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Moderator's Note: I've split this thread off from the existing "the DMOZ server is down" [webmasterworld.com] thread as I believe the continuing delay raises issues that merit airing, including what the lack of support may portend for the ODP and what, if anything, ought to take place.
This is NOT an invitation to speak poorly of the ODP. Like it or not the ODP is a volunteer enterprise and it is that volunteerism, in service of the project, that entitles the ODP and its numerous good faith editors to respect in my book. This problem is not of their making so "the ODP" - which IS the volunteers - ought not to take the brunt of any criticism for this lingering situation.
I stay to my opinion DMOZ is not what they intended to be. As an "authoritive" directory, to be down for more then 1 month now (6 weeks? I've been checking it daily since October 20 , I think) is really lame. And I don't count here broken links or inapropriate listings, nor submissions that takes years to shows up...really poor resource for Google
[edited by: Webwork at 1:35 am (utc) on Nov. 29, 2006]
I've watched Google become less and less reliant on the ODP data. Today, it's all about Wiki.
And rightly. Finally some appreciation for the REAL non-profit contributors to the common wealth.
IF AOL/Netscape doesn't really want to support the ODP then what?
Sell the darn thing.
It already smells badly in that direction.
If DMOZ is unimportant, why do people (apparently) still get upset about not getting their sites listed?
The thing is that it's disproportionally important to page rank and therefore to webmasters, but unimportant because of its lack of updatedness. There are links in there years out of date, and thousands of good sites missing out because there are no editors in their categories to approve their addition. Surely it's about time the whole thing was scrapped?
IMHO all those people who think this kind of thing is easy should explain to us (in detail) how they would set up hardware and software to "do the ODP, but better". I would remind our readers that dmoz.org has an Alexa rank of 204. Think about the pageviews. Think about the simultaneous edits. Think about generating the RDF files from a database snapshot. Justify your answer. The best suggestion gets a bottle of bubbly from me :-)
OK, let's unite our private pc's into the powerfull ODP network, independent of anyone.
I am also ready to provide domain name newhoo.org (sounds familiar?) free to the public. ;)
"Is the DMOZ Server Repair Delay Undermining the ODP's or AOL's Reputation?"
IMHO Should Read:
The DMOZ Server Repair Delay Is Re-Affirming The ODP's Reputation To AOL.
Total Incompetence, This is the difference between a professionally run organization, and an amateurishly run one. It is not acceptable for any organization the size of the ODP, no matter if it is a non-profit, volunteer, for-profit, or otherwise to not be able to recover from a hardware, or software error within hours max, not days, certainly not weeks.
"IF AOL/Netscape doesn't really want to support the ODP then what?"
Another case of a big company buying something they did not need, and there is no market to sell it, because it is nothing but an expense & yet everyone else uses it's content for profit, but them.
Edited To Add:
"IMHO all those people who think this kind of thing is easy should explain to us (in detail) how they would set up hardware and software to "do the ODP, but better". I would remind our readers that dmoz.org has an Alexa rank of 204. Think about the pageviews. Think about the simultaneous edits. Think about generating the RDF files from a database snapshot. Justify your answer. The best suggestion gets a bottle of bubbly from me :-) "
That might be the biggest part of the problem, people like me, do not do charity work for lost causes.
[edited by: WW_Watcher at 5:02 pm (utc) on Nov. 29, 2006]
1. Who actually has physical control and physical access to the editorial server? If not ODP volunteers then who? If not the ODP volunteers than any criticism tied to hardware is misplaced.
2. Is the ODP not a public service or charitable work of Netscape/AOL? If so then isn't the issue of "it's not profitable" a non-sequitor? Corporations don't support "the arts" or a school or a kid's camp to make a profit. They support an endeavor as an act of public citizenship.
3. Who is actually writing or re-writing the editorial server code and determining configurations, etc.? The volunteers or someone on the corporate side?
It is not acceptable for any organization the size of the ODP, no matter if it is a non-profit, volunteer, for-profit, or otherwise to not be able to recover from a hardware, or software error within hours max, not days, certainly not weeks.
This sounds very much like a statement a management consultant would make.
In essence, it's a great mission statement - if it's hanging on the wall - it's not a lot of help if you're in the middle of an incident.
When you say "the size of the ODP", what do you mean? How many full-time staff members does the ODP actually have now?
Who actually has physical control and physical access to the editorial server
editors.dmoz.org currently resolves to 220.127.116.11, but when you do a reverse lookup on 18.104.22.168 you get editors.dmoz.aol.com. From this alone I'd assume the ODP hardware is very much part of AOL.
Would you let volunteers have sysadmin permissions on a server within in your corporation? Would you even let a volunteer inside your datacenter?
Is the ODP not a public service or charitable work of Netscape/AOL?
