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At one end of the scale, we have affiliate sites or cookie cutter template shopping sites, which are run as a coffee table operation.
At the other end of the scale, you have sites that are multiple employee businesses, with all the staff and overhead, with the exception of the shipping deparment.
In many cases, you can't tell that the later is really a drop shipper from the website, unless you know the industry and that they are carrying a single product line (sometimes in the 1000's) from a single manufactuer or distributer.
In some industries, drop shipping is the norm, because the customer gets the product sooner from the distributer, and which usually had a well stocked inventory.
Does DMOZ treat all Dropshippers as a reason for exclusion, or does content become the overiding factor.
PLEASE NO DMOZ BASHING - Just the facts and your knowledge and experince please.
I suspect content becomes the overriding factor. By content I mean well written product descriptions and an original knockout web design. I know some editors might say the web design doesn't matter, but you know what? DMOZ editors are humans not robots and appearances send a message about quality.
I consulted on the development of a drop shipping site and they were listed in dmoz, no problem. Good design, easy to navigate, lots of pics, extensive product descriptions, and an informational section that gave a background on the history of the products and various designers of the products, with links back to products for sale.
On the other hand, there are so few dropship sites that ARE listable that I suspect users wouldn't lose much even if there WERE a hard-and-fast rule. (Many such that DO get listed, get listed by deceit on the part of webmasters, often compounded by insufficient research on the part of editors. As you say, it's nearly impossible to recognize such a business from the website.)
The ODP rule is about "unique content." For a product description, "unique content" generally means:
(1) the actual specifications that can ONLY be provided (in any authoritative way) by the manufacturer.
(2) genuine product reviews by genuine, experienced, knowledgeable heavy users of the product, or professionals in a related field.
Anything else--promotional pseudo-reviews, marketing speculation or lies (insofar as there is a difference) doesn't count as content.
Basically, a retailer simply can't get unique content out of product descriptions. He cannot speak with the authoritativeness of the producer, or with the experience-based knowledge of the disinterested user.
A retailer gets listed by unique information about his own services -- what he does with his own hands -- which is what he CAN speak authoritatively (since he is the producer of his own services.) But this route also is barred to most order-takers: telling the truth that they're merely taking orders for someone else's products and services, would be fatal to their business -- like Monty Python's "Whizzo Chocolate" sketch.
So the real perspective, from the perspective of a directory builder, is: reviewing e-tailing sites is EXTREMELY slow per reviewed site (how do you really confirm a site is not just another pretty face for VStore?), and EXTREMELY unproductive per reviewed site (most of the sites ARE just another pretty face for VStore). Hence, editors are strongly motivated to work elsewhere, where work is less painful and more valuable.
Realistically, the tool for quickly weeding out duplicative copies of the VStore catalog with reworked promotional verbiage, hasn't yet been invented. It may be the biggest challenge on the web -- certainly, whoever solves it will be able to offer information of extremely high value to surfers.
A retailer gets listed by unique information about his own services -- what he does with his own hands -- which is what he CAN speak authoritatively (since he is the producer of his own services.) But this route also is barred to most order-takers: telling the truth that they're merely taking orders for someone else's products and services, would be fatal to their business
I would tend to disagree with this blanket statement.
We are a dropshipper, however we have an indepth knowledge of the product. We even have uses and recomendations regarding a product that the manufactuer or distributer does not have.
We handle all the functions of customer service. The only thing we don't do is ship the product.
The reason we did this, is that it reduced the cost for the customer, reduce the chance of a backorder, and speed up the delivery time. It does not make sense for the distributer to ship the product to us, so we can turn around and ship it to the customer.
I belive that Full Service Business (without the shipping department) is the wave of the future.
We don't tell the customer that we drop ship, because its part of our internal business model. We don't consider it deceitful, as it has no impact on our customer, and we don't want to give away to much information to the competition.
The customer wants excellent customer service, knowledge about the product, and fast delivery. They don't care who actually ships the product.
A dropshipper that provides no or poor customer service, should be considered an affiliate.
If a DMOZ editor is unsure, if to add a dropshipper, they should call up the toll free customer service number, and see how knowlegeable the staff are. This will quickly tell if the dropshipper is worthy of a listing in DMOZ.
But I don't see a fundamental difference between "something one does with one's own hands" (as I described it) and "people picking up phones and answering questions" (as you described "customer service." The question is merely: does the website authoritatively describe the unique service that the business does with its own (hired) hands?
Generally ODP editors are website reviewers, not commercial fraud investigators. If the website describes an actual company, the USUAL presumption (unless some evidence suggests otherwise) is that the company exists and the description is accurate: our description of the website is that it describes the company's goods and services -- we don't warrant that the goods are useful, or even that the goods and services are as described.
It's important to always keep the WebmasterWorld - DMOZ dialogue in context.
When a WebmasterWorld member who is a DMOZ editor chooses to volunteer their time to respond to another WebmasterWorld member's questions the DMOZ/WebmasterWorld member does so as a personal act, not as a spokesperson for DMOZ. In my view, as moderator, debates about DMOZ policy ought to take place within whatever system DMOZ offers for engaging in policy discussions.
It's also my view that the insights or guidance are offered here by WebmasterWorld members who are also DMOZ editors is a gift of their time and insights, a gift in the sense that the sharing and dialogue only happens by virtue of the "local editor's" willingness to take the time to help WebmasterWorld members. So, keeping that in mind, please don't take out any frustrations with DMOZ "at large" on our local folks, the one's who are nice enough to answer questions thoughtfully. If you don't get answers here where then where will you get thoughtful answers?
Respect, keeping your question asking "in context" (respecting the limits of the dialogue) and appreciation will hopefully keep them coming back to offer their insights.
Again, this comment isn't directed to the members already participating in this thread. They're doing a good job of sticking to the issues.