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ODP troubles?



12:09 am on Dec 3, 2001 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

This is just a thought to open some discussions on the problems I have seen posted here concerning ODP.

Let list the facts as most people understand them.

1. If you submit a site for review, it takes a long time to get it reviewed.
2. If you apply for an editor position, you will probably be turned down.

If the demand side (sites waiting for review) and the supply side (people wanting to be editors) were balanced then you would have the sites reviewed in a timely manner and people could become editors in a timely manner.

This is not the case and is there a reason. Let me put it another way, why would you have a backlog of demand and keep the supply side low. Since this is a non-paid proposition, then the answer cannot be profit, but lies in people.

Now we are getting somewhere. Here's an organization where the rules are kept secret, where you are turned down if you apply to become an editor of too high of a category, where if your site is turned down there is no explanation. So what's the answer, well if history is to be the guide. ODP operates like a secret sect where the only a few people are in power, and they are going to keep it that way.

I think we are finally getting to the answer, this is a power trip! And for anonymous, controlling people, this is great. They don't have to answer to anyone, they don't have to give the customer any explanation, and they get to keep what they do a secret.

This is the only outcome when you have a closed group that keeps it's procedures secret. This is not an open directory project, this is a closed directory project.
Can anyone join? No, if you read the posts there are many that get turned down for various reasons, some are legitimate. But if there is a need to increase production then why do the people in power, artificially keep production levels down. The last argument is that they would like to keep the quality up. If you have read some of the descriptions and read the posts concerning the trouble people have in getting anything corrected,you would see the quality factor is already low.

What do these power people look like. I'm sure you will see some of them when they answer this, by attacking, as they usually do.
I am not against ODP, but think the original intent has been misguided by a few individuals in power.


1:05 am on Dec 3, 2001 (gmt 0)

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

willtell - you are talking about demand vs supply, customers...your approach is that of the siteowner. While ODPīs approach is that of the user. Is a site useful to the user?

Letīs face it - the ODP is an incredibly important instrument in web promotion. Look at all the places an ODP listing can take you. This importance puts a lot of pressure on the organisation.
My take on it is the ODP in itīs present form has no real future. The conflict between hard business interest and nonprofit ideals will diminuish ODPīs importance or structure. Stemming from the days of innocence itīs an outdated model in a huge marketplace.
The ODP, and BTW Yahoo submission policies, are one of the main driving factors for the rise of Overture and Espotting. The latter can be calculated, while the first mean appealing to a court.


1:32 am on Dec 3, 2001 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

re closed directory project. (I am not an editor, and claim no particular knowledge of its internal workings)

fact 1. agreed - some major catagories I have been watching (such as Insurance agents and marketers) have not had a single update in 6 months.

fact 2. don't know. how many of those who do apply are "disinterested" vs. wanting to accomplish a particular self interest task (like list their own site)

from my experience in other volunteer organizations, organization, coordination, and decision making are challenging issues. There is an inherent conflict between "knowledge and experience" vs. democratic or consensis decision making. An effective way to handle this is have folks rotate out of positions of responsibility after a term of service, hopefully staying in contact as "elder statesmen" to pass along their experience.

In my opinion, ODP is an important thing - part of the internet "commons". Thomas Jefferson advocated a "right of reconstitution" - one can hope that the volunteers, and those supporting ODP, find the energy and means to overhaul and apply a new "constitution" to the enterprise. I think that there is a lot of concern about the direction of the internet - is it headed towards a "shopping enhanced TV" model? Without a vigorous and viable ODP it gets closer to that.

I don't know about "people in power" there. My guess would be that they are doing the best they can in the circumstances, are well meaning, and often correct in their decisions (an assumption I find works best for most things).

Very few things change in response to criticism from outside.

I would be interested to hear from those involved, and, to thank them for their efforts


9:34 am on Dec 3, 2001 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator ianturner is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

The ODP in general is a good thing. The only problem that we as webmasters and promoters is that it takes a long time for sites to be reviewed.

