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Site theme changing, DMOZ and Google

How to do it properly?

     
6:17 am on Oct 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

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How to change a site theme (in any words - a new one but the domain name is old :) with minimal loses? The old site is in DMOZ. Are there any troubles to change the place in dmoz comparetively with a new site listing? Is a risk to be penaltied high, if the site remains in the old dmoz subdir without OD stuff and G. been notified? What's G. reaction? Would like to hear a "real life" example(s), not the theory only. Thanks a lot.
6:57 am on Oct 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

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There are always risks.

If you don't report the changed "theme" (I suppose you mean "topic") BEFORE someone else does, you run the risk of it being banned for life -- along with any other URLs you might be associated with -- for "bait and switching". This is the human-reviewed equivalent to Google's "cloaking", and merits the same death penalty.

If you do report the site, you run the chance of the new site not being considered suitable for any topic; also, of the new site waiting in "unreviewed" in the new topic (just like any other newly submitted site.)

We believe that Google is NOT giving you page rank for the pre-existing ODP listing, because of THEIR new automatic tools to protect themselves from hijacked-domain spam. So a change in the ODP listing will probably help more than you risk by keeping the change secret.

If you're really just spamming, the best thing to do is keep quiet, because you don't have much and you'd lose it anyway as soon as it was re-reviewed. If this is really the unique website for a real economic entity with unique employees, products and services...then you're risking a lot by keeping quiet. Only you know where on that continuum your business and website fit.

7:25 am on Oct 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Thank you, hutcheson. Your opinion couincide with mine in general, i've just asked to be sure. Not spamming issue, but limited budgeting is the cause of all this dancing.
1:25 pm on Oct 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

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>We believe that Google is NOT giving you page rank for the pre-existing ODP listing, because of THEIR new automatic tools to protect themselves from hijacked-domain spam. So a change in the ODP listing will probably help more than you risk by keeping the change secret.

I dunno that this is relevant. I'm assuming that this domain never expired, and that he is changing the topic of an existing domain. And if he is buying an existing domain and changing it, this shouldn't hit the Google expired domain filters.

4:43 pm on Oct 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

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If you don't report the changed "theme" (I suppose you mean "topic") BEFORE someone else does, you run the risk of it being banned for life -- along with any other URLs you might be associated with -- for "bait and switching".

You mean report it through the "Update URL" function at dmoz.org? I guess that would be the only way. I don't see how DMOZ can tell who is reporting the change - the person responsible for the site or someone else. So there is no basis for being vindictive and banning a site. Also there is no way to ban other URLs associated with the changed site unless it is very clear what sites are associated, and I doubt it is often clear. So many sites are owned by organizations, not individuals, and people responsible for them come and go.

It's certainly a good idea to report changes in a site's theme or topic just as a good citizen of the Internet. But it's a good idea to do so for any site you see has changed - whether you are responsible for the change or not.

10:58 pm on Oct 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

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You mean report it through the "Update URL" function at dmoz.org?

Yes that's the way to advise of changes to the sites content.

I don't see how DMOZ can tell who is reporting the change - the person responsible for the site or someone else.

It doesn't matter who submits the update, if it is from the webmaster requesting a change of category no penalty would be applied, if it is from an interested enough surfer or a competitor saying something like 'I clicked this site and it wasn't what I expected' It may attract a penalty, or may be moved to a more appropriate category with a new description. If the site changed outrageously say from teddy bear sales to porn - removal and lifetime ban isn't innapropriate.

Also there are at least 3 other methods of a sites altered content being found/reported - the abuse reporting form, the external forum, and routine editor checks of listed sites.

So there is no basis for being vindictive and banning a site.

It's not being vindictive. If the owner/webmaster lets us know we'll re evaluate the site for a new listing based on it's new content. If they don't they are either deliberatly or tacitly spamming using a bait and switch technique.

Also there is no way to ban other URLs associated with the changed site unless it is very clear what sites are associated, and I doubt it is often clear.

Work in a spam prone area and you'd be surprised how adept you get at finding 'related' url's.

It's certainly a good idea to report changes in a site's theme or topic just as a good citizen of the Internet. But it's a good idea to do so for any site you see has changed - whether you are responsible for the change or not.

Agree wholeheartedly. As I said it will at the least get the site re-reviewed and placed in the most appropriate category for it's new and improved content. If it's a real spam attempt it will help improve the quality of the directory.

:)

1:17 am on Oct 11, 2003 (gmt 0)

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>If the site changed outrageously say from teddy bear sales to porn - removal and lifetime ban isn't innapropriate.

Consider the following scenario. Someone owns the domain name teddies.TLD, which currently is about teddy bears. This domain gets near zero traffic, and they decide to put the domain name up for sale. That domain is bought by someone who wants to put up a site there with pictures of really sexy women wearing the article of clothing called a teddy, because it is an appropriate domain name. The buyer is unaware of the ODP listing.

It doesn't seem to me that a domain changing from teddy bear sales to porn with women wearing teddies is necessarily all that outrageous in the real world.

11:27 am on Oct 11, 2003 (gmt 0)

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That _might_ be acceptable. BUT if an editor finds that site or a user reports it - as good as no editor will look into the Adult/ section to find the apropriate category. Just delete it without even going behind the "Are you 18+?" screen.

