DMOZ

DMOZ was evaluated for Web Directory Reviews Org on May 16 and May 17, 2014.

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Note: DMOZ was previously reviewed here as the Open Directory Project.

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DMOZ has seen some changes since our last review of the directory, under the name of Open Directory Project. The directory was founded as Gnuhoo in 1998, largely by Rich Skrenta, Bob Truel, Chris Tolles, Bryn Dole, and Jeremy Wenokur. As a response to criticism from the GNU project, they quickly changed the name of their directory to NewHoo, which Yahoo promptly objected to.

Meanwhile, the directory was acquired by Netscape, and it became known as the Open Directory Project, which its early editors of which I am one, generally referred to as the ODP.

Originally hosted on directory.mozilla.org, when it was decided to move the directory to its own domain, dmoz.org was chosen. Over the next few years, people began referring to the directory as DMOZ, so it was variously known as the Open Directory Project, the ODP, or DMOZ.

In the interests of name recognition, they recently decide to settle on one name, and have removed "Open Directory Project" from their logo, and will be referring to themselves as DMOZ.

So, while this may appear to be my first review of DMOZ, it is not the first time that I have reviewed the directory; I had previously reviewed it as the Open Directory Project.

They have made, or are in the process of making some other changes as well, but I'll reference these changes as I come across them during my review.

Each quarter, twenty web directories are reviewed for Web Directory Reviews Org. The top ten from one quarter are re-reviewed in the following quarter, competing against one another and ten additional directories.

DMOZ first appears in the Internet Archive on January 25, 1999, although the directory has been online since 1998, initially on directory.mozilla.org.

The Moz Domain Authority of DMOZ is 96/100, and its Page Authority is 95/100. Its Page MozRank is 7.5 and its MozTrust is 6.82. Its Majestic SEO Trust Flow is 82, and its Citation Flow is 74.

There is no charge for submitting a site to DMOZ, but it might take years for a submitted site to be reviewed, if at all. DMOZ was not only a pioneer in the web directory industry, but it remains the largest, most successful volunteer directory.

It is a very large directory, however. While its index page claims 89,496 editors, I don't believe that the number of even marginally active editors is anywhere's near that. In fact, my understanding is that this is the number of editors who have participated in the project since it began more than sixteen years ago. If so, I would be one of them, but I no longer have a login and have not contributed to the site for many years.

More than two years ago, I submitted four sites to three of its Regional localities categories. One of these categories has no listed sites. Two of the sites that I submitted were to another locality category that has two listed sites, one of them being a topix.com site. The fourth site that I submitted was to a locality category with three listed sites, one of them being a topix.com site, while another was a weather site.

The last update to these three categories was January 2, 2007, more than seven years ago, yet neither of these four sites have been added, despite the fact that they are wholly non-commercial, and three of the four sites are well in excess of one hundred pages.

On the other hand, I have had other sites accepted to the directory in fairly short time, and others added that I hadn't even submitted.

DMOZ is alive and well, with active editors engaged in adding new sites to the directory every day. As a volunteer effort, though, editors generally work in areas that they are interested in, the result being that some areas of the directory are active, while others have stagnated.

Also, unless things have changed considerably since I was a meta editor there, most editors don't enjoy working the submission queue.

By all means, do submit your site to DMOZ, but don't expect a quick response.

While reviewing the directory, I will view it from the perspective of a potential directory user, rather than as a site submitter or search engine optimization professional.

The directory will be evaluated in five general areas, each weighted independently. They are: aesthetics (10%), content (25%), intuitiveness (20%), quality (20%), and usefulness (25%). In addition, up to five points may be awarded for extra content, being useful features beyond that normally found in web directories.

Aesthetics - 6/10

DMOZ has changed very little since it was first introduced in 1998, so its design would have to be defined as retro.

The DMOZ main menu takes up a small amount of the space on the screen, and there is no other text. Its upper-level categories are arranged in three columns of five each, with its multi-language World category spreading across the bottom.

Except for its multi-colored Kids and Teens category, its upper-level category names would be symmetrical.

Content - 24/25

DMOZ claims 4,218,096 sites. I don't know whether or not this number is correct, but I do know that DMOZ is huge.

Prior to reviewing a directory, I scan it using a program called Scrutiny, which gives me a comparatively useful idea of the size of a directory. However, I limit my scans to 400,000, and DMOZ well exceeds that number.

There are, however, several empty categories, particularly in the lower regions of its Regional category, some of which have not been updated in more than seven years. There are an awful lot of empty localities categories, and it's not as if there aren't sites for them.

Intuitiveness - 20/20

I may be somewhat prejudiced in favor of DMOZ in this area, since I was highly involved in the development of the taxonomy of several areas of DMOZ, most particularly its regional categories.