Could you give us a definition of true "public service or charitable work", please? :-)
For reference, [dmoz.org...] has PR8. I'd PAY to host dmoz.org if I could include one link on the homepage.
Who is actually writing or re-writing the editorial server code and determining configurations? The volunteers or someone on the corporate side?
My guess is "both". There's certainly volunteers testing the new setup, wouldn't be surprised if they're helping debug stuff. Quite a few talented people higher up on the volunteer side of things.
I cannot speak for a management consultant, I was a network engineer, heavy into the design & implimentation of fault tolerant, redundant systems for maijor corporations, where minutes of downtime equates to large $$$ losses, and corresponding stock losses due to the fickleness of the investors. I did not do this for free, I was paid well, and I produced. These models are still followed today, with no noticable downtime, or risk of data losses.
Back To Working (Leaving the WW Watching For Later)
I was a network engineer, heavy into the design & implimentation (...) where minutes of downtime equates to large $$$ losses (...)
I guessed :-)
My point was that if dmoz.org is down for a minute, or for a day, or for a month, no money is lost as a direct result. The world keeps turning, by and large the editors are patiently waiting (but moaning quietly on forums.dmoz.org), and when it's back, they'll keep on with their volunteer work.
How much hardware and software engineering would YOU throw at dmoz.org and editors.dmoz.org and the rest of the ODP, knowing that all that investment will not bring you one single cent of revenue, never mind profit? How do you do ROI calculations if the point of the endeavour is that there will never be a (direct) return?
If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail?
That is an easy answer, not one dimes worth for part one & why bother for part two.
AOL & Netscape are supposed to be run for profit. Dump the unnecessary expenses.
What is the ODPs signifigance outside of the fact that a billion MFA's mass produce the content, duplicating it thousands of times over, and aside from Google pulling info from it for their own directory.
Lets face it folks, Directories are a dime a dozen these days. There are THOUSANDS of VERY, VERY GOOD directories out there - and they don't need SUPPORT from a multi-million dollar corporation to run smoothly, fairly, and efficiently. The internet is headed in a direction that to me, doesn't have much use for directories, other than for SEO purposes. The average internet user does not know about, or care about directories for the most part.
I compare DMOZ to McDonalds. The employees are "underpaid" - and a good deal of them only keep working there for the "discount".
increasing the relative importance of dmoz.
And since I am quite sure that only we "webmasters" know that dmoz exists, what part of its reputation can possibly suffer?
As it stands, the relationship between webmasters an dmoz is very adversarial, can it get any more heated than it already is?
Methinks that, by having the external bit operational, they probably keep the Search engines, and possibly a few hundred non professional users, happy.
As for keeping we web masters happy, well ,,,,, ,,, :-)
AOL & Netscape are supposed to be run for profit. Dump the unnecessary expenses.
Right. There isn't any goodwill coming out of supporting DMOZ, and the only other benefit is TimeWarner being able to fast track their own submissions, big whoop. However with all the past problems and now this, it certainly undermines AOL's reputation.
If AOL wanted to demonstrate competence, they would spin it off. Hundreds of opera companies, ballets, and small museums can be run as non-profits, not to mention wikipedia, and generally thrive in a non-profit independent manner. DMOZ could without question be spun off with an initial injection of seed money to fund a development director and a two marketing admins tasked with raising dough from the various search engines and other concerns that are up to their necks in money. Would be the slam dunk of the year in terms of raising easy money to fund DMOZ better than it ever was with AOL.
The DMOZ and AOL relationship resembles a kid trying to get by on a breast that has gone dry years ago. It's a mess. Time to wean.
I can not see any reason why a company (google or aol) would want to even keep dmoz. They can not keep up with the times. If they were smart, they would develop an automated bot instead of having human editors.
It was pointed out to me earlier that Google merely downloads the information - thanks, I really didn't know that ;)
But what's the system worth to Google - Millions? Billions? If DMoz goes away tomorrow, are they going to throw out the Google Directory or start building their own? How would Google's shareholders react to news that their billion dollar company had to change their algo or decommission Google Directory because their free source of information couldn't buy a server or rebuild their back end system.
Google is the big loser here, not AOL.
[edited by: BillyS at 11:57 pm (utc) on Nov. 29, 2006]
It would be a thankless task explaining to spammers their site isnít good enough over and over again. And how do you gently explain to a volunteer that his posts in the editor forum stating that a site shall never be listed are not acceptable, especially if he were responsible for a whole country?
If you had a clearout and tried to make it more commercial you would end up losing many of the dedicated editors who give their time for free. So would it really be worth owning DMOZ for no revenue, being bound by the social contract, and a guarantee to remain 100% free in return for constant costs and hassle?
