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1:16 pm on Jun 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I don't understand why Dmoz can't even get their search to work properly. DMOZ powers Google which is one of the biggest internet companies in the world and they are using DMOZ as one of their main directories. As far as I can tell DMOZ is a cheap set up, they don't pay their editors, they take ages to list sites and their volunatary staff seem very rude and unprofessional. Every time I ask a question in their forum I experience what I call "Internet snobbery" people unwilling to share their knowedge, people are very unfriendly and seem to take pleasure in joking about other peoples lack of knowedge about the way they operate. I have been continually trying to submit a several sites which meet their guidelines and have never had a satisfactory explaination as to why my sites wont be listed.
When are Google going to get serious and use a decent directory edited by paid professionals?
More to the point why dont they ask customers or site viewers to rank websites? Perhaps a "rank this site" link on the Google toolbar?
It seems every webmaster has to spend a great deal of time messing around with keywords, always balancing a fine line not really knowing what SE's are looking for.
1:08 pm on June 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Yes, I'd like more support -- anyone who ever uses a program wants it to do more -- but searches in unrevieweds have never, and will never, cripple editors working on building the directory.

I see your point but my experience differs with yours. As a previous DMOZ editor I'd place that feature fairly high. For example, if there are 100,000 webmasters who have submitted their site each to 5 separate categories, then there are potentially 400,000 extraneous requests. If as an Editor I'm looking at the 1st of 5 requests for a particular web site and I can (at the same time) see the four other categories listed, then I can make a better and faster decision regarding the submission in my category. If it takes 30 seconds for an Editor to look at a request, then in my example you've got 400,000 x 30 seconds of potentially wasted human effort. That's about 3,300 man hours of wasted labor that could have been diverted toward more productive reviews. I guess since Netscape doesn't have to PAY folks for those 3,300 wasted man hours it isn't a huge priority for them....

Sean.

2:32 pm on June 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

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What's happened is you basically have people at Netscape with few engineering resources so that when it comes to improving the directory they can't see engineering solutions.

What they probably don't realise is that they could tap a few thousand people to help them engineer a better back end and submittal process.

5:29 pm on June 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

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sean, I agree that the main use of "search unreviewed" would be for cleaning up after a particular spammer immediately -- and I agree that it would be handy for that. (In fact, that is why I asked for it.) But the reality is: that is not what most editors are doing most of the time; most editors wouldn't have privileges to even use it effectively; and we have other almost equally effective ways of accomplishing the same goal.

After all, does it really matter which spammer you whack first, when the goal is to find useful sites? When you get your priorities straight, you go build the directory, and let the spammers languish in unreviewed until someone in the neighborhood whacks them en passant.

8:41 pm on June 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I was once frustrated at my not being included in the ODP. I decided that whineing on a public forum would make my plight and the world worse instead of better. So I joined the ODP, learned the ropes and am now reviewing sites in the industry I know most about (and got to add my site in the process).

There are a few things in this world that do give you something for nothing. The ODP is one of them. The 10'000 or so active editors give up their precious time for others.

There exists an imbalance between those who want to give up their time to maintain the Business categories, and those who desperately want to get their sites listed in the Business catetories. To give you an idea, my category had a 5 year waiting que when I first joined.

The ODP is about placing a stamp of quality on site reviews. No SE bots running on mysterious algo's - just humans running on publically printed guidelines.

What would the world be like if instead of becoming part of the problem we instead become part of the solution? Imagine!

1:35 am on June 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Hey Coburn -

If we were showgirls we'd be dancing on the same line.

I too began editing out of the frustration, so to speak, of seeing that the categories I'm interested in, and where I wanted my site listed, were neglected.

I have over 3000 edits now, the categories are cleaned up, the unreviewed queue is cleared everyday and I've added a good number of important sites that were previously missing.

All is good in the best of worlds.

9:19 am on June 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I have just had a PM from someone on another forum, and it displayed exactly the same attitude that many of the ODP-bashers seem to have.

The poster basically told me that he wanted me to reply to his thread in the public forum, right now.

When I log onto the internet, I visit about a dozen different forums. Most of those have upwards of 20 different subject areas (WebmasterWorld has a lot more). Only some of those subject areas are of interest to me. I don't look at all of the subjects. There are some that I have never looked at, not even even once, in the last 2 or 3 years.

When I open a subject area there are often dozens of threads, sometimes hundreds. Not all of those are of interest to me. I don't read them all, and of those that I do read, I only reply to a very few of them.

As a volunteer on the forum, it is my choice what I read, what I reply to, and when I do it. No-one should think that they can demand that I respond to their thread, right now. I would hope that anyone who kept up that sort of behaviour would be bounced right out of the forum.