In general if a site is in an 'interest' based category it will be reviewed much quicker.

Insurance and marketing are not areas where anyone is really interested in the topic, so anyone who volunteers to edit such a category is almost certainly doing so out of commercial interest.


2:27 pm on Dec 3, 2001 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Thanks for some great discussions. I am surprised by the higher level of ideas you are getting out and not just attacking. It appears that some of the folks out here are real professionals and not just wannabes.

This is what I would like to accomplish, an understanding as to why the problems exist. Why should sites take so long to get in and why should so many editors be turned away. I think ODP is a good idea but it doesn't work very well in practice. Again, I think one of the reason is that it is a closed, secret group.

With the talent pool they have of editors worldwide, it seems logical that they could come up with very specific rules for getting sites into the database quickly and very specific steps to becoming an editor. Instead there is this black hole that you can only guess at.
About being a site owner, you are misunderstanding the intent if you think this is about a site. It is about a process that is cloaked in secrecy and run by anonymous people. I am interested in the process and why such a great resource is being wasted.


2:30 pm on Dec 3, 2001 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

.......and what do you think about Yahoo! ?


3:13 pm on Dec 3, 2001 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

My opinions really don't mean much, but here goes
Yahoo is a for profit company. They implemented policies that reflect that. They have guidelines for submitting sites and I have never had a site rejected form them. The sites have always been updated quickly and I have requested changes many times that have all been answered. Bottom line, Yahoo has paying customers and I feel they know it.

Here are a few others that are open and upfront. AltaVista, pay the money and get your listing our there, quickly. Overture, they are a great help and very good guidelines.
LookSmart on the other hand, same as ODP, they don't understand anything about customer support. LookSmart acts like they are some kind of super power when they say, we will take your money and anything we give you is a blessing.

I think the Internet is still a great tool and I am going to try and help make it better. What most companies and people don't understand is that the Internet and technology is about people not computers or networks.


4:25 pm on Dec 3, 2001 (gmt 0)

I add a few bits here. I am an editor, proudly so, at ODP. Business sites looking for a listing in business are handled in very specific ways and under strict guidelines. This is as it should be.

There is a lot of spam submitted to business. You cannot believe unless you live it how true this is. And webmasters try to be even trickier as they go along. When I edited in business (which I gave up to protect my on sanity and have a life) it would take 20 minutes to review a site, simply to make sure it was up to the guidelines, placed in the right category, an on in on.

Now I have humble categories that I can actually go out and search for sites to list if I want. I don’t check in and see hundreds of new submissions each day, many of which do not meet the guidelines.

So, how could this lead to a solution? First, ODP is a very special link. There is power with it and some may argue the point but I think well worth any wait. The problem then is more to help the editors out so they can list the worthy links. And worthy is not a subjective term. Worthy means meeting the guidelines.

Submit to the right category. Not the highest level but the right category.
Make sure the page is not under construction in any way and that all the links including images work.
Use common sense and check it out on different browsers and different operating systems.
Control your affiliate use. More is not better.
Do not try to fool the editor by submitting a page in the same category of one you already have a site listed in only this one is called something else, under a different domain name or variation of the address but all leading to the same mother ship.

Remember that business and I suppose shopping editors are very smart, have seen every trick and are not getting paid to help the webmaster get a leg up in the world of Internet commerce.


7:03 pm on Dec 5, 2001 (gmt 0)

sadly, as is to be expected, there are editors - some, NOT all - with vested interests in the categories they edit. i can name several specific examples.

these folks - powerful editors in top revenue-generating categories - are also involved in businesses related to their categories. does this make them "experts" or "insiders"? you decide. but given this landscape, i dont think its a surprise that it is INCREDIBLY difficult for new sites to get listed and compete in their categories.

so what makes them special, and justifies their positions of power? nothing, really, other than that they had the foresight to get involved at the ground level, in the right categories. good for them. they've been making money for YEARS off of their good fortune.

there are hundreds of others with the same motivation who were too late to the game. those are generally the ones you'll find complaining here (myself included). i think the complaints are valid.

that said, the IDEA is wonderful and the folks who put their time into editing for the good of the web should be commended. unfortunately, the system does seem broke - at least in the business-related categories - and i'm not sure you can fix it with volunteers.



