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DMOZ and Affiliate Links
What's the difference? Affiliate site and affiliate links.
mbennie




msg:478787
 5:24 pm on Apr 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

Just had an email from a DMOZ editor about a site that was submitted. The site in question is content rich with many pages of information on widgets and a public forum about widgets.

The site also had 4 affiliate links to widgets.

The one line email from the editor said "Sorry, we don't list affiliate sites."

Is this the standard?

 

mbennie




msg:478817
 7:21 am on Apr 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

Isn't any new information on a hot topic valuable?

You know what the topic of the site is by now. Much of the content is contributed by MD's here locally who specialize in respiratory conditions. I submit that their opinions and expertise are quite valuable.

The editor who looked at the site wouldn't know that though. I received his reply less than 10 minutes after notifying him of the site's existence.

He turned it down because he didn't like my motive

Receptional Andy




msg:478818
 8:15 am on Apr 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

Whew, pretty heated discussion here. I don't want to go over old ground, but there are a few things I would like to add.

>>>I don't think the DMOZ was originally put together so that a small group of Editors could decide which sites they liked and point the rest of the Internet population in the direction of those sites.

I interpret this (and the social contract) differently to you rfgdxm1. The very fact that it is called a 'social contract' implies to me that editors have a responsibility to "Give Back to the Web Community". This in turn suggests that editors to one extent or another, should evaluate sites in so far as they will benefit the community. You can't do this if you base your editorial decisions entirely on personal opinion. Obviously the ODP trys to get around this by aiming for a breadth of editors, but this will not work if editors allow personal bias to influence their decisions. Lets say I edit a literature cat. What books you like depends greatly on personal taste. Let's say there are some authors I cannot stand and I see no value in their works (although other memebers of the community would disagree). From your comments above rfgdxm1 would I be justified in refusing any submissions related to authors I don't 'like' because I personally don't like them and don't feel they have value?

Perhaps i'm reading too much into what you said, but I place different emphasis on the quote above:

>>a small group of Editors could decide which sites they liked

From my reading of the ODP guidelines and contract, this is certainly not the aim of dmoz. Conversely, it is for as large a group of editors as possible to decide whch sites they think will be valuable to visitors, whether they personally 'like' them or not.

stever




msg:478819
 8:59 am on Apr 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

>Whew, pretty heated discussion here.

Fuelled, in no small part, by a deft intervention from a Moderator.

>So why are all of these editors who haven't even looked at the site coming to the defense of the one editor who did?

Because they understand his reasoning? As far as I can see, it doesn't have anything to do with the motive of the site, despite the red herrings thrown around...

Since we (rightly) can't see the site here, and since it doesn't appear that it will become visible elsewhere, we are left with imagining a small site related to the health industry with half pages of affiliate links applying to a category filled with high-quality and authoritative sites (go and check the category).

Setting aside our pro- and anti-ODP stances, do you think most of the sites of this style and content that you have seen on the web before are ODP-guidelines compliant? And therefore do you think it is likely that this one is?

digitalghost




msg:478820
 9:26 am on Apr 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

Mbennie,

Do what I do for clients that insist they must be listed in OPD, just PAY the editors to list the site. It's cheap, effective and you don't have to debate ethics in a public forum. If you run into an editor that won't accept cash, double the cash offer and step up to the next editor. Doesn't take long to find someone that will take cash.

It's about the money... :)

rfgdxm1




msg:478821
 9:43 am on Apr 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

>From your comments above rfgdxm1 would I be justified in refusing any submissions related to authors I don't 'like' because I personally don't like them and don't feel they have value?

That's not what I meant at all. If an author exists, and there is interest, then it is appropriate for the ODP. Including sites about how much said author sucks.

