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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]
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.
The inertia to recognize the problem, much less to fix it, is both appalling and saddening.
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.Most of the dmoz critics, and unlike martinibuster I am a critic, don't want to build a new directory. Most of the critics have plainly said that DMOZ is the best directory out there. Most of the critics beleive it could be so much better if it tried to work within the 'republic of the web' rather than building ivory towers to get away from the enemy, which, evidently, is us.
It's irritating when you submit a site that never shows up while all of your competators get listed with no problems. This is what leads to speculation that there is favoritism. Then when you try to submit again you have to worry if you are now 'black balled' because you submitted more than once.
It's a comunication thing, that's all.
Technically true, although irrelevant. Our experience giving feedback is that most people just change their reason for frustration...because the truth isn't the feedback they wanted.
>If they did something in their description that is keeping their site from being added it's only fair that someone fix it or let them know.
The description doesn't keep sites from being listed. A misleading description may DELAY a site review, but a bad description simply gets replaced. (Frankly, 95% of them are bad. Writing a more acceptable one is just a standard part of editing. We laugh at the worst descriptions, then modify them and go on about our business.
Basically, it's nearly always the SITE that keeps the site from being listed. (VERY occasionally it's the webmaster or serp perp.) And basically, such sites are nearly always submitted in violation of the submittal policies. If the submitter could read, most of the time they'd know why they weren't going to be accepted...if they can't, a written response isn't going to help.
If the submitter could read, most of the time they'd know why they weren't going to be accepted...if they can't, a written response isn't going to help.Since they can type, I would assume they can read.
But from the editorial guidelines
1. Do give the official name of the site as the title. Generally, the title will be obvious and prominently displayed on the site.
2. Do give the official name of the business or entity as the title, if the site is about the business, organization, or other entity (e.g. a company's home page).
3. Do contain the full form and acronym if the business, organization or other entity is known by both, and both are used on the site.
4. Do derive a concise title from the site's contents if the title is ambiguous or would give the appearance of spam.
5. Do have the first letter of each word in the title capitalized, except for articles, prepositions or conjunctions unless they begin the site title or a new part of a compound title.
Star Wars: The Phantom Menace
Cold Snow: The Fluffy White Stuff
Sunlight on Snow: The Dangers of Glare and Eyestrain
Note: Since the rules for capitalization vary by language, this guideline does not necessarily apply to all World/ categories; please refer to the guidelines for each specific language.
6.Do not include superfluous keywords, unnecessary symbols and letters, company slogans or promotional language as part of the title.
7. Do not include words and phrases such as "Welcome to," "Online" and "Homepage of" or "Website" at the beginning or end of a title if it is not a component of the official name of the site.
8. Do not include punctuation marks or unnecessary symbols and letters, or special characters at the beginning of the title. Listings are, in some cases, sorted alphabetically and sometimes people try to get to the top of the list unfairly. If "aaa Website" is the submitted title, but the website is really called "Website," the best title is "Website."
9. Do not capitalize titles in their entirety.
10. Do not end with an exclamation mark or any other unnecessary punctuation.
We can read.
This is an improvement. Previously I could not even get past the home page.
I've been trying for 2 days as I would like to submit a site for review.
As I mentioned it all looks pretty academic about whether ODP is good or bad. When users can't access it, it is a joke. When an editor can not log in it really is the end of the story.
All those who defend the ODP, what are you defending? Whatever you think of the principles, in practice it doesn't work, unless you define frequent inability to even access the site as 'working'....
Before anything else, please know this: I and my colleagues are working 7 days a week to make the DMOZ directory more accessible to more people, so it would be hard to find people who value the Directory more than we do. But even stating at the outset that I am “pro” DMOZ, does not mean I think it is currently being operated well.
Secondly, know that I come from a background that includes web publishing, systems software,and managing several of the busiest commercial data centers on the planet. I am not interested in the politics of the ODP, or the sniping here between detractors and supporters. I am interested as one who sees the real, essentially economic as well as informative value in the Directory, and who claims to understand how it could be managed better. My “agenda” is focused solely on the issue of just what we ought to be expecting of DMOZ.org, and the half-witted “enterprise” that is blocking its successful growth.
So thanks, first, to martinibuster for raising the issue of what can be done (and by whom) to:
1 Make sure that the present huge investment of Editors’ time to date in the Directory is not ultimately wasted, a victim of the neglect and lack of direction by its owners at WhateverTheirNameIsThisWeek.
