Here’s why DMOZ has become a liability to good search results on the web.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 listing consideration is such a heavy weight directory. Webmasters would pay with a smile – content that the previous farce of DMOZ is now gone.

There is no doubt that DMOZ is an important directory. But its arcane way of operation makes it a liability as far as appropriate 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 recognizes this.

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