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    Since 1998, DMOZ has been the largest, most comprehensive human-edited directory of the Web. Supported by AOL, it is constructed and maintained by a passionate, global community of volunteer editors.
    Jul 29th 2009 5:24PM
    What is Unique Content?
    For site suggestors, one of the most important (and sometimes confusing) parts about submitting is determining whether a site's content is unique by ODP standards. For this post, editor crowbar has prepared some tips and examples to help clarify.

    Emily

    - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    You'll often hear us referring to the "unique content" of a site as being one of our main focuses in considering whether a site should be added to the Directory or not. Unique content is both simple and complicated to explain because what we are talking about and looking for pertains to the category itself, and with over 590,000 categories in the Directory, it means we could have 590,000 versions, each of them different.

    As it states in the Guidelines we follow:
    "Consider the relative value of a resource in comparison to other information resources available on your particular topic. Relative value refers not only to the quality of the site, but also to its ability to contribute important, unique information on a topic.

    In general, ODP editors should enter sites that represent the following:
    • Original, unique and valuable informational content that contributes something unique to the category's subject.
    • Contrasting points of view on major issues. The ODP attempts to cover the full breadth and depth of human knowledge, representing all topics and points of view on those topics. "
    (Source: http://www.dmoz.org/guidelines/include.html#include)

    What this means is that our primary goal as editors is to build useful categories for people who are looking for information about either a Topic or a Geographical Area of the world, and we serve only these people, no one else. In our attempts to do this, we need to look at two things:
    1. The content on a site that we're reviewing for possible inclusion.
    2. The content that already exists in that particular category.
    From our Guidelines:
    "Is the site's content/information identical to other sites? - A site should not mirror content available on other sites."

    We see this often on cookie cutter, pre-made site designs. If the information is the same on each site, why would the information seeker want to waste their valuable time looking at it again (even if it's by a different owner), so we look for any unique content that might be on it. If we find it, we'll list the site; if not, we'll delete the site suggestion. Perhaps the site owner owns two or three sites with the same information on them; in this case, we will only list one of them, provided it meets the listing criteria. Editors do not consider how well a site is designed, its page rank, how much traffic it gets, how large or small it is, or the desires or needs of the site owner. Those things have nothing to do with building good categories of information for people looking for specific things, and that's all we're interested in.

    Sometimes local business owners are confused about what defines "unique content" for their sites – being the only business of their kind in their town vs. the actual content on the site.

    If you are confused about the term "unique content" because your type of business is the only one in town and you can't compare your content to another business's content in that category, it might be helpful to think of your content in the terms of "original content" instead; in other words, does your site have information created by yourself that no other site has?

    In a Regional listing it is very easy to provide unique content just by answering the questions: Who are you and what do you do?

    A non-generic personal description of your business does two things: first, it provides the unique, original content we're looking for, and second, it gives us the information to write a better description of your business for your listing. Who knows your business better than you do?

    Our job is to boil that description down to two or three sentences that will tell the information seeker what you are, and what can be found on your site. The purpose of that is not to entice someone, but to give them the facts so they can decide for themselves if you have the information they're looking for. A preview of the site. Not opinion, but of facts, which is why we are only interested in the content on your site.

    If there is exactly one real estate agent in a locality, but the agent's site has nothing more than contact information and MLS search (and other template content), we would still not list it.

    The number of businesses of a particular type (whether 1 or 100) in a given category has no effect whatsoever on the listability of an individual website. In order to list the website, the content of the website must be unique, and must be more significant than what one would find on a business card or in a telephone directory.

    An example of non-uniques would be a hotel booking site with information about a particular hotel, in comparison to the site of the hotel itself, we would always choose the site of the hotel itself.

    Also, we often re-evaluate listed sites, and those considered listable in the past may not remain so a move or even a delete is an eventuality.

    Can you give me some advice about what kind of unique content I should put on my site?
    Surprisingly, yes I can. Even though I don't know your particular site, and editors can't be expected to help you build your site, I will give you some personal opinion.

    1. Always keep your eyes strictly on providing as much valuable information and help as you can to any possible visitor, because that's who we try to serve in building categories. If you have a website, then you know what those things are, and we will spot it as unique content (if it's there). Shift your thinking from gaining something from your site to giving something to the information seeker.
    2. If you have something different or valuable to offer, point it out on your main page where we can spot it easier.
    3. Personal opinion or experience in a topic would be considered unique content.
    4. It is better to write the content yourself, or have it exclusively written for you.
    5. Don't copy content from other sites (including so-called "free content").

    None of these things guarantee a listing, but I believe they would be very helpful. Just remember that editors are building categories for information seekers, and in doing so, they really don't need all the sites that exist, only the ones that make the category itself more useful for the information seeker.

    No one should ever build a site for the purpose of getting it listed in the Directory (just like one shouldn't build a site just for Google); instead, they should build the site for their visitors. If that site happens to become more listable because of what we've mentioned here, then we've accomplished what this blog post intended.
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