7:17 pm on Dec 5, 2001 (gmt 0)

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

>and i'm not sure you can fix it with volunteers.

No such thing as bad "staff", just bad management.


11:01 pm on Dec 5, 2001 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

why would you have a backlog of demand and keep the supply side low. Since this is a non-paid proposition, then the answer cannot be profit, but lies in people.

You have no idea how right you are!
I don't have access to the editor applications. But if they are anything even remotely similar to the site submissions, then it's only natural that less than 10% get approved. I understand that what happens inside may often look strange from the outside. But once you have seen the "quality" of the overwhelming majority of all submissions, you'll start to pity the brave souls who have taken it upon them to process that flood and filter out those few sites that will really benefit the searchers (and those few applicants who will most likely benefit the project).

Here's an organization where the rules are kept secret... This is the only outcome when you have a closed group that keeps it's procedures secret.

ODP Policies and Procedures [dmoz.org]

This is a hell of a lot of material to read. Have you looked through it? I don't think that any other directory or search engine, whether free or commercial, gives you that extensive and detailed instructions about what they consider acceptable, and what you can do to improve your chances of getting listed.

they don't have to give the customer any explanation,

I just checked the customer database, and couldn't find your entry there. When was the last time you paid for the ODP garanteed listing service? ;)

Please don't confuse the ODP with a yellow pages system. It is not the purpose of the ODP to list each and every commercial web site out there. There are real yellow pages sites around that can do this much better, and for a price. The ODP wants to present to each searcher the widest and most diverse collection of information on any possible topic. Listing the 27th site selling green widgets may or may not bring it closer to that goal.

The last argument is that they would like to keep the quality up. If you have read some of the descriptions and read the posts concerning the trouble people have in getting anything corrected,you would see the quality factor is already low.

It is undeniable that in some areas, the existing quality is indeed low. This is so, because there are a few editors in place who are content with just accepting every submission exactly in the way they find them in the queue. Those editors are really acting against the guidelines as you can find them from the link above, and ultimately against the interest of both the directory and its users, including the submitters.

I'm not sure if I understand you correctly, though. Are you suggesting to lower the standard even more, simply to get more submissions processed in less time? This would probably render the directory completely unuseable within two or three months, to a degree that you wouldn't really want to be listed there anymore.

However, the analysis is correct. The ODP does have to balance quality against quantity in every single case, for every listing, and for every editor application. So far, if in doubt, the weight was on quality, and I think that's a good thing. Of course, with around seven or eight thousand active editors, there are bound to be a few dozen bad apples among them, even in high positions. But really no editor at the ODP is immune to peer review, or even to getting removed for abuse. I have seen many interesting people rise and fall within the community, and would be very much surprised if that stopped to happen in the future.


10:38 am on Dec 6, 2001 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

For a directory, or a search engine, quantity is part of quality. If there are 8500 "handmade yoyo sites" out there, and 10 are listed in ODP, 6 of them listed 4 years ago, then I as a user of the directory am not getting what I came to it for. Do a search on ODP and Google - are the ODP sites higher quality? I am not suggesting ODP needs to list all, but it does need to provide useful results to survive, and that includes fresh content of sufficient quantity. Perhaps a small change like removing editors after a month of no edits rather than a stated 4 months, but often much longer period. Would at least suggest a little more production, and make what is broken a little clearer.


5:08 pm on Dec 6, 2001 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Obviously, there are advantages and disadvantages to the volunteer approach taken by the ODP. The advantage is, that you can recruit large numbers of editors with expertise in many different topics, that nobody would be able to pay for. The disadvantage is, that there's no garantee that you will get an editor who is specifically an expert in handmade yoyos.

