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DMOZ - Locked In the Cellar With No Food or Water
Where are the Social Abuse Agents?

 3:16 am on Sep 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

Many people complain that DMOZ is dead or dying but to me, the ODP resembles that noble character from To Kill a Mocking Bird, Boo Radley, the pale, emaciated, possibly retarded character who lived next door.

When you look at where Yahoo originated, it was as a free directory much in the spirit of a community board, but then it took on some investors and reluctantly acquiesced to advertising.

Then you look at the big money behind Y and their vested interests in keeping the ODP a non-competitor, to groom it to be on the sidelines, you can see why it was important to keep the ODP strictly non-profit while Yahoo was allowed to bloom.

In other words, the ODP isn't dead, it's more like the pale emaciated sibling kept locked in the cellar. Occasionally it's parent will feel pity and throw it some server upgrades but the parent quickly slaps the padlocks back on and returns to blissfully neglecting the ODP.

Just as child welfare agencies swoop in and rescue abused children, there should be a Web Directory Angel that can come in and rescue the ODP. It can use a little nourishment.

[edited by: martinibuster at 3:43 am (utc) on Sep. 17, 2003]



 11:25 pm on Sep 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

The simple fact is, me and Gretel don't LIKE your gingerbread, and we really don't think we'd like anything else you'd cook in that oven.

It's evident you like her brownies, though.


 11:49 pm on Sep 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

>Wolves may have their own place in the ecology (and this forum is definitely a vulpine reserve)

LOL. ;)


 11:52 pm on Sep 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

Such witty repartee!

Nobody needs a crystal ball here. The writing is on the wall. One only needs to learn to read and have a basic understanding of mathematics (and business 101) to see the future of the DMOZ ... should AOL choose to continue to ignore the existing problems.

Use the DMOZ while you can and for what its worth. Evolution of the web will take care of the rest.


 12:43 am on Sep 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

>should AOL choose to continue to ignore the existing problems.

AOL recently bought the ODP some shiny new servers. My guess is that AOL Time Warner, which has more money than God Himself, has decided that keeping the ODP alive is a better business decision that all the bad will thousands of disgruntled ODP editors would cost if they drove a stake through its heart. The ODP may not live forever, but it'll linger for at least years longer.


 1:24 am on Sep 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

Right. My main concern is that the suits at AOL will start taking an interest in DMOZ. They should just provide money for first-class hardware and leave the directory alone. As corporate types, they probably don't understand DMOZ. It makes me nervous that they think they are in charge, but as long as they provide money and keep their noses out of things, DMOZ will thrive.


 2:04 am on Sep 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

>you'd better find a way to deal with that (huge number of lousy submissions)

Actually, we don't HAVE to deal with submissions at ALL.

What you're missing here is that we don't really care how we find a site. A site that I find in unreviewed where the webmaster submitted it, a site that I find while mining links from a local directory, and a site that I find while randomly surfing around one night are all equally valuable. When the ODP is working the way we want it to, it is truly impartial. That means it's totally irrelevant to us which gets published first, the site a frustrated webmaster submitted six months ago or the site I found linkhopping in a burst of insomnia last night.

If the unreviewed queue is clogged with garbage, my hit rate is going to be higher when randomly surfing than when cleaning out unreviewed. So maybe I'll choose to surf more and clean the unreviewed queue less. This may be bad for an individual submitter, but it's not bad for the directory or our users! They'd all rather have two good new sites in the directory than one good new site.

In short, no, I really don't see any drastic problems at ODP. It's achieving what it set out to achieve very nicely. It's too bad it's not also a venue for prompt submission processing, as you would like; but there's Yahoo for that, so what's the problem? *shrug*


 2:16 am on Sep 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

>My main concern is that the suits at AOL will start taking an interest in DMOZ.

AOL Timewarner is in the process of wiping the AOL out their name...soon to be Time Warner.

AOL is simply a poorly performing division within Time Warner. It has to be a brave soul who presents the DMOZ budget to the ax happy cost cutters at Time Warner.

A little background [thestreet.com]


 3:38 am on Sep 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

Actually, we don't HAVE to deal with submissions at ALL.

I see this policy as being the source of the rift between submitters and the ODP.

