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DMOZ Founder Questions: Is DMOZ Down For The Count? Can It Re-emerge?
One of the DMOZ originators speaking out about the uncertain future of the ODP

 9:22 pm on Dec 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

System: The following 2 messages were cut out of thread at: http://www.webmasterworld.com/directories/3171321.htm [webmasterworld.com] by webwork - 10:15 pm on Dec. 17, 2006 (utc -5)

unless they loss all their data or applications

According to Rich Skrenta, one of the DMOZ founders, that's exactly what happened. Server crashed, no backups and "during unsuccessful attempts to restore some of the lost data, ops blew away the rest of the existing data on the system." He thinks that they're currently trying to recover stuff from the last RDF dump.

He doesn't hold out much hope for DMOZ's survival under AOL and sounds pretty glum for its continued existence at all.

[Heads up, Webwork, link drop to somebody elses personal blog on the way, though I do think it can be considered somewhat authoritative ;-)]

Rick Skrenta: RIP DMOZ 1998-2006 [skrenta.com]



 7:23 am on Dec 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

It's riddled with problems and not worth anything to anyone...

It served its purpose, but it's time to move on...

In which case there's a great opportunity for someone to build a directory to take DMOZ's place. We don't have to shut down DMOZ before we work on its replacement, right? What are we all waiting for?

Oh wait, we already have enough pay-for-inclusion and MFA directories, don't we? :-)


 12:15 pm on Dec 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

I'd be up for buying DMOZ! I wanted to LookSmart but they slipped through my fingers.


We could buy it and turn it into a co-op... Which leads my nicely onto google co-op which i guess they'd prefer to push than dmoz.

Anyway, who've I gotta to contact about buying dmoz?


 12:22 pm on Dec 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

I understand why a big player would not want to take it on and I think paid for inclusion would not work, but I can't see any reason why it could survive on it's own with some adsense ads to the right of the listings!

I am suprised Google hasn't done anything though.

[edited by: ukDevelopments at 12:23 pm (utc) on Dec. 20, 2006]


 12:22 pm on Dec 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

snookie ..I'll take cash or money order ..delivery after it clears ..

where would you like the data sent :)

adsense on the DMOZ pages would be against the TOS of both adsense and DMOZ

and why is adsense always seen as the answer to everything nowadays ..next thing someone will suggest we just slap it on the clouds to monetize global warming..:o

[edited by: Leosghost at 12:25 pm (utc) on Dec. 20, 2006]


 1:16 pm on Dec 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

I can't see any reason why it could survive on it's own with some adsense ads to the right of the listings!

Who needs AdSense - I'd pay for the hosting myself for a handful of text links on the homepage. I'm not kidding - sticky me for details ;-)


 3:03 pm on Dec 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

You're a sly man Leosghost but you've "misunderestimated me"...


The extra data that they have: contacts etc... is worth something.


 3:35 pm on Dec 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

The extra data that they have(...)

Bad news: it looks like they lost most of their extra data in the disaster :-(


 4:42 pm on Dec 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

I would hate to see DMOZ go.

Someone (Google or MSN) should buy it out and invest time to

Firstly clear out all the waste
Secondly pay professional editors (who have to go on a training course before they can start editing) a fixed rate per site reviewed. I think it would then get users coming back to it. (Say $50 per review and a max of 10 sites per day.)

Charge a submission fee of $100. Sorted.

I say Google or MSN only because the ownership of the search facility landscape is shrinking all the time.


 5:31 pm on Dec 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

Dealing with those editors...

You don't have to deal with them, it's enitrely up to you. Personally, I don't pay too much attention to DMOZ at all. Submit it, forget it.

But, back on topic as to the future of DMOZ.

I can't really understand all the comments about any commercial SE taking it over and monetizing it to any extent. There would be problem conforming to its original charter and, I assume, with the social contract.

And I think that the SEs, especially Google, really want an arms length relationship with DMOZ. Google takes enough heat from webmasters as it is. Would it really want to assume the blasts that are continually hurled at DMOZ?

Folks already complain about Google's virtual monopoly in search. How much more loudly would they complain if Google administered the Directory and a submission was not approved?

I'd say leave well enough alone. The editors appear to think that things, for the most part, are working the way they should. Hopefully the AOL Ops folks will take away a couple of lessons learned from this last inicident to at least avoid any future embarrasment.


 5:39 pm on Dec 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

AOL is probably apathetic. They have the resources to do enterprise-level backups/disaster recovery. They didn't take those measures with DMOZ because it doesn't make money. If they lose the data, they aren't losing that much -- and they probably aren't going to devote more resources to DMOZ, given they have other projects that are far more important.

Most people outside the SEO / geek crowd haven't heard of DMOZ. They may have benefited from the results, as some of the major players utilize them but that's about it. That's why there hasnt been any major press about this in some of the big newspapers/journals.


