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Editors Getting Offered or Expecting Compensation?

     
11:07 pm on Jun 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I could not believe it when an editor offered to list a site for us for cash the other day.

Asking around, I was pretty stunned by some of the other editors and old pro's here when they told me this was now the standard MO for alot of tight categories.

Is this what the ODP has come too?

Have you ever:

- offered cash to edit or include a listing?
- offered cash and thtey accepted to edit a listing?
- as an editor been offered cash to edit a listing?
- taken cash to edit a listing?

[edited by: Brett_Tabke at 4:50 pm (utc) on June 23, 2004]

2:08 am on July 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

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"Seems to make good business sense to me."

You must be bankrupt.

The idea that qualified, knowledgable people shouldn't contribute to areas that they are qualified and knowledgable about is senseless.

Dmoz isn't a business, but regardless, any sensible person will want crime reporters writing about crime and romance novelists writing romance novels and not the other way around.

2:16 am on July 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

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>Sites that are in a perpetual queue are excluded just as real as sites that are deleted. They are not present in the directory.

Plenty of editors could review those sites if they wanted to. No single editor can keep a site in a perpetual queue.

2:18 am on July 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

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>Did any of the readers of this thread notice that TWO of the DMOZ editors in this thread admitted to joining for the purposes of adding their own site?

You're misrepresenting at least one and probably two editors.

Not that it would have mattered. Didn't someone mention that we don't care about motive? You're the one doing the Secret Thought Police drill; we aren't in that job. And we aren't going to get into that business.

What we care about is: does an editor's work contribute to making the directory into something closer to its (no doubt idealistic and not perfectly attainable) goal?

And to call a link to a free text of a scholarly public-domain article on a second-century Christian martyr, provided by a non-profit foundation that provides free public-domain texts in electronic form "profitable" -- or to allege there's any profit for the person who donated time to proofread and format their copy of that electronic text -- is either delusional or slanderous. I can't tell which -- both seem part of your normal modus operandi.

3:09 am on July 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Bettyb, you've presented two imaginary scenarios.

You're welcome to work out the ramifications of your fantasy world. You're even welcome to try to realize a community in which any of your imaginary scenarios might happen...and to watch to see whether it happens.

I prefer to act based on actual reality.

I will add a couple of scenarios to your putatively superior vision, based on that reality that I cling so firmly to:

(1) Webmaster joins a category, concealing his association with site. Adds site, leaves other sites in unreviewed. (in reality this is the most common form of abuse in the ODP system; it works just the same in yours.)

(2) Two webmasters conspire together, each applying to the other's category. Each lists the other's site, and leaves everything else in unreviewed. (This is less common. Of course, it also works just exactly the same in your "better" scheme.)

In fact, there's no possible abuse scenario in the ODP that wouldn't be just as feasible in your scheme.

But let's look at the other side.

The thread has mentioned several real scenarios that actually happened. (You guys really hate reality, don't you!) The directory was built and improved in ways that would not have happened as efficiently, if at all, in your scheme.

Does the ODP get webmasters that are initially interested only in their own site? YES! Do some of them later get interested in the ODP, add tens of thousands of competitive and noncompetitive sites, and become meta-editors, with enormous benefit to the directory? YES! Would that happen in your scenario? NO.

Summary: your scheme would inhibit some good editing actions and demotivate some potential good editors; but it would have absolutely no effect on abusers: it would not cause them delay, interference, demotivation, or exposure.

If you're trying to come up with counterproductive ideas, you've got an award-winner.
--------------------------------------------------
So I stand back and wonder: what is it about people that they have such a fetish with petty rules and regulations, such faith that if only enough of them can be imposed and enforced, the millenium will begin?

This may not be the only answer, but it seems this attitude is nearly always associated with treating other people like objects or idiots or robots. You idiot, that's not what "be fair" means!" And you set yourself up as the slaveholder, whip in hand: regardless of their personality, they will serve your will! To get better service, you whip them yet again -- "the stick and the stick" approach. But that's not what people are: they have their own purposes, their own consciences, their own motivations, their own desires.

That may work when someone needs money badly enough, and you're paying. But when people are paid in self-satisfaction and personal growth, they'll find somewhere where their motives are not constantly questioned or their actions arbitrarily restricted. And when there are dozens of internet sites harnessing volunteers into collaborative efforts to build content, nobody has to be an ODP editor to make the internet a more informative place. The ODP offers trust, appreciation, personal growth, community, self-respect and satisfaction at having a significant part at a job well done. The ODP has had tens of thousands of people who have been active editors at some time. Without them there would not be a directory to micromanage.