2 Find a way of getting the Editors some help.
3 Find a way of getting webmasters and SEO-types to be more realistic in their expectations re: the ODP - specifically, it’s broke, yes, but fixing it is in the interests of all users and online professionals, whereas trashing it verbally or literally is not.
Enough with the negatives and backbiting, the accusations in both directions, the unrealistic expectations. There are thousands of self-styled webmasters out there whose only “content” are affiliate links; and there are numerous ODP Editors who abuse their position by approving their pals and denying their competitors. A pox on both their houses.
I speak instead to those who are committed to the further growth and improving quality of the web. The majority of the ODP Editors are in this category, as are the overwhelming majority of owners of useful websites.
Let’s further agree that, whatever the history and “culture” of the ODP was or has been, it has (rightfully) played a net-positive role in bringing millions of good sites to the public’s attention - in spite of its flawed operational premise, lack of resources, and obsolete hierarchical scheme.
Given their enormous collective contribution, it is understandable that many Editors feel under-appreciated.
But fair is fair: when legitimate criticism is leveled at the ODP by website owners who have done all they know to make a quality site, it is absurd for certain ODP Editors to dismiss their remarks out of hand, as we have seen in many posts in this and other forums. The airy attitude on the part of some Editors that suggests they have no responsibility to *perform* better is a slap in the face to hard-working, well-intended Netizens.
Let me suggest we tone down or ignore the ill-thought remarks, and acknowledge that the ODP’s future or lack of one must be faced *together*.
For the ODP to continue to serve the interests of *all* of us, we *must* find a resolution between the position expressed here that says, *legitimately*, in essence, “DMOZ editors are not really necessarily concerned with managing the submissions process” and the position that says, *legitimately*, in essence, “I have a site, I am not a SPAMmer, I have adhered to the standards (as well as I can understand them) and, *given the huge importance of the DMOZ database as part of the web’s search infrastructure*, I would like my site to be accepted ASAP, and be told if it cannot be listed, why not, and advised on what I can do to comply.”
Where to begin?
As important as are the questions of new servers, or who ultimately “owns” the Directory, or how the SPAMmers can be better locked out, or how the abusing Editors can be more expediently dumped, all these pale beside what I see as the central operational:
No one who is even little thoughtful can doubt that the deluge of SPAMmy, ill-prepared, misinformed, or simply incompetent submissions is a huge problem. No one here ought to hold the Editors accountable for the ensuing delays, when the simple truth is that AOL has never invested in an adequate screening process for the submissions. There is no reason this writer can fathom for asking volunteer editors to process submissions like so many unpaid clerks, specifically, shifting through submissions where 50% to 80% are trash, and where a large portion of the remainder have been submitted to the wrong category.
So first and foremost, can we agree that Editing and “Submissions Clerking” are two different jobs?
If so, then, given the very real fact that a listing in ODP is still vital, and, if we “positivists” have any say, will become even more valuable in years to come, then let’s at least consider “taxing” every successful applicant a few bucks a year for her/his listing, so long as it is in the database. Anyone who has a legitimate website can be expected to pay at least that much for the otherwise totally free exposure to, potentially, millions of eyeballs. This tax would NOT be a payment for submission, and hence would not have any significant influence on the Editorial process. Nor does collecting a nominal fee for residence in the database mean paying the volunteers. But it surely could provide the wherewithal for a solution to the submissions logjam.
If we employ the minimalist “taxing” idea, that would give the Directory Project a budget of perhaps $20 million a year. But that money should not be entrusted to the AOLians, not for a minute.
So, as martinibuster suggests, the ODP needs to be housed in a true not-for-profit setting.
Let’s further acknowledge that a well-run, essentially *public-interest* service like DMOZ.org *must* have adequate feedback and control mechanisms to report and weed out abuse or simple lack of performance.
Let’s agree up front that the affiliate-laden or other useless copycat Viagra/Organ-expanding/Breast-enlarging/Submit-Your-Site-to-10,000-engines “webmasters” are never going to be happy with *any* quality Directory or rigorous submission process. Why should we care? If I were running the ODP, I would institute a simple system that fairly screened submissions, then automatically dumped any submission from a repeat offender, along with an appeals process, of course. None of which need take away one minute of the volunteers’ time.
