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How do YOU come up with categories in your directory?
Am I the only one who struggles with this?

 4:10 am on Jul 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

I operate a pretty large directory which uses some pretty fancy functions to operate efficiently. One thing that we've struggled with over the years is how to stucture our categories.

We've relied mostly on used user-suggested categories to build our list of about 500 or so, but honestly, it now resembles quite a hodge-podge and doesn't follow any easy to understand logic. We have long wanted to replace the category stucture with something more logical, but where to start?

Of course the mother of all category structures in found in the DMOZ, but my understanding is that if you use even just the category structure you would have to put their editor box on each page which uses the category stucture (basically every page in the directory).

What do you use for your category list in your directory? Am I missing something obvious here?



 11:55 am on Jul 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

Oh, what a joy it is, isn't it - to keep seeing if there's any organizing principals to the stuff of life, the universe and everything? ;)

Here's an original idea, if you are really up for an interesting exercise, are courageous and really want to "do the community thing".

Post your taxonomy on your website - just the organizational structure - and ask the members to help you "sort it out".

In fact, just as a fun exercise, you have my express invitation to put up the guts of the structure - all 500 subsections - here to see if we could see a big picture and agree upon how it might be organized. That could be a really interesting excercise - to see how "insiders" and "outsiders" might organize the same world. It might also benefit you in the long run.

Got game?

I'm willing. Might be like solving a big puzzle. I'm sure others would play.

Courage, man, courage. ;0)


 12:01 pm on Jul 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

Webwork one question to you.It is not related to this topic.
Can you please tell me what is the taxonomy for a site?
I don't have any idea about this.
Please guide me.


 12:34 pm on Jul 31, 2007 (gmt 0)


Classify and organize your subject matter and, by so doing, your website's directory structure.


 12:43 pm on Jul 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

This is the best page I know of that explains the many different ways of organising information, of which Taxonomies are but one facet.




 12:43 pm on Jul 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

Webwork,thanks for the great info. :)


 7:36 pm on Jul 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

The problem with "user-suggested categories" is you'll just get folks choosing categories that fit THEIR site keywords, which isn't very helpful for the rest of your advertisers. This will make a directory look messy, and invite the general population instead of anything targeted.

Once this reaches mass promotion, a directory will become uncontrollable to manage with all the untargeted stuff, and doomed from then on. I don't know how they do this, but am amazed that dmoz hasn't become a total mess of mixed and spam results pages, due to the many categories they have.

I haven't attempted what you are doing, and that's only because of the sheer work load that surely awaits trying to get these directories filled. Many directories fail through lack of finance and motivation, the will-power to keep plugging away and lack of cashflow are the least of your problems.

Getting this filled is the hardest battle to win, and will be wasted if you pick the wrong directory area. I know someone that runs a search engine (like Google) and it started off life as a directory, so know what he went through to build it up.

Good luck.

The Contractor

 8:44 pm on Jul 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

The problem with "user-suggested categories" is you'll just get folks choosing categories that fit THEIR site keywords, which isn't very helpful for the rest of your advertisers.

What about the users? ;)

A directory by nature should have a clear and easy to navigate structure (taxonomy). I think planning the structure in the most logical way is 98% of the "fun" of directories. It's what makes your directory stand out among the rest (whether good or bad). I would NEVER let submitters dictate either the taxonomy (including category names) or the listing "title" format or descriptions. A good editor can write a description to a listing much better than 99% of the site/listing owners. As long as you start out or rectify so every listing is created equally (using the same format) people are usually more than happy when you end up using 1% of what they actually submitted.


After re-reading the OP, the easiest way to create subcategories is on a "need" basis.

Example: Say you have a Topical category Shopping and under that one of your main categories is Furniture. After a while that category might contain either one long page or a few pages (depending on how you are displaying them) of dozens of Furniture stores. It is then logical and "user friendly" to start breaking this down into subcategories as you may notice you have 5 or 6 listings that specialize in Outdoor furniture and another 5 or 6 for Dining room furniture. You simply create the categories Dining Room and Outdoor under Furniture. You then have a taxonomy of Furniture>>Dining Room and Furniture>>Outdoor. Very simple thought process and it is the same process in use at dmoz etc. In the end, you may end up with nothing listed directly in Shopping>>Furniture and that's OK ;)

[edited by: The_Contractor at 9:19 pm (utc) on July 31, 2007]

The Contractor

 9:24 pm on Jul 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

In fact, just as a fun exercise, you have my express invitation to put up the guts of the structure - all 500 subsections - here to see if we could see a big picture and agree upon how it might be organized.

