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ODP On Verge of Collapse?

     
11:13 pm on Aug 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Bob Keating has left the ODP. The ODP now has one part time (3 hrs a week) working on it.

That employee is due to leave the company within the month.

When that happens, the server will die, and there will be no one to reboot it.

11:53 pm on Aug 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Good riddance to it.

Although I do believe someone will step in and take over. Just too many people in the community not to have someone step up.

12:44 am on Aug 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Have a source for this news, Brett? As for running the server, I'd expect Netscape has plenty of employees competent to do that. As for Bob Keating, surely a suitable replacement could be found.
2:30 am on Aug 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

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RDKeating isn't being paid by AOL any more, but he's still editor-in-chief. Further, there are several staff members around, but none as prominent as RDK was/is.

If you think ODP is on the verge of collapse, I hope you'll finally close down this forum17 since it's become such a magnet for unfounded accusations and breathless speculation, including yours.

5:24 am on Aug 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

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The employee that is "leaving at the end of the month" is not the ODP's primary developer.

The primary developer (who has not yet been told she's leaving at the end of the month: but who knows, perhaps AOL has a different priority for personnel announcements than most companies I've seen) spends considerably more than three hours -- a week, not a month -- on ODP development; in addition, AOL has recently been spening money on development work to make more development work possible -- not the usual way of shutting a project down in my experience.

It might be worth mentioning that AOL has whole roomfuls of servers, and it's likely that they will continue to keep some staff member who knows how to administer them. That is, after all, nigh the core of their business. (Yes, I know, I know, the general belief is that AOL's main business is producing Christmas-tree decorations and skeet targets. But that's really only a hobby.)

10:09 am on Aug 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

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>Have a source for this news,

see sticky.

> staff

there is only 1 paid part time staff member.

AOL says they "will not put one dime into the ODP". - director of search AOL.

10:29 am on Aug 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

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"The ODP now has one part time (3 hrs a week) working on it. That employee is due to leave the company within the month."

Rubbish. Our technician is dedicated to the ODP and works very hard (much more than 3 hours a week) - she is not leaving within the month. I think I speak on everyone's behalf when I say she's great to have as a staff member.

Feel free to be anti-ODP if you want, but don't let that exaggerate the truth.

12:20 pm on Aug 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

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>AOL says they will not put one dime into the ODP. - director of search AOL.

Have a source on that? As kctipton has posted, RDKeating no longer is a paid AOL employee, having found work elsewhere. As for AOL announcing that they will no longer fund the ODP, that isn't how I understand things are. If that is the case, then apparently you know something that even ODP metas aren't aware of.

2:05 pm on Aug 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Personally I know of at least _two_ people who are getting paid for working on the ODP at the moment. Agreed, they both get only paid for part time work. But it is astonishing how many hours each day "part time" can be, when people are AS dedicated to the project as they are.

And just recently we have been given additional technical contacts in case of emergency problems. If I had to choose I personally prefer more technical support over editing support, because most of the ontology problems can be handled quite well by the meta-community.

2:50 pm on Aug 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

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If they wanted to sell it, I am sure that there would be a few willing buyers around here.

What is it worth?

6:50 pm on Aug 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

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>> there is only 1 paid part time staff member<<

That's funny? I've seen several posting in internal forums.

One has recently gone on to other projects, but there was already a replacement.

WebmasterWorld has lost the plot.

.

In other news: all of the data is fully UTF-8 encoded and all the RDF-generation bugs are now really really fixed, having had 0 errors in the data in most recent RDF dumps.

1:23 am on Aug 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

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>If they wanted to sell it, I am sure that there would be a few willing buyers around here.

AOL has a business relationship with Google. Google uses the ODP as the Google directory. Google seems to think the ODP has value as a seed for beginning a crawl. Other than running the servers, all the real work at the ODP is done by volunteer editors. I'd estimate that the cost of running the ODP servers (including support staff) is in the range of tens of thousands of dollars a year. A pittance to Google. Google need not buy the ODP. Google may have a quid pro quo agreement with AOL to keep the ODP alive.

4:43 am on Aug 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

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If ODP fails, Google won't be far behind. In spite of all its problems, ODP is the single most important factor bringing some sanity in Google's serps. Those PhDs at the plex and their fancy algos cannot win against spammers without external human help in filtering out spam.
5:57 am on Aug 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Yea, I've always wondered without a massive human edited information structure like ODP or the Y! directory (would think ODP is better), how would any crawler have any idea of how to rank anything?

With "authority sites" increasingly offering text link advertising and selling PR it seems like there has got to be at least one "trusted source" of information. What would happen if ODP or some other directory wasn't there? Would the search results just turn into a wasteland of spam and affiliate junk?

9:53 am on Aug 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

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> I am sure that there would be a few willing buyers around here.

The question is, what will they get? Just thet domain names? Just the servers? Just the?

>What is it worth?

Not nearly as much as you would think, because there would be no garantees that it would be worth anything at all after a transition.

3:50 pm on Aug 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

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The data is FREE. See [rdf.dmoz.org...] for your copy.
4:11 pm on Aug 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

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ROFL g1smd. I've gotta figure with the data being free the ODP isn't worth a lot of money. ;) Then again, it *is* a non-profit org. I think you were right, and WebmasterWorld has lost the plot.
8:47 am on Aug 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

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>>If ODP fails, Google won't be far behind. In spite of all its problems, ODP is the single most important factor bringing some sanity in Google's serps.