But can we also agree that the ODP still exhibits an anti-commercial bias, as represented by the guidelines quoted by Powdork? That attitude carries over from a time when the web was essentially a wonderful toy for academics and researchers and Defense Department technocrats. We need to be honest and say that, today, a very large proportion of the “best” sites that hutcheson is looking for are commercial, either in the sense that they sell stuff, or subscriptions, or receive significant advertising revenue. I personally think that the ODP is trapped in its past in this respect. I hope it can evolve to a more (from my admittedly commercial point of view) balanced editorial policy; if it fails to, I suspect that it will gradually cease to be a factor as a source of web information to many. That would be sad.
Finally, let’s add that it is the obligation of AOL-Whomever to either fund the ODP adequately or make other arrangements, such as the taxation idea, whereby the ODP can have a life. Get it fixed, Netscape-AOL, or get out of the way.
These are just a few suggestions, building on the posts of martinibuster. I am sure there are others who, if given a reason to contribute rather than simply complain, can add more ideas.
(I will add my comments on Go2’s telling post in a separate post.)
Editors logging in is no problem
Honestly, the section of the guidelines you quoted is not nearly as important for a submitter to read as the sections about not submitting affiliate sites, mirrors, sites to multiple different categories, sites that are 'coming soon,' plagiarized sites, commercial deeplinks, redirects, porn (in the non-Adult directory), sites with little or no unique content, and sites which are more than one of the above. When they ask why they were rejected and we tell them "we don't list affiliate sites," they invariably say "But I worked hard on it!" or "Why not?" or "Can't you make an exception for me, though?" I'm sure that's what Hutcheson meant when he said submitters didn't seem to be able to read.
Too Much Information: A lot of submitters seem to be under the impression that we're going to reject their site and ban their URL forever as a spammer if they forget to end their description with a period. )-: It's not true. You have to be a -really- intentional spammer to get yourself blocked or anything. Submitting multiple times to the same category won't get you in 'trouble' with us; it will just push your submission further and further down the queue, which may inconvenience you, but isn't going to make us mad at you. And submitting a bad title or description won't hurt you either. At worst, it will slow down review of your site. Nothing more.
When sites are rejected, it's either because they are already listed adequately in our directory or because their content is deemed non-useful by an editor. That's it. There's actually very little reason to give feedback on a rejection, because it's not the APPLICATION that's being rejected, it's the SITE. Even so, we do have a public forum for giving worried submitters that kind of feedback if you want it.
Markymarky: Editors have been able to log in just fine. I've logged in and edited every day this week. It IS a problem that the public side has been inaccessible recently, I agree with you about that; it's being worked on.
Yahoo used to be free submission and there was the same old ragging on them - slow submit, no replies or answers about sites, editors/surfers changing titles and descriptions - same nonsensical whiney yada yada we hear repeatedly about ODP. Yada, yada, yada.. ad infinitum.
Yahoo, instead of remaining like poor little Cinderella who worked her patootie off for everyone for FREE but was the lowly step-sister, got to sit in the corner among the cinders - like being locked in the cellar with no food or water - and was indeed treated like the poor relative often is - Yahoo became one of the favored step sisters. The step sisters got PAID for being who they were - fancy finery and jewels and coaches to the ball - while little stepsister Cinderella sat there, unrewarded, abused and dejected.
So Yahoo started getting PAID and the whole thing changed - they were no longer the outsider, the outcast, the underling, the less_than. No more cinders, no more cellar.
ODP is still FREE - and therefore gets the same shabby, shameful treatment - kicked in the teeth and pushed down into the corner among the cinders and down into cellar by INGRATES who don't know that the world owes them nothing - who think they've got what they want coming to them for FREE. Balderdash! Rubbish!
So... in the final analysis, the upshot of it all is that all the search engines respect humble little Cinderella aka ODP and recognize the worth of her work and her efforts. And they reward the little lady with an invitation to the ball - being used as their directory.
Then, to top it all off, along comes Prince Charming - GOOGLE - who puts the glass slipper on the little lady's foot by using her as their Directory - because they know she deserves it.
No, she's not down in the cellar at all - she's out there dancing, wearing the glass slippers because they FIT.
1) The public server has been slow and difficult to access this week. This IS a problem. It's been identified and measures are being taken to deal with it. As far as I know this is not systematic--it has not usually been the case, and I have no reason to think it will be usual in the future either.
2) The ODP doesn't process submissions very fast. This really ISN'T a problem, since it's not what the ODP is there for. There are other venues for processing submissions rapidly for pay (Yahoo comes immediately to mind). Submissions are only a tool for us, not our reason for existence. We're continuing to add thousands of quality sites to our directory weekly. That people can't pay for an expedited listing with us... isn't really a problem, any more than the fact that people can't get Microsoft to link to them.