If you take submissions, deal with them. Otherwise, don't take submissions.

As you have already said:
I haven't been able to help but notice that we've been getting more sites added every day since that thing's been broken.

The solution sounds obvious. The ODP will get more work done and webmasters will know where they stand.


 4:43 am on Sep 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

>>If you take submissions, deal with them. Otherwise, don't take submissions.

Technically, we take "suggestions", not submissions. You can suggest your site for inclusion in the directory and we can accept your suggestion or not. As has been said many times before, our goal is to build the directory -- sites suggested by users are only one tool for doing that that an editor can use or not use. In an area that I'm working on right now, for example, most of the sites that I'm adding are ones I'm going out and finding on my own. Later, once I've added all the ones I want to on my own I may go back and look at the pool of suggested sites...then again I may not. But the end result of my work is a bigger and better category, regardless of whether I touch the waiting suggestions or not.


 5:50 am on Sep 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

Technically, we take "suggestions", not submissions.

Then you should perhaps alter your "suggest" readme page -- from dmoz.org/add.html:

You should take a few moments to understand these policies and the steps to submit a site before you begin. [...] Do not submit mirror sites. [...]

On that page I found 13 occurences for "submit" but none for "suggest".


 8:22 am on Sep 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

>> I found 13 occurences for "submit" but none for "suggest".

Is there a big difference (aside from the fact that site submission [google.com] is way more used -- generally accepted term for the action of sending a request for evaluation and possible inclusion to a SE/Directory -- than site suggestion [google.com])?

sub·mit [wwWebmasterWorld.com]:
transitive senses
1 a : to yield to governance or authority b : to subject to a condition, treatment, or operation <the metal was submitted to analysis>
2 : to present or propose to another for review, consideration, or decision <submit a question to the court> <submit a bid on a contract> <submit a report>; also : to deliver formally <submitted my resignation>
3 : to put forward as an opinion or contention <we submit that the charge is not proved>
intransitive senses
1 a : to yield oneself to the authority or will of another : SURRENDER b : to permit oneself to be subjected to something <had to submit to surgery>
2 : to defer to or consent to abide by the opinion or authority of another

sug·gest [wwWebmasterWorld.com]:
1 a obsolete : to seek to influence : SEDUCE b : to call forth : EVOKE c : to mention or imply as a possibility <suggested that he might bring his family> d : to propose as desirable or fitting <suggest a stroll> e : to offer for consideration or as a hypothesis <suggest a solution to a problem>
2 a : to call to mind by thought or association <the explosion... suggested sabotage -- F. L. Paxson> b : to serve as a motive or inspiration for <a play suggested by a historic incident>

In both cases, I see no guarantee of action or positive reply implied.

BTW, did you also find the part (bottom of the ODP submission page) which reads "You should not rely on any aspect of a site's inclusion in the directory."?


 8:41 am on Sep 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

BTW, did you also find the part (bottom of the ODP submission page) which reads "You should not rely on any aspect of a site's inclusion in the directory."?

Of course I did and I also surely don't rely although I did not have problems with multiple listings of a multilingual site.
Trying to change subject?
You perhaps remember that it was not me who started with subtle distinctions between submit and suggest or whatever, but especially in this thread you can see a general hostility amongst odp editors towards suggestionssubmissions in general.
So I suggest the odp should generally remove the submit feature. No unreviewed queues any more, no complaining natural enemies, and perhaps no use by g! any more, no r-z needed, no unwanted popularity. Inside its reservation editors then can autistically search and add sites as they like. No contact of the "elite" (as flicker kindly describes) with the normal web people would be necessary any more. But dont't call yourself "The Republic of the Web" any more please.

Saluti da monaco, ettore ;)

#1 Oh I forgot the partially arrogant editor comments, the odp bashing etc. at WebmasterWorld would also stop then.

#2 Note this is not a rant but merely irony. Despite some things that are to be criticized I generally like the ODP very much.


 9:14 am on Sep 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

I ignore DMOZ pretty much entirely now (apart from writing a title and description for a client and telling the client to submit it) - ever since pressing the submission button told me that my submissions were being put in a pending file as they couldn't determine my IP address.