Receptional Andy




msg:478822
 9:48 am on Apr 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

>>That's not what I meant at all

Fair enough. I guess I was playing devil's advocate a bit, and it wasn't the best example. My point was that you seemed to be saying that the ODP wants editors to judge sites from a personal perspective, whereas a jugement as to whether something is 'valuable' necessarily involves looking at a site from an outside perspective as much as possible.

stever




msg:478823
 10:23 am on Apr 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

So let's just get what you are saying absolutely straight, digitalghost:

Corruption and financial inducements are so endemic within the ODP that you feel able to advise another WW member to use this as a valid business tactic for submission of his site in a certain category - a category which is incidentally edited by fellow WW members amongst others.

The corruption is so pervasive, you imply, that there is no risk in finding a rare honest editor because you just have to go up the next level until you find a corrupt editor (presumably the honest editor has nowhere to turn to to report this approach).

Despite the severe concerns that this would raise about not just the ODP, but the motives for posts made here by WW members who are ODP editors, you presumably are not willing to provide any evidence to back up your allegations because it would destroy your "secret advantage".

Once again we see a DMOZ thread descend into paranoid fantasy....

John_Caius




msg:478824
 12:32 pm on Apr 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

Ok, let's get things clear here.

For those who are interested, I have put the site in question in my profile. In case it's not obvious, this is not my homepage!

I am an experienced editor in the branch of the directory concerned. I have plenty of experience of editing throughout the Health category, including in spammy areas such as Health/Beauty and Health/Weight_Loss.

The Guidelines state:

---
Sites consisting primarily of affiliate links, or whose sole purpose is to drive user traffic to another site for the purpose of commission sales, provide no unique content and are not appropriate for inclusion in the directory. However, a site that contains affiliate links in addition to other content (such as a fan site for a singer that has interviews and photos plus banner ads and links to buy the singer's CDs) might be an acceptable submission to the directory.
---

This site contains content related to the subject in question. mbennie correctly notes in post 1 that there are four affiliate links on the page - he omits to mention that the affiliate links are placed in a very prominent position on virtually every page of the site.

My reason for rejecting this site (I have since cleared the unreviewed from this category, accepting some other useful sites) is because I feel it comes under the sentence from the guidelines stating:

"Sites consisting primarily of affiliate links, or whose sole purpose is to drive user traffic to another site for the purpose of commission sales"

If this was not the case, why would mbennie not put up a separate page called "products" and list his affiliate links there? The fact that he's put them on every page is a bit of a giveaway. It doesn't take very long, as he correctly noted, to spot this.

Further to that, mbennie sent me the following sticky mail subsequently:

---
Wow...You mean to tell me that there isn't a single site in the DMOZ with an affiliate link? Impressive.
The links are removed - hope we can keep the banners because they pay the hosting bill.

Could you take another look?
---

Aside from the fact that the links are clearly still there, ODP editors with experience in spammy areas of the directory are well aware of the tactic known as "bait and switch", in which an innocuous-looking site puts the unacceptable content back into the site once it has been listed, hoping that an editor will not re-review the listed site.

mbennie - if I were you, I would take your issues up with the editors working at the Resource Zone (look in this forum's charter or search on Google) - they will review your site and say whether they think it's worth listing. The ODP is a democracy and any quality editor would be happy to bow to the combined opinion of their peers. If other senior editors review your site, affiliate links and all, and consider it worth listing then it will be listed.

ettore




msg:478825
 1:36 pm on Apr 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

>>Do what I do for clients that insist they must be listed in OPD, just PAY the editors to list the site. It's cheap, effective and you don't have to debate ethics in a public forum.

Or, when such a behaviour is detected, you will see the editor removed and you may see your site (alongwith all others you are affiliated with) removed and banned from the directory.

If you run into an editor that won't accept cash, double the cash offer and step up to the next editor. Doesn't take long to find someone that will take cash.

Being an ODP meta and an SEO at the same time, only thing I could tell you is to ask my clients which is my usual answer when they pretend a non-guidelines-compliant listing. Not even talking about being contacted with just cash offers to list a site.

