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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]
Liane, that's exactly right. I wish more submitters had that attitude. (-: It's the ones who decide to submit to 271 different categories, or make mirrors to try and snow us with, that give us headaches. If everyone would make one intelligent and thoughtful suggestion and then pay it no more mind, the unreviewed queue would be a more attractive place to site mine more quickly, that's for sure.
I don't know why everyone keeps talking about the listing making or breaking a site anyway. It seems to me that anyone who feels that way can't have built their site very well. I'm happy that my nonprofit's site is listed in the ODP, because I feel it's a valuable addition to that category (I submitted it there a couple years ago, way before I was an editor, and it was listed within a couple of months)... but the several universities who link to us are driving more traffic our way, and I doubt many of our donors are finding us through the ODP!
>Everyone recognizes the problems
Honestly... I don't. Can you explain them to me? I hear a lot of talk about how to "save" the ODP before it's "too late," how it's on "life support"... and I honestly don't know what you all are talking about. Yes, we're having access troubles this week, but that wasn't the case two weeks ago, and it's not likely to be the case in another two weeks. I can't believe that's what's prompting all this. So what's the problem, exactly? It's just a big directory full of good sites. We're adding more every week, so "dying" and "dead" can't mean what it usually does for websites (i.e. not being updated any more). The data is available to anyone who wants it, to build on it in the way they think is best, so "cliquish" and "power-hungry" can't mean what they usually do (i.e. my way or the highway). So what IS the problem? What are we hurting, exactly (aside from the egos of people whose sites we don't want to link to, which is a decision every website makes in some cases)?
Leaving fairyland for a moment (does that count as taking the thread off context? I did like the last telling of the Cinderella myth...) I'd divide the suggested approaches here into four categories: social, economic, military/political, and technical.
Google goes whole-hog technical, and they do it very well. Other technological approaches (mostly search engines) have been tried; most have crashed and burned as a result of the luddite vandalism of the affiliate spammers. The advantage is scope: no other approach could handle a tenth the size of Google's database. The ODP really avoids this approach: "people do it better" is not an EMPTY slogan for us.
Yahoo, Overture, Looksmart, etc., have taken the economic approach (pay for service), and do it well enough to stay in business. Anyone who wants that, has their choice of plans. The ODP has three independently necessary reasons for avoiding this: socially, integrating it with our strength (the harnessed public spirit of the editing community) isn't believed to be practical; economically, we don't want to compete with licensees or potential licensees (who are free to offer PFP, PPC, or any other programs based on our data); and practically speaking, we do a better job of indexing the web than any of the PF* models.
Many threads like this (although this one has been a happy exception) take the political/military (I'd call it "Fascist") approach of placing lots of new, arbitrary, mostly _idiotic_ restraints on editors -- turning volunteers into slaves. What they fail to take into account is that the ODP isn't East Germany, there's no Berlin Wall, and editors can emigrate. The control freak will NOT be happy in the ODP community. (But the community will _enjoy_ poking his pompous proclamations with pointed sticks.)
The ODP has from the beginning emphasized the SOCIAL aspects of the problem: the result is a unique community, partly selected and partly formed by a chain of decisions leading up to the current guidelines, traditions, goals, and structures.
So, when you see editors reacting negatively to suggestions that ODP institute economic schemes, it's very shortsighted to think, "they're just being negative." What you must realize is that you're actually sampling the community response to your proposal: and you also can know with certainty what that proposal would do to the community: destroy it. And without the community, the ODP would be dead, and the OD would within a few years shrink to the size and currency that, um, Yahoo has today.
Or when you see suggestions that the ODP change its goals: again, the community we have shares those goals. We have to ask where you'd find, and how you'd harness, ANOTHER community that could do "so much work, so well" [which we understand is not the same as "everything perfectly"] but also share your alternative goals. If you think you can find and harness such a community, do it! You're welcome to use any part of the ODP for backfill or foundation! But WE aren't going to do it, because we're busy doing what we like to do, as well as we can (which we think is "pretty well").
