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7 tips for DMOZ editors
estjohn




msg:470969
 4:40 am on Dec 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

I noticed there are some DMOZ editors floating around here. Since advice has been listed for DMOZ submitters from an editor, I thought it would be nice to give the DMOZ editors some advice from a webmaster's perspective.

I'm just posting this because I'd like to see ODP continue to succeed, even though I only get minimal traffic from it.

1. A general rule...Respond to submission-related emails or DMOZ reputation suffers.
2. If a submission does not fit your criteria send an email that says why. Simple courtesy. This could be automated.
3. If you have certain special criteria you favor then post it on your profile page, don't expect people to guess it. For example, if you accept only sites that lose money, not sites making money, please say that.
4. Be nice and don't have an attitude because you are a "senior editor". We are both volunteering for this Open Directory--you are volunteering your time as editor, submitters are volunteering their time to submit their site to be listed as part of your directory.
5. If you are unable to approve sites promptly please post this in your profile page. Prompt is less than 2 weeks.
6. Do not pass around a site that does not appear to be in the correct category. Instead, it is courteous to email the contributor and tell them to submit it to the appropriate category.
7. If somebody wants to change their link description then help them unless you have a really good reason to say no to their request.

 

rafalk




msg:470970
 4:46 am on Dec 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

While your tips would work in an ideal world, real life, unfortunately makes most of these tips untenable.

martinibuster




msg:470971
 5:15 am on Dec 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

Most of these tips untenable? With all respect to you, I must strongly disagree.

That statement is typical of the do-nothing/decide nothing "no"-speak Kafkaesque mindset that can plague DMOZ, and results in a static and lifeless directory.

An automated response is TOTALLY possible. Case in point:

I submitted a site to JoeAnt and they emailed me back to thank me for the submission. Then they let me know when it was accepted, with the name and contact info for the volunteer editor.

If tiny little volunteer powered JoeAnt can do it, Big AOL-backed DMOZ can do it without breaking a sweat.

In the face of the fact that JoeAnt is doing it, how can anyone assert DMOZ is unable to do likewise?

To you I say: Open your mind, my friend and dare to conceive of all the things that can be accomplished.

europeforvisitors




msg:470972
 5:27 am on Dec 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

2. If a submission does not fit your criteria send an email that says why. Simple courtesy. This could be automated.

I see two problems with this:

a) It invites time-wasting arguments. ("Thank you, but DMOZ doesn't list affiliate sites." "My site isn't really an affiliate site, it's actually a content site! Look at the paragraph of content between those 50 affiliate links...")

b) In some categories, a high percentage of submissions are by cynical Webmasters who know perfectly well that they're spamming. Saying "no" might just encourage them to submit their next round of spam that much sooner.

6. Do not pass around a site that does not appear to be in the correct category. Instead, it is courteous to email the contributor and tell them to submit it to the appropriate category.

I wouldn't mind that idea if it meant that the Webmaster (not the editor) would have to find the right category. But as far as courtesy goes, it's probably more courteous to help the Webmaster by transferring the submission to the right category than to reply with canned text that says, "Sorry--wrong category. Find the right category and start over."

rafalk




msg:470973
 6:13 am on Dec 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

I said most not all. JoeAnt is smaller than the ODP by several orders of magnitude, and the same can be said of the amount of submissions that they receive. Comparing apples and oranges doesn't advance your argument.

estjohn




msg:470974
 6:19 am on Dec 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

I don't see why this would be untenable.

Most of this could be automated replies. I have a system that does this set up on my website. And I've webmastered a site with huge traffic which did the same thing and it's not much more complicated.

How hard could it be? Just have a few checkboxes that say things like "We don't accept sites with mainly affiliate links" etc. This way I know my site is being rejected for that reason.

Also on my site I have an "other" category for editors where I type in a short response (takes 3 seconds) if I need too.

Regarding time-wasting arguments--just like in all emails you don't have to keep responding. One reply with a reason is a nice courtesy and requires minimal effort...an improvement over the current system. You will always have spam no matter what. If somebody is constantly resubmitting the same thing without remedying the problem then you just put them on a hold or take measures which I'm sure are in place already for such problems.