It is the mind we want to harness, and whips don't reach through the skull. "Be fair or be out of there!" is all people who will be good editors need to hear.

4:10 am on July 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Actually, BettyB's solution wouldn't even solve bhd735's problem, because bhd735 isn't even happy with editors listing all their competitors, either.

It sounds like what you really want, bhd735, is a paid directory. Where editors have an external incentive (i.e. a salary) to provide a listing service for all comers within an allotted timescale and do not have any connection with the categories they work in themselves. Have you tried the Yahoo directory? It sounds like they provide the kind of service you're interested in.

The ODP is a communal project. Many editors contribute their work independently of each other. The upside of this is a real robustness to the project at a global level--it would be impossible for sites with one particular point of view to be suppressed, because there are too many editors with different points of view and they do not have the ability to guard categories against each other. The downside is a real unpredictability at the local level. You could look at the ODP and make an educated guess as to how many sites will be added over the course of the next week. You will have no chance of guessing whether any given site will be among them.

Our growth depends on harnessing the energy of a lot of different editors interested in a lot of different things. If each of them adds a good number of sites which follow our guidelines, the project thrives. Otherwise, the project would stall. So we have an absolute minimum of restrictions upon the legitimate adding of sites. That's in our best interest for what we're up to. You're not likely to see that change, especially for what seem to be very spurious reasons. (You've still yet to provide an example of this egregious abuse you're so certain of.)

We are an additive project. An editor who fails to add a site on any given day doesn't harm the project, he just fails to improve it further. BettyB said she thought this phantom failure-to-add issue was our biggest problem, but she's wrong. An editor who wrote biased descriptions would be much worse. An editor who deleted a valuable site would be much worse. That's why we focus so much attention on abuses like that, and so little on the possibility that an editor might not add enough sites.

Think of it this way. Say your hypothetical highly competitive scooter editor does indeed add his own site and reviews 50 informational scooter sites instead of any of his competitors. And say the bike guy next door is being fair and lists his own site and reviews 25 competitors and 25 informational bike sites. Now, say the editor of the parent category, Bikes_and_Scooters, logs in and finds 50 sites, instead of 100, awaiting review in each of his two subcategories. That means that BOTH the weird hyper-competitive scooter editor AND the fair-minded bike editor have cut the number of sites awaiting review by half. And the Bikes_and_Scooters editor, as well as the two Recreational_Vehicles editors and the three Vehicles editors, all have fewer sites in their stack. It's more likely that ALL the remaining sites, commercial and non-commercial alike, are going to see daylight, right?

Or, put another way, can you imagine what the wait time would be like if you yanked all the editors off their topics of expertise and forced the bike guy to review scooter sites (which he's slower at doing) and made the scooter guy quit (because he didn't want to list the commercial sites)? Him listing those informational sites means SOMEONE ELSE DOESN'T HAVE TO, freeing them up to list different sites. "Someone else" includes me, so I'm very glad of his help, even if he is a hypothetical weirdo. (-:

It's not zero-sum. Provided it meets our guidelines and is described correctly, every site added is a good one, because our goal is to list ALL of them eventually.

5:44 am on July 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

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>cbpayne, are you claiming you didnt say the quote I
> cut from your posting? Or are you saying you
>misspoke when you posted that message? I assure you
>it is a direct paste from your post. Anyone can go
> back and verify this.

The quote was as you 'cut and pasted' it - but you took the quote out of context to support your argument - if the quote was left in context, your argument would have been wrong. As you said anyone can go back and verify this

> Either way, you are asking us to take your word for
>it. Your actions speak louder than your words. The
>first ACTION you took was to add your site. That
>speaks to your motivations louder than anything you
>claim afterwards.

You are not doing your cause any good by quoting out of context and reading that into what I said.

OK - I did add my site before I added my competitors sites .... their addition to the Directory was seperated by a matter of minutes! - and YOU want to make an issue of this? (and don't forget they wre not even submitted; I added them as that what I am suposed to do as an editor)

Its not a a matter of asking you to take my word for it - any senior editor can go and check the category logs to verify what I said.

BettyB

8:15 am on July 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I'm really surprised that none of you can see the obvious conflict of interest. There's no other industry in the world that would allow (encourage?) an auditor to be in charge of and hold power over an area in which he holds a financial interest. Pretty much business ethics 101.

But it's your directory and if that's the way you want to run it -- all the power to you. It's too bad though because you might be able to make a really comprehensive and helpful directory if you made that one very simple (and obvious) change.