The kind of suggestions that we're looking for (and that we're always discussing in the internal forums) is how to address the SOCIAL challenges that the ODP has. Nobody claims it's a perfect community -- it's not, and won't be so long as it accepts human members. But every suggestion will be weighed first of all by SOCIAL criteria: Will it help build a community? Will it help community members get more good, useful work done? If it doesn't meet those criteria, then it isn't implementable in the ODP context. And if you want it implemented, you'll have to find or build another context.
People can wax lyrical about how the 'community' of ODP is such a great thing. Most people using the Internet really don't care about the ODP. What they care about is that the service gives results.
The first step in evaluating a directory should not be to look at who is making it but to actually decide on what a good directory is.
I've put my suggestions for what I believe a good directory should be at a minimum:
2. Up to date
5. Well organised
Against all of these criteria I would suggest that the ODP is looking to be in trouble, judging on the posts in this thread.
A Note: Some person implied earlier in the thread that if I can't log in to edit I must somehow be an idiot. This is not helpful or constructive. I would love to know how this person would make zero response from a server into a response from a server....but maybe it would work in deference to their obviously superior knowledge of the Internet and ODP (ODP Server: "Oh! It's an expert making a server request, I better respond this time")
Unfortunately, shouting people down with personal attacks is one of the strongarm tactics some members stoop to whenever anyone tries to hold a discussion about dmoz. It's a base form of intimidation intended to hijack a thread and derail it.
Don't let it deter you.
If you scroll to the beginning of this thread you'll see that some of the first responses were exactly that, people accusing me of "ranting" or insinuating that I was upset because I had rejected submissions- charges that I promptly rebutted.
I don't recall ever having read any apologies from these "people." Quite uncivil.
But don't let that disturb you too much because there are many editors who have made some great contributions to this thread, and the shouters are more the exception than the rule. ;)
Perhaps Martinibuster could rephrase the discussion title (leaving out the fairy tale simile). I think the topic is one which should be addressed without any mud slinging or back biting ... and a little non-partisan perspective would also be very nice.
The DMOZ is a very important and integral part of today's internet. Some intelligent discussion (rather than heated debate) would serve us all well.
I think the topic is one which should be addressed without any mud slinging or back biting...
I couldn't agree with you more. You may have misinterpreted my post. It was directed to markymarky who was the victim of said mudslinging, and my post was to reassure markymarky that the majority of dmoz editors do not stoop to personal attacks.
There is nothing in my post that is a distortion or slinging of mud. It is an accurate account of the actions of some members at the beginning of this thread.
[edited by: martinibuster at 4:42 am (utc) on Sep. 22, 2003]
There is no personal attacks here.
If he genuinely doesn't know how to login...
If he doesn't know how to access the editors forums to find out...
If he doesn't know how to access the public editors forums to find out...
And if he is even too bullheaded to ask here...
What can be said except what we have is someone with no idea of what they are doing and repeating their no idea a few times instead of turning the doorknob or asking someone how to.
The editor forums? Canít get there if you canít log in. The public forum? Have you ever visited that place and seen how they talk down to people who ask questions? That place is like a high school clique. I donít blame markymarky or any low-level DMOZ editor from staying away.
Iím sorry for going off the thread topic. But that really bothered me.
>>The ODP has from the beginning emphasized the SOCIAL aspects of the problem: the result is a unique community, partly selected and partly formed by a chain of decisions leading up to the current guidelines, traditions, goals, and structures.
I may be misreading what hutcheson is arguing, but to me the SOCIAL aspects is where the whole discussion about DMOZs future is inevitably leading.
As DMOZ has become more marginalised - even its most ardent exponents agree that very few browsers are going to find web sites directly via DMOZ, it has now lagged even further behind in cataloguing the fast expanding web, the hardware is not up to the job and no money is ever spent to improve cinders lot, and to judge by this thread, fewer of the users of WebmasterWorld bother to "submit" to Dmoz...
