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 subject.
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 problem.
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 popularity.
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!
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Dean Phillips is an Internet marketing expert, writer, publisher and entrepreneur. Questions? Comments? Dean can be reached at mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org
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