|Robust GPL directory script: Why doesn't one exist? Is "footprint" an issue?|
WordPress, Joomla, Etc. BUT no really robust directory script! Why?
Its the age of the free, open source now. Everywhere people use Wordpress (for blogging), Joomla, Drupal (for content sites), phpbb, smf, mybb (for forums) but there are not many webmasters using any of the free open sourced Directory Scripts.
Is the reason that the free version lack features?
If open sourced free scripts get popular it would not only benefit the webmaster but also a large community of future webmasters. That's why I ask.
[edited by: Webwork at 5:05 pm (utc) on Jan. 12, 2008]
[edit reason] Edited for focus and Charter compliance [/edit]
Interesting question, especially since such a broad variety of websites might benefit from appending a robust directory to their site.
Perhaps because stand alone directories are not all that popular, whereas blogs or community software - such as Joomla, Mambo, Drupal - offer solutions that are in greater demand, i.e., content management? (Yes, directories "are content", but that's not in the popular sense of the word.)
Maybe it's not enough of a challenge?
OTOH PHPBB, though popular, has never quite achieved the same standing amongst web professionals as VBulletin, mostly because of PHPBB's history of bugs and hacking I suppose.
You're actually completely wrong,
The most popular directory scripts out there are the free ones, one in particular,
I fail to see how free directory scripts benefit anyone, so now we have a proliferation of directories,
is this good, well I really don't know, but it sure is a different market than what i thought I was getting into when I coded my own script to begin with
I abandoned it an joined the comercial script lot
Mind you I recently re launched my own script , with the benefit of improved knowledge of the web
I think it's a matter of demand. Free is always popular, as is open source, but there aren't nearly as many people interested in running a directory as there are into blogging. And with good reason.
So if you want a really high quality directory script, with lots of features, you have to pay the price because there aren't enough people out there who are willing to contribute code for no pay. If there were a few million people working on developing directories for themselves and others then it might be a different story.
We built a directory script from scratch; I wanted something with no footprints. I also wanted it SEO friendly since it was to accomplish two goals:
- be reasonably useful as a lookup for a consumer looking for a local provider.
- be useful to local providers both as a listing, and as a place to get a solid SEO backlink for free. When local providers call me for service, it's just something I throw their way; makes me look better I think since I don't monetize the site.
I've maintained the directory submissions very stringently in terms of submissions. Submissions are free, but within tight guidelines (like I need to see a name, address and phone number on the site when I visit so I know it's a real provider, not an affiliate or MFA site).
Anyway, between only high quality submissions and no footprints has actually allowed the directory to maintain it's PR unchanged in the last round of PR drops that hit so many directories.
Maybe I should release the code as GPL :). Unfortunately since I built if for my needs, it's not nearly as robust as what you can get for under a hundred bucks out there.
Wheel, that's more or less exactly what I did when building my niche directories. And like you, I'm reluctant to release my script as open source, for similar reasons. It may be fine for me, but it's not nearly as feature-rich or easily configurable as other directory scripts, and it would be a full-time job to offer support for it.
What's more, when you release a script and it gets taken up by a lot of users, you lose the benefit of "no footprints".
Would someone please explain the "no footprints" concern? Is it "no footprints" as in "Dear Google: Please, sir, we really aren't just another spammy, been there done that, directory site"?
It's a matter of the "shame of being a directory"? (In Google's or Yahoo's eyes?) JAD - Just Another Directory - syndrome?
OR is it that, in your mind or experience, it's okay to be a directory so long as your directory is not associated with all of those other spammy PageRank sellling directories, which you feel Google/Yahoo/Etc. identify mostly by their footpring, i.e., the software commonly used by cheesy duplicative directory sites?
So, the cuprit in any directory wonting for search engine love is thw software, not the quality of the directory generated using the software? (Quality = Not the same old DMOZ dump but something more.)
Footprint = Guilt by association of merely using GPL software?
Man, IF Google or Yahoo is that simplistic in their algo or filtering then Google IS broken, for what company more than Google should be backing open source - IF they wish to be viewed as . . progressive? Small guy/gal friendly? Whatever it means to side on the side of favoring opensource software?
Matt Cutts? Are you out there? Please tell me that GPL "footprint" is NOT an issue when it comes to anyone's directory. Please tell me that "the script" and/or the software's "footprint" is nowhere in the formula.
Has anyone anywhere read or heard anything that even hints at any search engine disfavoring a directory or website on the basis of its choice of opensource directory script? That would be a major philosophical blunder. Sure, nail the latest of 200,000 clones of DMOZ but beyond simplisitic cloning there should be no other compelling reason to have to hide a GPL footprint, i.e., shun the freely available solution.
I'm calling BS on this one IF there's any truth to the stated or presumed "footprint sanction".
Bad things can be done with WordPress, too, such as Splogs - which might be the search engine equivalent of another DMOZ clone - but is the prevalence of splogging or scraping giving rise to a concern that WordPress "leaves a footprint"? IF WordPress becomes the tool du jour of search engine spamming or, worse, copyright infringement, shouldn't "WordPress footprint" become an issue?
This is a lurking issue for a utility - a directory - that is of some value. Is this paranoia or reality? I don't think it's paranoia as I know some very bright people who have expressed footprint concerns.