...therefore it is the SOCIAL aspects that are pushing Cinders along. Cinders likes her little home, it may be a bit threadbare, but she knows all the good people there. She is not going to move out in spite of the unremitting grind of the work there..
..meanwhile Cinders' home will continue to become more run down, as Prince Charming seems unlike ever to pass the door again. Poor Cinders :( :(
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.
Well, that's rubbish and you know it is. She didn't get whisked away to live happily ever after in the end for no reason. Princes don't do that simply to be gracious. She got to wear the glass slipper, and was chosen because it fit. We can't editorialize and change fairy tales to suit our own personal biases and make them end like we want when they really didn't end that way at all.
The fact is that she was opressed and shoveled into the corner among the ashes because the ingrates got away with it. Plain ordinary ingratitude. It's the same old "poor relative" syndrome that's played over and over, the unofficial caste system that operates globally at all too many levels in too many places, even if it's unspoken and unofficial.
Work the poor wretched creature to the bone then throw her in the corner with scraps. Sounds like corporate think to me - it isn't based on merit, it's pure and simple politics.
The fact is that Yahoo surfers are respected because they're employees, they get paid, and it costs to submit. That has nothing whatsoever to do with the moral essence and culture of Yahoo - it's simply the human condition.
A quote, and it's not copyrighted:
The poor is despised even by his own neighbor.
ODP is not respected by a certain clearly identifiable group of people with a clearly identifiable agenda - and it most certainly is not true of all people - because the editors are volunteer and don't get paid and it's free to submit.
Why in the world does AOL hold on to ODP? Why don't they turn it loose and turn it into a bona-fide non-profit?
<<Why in the world does AOL hold on to ODP? Why don't they turn it loose and turn it into a bona-fide non-profit?>>
Why indeed? Especially when all parties to this debate would benefit immediately:
- the Editors would have a real chance to shape the ODP's future
- the presently unhappy applicants could expect to see an improvement in communications and screening practices, assuming the new ORG was professionally managed
- the dmoz database would much more clearly have a much more positive future, meaning more Editors joining up, and - most importantly - many more site owners wanting to be part of that future
- there would be an opportunity to develop a serious-minded funding model for improving the screening process, for infrastructure, and other measures for sustainable growth
Speaking as a licensee, I would never contribute a dime to DMOZ.org so long as its AOL masters are in charge. But get them out of the picture, let the org stand on its own two feet, and I would be happy to pay a fair licensing fee.
Speaking as one who has a half dozen sites listed in ODP, I would also be happy to pay a nominal "tax" each year for each site, as I proposed in an earlier post.
Even *AOL* would benefit by letting go of the ODP, since it is nothing now but an open sore on the already blemished-enough reputation of this big company.
So, again, why does AOL not declare some moral victory for having "supported" DMOZ these last few years and let it go free?
Perhaps it is because this company, certainly a leading contender for worst-managed company of the silicon era, has no senior person either aware of all the extra egg on the corporate face from their neglect of the ODP, or, more likely I suggest, no senior person who gives a hoot. After all, what does the ODP matter in the great question of AOL's shaky future - and the equally uncertain future of all the big bosses?
Perhaps it is because AOL has some misty dream of selling the ODP to some new sucker.
Perhaps it is because they simply cannot bear the thought of having to publicly and finally fess up to their utter lack of performance in this area - and/or, by direct implication, to *their equal negligence with respect to DMOZ's parent, Netscape*.
Corporate arrogance and mis-management is the reason, Marcia, in one or more forms. Sad to say, unless someone comes forward with a financial plan that lets the AOL bean-counters show some marginal profit from the deal, they are unlikely to do anything.
