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Open Directory Project - A Mystery
Is it something other than it pretends
markymarky




msg:488881
 7:53 am on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

I've recently become an editor of the ODP and I am, to say the least, disturbed in the extreme about the methodology and nature of the directory. Essentially it is shrouded in mystery.

Try doing a search for news on the Open Directory - there is none....

Who appoints the sennior ediotrs? How are they chosen? Who are they?

How is it funded? It is a huge and expensive operation?

If it is there for the community why are reasons for rejection to submitters required?

What is the real editorial policy and how consistently is this enforced. The ODP is one of the most important directories on the web, but is, to say the least, mysterious in it's operation. Why?

[edited by: Marcia at 8:05 am (utc) on June 12, 2003]

 

Paul in South Africa




msg:488882
 8:00 am on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

I have been an ODP editor for a similar length of time and have found that almost all of the questions you raise are answered in the internal ODP fora.

On the occasions where I haven't been able to find an answer a senior or meta editor has pointed me in the right direction.

stever




msg:488883
 8:13 am on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

Reading some of the publicly available documents - try doing a search for "DMOZ Documentation Project", for example - may answer some of your questions (if you really do want them answered).

markymarky




msg:488884
 8:16 am on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

I've looked through the editor forums (again) and my questions are just not answered. Take a look again and see if you can find the answers. I can't There is of course lots of stuff about editing rules and cases, but that's it.

markymarky




msg:488885
 8:23 am on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

I've taken a look at the document project and got as far as....

Candidates are nominated in the private meta forum when noticed by metas. The metas then cast votes. Staff grants the permissions, in occasional batches, to whom they want. However, they generally go along with the meta consensus. As soon as the metas are told of the grants, the details are announced in the public thread.

This partially answers soem of my questions but leaves a blank for some of the most important questions.

As to the above you have a group of people who you don't know, creating a consensus on who they allow to join their group....hmmmmm, that's open.....?

stever




msg:488886
 8:35 am on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

If your questions are not answered, then why not ask them there? You would possibly find other people willing to point to you to the many and varied resources at your disposal.

Of course, that would tend to spoil any conspiracy theory...

cornwall




msg:488887
 8:38 am on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

markymarky

What a nice "new" name at WebmasterWorld ;). I was interested to see that Mods have left the thread in Foo, rather than moving to Directories

>> The ODP is one of the most important directories on the web, but is, to say the least, mysterious in it's operation. <<

It is a serious point. Any group chosen in this self perpetuating way must have its weakness.

Consider the analogy of Mrs Thatcher in Britain. Her biography was titled "One of us"

"The title of the book, One Of Us, is taken from Mrs T's philosophy that people fell into two camps, those who wholeheartedly embraced her ideas and policies, and those who did not. The latter group were considered disloyal or not quite up to it, and could not be trusted with important jobs."

rfgdxm1




msg:488888
 8:43 am on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

Simple answers:

The ODP is part of Netscape, now owned by the huge AOL/Time Warner empire. The ODP has all of 2 staff members. Extremely small.

The editorial policy is public and in the guidelines. The guidelines are consistently enforced. However, if you read the guidelines editoral discretion is pretty large.

The senior editors basically are a cabal. Who they are is on the public editall list. Who gets to be a part of this cabal is up to the senior editors and staff.

cornwall




msg:488889
 8:53 am on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

>>The senior editors basically are a cabal. Who they are is on the public editall list. Who gets to be a part of this cabal is up to the senior editors and staff.<<

Does that not worry you?

trillianjedi




msg:488890
 9:06 am on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

It shouldn't worry anyone any more than the fact that a countries government is effectively a cabal!

I think ODP works extremely well. I've only been there as an editor a short while, but I see no mystery.

TJ

markymarky




msg:488891
 9:06 am on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

So we have an answer on ownership. Thank you. It is owned by AOL/ Time Warner as I suspected (via netscape). I am having genuine trouble with the idea that it is run by 2 people though. As for whether that reassures me - no it does not. Quite the opposite. I am not sure that all of those editors beavering away on the directory would be happy if this was told to them at the outset.

Is there, for example, any constitution that says that it will always be free non-profit?!

As for the consistency I don't think so...take a look at the threads in this site...lots of complaints.

One of the reasons why I joined the ODP was to try to establish how the guidelines worked in practice. The idea of unique content is quite clearly a principle that is writ large. However, this does not explain to may people why their sites are not listed (Without explanation in most cases).