So, why do people think they have any right to tell any ODP editor anything about what they edit, when they do it, how much they do, or how they do it?

Do people make these demands of employees of Google to get their site indexed?

12:41 pm on June 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Please note that these discussions are not about you. It is not about specific volunteer editors. It is about the DMOZ process. Mistaking a criticism of the DMOZ process as a criticism about yourself or your friend is unwise, and will only lead you to believe that people are attacking you specifically.

However, this debate has nothing to do with you, specifically. This debate is about discussing process, and contributing ideas and suggestions to a community project which is successful because of one thing and one thing only .. because it is a community project.

Like linux, apache, phpbbs, or any number of successful open source projects, ODP is the result of the contributions of thousands of individuals giving up their collective ideas and knowledge. Some of these individuals are developers, and some of these individuals are users. It is well recognized that feedback from the users are just as, if not more important than the feedback of the developers.

So when we are criticizing and offer suggestions about DMOZ, we're not critizing you (the volunteer editor), we're not trying to tell you (the volunteer editor) what to do.

We are, as users, attempting to point out bugs in the process and suggetions about features that we would like to see. We are providing feedback so that the ODP, a community project which everyone is involved in can only be improved for the better.

Unfortunately, instead of seeing these debates as a very very valuable opportunity, most DMOZ editors tend to avoid the debate entirely. Instead of addressing the issues, they prefer to address the people in the debate - they get territorial and come out with the rather irrelevant objection "well if you're not an editor, you don't understand".

While, you're right, we're not editors and we don't understand the particular constraints of your world. But does that really have anything to do with what we are arguing? No, it really doesn't. We could be aliens from the planet SFWEL. It would still have nothing to do with our arguments.

But, if you really can't seperate the person from the argument (a very very unfortunate thing) consider this:

Non editors work in the constraints of a different culture. This world consists of not being territorial (as we have no territory), of being open to suggestions, and of seeing engineering solutions as a benefit and not a bane. This culture sees submitters as a partner, a potential contributer and not a pest to be avoided at all costs.

So, while we may not understand the particular culture that you have built up for yourselves, we do have a culture of our own that gives us a unique and I think clearly valuable perspective.

Am I trying to say this other perspective is necessarily better? No, the debate deserves to go on. I guess I only wish, and while I hate to specifically tell you guys what to do, is that we address the conclusions and arguments of the debate itself and not the need for the debate, and especially not this, we do not address the people doing the debating.

If you still do not wish to discuss the ideas then do not post. I think we will all find the threads much more interesting, shorter, relevant and to the point that way.

12:51 pm on June 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

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g1smd, you've struck upon an important point. What you're being exposed to is the trials and tribulations of customer service. Even though you don't get paid to volunteer your time on the ODP, and even though there is no monetary cost to submit a listing..... You are essentially servicing customers. Customers have certain expectations and when those expectations are not met, they will sometimes get cranky. They're not evil - they're just frustrated. It's a pretty standard human reaction.

For my web site I have approx. 25,000 "free" customers and 1,500 paying customers. Those "free" customers are often just as vocal :)

Sean.

1:07 pm on June 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

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.... you are essentially servicing customers.

To the best of your ability, and to a standard that no reasonable person could qualify as the same level of standard as a professional offering a chargeable service would, or should, provide.

Contrary to that, overall, I think ODP do an exceptionally professional job given the restraints that free labour creates.

Then again, I'm a reasonable person.

TJ

2:07 pm on June 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

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In open source free labour (the bazaar) can be superior to paid labour (the cathedral) in certain circumstances.

I think DMOZ is one of those circumstances, and I think it has shown that it can do a pretty good job.

However, a current, undeniable level of frustration exists and someone at ODP is saying that the directory necessitates complete frustration on the part of submitters. I don't understand the argument behind that.

I think the ODP necessitates the rejection of websites in certain cats, however I believe the processes could be improved such that the frustration is with that alone and not with a whole host of other issues.

These issues are a lack of understanding, a feeling of no control, a lack of recourse, etc etc. Improvements could be made such that these issues could be reduced or weeded out and when you have someone complain, they complain about one thing - that they feel their website qualifies for inclusion in a cat when it doesn't.

2:09 pm on June 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

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ogletree

I wish DMOZ was one of the words that got *'s here at WW and the DMOZ forum taken away. I am sick of these threads. It is a waste of disk space. Google doesn't even consider DMOZ important any more. They never update it and they burried it on their site. Most professional SEO's here don't even think about DMOZ anymore. It's a silly place.

love it..... love it.....