It's kind of sad (and embarrassing) to listen to you fight so vociferously without even stopping for a second to think about it. It sounds like from what you are all saying that you know that editors are becoming editors to list their sites and not-list their competitors. BHD's solution seems simple, obvious and worth considering. People, even good people, are more apt to do the wrong thing when you put them in a position of conflict of interest. With a no-editing areas where you have a conflict of interest rule in place, you'd only be dealing with the small minority of real cheaters that slip into the system through deceit.

Anyway -- good luck to you.

BettyB

9:36 am on July 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

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It's too bad though because you might be able to make a really comprehensive and helpful directory if you made that one very simple (and obvious) change

DMOZ is the biggest, most comprehensive, helpful and fastest growing directory on the web, so not sure where you got that from...

No other directory comes close and they are being left further and further behind... DMOZ got there by following its current model ... that does not mean it can not be improved, but why do you see such a big problem with the way it currently works?

Doing "business" the DMOZ way must have worked for DMOZ to get to where it is today (ie biggest, most comprehensive, fastest growing, etc) - if it wasn't this, why are a very small minority of people getting upset at not getting in, making unsubstantiated allegations, etc

I also find it intriguing that those who think DMOZ is not "working" because of the above issues are not familiar with the internal workings of DMOZ and the 'checks and balances' that are in place. The editors that are posting here are familiar with these issues and the internal workings of the 'checks and balances' in place, just don't see the problem.

12:06 pm on July 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

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"Seems to make good business sense to me."

You must be bankrupt.

Oh-wow, a perfect example of a monotone vision editor with gift of clairvoyance.

You must be loaded.

12:20 pm on July 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

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> a perfect example of a monotone vision editor with gift of clairvoyance.

It seems that an important point has escaped my attention. I have read quite a few of steveb's posts but never had the impression that he's an ODP editor.

1:52 pm on July 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Bettyb, the ODP guidelines, which discuss this very conflict of interest you have apparently just discovered, have been publicly available on the ODP website for YEARS. Innumerable internal discussions in the editor forums have discussed how editors personally handle the guidelines; numbers more discussions in the meta forums about whether editors had in fact violated this discussion in various subtle or sneaky fashions, various discussions about how much the possibility of ulterior motives ought to weigh in reviewing editor applications; hundreds of editor applications where such motives and such discussions had to be taken into account.

But all of this, you now reveal, was done without any thought whatsoever!

You are amazing!

The conflict of interest is obvious enough. The only question is: do the ODP guidelines, procedures, editors and overseers adequately address it? And that can be very easily answered. How many actual listings can you find that were affected? How many actual incidents of editor abuse resulting from this conflict of interest do you know about?

If you know about none, then -- obviously we have thought about it enough to address it to your full satisfaction. But you repay our careful attention by character assassination.

If you know about some and are keeping them concealed, then you are hypocritically colluding with the abusers by keeping their secret.

Which is it, BettyB? There are no other possibilities. Either way, you could not have made that statement in good faith.

2:10 pm on July 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

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BettyB -- and anyone else who thinks BDB's solution isn't totally wacko:

Try a couple of thought experiments.

Pretend you're a dishonest webmaster, and you'd be willing to edit the ODP and violate its policies to favor your website.

Pretend someone actually put the regulation BDB proposed into practice.

Now try to figure out a way to violate the regulation and accomplish your ulterior motive.

And tell us the result: how many milliseconds did it take you to figure out how to violate the regulation; supposing you were an editor, how many extra milliseconds would the regulation have added to the task of adding your site in violation of the regulation.

Second experiment: pretend the regulation is in place. In what conceivable way would it facilitate finding abusers?

Anyone who takes longer than 5000 milliseconds to figure a way around this regulation, is too stupid to abuse without getting caught. And anyone who doesn't even bother to think that long about the actual effects of a regulation, shouldn't be allowed to give orders to pet rocks.

This is not rocket science, folk: it is trivial analysis. I do not understand this bizarre notion that the public interest can be served by regulations which can not possibly serve any useful purpose, except to delay the most extremely stupid of abusive webmasters for a matter of a few seconds!