That would be nearly impossible in my opinion without see the existing listings within each category. Meaning he could could post a structure and it doesn't do any good to create an empty shell. There are enough of those types of directories already out there...hehe

For instance he may not need to break down a category even if it was Shopping if he only has 15 listings in there. It works the other way and he may have to break down into Shopping >> Home and Garden >>Furnishings >> Dining Room or the site may dictate United Kingdom >>Shopping >> Home and Garden >>Furnishings >> Dining Room >> Contemporary as it all depends on how large the directory really is (number of listings). The number of listings dictates the extent of the taxonomy and that is why it should/will always evolve on a site. Users don't want to scroll through 100's of "uncategorized" Shopping sites no more than they want to click 12 times through barren categories to find zero or one listing way down deep.

[edited by: The_Contractor at 9:39 pm (utc) on July 31, 2007]


 10:21 pm on Jul 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

For instance he may not need to break down a category even if it was Shopping if he only has 15 listings in there.

This is definately not the issue as I have nearly 350,000 URL's listed, and 15,000 under shopping. As I said, this is a large directory.

It only lists categories when there are listings found in them, so there is no chance of happening onto a stub. It also breaks down the listings by parent category / sub-category and Country / State-Province / City so each listing has the potential to be listed under 11 headings.

I think I have some pretty cool innovations which I haven't seen anyone else try, but I just can't seem to get a handle on the categories, which is of course of the utmost importance in a directory.

I'm still working on parsing out my category list...

[edited by: dataguy at 10:35 pm (utc) on July 31, 2007]


 10:34 pm on Jul 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

Ok, here it is, please go easy on me!

-- Advertising & Marketing -----
    Ad Specialties
    Direct Mail
    Email Marketing
    Sales Coaching
-- Animals & Pets ---------------------
    Horses / Livestock
    Other Pets
    Pet Supplies
-- Arts & Crafts -----------------------
    Art Organizations
    Body Art, Tattoos, Piercing
    Digital Art
    Fine Art
    Quilting / Sewing
    Sculptures / Sculpturing
-- Automotive & Marine ------------
    Cars & Trucks
    DIY Automotive Repair
    Drivers Education
    Parts & Accessories
    Recreational Vehicles
    Sports Untility Vehicles
    Tools and Supplies
-- Books/Media ---------------------------
    Internet Broadcasting
    Online Audio
    Online Video
    Radio / Audio
    Television / Video
-- Business Opportunities -------
    Affiliate Programs
    Network Marketing
-- Business Services ----------------
    Business Development
    Cleaning / Janitorial
    Productivity Tools
-- Commercial Products ------------
    Classroom Equipment/Products
    Construction Equipment
    Medical Equipment & Supplies
-- Computers ------------------------------
    Computer Repair
    Computer Support
    DIY Computer Upgrade/Repair
    Printer Supplies
    Technology Consulting
-- Education ------------------------------
    Child Education
    Diploma / GED
    Home Schooling
    Technical Training
-- Electronics ---------------------------
    Cell Phones / Pagers
    Consumer Electronics
    Electronic Repair
    Ham Radio
    Industrial Electronics
    Telephone services
-- Employment ----------------------------
    Career Counselling
    Contract Work
    Head Hunters
    Job Boards
    Pre-Employment Screening
-- Entertainment -----------------------
    Adult Entertainment
    Childrens Parties
    Magic / Magicians
    Musicians & Bands
-- Family Fun ----------------------------
    Baby Websites
    Children Websites
    Family Websites
    Vacation Websites
    Websites for Parents
    Websites for Teens
    Wedding Websites
-- Fashion ----------------------------------
    Children's Clothing
    Other Fashion
-- Financial ------------------------------
    Credit & Debt Counselling
    Credit Cards
    Financial Planning
    Personal Finance
    Tax Services
-- Food & Drinks -----------------------
    Juice / Juicers
    Wine & Spirits
-- Games -------------------------------------
    Educational Games
    PC Games
    Video Games
-- General Services ------------------
    Personal Concierge
    Pest Control
-- Gifts & Flowers -------------------
    Care Packages
    Greeting Cards
-- Government ----------------------------
    City Websites
    County Websites
    Legislative Reform
    Other Government Websites
    State Websites
    Substance Abuse Treatment
-- Health & Beauty -------------------
    Bath & Body
    Day Spas
    Diet & Nutrition
    General Counseling
    Hair Products
    Health & Fitness Clubs
    Health Food
    Men's Health
    Nutritional Supplements
    Self Help
    Therapeutic Massage
    Women's Health
-- Healthcare ----------------------------
    Medical Research
    Plastic / Reconstructive Surgery
-- Hobbies ----------------------------------
    Coin / Stamp Collecting
    Model Airplanes
    Model Cars / Trucks
    Remote Control Vehicles
-- Home Life ------------------------------
    Consumer Information
    Home Organizing
    Interior Decorating
-- Home Services -----------------------
    Electrical / Wiring
    Foundation Repair
    Plumbing / Septic Systems
    Wall Framing
    Water Filtration
    Window / Door Replacement
-- Industrial Products ------------
    Air Conditioning / Heat
    Occupational Health & Safety
-- Internet --------------------------------
    Free Hosting
    Internet Service Providers
    MP3 / Music
    Search Engines
    Web Directory
    Web Hosting/Servers
-- Manufacturing -----------------------
    Electronics Manufacturing
    Leather Goods
    Petro Chemical
    Plastic Products
    Steel Products
    Stone / Masonry
    Textile / Clothing
    Wooden Products
-- News ---------------------------------------
-- Personal Services ----------------
    Dry Cleaning
    House Keeping / Cleaning
-- Professional -------------------------
    Court Reporting
    Editorial Services
    Legal - Business
    Legal - Intellectual Property
    Legal - Personal
    Technical Writers
    Wedding Services
-- Public Service ---------------------
    Air Force
    Fire Fighters
    Homeland Security
    Police / Sheriff
    Political Office
-- Real Estate ---------------------------
    Construction Services
    DIY Home Repair/Remodeling
    For Sale by Owner
    General Advice
    Home Buying
    Home Loans / Mortgages
    Real Estate Services
-- Recreation & Leisure ----------
    Genealogy/Family History
    New Age
    Party Supplies
-- Reference ------------------------------
    Do it Yourself (DIY)
    Translation Services
-- Science & Technology ----------
    Home Automation
    Research & Development
-- Shopping --------------------------------
    Audio-Visual Equipment
    Baby Items
    Bed & Bath
    Clocks & Watches
    Discount / Clearance
    Dolls & Teddy Bears
    Home & Garden
    Musical Instruments
    Office Supplies / Products
    Satellite Equipment & Systems
    Security Equipment
    Shopping Malls
    Used Goods
    Virtual Malls
-- Society ----------------------------------
    Blogs / Blogging
    Churches & Ministry
    Fan Clubs
    Historical Organizations
    Political Viewpoint
    Religion and Spirituality
    Sign Language
-- Sports & Fitness ------------------
    Auto Racing
    Fitness / Exercise
    Martial Arts
    Other Sports
    Skiing / Jetskiing
    Sports Organizations
    Tae Kwon Do
-- Travel ------------------------------------
    Auto Rental
    Bed & Breakfast
    Honeymoon Destinations
    Hotels & Motels
    Limousine Hire
    Vacation Packages
    Vacation Rentals
-- Web Services -------------------------
    Advice & Discussions
    Banner/Link Advertising
    Domain Names
    eCommerce Support
    Logo/Graphics Design
    Merchant Services
    Profiting from Your Web Site
    Search Engine Marketing/SEO
    Traffic Exchanges
    Web Design
    Web Traffic Suppliers
    Website Advertising & Promotion
-- Work at Home -------------------------
    Online Opportunities