3:34 pm on June 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

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You are essentially servicing customers. Customers have certain expectations and when those expectations are not met, they will sometimes get cranky

Interesting approach, except where are all these complaints from the "customers" of DMOZ? I do not recall ever seeing a DMOZ "customer" get cranky or complain. Those that submit sites are not "customers". The "customers" are the users of DMOZ data.

Why should DMOZ be providing any services to those that suggest sites?

Best thing DMOZ could do, IMHO, is shut down the public forum and shut down the "suggest/submit a URL" - editors can then be freed to build the category rather than spend or waste time "processing submissions". Working through the pool of submitted sites is the most inefficient way to find good sites to build a category.

3:35 pm on June 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

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>> What you're being exposed to is the trials and tribulations of customer service. .... You are essentially servicing customers. <<

How many times does it have to be repeated on this forum, that webmasters are NOT our customers? Submissions from the outside are just one of many sources of site listings for editors to consider.

.

>> Please note that these discussions are not about you. It is not about specific volunteer editors. It is about the DMOZ process. <<

Yes, but the processing is done by real people, so any part of saying that the process is deficient in this way or that, directly could mean to say that the editor has those perceived failings.

3:44 pm on June 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I wouldn't say they are your customers, I think the analogy would be better to say they are your partners and potential recruits.

Regardless, viewing submitters as the enemy is counter productive. They are an important segment of the internet community (heck, they are the internet community). Needlessly frustrating them is similar to shooting yourself in the hands and feet.

4:01 pm on June 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

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If I ignore all of the suggested URLs I can go to Google and easily find hundreds of useful sites not yet listed in the ODP in seconds. Whether anyone has ever suggested any of them or not is totally irrelevant.
4:02 pm on June 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

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It doesn't matter whether Search Engines value ODP data or webmasters complain about ODP service.

For two reasons.

1. ODP has intrinsinc value.

Just the other day I was looking to purchase a bird bath with a fountain. Search engines were delivering those spammy "search pages," phony directories and irrelevant sites, with only a few good ones mixed in.

So I threw in the towel and searched the ODP data from Google and to my delight, found a a well-maintained category, without spam, SEO or other aggressive nonsense. It was like a oasis of peace, I had come to the right place.

Herein lies the value of human-edited directories.

2. The ODP may be slow, but...

My content-loaded and relevant web site was buried deep on SERP 500+ with the spam for 6 months before finally coming up on page 2 (and I have changed nothing). ODP may take 6 months to list a site, but in practice, so has Google. Am I complaining? No. Neither ODP or Google are perfect. One is slow as molasses, the other is frantically trying new algorithms to keep a step ahead of SEO, often outwitted, and losing a few babies along with the bath water.

I did take things into my own hands and started editing, but when you get right down to it, I was listed in DMOZ way, way before getting any respect from Google. For other webmasters, it'll be the other way around.

That's how the cookie crumbles.

4:03 pm on June 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Unfortunately, instead of seeing these debates as a very very valuable opportunity, most DMOZ editors tend to avoid the debate entirely. Instead of addressing the issues, they prefer to address the people in the debate - they get territorial and come out with the rather irrelevant objection "well if you're not an editor, you don't understand".

These debates are not seen as and are NOT by any means valuable opportunities. They are gripes, moans and whines by individuals who do not understand the real purpose of DMOZ. The purpose is simple: to serve as a free resource for web surfers and researchers to use to find good, quality information. That's ALL it is for. DMOZ is not about webmasters. It is about searchers.

Why do editors igore or belittle this type of post? Because it's the same old broken record from individuals who are not even the people they are attempting to service.

One thing webmasters need to understand - by even offering to accept submissions, DMOZ is doing them a favor. By accepting their submission, DMOZ is recommending the site as a valuable resource. The editor is basically saying "I think this site addresses this category and you should take a look at it." I'm not an editor (god forbid, who has the time?) but I do understand what they are trying to do. Build and maintain a huge list of quality links to sites about bizillions of subjects. They are not the yellow pages. They are the card catalog in the library.

As a surfer and researcher, I've found there are very few resources that match the quality of the links in DMOZ. I use it constantly and am always amazed by the size and scope of the creation.

As a webmaster, I just ensure my sites are well written and have good content. I submit them to all of the directories that make sense and then go on with writing more content. Sometimes my sites get listed in various directories and sometimes they don't. Why work up a sweat over it?

The only time I get worked up is when I PAY for a listing and don't get it. Then I have the right to get upset.

5:12 pm on June 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

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>Customers have certain expectations and when those expectations are not met,
>they will sometimes get cranky.

