IllumiRate / About Us

About Our Website


History of Our Site

HotRate Beta Logo.

Welcome to the Illumirate directory. We have been online since 2003, when our directory was launched from the former Hotrate directory, a search and directory service which was founded by Frank Martens back in 1999.

Hotrate grew with a $5 sign-up bonus & a multi-level commission structure where users were paid for adding sites & sharing their opinions. In spite of only paying users 5 cents per suggested website, that model was unsustainable. The math behind the multi-tiered commission structure also left something to be desired.

Hotrate Payment Schedule.


When we re-branded, we had to drop the commission structure, as the bubble had burst & online ad revenues had not come roaring back yet. Our directory shifted to a volunteer-driven operation. We still allowed editor ratings & reviews to add feedback on individual listings, but we eventually moved away from the volunteer editor-driven model for a variety of reasons.

  • Being a broad-based directory made it hard to have enough exposure on our specific topic level pages for the ratings to contribute a meaningful signal beyond what editorial selection provided. A well-liked business might get 5 or 10 comments, whereas a top selling product on might get thousands of ratings and reviews. Our new directory management script allows us to manually select a featured "best" listing in each category, which we can manually set at the top of the category listings & our team can spend additional time which was spent on other rating features to further expanding our directory.
  • Many initial editors chose to participate based on payment. Once payments went away we had many inactive editors.
  • While the web had somewhat altruistic roots, over time as the web grew more commercial volunteer run directories had increasing amounts of adversarial behaviors to deal with. Not only were there attempts to manipulate reviews & ratings, but we also had volunteers accepting payment for submissions, or approving sites & then placing deceptive ads or even malware on them making them unusable. Weeding out the worst offenders was easy, but there is a lot of gray area that was a chore to deal with.
  • Many of the quirky & smaller websites have been driven offline due to industry consolidation & users spending more of their time on broad general social media sites rather than niche topical blogs & forums. This meant a lot of the work in running a directory shifted away from finding great new sites to instead dealing with link rot & updating dozens of broken links per day.

After a database corruption error and frustrations with the old system we decided to rebuild our index from scratch. We have added over 5,000 active listings to our directory & our goal is to broaden our catalog to somewhere between 20,000 & 50,000 listings. Once we have strong coverage against most topics, we will work on improving our internal directory script to enhance search features & perhaps work on exploring ways to crawl the content of listed sites or partner with an external search engine to further improve our index-depth, relevancy & precision. If you know of a great website which is missing from our index, please submit it to the most relevant category & we will promptly add it.


Submitting a Site for Consideration

There are millions of websites online and over a hundred million registered domains. It is hard to create a hand-crafted directory which is comprehensive and keep up with the associated churn, so we prefer to list sites which

  • are unique,
  • add value to the web,
  • provide a great user experience, &
  • are likely to stay online for years to come.

Submitting a site to our directory is free, but we reject the vast majority of user submissions. There are many reasons a site may be rejected, but some common reasons are...

  • submitting to the wrong category
  • overly promotional listing description
  • submitting a list of keywords, rather than the website or business name
  • writing in first or second person rather than third person
  • website is broken or incomplete
  • website does not have significant English-language content
  • website does not appear trustworthy
  • ad heavy website
  • lack of unique voice
  • lack of value add
  • poor usability
  • ad-heavy or otherwise distracting design
  • CrAzY CaPiTaLiZaTiOn, combined with word word repetition bad grammar run on sentences poor speling and CAPS-LOCK EXCLAMATIONS!!!!
  • websites promoting illegal activities
  • pornography, hate-driven or other offensive types of content which would be hard to classify as family-friendly

Example Rejections

Every day we reject dozens of submissions. Here are a couple recent examples

Rejected Listings.


What was wrong with them?

  • Both submissions were to the wrong category, having submitted to categories which are too broad.
  • The first submission uses capitalization arbitrarily throughout the description.
  • The second submission is a deep link to a commercially-oriented page, uses a keyword instead of the business name as the title & used a repetitive nonsensical description.

Those sorts of listings are easy to reject without even visiting the site, as the person doing the submission did not even attempt to follow our basic guidelines.

Adding Our Badge

We only approve high-quality websites in our directory. If we have listed your site, you may any of the following badges to indicate we included your site & believe you operate a great website.




Illumirate badge.
IllumiRate Badge.
IllumiRate Badge.

Protecting Your Privacy

Our site uses a web analytics service named Clicky to track user engagement, but outside of that we generally don't track users in any way unless they contact us or attempt to contribute to our directory. We do not carry advertisements on our site & we do not sell user data to advertisers. We recommend using ad blockers while you surf the web to keep yourself safe!


When a user submits a site or suggests a new category, we require them to share their email address so we can communicate with them to inform them of their listing status. We do not send any emails beyond informing users of their listing status. Over 99% of user submissions are spam. To make spam management more reasonable while still allowing free submissions, we have a suite of administrative tools to search through user submission footprints like IP address & email address so we may expediently process good listings while quickly dealing with spammers.


If we decide to include advertisements on our site in the future, or to change our service in any way that has user privacy implications, we will update this page to reflect.

Have Questions? Comments? Concerns? Feedback? Other?

Send us an email at editor@ our domain name. If you are interested in purchasing this site, it is not for sale. If you have questions about a submission which was rejected you are welcome to resubmit, however it is worth reading the above list before resubmitting again. Those who repeatedly display an inability to read will be banned!


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