A special prize goes to the first person to correctly identify the sub category which appears under 2 different parent categories (eeek!) Seriously, we have a seperate search engine which is used just to search categories.

Currently we only have 2 levels of categories, Parent and SubCat. This is a major part of the problem and we will be migrating to unlimited subs when we figure out what to base the taxonomy on.

I can add to this that we are testing Bayesian Inference to verify categories and we hope to eventually not require webmasters to pick their categories as they will be able to be suggested automatically. During our testing we have found that several categories are so vague that Bayesian Inference doesn't work, (such as B2B). We've also uncovered problems like the Marketing and Advertising category attracts a lot of webmasters who are advertising their sites, not advertising agencies (duh).

Help! I need a category makeover!

The Contractor

 12:39 am on Aug 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

This is definately not the issue as I have nearly 350,000 URL's listed

And you have 401 categories/subcategories which my calculator says is averaging over 872 listings in each category....ouch...so much for user friendly...hehe (please take that as constructive criticism).

The problem I see right off the bat is that you have several Topical categories, which should be subcategories of other Topical categories and subcategories (Gifts & Flowers, Food & Drinks, Fashion, Pet supplies etcetera look like Shopping to me, but I could be wrong). Things like:
-- Healthcare ----------------------------
Medical Research
Plastic / Reconstructive Surgery

should be listed as a subcategory of Health & Beauty and shopping sites/stores should be under a Health & Beauty category of Shopping etcetera.

You need to sort out all sites /listings that are stores/shopping and get them under Shopping and sort out all "informative" sites into proper "informational" topical categories, then crosslink/@link the information categories with their respective shopping categories and visa-versa.