There's also a third problem, namely spammy submitters and corrupt editors, but those miscreants get taken seriously, dealt with, and rooted out, so although it's a -problem-, it's hardly a -catastrophe-. The vast majority of sites listed are non-spammy, and the vast majority of editors working are non-corrupt.
My two cents. (-:
That’s a very insightful comment and a good analogy. DMOZ is indeed regal for those perceptive enough to appreciate, but it all too often gets the “shabby, shameful treatment” Cinderalla got.
And I agree that she is out there “dancing” (were you borrowing a term from the Google “dance”?).
Did anyone ever read the Brothers Grimm version of Cinderella? Not the cleaned-up Disney version; the raw folk story. At the wedding of Cinderella and Prince Charming, birds swoop down and pluck the eyes out of the evil stepsisters’ heads as they stand witnessing the wedding. It’s only what the stepsisters had coming to them, after all. People who criticize DMOZ get off much easier.
I'm tired of this discussion because we seem to be flogging a dead horse and I hate wasting time on issues which cannot be resolved. What came first ... the chicken or the egg? Why are so many webmasters fed up with the DMOZ?
I (currently) don't feel that the DMOZ is worth more time than it takes to make one intelligent and thoughtful submission. After that, ... I move on and forget about DMOZ. The site either gets listed or it doesn't. End of story.
Unlike many here, I don't feel that DMOZ is the be all and end all. I have had dealings with some tuly great editors and truly reprehensible editors. So what? Its a volunteer thing and as such, it is what it is. What more can any of us expect with the current structure?
I have no malice or any ill feelings whatsoever towards the DMOZ. I truly hope it survives. I also truly feel it can't survive if AOL/Time Warner continues to ignore the current problems. What I don't understand is why people get so worked up about it. It baffles me.
Good ideas will thrive given the right circumstances. Unfortunately, good ideas may be destined to die lingering deaths if not implemented well or under ideal conditions.
As I said ibizwiz ... nice post! Many of us are routing for DMOZ to be grabbed up and salvaged in the nick of time. I have no brilliant, life saving suggestions for the organization. Then again, the DMOZ is not my first priority in life and since I haven't had that call from AOL/Time Warner asking for my all important input ... I will have to remain just an interested spectator. :)
I choose to accept it for what it is and move on.
I've lived long enough to know that acceptance of the way things are never made anything better. Apathy has never solved one single problem in history.
In the Phillipines, after decades of repression under Marcos, after Benigno Aquino was murdered on his return to his homeland the people said "enough" and rose up in a show of People Power to depose the things they supposedly could not change.
This is why Ben Franklin, after his return from England decided that the bureacracy was so hopelessly out of touch that he threw his lot with the forces of change.
Acceptance of a duct tape and rubber band existence is no solution. Come on folks, there is a problem, and there is an obvious solution.
If the W3C can be an independent body, then surely dmoz can also be a truly independent organization as well.
Dmoz needs to be liberated from the limitations that have been imposed upon it by the suits and corporate interests that profit from it's devaluation. Dmoz can become something much greater than it is today.
Why are people so apathetic?
>>>Acceptance of a duct tape and rubber band existence is no solution. Come on folks, there is a problem, and there is an obvious solution.
martinibuster, Cinderella needs to be divested of the old frayed corn broom used to sweep the porch and the pantry and the old tattered rag used to clean the latrine floor, and endowed with an electronically powered vaccuum cleaner and a nifty swifty new self-wringing mop.
And don't we all know who is fully capable of doing that very thing without commiting sacrificial corporate ritual slaughter and running the risk of obfuscating and losing the intrinsic ODP culture?
Core keyword: culture. Who else knows culture at it's essential core, right down to the scullery?
I'm not talking about how we get them approved (quality, originality, etc.). But how do we make initial contact?
I don't for a minute believe that ODP is Cinderella as much as I believe she's the ugly sister that someone was gracious enough to ask to the prom.
ODP could vanish tomorrow and 99% of the people surfing the web would never know. ODP isn't dancing. ODP is hanging out on the dance floor with an oxygen tank wishing that emphysema had a cure.
The taxonomy is weak, the servers are pathetic and the only people that care about ODP are the people that think you need an ODP listing to rank well. Dancing? Please. ODP is currently paraplegic.
Keeping the editor-side up and running is a priority, because (presumably) surfers can get better access at directory.google.com, etc., anyway.
Sorry for not responding faster, but us old farts have to sleep at some point.
We are one of the hundreds of sites that use the DMOZ database.
