; so please tell me about what you would like to read. I am always open to constructive criticism and civil discourse.

Still Keeping “Click Bait” in Check

Shanghai China
Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

I continue to attempt to avoid “click-bait” headlines as much as possible — although I am not always successful. I dislike click bait as much as the next person; but I still attempt to consciously avoid it.

A fine line exists between a catchy headline and click bait — but there is one major difference between the two, in my humble opinion: the content of an article supports the catchy headline with information which is intended to satisfy the curiosity of a reader; whereas the content of of an article whose information significantly falls short of the headline which attracted the reader in the first place renders the headline as merely click bait.

I still occasionally am accused of writing click bait for headlines — but I strive to ensure that the content of each article speaks for itself and supports the headlines in question. I would like to think that further improvement has occurred during the past year.

Final Boarding Call

“As for The Gate, I never did quite figure out how to celebrate its tenth anniversary. Although I am proud of that achievement, I ironically am not a stickler for when to celebrate anything — contrary to the purpose of posting this article. I have celebrated my birthday two months after the fact. I partook in Thanksgiving one year during the summer instead of in November. When the time is right for me, I intend to celebrate ten years of the existence of The Gate.”

That paragraph is an excerpt from this article pertaining to what is the first official article written for The Gate once it became available to the public…

…and yet — before I knew it — yet another year has passed. I never did get to celebrate ten years of the existence of The Gate, as August 2021 marks its fifteenth anniversary.

Once again, I am asking a simple favor: I want to increase readership and interest in The Gate in order to allow me to travel even more and bring you articles of trip reports, reviews and experiences from around the world. Although subscribing to the free newsletter of The Gate is one way you can help, I would rather grow readership organically based on the quality of the content of the articles I write. What topics would you like to see me cover in future articles? About what topics should I avoid writing? Where would you like to see me travel next? In addition to the channel on YouTube, should I dabble more in multimedia, such as audio and video reports in addition to written articles? What interests you the most that you rarely or never see at other weblogs? What keeps you coming back as a reader of The Gate?

I am hopeful that the first 15 years of The Gate is only the beginning for bigger and better things to come…

…but in the meantime — as I say every year — thank you so much once again for your support. Mere words cannot ever convey my expression of gratitude, as I am grateful to you — more than you will ever know — for without you, there would be no The Gate

…and I hope that you are weathering the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic as best as possible. May the remainder of the year 2021 only get better for you from here on in — and please let me know if there is some way in which I can possibly be of assistance here at The Gate.

All photographs ©2015, ©2016, ©2019, and ©2020 by Brian Cohen.

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