My best suggestion to all webmasters is: do not do that. You may find yourself in a dead end street.

cornwall




msg:478826
 1:46 pm on Apr 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

We all have homespun advice to offer people - mine is that if you want to do things on the web, then do not raise the matter in forums. If you get turned down in, say Dmoz, just accept it and try another way. Do not broadcast it.

With the information on this thread I was quite easily able to find that the original poster had, for example, one site listed (3 times) on DMOZ, and that it was an affiliate site.

If you are in a greenhouse, as they say, try not to throw stones :(

The Contractor




msg:478827
 1:49 pm on Apr 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

First, John I would pull the site from your Webmaster World profile. You have explained yourself more than is needed and it serves no purpose. It is really not appropriate to post the URL to someone else’s site in your profile.

There will always be those that believe the following:

1.My site deserves to be listed.
2.Editors are corrupt.
3.ODP is a joke.

Let those that want to believe the above to their own thoughts and beliefs. I have yet to see an editor that is proven to be corrupt in any way not booted promptly by the Meta editors and staff. I have yet to see a thread like this change any minds on either side.
If you are a submitter – take it up with a couple meta editors if you feel you have been treated unfairly or corruption exists.

If you are a editor – you are wasting your time trying to convert someone into believing it was the right thing to do not to include their site. If the submitter would like to apply to become an editor and work their way up to be able to edit in the category of their choosing – they can do this. I for one would never care to edit where my own site(s) is/are listed and would never touch my own listing – this breeds the belief that you are corrupt. Basically let those submitters/people be that throw out statements such as “it’s all about money”, “editors are corrupt”…etc… , as they will never believe otherwise.

My 2-cents :)

Added: I agree with cornwall Msg#40

Dynamoo




msg:478828
 1:55 pm on Apr 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

If you want to get this resolved, take it to the ODP Public Forum. Arguing about it here will not get your site listed.

However, the guidelines state:

Sites consisting primarily of affiliate links, or whose sole purpose is to drive user traffic to another site for the purpose of commission sales, provide no unique content and are not appropriate for inclusion in the directory.

There are lots of cobbled together affiliate sites posing as content sites, with material really designed to send traffic to affiliate links. Experienced ODP editors are good at spotting this. After critically reviewing thousands of sites, senior editors can't be fooled that easily.

John_Caius




msg:478829
 1:58 pm on Apr 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

The site is now out of my profile. Anyone still really interested to know what it was can sticky me.

Laisha




msg:478830
 4:10 pm on Apr 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

However, if none of that is an issue, there is nothing in the guidelines that says the editor can't use discretion and just say "this site sucks".

There is frequent mention within ODP of the fact that design (exclusive of navigation), motive, and subject matter are not to be considered when deciding whether or not to include a site.

In this case, you have the editor who made the decision specifically stating
Building a site like this in the hope of quick traffic and quick profit is not something the ODP supports.
.

cornwall




msg:478831
 4:12 pm on Apr 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

>>If you want to get this resolved, take it to the ODP Public Forum.

If you follow this advice, IMHO you will end up with your main site being deleted as well. You are skating on thin ice.

ettore




msg:478832
 4:35 pm on Apr 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

Laisha is right. And no, rules haven't been changed here. Design (exclusive of navigation), motive, and subject matter are not to be considered when deciding whether or not to include a site (aside from illegal content, as defined in the ODP Guidelines).

I would reword the above mentioned statement in:
"Building a site with the only purpose of getting quick traffic and quick profit from affiliate links is not something the ODP supports".

I'm not John_Caius and i can't speak for him, but I suppose his previous statement was intended this way.

mbennie




msg:478833
 4:38 pm on Apr 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

Interesting...

According to John's own words the reason he chose to exclude the site is the 4 affiliate links on each page using this as a guideline:
Sites consisting primarily of affiliate links, or whose sole purpose is to drive user traffic to another site for the purpose of commission sales.

He then goes on to imply that if the links were moved to their own page, the site would be included when he says
why would mbennie not put up a separate page called "products" and list his affiliate links there?

