The weight Google gives DMOZ is highly dubious. Objectively the project is at a standstill. Webmasters who try getting sites listed in the directory find it almost impossible. Attempts to expedite make it worse, attempts to obtain status make it worse, many years can elapse before any inclusion is experienced, if at all. Corruption is widely cited. Time for a call to action!
Webmasters who have tried getting sites listed in the free directory DMOZ have found it be a hit and miss attempt. Attempts to expedite the process make it worse, attempts to obtain acceptance status may make it worse, and in an industry only a few years old, many years can elapse before any inclusion is experienced, if at all. If DMOZ is the directory it believes itself to be, it should behave like that directory. As virtually any webmaster would concur – the chances of getting into DMOZ even with the best site in the genre, with original content, with a site that visitors love, with strong and constant traffic, excellent page rank and much more – are patchy, chancy and can even deteriorate a site’s rank if ever included if the editor wants it that way. Good search engine optimisation companies attain good rankings for their clients with or without the open directory. However a listing in the ODP makes this process easier by far, but the arcane and arbitrary behaviour by the open directory makes a submission far from open and unnecessarily frustrating. Here’s why DMOZ has become a liability to good search results on the web.
Submission: To submit to DMOZ – the webmaster will go to DMOZ.org, find the most appropriate category – fill out the fields required and submit. Sometimes there is an automated indication of the success of the submission (not of acceptance, just the submission), and sometimes there isn’t. Did the submission occur? If you attempt to submit again when the submission was accepted – just not indicated – you will harm the chance of being included in the directory. If you submit several times because you’re not getting any indication that the submission was successful – you’ll be seen as a spammer. Sites that may be already accepted in the past may now be in jeopardy – and the one you are now attempting is particularly at risk. Forum postings from DMOZ editors suggest this is completely wrong – that the process works perfectly and submission success is always emailed. We know this to be disingenuous.
Attitude of Editors: DMOZ editors think they are important. It’s true to say that webmasters do need them to perform a responsibility they’ve been entrusted with. Some editors live up to this responsibility with integrity – but most don’t. DMOZ editors will do things in their own way, in their own time, and sadly – most importantly – on their own terms. If you don’t submit a site in exactly in the right way, which is their right way – your site won’t be listed and you‘ll never know whether it’s still in the queue, moved to another editor, or just rejected. As of mid 2005 – there is no status coming out of DMOZ.
Prima Donnas: Similar to above – Most DMOZ editors think they are a cut above the rest of us. They believe they hold the key to life or death – that for obviously meritocratic reasons they have been selected to wield power over webmasters who need to come crawling to them to plead their case. The problem starts at the top – the senior editors are geeks who’ve been operating in the upper hierarchy of DMOZ since the time that only computer geeks were really interested in the role. Like many geeks, they’re very intelligent but kinda out of touch with aspects of the real world. Aspects of great importance to an individual webmaster are not regarded with due diligence by senior editors and those they loosely oversee further down in the pecking order. Prima Donnas? Attempt to contact them to find out any information meets with the response similar to some high official you have approached inappropriately. The Prima Donna’s of DMOZ are the only interface between the webmaster and the directory – and if the webmaster treats them wrongly they react with the attitude of some offended film star, and they’re off to their trailer in a huff. How can something so important be so ridiculously managed? It’s only a matter of time until Google, the search engine that uses the repository more than other search engines concludes the same (the others, sensibly, have their own).
Enquiries: Once submitting a site to DMOZ – you can just check progress along the way – right? Wrong. Enquire at your peril. Prior to early 2005 DMOZ had a forum where progress could be checked – though the forum was subject to the replies of editors with all the characteristics cited in this article. It was a difficult and arcane way of getting information, and marginally better than nothing. Now there is nothing. But there are editors for each section – could you not just contact them and ask for status? No. As previously warned – enquire at your peril. It will almost definitely result in a negative effect for your site’s listing potential. The temptation to plead with one of the DMOZ Prima Donnas is strong. It may be all you have – but we can’t say the result is good – so think carefully about the wording and attitude. It may be difficult to find their email address – if so this is an indication that they don’t want to be contacted. It’s a closed organisation and it’s just so surprising that the heavy-weight search engine Google has such a high regard for a badly operated structure like DMOZ.