I really don't see Google relying much on the ODP. It is a very small part of the Internet.

jordancpeterson

7:06 pm on Aug 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Yeah, I know what you mean... almost 5 million sites with descriptions written by humans isn't really big at all. ;)
12:04 am on Aug 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

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The size of the ODP is about 1/1000 of the alleged size of the Google database; however, it is likely that most of the highest pageranked pages appear in the ODP. Also consider that the ODP mainly lists sites, not pages, so the ratio might not be as unfavorable as it seems.
12:27 am on Aug 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

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>>Yeah, I know what you mean... almost 5 million sites with descriptions written by humans isn't really big at all. ;)

DMOZ has 385,000 indexed pages by Google. Google has over 4 billion web pages in its index. If Google were to rely on DMOZ, Google would be out-of-date and pretty-near-useless.

5:31 am on Aug 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

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>Google has over 4 billion web pages in its index.

4 billion = 4,000 * 1 million.

Million page sites selling tickets with million combinations of departures,destinations, flight dates or stuff like that are quite commonplace among members here. It takes just 4000 one million page sites to make 4 billion. I would guess that almost all growth in Google's index is coming from such sites.

7:52 am on Aug 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

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>> DMOZ has 385,000 indexed pages by Google. Google has over 4 billion web pages in its index. If Google were to rely on DMOZ, Google would be out-of-date and pretty-near-useless.

That comment doesn't mean anything - the ODP places more than one link on each of these pages you know.

9:01 am on Aug 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

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DMOZ has 385,000 indexed pages by Google

... and those pages list almost 5 million other sites.

11:26 am on Aug 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I think that Dmoz is a so big community that it could survive as former GoGuides did.

I do not if Aol could sell the site but I am sure that several Editors could start a new project. Giving the possibility to be listed for free ( without any guarantee about the time ) or for a small fee for an express review, there could be enough money for paid staff.

11:58 am on Aug 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

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>>... and those pages list almost 5 million other sites.

I'm not saying that DMOZ isn't a huge, because it is. I'm saying that the myth of Google's reliance on DMOZ is just that - a myth. And for good reason. If Google were to rely on DMOZ it wouldn't be as responsive and relevant as it is.

12:29 pm on Aug 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

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There's a tradeoff between responsiveness and relevance. The ODP doesn't have the latest 50,000-page clone of the 50,000-item Vstore (or whatever they're calling themselves these days) clones. And for that, Google must go elsewhere. For "responsive" Las Vegas Hotels, you can get the Seven_Million_Names_Of_Hotelnow_Affiliates from Google, or you can see the actual "relevant" hotel sites at the ODP.

The ODP contributes a lot to the relevance of Google pages (as anyone who has closely compared noncommercial search results from Google and another engine will see.) But it's pretty far beneath useless at individual news items -- we gave up even trying several years ago. (Of course, even Google's regular search doesn't do well at news, so they have a special search.)

Surfers need multiple perspectives on the web. Google is so often so good that people get by with it, despite its evident weaknesses. Much of its strength is that it effectively integrates multiple OTHER perspectives (including the ODP and Yahoo and personal link pages.) The ODP provides a unique perspective; much of its value is that it was from the beginning intended to be integrated with other perspectives. Overture, Looksmart, and Yahoo provide commercial perspectives; I'd personally like to see OTHER orthogonal views on the net -- I'm hoping against hope that Inktomi may provide one of them. (On the other hand, I'm confidently expecting MSN to provide "100% advertising, all the time" like the old radio slogan says.) And the net would be more resilient -- GOOGLE would be less spam-overladen -- if there were more, equally effective perspectives available.

12:42 pm on Aug 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Hutcheson, DMOZ and other topical link indices do help Google to provide quality search results. But the statement - "If ODP fails, Google won't be far behind" - is beyond absurd. Google produces quality results because it looks at ALL of the web's linkage to rank sites, not just one web directory.

No web directory can do what the Internet as a whole can do. It's the fact that Google looks at the web as a democracy that gives it its relevancy. Asking Google to listen to DMOZ only, and not the rest of the web, would ruin it.

2:51 pm on Aug 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

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>"If ODP fails, Google won't be far behind" - is beyond absurd.

It is rare to see a site of significance that is not in either DMOZ or Yahoo. It is not only Google but all search engines that need these directories until their algos becomes good enough to determine quality which does not seem possible in near future.

No Google, DMOZ will survive. No DMOZ, Google will die.

3:30 pm on Aug 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

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>No Google, DMOZ will survive. No DMOZ, Google will die.

Google would survive without the ODP. However, *why* would they ever have to deal with this situation? Google currently has a business relationship with AOL, which owns the ODP. On the administrative side, at most the ODP needs is one person in charge of the show, a couple of techies that know how to keep servers running, and a few servers plus bandwidth. Beyond that, the volunteer metas and lower editors can keep things running smooth. With that business relationship, all the bosses at Google have to do to keep the ODP alive is make a phone call to the AOL bosses and say "could you please keep the ODP running? Thanks dude." The ODP budget is a pittance to an operation the size of Google. Given that the ODP tends to do well at finding the most authorative sites on a topic, spidering the ODP is quite efficient for Google.

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