• http://makeitrank.com KevinSpence

    It often requires a certain knowledge of a subject to classify a site correctly. So if I’m editing a category on toy shopping and I get a submission from a scientific journal that I don’t understand, I’m not going to know where to move it and I’ll probably just delete

    Further, if I open a site from my submission list, I can often spot whether it’s potentially a quality site or an affiliate/spam site fairly quickly, whether it’s in my area of expertise or not. If I see affiliate links all over the place, I’m not even going to bother moving it. No sense clogging up someone else’s workflow with a site that won’t get approved anyway.

    Now, if I’m just moving it one category down then that’s one thing (woops, they submitted to M rather than N, no biggie), but beyond that, the submitter has to accept a certain level of responsibility for getting their site in the appropriate category — or at least a category close to the appropriate category. I know that sometimes it can be hard to decide where you would best fit.

  • http://www.seoworkers.com Webnauts


    the top three reasons sites don’t make it into the ODP Bob mentioned cannot be true. My site webnauts.net was since years in ODP and just at a sudden was kicked out. I contacted ODP and they told me that sometime my site was down for two weeks which is not true! Also I submitted my site seoworkers.com in December 2006, and I am still waiting for inclusion. If you look at both my sites, there is nothing that is violating any quality guidelines or standards.

    My conclusion so far is, if you are an SEO, you have no chance to get in. And if there might have been a chance, only if you are willing to pay. I already had 3 offers which I reported the abuse to ODP. And what hat did I get for that?

  • http://www.alliance-link.com Debra Mastaler

    @KevinSpence you wrote: “It often requires a certain knowledge of a subject to classify a site correctly”

    I think DMOZ does a great job helping both submitters and editors with this, they have category descriptions at the top of each page. For submitters, it might help draw attention to those description links if they were a different color and/or highlighted some way, right now they blend in with the page.

    @KevinSpence, you also wrote: “If I see affiliate links all over the place, I’m not even going to bother moving it. No sense clogging up someone else’s workflow with a site that won’t get approved anyway.”

    Why not help end the cycle of poor submissions by notifying webmasters when they’re rejected so they stop submitting sites outside your guidelines?

    @Webnauts you wrote: “I contacted ODP and they told me that sometime my site was down for two weeks which is not true”

    Hey at least you got an answer! ;) (Sorry, couldn’t resist that one John).

    @Webnauts also wrote: “I submitted my site seoworkers.com in December 2006, and I am still waiting for inclusion.”

    If that were my site, I’d submit it to a Regional category, not topical :)

  • http://makeitrank.com KevinSpence

    Totally valid points, Debra. I think everyone at dmoz would agree that the workflow for editors could be improved.

  • http://www.extraconnections.co.uk Chris Hunt

    Speaking as a former ODP editor I’ll try to cast a little light on the “deleting sites submitted to the wrong category” thing.

    If you’re editing even a moderately busy category, you can have hundreds of submissions to work through. If you pass a submission on to another category, etiquette determines that you should try to pick the right one – if it’s far removed from the category you’re working in, that can take more time than you’re willing to spend.

    For example, if I’m editing a category on medieval French history and I find a site submitted there about a hotel in Boston, why should I spend my time finding the correct category if the site owner couldn’t be bothered to do so?

    The best way to get your site listed in DMOZ is to make the editor’s life as easy as possible. Take time to find the right category – it’s not that hard really. Don’t try to be listed all over the place, don’t try to be listed too high up the hierarchy. Take a look at the DMOZ guidelines and at the other sites already listed, and write a fair description of your site that matches the style of the other entries. An editor can add such a site in two clicks, and may well do so one day. Or maybe not. The thing is to do everything possible that’s in YOUR control, instead of hoping unseen editors will do your work for you.

    As I said, I’m an ex-editor. I didn’t leave for any dramatic reason, I just lost interest in it. I expect there are an awful lot of ex-editors like me. Frankly, I think dmoz is doomed, for two reasons:

    1) It’s reason to exist has disappeared. When it was founded, search engines were really poor at finding good content. It seemed that a mass human-edited alternative would do a better job. Nowadays, Google et al outperform dmoz in every possible way. Sooner or later all editors realise that their time is wasted.

    2) It’s losing out to Wikipedia. You have knowledge about a particular area, but the only way you can express that knowledge is to marshal other peoples sites about the subject, even if (you think) they’re wrong. It’s gonna be more fulfilling writing about that area yourself in Wikipedia (or in a blog, or in all sorts of other environments that didn’t exist when dmoz was born).

    I’m also unconvinced of the value of a dmoz listing. It’s a nice-to-have, I suppose, but really not worth busting a blood vessel over.

  • laaki

    The days of manually edited ‘cover all’ directories are over. There is the issue of scalability which cannot be tackled through manual efforts i think. Thousands of human editors cannot match Search Engines like Google’s automation process (which is getting better day by day).

  • aeclark

    I think your comments about the Swine Flu category are unwarranted.