Become an Editor: Since the backlog for editors seems to be so great – the obvious attitude of webmasters is to offer to become an editor. One would imagine that such an organisation would welcome such free assistance. However, if you have submitted a site and declare your situation (if you don’t they’ll do a search), they will block it in the vast majority of cases. The intention any well be to assist and add quality sites to the index – but they’ll assume you just want to get your own site in. Could you blame an ethical webmaster – there’s little other choice as long as Google rewards the directory with such kudos? Sites need to be listed with the directory – and the fact that it’s such a hit and miss pursuit is frustrating and pointless. There are not enough editors, the editors don’t approach their responsibility with due diligence and they don’t easily accept new editors into the organisation. How can it work? It can’t. Google should see the obvious truth in this.
DMOZ Corruption: One hesitates to accuse – but the forum postings of so many webmasters complaining of corruption and apparent postings of editors who themselves say they are corrupt cannot but lead one to the conclusion that there is corruption at the MOZ. There are editors that just will not accept sites into a category where the site competes with existing sites they have a financial interest in. There are editors that will do worse than not list a site. They will change the description of the site that appears by default in Google search listings such that surfers will not see the site as appropriate to their search (as of mid 2006 Google have permitted a ‘NOODP’ tag to be used to overcome this – but the knowledge of this mechanism isn’t widespread). There are supposed editors that have posted in forums that themselves say they invite payments to be made to have a site listed – payments to be made to the email address that sometimes appear along with the editor details, and others that can be found through web searches for that editor name. There are editors that will deliberately seek out other editors that have a very high queue of sites to consider and who aren’t doing much about reducing the workload and pass the site over to them –which delays the site consideration for perhaps 2 or 3 years! When it is eventually turned back to the correct editor, the editor may do the same with another over laden editor. One forum posting by a supposed editor said that he combined the above two techniques by finally adding the site in his category after giving it the run-around for some period of years, then changing the description of the site to repel visitors. This is dysfunctional to the point that most objective observers would conclude the existence of corruption. Sites which exist as a small business with one or two hard working employees have this kind of behaviour to grapple with – the webmasters are close to powerless – Google should recognise this and reduce the value they attribute to a DMOZ listing.
Why not just stop complaining and move on to other directories? We have to keep complaining ever louder because the search engine’s have directories. Yahoo has one, MSN has one, etc. Google do too, but this juggernaut of the search industry has chosen this arcane apology for a directory representing the world’s web sites. It doesn’t represent the world’s sites – only a tiny snapshot. Webmasters recognize the free nature of the directory but it’s the adoption by Google that leaves objective webmasters with a feeling of frustration. It’s their chosen directory and it’s impossible to get into it unless by a stroke of good fortune handed down by one of the wonderful, benevolent and lordly geek DMOZ editors.
So What to Do? If DMOZ is to continue to be the directory of choice for Google, the solution is obvious. A volunteer group assigned to do something so important is a bad business model. The editors need to be paid employees and the system needs to be fair, instead of arcane and very probably corrupt. We struggle to see how Google don’t appear to already recognise this – it’s blindingly obvious.
Another solution would be a win-win for the two parties concerned. The two parties are webmasters and Google linked with DMOZ. Google could either junk DMOZ or buy it. If they junk it – build another directory. Then, with the new directory or with the purchased DMOZ charge webmasters for commercial site consideration just like Yahoo do. Yahoo is far too expensive especially for small businesses, but webmasters of sites representing small businesses would be happy to pay a substantial sum like $100 for one-off fee listing consideration in such a heavy weight directory. Webmasters would pay with a smile – content that the previous farce of DMOZ is now gone.Conclusion: There is no doubt that DMOZ is an important directory. But its arcane way of operation makes it a liability as far as appropriate Google listings are concerned. The submission process doesn’t work properly. Editors have a regal attitude towards their conferred responsibility and act like Prima Donnas in their work. There is no way of getting any status of sites, sites may have been rejected or may still be in the queue, and any attempt to find out in order to put things right puts the listing at peril if it’s still in the queue. You can’t be an editor if you are attempting to list a site, and reports of corruption are so common that it has to be at the very least probable. When inclusion in the open directory has such an influence on making or breaking a small company, DMOZ is a travesty of justice and an inappropriate influence on ranking of sites by the search behemoth Google. We believe it is only a matter of time before Google recognises this.
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By Baron Turner of TurnerDow Premier Search Engine Optimisation, a British Web Optimisation company specialising in SEO, SEM, PPC Management