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Thursday, October 21, 2004

DMOZ: Open Directory Project Losing Relevance

DMOZ: Rotten To The Core

by Dean Phillips

I knew things were bad at DMOZ. But I guess I didn't realize
how bad, until I started eavesdropping on a few forums, and
reading the avalanche of e-mails I received on the

When it takes up to two years to get a web site listed,
there's a serious problem. When perfectly qualified web sites are
rejected for no other reason than the fact the editor considers them
serious competition to his or her own site, there's a serious

When you e-mail DMOZ about the status of your web site and
don't even receive a courtesy response to your questions,
there's a serious problem.

When you have egotistical DMOZ editors fighting each other
to have their own web sites listed, there's a serious problem.

And quite frankly, I don't see how the mess DMOZ has created
can be fixed. With an apparently endless backlog of web sites
waiting to be approved, how can they possibly catch up. The
answer is, they can't.

But this isn't just a performance issue we're talking about
here, this is a morality issue. The very fact that it's a
matter of public record what DMOZ is doing speaks volumes
about the character of many of their editors.

After all, much of what I've written negatively about DMOZ
came directly from the mouths and/or keyboards of DMOZ
editors themselves. At least they claimed to be DMOZ
editors. And for the life of me, I can't imagine why anyone
would want to own up to that dubious distinction, unless it
were actually true.

This is what one DMOZ editor had to say. "Since I became an
editor for DMOZ a few weeks ago (albeit for a tiny category)
I have seen on the DMOZ editors board that there are a lot
of good volunteers there who work hard to try to keep the
directory up to date and useful. Its a shame because there
are also seem to be a lot of editors there who are lazy, or
who have let the "power" of being an editor go to their
heads. (The people who DON'T ever post on the editor message
boards, or update their categories, etc.)

I think some method to allow webmasters to check the status
of their site submissions (and to know why their site gets
rejected if it is something fixable, and the site is related
to the category and not just a spam submission, etc) would
be an excellent first step to improving the system.
Unfortunately the editor management system seems to be circa
1998 ... I am only guessing based on design/functionality,
but I assume big changes are not coming any time soon."

Even Google may have come to the realization that
DMOZ may have finally run its course. Previously found via
its own tab, the Open Directory has been demoted to
the "more" page.

This was Google's explanation for the demotion. "We analyzed
what people were using, and that had become less popular
over time. As the web grows, directory structures get harder
to use. It didn't seem to be worth the real estate on the
home page." Ouch!

Demoting the directory may also be a way for Google to
eventually distance itself from the Open Directory Project,
which powers it. The volunteer-produced directory was added
back in 2000, near the height of the Open Directory's

Today, there are often complaints that the ODP, has not keep
up with submission demands. In addition, there have been
delays in getting the most current data out in a format that
ODP partners such as Google can use.

Ultimately, any problem with the Open Directory--which is
not in Google's control--still reflects badly on Google.

I do have a solution to this whole DMOZ mess, if anyone
wants to hear it. I say nuke the site for morbid, and put it
out of its misery!

Dean Phillips is an Internet marketing expert, writer,
publisher and entrepreneur. Questions? Comments? Dean can be
reached at mailto:

Visit his website at:


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