When the directory began, the Usenet newsgroup structure was used as a basis for its categorization, but several reorganizations brought the directory to what it is today. While I was with the directory, a taxonomist was brought on as one of its paid staff. She advised, and took part in the discussions, while every aspect of the directory's taxonomy was debated, sometimes hotly.

I do believe that the end result was very good, and that the taxonomy of DMOZ is excellent. It is very easy to follow, and its use of @links and See Also links would quickly put someone back on the right path if he were to go astray.

Its above and below the lines features allow editors to separate different types of subcategories in a long subcategory menu, also aiding in navigation.

Additionally, the directory's World categories, which list sites in languages other than English, duplicate the general directory as much as possible, and wherever a category exists in another language, links are provided to that as well.

A new feature that DMOZ is introducing is one that the directory refers to as Regional Trees. Where Regional Trees exist, the directory will show results from all around the region, rather than in one specific locality only. If implemented throughout the directory, this would be an aid in navigation.

Quality - 15/20

In the quality portion of my evaluation, I will look at a variety of things. These will include site titles and descriptions, the number of dead links or empty categories, and whether or not sites are listed in appropriate categories.

DMOZ listings generally follow the directory's guidelines for site titles and descriptions, but I maintain that that these guidelines are themselves faulty, adversely affecting the ability of listed sites to be found on either a directory search or within a search engine.

DMOZ uses a sentence fragment model for descriptions, with a view toward not allowing significant keywords. Since directory searches view category names, site titles, and site descriptions, a more descriptive site description would make it easier for a user to find whatever it is that he is looking for.

Rather than making full use of the description field, site descriptions in DMOZ usually consist of only a few words, and seldom more than one incomplete sentence.

Additionally, more descriptive descriptions would aid a user in determining which site in a category to visit. Then, there is the fact that I prefer grammatically correct sentences.

Site titles, in DMOZ, are nearly always good.

In the 400,000 links that were scanned by Scrutiny, 5,421 of them were flagged as being bad. Of these, roughly one-fourths were timeout errors, which are not necessarily bad links.

As I mentioned earlier, there are a lot of empty categories in DMOZ. While I was a meta there, we required a minimum of three links before we would create a category. It is quite likely that the empty categories that I am seeing now contained three sites at the time that they were created but, over the years, link rot set in, and no one came along to replenish these now empty categories.

For example, randomly looking at a few of its categories, I can see that:

Oklahoma: Localities: H contains 53 Localities categories. Of these, 13 are empty, 13 have one site, 16 have two sites, and only one (Hugo) is in the double digits.

North Dakota: Localities: G contains 28 Localities categories. Of these, 6 are empty, 10 have one site, 2 have two sites, and only one (Grand Forks) is in the double digits.

Alabama: Localities: L includes 28 Localities categories, and 2 of them have no sites, 9 have one site, and 10 of them have two sites, with none of them having more than eight listed sites.

Sites listed within the DMOZ directory are nearly always listed in the most appropriate categories.

Usefulness - 15/25

A strong argument for the usefulness of DMOZ is that it contains a whole lot of sites that are arranged in such a way that people can find them.

Arguments against it might relate to site descriptions, category descriptions, empty categories, and the general stagnation of many parts of the directory.

Web Directory Reviews Org is listed in DMOZ and I noticed last month that DMOZ was the third most popular referrer to this site, after Google and our own forum, so it is clear to me that people do use DMOZ.

DMOZ is one of the oldest and largest web directories on the Internet, and it may well be that it is the largest. There is a lot to be found on DMOZ, but I think it is fair to say that the bulk of its sites were added to the directory more than a decade ago. While some of its categories are well maintained, and kept up to date, I don't see any evidence that its editors are scouring the Internet looking for sites to add to its empty Regional categories, as we did when we created them a decade or more ago.

Although DMOZ does include category descriptions, they are designed for the site submitter rather than for the site user, and more descriptive site descriptions would be a major plus.

Extra Content - 1

DMOZ includes an active blog, which describes new features and issues relating to the directory.

Overall Rating - 81%

Based on my evaluation, conducted on May 16 and May 17, 2014, I have assigned a rating of eighty-one percent to DMOZ.

Comments

I was one of the early metas with the Open Directory Project, which became DMOZ, so I have a soft spot for it. I was pretty excited when I learned about some of the new stuff going on over there, as it showed that there was some life in the directory after all; I truly wasn't sure for a while.

The "Regional Trees" that DMOZ will be introducing will help to improve the user experience once it is rolled out, although I suppose I'd rather see them spend their time adding sites to empty categories in Regional. Perhaps, in implementing their "Regional Trees," someone will notice the Regional categories that haven't been touched in more than seven years. There is always hope.

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