Like Google, we therefore have a vested interest in the health and well-being of the ODP.
*Un*like Google, we are not sitting on mountains of AdWords cash, however, so cannot do much in a material way (yet) to support dmoz.org.
We have two search sites (so far) that employ all or some extracted portion of the Directory. We will be adding, assuming we succeed with our launch, several additional search sites, in time, most of which will likewise draw in part on the DMOZ database.
Unlike the hundreds of copy-cat sites who simply download the database and hierarchy, stick it on a barebones site and then plaster the page with trashy affiliate banners, each of our sites is designed, in every sense of the word. Each focuses on a specific community of interests - a “niche” if you can bear marketing-speak. We are *anything* but a “clone”, in short, as one poster calls (many if not most of) the dumpster, excuse me, licensee sites.
In one paragraph, we are dividing the “finding problem” along lines of related topics. It is not that I am necessarily opposed to the one size fits all, all-things-to-all users, search sites or engines like Google, alltheweb, Yahoo and the monster still (as far as search is concerned) sleeping in Seattle: it is just that I do not see the need for another look-alike universalist site, playing the same one-note tune. Our simple idea is to find a frustrated online mini-audience that is not well-served by the monsters, and give them a specific search experience that meets their specific needs.
BTW - PUHleeeze stop calling the Directory database a “dump” - it does not convey the sort of image I need to present to the suits who are looking over our bizplan. ;)
As stated, my agenda in this discussion is simply “operational”: I hope, over time, to see the ODP evolve into a well-managed not-for-profit, as, evidently, do martinibuster and several others here, certainly not excluding some Editors.
Putting it more specifically, I hope to see:
- A rational, adequately funded screening process
- A viable funding model that does not impede the public-spirited mission of the ODP, does not “color” the editorial process, and ensures that the core DMOZ site is available 24/7
- An organizational structure that is visible, accessible, accountable
- A transparent site review process, including the performance of the “front office” screeners and “submission police”, and the “back-office” volunteer editors
- *Many more* volunteer editors, who join the OPD because it is less like a webbie old-timers club, or a vehicle to support their own interests in promoting their site, and more like a shared community of smart people interested in unearthing the treasures of the web
- A *much* more even distribution of non-English site listings, as the ODP finds better ways to accommodate the sites of other countries, cultures, and languages.
I share with many here and thousands more the ideal of a web open and available to all. I know that that cannot be sustained without at least a minimalist budget. I add that no large, much less global, organization can grow and flourish without professional management, no matter, sadly, how motivated the volunteers.
My experience tells me that if the “solution” to the next phase of the ODP’s existence has an inherent, built-in, unresolvable conflict between the Editors, site owners, process managers, and funding source(s), it cannot hope to survive, much less succeed.
To repeat, my interest in these goals is 100% economic, not socially-minded: if the ODP is ultimately more successful as the world’s foremost repository of hand-reviewed websites, then our little company, along with fat-cat Google, will simply have more good stuff for our users to find. That allows us to focus on the kinds of search tools that the ODP is not designed or intended (or sufficiently capitalized) to provide.
Personally, I have been on every side of this question, as a very senior manager in a very big for-profit corporation; as a twenty-year international systems business consultant, based in Asia; as a web publisher with very rigorous editorial standards; as one of the pioneers of double-opt-in; as a discussion-group activist for the interests of small biz and independent webmasters; as a commercial systems designer; and as a theoretician and inventor in search and related software technology.
Did someone mention snowing? LOL. Let me assure you that my pride has long gone before my (several) falls; I cite my qualifications above just so all (who give a fig) will know that I really do try to understand every point-of-view on the general issue of the open web, since I have usually held it at one time or another.
‘Nuff said about my motives and POV, hopefully.
I promised (or, given the typical length of my posts, maybe threatened?) to comment further on what Go2 posted a while back.
I feel that his call to arms for a better solution to the problem of site description deserves much more attention. We are developing, have developed, actually, a new approach to this problem.
We are also polishing a kind of dynamic hierarchy tool that would make sites like DMOZ far less rigid and constrained.
But I will spare the thread these arcane comments for the moment.
On with the debate, please.
my agenda in this discussion is simply “operational”: I hope, over time, to see the ODP evolve into a well-managed not-for-profit ...
I think we are all pulling for the ODP and "hope" it will be salvaged. The question is who will pony up to the bar with the bucks needed to implement the required changes and when?
Everyone recognizes the problems, but is there a readily available and feasable solution in the offing?