Why is a simple thing like this untenable?

stever




msg:470975
 8:06 am on Dec 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

OK, fair points that you've made which deserve a fair (but purely personal) answer:

1) A general rule...Respond to submission-related emails or DMOZ reputation suffers.
DMOZ editing time is "relaxation time" taken away from what is often web- or computer-related work. It competes with walking the dog, reading forums like this one, learning a new skill. If it were also to involve an e-mail dialogue which would, judging by the responses over at resource-zone, regularly end up being abusive then my motivation to edit, rather than perform any of the other possible alternatives, could well be lower.

2) If a submission does not fit your criteria send an email that says why.
I would probably agree, as long as they were generic automated answers and did not involve a "live" e-mail address. On the other hand, I suspect that 75% of owners of sites that are declined know exactly why they have been declined.

3. If you have certain special criteria you favor then post it on your profile page, don't expect people to guess it.
There are no personal special criteria - despite what an alleged DMOZ editor says in other threads. There are general guidelines and category guidelines, which are freely available for webmasters to read. More senior editors may be able to comment on this, but I would imagine that an editor who was using personal prejudices as a guideline for acceptance would not be seen as a fit person to continue in that position.

4. Be nice and don't have an attitude because you are a "senior editor".
Personally speaking, I don't think most of them do have an attitude, and they tend to give out some very good information in the threads here (which is available to those who want to learn, rather than parade their DMOZ phobia). Incidentally, this works both ways. If you have posted here about DMOZ "corruption" or "laziness", you do so from the cloak of anonymity. My edits are out in the open and can always be challenged to senior editors or staff. Yet I have not yet seen one WW poster have the decency to return to a thread and admit "OK, I was trying to get a mirror site listed" or "Yeah, I did boost the descriptions of my sites before they expelled me as an editor".

5. If you are unable to approve sites promptly please post this in your profile page.
Don't agree. Holidays, workload, etc, can change this.

6. Do not pass around a site that does not appear to be in the correct category. Instead, it is courteous to email the contributor and tell them to submit it to the appropriate category.
I would suggest that this would actually have the opposite effect to the one you intend. So the editor deletes the site as an inappropriate submission, writes to the submitter and gets them to submit to another category - this instead of sending it over to the right one anyway (and with an edited title and description if it is an area they are familiar with)?

7. If somebody wants to change their link description then help them unless you have a really good reason to say no to their request.
Why? Presumably the descriptions in your area of editing are correct as per guidelines. I would imagine that the large majority of requests involve the addition of keywords to title and/or description.

Finally, one point which always seems to get overlooked in these threads. The responsibility of the directory is not to submitters but to users, in the same way that Google's is to its users and not to webmasters or SEOs.

In the small area that I look after, 50% of the submitted sites are inappropriate for one reason or another. Yet there are many sites out there which are eligible for the category but who have never submitted. I have a bookmarks list on my hard drive of about 100 of them who I am adding slowly as I get time. Possibly that is part of the worth of DMOZ and the reason why other websites and companies value it?

Visit Thailand




msg:470976
 8:24 am on Dec 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

surely the first and most important tip is to allow submissions in the first place, I have been trying as has been discussed here before to submit pages and I get the "We cannot get your IP address or whatever".

So would be helpful if the submit actually worked then perhaps other issues could be addressed!

victor




msg:470977
 8:37 am on Dec 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

Visit Thailand:
So would be helpful if the submit actually worked then perhaps other issues could be addressed!

The "offical" repesonse seems to be that this is an error in the error message. The submission has been accepted but it wobbled a bit on the way in:url [resource-zone.com]

and a discussion on WebmasterWorld:

[webmasterworld.com...]

estjohn




msg:470978
 9:12 am on Dec 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

stever, Although I stick to most of my points I appreciate your thoughtful response.

Regarding the "attitude"--I'm definitely not saying all editors are like that. However some do have a condescending attitude...ie. don't ask to change your link description or it might just be deleted.