With that many listings and that broad of a directory (without getting into regional categorization) you will probably have literally 1000's of categories/subcategories if properly organized/categorized.

Categories Like Travel >> Hotels & Motels Should be something like Travel >> Lodging >>Hotels & Motels (broke down by lodging type) and then broke down into regional or it is completely useless to visitors. The other option is to break it down by regional first like Travel >> Lodging >> Nebraska or Travel >> Lodging >> USA >> Nebraska or Travel >> USA >> Lodging >> Nebraska >> Hotels & Motels. There are way too many variables that are dependent on how many listings you have for each category on how to answer your taxonomy effectively.

Needless to say you have a long job ahead of you and if I started adding my 2-cents on how to structure your site, clients may see it and get upset with me…hehe

[edited by: The_Contractor at 12:58 am (utc) on Aug. 1, 2007]


 1:15 am on Aug 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

>Help! I need a category makeover!

Um, no, actually you need to define how you are going to generate your categories, then all will fall in place.

Consider building a vehicle. One could assemble a collection of parts and then try and put them together, and one may or may not end up with a usable car. Without any preparation and planning though the odds will be agin you. The engine you bought might be a good one but does it use available fuel? Does it connect to the drive shaft? And so on.

So, with all due respect, the code dump of your categories is somewhat useless until you put into place policies and procedures that will determine how you choose your categories and how you will classify your listings. And, as noted above, letting your users choose your categories will end up with a fair representation of a dog's breakfast.

First, you need to quantify the scope of your directory. Is it all encompassing, or focusing on a small and very tight niche, or somewhere in between? Establishing that first of all will help determine how your subject matter will be classified.

Next you need to consider what type of classifying system you need. In the link I referenced above there is a good overview of differing methods of organising knowledge. The two that are perhaps applicable to a Directory system are Taxonomy and Ontology. How are they different? Taxonomies have a Parent-Child relationship and so are restrictive, whereas Ontologies are open structured, much like a Thesaurus, and so are more flexible. Which one you choose will depend on your subject matter. If it is all encompassing then perhaps an ontology would be appropriate, but a smaller niche might do well with a simple taxonomy, but not always.

But not always, because it also depends on what criteria you are going to apply when classifying listings. Consider the subject matter of Widgets. The oft quoted type of widget know as "fuzzy blue widgets" gives us a very good clue as to the various mays of classifying. Are you going to classify widgets by:-
1) Physical Attributes, such as Fuzzy, Soft, Hard, Prickly, and so on, or
2) Colour, such as Blue, Green, Teal, Puce, and so on.

OR, are Widgets themselves but a subsection of "Things" that might also include Wadgets, Wedgets, Wodgets, Wudgets and their distant cousin Wydgets.

What might have seemed a simple taxonomy for a small niche subject might turn out to need a categorical ontology with multiple category connections for listings when the selection criteria are applied.

For example, Films and Movies. When called Films, they are an art form, falling into both the Visual and Aural arts categories. When called Movies they fall perhaps better into the Visual Entertainment category, but then they are also a business. When you define your classification criteria the applicable categories will usually become much clearer, but not always.

So, you can either try and fix the system you have at present, which brings to mind the concepts of pegs and holes, being both square and round, or, and this would be my suggestion, you can go right back to the beginning and spend some time researching classifying systems, researching your subject matter, and setting up your policies and procedures at which time your categories will fall into place themselves much easier both now and in the future.


The Contractor

 2:06 pm on Aug 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

Very well put Woz. I always tell people to spend days, weeks, or months planning a directory (depending on scope) before actually starting one. It's a lot tougher turning back or changing things once it is established.

It's very easy to create categories and use the tools out there or integrated with directory management scripts to crawl sites themselves (relying on meta data), import ODP, or scrape search engine results. Sure is fast and sure is sh@t too.

It's a lot harder to come up with the structure and put a policy in place on creating subcategories and crosslinking them etc. It's also a lot harder and more time consuming to add listings by manually reviewing each site and disregarding 99% of what was submitted (title/description, category it was submitted to, or other info). Creating and adhering to a listing policy is a must and should apply to every site in the directory whether it's a friends, your own, free, paid listing, or an advertisement.


 12:22 am on Aug 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

The directory structure should be your number one concern its what makes your directory a directory, otherwise its just a bunch of links....

I have user suggested categories on my site to, but I am not here to facilitate peoples keyword fancies.... they suggest I think about it....lol if it fits it fits, if it doesnt fit under what they want in my opinion.... then it doesnt fit...lol but I would also look to see if there suggestion could be fit into another similar related section....but at the end of the day my main concern is the flow of my directory structure....

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