Finally, in his own words
This site contains content related to the subject in question.

So apparently John feels it's his duty to tell site owners how to structure their sites, affiliate links are OK with him as long as they aren't too prominent, and this site would be included without the affiliate links because it does have content relative to the subject.

According to the ODP Guidelines editors are supposed to:
"Look at the content on the site, mentally blocking out all affiliate links. If the remaining information is original and valuable informational content that contributes something unique to the category's subject, the site may be a good candidate for the ODP. If the remaining content is poor, minimal, or copied from some other site, then the site is not a good candidate for the ODP."

Sorry John...I'm not going to redesign my site because you don't like the way it's laid out. I'm not going to stop monetizing my traffic. If you got off your high horse and did your job instead of critiquing what other people publish perhaps the ODP wouldn't have such a backlog.

stever




msg:478834
 4:44 pm on Apr 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

Laisha, selective quotation can change the meaning of people's posts.

In the case of rfgdxm1

The guidelines have specific rules about what an editor can not use as a basis for rejection, such as commercial self-interest, or personal or political bias. However, if none of that is an issue, there is nothing in the guidelines that says the editor can't use discretion and just say "this site sucks".

which was also further explained by subsequent posts.

In the case of John_Caius

If you look in the newly created category for this hot health topic, you will see high quality health sites like the World Health Organisation advice, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advice and links to news articles from the major news sources on the development of this health story. The site in question was not providing unique content.
Building a site like this in the hope of quick traffic and quick profit is not something the ODP supports. A similar situation occurred relatively recently on the Resource Zone board when a site was built quickly to cash in on the sudden death of a major pop star.

which was once again explained further later.

Your thesis that editors may be deleting sites because of reasons other than the guidelines may be arguable and even correct. But to base it on selective quotation is specious and, IMO, is not supported by these cases.

mbennie




msg:478835
 4:46 pm on Apr 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

The site in question was not providing unique content.

This is patently untrue.

buckworks




msg:478836
 5:00 pm on Apr 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

What amazes me in all this is how the site got looked at so fast. Setting aside other issues, I wish that could be cloned!

I submitted a good, 99% non-affiliate site in January ... still waiting ....

But I won't chase it. I figure that energy spent obsessing about DMOZ "issues" would be better invested in other link development work.

John_Caius




msg:478837
 5:11 pm on Apr 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

To clarify:

"Building a site like this in the hope of quick traffic and quick profit is not something the ODP supports."

Maybe 'facilitates' or 'assists' would be a better word than 'supports'.

The ODP will list your site on the basis of content and whether it fits with the guidelines - no other reason. The ODP will not 'help you out' by facilitating a quick listing for you because you privately contacted an editor for a personal review. The Health team have reduced the unreviewed queue by over 2,000 sites in the last three months but it still remains the case that the average review time is between three and nine months in this branch of the directory.

I would also agree with ettore's helpful rewording.

It seems silly to have to go over everything three times, but the following section clearly also needs clarification:

---
My reason for rejecting this site (I have since cleared the unreviewed from this category, accepting some other useful sites) is because I feel it comes under the sentence from the guidelines stating:

"Sites consisting primarily of affiliate links, or whose sole purpose is to drive user traffic to another site for the purpose of commission sales"

If this was not the case, why would mbennie not put up a separate page called "products" and list his affiliate links there? The fact that he's put them on every page is a bit of a giveaway. It doesn't take very long, as he correctly noted, to spot this.
---

What I have pointed out here is a) which part of the guidelines I feel the site contravenes and b) why it was quickly clear to me that this was the case - the fact that the same affiliate links were given major prominence on every page of the site rather than the content being the major focus. Had the content been the major focus then I might not have felt that the sole purpose of the site was to drive user traffic to another site for the purpose of commission sales.

I don't think that mbennie should redesign his site - it clearly is working very well for him on a click-thru efficiency basis. However, in my opinion it does not warrant a listing in the ODP. If he wants another editor to consider it then he can always visit Resource Zone and ask.