I agree on the category change being without the email. That would be even better if an editor could do approve it in the new category. If not there should still be an automated email saying what happened

I agree with your point that this is for the users.

One last thing... Are url submissions seen as something helpful? do DMOZ editors even want submissions? or is it like...ugh, here's another blast from the riffraff...

Visit Thailand




msg:470979
 9:47 am on Dec 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

victor, that does not help the millions who do not visit this site.

I know that makes it all the more reason to stick around but surely DMOZ can do slightly better that that.

caine




msg:470980
 12:56 pm on Dec 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

An interesting thread from a different prospective.

Good stuff, but it still comes down too, if you don't like the way the system works, then help out.
Most editors, or senior level editors (what ever that is meant to mean) are streched big style.

rafalk




msg:470981
 3:27 pm on Dec 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

Are url submissions seen as something helpful? do DMOZ editors even want submissions? or is it like...ugh, here's another blast from the riffraff...

It depends. If you send a URL to an out of the way, in need of help category, like The Crusades [dmoz.org], you probably will get a handwritten note urging you to apply as an editor. (I send out my share of those). For categories such as gambling, hotel reservations, vacation rentals, real estate, ringtones, online pharmacies, etc then "ugh, here's another blast from the riffraff..." quite aptly describes the normal reaction.

Liane




msg:470982
 3:49 pm on Dec 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

For categories such as gambling, hotel reservations, vacation rentals, real estate, ringtones, online pharmacies, etc then "ugh, here's another blast from the riffraff..." quite aptly describes the normal reaction.

I feel that for the most part, DMOZ editors are very helpful and considerate of the time webmasters have taken to produce a quality product which will enhance the directory. However, I find the above quote somewhat disappointing.

If the directory is indeed for the public (Joe surfer), why would an editor think "Ugh"? My site is none of the above, but it is certainly very closely related to vacation rentals. Vacations are something for which a myriad of people go on line to find the vacation of their dreams. Therefore, I would have thought these kinds of sites to be most welcome at DMOZ.

Huh ... go figure!

rafalk




msg:470983
 3:53 pm on Dec 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

why would an editor think "Ugh"?

Quite simply, because of the kinds of submissions these categories attract.

Dynamoo




msg:470984
 4:01 pm on Dec 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

I agree, an automated repsonse that you're site had been accepted/rejected or whatever is something basic that's missing. Zeal does this. Else figuring out what has happened to your site is a bit like reading tea leaves.

But you may as well let the editors "pass it around" if it's in the wrong cat.. it's no quicker for you to resubmit to that category.

BUT.. editors as a rule don't want to get into a debate over an entry. You're unlikely to ever hear from an editor, especially not out of the blue. If you knew the horror stories that editors report back about abusive submitters you'd understand why editors like to keep their distance.

Liane




msg:470985
 4:03 pm on Dec 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

Quite simply, because of the kinds of submissions these categories attract.

Rafalk, I am not picking on you (promise) :) ... but if the category attracts a majority of riff raff, then I should think that those categories would require very dilligent and patient editors who realize that his or her job is not an easy one.

As it is a volunteer position, why volunteer if you (and I don't mean you personally) are not up to the task at hand?

rafalk




msg:470986
 4:26 pm on Dec 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

No offense taken Liane. :)

but if the category attracts a majority of riff raff, then I should think that those categories would require very dilligent and patient editors who realize that his or her job is not an easy one.

You hit the nail on the head. Most editors edit as a hobby. Editing most certainly is not a job, and cannot be treated as such.

why volunteer if you (and I don't mean you personally) are not up to the task at hand?

Because if I don't do it who will? Editing these categories isn't fun, it's the equivalent of dealing with an overflowing septic tank. Any 'good" submissions are overwhelmed by the amount of junk submitted.

Nick_W




msg:470987
 4:29 pm on Dec 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

As it is a volunteer position, why volunteer if you (and I don't mean you personally) are not up to the task at hand?

I've been umming and ahhing about making that same point myself all day ;)

If you don't have the time, why volunteer?

Nick

rafalk




msg:470988
 4:39 pm on Dec 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

If you don't have the time, why volunteer?