2:26 pm on July 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I'm scratching my head at how we got from "editors may add their own sites and those of friends, relatives, and colleagues" to "there is no oversight to prevent editor corruption." There's a whole lot of oversight. Editors are required to disclose their affiliations, and an editor who is found to have concealed one is terminated. All of our actions are permanently logged and periodically reviewed, and a site which was deleted erroneously (either maliciously or not) can be easily replaced using the logs. There is an abuse reporting mechanism by which the public can alert us to problems, which are duly investgated. The one instance in which our directory does "rank" anything (the "cool" star next to exceptional sites) is not permitted to be used by editors on their own sites, nor is it permitted for editors to do anything else to make a site they are affiliated with stand out from the others (you know, a diamond in the title, glowing description, that kind of thing). There are a number of possible bias problems at the ODP, and we are *very* interested in combating them, and pay quite a bit of attention to them.

There are only two points on which we're differing here, and that's A) whether editors 'guarding' a category from competitors' sites is a potential bias problem, and B) whether editors adding their own sites is a potential bias problem. (A) is not a problem, because our system is set up such that this is impossible, as I have explained--even if an editor has successfully concealed his affiliations from us, he would be literally incapable of doing this. (B) is not a problem for a more complicated reason. Bias from our perspective means that the sites which are presented to our users are not done impartially. So long as a site is presented the same as all the others in the category, it's no problem for us, regardless of whether an editor owns the site or not. On the other hand, a site which is presented unfairly is a BIG problem for us REGARDLESS of whether an editor owns the site or not.

So we are much more concerned with setting our system up so that biased listings are rare, easily caught, and easily fixable than we are with restricting editors to certain areas of the directory and implementing lots of rules about which sites they may and may not review. This is a better approach in several ways. First of all, the truly corrupt editors usually hide their affiliations from us anyway, so barring them from working in a category they're associated with wouldn't work. Second, the non-corrupt editors have the most to offer to categories they have expertise in, and preventing them from doing so is shooting ourselves in the foot. Third, most people who own websites don't have commercial stakes in them anyway (my own website belongs to a non-profit organization I volunteer for--should I really be barred from contributing my knowledge to the category that website appears in?) And fourth of all, our directory would be just as damaged by a corrupt editor who deleted his FRIEND'S competitors from a category he himself had NO affiliation with, and a solution that relied on keeping editors out of affiliated areas would leave us undefended against that sort of thing.

All told, the best solution for us is to focus on preventing the addition of inappropriate sites, the deletion of appropriately listed ones, and the listing of sites with biased titles and descriptions. Which is what we do.

And if a webmaster would like to become an ODP editor and add his own site to our database, I think that's great. (Provided it's a site that belongs there and he gives it fair treatment, of course.) I wish 5000 more webmasters would sign up and add ten sites each (of which their own website was one). That would make 50,000 more sites in our directory--and, coincidentally, 50,000 more sites *I* (and other editors) don't have to review. Freeing us up to review other websites instead. Including, quite possibly, the website of one of the WebmasterWorld users. A win-win for everyone involved indeed.

2:43 pm on July 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

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>I'm really surprised that none of you can see the obvious conflict of interest. There's no other industry in the world that would allow (encourage?) an auditor to be in charge of and hold power over an area in which he holds a financial interest. Pretty much business ethics 101.

Seems to me then if that is how you feel, then you should be arguing for the ODP not to list *any* commercial sites. Remember, the ODP is a volunteer effort. When it comes to an editor who is a big fan of 1970s bubblegum rock music, and s/he edited a category where fan sites of these bands were listed, even if that editor had such a fan site of his own, if that site had no commercial links that editor would have no financial conflict of interest not to list other fan sites. Your proposal if implemented would mean that a lot of editors of commercial cats would have to leave because many do have a financial interest in them.

3:24 pm on July 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

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The problem area that I mentioned earlier was already addressed and rather quickly.

The 1 page site is already gone.

I have mistakenly question the efficient of you guys.

Good work!

3:26 pm on July 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

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flicker,

you and several other editors claimed that it is vital to DMOZ that DMOZ editors be allowed to review directories they compete in. To harness their expertise.

Well I submit that someone with a competing website not only is not an expert, but is the *last* person you want reviewing the websites.

In the bicycle example, does someone who sells bicycles have expert knowledge about bikes? No, he has a conflict of interest.

The person you want reviewing bicycle sites is someone who is not selling something. Any consumer can review a bicycle site to see if it is useful to the end user.

The competitor will just insert his bias.

3:28 pm on July 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

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cbpayne, whos first act as a DMOZ editor was to add his own site said:

"Its not a a matter of asking you to take my word for it - any senior editor can go and check the category logs to verify what I said. "

Thanks for the laugh! All I have to do is become a DMOZ editall.

