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Frustrated webmasters who have tried getting sites listed in the free directory DMOZ have found it be somewhat hit and miss. Attempts to hurry things along make it worse, attempts to obtain acceptance status may make it worse, and in a young industry, months and years can elapse before any inclusion is experienced, if at all. If the open directory is the directory it believes itself to be, it should radically change. Even with the best site in the subject, original content, a site that visitors like and visit, good genuine traffic, Google PR, etc. submissions and acceptance is too slow and too subject to chance. TurnerDow has client sites scoring on the first page of the SERPS and even at number one for competitive phrases without inclusion in DMOZ, but it would be much easier and less frustrating if there was a realistic process at ‘The MOZ’. It’s become a directory that results in sub-optimal results for it’s main influence – the leader of the search engine pack – Google.
To submit to the OD – the webmaster will go to DMOZ.org, find a category – fill out the fields and submit the site. Sometimes there is an automated acknowledgement of the submission, and sometimes there is not. There’s no real way of knowing if the submission occur? If you attempt to submit again when the submission was accepted – just not indicated – it harms 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 – one may be determined to be a spam webmaster. Sites that may be already accepted in the past in your name may also now be in jeopardy – and the one you are now trying to submit is at risk. Forum postings from DMOZ editors suggest this is completely wrong – that the process works perfectly and submission success is always emailed. But we know this to be wrong and misleading.
Attitude of Editors:
DMOZ editors think they are very important. It’s true to say that webmasters do need them to perform a responsibility they’ve been given. Some editors live up to it, but most don’t. DMOZ editors will do things in their own way, in their own time, and on their own terms. If you don’t submit a site in exactly in 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.
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 Donna’s? Attempt to contact editors to find out any information meets with a response such that you might think you’ve offended a third world dictator. The Open Directory Prima Donnas are the only interface between you and the OD – and if you treat them without due respect they react with the attitude of some offended movie star. How can something so critical be so badly managed? It’s only a matter of time until Google, the search engine that uses the repository most concludes the same (the other search giants have their own directories).
Once submitting a site to DMOZ – one should be able to check progress along the way. But enquire at your risk. 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. But now there is no way at all to get any status. But there are editors for each section with contact details – can one enquire of status. As previously warned – enquire at your risk. 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 and you may have nothing to lose – but we have found the results to be bad – 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.
Becoming an Editor
Since the backlog for editors seems to be so great – the obvious attitude of submitters is to offer to become an editor to speed the process along. One would imagine that such an organisation would welcome such free assistance. But the organisation is dysfunctional. If you have submitted a site and declare your situation (if you don’t they’ll search for your sites and entries), they will block the application in the vast majority of cases. We don’t know of a single case of acceptance. 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. Sites need to be listed with the directory to have easier Google weight – 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 this and reduce the influence commensurately.
One hesitates to accuse of corruption – 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.
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 real coup for the two parties concerned - webmasters and the combination of Google with the Open Directory. Google could either forget DMOZ or purchase it. If they junk it – build another directory. Then, with their new directory or with the DMOZ in new (capable) hands, charge webmasters for commercial site consideration just like Yahoo do. Yahoo is greedy and too expensive especially for smaller businesses, but small businesses would be happy to pay a substantial sum like $100 for listing consideration in such a heavy weight directory. Webmasters would pay with pleasure – content that the previous DMOZ travesty is now gone.
DMOZ has big weight without doubt. But its arcane way of operation makes it a liability in the SERPS. The submission process doesn’t work properly. Editors have a higher royal attitude towards their conferred responsibility and act like spoilt Prima Donnas. They are largely geeks and are our of touch with the real world of business and eCommerce. There is no feasible way of getting any status of sites, they 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 not already rejected. You can’t become an editor, and reports of corruption at DMOZ are so plentiful that it has to be at the very least a probability. When being listed in DMOZ has such an influence on helping to make or helping to break a small company, DMOZ is a farce and an inappropriate influence on Google SERPS. We believe it is only a matter of time before Google recognises this and enhances their results accordingly.
Further Reading: Forum - DMOZ Headaches | A Less Cathartic View
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