Actually, why shouldn't someone volunteer their time, even if all they have time for is one edit every couple of months. That's one edit more than would have been done otherwise.

Nick_W




msg:470989
 4:42 pm on Dec 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

True, I don't disagree with the basic principle rafalk just the specifics for busy categories.

If the category is a real monster, an editor with more time to spend on it would probably benefit both sides don't you think?

If an editor has very little time, perhaps they should edit a small category?

Nick

stever




msg:470990
 4:43 pm on Dec 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

If you don't have the time, why volunteer?

Because, Nick, one might have a hobby, an interest, a passion, a region that one might want others to know more about?

Computers/Programming/Internet/CSS/FAQs/ , for example ;)

Nick_W




msg:470991
 4:47 pm on Dec 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

I don't disagree ;)

I just think that if you don't have the time, perhaps a smaller cat would be a more suitable way to go. For the good of the directory..

Nick

rafalk




msg:470992
 4:53 pm on Dec 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

I completely agree with you Nick. An editor that doesn't edit that much won't get access to larger categories. The only exception to this is formerly active editors, who "go on leave." My point was that in deciding whether to accept an editor or not, the amount of time s/he can dedicate to the project is immaterial.

Nick_W




msg:470993
 4:57 pm on Dec 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

Right. Then that's where we will have to agree to dissagree ;)

I think it should be an issue, particularly on larger cats...

Be a strange, borin' world if we all thought the same though...

Nick

stever




msg:470994
 5:03 pm on Dec 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

Actually, rafalk probably hit the nail on the head here with the following comment:

Because if I don't do it who will?

In my limited experience, there seems to be a degree of "talent-spotting" going on to try to get willing and competent newish editors to take on additional new categories and responsibilities.

The impression I get is that the more senior editors who tend to look after the larger areas would often be only too happy to share the workload with others - rather than the implication that overworked editors are hanging on to sectors where other more qualified people would like to edit.

rafalk




msg:470995
 5:19 pm on Dec 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

Nick, I actually don't think we disagree at all. New editors are not accepted to edit large categories. Existing editors will only be promoted to larger categories if they actively edit.

I think we're saying the same thing . . .

The impression I get is that the more senior editors who tend to look after the larger areas would often be only too happy to share the workload with others - rather than the implication that overworked editors are hanging on to sectors where other more qualified people would like to edit.

That's exactly the case. :) A large part of a meta-editor's job is to identify up-and-coming editors, mentor them, and promote them.

Nick_W




msg:470996
 5:22 pm on Dec 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

Ahhh.. gotcha!

That's what comes of watching 'frasier' - carrying on 2 icq's and a riveting thread on WebmasterWorld -- I got confused ;)

Interesting thread.

Nick

The Contractor




msg:470997
 5:25 pm on Dec 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

I get dizzy just reading the same information rehashed into different words. It is really a simple process.

1.) Make sure you read the guidelines of submitting your site that are available at the add url link [dmoz.org] from the home page.

2.) Make sure that your site is not under construction and is working properly.

The Basics (which have been covered many times before):

Make sure you find the “one” best “topical” category to submit to. You may also qualify for a listing in the Regional area of the directory if you have the area (address/location) listed on your site. This does not necessarily mean if you have a business in a small town in Utah/yoursmalltown/ and you cover a larger area than your small town that you will be listed anywhere else but your small town. Depending on the type of business/site you have you may only qualify for a Regional listing (Phil’s Local Tire Service).

3.) When you find what seems to be the “one” best “topical” or “Regional” category to submit to make sure to read the category “Description” if one is available which may contain more detailed guidelines and information specific to the category.

Title:

If your site is a business make sure to use the “real” name like “Phil’s Tire Service” not “#1 BEST TIRE SERVICE WITH THE LOWEST PRICES IN THE WORLD ”.

Describe the site accordingly:

Offers new tire sales and service, front-end alignments, and shocks. Includes hours of operation and employment opportunities.

Not:

WE SELL THE BEST TIRES CHEAPER AND FOR LESS THAN ANY TIRE STORE THAT SELLS TIRES IN THE TIRE INDUSTRY. CONTACT US FOR THE BEST PRICES FOR ALL OF YOUR TIRE NEEDS.