My own suspicion is that many of the editors are there to see that their own sites are listed, and to keep the competition out.

rfgdxm1




msg:488892
 9:17 am on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

>It shouldn't worry anyone any more than the fact that a countries government is effectively a cabal!

Particularly when you consider that anything this ODP "cabal" does really isn't that important in the grand scheme of things. Or on the Internet for that matter. Now governments have real power, and that is a serious concern.

cornwall




msg:488893
 9:32 am on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

Whether one would call the governance of ODP a Cabal [wikipedia.org] or an Oligarchy [wikipedia.org], seems to me a not particulary satisfactory state of affairs in either case.

Surprises me that editors are happy with it, but there you go.

I particularly liked from that definition above of oligarchy

Oligarchies are often controlled by a few powerful families whose children are raised and mentored to become inheritors of the power of the oligarchy, often at some sort of expense to those governed.

trillianjedi




msg:488894
 9:37 am on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

As for the consistency I don't think so...take a look at the threads in this site...lots of complaints.

I think it's a great shame that no-one actually praises the ODP when they do well - that seriously distorts the figures and incorrectly reflects the position that you see.

There are a lot of valid complaints. There are far far more satisfied customers. I would say a large percentage of the complainers are also guilty of not having read ODP policy and making poor submissions then bleating when they don't get in.

I praise the ODP. I think they do exceptionally well and I feel that as one of the last bastions of the internet who's philosophy is to keep information free, whether commercial or non-commercial, we should seek to protect them.

TJ

<added>

My own suspicion is that many of the editors are there to see that their own sites are listed, and to keep the competition out.

I'm not sure on the numbers, but I would imagine there are a few like that. They don't usually last long. If you feel you've spotted an editor acting a little suspiciously, just report them.

</added>

manilla




msg:488895
 9:44 am on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

<One of the reasons why I joined the ODP was to try to establish how the guidelines worked in practice>

So you'd be better placed to get your clien't sites into the directory?

<My own suspicion is that many of the editors are there to see that their own sites are listed, and to keep the competition out.>

With 60,000 editors, I'd be amazed if they were all there just for the joy of editing! If you think there is abuse, report the editor concerned.

If your site adheres to the guidelines, and you think it adds value to the directory with clear reasons why you think it does - report the editor who rejected it!

I think the ODP is a great resource - I'm not bothered who owns it - it has clear guidelines on how it operates.

There nothing out there doing the same thing on the scale of DMOZ - whether we like it or not it's not going away.

Just like Google :-)

Monkscuba




msg:488896
 9:58 am on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

"I praise the ODP. I think they do exceptionally well and I feel that as one of the last bastions of the internet who's philosophy is to keep information free, whether commercial or non-commercial, we should seek to protect them."

Here here. If the editors all had huge salaries, then feel free to complain, but the idea of a huge, important spam free directory all run by volunteers is worth praising.

mil2k




msg:488897
 10:21 am on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

Even with all the problems ODP is facing right now It has it's important place on the internet and I for one would never underestimate the amount of good work they do. :)

stever




msg:488898
 10:21 am on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

>Surprises me that editors are happy with it, but there you go.

Hardly any more surprising that you or I are happy with the situation here or on any other forum, where a closeknit group of people who have "proved" themselves are promoted to more senior positions on approval from the board owners.

But "cabal" or "oligarchy" sounds better, of course.

For me, one of the most refreshing things about the ODP is its capacity to house and utilise the talents of many different and varied viewpoints - if I were ever to meet rfgdxm1 in person I would be sorely tempted to whack him around the head with a wet haddock, but nonetheless we both (I hope) do valuable work there.

rfgdxm1




msg:488899
 11:00 am on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

>But "cabal" or "oligarchy" sounds better, of course.

I just checked some dictionaries, and should clarify. The word "cabal" has multiple meanings, and some are rather negative. I used that as meaning "a ruling clique", with "clique" defined as "an exclusive circle of people with a common purpose."

>For me, one of the most refreshing things about the ODP is its capacity to house and utilise the talents of many different and varied viewpoints - if I were ever to meet rfgdxm1 in person I would be sorely tempted to whack him around the head with a wet haddock, but nonetheless we both (I hope) do valuable work there.