    You note the category… “was last updated October 18, 2009 [and] wonder if the DMOZ is really a serious search source.” October 18 is only a week and a half ago. Hardly outdated!

    You also list a number of sites that you think should be included. While not every site ever created about swine flu is listed, to my eye the sites that are included (well over forty of them) are a good cross section of very comprehensive sites. Between the sites that are listed, visitors have a good choice of information sources. The World Health Organisation is at the top of the list, marked as a “cool site” (although you claim it isn’t there). Also listed is the Centre for Disease Control. The Red Cross. Wikipedia. HealthMap. MedlinePlus. A range of universities and research centres. And a range of news sites (CNN, NYTimes, BBC, etc). While there are always other sites that could be added, the sites listed should be a good starting point for people wanting to find out about swine flu.

    I think it is entirely reasonable that the editors who are active in the Health part of the directory might have decided that the category is sufficiently comprehensive that they no longer need to spend every day focusing on the category, and only review it when important changes are necessary. This allows them to redirect their efforts to any of the thousands of other diseases that also exist (particularly those that are important to people, but aren’t trendy enough to get lots of publicity).

  • http://www.alliance-link.com Debra Mastaler

    @aeclark I think it’s important to list every major health source when discussing a global health issue and to have that category updated daily. Does the category talking about title insurance need the same attention? No, but health issues making front page news and getting major TV/radio airtime – does.

    The ODP isn’t supposed to be a starting point, according to their mission statement they want to be he definitive catalog of the Web. I am struggling to understand how any search entity with that goal could ever support the idea a couple of people could decide a category is sufficiently comprehensive.

    @laaki I agree, Google is a monster when it comes to search but again, they lack what directories like DMOZ, BOTW and Yahoo! bring to the table and that’s ediitorial opinion. Google uses that opinion as one of their search signals and it’s comforting to know they do, people always trump machines.

    But it’s disheartening to hear editors/people at DMOZ say a category may be sufficiently comprehensive and it’s a shame so many complain about not being added. SO SO SO many people complain…. can they all be spammers?

    Keep DMOZ alive and well I say but do SOMETHING about adding more editors.

  • http://www.ericward.com Eric Ward

    Debra – this was an excellent column. I was a DMOZ editor for 8 years. I’ve submitted a few hundred sites over the years, all the way back to when it was NewHoo! I am glad to hear they are working on a way to remain viable. In next week’s Link Week column, I will outline the editorial recruitment methodology DMOZ can use that might just solve the three biggest problems they face at once. I have no illiusions it will come to fruition, but I’m gonna lay it out there, and Bob, if you are reading, I’d work with you pro bono to help impliment it.

  • http://www.alliance-link.com Debra Mastaler

    Thanks Eric.

    Recently Rich Skrenta (@skrenta) one of the founders of DMOZ tweeted this:

    What is the meaning of life? 11 answers according to Hutch http://bit.ly/2ZLytf

    Ironically, the first two answers listed are:

    1. To leave a great legacy

    2. Try and be nice to people

    Too bad Rich didn’t leave those thoughtful answers with anyone at DMOZ.


  • somerandomguy

    I’d typically be discouraged from commenting here due to having to register to yet another website, but this article has compelled me to give an honest 2 cents.

    I couldn’t care less about the ODP. The site looks archaic and blandly designed, much the same as AOL’s sites before it started updating them to stay “hip” and competitive. The information often seems out-dated and it used to be terribly annoying when it would show up in search results. It felt like an advertising trap rather than a credible website, particularly with all the links to external sites. Why wouldn’t I just get a link to the sites instead?

    I say that it used to show up on search results because, nicely enough, I haven’t encountered it much lately. I was unaware it was any sort of legitimate site since it seemed so unreliable, almost shady, when it showed up in results. More over, Wikipedia offers better information and, as one reader pointed out, it scales better. I can’t see the ODP being maintainable. Even Wikipedia has problems maintaining its articles and filling out all its narrow stub articles. A closed community responsible for an enormous range of information likely can’t keep up with the work. Consider that Microsoft’s Encarta site finally closed down because it couldn’t compete with Wikipedia’s breadth or depth. And it’s editors were paid employees.

    So while it sounds like an interesting project, it doesn’t seem workable anymore. Especially not with its staffing issues.

  • Eric-the-Bun

    @Debra “I think it’s important to list every major health source when discussing a global health issue and to have that category updated daily.”
    Good, at last someone specifically interested in the category :-)
    You can apply to be an editor by following this link http://dmoz.org/cgi-bin/apply.cgi?where=Health%2FConditions_and_Diseases%2FInfectious_Diseases%2FViral%2FInfluenza%2FA-H1N1

  • http://www.pixelrage.net pixelrage

    I would have re-phrased the first part of the article as: “…those who support the directory and its mission (editors) and those who detest the favoritism, nepotism and corruption of DMOZ (SEOs)”