The Miner Accountant
C onventional Internet search engines are nothing if not complete. Type in accounting and you might get anywhere from 10,000 to 3 million possible Web sites, often in no discernible order. It would be great to have an assistantparticularly another CPA who knows what you're looking forto wade through the ocean of data for you. One CPA has volunteered for the job.
Robbie Milford, CPA, was formerly in public practice in Kentucky and is now a controller for a company in Sarasota, Florida. I'd been involved in the Internet for about two and one-half years and had created some Web sites for clients when I came across a new search engine called the Mining Co. The company was looking for someone to help organize an accounting section, so I signed up. The Mining Co.'s motto is We mine the Net so you don't have to, and that's what he and his colleagues at Mining Co. do. Milford spends about 10 to 20 hours a week searching for sites to add to Mining Co.'s accounting list. The company makes its money by selling advertising, and Milford and the other guides receive a percentage of the ad revenues, based on how many visitors come to their sections. The accounting site is still new, but already it receives about 100 to 150 visitors a day. I was surprised how quickly the numbers picked up, and my goal is to increase them even more.
A new approach
Mining Co.'s use of people rather than software to find sites is unusual. The constantly expanding list of links reflects one person's intelligent view rather than a machine's guess based on programmed rules. Milford has categories such as auditing, cost accounting, financial accounting, journals and publications, software and seminars/ conferences. A download section has links to an AICPA CPE demo, patches for Office 97 and the entire Tax Relief Act of 1997. The technology section includes links to AICPA testimony on WebTrust, a document on e-cash from Ernst & Young and help on Y2K. I search using conventional search engines and see what I get. I ignore what isn't useful and post the pertinent sites.
The Web community as a whole is also helping. Web users are e-mailing me suggestions of sites they like and usethey're doing my work for me. In the next few months, I expect to have two to three times as many links as I do now.
More than links
Milford adds brief descriptions to each link. Additionally, he writes articles on accounting issues, which are posted on the accounting site's opening page. Topics covered include the future of the profession and reflections on leaving public accounting to take a position in business and industry. Milford invites suggested topics for future articles and has also started a chat room for additional communication.