Like it or not, this swings the spotlight directly over to Google's ever-increasing space on the search industry stage. As easily the prime beneficiary of the dmoz directory, one must wonder why a few of their growing stash of millions could not be applied to setting up a true not-for-profit and simply buying DMOZ.org from AOL for a reasonable sum?
Surely, if Google wants to preserve its current aura as the white hats of web search, they could find no better or more instant way than by rescuing this particular Cinderella from her basement?
No, there is no such assumption. Try reading the post again.
The basis for the reasoning is that a community of volunteers is doing what its members want to do -- which of course is not an assumption so much as a tautology.
The "something good" is, like most human constructs, relative. Compare to Yahoo. Compare any category in ... well, almost anywhere except possibly Business or Shopping (and not a few of them.) I've just been working in an Arts category that started out "only" 30% larger than Yahoo's. (by our standards, that's woefully underdeveloped. I expect to easily push it to over double Yahoo's size.) This happens every day.... Or, and I've done this a number of times, try to do research for Junior-high to high-school age homework. _Every_ time I've tried, the ODP SEARCH (yes, that's what I said) has been the quickest way to find good relevant material -- more focused than Google, more comprehensive than Yahoo.
The first fact is, by any possible measure the ODP does a better job of what it wants to do (i.e. build a directory for users) than any other program so far attempted. ODP consistently adds sites at twice the rate Yahoo does. ODP's Robozilla keeps the ODP fresher than Yahoo -- link rot under 1% overall. That's something good.
And the second fact is, if someone else tried to force us to go the Yahoo route and do something-only-half-as-good, what they'd get is ... nothing. No community, no directory, only a pale imitation of Yahoo. (This is where the "social" aspect is critical to attempted redesigns of the ODP.)
If you like the Yahoo model, fine: it already exists at [yahoo.com...] . Enjoy. We won't throw abuse at you if you submit sites to Yahoo; we won't despise you if you browse through it; we won't call you an idiot even if you like it. The web NEEDS different approaches, as someone has said already. That's one of them it needs.
The ODP is also needed. In something like its present form. Not, of course, by everyone -- any more everyone needs Yahoo directory, or Overture, or Google. But some people think they need it. Yahoo's decision to go commercial was in some ways a failure, which the ODP was designed to avoid (and which it has so far avoided.)
This would make sense only if it would result in significant outside donations.
As someone who has volunteered at many fundraising events, and has been in the proximity to several Development Directors, I understand that raising money is a full time job- but if the cause is good, the job is much easier.
A functioning non-profit usually has a handful of Money People who volunteer as Board Members. These Board Members attract the money because that is their social position. In fact, many of the Board Members are among the larger donors.
It makes the Development Director's job that much easier to attract donors and participants to her Fundraising Events. We see these all the time in the San Francisco Bay Area. Like the Food and Wine Festival in Mill Valley that costs $60 to sample donated food and wine.
Basing the ODP in Silicon Valley is a no-brainer. Finding the Money People to staff the board of directors is too easy. You can't spit in downtown Palo Alto without hitting a Sergey, a Fiorina, or an Ellison.
You would also need a full time grant person who researches and applies for grants. There are lots of companies with lots of grant programs out there looking for worthy public service organizations to donate to.
Maybe some folks are unfamiliar with the inner workings of a Non-Profit institution, ok. This is a bare bones overview on how an independent non-profit organization works. The ODP is a fabulous organization. There's nothing it can't accomplish in Silicon Valley with a good board of directors, a devlopment director, a grant proposal writer, and a presidient of the board (with previous experience) to steer the course.
It would be only too easy.
CrimsonGirl said: The editor forums? Canít get there if you canít log in. The public forum? Have you ever visited that place and seen how they talk down to people who ask questions? That place is like a high school clique. I donít blame markymarky or any low-level DMOZ editor from staying away.