For this reason, it may well be that Yahoo or Looksmart are better for the specific topic you're interested in, especially if you are looking at it from a vendor's perspective, and have paid for top listings there in lucrative categories. But if you take an impartial look at the average results from a searcher's perspective, then the ODP really wins hands down, both in terms of quality and quantity.

Of course, if you're an expert in handmade yoyos, and find that the relevant ODP category is badly maintained, by all means please apply as an editor and do something about it. Millions of fellow yoyo enthusiasts will be thankful to you for all eternity! If your first application has been turned down, don't worry, this happens to the best. Just try again. If in doubt, show your application to one of the helpful editors around here before submitting it, so they may point you to some of the less obvious pitfalls you could fall into, which might improve your chances quite a bit (but don't ask me to correct your spellling, as I'm not a native english speaker ;)).


5:06 am on Dec 7, 2001 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

This discussion has been quite interesting. I think that bird has said things very well, and I don't have much to add.

As a meta-editor for about a year now, I've handled maybe two thousand applications (both accepts and rejects). After being meta for about 4 months I found that over one-third of all of my first 100 acceptances had either never logged in or had edited for like one day and never returned after that. Imagine the frustration which comes with such a discovery. I assume that all subsequent groups of 100 show similar statistics, but I've not checked (and don't want to). I suppose this justifies an argument that more people should be accepted since so many don't really want to edit or don't care about it that much. Of course, we meta-editors don't know who will be this way when we screen those same applications. We try to accept folks where they're needed, yet many don't contribute.

Please don't blame us for some of the long waits to get a site reviewed. Blame some of those folks who take the meta-editors' time and still don't edit after being accepted. Some metas never review new applications for this reason, preferring to handle other duties such as reviewing existing editors' categories and building up categories of interest throughout the directory.


6:03 am on Dec 7, 2001 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

The "yoyo" was just an example, could be any type of category, many "interest" or "non-commercial" catagories have non-responsive editors. kctipton gives a little insight on that. Thanks. From a submitters point of view, it would be helpful to remove editor designations where they are not active. I really was just rehasing the point our esteemed moderator made
No matter how "volunteer, quality, important, etc" ODP; to users and webmasters, must maintain an attitude of "being of service", to thrive. No outfit has been successful without it. willtell's opening post may have been overstated, but having read a lot of posts about ODP, his frustration is not unusual, and it is not enough to blame the "submitters" or the "flakey editors", etc. That will not produce a solution. ODP is not "special" to the extent that it is exempt from competition, which need not be of similar form. I have to agree with NFFC, and would hope that they have the flexibility to look afresh at the challenges, and find some bold and clever solutions. Sometimes "cherished notions" or ideology, or basic assumptions need to be set aside. My fear is that by the time such effort is made it will be too late. What happens to ODP if just a couple portals stop using them? I think the answer should be obvious.


10:07 pm on Dec 12, 2001 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Thanks to all who posted replies here. This is, in my opinion, one of the best threads I have ever read!

The information everyone put out is valuable and to the point. I still do not have an answer as to how to help, but I may re-apply to be an editor. It is frustrating when you can see hundreds of 'needs and editor' captions and ODP will still reject you.

I am not real inclinded to help an organizations thats does not try to help itself.


2:12 am on Dec 13, 2001 (gmt 0)

>>.......and what do you think about Yahoo! ?<<

Hey, I love Yahoo. After I relaunched my former About.com sites at new URLs in mid-October, I submitted the changes to Yahoo. Yahoo updated the links within two weeks.

I also submitted the changes to the ODP. Nearly two months and one follow-up later, I'm still waiting for the ODP to update its links.

In theory, the ODP should be able to do a better job than Yahoo since it can rely on a huge network of volunteer editors. In practice, "open source" doesn't seem to work as well for search directories as it does for Linux. :-)


12:47 pm on Dec 13, 2001 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator brett_tabke is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

(I split off that side talk about submission frequency).

Nice that we can talk about these topics in a level manner.

I pretty much agree with what you have to say Welltell. The one difference I have with it, is that it sounds to me like you are suggesting a grand conspiracy of sorts. I don't think that is the way these things occur. They just grow and grow and stumble along trying to find their path in the dark.

