Why the Open Directory Is not Open

Andrew Goodman writes \"Close scrutiny of the Open Directory Project (www.dmoz.org) is uncovering a series of series flaws in this and other volunteer-edited directories.
http://www.traffick.com/story.asp?StoryID=59
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\"Open Directory Category Editors are volunteers -- indeed, an army or self-governing republic of net-citizens -- but their numbers are, nonetheless, finite. It\'s not open to all comers. A recent scathing commentary by one disgruntled ex-editor, Gary Mosher, has described the army of editors as \"as a horrible mix of corrupt generals and untrained privates,\" since \"there are only two kinds of \'guide\' volunteer: The passionate, often self-interested, \'subject spammer\' and the virtuously motivated, but web-ignorant, \'want-to-belonger\'.\" Today, this Netscape-owned directory has 1,547,388 sites in its database, edited by 22,763 editors who maintain 234,846 categories. Little wonder that this gang is being referred to, on the dmoz home page, as an \"army\" of volunteers. An army?

When one scrutinizes the situation, one notices that this \"project\" has adopted almost every possible flavor of feel-good terminology. The \"project\" is \"open.\" It\'s staffed by a \"volunteer\" group of editors. The main dmoz site adopted a .org domain, conjuring up an association with the realm of not-for-profit organizations. (Dmoz.com also works.)


Open Directory Category Editors are volunteers -- indeed, an army or self-governing republic of net-citizens -- but their numbers are, nonetheless, finite. It\'s not open to all comers. A recent scathing commentary by one disgruntled ex-editor, Gary Mosher, has described the army of editors as \"as a horrible mix of corrupt generals and untrained privates,\" since \"there are only two kinds of \'guide\' volunteer: The passionate, often self-interested, \'subject spammer\' and the virtuously motivated, but web-ignorant, \'want-to-belonger\'.\"

That just about says it all, but let\'s examine some more considerations on this issue of openness at a volunteer-edited directory:
Lack of representativeness and lack of transparency.
Incentive for corruption and excessive categorization of low-quality sites.
The \"open\" directory is owned by a $300 billion company.

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