Appendix - some of the sources currently cited in the category:

Hong Kong Dept of Public Health
World Health Organisation
Health Canada
Harvard Medical School
Center for Disease Control, Taiwan
UK Public Health Laboratory Service
US Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs
United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Australian Department of Health and Ageing
New England Journal of Medicine
Singapore Ministry of Health

plus 47 news reports and articles from pretty much all the major news sources worldwide.

Considering the current lack of specific knowledge about the syndrome, this is probably one of the most comprehensive categories in the Health tree. Adding unique content, i.e. new information, or old information considered in a different way, is pretty hard.

John_Caius




msg:478838
 5:18 pm on Apr 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

If you want your site looked at fast then you can always contact an ODP editor and ask them to have a look at it. Resource Zone is a good place to get this done. The questions they will answer are

is my site suitable for a listing in the ODP or does it contravene the guidelines in some way?

is x/x/x an appropriate category for me to submit my site to?

The question they won't answer is

can you please list my site as soon as possible?

The question they can't answer is

how long will it take for my site to be reviewed?

Asking an editor to speed up the processing of your site is not on. Asking an editor to give an opinion on your site's eligibility is ok.

Laisha




msg:478839
 5:29 pm on Apr 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

This is, IMHO, a great thread.

Had I seen it early on, it would have been gone due to the fact that it does not comply with our charter.

However, by the time I got here, it had already gone from a question about a specific circumstance to a conversation which is loaded with information which would benefit many members.

I have, unfortunately, had to remove a couple of posts which were either too specific to be helpful to anyone other than the poster or short trolling posts which offered no information at all.

Please feel free to continue the discussion while keeping in mind that the purpose of this forum is informational and useful to more than one or two of our members.

Thanks for understanding.

mbennie




msg:478840
 5:40 pm on Apr 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

Adding unique content, i.e. new information, or old information considered in a different way, is pretty hard.

Thats a pretty negative point of view considering the fact that people like myself point out places for you to find that unique content.

Do you truly know the difference between an affiliate site (like many of the pharmaceutical and travel sites going around) and a site that uses affiliate links to make a bit of money?

John_Caius




msg:478841
 5:48 pm on Apr 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

Just to highlight another important point that people here might not realise. The ODP editing community tries hard to keep pace with breaking news stories. Because these new categories are particularly fresh, they understandably get reviewed frequently and sites are usually initially added from hand searches using Google, news sources and inter-site links. Recent examples include:

ch.dmoz.org/Society/Death/Online_Dedications/Columbia_Accident/

ch.dmoz.org/Society/Issues/Warfare_and_Conflict/Specific_Conflicts/Iraq/

ch.dmoz.org/Sports/Cricket/ICC/Events/World_Cup/

and of course:

ch.dmoz.org/Health/Conditions_and_Diseases/Respiratory_Conditions/Severe_Acute_Respiratory_Syndrome/

Categories related to these new ones also get reviewed and improved. For the SARS category we built a new category on the related subject of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome so that a related link could be put in the SARS category:

ch.dmoz.org/Health/Conditions_and_Diseases/Respiratory_Conditions/ARDS/

I think it's useful just to highlight the fact that ODP editors don't all spend all their time reviewing submitted sites or editing in the business or shopping branches of the directory. It was noted in the Google forum a few days ago that, due to the monthly Google update schedule, the ODP is actually often more up to date than Google concerning very recent events, due to the fact that it *is* human-edited.

digitalghost




msg:478842
 6:41 pm on Apr 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

>>Corruption and financial inducements are so endemic within the ODP that you feel able to advise another WW member to use this as a valid business tactic for submission of his site in a certain category

I've paid for listings in the past for clients that insisted they had to have a listing in ODP.

>>risk

What risk? The site will either be listed or it won't.

I'm not suggesting that ODP is riddled with corruption, I'm saying that there were a few editors that would take cash and list a site. There are also those that would refuse and inform the next editor up the line that someone was trying to buy placement.

