The DMOZ Propaganda

The Question

Pretty much anyone who has dealt with DMOZ has most likely witnessed first hand the bizarreness that defines DMOZ. They invite submissions; but then quite often don’t review those submissions for 6 months, a year, or longer. They spend inordinate amounts of time tracking and recording the activities of former volunteer editors, and they maintain policies regarding editor removal and policy-making that are markedly autocratic, while purporting to be the “Republic of the Web“. A certain bizarreness seems to accompany most utterings, and the bizarreness is often delivered with a tad too much arrogance.

Having witnessed this arrogance on many an occasion, I’m here to ask, and answer, the question: Is the arrogance justified? Yes, I’m sure there are many other questions you’d like answered, but today we deal only with the arrogance of the DMOZ elite.

Who does DMOZ serve?

In order to understand the nature of DMOZ, we must understand its purpose. That is, who it serves.

DMOZ was launched in June of 1998, as a response to the slow review process of the Yahoo! Web Directory. (Oh the irony!)

However, credit where credit is due. The ODP did strive for and achieve a fast review standard in the beginning. This might lead some to think that DMOZ exists to serve webmasters. Nothing could be further from the truth. I’m certain that many more websites would be included in the Open Directory if it weren’t for the pesky fact that many websites are owned by the arch enemy of DMOZ – webmasters.

The often-invoked mantra of the DMOZ elite:

Webmasters are not our customers.

Sometimes the word “not” is in all caps:

Webmasters are NOT our customers.

Sometimes the word “webmasters” is italicized, but since I already have the quote italicized I’m at a loss of what to do. … Oh, wait, I can do this:

Webmasters are not our customers.

And at times I’m sure the word “webmasters” is preceded by a derogatory word or two:

Those spamming sons of bitches webmasters are not our customers.

Although I’m not sure that I need both “sons of bitches” and “webmasters” to be in the plural:

Those spamming sons of bitch webmasters are not our customers.

Anyway, I’ve allowed myself to stray from the topic at hand. I’m sure by now you’ve got the gist of it. Webmasters are not their, um, customers.

DMOZ’s customers aren’t webmasters who submit a site. They are the users who browse it, and use their data.

The the users who browse it? Evidently, a few people are confused as to this point. There are no users that browse it. There are no average Joe-blow web surfer types that use DMOZ to navigate the world wide web. None. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Zero.

The only people who browse DMOZ are DMOZ editors and – God forbid – webmasters. The vast majority of folks on the Internet use search engines that actually provide relevant and useful search results. Something no web directory does.

Faced with the fact that nobody uses the Open Directory to navigate the world wide web, the DMOZ elite scramble to come up with some sort of justification for their existence. It often has something or another to do with Google.

Often repeated marketing propaganda:

A listing in DMOZ makes sure your website is crawled (indexed) by Google. It is the most reliable means to make sure that your site does get indexed.

Google uses the ODP data as one of its factor in its search algorithm. Perhaps the DMOZ listed site benefits because of the keywords in the ODP category, descriptions, title etc.

The poor, hopeless, uneducated slobs at Google would be nowhere if it weren’t for DMOZ.

First off, a listing in DMOZ doesn’t guarantee you’ll be indexed by Google, and it is nowhere near to being the best way to guarantee your website gets crawled. Thousands of DMOZ pages are not indexed, so logic would follow that if DMOZ can’t get its own pages indexed, they certainly cannot guarantee that they’ll get your pages indexed.

I’m fairly sure that a link from a high PR page, for example V7N’s index page, will get your site indexed a lot faster than a link from a PR0 page that isn’t even indexed by Google.

As for the claim that Google uses DMOZ data in its algorithm… This is both true and most likely false. It is true in the sense that Google uses pretty much every web page on the Internet to generate rankings. Google takes into consideration the links from DMOZ; Google takes into consideration the anchor text of those links, and the number of links going into those pages as well as the number of links from the DMOZ category pages.

But this could be said of almost every web page on the Internet. It could be said of this page you are now reading, or every web page of this site, or your site, or little Billy’s site on mosh pit etiquette. DMOZ is nothing special here.

The common misconception is, however, that Google treats links from DMOZ with a special and inordinate amount of favor. Many a DMOZ editor has deluded himself into thinking that they work for Google, despite the conspicuous absence of a monthly paycheck and a daily communte to the Googleplex.

Google gives priority to dmoz because that is part of its contract with AOL.

Not true.

Sites listed in DMOZ are considered more credible by… Google.

Google uses the ODP data as one of its factor in its search algorithm.

If DMOZ dies, Google will follow within a month.

Let’s get this straight. Google doesn’t need DMOZ. Google does not need DMOZ. Google’s index includes over four billion web pages. DMOZ includes just four million sites. DMOZ is nowhere near to being large enough to even moderately useful to Google. It isn’t even practically scalable.

Furthermore, DMOZ does not serve the interests of Google. In many aspects DMOZ and Google are at odds. DMOZ links to websites that are penalized by Google. DMOZ links to websites that cloak. DMOZ links to websites using hidden text; DMOZ links to websites that sell links to any Tom, Dick or Harry.

DMOZ editorial guidelines do not take into consideration any of the guidelines published by Google. Cloaking, use of doorway pages, involvement in link schemes designed to inflate PageRank – none of these things disqualify a website from a DMOZ listing, and these things are the exactly what Google does not want in its index.

In Summary

DMOZ provides links. Links are a good thing. Submit to DMOZ. But don’t obsess over it. A DMOZ listing is not going to make or break or your search rankings.

Once you do submit, forget about it. Unlike Directory@V7N, DMOZ listings may take months or years to be reviewed, and more often than not they are rejected or misplaced. Submit, and forget about it.

  1. Tennis ShoesTennis Shoes08-07-2006

    Dmoz is full of free subdomain (low quality) websites like on geocities, tripod etc, which are added by editors themselves.

  2. vistadivine.comvistadivine.com10-17-2006

    The worst thing is that many corrupt editors take money for listing sites in Dmoz.

    Akash

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