February 6, 2007

Fact and Fiction: DMOZ and the ODP

I shall explain. Also, please check out my multi-part disclaimer covering anything I write about the Open Directory Project.

DMOZ is dead. Fiction! Editing is in full-swing. Some efficiency-aiding tools are still down, but the main capabilities are all there.

New site submissions are being processed. Partial fact. Submissions are coming in and being stored in a database, but they aren’t being conveyed to the editors yet. There is no good information as to when that will change.

And yes, that means that everything I’ve added since the outage – and probably most sites added by other editors as well – was stuff that we found ourselves, rather than by looking through a pool of submissions.

Pending site submissions were lost in the outage. Partial fact. Most were lost, including all the ones in categories I currently edit. Some submissions seem to have survived in other areas, but I’m guessing they are only a small minority of the total.

Other non-public ODP data was lost in the outage too. Partial fact. Some data was lost, but not all. The forums are there back to 1999 or so, and other data survived as well. For example, red flags survived*, along with the identity of the editor who set them, even if not his reason for doing so.

*Only one of those has seriously affected my editing so far. While I listed dozens of other SEO blogs last month, I left one good one out not because if its black-hat orientation, but only because the owner previously made a public offer of bribes to ODP editors. Assuming he actually cares about a DMOZ listing, he really put his shoe in his mouth with that one.

New editor applications aren’t being processed yet. Fact.New editor applications are on one of the parts of the system that isn’t working yet. However, existing editors can apply for and be granted permission to edit in new categories.

ODP editors are corrupt. Fiction! (Although in a group that large there surely are exceptions to any generality.) The ethics level reflected in internal discussions and procedures is very high. If anything, there’s anti-corruption paranoia. I’m sure the level of supervision will change somewhat when new submissions are coming in again, but over the past month my edits have been gone over by multiple senior editors with a fine-toothed comb. Sometimes it actually gets silly; e.g., I commonly describe blogs with the name of their owner, and the only case where the name has been edited out has been when it was my own blog that I was describing.

The ODP is secretive and deceptive. Largely fiction. The secrecy is real. But very little of what is said publicly is even accidentally misleading, so far as I can tell. Even less (if any) is misleading on purpose. Given the many thousands of editors involved in the ODP – and the fact that confidentiality itself is voluntary rather than being legally enforceable — things really couldn’t be any other way.

And even the secrecy isn’t absolute. For example, I’m guessing I won’t be tossed out of the ODP for this series of posts — although I certainly may be wrong about that.

If a DMOZ category doesn’t have a listed editor, it’s unlikely to get much attention. Part fact, part fiction. In some cases, that’s total nonsense. For example, I’m equally involved with Guild Wars, for which I’m the listed editor, and Guild Wars/Fan Pages/, for which I’m not. In other cases, however, it’s certainly true. To pick an example close to my own editing areas, internet marketing and SEO blogs got a lot of editing attention in January, while web development blogs and search blogs got exactly three edits between them the entire month. (Update: I just got editing privileges in the search blogs category today. My first move was to add six new listings I’d sent over during the past few weeks.)

ODP editors hate search engine optimization. Partial fact. A lot of SEO is rather antithetical to the goals of the ODP, and frowned on accordingly. Indeed, a huge part of the motivation to submit crummy sites to the ODP is the presumed benefit to SEO.

Even so, plenty of editors take a more nuanced view of search engine optimization. For example, I added a ton of SEO blogs last month to an already well-stocked category*, and took very little flak for it.

*Actually, editing in that category has been an outright pleasure. The most annoying thing about editing blogs is assigning them to specific topic categories. And if there’s one thing SEOs are good at, it’s staying on topic. Markov black-hatters excepted, of course.

ODP editors hate SEOs. Partial fact. The ODP has plenty of editors who think SEOs are the scum of the earth. For one thing, the accusations of corruption that various SEOs throw around don’t help the relationship at all. For another, people who don’t get their sites listed can get quite personally abusive, and those bad acts are commonly chalked up to SEOs as well.

But again, different editors feel very differently — up to a point, at least. Besides, as I note every day when clearing out comment spam from my blog spamcatchers — some SEOs really are scum.


7 Responses to “Fact and Fiction: DMOZ and the ODP”

  1. Fact and Fiction: DMOZ and the ODP - Google Adsense, Google Adwords on February 6th, 2007 8:28 pm

    […] Original post by Text Technologies and software by Elliott Back Tags: adwords, seo, google adwords, web hosting […]

  2. Search Buster Directory Web Log » DMOZ Answers - Fact or Fiction on February 16th, 2007 5:35 am

    […] DMOZ one of the biggest an oldest directories on the net today is always a hot topic at webmaster forums. You can find countless posts of how long does it take to get listed at dmoz, or DMOZ editors are corrupt. These are just a couple that always run hot at forums. Curt Monash posted an interesting blog answering some of the most repeatedly asked questions by webmasters and site owners regarding the state of DMOZ, editor corruption, site submission and editor application status. […]

  3. John Christopher Jacob on February 26th, 2007 11:08 pm

    DMOZ or not to DMOZ seems to be the current hot topic doing the rounds rather than the usual ive been waiting a year to get listed. For my part DMOZ has far too much history to become obsolete. I do hope when the recent storm passes it can return to its former glory!

  4. Rhys on May 10th, 2007 1:58 pm

    I think its time that some people came up with a viable alternative.

    The few bad apples in dmoz are creating such a bad impression its time to let dmoz die as it should have done last year!

  5. Curt Monash on May 12th, 2007 10:25 am

    There are many problems in ODP, and hence in DMOZ.

    Successful corruption is NOT one of them.

  6. getting back up to speed « dilettante on October 23rd, 2009 3:12 am

    […] The usual criticism and controversy abounds. Jim Hedger questions the current relevance of ODP in Trouble at the ODP, Rich Skrenta writes DMOZ had 9 lives. Used up yet? , and Curt Monash attempts to separate the wheat from the chaff in Fact and Fiction: DMOZ and the ODP. […]

  7. Ted on February 18th, 2012 2:48 am

    Regardless of the fact, I would like to be listed in the ODP!

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