The Failure of DMOZ

I recently started a poll on the V7 Network Forums entitled, Do You Trust DMOZ?


Disclaimer: First off, let me say that I do not think DMOZ editors are evil. There are several editors for whom I have plenty of respect. (donaldb, apeuro, Jim Noble, etc). The issue here is not individual DMOZ editors, but the policies and the process, and the lack of leadership and direction.

In order for anything to fail, it first must have a goal. So what are the stated goals of DMOZ?

The Definitive Catalog of the Web

Just as the Oxford English Dictionary became the definitive word on words through the efforts of a volunteers, the Open Directory follows in its footsteps to become the definitive catalog of the Web.


The Republic of the Web

Instead of fighting the explosive growth of the Internet, the Open Directory provides the means for the Internet to organize itself. As the Internet grows, so do the number of net-citizens. These citizens can each organize a small portion of the web and present it back to the rest of the population, culling out the bad and useless and keeping only the best content.

Reading those words, you have to wonder if the majority of editors today have ever read those words, and if they have why are those words still on the DMOZ site?

Today the Open Directory Project has de facto abandoned the concept of becoming a Definitive Catalog of the Web.

One Owner / One Listing

DMOZ refuses to list more than one website per owner. That is to say, for example, that if you have Bob’s Web Design on one website, and Bob’s Web Hosting on another, DMOZ will only list one. They believe that webmasters are creating entire websites just to get more listings in DMOZ.

Of course, Bob most likely created two websites for marketing reasons. Potential clients interested in web hosting should not be confronted with web design offerings, and vice versa.

This idea of one listing per business is really a bad idea. It isn’t conducive towards building a “Definitive Catalog of the Web”. Ownership of websites hardly matters and should not be an issue – the website itself should be the only issue.

To actually live by that principle, Jupiter Media, which owns Search Engine Watch, Internet.com, PHPBuilder.com and dozens of other top rated websites, would be limited to one listing.

Indeed, Google itself would be limited to one listing. As well as CNN.

But the one owner/one listing idea really is a crap idea, and DMOZ agrees with me here. Agreement demonstrated by 229,999 listings for CNN alone. And, yes, Search Engine Watch has multiple listings, as they should, and Google, too.

If DMOZ itself cannot accept its own rhetoric, then can we just fast forward to the conclusion that DMOZ is dead already? I am sure the dmoz.org domain would fetch a good price at Sedo, and perhaps then somebody who is serious about building a Definitive Catalog of the Web could do some good with the domain.

Owner Banning

Browsing the Resource Zone, I came across this thread.

It’s hard to know exactly where to draw the line, but when the line is crossed, the harasser will find all of his or her known domains banned from ODP.

Evidently, criticism of DMOZ and/or criticism of specific DMOZ editors will result in removal of all domains associated with the person doing the criticizing.

You got to wonder how a policy like that got instituted in a directory which has its roots in America, the supposed land of free speech.

Policy of Non-communication

This policy kind of goes hand in hand with the DMOZ assumption that all website owners are secretly spammers who have wet dreams about spamming DMOZ with countless mirror sites.

Webmasters, being evil, should not be communicated with. If DMOZ were to notify webmasters that their submission was rejected, chances are evil webmasters would become abusive and violent and go on killing sprees.

Or perhaps they simply do not want the submission acceptance / rejection procedure to be questioned. Awfully hard to appear infallible if there is a chance that a rejection could be overturned.

My opinion is that the submission acceptance / rejection should be open to be questioned. If you want to pretend that you are representing the entire world wide web, then the entire world wide web should be allowed a say.

Summary

It’s almost embarrassing to even mention DMOZ anymore. It’s generally accepted that DMOZ is dead, killed by its own policies and the theft of DMOZ by the few big wigs in charge. In a way, they stole DMOZ from the Internet.

Some people will surely ask why I beat a dead horse. I guess it is because I secretly hope that those who stole DMOZ return it to its rightful owners – us, the people who make up the Internet, and those who would grow DMOZ into the directory it should be.

If that cannot be done, perhaps an alternative could be arranged. A web directory that is open to communication, and one that truly represents the entire web. A true Definitive Catalog of the Web and Republic of the Web.

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