Don't seem to have that problem at any other directory - and it always strikes me as strange that my sites accepted into Yahoo, GoGuides, JoeAnt, Business.com and L$/Zeal etc., within days - often never appear in DMOZ for months, years or ever.

Anyway, I no longer even check if a site is or is not in DMOZ - I assume it won't be. The only reason anyone else cares is because of Google's use of DMOZ - not because they really think DMOZ is a "great" directory (IMHO)!


 9:46 am on Sep 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

>>I ignore DMOZ pretty much entirely now

A very pertinent point. It would appear that many, if not the majority of, professional webmasters with good sites to "suggest" have neither the necessity nor the time to get involved in the problems of DMOZ submission.

Meanwhile the dross continues to be submitted, piling up in unreviewed..

..and there are not enough editors for DMOZ to get back to pipe dream of local/specialist editors building their own categories of high quality knowledge.


 1:25 pm on Sep 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

I'm QUITE sure it wasn't me who used the word 'elite.' I think that was Lizardgroupie sucking up. ;-)

I don't consider submitters my enemies. Only about half of them are deceptive spammers; the rest either have appropriate sites to suggest or are honestly misinformed. I wouldn't -actually- want to turn off site submission entirely because A) some editors like going through the unreviewed queue, B) some good sites aren't linked to anything else and are therefore hard to find surfing, and C) some webmasters appreciate the option, use it appropriately, and get listed within a matter of weeks. The suggestion page does provide an additional resource for site mining, and there are many webmasters who are made happy by it, so I don't think I'd really support eliminating it.

But if you think it's "elitist" for processing submissions not to be a high priority on our part... then you're not really paying attention to the nature of our operation. Processing submissions is not our interest or our job; it's a side effect of what we do. You need to plan your behavior accordingly.

As I said earlier... part of me would like to see people regarding an ODP listing as an Internet award for unique, informative content, rather than an automatic inclusion in some comprehensive list of everything on the web. That's exactly how Google treats us, from what I can tell. Their search engine returns everything on the web no matter how useless; their directory features the sites that ODP editors reviewed by hand and deemed unique and content-rich.

Disclaimer: This post constitutes an unofficial, personal opinion not necessarily shared by other ODP editors, the university, or my cats.


 2:11 pm on Sep 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

The Open Directory must continue not so much for its content but the structure it is evolving. Novice classifiers like myself eventually realise that classification is a huge (megahuge) difficulty once you get past about 3 or 4 thousand sites.

You can look at the Dewey System or Library of Congress but they are (in my humble opinion) not as relevant with the actual content of the web as the DMOZ appears to be.

Unfortunately its size and format is a bugger to download (I have given up) but I suppose that simply reflects the size of what the web is - all the ever created human content!

If anyone (small webmasters not yahoo level) have worked out how to 'easily' use the DMOZ directory on their client PCs I would like to hear from you.

Thanks for listening - (flame away!)



 2:22 pm on Sep 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

Let me say this from the perspective of a low-level editor: Removing the suggestion function would dramatically change what I do for DMOZ.

I can only edit in one category. I spend NO time looking at the sites listed in that category, many of which may be outdated. I spend NO time adding sites I have found on my own to the directory. I spend ALL my time in the unreviewed queue. There are probably about 30-40 suggestions a month and the number of unreviewed sites never goes below 100, so I have plenty to keep me occupied there. Most of the suggestions are worthy of inclusion, in my opinion, although they are submitted to the wrong category. It's not like most of the submissions are duplicates or affiliates.

If the suggestion function were disabled, I'd continue to work down the unreviewed queue. After 6 months or so, I'd turn my attention to reorganizing the category, updating the site descriptions, eliminating dead links, and finding good sites to put in the directory. So quality would improve, although good new sites would be missed. In the meantime, I think the best thing I can do for the directory is to work with the unreviewed sites.


 2:36 pm on Sep 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

Who is dreaming about indexing the whole web?

I am. There is no reason why not each and every page on the web can be categorized in a taxonomy defining at least the subject of the page and the applicable geolocation of that subject. From the discussions in this forum it is quite evident that such an immense categorization task can not be handled by a relatively small online community of volunteer editors. That doesn't mean to say that such a categorization can not be done. What is needed is a new paradigm that enables the owner of each and every web page to do the categorization himself, as well as defining all other attributes of the page. All the hard work in indexing the web has to be deferred to the webmasters themselves, otherwise it will not be a viable paradigm. (Ideally, the categorization of a web page should also be supported by the HTML editor tools, for example as a meta tag option in Frontpage?)