 4:09 am on Dec 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Dmoz was used by thousands of search engines but api from google and yahoo sure to effect this. I think Warner may have thought it a way to search the net which it isn't and there beta search that I suspect was based on dmoz listings compared to google results proved disastarious on AOL, this wasn't down to dmoz it was down to poor implementation of results. I think we must assume the merger with Warner was not a merger but infact a take over.

The only way DMOZ would die is if a media company (Warner) not internet company like AOL were running the show. AOL wouldn't let it die, lets remember they were the ones that took on netscape.

I was expecting big things from AOLWarner, now it just looks like there in a complete mess.


 6:26 pm on Dec 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

>I think Warner may have thought it a way to search the net which it isn't...

I don't think Warner had, has, or ever will have a clue. They were bought out by AOL. But it doesn't matter what Warner thinks. For all practical purposes still remains a separate division. And the ODP is supported by the Netscape Search group. As is typical in a large corporation, a project can remain active so long as its group sees value in it, and the corporation sees value in its group. Upper management can't, needn't, and won't understand the technical details.


 3:10 am on Dec 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

The point here is can it re-emerge? The answer is yes, sure it can. But even if it does it will never be the same. This event is the wake up call for Google. They are a multi-billion dollar company and they can no longer rely on DMoz - this is embarassing.

When Google moves on (and they will) then DMoz is dead. Everyone will want to be in Google's new directory because the quality will be MUCH higher. And the day of kissing up to editors will be over.

Geocities has 98,000 listings - does that make any sense at all? You or I can be experts on a topic but we can only get one listing - no exceptions! Umm, except for Wikipedia they've got 7,500 brand new ones. I guess rules are made to be broken and that's a big problem at DMoz.


 4:53 am on Dec 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

I think DMOZ is a good directory but not better than the Yahoo Directory. Dmoz, from my experience, is mostly people who only care about their interests (sites). It is kind of like giving the prom queen say on what her favorite players are instead of using the real stats. If someone wants their site listed somewhere make sure its a quality site and put it in the Yahoo directory. Google should use Yahoo's directory or make their OWN directory. I think its great people volunteer for DMOZ but the paid editors can devote more time in directories like the yahoo directory.

What should AOL do with DMOZ? Put their search box for AOL on DMOZ and make some money for Time Warner. I am not sure why AOL has not monetized DMOZ yet. Just like I said months ago on here on Webmaster world.. I think AOL should monetize DMOZ or get rid of it. All it does is make way for lots of spam directory sites that duplicate the DMOZ database.



 5:04 am on Dec 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

I am not sure why AOL has not monetized DMOZ yet.

AOL have had a particularly difficult time monetizing things of late. Didn't a bunch of executives leave recently?

They really do need to bring on an entirely new breed of management, in my humble opinion. It seems to me that they are still using a many-year-old approach to the web, and as we know, the web is (one of) the most fluid industries there is. You can't use old approaches to new things.

[edited by: Chico_Loco at 5:05 am (utc) on Dec. 22, 2006]


 11:51 am on Dec 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

What legal world are you living in? Experience is in my head, and I can use whatever experience I gain volunteering for DMOZ any darn way I want.

Well I was an editor for a long time and the only experience I got was as a shrink into the minds of webmasters of all kinds, honest, corrupt, spammers, dreamers, clever, dumb, etc.

My comparison was to other open source projects. I've made a living from open source ever since the mid 90's with my knowledge.

DMOZ is simply not such a project where you can make a profit from the experience there. In "the legal world I live in" it is illegal to make a profit from privileged internal information of any kind, which is what you gather at DMOZ.


 9:07 pm on Dec 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

"Geocities has 98,000 listings - does that make any sense at all?"

Geocities hosts websites - it didn't develop the sites. These are 98,000 sites developed by 98,000 people - which works out to one listing per person.

I'm sure there are some people who developed two geocities sites that are listed - but, if one site is about dogs and one is about horses, both sites could be suggested. We're talking, in this instance, about unrelated topics. Dogs sites are listed in Recreation and horse sites are listed in Sports.

There are other exceptions to the one suggestion per website. Like if a site has a regional relevance and fits a topical category as well - it can be suggested to both its location and its topic. Or if a site is hand translated into a variety of languages - it can be suggested to all of the languages in World that it has been hand translated into (and English as well if it's in that language).


 9:36 pm on Dec 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

That is what DMOZ had become, a center for a number of well intentioned honest editors and a mass number of corrupt little dictators who did anything they wanted within a poorly thought hierarchic framework.

That is a very well put thought, could any DMOZ editor disagree with that?


 10:36 pm on Dec 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

It's essentially impossible to be a corrupt dictator WITHIN the ODP. Lots of corrupt webmasters obtained editing permissions by fraud and deceit, no doubt -- but what can they dictate? Not what anyone else does, only what they themselves do. And even there, a webmaster who tries to dictate what other editors shall think of his own site, is already poised over the ODP exit chute (if he has editing positions, that is.) Very few editors survive such an action: most either suicide or are removed fairly soon thereafter. And the community reverts their edits back to something which conforms to community standards.)