3:29 pm on July 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

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The ODP didn't invent conflict of interest. It occurs in the real world every day, and honest people have to learn to cope with it. Every week thousands of church treasurers collect millions of dollars, and account for it faithfully. Of the dozens of U.S. presidents elected, most neither stole the silverware nor sexually assaulted the help. (Only one did both, IIRC.)

But for many editors, like flicker, there is no conflict of interest. I joined the ODP because I had some content that had been very difficult for me to find, and I wanted to make it more accessible. f I can find the content on the web, I link to it. If I can't find it, I scan it, donate it to be published on the web, and THEN link to it. There is no profit involved; there is no competition.

I had no website at the time, profitable or otherwise. I still don't; rather than start another website, I find an established site that features the kind of content I want to publish, and donate the content to them. Sometimes I donate the same content to multiple sites. And altruism is an inherent commonality of interest. I contribute to all these sites even in areas outside my particular interest because ... it serves a public interest that closely matches mine. There can be no conflict of interest.

And active editors are more likely driven by that kind of motive. (It's obvious: do the math!) We've had about 50,000 editors: even if 99% of them had been "submit my site and split" editors, they would have had about the same impact as several moderately active editalls. And we've had over 200 editalls, many of whom are much more than "moderately" active! The most active 500 editors, who do probably 90% of the work in the commercial areas, are demonstrably drawn from the altruistic pool (You don't have to add 10,000 other sites before you get rights to add your own: so why would we add all those other sites? Certainly not to hide the fact that we added our own site -- we don't have to hide that fact!)

Again, this should all be painfully obvious even to the most casual observer. In nearly any organization (volunteer and professional) 10% of the people do 90% of the work. These facts inexorably lead to the conclusion that at the most generous estimate, the potential harm to the directory of "people adding their own sites only" is miniscule. We have more than 50,000 listings invalidated by website changes every quarter! And we have more spam submittals than that every month! (And spam, not inactive editors, is the sole cause of the backlog, as I've explained multiple times, at least once with supporting arithmetic detail. Do the math if you don't believe it. Get a sixth-grader to help if you need it.)

Another obvious consequence is that the way to success is to attract the right 10% of the people. Social engineering is therefore essential. Building a community of independent volunteers who trust each other to care about the right thing involves -- trusting them to do the right thing. (Duh...) And you have to show people you won't tolerate breaches of that trust (as the U.S. Catholic Church has been emphatically reminded recently).

So the ODP founders designed those characteristics into the model. And it worked. The ODP is by far the largest of the web directories, and the most comprehensive. It is the least affected by editor bias (because by design we have such a large pool of different biases to draw from). It is the least affected by self-selection of websites, because of our aggressive approach to using multiple sources of research, and our emphasis on the primacy of editor selection. As to reliability, it was the first to address several forms of link rot effectively.

That is what actually happened. One could imagine another world where the ODP founder absconded with all the capital raised (it happens, even to churches!) and the ODP never started. One could imagine another world in which the ODP sponsor dropped sponsorship, and the directory died. (it has happened to other directories!) One could imagine a directory in which self-interest overwhelmed altruism in the editing community (I could name a couple where that happened.)

But the ODP has avoided multiple failure modes. Surely that is partly because its founders thought about them and prepared procedures that have proven adequate to oversee the potential problems -- and address the actual ones.

3:30 pm on July 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

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>The problem area that I mentioned earlier was already addressed and rather quickly.

>The 1 page site is already gone.

>I have mistakenly question the efficient of you guys.

>Good work!

Thanks, man. It was an oversight. :)

3:36 pm on July 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

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hutchenson, who admitted he joined DMOZ to promote his own incipient site, said:

"Webmaster joins a category, concealing his association with site. Adds site, leaves other sites in unreviewed. (in reality this is the most common form of abuse in the ODP system; it works just the same in yours.)"

So after 13 pages of denials and patronizing lectures, Hutchinson himself admits what I have been claiming all along.

The most common form of abuse in the ODP system is not evil spammers, it is webmasters promoting their own sites AND leaving other sites in unreviewed.

That is exactly my point, thanks hutchinson.

So, if that is the most common form of abuse, why is there so much hostility and denial about it?

Conflict of interest doesnt help DMOZ in any way. It does help DMOZ editors and apparently 4 DMOZ editors in this thread have sites listed in DMOZ, and 2 have admitted to adding their own. Lots of conflict of interest from a group of people who claim conflict of interest is unimportant, technically impossible and yet the most common abuse.

Another good laugh from the DMOZ club.

