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ODP has become less relevent. You can't stop progress.
For all the webmasters that complain that their sites didn't get in, you have editors that will list anything that's not a 404, including fraternal mirrors, deeplinks, affiliate schemes etc. It's not their fault, they're not web savvy and they don't know the difference.
Quality is rarely considered. There is an occasional discussion about site quality, but the general opinion is that if a site is technically listable, it should be listed. You need a real serious reason not to list a site, even in a category with 500 listings and an alphabar.
Many lesser editors are clueless about the directory structure, resulting in poor matches between listing and category.
Some companies are extensively deeplinked, with the blessing of senior editors, while other similar deeplinks are routinely wiped out.
We've heard bragging that the tree is growing, but maybe it needs a severe pruning. If the ODP was concerned about listing the better sites, rather than "listable sites", it would be smaller, more manageable. There might even be time to train all the little editors that don't know whether they're afoot or on horseback. Maybe the data would be salvageable.
From Google's perspective, a listing in ODP cannot possibly guarantee unique content or even better-than-average quality. Sure, there's a bit of weeding out of mirrors and affiliates going on, mostly by a handful or super-alert editors, but by and large the sites are listed because they were lucky, waited a long time, not because they were better quality or thoroughly checked by human editors.
Still from Google's perspective, the perverse effects of ODP listings are compounded by the gazillion phony "for AdSense Directories" that feed on its data. Google would be wise to penalize them as well.
Well, I would certainly hope so! You'd rather editors relied on FRIVOLOUS reasons, like "your color scheme is ugly" or "your ad copy is annoying"?
A serious reason, like "your HTML is broken" or "your site has no content" or "this is a spammy mirror of another site," is one thing. Editors who want to reject sites based on non-serious reasons really ought to be editing their own personal homepages, not a directory other people will be using.
"your HTML is broken" or "your site has no content" or "this is a spammy mirror of another site,"
are the only criteria for site inclusion, I'll take my chances with Google. It can find mirrors better than the majority of editors, and is probably better at determining whether a site has content or not.
Which is fine. Your website content must support your vision. And if you find the ODP useless, then feel free to enjoy the millions of other sites on the web instead.
But there's no reason (other than malevolence) to attack people just because they find value somewhere you don't.
The ODP has become little more than an assemblage of sites selected on the basis of one criteria only: that an editor has finally come around to push the button before the site disappeared. No quality selection exists. These aren't outstanding, or above-average sites, but sites that got their turn.
That's all it is. The sites are roughly categorized. That's the only value in it.
Both kinds of sites are valuable, but they serve very different purposes. I can only imagine the hue and cry around here if the ODP suddenly switched to your vision of it. Can you imagine it, if every editor started deleting every site he or she thought just wasn't cool enough, using any "non-serious" reason that occurred to them? *shudders just thinking about it*
Nice dream, but ... how to do? Where to find the people to do the work, and how to recompense or motivate them? I don't see it happening soon: the pool of competent, disinterested yet fascinated, volunteers isn't THAT large.
I suspect the ODP will end up being the last of the dinosaurs -- the other directories have all the problems we have, and fewer resources to attack them with. I think they'll starve sooner ...
What I don't know is whether there will be any post-dinosaur life form bigger or more intelligent than spamming cockroaches. If there is, it may (i.e. probably will) take a different approach than anything currently imaginable. And it'll soon have the same problems as the current approaches (some sites worthless to all except their owners will be featured, some good sites will be neglected) -- just, if we're lucky, to a lesser degree.