Some of you may laugh and think that I’m exaggerating, but a large percentage of submitted sites are titled and described in that way.

Have a list of services or an about page explaining exactly what you do or the purpose of the site. Many times I have gone through sites wondering what they even do. If I can’t figure it out how is the average person browsing your page?
Have contact information available. This will help us and users browsing your site. Don’t even think of submitting to a Regional category without it.

I get tired of hearing what DMOZ/ODP and it’s editors should provide to the submitters. I would like to ask the submitters to at least try to follow the guidelines. I fail to see why it seems to always fall on the editors shoulders to find the correct category for a site and not the submitters.
I would like to see people faces if the ODP ever chose to implement a rule that if your site was not submitted per guidelines it would be immediately deleted. If you submitted your site more then three times improperly it would be banned. That would definitely take care of the backlog of unreviewed sites in a hurry :)

Summary:
Read the guidelines and submit accordingly. If you choose to submit to the wrong category then please don’t complain that your site gets moved to another unreviewed queue of the directory. This is all under the submitters control.

If you suspect abuse by an editor do something besides complaining about it. Report it to a meta editor or choose two metas at different areas of the directory if you feel a conspiracy exists.

Why many editors don’t contact the submitter:
Reverts to what I was told growing up – “ If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”.

If we told sites/submitters why their site did not meet the guidelines (which they should already have known by reading them) they would just make temporary changes in many instances (not all). I have contacted submitters many times when I feel they are innocent of the problem that may be holding them back. No, I won’t contact someone to tell them while reviewing their site I found 15 mirrors and the other four that were listed have all been deleted but one. What good would this do?

I was contacted the other day by a submitter stating that their site was submitted several months ago and never listed. I replied that the site was indeed listed and had been for quite some time. They replied “ how come it doesn’t come up for the keywords I submitted in the title and description” when searching ODP. They never looked at their listing but only at what they submitted. I had to go through the whole thing of Titles and Descriptions per guidelines and how theirs was edited. We exchanged several emails during the course of the day with the last being “could you just change it to include these keywords”? I ignored it and felt that I had wasted approximately an hours time with this one submitter. It was a waste because they didn’t learn a thing. Imagine if we replied to every submitter……………..

I could post this to a few of the recent threads but I chose this one ;)

My 2-cents

choster




msg:470998
 6:16 pm on Dec 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

stever, I do appreciate the time and thought you put into making constructive suggestions, from the submitter's point of view, how ODP could improve. But the submitter is not the only public that the ODP serves. And I understand that the general public, and most new editors, can only theorize the logistics of managine a directory approaching 4 million listings and half a million categories. JoeAnt doesn't have a single listing for the Latin language, CSS, or the New York Mets, among other topics.

There seems to be great demand for better communications from editors to the submitting public. The problem is that the communications that would come out from the ODP aren't necessarily the communications that the submitting public wants to hear :).

ODP editors don't expect submitters to have memorized the compendium of general and local guidelines, standards, conventions, procedures, and structures that comprise the project. They shouldn't be expected to. But what this means is that submitters with a limited knowledge (what they might have skimmed from the add.cgi page) and a fairly limited interest in the ODP (getting their site listed) send a lot of demands to editors that won't fly. It doesn't matter if your gas station serves the entire Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area, if it's located in Champlin it's being listed in Champlin. It doesn't matter if you say your religion is the source of all truth and wisdom. It's not getting top billing in Science/ .

In the past, some editors wrote their own form letter scripts or Bookmarklets, but I couldn't find any that are currently maintained. For one, over the course of years, taxonomic and stylistic guidelines shift, the directory grows, and editor preferences change. A single url may be edited a dozen times by a dozen different editors. Do you want to receive all those e-mails that "editor X added a period to the description for your site in the unreviewed queue"? And it only takes one nasty reply to ruin it for a thousand decent and innocent submitters (as with so much in life, the 20 who ruin everything for the 80).

This 36 message thread spans 2 pages: 36 ( [1] 2 > >
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