3:48 pm on July 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

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hutcheson mentions a thought experiment:

"Pretend you're a dishonest webmaster, and you'd be willing to edit the ODP and violate its policies to favor your website."

Why should we pretend we are *dishonest* webmasters? Are all DMOZ editors dishonest?

Why not make your thought experiment:

Pretend you are an honest DMOZ editor and there is a simple conflict of interest rule that says you submit your sites like everyone else. You can manage any directory except the ones you have links in.

Now an honest DMOZ editor would not have a problem with this rule because they volunteered to help build a better DMOZ, not to promote their site. So they happily edit other directories and wait in line like everyone else for their own sites to get reviewed. Who does this hurt? No one.

Can a dishonest editor slip by? Yes, but he can now.

Will this simple change improve DMOZ? Yes, because instead of EVERY editor being biased, only the bad editors are biased and they will eventually be found out and dealt with.

See the difference Hutchenson? In the current system, conflict is encouraged. In the other it is frowned upon. No it is not 100%, but it IS an improvement.

4:37 pm on July 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

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>The competitor will just insert his bias.

Well, an *unethical* competitor might. Such people do exist, though most of them are probably busy doing things that will benefit their business much, much more than an ODP listing would. But it does happen, so there are two possible ways to deal with this eventuality.

1) Prohibit editors from deleting competitors' listings or promoting their own, establish a system to check editors' work for bias, and set up a way for the public to report a biased listing.

This is what we do.

2) Prohibit all editors from editing in a category they maintain a website about.

Oops, wait, this wouldn't work. The unethical editors *hide* their affiliations, remember? So they'd be doing the same thing until we caught them in their deception anyway. Plus, method #2 wouldn't prevent the inappropriate deletion, promotion, or biased description of sites NOT owned by editors. And to cap it all off, there would be a lot of collateral damage from this method--frankly, most of the Internet is non-commercial in nature, most people who would bother spending many hundreds of hours editing in a directory are geeky librarians like me who know how to be unbiased in their categorization, and yanking *all* editors off the fields of their expertise would hurt our directory tremendously.

So method #1 is clearly the preferable end from which to catch biased editing.

We have guidelines to ensure neutrality in ODP title and descriptions. If editors aren't able to abide by them, they become ex-editors. It doesn't get much simpler than that. If you see an epidemic to the contrary, well... show us! Tell us where these categories *are* that you complain are necessarily so full of horrible biased descriptions from competitors defaming the websites they describe. I'll personally go deal with it immediately. Go on then.

5:21 pm on July 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Flicker,
I am not suggesting replacing your existing system to catch the obvious fraud of deletions or messing with descriptions. You claim your system catches these folks, fine.

I am suggesting the rule to discourage the natural bias that *all* people have against their competitors. Just look at how heated this thread has gotten. That is a natural bias against presumed competitors and half of it was done by DMOZ editors claiming they are unbiased.

You again claim that it would cause lots of damage. Would you stop editing DMOZ if you had to wait in the same line to submit your site as everyone else does? Would you stop editting DMOZ because you couldnt edit the directory you have a link or links in? If so, then that kind of implies you are not editting for DMOZ's benefit.

Many of you have claimed that DMOZ links just arent that important for SEO, and yet you are now claiming many editors will quit if they cant have those links.

If you are so passionate about your expert area and you just have to edit that single directory out of the millions? of directories, then dont submit your site to *that* directory. Simple. Or edit the surrounding directories. It really doesnt hold water that a bicycle salesman just *has to* edit the bicycle directory or he will quit.

Everyone has lots of interests, so edit the directories you have interests in, *that you do not also have a financial interest in*.

And just to underline my point, I am not suggesting removing any of your current fraud-catching mechanisms, I am suggesting adding 1 rule to your arsenal to encourage ethical, unbiased behavior from all editors.

And I never claimed DMOZ was full of editors defaming sites, my claim once again is:

Editors that manage a directory where they have a financial interest (have their own site listed) do not review competing sites. The result of this is that the competing sites do not get listed.

And once again, I am not claiming they are *deleting* or *blocking* sites from the queue. I understand that a meta/editall can step in at any time. I suggest that this happens infrequently. And what happens frequently is that competitors remain in the queue unreviewed.

This is what Hutchenson claimed was the "most common form of abuse".

5:55 pm on July 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

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No, what Hutcheson said was the most common form of abuse was webmasters *hiding* their affiliations from us, joining the ODP, adding *only* their own site, and then leaving. People like this are an annoying waste of our time, but your idea would do nothing to stop them.