Power is always a trip to deal with in volunteer organizations. When you look around the web at some of the volunteer orgs from IRC to forum systems like here, power structures and group dynamics are always in play. IMHO, handling group dynamics is probably the single dividing factor between great leadership and good leadership. It's a life skill that can only be learned out of a text book to a degree. After that, it takes experience.

I have a great deal of empathy for the founders of the ODP. Who in their right mind could have told them that in a few years they would have 3million listings to deal with and thousands of editors on the team? That is overwhelming growth for a volunteer organization. It's one thing if you are doing that and making money, but when it is an org built on pure passion, that's a completely different type of growth.

With editorial abuse a known quantity in the ODP, adding new editors would be an absolutely thankless job (hats off to the folks who do it). Throw in the AOL wildcard, and it's a down-in-the-dirt type work. Some will be passionate about being an editor, anothers will just apply on a whim. Fake names, fake sites, fake reasons for wanting to be an editor, and it is amazing they sort out the editors at all.

In alot of ways, for the ODP to publish any type of editor acceptance or rejection guidelines would be akin to Altavista publishing their algo. It would just give the tricksters a road map to follow and make the ODP's job that much harder. I could see seo software out by sundown after they published such a guideline: "get your odp editorship templates here - guaranteed results!".

Ya, I'm a well known ODP supporter. Always have been. In the world of Goto, Looksmart, Yahoo, Ink, and Altavista - a system such as the ODP is worth fighting for - worth standing up for. Just as with any politics, I may not agree with all the policies, but I do agree with the platform as a whole.

The ODP is the best thing to happen to the internet since Mosaic.


3:31 pm on Dec 13, 2001 (gmt 0)

>> The ODP is the best thing to happen to the internet since Mosaic. <<

And funnily enough, with the inroads of commercially driven returns into so many search facilities, it is becoming more and more important.


4:53 pm on Dec 13, 2001 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

This is a superb discussion. I think we definitely need ODP - or if it did not exist we would have to invent it. :) Yahoo is important too, but they serve slightly different markets and purposes. Frankly I would not like to see just one directory but both.

It's also nice to have a directory where amature sites at least have a shot at getting a listing. Only ODP really does that well.

I still think that we, as webmasters, have not fully figured out how to use the free resources ODP provides to it's fullest degree for our own sites.


5:35 pm on Dec 13, 2001 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I think that the mention of yahoo is important, yahoo edittors are paid positions, it's worth it to the company to train a yahoo edittor, to make sure they meet certain basic requirements (speeling, socal studees, etc may be requirements for becoming an edittor there), at a minimum there is a face to face meeting, this is a job after all and money is going to change hands, a certain level of checking is going to happen.

With ODP you have the problem of not having the time or money to review individual edittors, you can't spend the week of training necessary to make sure someone understands guidelines fully. ODP may attempt to do this but training each new editor would have to be done by the person above them, there would be far to many people involved to centralize this training, and the further from the top you get, the more likely it becomes that guidelines become misunderstood or ignored.


6:58 pm on Dec 13, 2001 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator skibum is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

I think one problem with tODP is that it is too easy (cheap?) to submit over and over and over. The MLM sites, affiliates, FFAs, doorway pages, and positioning company spam simply flood some categories. The editor can either go through each and every submission that looks like it may have a slight chance of being right for a listing in the category where it was submitted or go through and chainsaw delete all the stuff that looks questionable and then thoroughly review what is left.

Do it the first way and quality sites will probably get reviewed faster, though some will get unfairly deleted. Go visit every site that comes in and it can take many months for anything to get reviewed. Find a way to cut down on bulk and inappropriate submissions that waste valuable editor time and maybe ODP takes a step closer to making it more rewarding to build up categories instead of wasting hours on end sifting through money making schemes, mirrors, and all kinds of other stuff that comes through.



