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It is safe to say that most webmasters want to be listed in DMOZ because of the advantages of ranking in search engines. The primary aim of a webmaster, in general, is to rank his or her website as high as possible in search results for given keywords. Unfortunately, a contradiction of interest exists between webmasters and the editors of such directories where a webmaster wants to be listed, but the directory is being built and categorized based on different goals to what the webmasters aim is. The two are not compatible by default. A clear case of "never the twain shall meet".
The conflicting interests are that an editor of a directory is bound by rules governing the process of listing websites within nominated categories, and webmasters intentions, in general, is to exploit the benefits of being listed in the byproduct of a successful directory. Exploited, yes, that is what a webmasters job is, to attain best possible visibility for the website he or she has created. However, it would be folly to consider the webmaster as someone who is trying to game the system. Since the overall contribution of webmasters far exceed any of all the directories. Without websites, directories would not exist. Without spam, content and anything else that can be considered a page on the internet, there would be nothing to categorize or to list.
Google's only claim to fame and fortune is its "ability to exploit webmasters creativity". Profiteering from the exploitation of webmasters creativity is google's adwords, one of the worlds single most lucrative advertising businesses. And one that is purely based on webmasters creativity. DMOZ is a byproduct of webmasters creativity too. Let there be no doubt about this fact.
It is wrong that complaints are made about spam by editors and it is wrong that complaints are made by webmasters about not being listed. Search engines complain about their never ending fight against spam, and directories complain about webmasters wanting to be listed.
In reality, what search engines are really complaining about is the skin of the orange or the tin that contains the beans. Complacency and disregard about webmasters by search engines and directories is the real problem.
It is simply impossible that these two contradicting elements of the internet will ever harmonize.
I'm pretty sure that top search engines, google in particular, had long ago noted the inherent flaws of relying on an independent directory to represent the internet. Any conducted, in progress or finished job is only as good as the skill put into it. This could be low or good at best, but never sufficient to base a search technology on. Therefore I believe that being listed in directories is only a method of spreading links pointing to a website. No real benefit exists so far as link weight is concerned other than a good marketing strategy in order not to rely on search engines as the only means to make visible a website to end users. Webmasters who are aware of this, progress to diversify and exploit other ways to make their website visible to the internets end users. Being aware that search engines are unpredictable and in most cases biased, and in some cases actually cheat webmasters, is a wise method of approach. Notorious link farms, quasi directories and billions of other useless websites claiming link exchanges were fostered by google. When the word spam is always used against webmasters, one can see if one looks carefully at the word who really is the spammer. Google in particualr and DMOZ are infinitely bigger spammers than all webmasters put together. DMOZ nor google admit responsibility of the hype and misleading nature of their businesses.
However, there exists good reason for webmasters to be listed in DMOZ, but not for the reasons of simply being listed. There are many websites that rank extremely high in top niches where being seen in the first page results of google is a license to print money. Whether the fortunate webmasters are aware or not is a totally different and more diverse a subject than this post. Unimaginable beneficial residue is a byproduct of being listed in DMOZ in the right category and with the correct title and description appointed by an editor.
There is no doubt that a website being listed in DMOZ has an advantage up to an inordinate advantage over a similar website that is not listed. This is indeed unfair since a directory is only as good or as ethical as its editors and people in charge. When one considers that a search engine like google, which exists purely on the basis of its exploitation ability of webmasters, and is the monopoly of global search, and having the ability of making or breaking a website, it is hardly surprising to hear webmasters frustrated with the system.
Whichever way one looks at it, webmasters are cheated out of a webmasters right to be listed fairly. Search engines and directories would not exist without websites. By default DMOZ in particular is not really a directory at all. It is nothing of the sort if defined by what is actually going on in the project. It is nothing other than a project and is not a directory. Its database is a collection of hand picked websites based on a given criterion that governs experienced and inexperienced editors. The word directory can only be attributed to the methods used to amass the data. DMOZ has its custom built directory, but itself is not a directory.
A comparison can be made using a good dictionary where every known word is listed in alphabetical order. No word is exempt and all words are categorized and listed appropriately. Words and the Dictionary compliment each other. This is not the case with Webmasters and DMOZ. DMOZ does not contain a fraction of what is needed to be called a directory. DMOZ contains editors and what editors deem to be listed within a datacentre influenced by individuals with authority to alter methods of indexing data.
Far too many anomalies exist in DMOZ for any worthy search engine to rely on it for information. An average automated search engine algorithm is far better equipped and infinitely more efficient in categorising websites harvested by visible links on the internet.
The original dreams of the pioneers of such directories as DMOZ was purely a dream and a misinterpretation of what a directory is. The word directory is what is misleading about many directories if not all.