The present hardware saga isnít really damaging to AOL, because most people donít even associate DMOZ and AOL together. Itís doubtful if any of the minority who are aware of the relationship between them, are likely to change their impressions of AOL based on the behaviour of DMOZ. So itís far easier to let it drift and wait and see if it can sort out its fundamental issues and regain its original dynamism or just quietly end its days out to pasture at AOL.
- Editors do get somewhat regular updates if they check in on the editor forum (private, not to be quoted publicly) [If they try to login from the main site, they are actually told to check the forums].
- The data used by editors is much and much more than the visible data on the front end or in the rdp. Every action, every change, every reason is recorded. Loosing that data would IMHO cause chaos in the larger areas of the directory as you loose history, loose comments of other editors, loose information and references to why things are done in a certain way, ...
The rdp isn't a viable backup to restart editors from IMHO.
- weeks, months of no updates to the directory are by no means optimal, but those worrying about e.g. Google's use should really ask themselves how often Google actually imports a new rdp. From what I've seen it takes a *long* time for edits to show up on Google's side. [Taking Google as an example, but I doubt other big players download and refresh their production side rdp based content on a weekly basis.]
I see many more that are tangent to this discussion so I'll refrain from addressing them at this time.
We should not forget that not only does Google use the DMOZ data, and consider it important, but they also own at least 10% of AOL, which owns all of DMOZ.
If DMOZ fails, it'd be a shame and both AOL and Google would be at fault. While we could, and have, plenty to say about the editors and their responsiveness and timeliness, more could be said about why Google or AOL doesn't fix that problem by throwing a few bucks or brain cells into it.
I know AOL recently revamped Netscape by actually paying people to help, and they for some reason got a lot of flack for that, but I don't really consider it a bad thing for editors to be paid and I'd think that DMOZ has a great head-start on something that could really be considered legit if editors were employed by Google/AOL to be unbiased and professional and timely.
It's not going to happen, but it would be useful to the web and therefor should happen.
Heck, at least either entity they could throw a few servers at the problem.
Most people don't give a hoot about DMOZ, most don't know it is an AOL/Netscape product and if they did it probably would only make things worse!
Let's face it people DMOZ has had its day! I quit editing their in 2000, the writing has been on the wall for a long time!
AOL/Netscape/DMOZ will be written about as part of the Internet's history, some people will have fond things to say about them in their eulogies. Most will not care a hoot!
> 1. Who actually has physical control and physical access to the editorial server? If not ODP volunteers then who?
> 3. Who is actually writing or re-writing the editorial server code and determining configurations, etc.? The volunteers or someone on the corporate side?
AOL/ODP staff only.
> 2. Is the ODP not a public service or charitable work of Netscape/AOL? If so then isn't the issue of "it's not profitable" a non-sequitor? Corporations don't support "the arts" or a school or a kid's camp to make a profit. They support an endeavor as an act of public citizenship.
In my opinion, it is very much an act of public citizenship, yes, of course - see [dmoz.org...]
The suggestions above who could possibly profit of ODP (beyond the searchers who use either dmoz.org or one of the many search applications that make use of ODP data, naturally) are rather focusing on profits for webmasters and Google. Commercial profits of specific entities, that is, which makes it difficult to understand why there might be real public interest.
Having a look at
might help to broaden the perspective. ODP data are frequently and strongly used by developers of new search applications and computer scientists working on Search-related issues - which means that indirectly, everybody who has an interest in the future of Search has an interest in maintenance and further development of ODP.
I do think the repair delay undermines both ODP's and AOL's reputations. If AOLscape drops ODP, I see Google attempting to pick up the pieces since they have been utilizing ODP data for so long. This action will tell us how important the ODP is to Google and subsequently us.
The directory on google isnt used very much anyway and frankly, google dont want surfers using their directory rather than their search engine. They want users clicking on PPC adverts. They are not a charity. Hence why the directory service on google is not on the front page but pushed further back after images, froogle, news, groups etc etc
Meanwhile, I have a real problem getting my head around any company keeping a liability on its books and then having to invest more to keep the beast going - AOL are also a public company and should not be burning investors cash on a liability that doesnt produce or contribute to its group revenue in any way.
Turning it the other way, should dmoz not return to the net, would the webmaster and internet surfer community notice any loss? Would they be unable to find the websites they require?.
In all honesty the search engine as the years have gone on has taken over from the directory. The internet holds far too much data now and is expanding at a rapid rate. As i see it, dmoz would not be able to keep up in its current format anyway.
The down time of the server may well be giving executives at AOL time to sit down and revalue where the dmoz concept is now going - who knows?.
One thing for sure is that if i were on the board at AOL i would certainly want this directory contributing to the group income in one way or another and i would have thought others would be thinking the same?
It will be interesting to see how this all works out but i wouldnt be surprised if AOl say its time to draw a line under the project.