Just a week into nominations for the Cringely (NOT in Silicon Valley) Startup Tour we have 200 companies signed up to vie for the 24 positions. My hope to reach 600 in eight weeks, then, is very possible if I keep up the pressure and perhaps define the rules a little better. That’s what this column is for.

Non-U. S. companies are out. We’ve had a few Canadian companies enquire and one even claimed to be from Vancouver, WA instead of Vancouver, BC. No, that won’t do. This is a U. S. competition, but that doesn’t mean the next season won’t be international. In fact I can almost guarantee it will be.

Remember this is for TV as well as for the web so I might use a Canadian company or two as examples of how things are different for startups than in the U. S. but the 24 finalists will all be companies whose intergalactic headquarters are in the U. S.

While foreign startups are out of the running this time, companies based in Silicon Valley and other tech hotbeds definite are not disqualified.  I know this seems to go against the spirit of the competition, but I want the best startups I can find and if a few of those are San Jose or Boston that’s okay. My kids have never been to Boston.

Next, I’m sorry you don’t like the web site, but pouting doesn’t help, either, and it’s simply not attractive. We’re making changes to improve the site daily so let’s concentrate more on the potential of this competition and less on your personal disdain for certain kinds of javascript.

No multiple submissions! Before you nominate a company look to see if it is already there. And submitting in multiple categories won’t help, either, so stop it.

Now about those categories, I came up with the original six but there have been suggestions that maybe I’m being too strict, that perhaps there should be an education category and possibly one for finance. I am open to these changes, but only if there is real demand, so speak up in the comments section for this post.

Finally, there are some companies that want to nominate themselves but they are still in stealth mode and feel they dare not. Here’s what I suggest for you guys. if you believe your company is something really special and if you are fairly confident that you will be out of stealth mode six months from now (next September-October when the TV series starts to air) then contact me directly at bob@cringely.com and maybe we can still do something together.

I am willing to sign NDAs and will keep your grubby secrets until next fall. But you have to understand that each company I visit costs me about $20,000, so if you are going to change your mind about publicity next fall then let’s just forget it.

There’s always another startup.