And apart from that unrealistic scenario a recent example: My experience says that normally those sites do not got to prople unaware of the ODP listings. Tuesday I spotted another hijacked site and removed approx 80 of the same company. You wouldn't call site with a title that is a Counterstrike Clan with a special name (for example), visible content an "under construction" sign and all search engines seeing a set of links to other sites "honest", would you? Since cases like this seem (from my statistics) to be the normal way SEO guys deal with ODP-listed sites, our normal way is to kick them when they totally change topic and we are not told about it ASAP.

Sorry if we might kick some poor guys, buying a domain, not knowing about the ODP listing, but that isn't our problem, is it?

1:31 pm on Oct 11, 2003 (gmt 0)

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My sincere thanxs to all! Useful advice. My note - an editor should view robots.txt too probably - less chances to hurt an innocent site owner, who is in the situation like my own one.
And now allow me to ask one more question (not appropriate may be, but I see - nearly everyone here is a DMOZ editor). Searching the right subdir on DMOZ for the site mentioned (do not worry - domain is mine from it's birthday ;) but even $12-15 means more for me than for the majority presented here), well - i've bumped into some listings in the dmoz "depths" and a question appeared : what do you think, guys - are there any corrupted editors in dmoz stuff or not? (this question is not related to anybody here, sure).
3:21 pm on Oct 11, 2003 (gmt 0)

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We are taking editopr abuse seriously. So if you feel like someone is abusing and think you can prove it... Quoting a post from RZ:

[inelegant.org...] covers descriptions of editor ACTIONS which seem to be self-serving.

If you are an editor, there is an internal way to report something which looks wrong.

If you are NOT an editor, as mentioned in the above link, you can go to [inelegant.org...] and fill out the form.

Webmasters, keep in mind that...

- Editor inaction is not abuse.

- A site not getting listed is, with 99.9% certainty on my part, due to inaction rather than malice.
Competitors being listed while you are not is probably not abuse, just a combination of good timing and editor interest in the category.

- Competitors being editors is not automatically a reason file an abuse report - you should have something more substantial than that if you want the meta-editors to investigate.

- Rejection of an application to edit is NOT abuse.

6:07 pm on Oct 11, 2003 (gmt 0)

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>My note - an editor should view robots.txt too probably - less chances to hurt an innocent site owner, who is in the situation like my own one.

No, we shouldn't. That has nothing to do with anything. robots.txt is for bots, which we aren't.

It is generally unproductive for you to guess whether an action is caused by corruption, stupidity, or just carelessness -- or whether the editor was just a victim of a deceptive SERP perp. Even with access to our internal logs, we can't always divine intent or knowledge. The primary goal is to get the problem fixed -- and the project has always envisioned receiving help toward that goal from anyone on the net.

There is a way of reporting "inappropriate listings", which (as you can figure out from this thread) are not always caused by editor action (whether deliberate or accidental.) Yes, we like to hear about them, by any of the mechanisms mentioned. The "abuse reporting" system was one of many tools provided by editors that have earned "official" status and blessing from Netscape's ODP management.

8:36 pm on Oct 11, 2003 (gmt 0)

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At one of my sites which is in DMOZ one important issue has changed, but not the main theme of that site.

The old issue is in the DMOZ description. To have it changed to the new one (just this issue; important for me) I wrote to the editor.

No reaction, still the old description.

Any hint?

9:38 pm on Oct 11, 2003 (gmt 0)

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>That _might_ be acceptable. BUT if an editor finds that site or a user reports it - as good as no editor will look into the Adult/ section to find the apropriate category. Just delete it without even going behind the "Are you 18+?" screen.

I was commenting more about the "lifetime ban isn't innapropriate." Which since that would require a meta or staff to do is something I personally wouldn't have to worry about. As for removal, I have to concede that if it was me, and I found a hard core porn site listed in some non-porn category I edit, I might very well delete it and assume a domain was hijacked, etc. Particularly since it would be all kinds of bad for me if some meta found I had such a site listed in a cat I edit, and I might not want to spend possibly hours investigating if this was a hijacked domain, or something fairly innocent. And if this was a bestiality site, would I really want to check it out to find exactly what cat in Adult that it belonged to? Eww...

9:42 pm on Oct 11, 2003 (gmt 0)

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>No, we shouldn't. That has nothing to do with anything. robots.txt is for bots, which we aren't.

And I'm glad this is the case. Last thing the ODP would need is adding steps that would slow down the review of sites.

7:01 am on Oct 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

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@Albert:

There is the possibility to submit an "Update URL" request. They are processed like normal Add URL requests, though some editors like to give them more priority. Anyway, the directory is editor-driven, so if the editor chooses not to change the description, it won't be changed.

Some possible reasons for rejection without looking at the site:
-> You wanted to change the title to something else but the company title or the title clearly visible on the site
-> You wanted to fill in extra keywords.
-> Or more global: You replaced a perfectly guidelines-compliant description with something that is not.

12:25 pm on Oct 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Thanks, windharp.

I've submitted an update request. Maybe I should try again?

The change is crucial for me: a CMS running now on PHP instead of CF as before ... description still says it's CF.

6:04 am on Oct 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

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The "abuse reporting" system was one of many tools provided by editors that have earned "official" status and blessing from Netscape's ODP management.
That's news to me. So I can correct any inaccuracies on my site, does that mean that **** and the abuse reporting feature at inelegant.org are now both 'AOL sanctioned' editor initiatives? Are there any others?
6:53 am on Oct 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

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It seems I was wrong with my suspicions (weak enough at the same time) about corruptive editors (some details haven't been read carefully in odp guidlines). Apologizing :)