How a directory displays the so indexed web pages in categories is really a different issue altogether. One directory could list the web pages in the order that they have been added. Another directory could list the web pages in a category by some popularity measure such as page rank. A third option is to review the pages in an online volunteer editor community and define the list based on some perceived quality measure.

In order to advance the organization of the web a new paradigm must be adopted which enables webmasters to categorize the web using a global taxonomy.


 3:05 pm on Sep 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

There is no reason why not each and every page on the web can be categorized

A noble goal, but it's not the DMOZ project's goal.

DMOZ aims to catalog unique and useful content. Normally that means one entry for a website -- but it can mean:

  • more than one entry -- when a site has useful deeplinked pages;
  • Less than one entry -- where the useful content from one owner is spread across multiple sites, only one is usually eligble for a listing;
  • No entry at all -- where the content is not unique or useful.

    Most of the complaints about DMOZ fall into three categories:

    1. It's not listing eligible sites fast enough. That's true.

    2. It has listed ineligible sites. That's true. Sites get hijacked or change mission so this happens a lot. Correcting such issues is given priority if reported accurately.

    3. It's not listing ineligible sites. That's true too, but normally upsets the content's owner who has carefully constructed an ineligible site and then wants to tell the world it's someone else's fault.

  • hutcheson

     6:43 pm on Sep 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

    >Only about half of them are deceptive spammers; the rest either have appropriate sites to suggest or are honestly misinformed.

    A little nuance here. Half of the SUBMITTALS are spam, sure. But -- the spammers submit more often (that's part of what makes them spammers) and many more sites (that's the other part), so actually, even based on that alone, most SUBMITTERS are following the rules as best they can, trying to be helpful.

    Of course, many of them are submitting sites that really don't have any significant uniqueness. Example: John Doe's Generic Viagra Shop. I don't know Mr. Doe, so the company isn't VERY significant, and Generic Viagra isn't a unique product.

    From Mr. Doe's point of view, he may have a legitimate business. He may collect money, pay taxes, stock items, wrap and ship orders, and provide personal advice to customers over the phone. Even so, if the WEBSITE doesn't feature this, there's nothing whatever unique about it, and it's unlistable!

    He may think every legitimate company deserves a listing in the ODP. So do we. But ... the website he has may not be the one that can get that listing.

    A more contentious example: Richard Roe develops websites. There's definitely a unique personal service, and no doubt he has a website that demonstrates his personal style. But ... we have who-knows-how-many-thousand little website developer shops already listed, including Richard Row, Richard Roa, Ricky Roe, and Rich Raw -- none of them known to anyone but their family.... So this website's uniqueness is as close to insignificant as you can get, even though the business may be legitimate and thriving. It is hard to get anyone except Richard Roe to care whether this site lives or dies. If it dies, customers will be, so far as we can tell, just as well satisfied with one of the other R.R.-initialed web developers. Therefore Richard Roe needs to come up with something more unique: specializing in websites for pet iguanas, or giving personal face-to-face service in Ulan Bator, Outer Mongolia --- in other words, SOMETHING that would make the visitor care whether he's patronizing Mr. Roe or Mr. Row. Otherwise, you can reliably count on the editor not caring whether the site is listed. And editors list sites that give them some reason to care.

    In practical terms: if you're "targeting a market" that's already "competitive", and the ODP listing is really critical (to get you up with the long-standing top-sites) -- it's too late, you have already failed. So far as the ODP is concerned, you will have to give up, and start targeting a market that might soon BECOME competitive: that is, where the editor is building a new, exciting category in which your site might be one of the cornerstones. A thousand points of "me-too-ism" doesn't make a directory.


     1:00 am on Sep 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

    Much of this seems academic, as it seems that more and more frequently I am unable to even open the ODP. As an editor this can be a bit of a problem!


     1:04 am on Sep 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

    I think we can all generally agree that there is a problem. I am interested in what kind of solution you may find appropriate.

    What about solutions? What options are there?


