Open Directory Project

On August 3, 2013, I evaluated the Open Directory Project and, according to our Third Quarter criteria, I have assessed it at 71 percent.

Each quarter, Web Directory Reviews Org will evaluate twenty web directories, at the end of which the top ten directories are determined. These are not necessarily the top ten directories on the Internet; rather, they are the top ten of the twenty directories that were evaluated that quarter. However, the top ten directories from the first quarter will compete with one another, as well as ten additional directories, in the second quarter, and so on; so, as our evaluations go on, our results will more nearly effect the best ten directories.

The Open Directory Project was not evaluated during our first quarter of reviews. During the second quarter, it came in number eight, so it will be competing against the other nine directories that were in the top ten during our second quarter, as well as ten additional directories.

The Open Directory Project, often referred to by its domain name - DMOZ - is a dinosaur of a web directory. Established in 1998, it is one of the very first web directories, and the only directory capable of assembling a staff of thousands of volunteer editors from all around the world. I won't go through its entire history, or my own past involvement with it, as I did that when I last reviewed it on April 11, 2013.

Truly a pioneer in the web directory industry, the Open Directory Project is still active, although not nearly as active as it once was, but it still holds a tremendous amount of weight among search engine optimization and web directory industry people.

More than million pages of the Open Directory Project have been indexed by Google, and it enjoys a Google PageRank of 7 on its index page. It doesn't end there, either; its second-level categories retain a PageRank of 6, and even some of its fourth-level categories have a PageRank of 6. PageRank numbers as high as 4 can be found in categories six and seven levels deep, so there is no denying that a listing in the Open Directory Project will benefit any site that is listed there.

Its SEOMoz Page Authority is 95 and its MozRank is 7.46. Its SEMRush Rank is 10,581, and its SEMRush Search Traffic is 55,915. The MajesticSEO number is 1,108,763,061. Its Alexa Traffic Rank is 1,203. The Open Directory Project has had 9,850 StumbleUpon stumbles, 2,435 Twitter tweets, and 244 Google +1 clicks.

There is no cost for submissions to the Open Directory Project but, on the other side of the coin, it has been years since I have heard from anyone who has been able to get a site listed in the Open Directory Project by submitting it, although there is talk of editors offering to list sites for a price.

For a fact, I know that it has been several years since I have had a site accepted to the ODP, although I have submitted several perfectly suitable sites to the directory over these same years, including non-monetized sites, hundreds of pages in length, that I have submitted to regional subcategories that currently have no working listings, some of which have not been updated since as far back as 2007.

I have had people insist that this isn't so, but these people were ODP editors who very likely have no problem getting their own sites listed. The only non-editors who have told me that they have had sites accepted in the past five years have been those who were able have their sites listed by calling in favors from an ODP editor.

Nevertheless, all that you can lose by submitting a site to the Open Directory Project is the amount of time that it takes you to do so, and all you have to gain is probably the frustration you will get from finding it still unlisted five years later.

The criteria that I will be using in my review of the Open Directory Project is essentially the same as that which I used in April, except that he values have changed somewhat. We will be viewing the directory, not from the perspective of a webmaster or search engine professional, but through the imaginary eyes of a directory user.

Aesthetics - 6/10

The design of the Open Directory Project hasn't changed much since it was established in 1998, and hardly at all since late 1999. It might be said that the ODP has a retro look; not from intent, but simply because no one has bothered to change it. Nevertheless, it's not a bad design and the changes that have been made to the directory's design have been for the worse, in my opinion.

Except for its Kids and Teens category, the main menu of the Open Directory Project would be symmetrical. This was done in early 2001, as I remember it. I was a meta editor with the directory then, and thought it was a bad idea at the time. It's not the category itself that I am objecting to but the fact that it's the only top-level category that consists of more than one word, and that it's colorized, both of which break the symmetry of the page.

On the positive side, the Open Directory Project makes great use of @links, and has the ability to separate subcategories below and above the line, which adds greatly to both the look and intuitiveness of its internal pages.

Content - 20/25

The Open Directory Project is immense. It contains probably more listings than any other directory, rivaled perhaps only by the Yahoo! Directory. However, much of this content is stale, given that many of its internal pages haven't been updated in years.

Intuitiveness - 20/20

The Open Directory Project enjoys an excellent taxonomy, largely, or almost entirely, due to an impressive amount of hard work done by volunteer editors over many years. Many other directories have copied the ODP's taxonomy verbatim, and even the Yahoo! Directory has copied aspects of it.

The use of @links greatly enhances the experience of users who may be browsing its subcategory pages, as do its See Also links, which can direct a user to similar categories in another tree.

The ability to separate dissimilar types of subcategories through the use of the ODP's above and below the line feature not only increases the aesthetics of the directory's subcategory pages, but it also helps the directory user navigate its pages.

The Open Directory Project's World section duplicates, as much as possible, the general part of the directory, offering access to sites in languages other than English.

Quality - 10/20

Quality is an area where the Open Directory Project falls down. The directory is perhaps the one responsible for what has become, in my opinion, a bad industry standard, which is the use of sentence fragments rather than complete sentences. There may have been some legitimate reasons for it at the time, such as bandwidth and server space considerations, as well as the fact that high-speed connections were not so readily available in the late 1990s as they are now. Still, we are left with a directory whose descriptions are grammatically incorrect, and which are too often less than descriptive.

Open Directory Project editors frowned on the use of relevant keywords in descriptions, taking pride in stripping them out of submitted descriptions, and looking with suspicion upon editors who used descriptive language in a site description. Many, if not most, of the descriptions found in the Open Directory Project consist of only a few words, sometimes as few as two.

On the plus side, ODP descriptions are generally not promotional in nature and words are seldom misspelled. Titles usually represent the actual title of the site.

While there may well be volunteer editors who continue to maintain their categories, it seems that the Open Directory Project has outgrown the ability of a declining volunteer staff to maintain. Many subcategories are empty, and many listed sites are no longer good links. There are state-level categories within its Regional tree that have not been upgraded since 2009, and several locality categories haven't been touched by an editor since 2006 or 2007. While its topical trees are somewhat better than its Regional tree, the neglect can be seen throughout the directory.

Even categories that contain a reasonable number of good sites suffer from the fact that new sites have not been added to them in years.

Usefulness 13/25

A directory user who is looking into what the Internet looked like a decade ago may find much of use in the Open Directory Project, but the directory's usefulness suffers greatly from the fact that new sites are no longer added in the numbers they were ten years ago. New sites are being added to the Internet every day, but they are not being added to the Open Directory Project.

At the lower levels of the directory, empty categories and dead links abound.

Additionally, category descriptions are often not available and, when they are, they are used to address site submitters rather than directory users.

However, its site search works, and the taxonomy of the directory is such that users should be able to easily navigate the directory.

Extra Credit - 2

As I did in April, I will give the Open Directory a couple of extra credit points for its role in pioneering the web directory industry.

Overall Ranking - 71%

After evaluating the Open Directory Project on August 3, 2013, I have assessed it at 71% out of a possible 100%.


If it were possible for the Open Directory Project to be reinvigorated, whether through an influx of cash or renewed interest among volunteers, that would be a wonderful thing. I am not holding my breath, however.


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