Is there real evidence that "the footprint", alone, is reason enough to abandon opensource directory scripts?
I think foot print is an issue
Certainly, it may act as a criteria for selection for further scrutiny.
Afterall, a chap who gets a free script, free hosting or really cheap monthly hosting, whoses set up costs are minimal compared to his/her other income, doesn't have a lot to lose financially on the directory project.
This does not mean that they will deliberately decide to undermine the SERPs, but they are less likely to take the SE's concerns seriously than someone who has built the directory from scatch, investing a lot of intellectual capital an money into the venture, they're bound to take all challenges seriously.
This is a theory, however, my observation of directories an their owners does tend to bear this out, IMHO
Just opinion off course :)
|Would someone please explain the "no footprints" concern? Is it "no footprints" as in "Dear Google: Please, sir, we really aren't just another spammy, been there done that, directory site"? |
It's a matter of the "shame of being a directory"? (In Google's or Yahoo's eyes?) JAD - Just Another Directory - syndrome?
No, that's not it entirely, or even mostly. Not so long ago a lot of Indexscript directories were hacked, and the main way they were found by the hackers was presumably the "powered by" link at the bottom. When you have a footprint like that it doesn't give you much time to respond to security threats.
Secondly, there's the issue of avoiding automated directory spammers, particularly when image captcha breaking is common. Anyone running a niche directory is likely to want to attract visitors interested in that niche, rather than just blanket submissions from lazy SEOs. It also means that when you create your own form field names it's easy to identify automated submissions.
Avoiding duplicate content is a distant third, because it shouldn't be an issue for well-run directories. But building a script from scratch does mean you're never tempted to cut corners and use the default text for any pages.
Interesting. So, "footprint" - as a possible inhibitor to growth - includes:
1. "Powered by". Yet the "Powered by" signature/footprint hasn't but the kabosh on WordPress as a tool for publishing.
2. Automated submissions? WordPress, forum scripts, other community site scripts, etc. all fall prey to the auto-submit issue. Still their population grows.
3. Cutting corners? Boy, does that define a healthy percentage of what is found on the WWW. Schlock Media Inc should be the parent company of much of what's online. ;) or :(
So, while footprint is clearly a bona fide concern, in the context of the number of scripts that are open to the same concerns yet manage to thrive, I'm left with the thought that something more is holding the development of a more robust GPL directory script.
Ya, sure, I'll entertain the mentality that "directory search is dead so why bother". I'm not quite sure that's explains a lack of a robust GPL solution, but it may be one element. One can still see all manner of quality sites adding on directories.
IMHO, none of the factors above is insumountable, they merely require customisation, as for hacking , any script can be hacked, an everyone cuts corners
[edited by: Webwork at 2:52 pm (utc) on Mar. 20, 2008]
[edit reason] Keeping the focus on open source scripts [/edit]
My speculation is that Google's recent PR demotion of directories wasn't likely done on a specific footprint. My guess is they devalued sites or pages that simply had too many varied outbound links and not enough content. A site that has 2000 outbounds to unrelated and low quality sites as it's primary content are likely what got hit.
Still, the footprint thing is an issue.
- For hackers as noted above.
- for the fact that they don't allow much individualized content; they look like directories.
- you're linking to the website that also has a ton of other links from low quality web directories. That has serious potential of placing you in the same bin as them. You're known by who you link to - you link to the same place as a bunch of other low quality sites and you're hanging in the wrong neighbourhood.
Individually none of those seem like an insurmountable issue. But in total and combined with the fact that Google's not to pleased with general directories these days means they're looking hard at them. So I don't want to look like those folks in any way. That's why I did a custom script. Stay out of the loop, don't exhibit any behavior that you see on low quality sites. And that includes (but isn't limited to) footprints from general web directory software.
Still, the free stuff and low cost directory scripts are very robust. It's a tradeoff.
I've seen some speculation that a particular script can lead to a reduction in pagerank or even zeroing out the pagerank of internal pages. People have said this about directories, but the same statement can be made about forum scripts or even straight html sites.
In the end, if you created a site that people love and want to return to again, and tell their friends, you will be a happy webmaster. Building quality takes time and a clever plan. Scripts can certainly help in delivering that plan, but quality of your site cannot be overlooked. If your whole plan is based on "SEO", you are probably missing the boat.
[edited by: Webwork at 2:49 pm (utc) on Mar. 20, 2008]
I've also designed and builded my own directory from scratch.
For various reasons, I don't plan to make it open source (ever). The main reason: It's a unique directory and it's my own :) -- I don't want it to be a 'main stream' directory containing the same features as every one else has on their sites.
The web has so many similar sites, builded in the same way, having the same features etc. -- Why spend your time building the same as everyone else when you can spend your time building something original?
I believe, originality is better for everyone.
|I've also designed and builded my own directory from scratch. |
I also don't plan on sharing the code because I have some integrated tools that I developed over the years that give me a serious leg up against the competition that none of the OS directory software offers, yet.
The free stuff doesn't typically do much with local listings, if anything at all, and if they have any link checkers built in it's bare bones stuff that doesn't protect the directory owner from linking out to bad neighborhoods. Some people try to use other link checking tools to validate their OBL's but they only check basic errors as well.
OK, maybe I'm being selfish by not sharing some of this technology but I sure didn't get any help developing it either ;)