In as much as you tried to suggest that I implied the ODP was filled with corruption are you trying to say that no corruption exists within the ODP?

My advice to my clients is to submit to ODP once and forget about it. It's much easier and more efficient to find a link elsewhere. Some people simply think that having an ODP listing is a requirement to rank well. It's not true, but that's what they believe.

stever




msg:478843
 9:08 pm on Apr 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

>I've paid for listings in the past for clients that insisted they had to have a listing in ODP.

I don't doubt it - if you have a site that you know will never get listed, a venal editor and a willing client - and you mask your identity.

>In as much as you tried to suggest that I implied the ODP was filled with corruption are you trying to say that no corruption exists within the ODP?

Not at all (although I've never personally come across it). I'm not sure that I would encourage all editors to take backhanders because some do, however.

>My advice to my clients is to submit to ODP once and forget about it.

I agree with you entirely...as a webmaster there are more productive ways of spending one's time.

Bernie




msg:478844
 12:53 pm on Apr 6, 2003 (gmt 0)

In this thread I can read some shift to the general question whether ODP is fair, democratic, etc. or not.

I think this is very much question of personal opinion or personal interest as we can see in this thread.

I think though that there are two factors ODP may keep on improving and keep being self-critical in order to get some structure in this issue:

1. Reliability
2. Objectivity

Reliability in this sense means that webmasters can count on dmoz to deal equally with two equal situations.

Unfortunately this is not always the case and may create the major disappointment among webmasters. here comes an example (which is not about accepting an entry in general but about how to deal with the title):

think of a $$ keyword field there is a dmoz-category in which a site has the following title:

company name [www.keyword1-keyword2.com]

so the editor put the company's name and then requoted the url in []. all the other sites of that category received this normal title pattern:

company name

thank you so much mr. editor for giving a competitive advantage to only one of the sites. (i don't have to tell anyone on this forum about the impact of a keyword in dmoz-title=link on google).

the editor may have personal interests on that site or just may have forgotten to correct an older entry according to new odp-policy. either way the next webmaster submitting his site will not be amused about it.

2. Objectivity

means that an issue is jugded in a non biased way. once again I have an example about how to deal with the title:

from what I have seen I assume that odp-policy came to the conclusion that a website title has to be the correct corporate name of the website's company (which seems to be the most objective rule).

let's say company A sells widgets. the name of the company is mc-example widgets inc. company B sells widgets too, but their website has much better content and customer service plus the widgets are better quality and even cheaper. unfortunately the company chose the name mc-2nd example inc. no widgets in the company's name so poor/no chance to get widgets in the title.

So we have one site that is worth to be found for widgets (obviously the second one) and another one that is less worth. Is this rule objective?

cornwall




msg:478845
 2:09 pm on Apr 6, 2003 (gmt 0)

>>So we have one site that is worth to be found for widgets (obviously the second one) and another one that is less worth. Is this rule objective?

Regrettably beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Someone (an editor) has to make an objective judgement on submitted sites. If that editors judgement is not objective, then they may be corrupt. In that case complain, with facts, to a meta. If your complaint holds water, the editor will be dismissed

However in most cases the editor is objective, and perhaps has made a good call.

Bernie




msg:478846
 2:19 pm on Apr 6, 2003 (gmt 0)

cornwall you may have mixed up my first and my second example. the first case is def. worth reporting the second one is about a problem of a rule. why is it objective to give an advantage to a company that more or less accidently carries the strategic keyword in the official corporate name?

motsa




msg:478847
 5:04 pm on Apr 6, 2003 (gmt 0)

why is it objective to give an advantage to a company that more or less accidently carries the strategic keyword in the official corporate name?

Why would it be more objective to deliberately misrepresent the name of a company in its listing title? That requires a deliberate exception to the guideline based on how "keywordish" the editor in question felt any given word was. How can that be anything but subjective?

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