The topic of DMOZ – a.k.a “The Open Directory Project – is a staple issue is SEO forums. Purely out of uninterested obligation, we will address some of the most legitimate complaints.
The Open Directory Project was started June of 1998. It was started because the Yahoo! directory was slow to process submissions and was full of dead links.
Ironically, today the ODP is slow to process submissions and is full of dead links, while Yahoo! guarantees review in 7 days or less.
Random Editor Firings
At one time, I was a DMOZ editor. I joined DMOZ because the website I had submitted was not reviewed and listed in a timely manner. My intention was to list my website and be done with it.
After adding a few sites, however, I was caught up in the idea of a noble cause. For the sake of a noble cause, I added my competitors’ sites one after another. I spent a couple hours almost every day, reviewing the unreviewed sites, editing the descriptions and removing sites which had gone offline.
Of my own sites, I only listed one, and I only listed it in one category.
Despite my good intentions, and despite comments of a job well done from fellow editors, I was removed from my position. I was not notified of my removal. I was never reprimanded for foul editing. They simply inactivated my login.
Later, one editor stated in a blog that I was removed for what he believed to be “abuse or self-promotional reasons”. I’m still waiting for the specifics of my abuse and/or self promotion.
The fact is, good editors are removed all the time, without warning, and in a fashion which I feel is cowardly. Editors who have sacrificed hundreds or even thousands of hours editing have been removed without warning, without notice and without justification. The process offends the morals of most decent folks, and has precipitated thousands of angry posts in message boards and newsgroups.
The ODP meta community is aware of this, and really ought to consider changing their policy in this regard.
Slow Site Review
It seems odd that the Open Directory considers slow site review to be a non-issue. It is especially odd when you consider that the ODP was started because the founders were “sick and tired of Yahoo’s old and dead links”, and slow site review.
How slow is slow? When I was an editor – back in 2002? – there were sites in unreview which had been submitted during the previous decade. It is not uncommon to wait a year for inclusion, although sometimes you’ll get lucky and find your site listed just weeks after submitting.
Crack Addicted Editors
Although I have no proof of crack addicted editors – nor do I have reason to believe there are crack addicted editors editing – it’s not entirely impossible. Even if there are no actual crack addicted editors, there may have been one or two addicts editing at one time. From pictures I’ve seen, at least one ODP editor has extremely curly hair and is in need of a barber; another editor – a meta editor no less – appears to have less than a full head of hair. These are issues that need to be resolved in a democratic fashion with input from DMOZ editors and users alike.
Editor corruption is much talked about, but I doubt it is a serious issue. DMOZ has a penchant for throwing out good editors, so I really doubt they would hesitate to throw out the bad ones.
There are, however, some editors who are obsessive. One meta editor in particular took it upon himself to attach editor notes to the URL’s of sites with which I was at one time involved. These notes had nothing to do with the site itself – he just found it convenient to attach notes to my sites in order to warn other editors of my evil nature.
The Open Directory Charter states that they provide an open invitation to join the ODP, a self-regulating community governed by community-driven standards, and a Republic of The Web.
If the Open Directory is a Republic of the Web, North Korea is a free democracy.
Truth be told, the ODP is an oligarchy ruled behind closed doors by a few active meta editors and a less that active staff (root editors).
A Republic is defined as A political order in which the supreme power lies in a body of citizens who are entitled to vote for officers and representatives responsible to them.
Yet, in the ODP there is no provision for the general population of editors to vote. Meta editors are not elected – they are chosen by other meta editors and staff. This in no way resembles a republic.
Insofar as meta editors are likely to promote other editors of a like mind, the meta community is predetermined to become more and more of a closed community, and less accountable to the users and other editors.
Google & DMOZ
Google representatives intimated that they would be using DMOZ listings in their algorithm to validate a site’s “worth”. It has long been thought that Google gives a tiny ranking boost to sites which are listed in the Open Directory. Whether this is true or not, we cannot know. But Google does appear to favor DMOZ-listed sites.
Because of this, many webmasters blame DMOZ for their financial ruin and poor search engine rankings when DMOZ fails to list their site in a timely fashion.
They shouldn’t blame DMOZ; it was Google’s genius idea to use a directory full of unreviewed submissions, some of them from the last decade.
In the end, DMOZ may be slow moving, slow to change, outdated, unloved, unkempt, and insufficiently manned. But it is still – for the time being – the best web directory we have.
You may not like a lot of things in life, but you deal with it anyway. This would be a perfect approach to use in dealing with the Open Directory.
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