The problem comes in when people have unrealistic expectations, like "McDonald's should serve filet mignon" or "the grocery store should provide drinks and desserts to the homeless shelter they give their extra food to" or "the ODP should give better customer service to webmasters who want links from them."

But filet mignon eaters are not the customers of McDonald's; they are a fast food restaurant and they are never going to serve food that takes half an hour to cook. The homeless shelter is not the customer of the grocery store; the shoppers are, and the grocery store is simply making a donation to the shelter. The site submitters are not the customers of the ODP; the users of the data are, and the ODP is doing the webmasters a favor by allowing site submission. I'm sorry, but it's so. The ODP would do fine without site submissions (our growth rate actually increased when it was down for a time last year). We really don't need them. It's a public service to have them at all. Those webmasters who disagree with the idea that it's beneficial to them don't have to submit their sites, just as people who don't like the food at the homeless shelter don't have to go there. But standing around and complaining that a free public service isn't good enough for you can't _possibly_ be anything but a waste of time all around.

You mentioned human nature... well, it's also human nature that when one does a favor for someone else, one expects not to be ordered around, yelled at, and insulted over it. ODP editors consider improving the directory by adding sites their "job," and processing webmaster submissions/answering webmaster questions merely a "favor." You can complain about these priorities all you want, but being directory-driven (rather than listing-driven) is the entire POINT of the ODP, and that is what has given it whatever importance it has today in the first place. Expecting otherwise is like expecting McDonald's to switch to fine dining. And the simple truth is, webmasters want something from the ODP and the ODP does not want anything from them. So human nature SHOULD dictate that the webmasters *ask* for what they want (rather than demanding) and *accept* whatever response they get (rather than getting 'cranky')--this goes for both free directories and from other individually owned sites they would like links from. I believe this is what the majority of sane webmasters do, in fact. But the minority sure do make a lot of noise, don't they?

5:46 pm on June 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I think focusing on the adverserial relationship with submitters is a red herring and is unfortunately consuming this conversation.

Yes, submitters have to be rejected. However, using that indisputable fact as an excuse for everything ODP does that frustrates people is incorrect.

For example, repeating this fact is distracting us from the point that a large number of editors are basically webmasters who wanted to submit their website and got into editting themselves.

So obviously, Webmasters need not be your enemy. There are numerous approaches that the ODP can take on which can not only recruit them more seriously but can also reduce the frustration they feel when submitting to the directory.

This can not only help increase the size of the ODP much faster but also reduces the level of ill will that exists and even turns quite a few of these people into willing and positive ambassadors.

6:04 pm on June 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Oh, webmasters aren't our enemy at ALL (except for the deceptive spammy ones, who are a subset all their own). They just aren't our customers, and therefore they're doing nothing but bashing their heads on the wall demanding more customer service.

Some webmasters are people we are doing favors for. We process their submissions (though we are not required to) and answer their questions (though we are not required to). We do this both because we are nice people, and also because there's a little something in it for us: some editors consider site submissions to be more or less valuable to their editing.

Some webmasters are people who are doing favors for the ODP, by becoming editors (though they are not required to) and improving the directory (though they are not required to). They do this both because they are nice people, and also because there's a little something in it for them: they can list their own site, so long as they're not favoritist about it, which some webmasters consider more or less valuable to their sites.

Now, it's been my experience that the ODP is grateful for even small amounts of positive contribution from the webmaster-editors who are doing them this favor. In fact, every small bit of editing work is appreciated, and webmasters who contribute their time to the project are not chastised for volunteering too little.

Yet, there are some webmasters are NOT grateful for even small amounts of time and effort the ODP is spending on webmaster submissions for free. In fact, rather than being appreciative of the fact that a favor is being done in the first place, they deny it, insist a listing is their right, demand more from the ODP, and generally criticize, insult, and threaten editors for volunteering too little.

It's very puzzling behavior, I quite agree with you. But the fact is, such self-centered and self-interested people as these are not going to volunteer their time as editors, whom they see as servants (and who wants to be an unpaid servant?) Nor would we really want them to--they wouldn't follow our rules (which they don't agree with).

I think it's only a small minority of webmasters who are this spoiled and demanding, and I definitely think it would be a big mistake to change any policies to accomodate them.

7:02 pm on June 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Yes, but a policy change which accomodates good Webmasters who don't mind helping out a little but don't want to become editors and want a prioritized review of their websites seems in order.
7:22 pm on June 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

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seems in order

How do you figure that? Especially in light of what some editors have said here about the actual "mission" of DMOZ?

8:08 pm on June 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I do not believe the mission is to necessarily alienate all of the webmasters that wish to submit. I can understand alienating those who submit spam, however throwing the babies out with the bath water does not seem to be an efficient way to run DMOZ.