     1:50 am on Sep 19, 2003 (gmt 0)


    I've been involved with ODP for a while now (about a year). The honest truth is that I get the feeling that it is dying fast. The only breath of life that remains is the association with Google.

    Take away that association and it would be dead already.....as it is it just delays the day of reckoning.

    I'm afraid I have no constructive solution for ODP.

    I do feel there is a need for a major directory on the Internet. I would mention Yahoo, but since when does paying for 'a review' make sense (imagine a theatre reviewer saying 'I'll only review your play if you pay me and, even if you pay me, I may still not write the review!').

    I would love to propose a solution but I have none.


     7:55 am on Sep 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

    Pay or edit, you choose. Joe Ant

    Watcher of the Skies

     8:12 am on Sep 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

    My God, the place (WebmasterWorld) is simply overrun with the ODP clan. Funny how there's probably a large number of editors/meta-editor-movie-stars who are also snippet administrators/moderators. Must be a power thing. ;-) Editing and chatting? Sorry, I'd rather produce.


     9:00 am on Sep 19, 2003 (gmt 0)


     9:00 am on Sep 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

    What's wrong with editing and chatting? :-)

    (*looking at the mirror... no, unfortunately I don't resemble Tom Cruise... that's why I always had no chance with Nicole, no matter how hard I tried*) ;-)


     10:34 am on Sep 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

    >>My main concern is that the suits at AOL will start taking an interest in DMOZ. They should just provide money for first-class hardware and leave the directory alone. As corporate types, they probably don't understand DMOZ. It makes me nervous that they think they are in charge, but as long as they provide money and keep their noses out of things, DMOZ will thrive.

    >> The other thing that would help everyone is a general recognition within the Internet community that DMOZ editors, especially editalls and meta-editors, are the movie stars of the Internet, the elite in our midst


    ...always nice to get an input from the man at the top ;)


     5:03 pm on Sep 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

    "DMOZ editors, especially editalls and meta-editors, are the movie stars of the Internet"

    Dammit Cornwall, you outed me! No one was supposed to know my real identity as Angelina Jolie! Now my ODP mail is going to get clogged with Tomb Raider jokes again and I'll have to start over with a new handle. You cad, spilling our secrets!

    :-D :-D



     5:23 pm on Sep 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

    Last night one of the DMOZ servers apparently blew. I thought, "Whoa, DMOZ is finally giving up."

    [webmasterworld.com ]

    It was a little sad because dmoz has so much potential.

    The inertia to recognize the problem, much less to fix it, is both appalling and saddening.

    If dmoz keeps relying on the kindness of Time-Warner Brothers we're going to log on one day to see Porky Pig saying "the-That, the-That, the-That's all Folks!"

    Bye bye little lizard, you ended life as a looney tune.


     6:57 pm on Sep 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

    I been lurking in this forum for a long time and finally decided to post to get my two cents in.

    While DMOZ isn't perfect I really doubtful we will see it dying anytime soon. So long as google and numerous other sites use it we will still see people here ballyhooing about the fact the slow pace of dealing with submissions or allegations of their competitors removing their listings.

    I sometimes wonder whether some of the critics of DMOZ have ever really thought how much time and money it would really take to build something comparable with a paid editing staff. Realistically how many sites do you think a person is going to add in one day? Going through more than 20-30 an hour and you probably aren't going to do a very good job in your listings. To get a million sites at the above mentioned pace would take at least 30-50K man hours and that assumes that you get 30 site added an hour and that none of them change URL or disappear before you were done. In practice when you are processing submissions some more spammy categories are going to take a lot more time. With a staff of 100 each adding a 1,000 sites a week would give you a 100K a week. That would be 10 weeks for a million and probably at least 40 weeks to get to the size of DMOZ. Due to a greater rate of link rot and additional time dealing with spammy submissions the rate of growth will slow greatly once you get into the millions.

    When you do the math to think what it would cost to have such a large editing staff and we see that the cost of such a project easily get into the millions just for the editing staff salaries. When you take the time to figure out what it would cost to build something of the size of DMOZ using paid editors it becomes apparent that few companies are going to be willing to dedicate the resources necessary to build a directory of that size especially considering that there is a very real possibility that said directory would never be profitable.

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