It's hard to imagine from the outside. But think of the worst landslide a notorious self-promoting spammer ever got in an external forum, from all the editors combined: that is mild compared to what a self-promoting spammer would get in the INTERNAL forums. There is simply zero tolerance for that.

That's one of the things I really really like about the ODP as a community: attempts at self-promotion or salesmanship or marketing are so consistently and thoroughly counterproductive.


 11:36 pm on Dec 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

>>It's hard to imagine from the outside.

You need to give us "outsiders" more credit than that... DMoz doesn't have a monopoly on intelligence or imagination.


 1:02 am on Dec 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

"Upper management can't, needn't, and won't understand the technical details."

Perhaps not however, upper management have had to cut back on staff costs and look at ways to improve revenue and group performance with increased return on investment for shareholders. EVERY aspect of its business opps MUST be looked at.

You many well be under estimating the board. If DMOZ "cant be seen or understood" it could be very quickly axed from the business. If you are servicing an ongoing liability within a business that needs to show improved performance someone will be accountable. Ive seen boards drop sections of a business because they dont contribute as higher margins as other areas do, let alone holding onto loss making areas!

One thing is certain. If i was a staff member that had been recently been made redundant i would certainly want to know why the company was investing into a loss making project area whilst cutting back on my area.

I still think that the project needs to be made financially viable someway if it is to continue and have any future. I dont see this as a negative thing, i think dmoz can be adjusted and its business model changed so that it contributes to AOL rather than remaining a financial liabilty - does that not make good business sense?


 6:55 pm on Dec 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

I know hutcheson didn't see the need to jump to his own defense, but it would take a lot more than what I saw above to convince me that he would ever overlook or disregard abuse. My experience is that he's one of the most dedicated, scrupulous and hard-working of the DMOZ bunch.


 3:29 am on Dec 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

I don't think anyone here is saying hutcheson is not an honest person. While I may not personally agree with him (at times) that doesn't mean I don't have a lot of respect for him and what they've accomplished at DMoz.

I'd describe him as "passionate" about DMoz to say the least. And quite frankly, if it ever went away (which I still think it will), he'd be one of the persons I'd want to help design the next generation of directories.


 8:35 am on Dec 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

I just can't recall the last time I used ODP/DMOZ. Except to see if any of my sites show up there (one has, but that's one I submitted five years ago).

ODP/DMOZ may be interesting, and useful to someone, but I don't know any end users who actually use it to find web sites. I've heard of "googling" for something on the web, but never "ODP'ing" for anything.

Search engines are the dominant game now. Directories occupy 15% of the petri dish, and are pretty much irrelevant, as far as I can see.

I suppose I could be way off base, though, because I'm not a typical user (but I know plenty of typical users, and none of them know what ODP is, nor have they ever used it directly)

And, I know that Google and others make use of the ODP data for their vestigal directories, but I can't see how that amounts to anything significant to an end user... because end users typically just go to google/yahoo/whatever and use the search box.


 10:56 pm on Dec 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

Coincidentally, I just got back from a vacation get-together, and got a couple of interesting unsolicited comments out in the real world:

(1) from a man who has 21 years experience in disaster recovery in a company that probably wouldn't take you more than three tries to guess. I described what had happened to the dmoz.org server: he said, "how horrible to lose all your data." I described some of the recovery techniques, he responded, "THAT wasn't a single-day job!" I've heard a lot of reactions online, from people with various claimed experience: but that's the "real-world, been there, done that, got the scars to prove it" reaction.

(2) from a fairly casual net-user whose friend was looking for some very specific (entertainment-related) content: the friend had spent hours Googling unsuccessfully for that content, but he found it within five minutes via dmoz.org.

There is no "Internet Community" -- there are many internet communities; but the ODP community is still one of the most fascinating and informative online communities I've found.


 11:04 pm on Dec 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

As matter of interest , how did the friend of your casual net user acquaitance find ODP?

I've met quite a few people who would use the online versions of well known paper/printed yellowpages, but pure web directories,,,,,,


 11:29 pm on Dec 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

Sorry, ambiguous pronouns.

I spoke to the casual surfer who actually used the ODP. He'd originally heard about it from me.

It was his friend (whom I do not know) who had done the unsuccessful Googling. Both people are professional (hardware) techies: that is, capable of some kind of technological acuity (which obviously doesn't describe the whole population.)


 6:16 pm on Jan 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

>I've met quite a few people who would use the online versions of well known paper/printed yellowpages, but pure web directories...

A cogent point. Any directory must have a source of content. And it's the well-known real-world publishers that have the obvious sources. A pure-web directory must get content, but it must also have a way of showing that its content is authoritative. Few enough pure-web directories come close to solving the first problem, you can probably count the ones who have approached the second problem on your fingers, and have a hand left over.


 6:49 pm on Jan 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

adsense on the DMOZ pages would be against the TOS of both adsense and DMOZ

Really why?
I guess for the adsense side you meant for the duplicate content, that's might be ok.
But for what about the DMOZ side, why?

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