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Yes it is that time of year again, the time for me, laigh, to pop in and say hello and let you know how I am getting on and what I have been up to.
I have now been an editor for just over two years and have completed just over 75000 edits in that time but the number of edits is just a part of the story.
Late last year I decided to take a rest. I had been spending quite a lot of my spare time editing, and although enjoying it, I decided to have a break for a while. I took some time off and returned with increased vigour about two months later. To my surprise, within a month or so of my return, I was given further permission in the directory. I was entrusted with the position of editall and catmv. This allowed me to work in most parts of the directory and to be able to change category names. Within a few weeks of that "promotion" I was then given permissions to work in all of the Kids and Teens. I now can edit anywhere in the directory.
Obviously the senior editors (admins and metas) consider very carefully if an editor can handle permissions such as editall, and I am very happy that they thought I could. The first time I opened up my editor interface I was amazed at the amount of scope ODP actually has. I had worked in large parts of the directory before these permissions but the utter size of the directory actually dawned on me that morning. What I was taught that day was not how much I knew about ODP but how much I didn't know. Being an editall doesn't automatically qualify you to edit anywhere, all it does is open up a huge learning curve so that you can start to educate yourself to edit in places that you have not been before.
What do I concentrate my time on now that I can "go anywhere". Basically I spend a lot of my time in QC (Quality Control) work. I go around the directory looking for sites that may have gone bad, changed, or even disappeared all together. I see this as a very important part of maintaining the projects standards and keeping the user experience to the highest possible degree. I have also being doing a bit of work within the Kids and Teens <http://www.dmoz.org/Kids_and_Teens/> area. I have been working on expanding the category that deals with The Boy Scouts of America at http://www.dmoz.org/Kids_and_Teens/People_and_Society/Organizations/Pe rsonal_Development/Scouting/Boy_Scouts_of_America/. I have added quite a few sites to these categories and tidied up quite a few too. Still a long way to go but anything good is worth taking your time over.
I do tend to do a few other jobs around the project, but don't worry I will not bore you with them, suffice to say it all keeps me busy.
Anyway, time to go now. I hope I will be able to talk to you again next year. I would like to say thanks to all my fellow editors for all their help, support and friendship over the last year and I would like to thank all members of the public and webmasters for continuing to support us by suggesting relevant quality sites and using the directory for their own projects.
For many students, school is now back in full-swing and assignments are starting to pile up. If you (or someone you know) recently returned to school, DMOZ can be a great resource to use as a starting point for projects or research papers for students of all ages.
Elementary School through High School
As we've mentioned in the past, the Kids & Teens directory contains a wealth of hand-selected information for children ranging in age from pre-school to high school. School age children can use the directory to find homework help, access virtual exhibits at leading museums, and find learning enrichment activities in areas such as science and reading.
Older students can find homework help and reference tools in the Kids & Teens directory as well, but there is also additional content specific to career choices, higher education opportunities and organizations & activities to help teens explore career paths and options for additional education.
Want to give it a try? Check out some of these categories:
• Homework Help
Pages and sites created specifically to assist children and teenagers with homework free of charge.
• Reference Tools
Free online reference tools including dictionaries, thesauri, encyclopedias and almanacs.
• Future Planning & Careers
Pages and sites about careers and the skills and academic knowledge needed for them.
You can also find resources for specific academic subject areas and content in a variety of languages.
College & Beyond
For university students, the directory can prove to be an invaluable resource as a starting point for research. I know this first-hand as my own introduction to DMOZ was conducting research for an undergraduate term paper.
As we've pointed out in the past, DMOZ is an excellent place to locate general information on topics ranging from world affairs to social sciences to scientific research journals. It's also an excellent place to find trade groups and information on local businesses that may be able to assist by providing interviews or site visits.
To use an example from my own experience, I was conducting research on architectural trends in Chicago. I began with an overview of urban and regional planning and then moved on to find sites that focused on an overview of periods and styles of architecture & historic buildings in Chicago before delving into trade associations to help me find architects (and examples of their work) in the Chicago area. I also checked out the category on architectural photography to find out if there were any local photographers who might have images that would be helpful to my research.
After that, I had enough information to help me begin a more focused search using additional resources.
Many of our editors are experts in their fields and have compiled categories that reflect their passion for and knowledge of these topics. If you find that your area of academic interest isn't well-represented in the directory why not join us as an editor & help build it out?
You may have heard DMOZ called by another name – the Open Directory Project, or ODP. This is where the "Open" comes in. The DMOZ license agreement states that users may download the RDF – in other words, the entire contents of the directory – and use some or all of it on their sites free of charge. Many sites both large and small incorporate data compiled by our dedicated corps of volunteer editors. The best-known example of this may be the Google Directory which applies Google's propriety PageRank data to DMOZ results. In other cases, site owners use a small portion of the data relevant to their own regions, localities or lines of business.
In exchange for use of the data, site owners agree to include an attribution badge to ensure that the editors get credit for the work they do to build and maintain the directory. The badge is also important in that it allows interested users to learn more about the project and, potentially, to decide to join us as editors to help it grow. There are some fairly common questions about how and when the badge must be displayed. Examples include:
1. I am only using a very small portion of the data – just one category, or even just a few links. Do I have to display the badge?
Yes. You may use all or part of the directory data on your site, but any quantity of ODP data (large or small) you select must be acknowledged with the badge.
2. I am including my own data in addition to DMOZ data. Do I have to display the badge?
Yes. The license's badging requirement also applies to any derivative works created by end users.
