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Dmoz and About

What's with that love affair?



1:54 am on Jul 31, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member billys is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

I really don't get it, why does DMoz like About so much? If the editors know the importance of a link on Dmoz, then why are some sites limited to 1 link while others get many. How fair is that?

I have a small staff writing articles on over a dozen topics. Right now we have over 750 pages of articles. For each of the topics we cover, we have roughly 35 detailed articles. Why is it we only get one link?

In fact, Dmoz seems to have a love affair with some sites such as About. Have you ever looked at that site closely? They rank highly on some very competitive terms and the result page is often garbage. I have also noticed that in some topics there seems to me intentional misspellings (common ones).

I have written extensively on a career related topic - in fact, three online education services appear to use my website as part of their course study. I've read a boatload of information on this topic and have even thrown out my own theories - taking the best from previous work. Thirty five pages on this topic and over 12 others - do you think I could get more that one link - it's against their policy.

If that's true, then what about sites like About. It's a site of average writers spewing articles which, quite frankly, aren't very good. They are superficial and spam like.

If I broke my site into over a dozen mini sites, there is no doubt I could get a link for each topic. But I shouldn't have to do it.

Anyone got some history they could share? Why can some sites get mega links and the newbies are stuck with just one?


4:42 pm on Aug 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

Sweeter deals and partnerships in return for cash - most likely.... The web is about cash my friends


5:35 pm on Aug 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

What you're seeing is that about.com was there in 1998, and at the time often represented exceptional content. If you look at the history, the number of about.com listings has been (slowly) shrinking (as the existing links are re-reviewed.) This has also happened to many other sites that were heavily deeplinked in the early days, and is still happening to others.

You can't assume that the web hasn't changed since then; you can't assume that the ODP hasn't been able to raise standards for what constitutes "exceptional" (and therefore deeplinkable) sites. Don't assume that the most urgent priority for editors is removing listings that "are not longer as exceptional as they once were."

Don't assume that the ODP volunteers share your predilection in favor of mercenary work and against pro-bono work.

Don't assume that the ODP editors wouldn't see your hypothetical "multiple related domain names" as "multiple related sites" and react exactly as the submittal policy explicitly describes.

Don't assume that the ODP editors aren't from the 60% of the web generated for "passion or duty" rather than from "profit". (Statistics quoted from a recent published study, not invented on the spot.)

Don't assume that the ODP editors would see a collection of articles from one entity (which normally would receive one listing) in the same way as a number of completely independent mini-sites at about.com or geocities from various entities (which normally would receive one listing each.)

Don't assume that the editors count links from websites, so that a site already listed 100 times is less likely to be linked more, than a site only listed once.

Don't assume that within the ODP, actions based on the importance of links to the webmaster (or indeed, any other webmaster concern) aren't considered abuse, and grounds for removal.

And then ... you might be able to begin looking for any common ground that might exist between two entities purporting to provide content on the web.


5:48 pm on Aug 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

It's really impossible to answer that question without getting into specifics (though perhaps a more experienced editor will give it a try.) That's because the answer depends so much on what specific topic you're talking about. If you've got 35 substantial, unique articles and they're all about Beethoven, there's no way they're going to all be listed in the Beethoven category. If you have 35 substantial, unique articles and they're each about a different composer, it's possible (though far from guaranteed) that they might be tapped for deeplinking in more than one composer category. Shopping categories don't usually deeplink at all. A category about an extremely obscure work of literature with very few resources about the topic at all may be much improved by a deeplinked article summarizing the book's plot. The Harry Potter category already has hundreds of links to detailed resources and would not be at all improved by a deeplinked article summarizing the book's plot. It completely, completely depends on the topic.

But in almost no cases will the same site have more the one linking in the SAME CATEGORY. What would be the point of that? The sites' own navigation should serve that purpose for the searcher. This is true regardless of whether the sites have different root URLs or share the same one.

As a semi-concrete example, I have six online fiction websites. Only one is listed in the ODP. What good would it do anyone to list the others there? Anyone who is looking for my fiction projects will be able to find the one site that is listed, and navigate to the others from there. Anyone who is not looking for my fiction projects will not want their screen cluttered up with multiple links that lead to work by the same person.

Hope that makes things a little clearer. It's a good rule of thumb to submit only your main site, only once. The multiple listings of multiple sections of sites like About.com and BBC.com were not submitted by those webmasters, they were actively sought out by editors who were in the process of trying to round out individual categories that didn't have enough relevant listings. The best way to catch the eye of an editor on such a rounding-out mission is to be highly web-visible (high rankings on one or more major search engines and/or a link from another important website on the topic) and provide quality informational content that is immediately obvious to a casual surfer. Same way you accrue unsolicited links from other sources, really. You'll stand the best chance of being deeplinked if you're providing information about topics that have very little other material available about them at all.

Hope that helps!

Disclaimer: This post constitutes an unofficial, personal opinion not necessarily shared by other ODP editors, the university, or my cats.