I'll have to remember to always carry a moist fish in case we ever meet to use in self-defense. ;)

kctipton




msg:488900
 2:28 pm on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

To clarify, meta-editors don't "vote" on other meta candidates, they "opinionate." (Perhaps that document needs adjustment which calls it a vote.) Sometimes people become meta-editors and they were never ever discussed as such by the current metas. This ruins the idea that this "cabal" is self-perpetuating. Also, some people who get favorable opinions get shot down by staff with usually firm statements like, "not ready at this time" or, sometimes, "not ever going to be a meta." Again, the self-selection myth gets ruined.

Markymarky, I'm appalled that you'd go through all the "official channels" to become an editor and then claim that everything is "murky." Did you not read _anything_ which was put before your face before (and after) you filled out the application and again after you were accepted? You've had your chance to learn the details about which you ask now. The answers ARE publicly available (do some Google searches and you'll see) as well as privately (in the ODP forums). If you want it spoon-fed to you, there is a "New Editors" forum in ODP which really will cover almost anything a new editor would want to know.

kctipton




msg:488901
 2:31 pm on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

Re: always free? Search for the ODP Social Contract on Google.

Re: run by 2 people? I don't know which document says this, but the metas and catmods essentially run/manage the people part of things, and staff runs the technical end (special permissions, computers, software).

Again, all this stuff is pretty easy to find outside and inside the ODP forums.

markymarky




msg:488902
 2:16 am on Jun 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

I've read a lot of the follow up posts and I'd like to answer them.

Take the example of financing. I've still not found ANYWHERE, anything about the financing of the Open Directory project. How much does it cost, who is paying ( I am guessing AOL TW). If everything is above board this would be published.

Also, when you go to sign up on the directory, why is there not a 'Owned and operated by AOL/Time Warner' message, so everyone is clear about exactly what they are joining. It is not (I think) a charity. Exactly what is it? It looks like a wholly sponsored organisation to me. (in answer to the comment about everything put in front of my face)

If this is pure altruism on the part of AOL Time Warner, why do they not make this public to show their commitment to the web community? If everything is fine they would be proud to be SPONSORING such a venture. Huge public corporations very rarely sponsor anything which doesn't make money without getting some kind of positive PR. So why the silence?

(I'm sure some people will tell me that AOL TimeWarner are just a bunch of good hearted guys....)

I keep on being told that everything is there for me to find in the ODP. There is a lot of information there. Much of it does not even start to address the issues that I am questioning.

People suggest that the structure of the ODP does not matter. It's like joining a tennis club. Join or don't join. If a cabal runs the tennis club, hey, who cares?

The ODP is different. You just have to see the SEs that are using the ODP to see how important it is becoming. It is, in effect, becoming a part of the very organisation of the web. It claims to be an 'Open Directory'. It does not look very open to me.

Why is it not democratic in its structure? Why is the financing not published? I've read all the answers about how good the directory is.

One of the comments was:

"I praise the ODP. I think they do exceptionally well and I feel that as one of the last bastions of the internet who's philosophy is to keep information free, whether commercial or non-commercial, we should seek to protect them."
Here here. If the editors all had huge salaries, then feel free to complain, but the idea of a huge, important spam free directory all run by volunteers is worth praising

My questions to these people are:

What if you are one of the people who has a site rejected for no apparent reason and with no explanation?

Why, if its such a good thing, is it not more open about ownership etc?

Do you believe in democratic values? If you do, how can you accept such an important community resource being run by a cabal? Do you not think a democratic structure and constitution would logical for such an organisation if it is genuinely open?

victor




msg:488903
 2:29 am on Jun 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

It claims to be an 'Open Directory'. It does not look very open to me.

Anyone can join as an editor if they meet the guidelines -- that's open.

Anyone can use the data for free -- provided they adhere to the guidelines -- that's open.

What if you are one of the people who has a site rejected for no apparent reason and with no explanation?

Ask at Resource zone -- the discussions there are open.

As the OPD About page says:

The Open Directory was founded in the spirit of the Open Source movement, and is the only major directory that is 100% free. There is not, nor will there ever be, a cost to submit a site to the directory, and/or to use the directory's data. The Open Directory data is made available for free to anyone who agrees to comply with our free use license.

[dmoz.org...]

Sounds open to me.

Bluesplinter




msg:488904
 3:11 am on Jun 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

I've looked through the editor forums (again) and my questions are just not answered.