Most people are having no trouble logging in so you would be advised to go to either the private or public (if you can't access the private ones) forums to ask about the situation. Given that it isn't a known issue (i.e. as far as we know the editing server is working just fine), no one can help you if you don't report it. If you choose not to report it (and mentioning it here doesn't count), don't be surprised at the lack of sympathy.
As for the suggestions that I should go to the forums, send an email etc. I can not open anything to do with the ODP - public, editor , forum nothing.....Who am I supposed to email? I would email the problem but can not get into the system to see who I should email. I don't have any email addresses for ODP on my local computer... strangely enough I never thought this would be necessary (as I thought that one of the most important directories on the Internet would be reliable and....work).
Reading the posts here is convincing me that it is probably time to quit as an editor in the ODP. The abuse, unpleasantness, the cliquey nature of it all....It just reminds me of an 'exclusive' tennis or golf club committee.
As a note the system seems to be working now. Even were I to remain as an editor would I inform the ODP of the problems? Probably not as the people who are posting in such a condescending way here are the people who would be answering my posts in the ODP forums....
Those are the public pages, not the editors. As has been repeated, there are no problems with the editors server. You sound like you have no idea how to login except to go to the public page you edit and click the thingee at the bottom, and are hellbent to not ask anybody how to login. Stickymail one of the editors to reply to you in this post and they will tell you how you should be logging in.
The recent trouble with the public server is indeed problematic, but has -no- bearing at all on the editor server. If you can't log in it's human error on your part. Sorry.
If you don't report problems, they can't be fixed. As I said, threads here are irrelevent. You just saying you're an editor doesn't mean you really are one (I'm sure you can appreciate that). The public forums aren't on the same server as the private ones so you could still go there, register, get access to the editor forum there, and post your concerns. If you choose not to, then the technical problems you're having are on your own head. That's not being condescending; just stating the truth.
As an aside, if you loathe the ODP and most of the editors there as much as it seems you do from your posts, perhaps you should consider quitting.
Did you all see the Search Engine Watch website's rundown of top forum discussions last Friday? This thread was one of their spotlight discussions. They mentioned my post comparing DMOZ to Mozart. I'm so proud ;)
Anyhow, I'm glad this thread has been another demonstration of how wrong criticism of the people who run DMOZ is.
It is also possible to get to the editor section by browsing to editors.dmoz.org
which then prompts you for a name and password.
I suspect most DMOZ editors don't know this.
Whilst Rich does have a vested interest in DMOZ, the comment he makes "this thread has been another demonstration of how wrong criticism of the people who run DMOZ is"..
..is an intersting example of how readers of threads like this can, and indeed do, take out of it what they want to take out of it.
martinibuster is correct in suggesting that you re-read the thread lizardgroupie. It is a very good and thought provoking thread to re-read. Ignore the limited number of trolls, DMOZ groupies, DMOZ haters and you have a very useful summary of what the "advanced web professional" thinks about the current state of DMOZ and what could be done for it.
Basically DMOZ can (continue to) stick its head in the sand and believe that all is lovely in the garden, or it can do something to try to run with some of the suggestions made.
As a survivor of numerous DMOZ threads, I rather fear that they will continue (for whatever reason) to be unable to improve the product, and that decline will continue.
I am not a DMOZ editor, but it is in everyone's best interest if the editors can access the server.
I used to be an editor. It was a long time ago that I got the e-mail approving my application, and I can't remember if that e-mail included the editors.dmoz.org URL. In any case, I always logged in through the DMOZ homepage.
As far as e-mailing a meta-editor, this never would have occurred to me when I was an editor because I would have assumed that no-one could log in, so there would be no point in inquiring. Also, the way to contact editors is through www.dmoz.org. And I think it has been mentioned on WebmasterWorld that editors are encouraged to NOT respond to e-mails.
Further, that idea assumes that editors know what meta-editors are. I didn't when I was an editor. It was only after I had given up my editorship that I started lurking on places like WebmasterWorld and learned that there was a hierarchy and that meta-editors are movie stars.