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Some hints on Open Directory update submissions

8:19 pm on Mar 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

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A number of points that people who want the Open Directory to change their site's listing might profit to know, from my experience of reviewing quite a few of these update requests:

  1. The way to input such a change suggestion is via the link "update listing" on the category page where the site is listed. That way your request is guaranteed to be checked and (if merited) acted on. If you e-mail an editor your mail might end up in the spam folder, or that editor might be on a two month vacation - conversely, if you use the "update listing" form, your suggestion can be accessed by any editor who has editing rights in the category.

  2. Forget what you heard about typical processing times for site suggestions. Update suggestions for existing listings are displayed separately, and are prominently marked in the editor's work interface - consequently they are dealt with fairly quickly, because to the typical editor a wrong entry is more of a detriment to the directory's quality than an entry that's not yet there.

  3. If what you want is to replace a factual listing with promotional verbiage, your effort will be wasted. Title = site or company/entity name; Description = factual description on what's to be found on the site. No first-person speech ("We") and no second-person speech ("You") either.

  4. A mistake that seems to be made sometimes: suggesting a factual correction and at the same time trying to introduce promotional wording.

    Example: You are listed as

    Doe, Inc. - Manufacturer of green widgets. Product catalogue, stock list and online order form.

    Now you have expanded into widgets of other colors and want the listing to change accordingly. You submit the following update request:

    The Best Widgets Anywhere - We manufacture widgets of high quality. The cheapest anywhere. Buy at our site.

    This update request is going to be rejected out of hand (title not site/company name; promotional wording; first-person speech; no description of site content.) The only nugget of information in that dross - the change from "green widgets" to "widgets" - is very likely to be overlooked and not acted upon.

    Better: submit a guideline-compliant title/description that contains the factual changes that you want.

    Doe, Inc. - Widget manufacturer. Product catalogue, stock list and online order form.

  5. If you want to correct or introduce factual information the content of your site must bear out what your update suggestion says. For example: if your update suggestion says it's the site of Joe Blow, electrician but on the site it's an electrician who is an anonymous "I" everywhere (a fairly frequent oversight - people know who they are themselves and apparently suppose everyone else knows too), how is the editor to check that the suggested change is correct? If you sell red, green and blue widgets but the site hasn't been updated yet and is still referring to green widgets only, the editor is going to believe what the site says, not what the suggestion says. If your update suggestion says you are in a certain location, but your site does not mention an address, your suggestion cannot be verified.

  6. What I come across sometimes is update submissions where the suggested title and description is the current title and description (i.e. no change is suggested at all) and the stated reason is on the lines of "Search results update". This kind of submission apparently arises from confusing the Open Directory with a search engine; these suggestions are of no use whatsoever to man or beast.

9:55 pm on Mar 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Nice post. Very informative and educational. Thank-you for taking the time to craft it.


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[edited by: Webwork at 7:48 pm (utc) on Mar. 13, 2007]

11:38 pm on Mar 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

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7. If the update is to change the URL address, it would be a good thing to have that change reflected on the old address in some form or fashion. If the old URL redirects to the new, or if there is a statement on the old site like "please visit us at our new address www.example.com" or something similar - then the update will be more likely approved. An update can be requested by anyone, even someone not affiliated with the site, and any changes have to be verified.

8. If a surfer sees a title/description mistake, a spelling error, a hijacked site, a parked page, etc., editors really appreciate being informed. Update listing can be used by anyone to report an error or a change that they may be aware of.

4:34 pm on Mar 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Our listing doesn't include half the products we offer and is about 4years old. Tried to update it but was told it was "Good enough".

And no we didn't submit a spammy sounding listing, just something that accurately reflects our product/service offering now as compared to what it was 4yrs ago.

Any suggestions in this case?

5:51 pm on Mar 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Our listing doesn't include half the products we offer and is about 4years old. Tried to update it but was told it was "Good enough".

At a guess the editor was concerned for the length of descriptions not getting out of hand (we get a lot of submissions of businesses that "specialize" in a long list of items that's a PITA to summarize.)

You might have better luck if, instead of a longer, detailed list you try for an equally short list that summarizes the full list. For example, when the old products were "backhoes and bulldozers" and your new range is "backhoes, bulldozers, farm tractors, harvesters, ploughs, power tillers and manure spreaders", you could submit "earth moving and farm machinery".

2:15 pm on Mar 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Great info here. I think many don't realize the true purpose of the directory. Info like this and from editors will help some webmasters want to give the process a second look.