No, the people you're talking about are active editors who are regularly contributing sites to our directory, but are doing so in categories that you worry they may be biased about. So you'd rather deny the linguist the ability to edit in Linguistics, the bicycle manufacturer the ability to edit in Bicycles, and the French person the ability to edit in France. After all, each of those people has a vested interest in those topics. You'd rather make the linguist edit France, the French person edit bicycles, and the bicycle person edit linguistics. Would this make them quit? I don't know, but it would sure as heck make them inefficient. The linguist may never have been to France, the bicycle maker may not know linguistics terminology, and the French person may not have the wherewithal to deal with the sort of spam a business category attracts.

No, better to address the bias issue head-on. As we do. You've still been unable to provide ANY instances of bias here, other than the fact that sites are not reviewed according to a predictable schedule. This would not change under your new scheme. The bicycle expert would be leaving in unreviewed all the linguistics sites he couldn't understand, and the French guy would be leaving in unreviewed all the bike sites he couldn't determine the legitimacy of. The linguist may even get -really- biased and decide not to list any sites about a political party in France that he disagrees with. Your idea would do nothing to stop any of this; meanwhile the real problem editors would go on hiding their affiliations and needing to be hunted down. Sum effect: same problems, but with less efficient editing.

No, I don't think that'll be happening any time soon. (-:

The other nice thing about allowing editors to list their own sites is that it gives webmasters who complain about how long the review process takes something to do. They can become editors and list the site themselves, as long as they can show that they can list other sites fairly too! We've gotten a lot of good editors hooked this way.

You need a little less pessimism about the world. Most webmasters don't even HAVE a financial interest. They're just writing a website about something they like. For that matter, most businesspeople are capable of objectivity. It's true, there are plenty of people who are incapable of writing a simple unbiased description like "Manufacturer of red, green and blue widgets. Company information, product photos, and sales." They always try to put things like "The best widgets ever! Red widgets, blue widgets, green widgets, interesting widgets. Only $14.99. Buy today!" into their own site. But that's why not everyone who applies for an editorship is accepted. *shrugs* There are lots of people out there who are able to treat their competitors fairly. I'm sorry you don't know more of them.

6:22 pm on July 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

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No, I am not saying we should bar french people from editing the french directory and the bicycle manufacturer from editing the bicycle directory.

I am saying we should bar the editors that have sites in those directories from editing that directory. There is a whole country of french people and a whole world of bicycle riders, but it would be doing irreparable harm to DMOZ to prevent the one editor that has a site in the directory from editing that ONE directory? Come on, get the other 10 million people that speak french or ride a bike to edit that directory.

I can easily understand bicycle sites and french sites, and I dont sell either. But if I did, I wouldnt claim I am the only one that can edit those directories effectively. And if I was selling bicycles, end users would not want my choices of bicycle information. The end users want unbiased information.

To reiterate: Not barring people with genuine interest, barring people with financial interest. There is a very big difference.

And only barring the financial interest from the ONE directory they have the financial interest in.

6:34 pm on July 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

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flicker,
I am wondering if you would care to share your personal answers to my previous questions.

If you personally were not allowed to manage the one directory that you have a financial interest in, would you quit editing?

My guess, from your posts, is that you would continue editing DMOZ.

My guess is other editors would also continue editing for DMOZ because they believe in the concept. Yes, some are in it for their links and they would leave, and that would be a good thing.

Then the only people at DMOZ are the ones who are doing it for genuine interest (and the fraudulent ones that you claim are already handled effectively).

BettyB

6:47 pm on July 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Good morning.

Flicker, you seem to be well intentioned. It's clear that there are a lot of advantages to allowing an editor to be in charge of a area even if they have a financial vested interest. Certainly you get more volunteers and perhaps you get someone with knowledge in the field.

The same could be said for any conflict of interest situation. For example, the stock analyst. If a stock analyst from Merrill Lynch is on the board of directors of a Cisco Systems, would he or she be a good person to make a recommendation on whether or not the company was a good stock pick? In DMOZ world, the answer would be yes -- who better knows about Cisco than a board member? In the real world the answer would be NO, even though he might be the most honest pure motive driven person in the world, in the business world, his recommendation would be suspect. We don't allow people to be in that kind of a conflict situation. Even our honest well intentioned stock broker is going to have unconscious biases so laws are in place to protect him from himself as well as the public.

I don't mean to be condescending but this is very, very basic business ethics. Most companies and industries have standard operating procedures and rules in place to prevent people from getting in a position with conflict of interest.

I applaud DMOZ for all the checks and balances that you have built in to your system but you do have this one little area remaining.

