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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:

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