11:17 pm on Dec 13, 2001 (gmt 0)

>>Find a way to cut down on bulk and inappropriate submissions that waste valuable editor time and maybe ODP takes a step closer to making it more rewarding to build up categories instead of wasting hours on end sifting through money making schemes, mirrors, and all kinds of other stuff that comes through.<<

But don't such schemes waste time mostly in highly commercial categories? Preventing spam from multilevel marketers and entrepreneurs with a dozen identical affiliate sites won't solve the backlog problem in categories that aren't overwhelmed with spam submissions.


1:59 am on Dec 14, 2001 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

This is a great Discussion.

I think there are many factors we have to think about when we constructively criticize the ODP.

First there is a small degree of coruption in most industries and to a degree in most large orginizations, so this most likely is a factor. On what degree who knows. I think the bigger picture is this: with all the sites on the internet and the influx of sites submitted to the ODP, its just too much to handle. Theres too much spam as many have put it and the editors are just overwelmed. To go through each and every site seems impossible, so large quanities of submissions are just disregarded.

This is just a thought. I cant really side with either here, as I am a webmaster and have submited to the ODP, yet I understand how large of a task editors take on.


2:08 am on Dec 14, 2001 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator skibum is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Probably travel, real estate, shopping, adult, employment, consulting, and most any biz category would be affected most.

It wouldn't solve everything by any means. We've been waiting for 6 months or more for numerous sites outside those categories.


7:43 am on Dec 14, 2001 (gmt 0)

I have to disagree with Brett. ODP is the most corrupt Directory on the internet. I have competitors who are paying editors a lunp some and per click to have multiple listings in the exact same category, with the exact same site and the only difference is the domain name. Some of these competitors are listed 3-5 times and they are adding a new domain every month.


8:41 am on Dec 14, 2001 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

There is a certain honesty in bribery... if your competitors have to bribe the editor then at least you can get in... as opposed to your competitors controling that catagory (which might be the case anyway... but again they are willing to be bought). Anyway, if you know this why not report it to one of the top level edittors, if this is really happening it should be easily to check if pointed out.

As for catagories that are likely to be spammed heavily, this topic came up in the office in a discussion not related to ODP, it took all of 15 seconds to go from business catagories... to games... err, no, better yet entertainment... oh yeah and software (computers and internet) and... and... and... drat, nothing left, there is motivation (commercial or not) to spam every single catagory on ODP. Those catagories exist because of two things... webmaster demand and user demand.


9:21 am on Dec 14, 2001 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

A concept like the ODP is bound to have a certain level of corruption in it - its free for submissions and it involves people who know they are in positions of power.

But the fact that it is the largest directory of websites from all over the world, to me, makes it very important. The internet is an international platform. Don't forget that many website owners cannot afford $300 to get a directory listing. They may not realise the importance of the ODP in terms of it relevance, but at least they can ,if they do a bit of homework, get their site listed in an important directory.


5:25 pm on Dec 14, 2001 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

In my area of interest ODP kicks butt over Yahoo. It's not even a competition. But my area of interest doesn't make Yahoo any money so they could care less and they've made that clear.

I can understand why web professionals would prefer a guaranteed "pay and get listed" approach. Thing is, most users ain't looking for what you're selling. They want the sites that can't afford to hire SEO professionals or pay to be listed because that's where the actual useful info is.

But since the user isn't paying to search and the sites are willing to pay to be listed, the trend towards pay-for-play is probably going to continue. That's what makes ODP so important.

You know what I'd like to see in a search engine? An "I'm looking to buy this" box you could check or uncheck. Funny, but when I'm actually trying to buy something, I never get search results from the sites that sell it.


10:50 pm on Dec 14, 2001 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

>Thing is, most users ain't looking for what you're selling.

Actually, I think a lot of people *are* searching for what we're selling. Just check your site logs, if you sell any products you'll find stuff like:
buy brand x computer speakers online
Like you said, when you search for products you can't find them (thanks to the editors that won't list the sites selling the products and to the search engines who don't like cloaking). SEs and directories need to relax, not every e-commerce site is spam.

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