As for why you are not hearing specific examples -- I for one would be scared to report anything for risk of jeopardizing my listing.

All the Best,

BettyB

7:07 pm on July 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Hmmmm isn't DMOZ a volunteer organization that does not charge for a listing?

Why are people complaining so much about it?

I find it strange that people acuse the ODP of being irrelevant, but at the same time get so upset at not getting all of their sites listed.

You would be surprised at the amount of SPAM / redirects / single page sites / purely affiliate sites in some categories. I say either join as an editor or just walk away.

/someone with a 300 site submission backlog that should really get working on it soon :)

BettyB

7:30 pm on July 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

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>>Why are people complaining so much about it?<<

I don't think anyone's complaining so much as offering a tip to make things better. I don't know about you but I appreciate when my clients give me ideas. It makes my products and services better and better. I sure don't belittle their suggestion, laugh at them or call them names.

>>I find it strange that people acuse the ODP of being irrelevant, but at the same time get so upset at not getting all of their sites listed. <<

I wouldn't say irrelevant but I would say that it's not the first (or second or third) place that most users go to when seeking a site or information.

The reason for getting upset for not getting a listing is because of the importance of the dmoz listing for improving google search rankings not for the nicety of being in a directory that most people don't use.

I apologize if that is a harsh reality. I know you all are working very hard on it. I just don't know of anyone who uses it.

Good day.

BettyB

7:46 pm on July 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

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>hutchenson, who admitted he joined DMOZ to promote his own incipient site, said:

Not that such a minor lie is relevant in the scheme of things, but you lie. Again.

The fact is, that was over five years ago. That site is STILL incipient. One couldn't say promoting it was my primary, sole, or even a significant motive in doing ANYTHING.

Now, it had a links page, and promoting the competitors (that is, other sites on the same subject) WAS my motive. So what you say is about a 179-degree misrepresentation, which is about par for you.

And, of course, you seem to have a little trouble with differentiation "in-system" abuse (which, as my figures show, cannot possibly have an insignificant effect on the directory), and and "outside" abuse. And you have a little trouble with choosing the right quantification: "most common" is not the same as "most significant" is not the same thing as "most expensive" is not the same as "most harmful".

So let's look at the chart again.

Spam: 3000-5000 incidents per day. Harm done: every one wastes editor time; a few slip in, causing the directory reputational harm; necessary checks take time even on legitimate sites. Actual cost to directory: over 1000 website-reviews-per-day which suppresses the size of the directory and causing editor frustration, but has no discernable impact on any customers.

Dead/changed sites: 100-500 incidents per day. Harm done: every one causes customer dissatisfaction; but when found are fixed quickly. actual cost: maybe 10 website-reviews-per-day

Editors listing sites only: no more than 10 incidents per day. Harm done: waste of meta-editors' time to accept application. Help done: a handful of sites listed, some of which are legitimate. Net effect on directory reputation among customers: none -- the actual effect is non-detectable, as the detractors here have repeatedly admitted, since they can't actually look at the directory and find a single case. Little or no time required to fix or investigate, removal is essentially automatic. Time cost: several website-reviews-per-day. Anyone may check these calculations by assuming all 60,000 editors fit into this category (obviously an overestimate, since by any computation, well over 90% of the listed sites are not associated with editors!)

All active abuses (deleting competitors, inappropriate listings of own sites: several instances per day. Harm done: lost listings for competitors; significant amount of meta-editors' time to investigate. Effect on directory reputation among customers: great. Time cost: 100 or more website-reviews-per-day.

-----------------------------------------------
Now, the potential benefits of having editors who joined "to add their own sites" is enormous. Some editalls have said that was their initial purpose, and they got involved with editing. They were honest, we trusted them, and it paid off: thirty, sixty, a hundredfold!

I'll take YOUR thought experiment. It's very easy. When I volunteer to work with someone on some good purpose, a jerk who starts out by saying "this act is a good and useful act, and anyone else may do it, and it is within your power and charter to do, but you must not because we don't trust you to handle the same kind of conflict of interest you deal with every day of the week in the real world" gets scratched right off my list. I wouldn't touch their paranoid rule-list with a ten-foot ethernet connection.

Surprised? You shouldn't be. If you made a practice of dealing with honest people, you'd find that accusing them of abuse will tell them far more about your own ethics than anything else you could possibly say. Or, to put it the other way round, if you make a practice of accusing people of abuse before you know anything at all about them, you will never in your life have the problem of dealing with an honest person twice.

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