The submittal process can be improved such that good webmaster who wish to submit good websites can receive a prioritized review and at the same time encourage the rapid building out of quality directory additions/deletions/updates.

8:16 pm on June 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

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good webmaster who wish to submit good websites

How could this be determined? More to to the point, what would happen to the evil websites of evil webmasters like myself?

8:22 pm on June 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

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>good Webmasters who don't mind helping out a little but don't want to become
>editors and want a prioritized review of their websites seems in order.

You do realize you're probably talking about fewer than 20 people, right? That the overlap between "SEO's who own/manage enough sites to need a prioritized review" and "People who want to spend their time volunteering for the ODP" *and* "People who don't want to be an editor" is miniscule?

I mean, it takes probably 1/5 as long to submit a site as an editor than it does from the outside. Do you really think there are great numbers of people who both have such a strong aversion to the idea of being an editor and at the same time such a great desire to volunteer for us that they would take this tedious route? Do you really think many SEO's have the time or patience to do this in exchange for the promise of a "prioritized review" that doesn't come with any guarantees anyway?

Actually I haven't heard ANYone besides you advocating this idea... is there really anyone else out there who *would* want to work for us under those conditions? For that matter, would you? It seems like you're asking for the implementation of a real pain-in-the-butt change to some of our fundamental internal processes for the benefit of a tiny subset of submitters. And the only real benefit to us would be if we used it to bully the less clueful SEO's into doing free work for us out of fear that otherwise their competitors' sites might be prioritized over ours. That might work, but it's mighty low-down.

I'm partial to ideas for involving more interested people in our project somehow, but not by coercion, and there would have to be a substantial number of new recruits pending before it would be worth the time and effort it would take to change the system. All in my completely unofficial personal opinion, of course.

8:23 pm on June 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I think there are a number of ways. One way is simply to create enough friction such that going to all the trouble to get your spam site into DMOZ wouldn't be worth it.

You might as well track down other links from other sources.

The friction can be done in many different ways. Zeal uses a quiz, which I think is pretty dumb but at least it's something.

My suggestion is to have submitters submit changes to under-developed categories and after you get a few changes accepted then you would qualify for a prioritized review of a website for a well developed / high traffic category.

8:26 pm on June 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

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No aversion, no.

However, the fact is the current editor process is very unfriendly.

Also, I don't think people really make the connection that if you become an editor you can get your website submitted.

Maybe the change I am proposing can be done a lot simpler. Maybe you just need to have "Want to get your website reviewed faster? Become an editor!"

Personally, I don't think you really want everyone trying to become an editor though.. That'll create a certain degree of chaos.

Keeping them as simpler submitters seems reasonable to me, however what I suggest above certainly is one way of doing it.

8:39 pm on June 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

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>Maybe the change I am proposing can be done a lot simpler. Maybe you just need
>to have "Want to get your website reviewed faster? Become an editor!"

Curious. I would have thought that all of the SEO's (who are practically speaking the only people with multiple unique sites to keep submitting to us) would already have known that. Is there anyone else out there who didn't realize that an editor may add his own site as long as he's not favoritist about it?

You're heading down a better track, anyway. A change in the text on our submissions policy page which might attract a few more editors is certainly much more likely to happen than a change in our editing system, our guidelines, our internal culture, and our submissions process--particularly one which would probably create more frustrations for webmasters than it would solve anyway, and would doubtlessly be used by very few. It doesn't sound like even *you* are really that interested in being an External Site Suggester, and though you've been talking about this for weeks now, I haven't heard anyone else chime in that this a task they were keen on doing for us either.

8:48 pm on June 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

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...By the way, if you or anyone else wants to collect a whole lot of URL's which are not currently in the ODP but should be, yet you do not want to be an editor yourself, you could always create your own webpage listing them all. If the sites are that consistently good (i.e. no mirrors, redirects, deeplinks, affiliates, or other sites we don't want), then your webpage would become a better place to look for quality sites than the unreviewed queue, and I'm sure you'd see it checked frequently. Just a thought.
9:13 pm on June 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Best thing DMOZ could do, IMHO, is shut down the public forum and shut down the "suggest/submit a URL" - editors can then be freed to build the category rather than spend or waste time "processing submissions". Working through the pool of submitted sites is the most inefficient way to find good sites to build a category.

Might work for some categories like "green widgets" and "electric doodads", but in one of the two I edit, I'd never be able to build out without the submissions. The sites that belong in this category would never be found by doing a Google search on the terms associated with this category.

Come to think of it, that probably applies to both categories I edit.

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