Did you ask any? If so, then they would have been answered. Rather disingenuous to say "my questions are just not answered" when you haven't asked any. Makes it very easy to justify your conspiracy theory here.

You're out to destroy the ODP aren't you? Are you doing this on your own, or are you being funded by a hidden faction? Is Yahoo behind this? Are they concerned about the decline of their own directory (and the resulting loss of income?). Or is this stratagem being engineered by M$ so AOL/TW will have to sell out to them?

Why are you hiding behind a mysterious username like "markymarky". I checked, there's no editor with that name. Are you ashamed of your editor name? Have you been adding spam to the directory in an effort to ruin its reputation and lower its value, thereby benefiting either Y! or M$? Or are there more than one of you involved in this little intrigue of yours, and you just forgot to use the same persona? Why aren't you more open about the members of your cabal and who is behind the funding, and what ends you are striving to achieve?

My questions are just not answered!

To the non-paranoid among us, this was a joke :) To the paranoid -- and you know we know who you are:

was it...?

markymarky




msg:488905
 3:13 am on Jun 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

You still haven't answered about the total lack of accountability. Resource zone.... what has that got to do with the accountability.

Do you believe in democratic values or do you believe that having a cabal in charge of one of the most important resources on the Internet is okay.

kctipton




msg:488906
 3:47 am on Jun 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

Wow, bluesplinter for president!

You haven't presented any evidence that you are an editor (or aren't an employee of Yahoo for that matter), markymarky, and as such your tirades are looking less and less credible. It's very disingenuous to claim you are an insider, but give us some proof since that's a core "qualification" you are using to give your posts weight.

The forum charter hints that a discussion about how ODP runs itself really isn't what WebmasterWorld is all about. How does knowing who owns ODP help with submitting sites, for example?

RFranzen




msg:488907
 3:59 am on Jun 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

Marky,

I'm going to assume you are sincere. You don't seem to be aware of your ignorance and paranoia. As most others have done, I'll try to answer your "questions".

total lack of accountability

Most editors would love it if AOL/TWC took notice of the ODP and treated it as a showcase. Instead it barely gets corporate notice. It is a project which Netscape took over prior to being bought by AOL. Financially there is no accountability because no one makes money off of it.

OTOH, all editors are 100% accountable. All editing you do, all I do, all editing done by the metas and staff -- it is all public to all editors. Additionally, most editors feel an obligation to ODP users -- the opportunity to help build and maintain a great directory is one of the reasons we edit.

Do you believe in democratic values or do you believe that having a cabal in charge of one of the most important resources on the Internet is okay.

Yes, I believe in democratic values. What do my politics have to do with anything?

Yes, I believe that having a "cabal" in charge of the ODP is ok. Heck, I believe it is necessary. You obviously have never been associated with any other large, open effort. Almost all are run by one person or a small group of True Believers.

If you are somehow thinking that editors should vote on various issues, you obviously don't realize our standards are much higher. We make changes thru a consensus process in our private forums. Or do you want us to open up our discussions to non-editors as well, take votes, and let 50 spammers with 5000 e-mail accounts actually control the ODP?

Instead of b*tching about stuff here which you don't understand, I suggest you edit for a while and learn what the ODP is about. Take part in our private forums. Learn our culture.

-- Rich

steveb




msg:488908
 5:05 am on Jun 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

Not much of an "observer" I see.

Go to the front page of dmoz.

Click the not-very-cryptic "about us" link.

Click the not-very-cryptic "general FAQ" link.

Read that ODP is owned by Netscape.

Look somewhere besides your sock drawer and find out Netscape is owned by AOL.

Agatha Christie this ain't.

cornwall




msg:488909
 7:26 am on Jun 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

>>You haven't presented any evidence that you are an editor (or aren't an employee of Yahoo for that matter), markymarky, and as such your tirades are looking less and less credible <<

Made me smile seeing an ODP meta writing that (assuming you are an ODP meta - you haven't presented any evidence...:) )

It took me 30 seconds just now to establish who markymarky was in ODP. He is certainly there!

I thought you guys we meant to be ace at sniffing out such information to stop double log ins, editor abuse, etc!

Now back to reading the rest of the thread...

manilla




msg:488910
 7:48 am on Jun 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

<It took me 30 seconds just now to establish who markymarky was in ODP. He is certainly there!>

Took me 5 minutes not to find him dwah :-(

This 80 message thread spans 3 pages: 80 ( [1] 2 3 > >
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