3. I run my own directory and accept my own site submissions in addition to the DMOZ-listed sites. Do I have to display the badge?
Yes. The rules here are the same as with any other derivative work.
4. Are there any circumstances in which I can use data and not display the badge?
The short answer is no. Any use of DMOZ data must be acknowledged in accordance with the license.
Sites that do not display the badge are in violation of the license agreement. Site owners may be contacted by DMOZ and asked to make the appropriate updates in order to comply.
You can read more about the DMOZ license requirements here and download a code snippet to add the badge to your site here.
At DMOZ, we get tons of questions about what editor abuse actually is and how to spot it. In this post, meta editor jensarentoft has provided a very useful primer on the signs and symptoms of abuse, and what to do if you suspect it.
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The ODP Editor Guidelines explain the different types of abuse. Examples of abuse that are not tolerated - and may result in account removal - include, but are not limited to:
Manipulating or deleting submissions and listings of competitors.
Adding inappropriate sites or adding sites in inappropriate categories.
Repeated and egregiously poor editing, despite feedback and/or a dashboard warning.
Cooling your own site or affiliated sites.
Title or description manipulation.
Adding/promoting only one's own sites or affiliated sites.
Creating vanity categories to showcase one's own sites or affiliated sites.
Accepting or soliciting bribes in exchange for listing.
Uncivil and intentionally disruptive behavior.
Violating the confidentiality of the forums, editor notes etc.
Spamming the directory.
One ODP editor having more than one account or sharing the account with others.
Is it abusive for editors to list their own sites?
Editors are allowed to list their own site(s) or affiliated sites provided that their sites meet all listing criteria and that they also list other sites. There is no official number for how many other sites the editor must list to stay clear of self-promotion. Editall+ editors are allowed to list their own sites in appropriate categories all over the directory, and that is no problem because they usually have listed thousands of other sites.
Editors are only allowed to list their site(s) in the category in which they have active editor permissions, and only if the site is appropriate for the category. Asking other editors to list a site in a category is considered self-promotion and is not allowed. Instead, editors must suggest their sites to other categories just like non-editors.
When are editing privileges removed?
Editors can learn about how to prevent abuse by using guidelines, reading editor forums, and receiving feedback from senior editors. In serious matters, they may receive dashboard warnings. Metas, Catmods and Admins make every effort to keep editors on track and make them feel good about being part of this international online community.
Some cases of abuse are very clear. Any editor who accepts bribes or deletes competitors´ sites will find that his or her time as an editor is running out.
In many cases, however, a warning is issued to an editor before removal. This helps to ensure that an editing transgression is truly due to abuse and is not simply the result of gaps in an individual editor's understanding of the category or listing guidelines. It is important to note that there is a difference between poor editing or honest editorial mistakes and editor abuse, and it isn't always apparent which has occurred to people looking from the outside; however, some practices that are visible to the public are good indicators of abuse and we'd like to know about those. A list of these can be found in the "Report Abuse" section below.
Removing editing privileges must be supported by at least five Meta editors and is used only if nothing else works.
How is abuse found?
Abuse is found in various ways and not only from abuse reports submitted by the public or by editors. One of the tasks of the Meta editors is fighting abuse, and senior editors have a number of abuse-fighting resources at their disposal.
An easy way to spot abuse is to look for titles and descriptions that are not in accordance with the guidelines. You also can look for inappropriate sites listed against the guidelines about which sites not to include. If you want to look for mirrors, affiliates, and similar sites, you can find tips in this newsletter.
If you spot any signs or symptoms of abuse, please use this link to the Open Directory Public Abuse Report System to report it. All reports will be investigated and are visible to all Metas, Admins and Staff. Abuse reports against Metas are investigated by Admins and Staff.
Some signs of abuse which are visible to non-editors include:
- Editors giving preferential treatment to their sites. This includes self-cooling (awarding of the 'cool' designation to affiliated sites) and keyword-stuffing (proving longer and/ or more favourable titles and descriptions to affiliated sites).
- Editors adding inappropriate sites. This can be done accidentally, of course, but of special concern is the adding of pornographic sites outside of Adult/, affiliate links, mirrors, and doorways.
- Sites listed in the Kids & Teens branch which present Adult content material.
- Biased/slanted categories. The ODP aims to represent all viewpoints and topics equally and fairly; categories designed to unfairly exclude/marginalise a particular outlook/interpretation are disallowed.
- Editors accepting bribes. We have no tolerance whatsoever for any bribery attempts. All submissions to the ODP are completely free; any editor found to be accepting bribes will be removed.
Directory users sometimes see sites listed in categories where they are no longer relevant or where the description they have been provided with is no longer accurate) and suspect editor abuse. In most cases, this is simply the result of an expired/hijacked domain, or a site whose owners have changed its focus since it was originally listed. In these cases, it's better to file a request to update the listing and to post in the Resource Zone Quality Control thread so that an editor can take a look at it.
To help us investigate your report please include as much relevant information as you can. This may include:
- Affected categories/ editors/ sites.
- A description of the alleged abuse.
- Proof of editors' affiliations with specific sites.
- Copies of e-mails (including full-headers where possible).
- Details of any past correspondence you have had with the ODP.
- Your e-mail address. This is vital if you want feedback on your report.
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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. "
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:
- The content on a site that we're reviewing for possible inclusion.
- The content that already exists in that particular category.
"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.
- 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.
- If you have something different or valuable to offer, point it out on your main page where we can spot it easier.
- Personal opinion or experience in a topic would be considered unique content.
- It is better to write the content yourself, or have it exclusively written for you.
- 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.