11:15 pm on Aug 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member billys is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

I do appreciate the background. Honestly a question is a question. I posted for that very reason - to get a background. To quote Hutch:

Don't assume bad intent on behalf of every post that has to do with DMoz.

I was looking for the rationale, which Hutch explained. Clearly, without a background as explained, it seems as though DMoz loves About - which is why I asked the question.

flicker, to be more specific, we have over 12 "topics" each topic has over 35 articles dedicated to it. The site also has 3 "dictionaries." For example, one dictionary has to do with career terms (such as functional resume), another with financial terms (such as net income). These dictionaries each contain 100 definitions which are much more detailed than those found on some of the more popular dictionaries. The intention of the dictionary was to support the topics.

Our strategy was to provide better information that the superficial stuff you find (often at the top of the SERPS). We found that many dictionaries were more like a thesaurus.

I think our mistake was to submit an entry at the very beginning of the site's existence. We thought it would take months for a review, but we got in after only about 2 months. We didnít have much content yet (for example the dictionary sections didnít even exist.)

I apologize for my knee-jerk response to what I observed. Which was an "C-" quality site getting lots of recognition.

You'll stand the best chance of being deeplinked if you're providing information about topics that have very little other material available about them at all.

That answers my question too. We have one topic (on leadership), which probably covers the topic in more detail than any other site. We've got several online educational sites that must use our materials as coursework (we see the referrals, but the sites are password protected).

I do feel bad about the response this post solicited; I really didn't mean to offend anyone. Quite frankly the "what's with that love affair?" was an attempt to at least get the post read.

[edited by: skibum at 5:20 am (utc) on Aug. 2, 2005]


12:16 am on Aug 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

It really depends on how closely related the "topics" are, too. If these are articles on twelve different aspects of the same sort of business, we'd usually rather list it once in the highest-level category pertaining to that business. If these are articles on twelve radically different subjects, such as HTML programming, playing the clarinet, Swahili grammar, and children's theater, we'd probably be considering the sections separately. Somewhere in between... would be somewhere in between. I see that WebmasterWorld's Google, Apache, and HTML forums are deeplinked on the ODP, for example. They're related topics, but not THAT closely related, and they're extremely useful resources, so editors obviously decided it would add value to list them separately. Notice that they're NOT all listed in the same category, though. No matter how extensive and useful a website is, we avoid linking to it more than once from the same category; that would annoy precisely the kind of web searchers who use directories, if you think about it.


12:35 am on Aug 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I believe about.com is not even in the top 30 sites with the most DMOZ links.

I believe about.com has just over 3000 links from DMOZ whereas cnn.com has over 230,000 links from DMOZ.


1:41 am on Aug 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member billys is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

flicker - I understand what you are say. I guess some of us are just a bit too late. Unfortunately for some of us that doesn't level off the playing field. I would think that a good deal of About's power comes from those 3,000 deep links. My question really was an innocent one - kinda one of those "how did that happen?"

It's frustrating when we are researching an article and About is at the top of the heap. We look to see what they have to offer and it's two paragraphs, a bunch of links to other articles (that are also two paragraphs long) and a bunch of sponsor links disguised as articles.

When we first started we tried to keep articles between 500 and 1,000 words. Lately we find ourselves putting together articles with as many as 1,600 words.

I hate to keep picking on About because I'm sure there are other good examples.


5:09 am on Aug 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Bill, it may truly be that it is too late for some things: the innovators have moved on, and nothing is left but scrabbling through the dustbin. I'll express no opinion on that one way or the other: the facts will remain what they are despite my opinion -- and I have no interest in some Quixotic quest to level the windmills, um, soccer fields. The fields may be flat, or furrowed, or fortified, or emitting alpha radiation at lethal levels. It's not my mission to take them back.

What I'm doing (often on internet projects in company with other people doing the same thing) is trying to bridge the digital divide -- bringing the full record of human experience within reach of anyone regardless of class, clan, or cash in hand. And from that point of view, about.com is a fascinating eclectic collection of human voices -- a precious resource incomparable to anything you could never achieve with any stable of hired hacks. Sure, some of the voices are pretty light (and on a subject about which I am passionate, I may list them reluctantly if at all.) Sure, in this age of the internet they are often surpassed either by expert niche sites, or by the mass production of organizations (libraries, bureaucracies, academies, etc.) geared to providing public-service information even before the internet appeared. Sure, you may be able to pick out a few of the voices that sound like the offscouring of the house rag for a boilerplate penny-stock operation (and so you may see about.com as competitors, and as despicable ones.) But that is just the mildew on the beach, don't judge the whole ocean by that!

And don't forget to keep the arrow of causation pointing the right way. About.com was an internet powerhouse (by the standards of the time) before the ODP came. Their ODP status reflects pre-existing success, not the other way 'round. And that's generally true of the ODP -- it doesn't confer success, it only recognizes it. If sometimes it seems to recognize very small degrees of success, that's not low standards, but comprehensiveness: we've been willing to pick the largest tadpole out of puddles too small for anyone else to notice.


3:09 pm on Aug 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member billys is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Hutch - I understand completely. Thanks to all for taking the time to respond. Best to all.

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