Why the Open Directory Isn’t

I posted this once already, but this time around, I would really love to see your feedback on the ODP controversy.

I posted this once already, but this time around, I would really love to see your feedback on the ODP controversy.

Blake just welcomed me on as an author here, and I really can\’t think of a more relevant Traffick article right now and wanted to give the posting functions a bit of a test drive.

I admit the piece is a bit inflammatory… but sometimes that seems to be the only way to be heard above the noise.

Brief article excerpt:

When they\’re not calling themselves an army, dmoz is also referred to as a self-organizing global network of \”net-citizens.\” As if this weren\’t enough, we\’re told that it\’s also a \”self-regulating republic\” where you can \”make a difference.\” And just in case we\’re thinking they may be robots or monsters, we are reminded that this is the largest \”human-edited\” directory of the web. Largest! Right on! Human! Better than monsters or robots!

Perhaps a good reason for calling the directory open is that it\’s made freely available to any web site or portal which seeks to offer a categorized directory of web content on its own site. In the world outside of the dmoz republic, this is commonly referred to as co-branding.

This giveaway model didn\’t hurt the popularity of the directory, clearly. Many companies large and small subsequently took advantage of the opportunity to add a directory to their own search offerings without paying a dime. Indeed, Hotbot, Lycos, AOL, and dozens of other search sites and giant net companies have adopted this as their underlying directory. Well, why not? They can\’t use Yahoo, they don\’t care to build their own, and Looksmart costs money. Some companies have adopted a hybrid approach. Go2Net uses both dmoz and Looksmart in different ways. Excite, bless them, have their own directory which presumably came about as a result of their doing the respectable thing and acquiring Magellan.

But let\’s examine even this form of relative openness before turning to the key reasons why the Open Directory really isn\’t open…

After publishing this article, I\’ve heard various rumblings of discontent within the ODP ranks. Overall though I do not think the Open Directory is in crisis. Many categories are superbly edited. So use them, and forget the rest, I guess.

What is your take on the self-governing republic of dmoz? The comment feature here needs a workout!