Open Directory Project

The Open Directory Project (DMOZ) was evaluated for Web Directory Reviews Org over the period of February 20-21, 2014.

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The Open Directory Project has been on our top ten since we first evaluated it in the second quarter of 2013. During the second quarter of 2013, it came in at number nine, in the third quarter it was number ten, and in the fourth quarter it was number seven.

Each quarter, Web Directory Reviews Org reviews twenty directories. The top ten directories from one quarter are reviewed in the next quarter, along with ten additional directories. Changes are often made in the evaluation criteria between quarters, but the evaluation criteria for each quarter are published and archived.

The Open Directory Project is among the most highly esteemed web directories on the Internet, and for many reasons. The ODP is not the oldest directory on the Internet, but it may have been the first huge one, and certainly the largest volunteer-driven web directory ever.

Site submitters will be attracted by its Google PageRank of seven, and by the fact that internal pages, up to seven levels deep, have PageRank. Its Moz Domain Authority is 96/100, and the Page Authority of its index page is 94/100. Its Alexa Traffic Rank is 832.

The Open Directory Project has had 9,850 StumbleUpon stumbies, 2,736 Twitter tweets, 311 Google+ clicks, and 1,356 Facebook likes.

Also on the positive side, for site submitters, submissions to the Open Directory Project are free. There are no paid options.

On the downside, it can take years for a site submission to be reviewed, and the chances of having your site listed in the Open Directory Project appear to be low. Some of its categories have not been updated since 2007.

The Open Directory Project is an active directory, and it continues to be maintained entirely by volunteers. Over the years, it seems that the interest in volunteering for such a project has waned, leaving the ODP short-staffed.

As a former meta editor with the ODP, I am also aware that most editors would prefer to build their categories by searching for sites rather than working the queues.

The above information has been provided for the benefit of those who may be looking for directories in which to submit their site. Although the chances that your site will be quickly reviewed and added to the index of the Open Directory Project are very low, it is well worth your while to submit it.

Read the ODP's submission guidelines before submitting your site. Submit it to the one most appropriate category, and then forget it; multiple submissions may lessen the chances that your site will be accepted.

For the purposes of our review, we'll be looking at the directory from the perspective of a potential directory user, and evaluating it in five general areas: aesthetics (10%), content (25%), intuitiveness (20%), quality (20%), and usefulness (25%). Five additional points may be credited to the final score for extra content found on the domain.

This will be our fourth review of the Open Directory Project. Additional information was included in earlier reviews that I have not repeated here.

Aesthetics - 6/10

The look and feel of the Open Directory Project hasn't changed much over the years. The only design change that I am aware of was in 1999, when its logo was changed.

The directory takes up a very small amount of real estate on a high resolution screen, and its look is retro. Apart from a green header and footer, the directory employs blue text on a white background.

The main menu consists of sixteen upper-level categories, arranged in three columns of five categories each, with its World category spanning all three columns at the bottom. With the exception of its Kids and Teens category, each of its top-level categories consist of only one word. Each letter of the first word in its Kids and Teens category is in a separate color (red-green-orange-blue), which I thought was a mistake at the time, and still do.

The Open Directory Project's internal pages make very good use of above and below the line features, separating different types of subcategories, as well as See Also links, which makes for a nice presentation.

Content - 21/25

I use a program called Scrutiny, or sometimes Integrity, to give me an idea as to how large a directory is, although it doesn't give me a precise number, and, with large directories, I will stop the scan at 200,000 or 400,000 listings. These programs will scan a directory and let me know how many links they have found and how many of these were bad.

In the case of the Open Directory Project, though, I already know that it's huge, certainly much larger than 400,000, which is where I stopped the scan.

I don't know if this is an accurate number, but the directory claims 4,249,395 site listings, and I don't doubt that.

Scrutiny identified 2,456 links as being bad, but the vast majority of these were to newsgroups, which Scrutiny was unable to access, although they are legitimate links, or to now defunct yahooligans.yahoo.com links, although Yahoo shut its kid's directory down several months ago. Very few of the listings identified as being bad were outgoing directory links.

While I was an editor with the ODP, the rule was that we were supposed to have at least three sites to place in a category before we created it. However, several of its categories have fewer links than that, and many are empty. This is particularly true of the lower levels of its Regional tree. These categories tend not to be well maintained in the ODP and, over the years, whatever sites may have been listed in these categories have gone bad, and have not been replaced.

Intuitiveness - 20/20

The taxonomy of the Open Directory Project is excellent. When the directory began, its founders used the Usenet newsgroup structure as a basis for its categorization.

Early on, a professional taxonomist was brought on as paid staff. She advised and made recommendations to the directory's staff of volunteer editors within its private forums, where every aspect of the directory's taxonomy was debated. In fact, a reorganization of its regional tree alone took more than two years to be determined, and the end result was very good indeed.

The ODP's directory structure is easy to follow, and complemented through the use of over and above the line features, See Also links, @links. The directory's World categories, which list sites in languages other than English, duplicates the general directory as much as possible, and wherever a category exists in another language, these links are provided as well.

Quality - 15/20

According to ODP guidelines, listed site titles are to represent the actual title of the site, which is generally the one that appears in the browser tab if not the header of the site's index page. This policy appears to have been adhered to.

However, the ODP uses the sentence fragment model for site descriptions, rather than grammatically correct sentences. This may have to do with the fact that the Open Directory Project was established at a time when most of its users were on a dial-up connection and bandwidth was at a premium.

Many of these descriptions are very brief, more than a few consisting of no more than four or five words. They also often include acronyms that are not always obvious from the category in which the site is placed.

In a directory as large as the Open Directory Project, I wouldn't expect its volunteer staff to go back and fix descriptions that have been in place for fifteen years, but as far as I am aware, this continues to be the standard for site descriptions in the ODP, and I believe that to be an error.

A site description should be descriptive. It should describe the company, organization or product, as well as the content of the site. This cannot be accomplished in descriptions as brief as many of those found in the Open Directory Project.

Additionally, a site description should include sufficient keywords to allow the site to be found in a site search.

For the most part, you will not find promotional language or obvious misspellings in site titles or descriptions within the Open Directory Project.

There are not very many bad links in the directory, which seems to be an improvement from past assessments. Directory listings include a link that allows users to report bad or misplaced links, which I think is new. Additionally, I was able to click through the directory's pages while Scrutiny was scanning the directory, and there was no apparent slowdowns.

Usefulness - 15/25

First, the amount of content in the Open Directory Project is certainly sufficient for the directory to be useful to a potential directory user. One thing that makes the ODP less useful than it once was is that so many of its categories are stale. Given that some of its categories have not been updated since 2007, you can be sure that there isn't any fresh content in those categories.

The in-site search used by the Open Directory Project is in working order, but it would be even more useful if site descriptions were more descriptive.

Many of the directory's categories have category descriptions but, in all cases that I have seen, they are intended for site submitters rather than for directory users.

The ODP's excellent taxonomy is a plus, as far as its usefulness goes.

Overall Rating - 77%

On the basis of my assessment of the Open Directory Project on February 20th and 21th, 2014, I have given it a rating of seventy-seven percent.

Comments

I got my start with the Open Directory Project, and spent many long hours over a period of several years building it up. Financially, times are tough these days, and there are not so many people with as many hours to spend volunteering for projects such as the ODP as there once was. I would love to see the Open Directory Project get some new blood, and to get some of its former editors back, as it was certainly a rewarding experience for those of us who were there before the turn of the century.

Note: Subsequent reviews of this directory will be under the name of DMOZ.

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