DMOZ provides a wealth of local and regional resources to users in towns large and small across the US and around the world. In this post, editor crowbar talks about the experience of building out these local categories.
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One of the more rewarding tasks of editing in the Regional section of the Directory is to find a small locality (city) with only a few listings, and to put it on the Internet map by hunting down every possible site that exists for it and listing those that meet our selection criteria <link to: http://www.dmoz.org/guidelines/include.html> and fits the locality. Depending on the size of the city, it can either be quite rewarding, or quite challenging, but in either case, very important to the people who live there.
My personal view is that every small town deserves to be represented on the web, and this is my attempt to make the Directory and its editors a little more transparent about what it is we do.
As a country level editor, it's like looking at a road map of the whole United States, and each editing session is like throwing a dart at the map, wherever it lands is where I'll be working.
A small city of 15,000 – 20,000 population with only 4 or 5 sites listed would be ideal. My very first category was like that. So where do I start? There are no public suggestions waiting in this one. The first thing I want to look for is the local Chamber of Commerce which usually has a good list of business, charity, and government sites and can be a real goldmine for an editor.
Then on each one of those sites, I always look for links to other local sites, I'm building quite a large spider web of sites, and it becomes like a scavenger hunt, with one site leading to more sites. The Directory has a standard list of topical sub categories that can be used for each city, such as this one for Tampa, Florida: http://www.dmoz.org/Regional/North_America/United_States/Florida/Local ities/T/Tampa/ . These include everything from education resources to transportation companies to local news sites.
An editor will normally only create these subcategories when he/she has 3 to 5 sites to put in each of them. What the editor is doing is building a category of entities that are located in this city. Most sites in Regional will be placed at this city (locality) level, not at the County, Region, or State levels.
Next, I'm going to look for educational sites, churches, website builders, real estate sites, and look for more links on them. If I get real desperate, I'll Google some of the zip codes I find on the sites or the first six digits of telephone numbers, both will pop up sites that exist in that area.
Now, I'll take a look at the sites at the County, Region, and State levels. They will sometimes lead me to other sites located in this locality, and I can also search the rest of the Directory. Many times there will be sites listed in a Topical category that can also be listed in the locality.
If an editor lives in the area, checking the local yellow pages of the phone book can yield a lot of sites, or the ads in local newspapers. It becomes so engrossing that a couple of hours can fly by before you know it, but the real reward is seeing a couple hundred new sites listed in all the proper subcategories. You have built something for that city and given them an equal presence on the Internet where they can compete, and they will never know it was you who did it.
The editor will never get a thank you for it, and none is expected, we do it for our own satisfaction. I suppose it's like putting a puzzle together, nobody really cares, but it was fun to do. This is just one activity, in one part of the Directory. Each area of the Directory is a little different to edit in and has its own specific guidelines, and there are many different tasks that an editor can choose to do in each editing session.
I think it's this freedom of choice and the trust that's placed in us as well as the satisfaction of building something worthwhile that keeps us at it. I hope I've given you some insight into what it is we really do inside the Directory.
We occasionally get questions from site owners and directory users who have noticed that previously-listed sites are no longer available in DMOZ. There are three primary reasons that sites might be removed, some temporary and some permanent. The list below explains these in detail.
The site was down when our automated tools scanned it. Editors use a number of automated tools to help to keep the directory up-to-date. Occasionally a site is down when a tool checks the contents of a category. The first time this happens, the tool will flag the site but leave the directory listing intact. If the site is down again when the tool scans that category again (generally several days later), it will temporarily remove it so that an editor can provide a manual review & either restore it (if it is back online) or remove it. If you know that a site has recently been down for a few days for any reason, this is the most likely reason for its removal.
Note that sites that block our automated tools will appear to be down when they are scanned, so they may be removed for this reason. The same thing is true of sites that block editors who are attempting to review them. A page that can't be reviewed can't be listed in the directory. The site is being moved to another category. DMOZ is a living directory, so it is constantly growing and changing. Over time, some categories will grow larger and more complex and editors will split them into smaller, more specific sub-categories. When this happens, some sites will move out of the original category and into the new one. In most cases, category reorganizations are performed by editors with permissions in both the original category and in the new destination category, so the site simply moves to a new location.
If you think a site has moved and you're not sure of its new location, you can look for it by using the search feature within the directory. Note that you must use a "domain.extension" format in order for the search to return the correct results. For example, a user looking for Amazon's site would need to search for "amazon.com" rather than "www.amazon.com" in order for the search to return the desired results.
Occasionally, a site may move as the result of a content change rather than as the result of a category reorganization. When this happens, the site requires a new review and may be temporarily removed from public view until the destination category's editor has approved it.
The site is now unlistable. There are three primary scenarios that will make a previously-listed site unlistable. The first is that the content of the site has changed and no longer meets our requirements for inclusion in the directory. It may no longer have unique content, or the purpose of the site may have changed (for example, if the domain name has been transferred to a new owner who alters its purpose). In this case, an editor would permanently remove the site from the directory. It will continue to be considered unlistable until such time as the site has been altered to meet our requirements.
The second scenario is that the site itself has not changed, but the listing guidelines for the directory overall (or the particular area of the directory where the site resides) have changed. In this case, an editor would also permanently remove the site from the directory.
The third scenario is that the site was originally listed in error – either as the result of a mistake, an editor's misunderstanding of the listing guidelines, or abuse – and should not have been listed in the directory in the first place.
Site owners sometimes express concern that their sites have been deleted due to editor corruption. While this is rare, there are unfortunately times when it occurs. We take corruption accusations very seriously, and remove any editor who is found to have acted in an abusive manner. If you feel that a site was removed in violation of the DMOZ editing guidelines, you can submit an abuse report (including all details and evidence) via our public abuse reporting system.
Editor lisagirl has provided the latest in our series of posts highlighting portions of the directory, this time focusing on the Shopping section.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - "Hello, my name is lisagirl, how may I assist you??"
"Hi lisagirl! Does DMOZ accept shopping sites?"
"Why yes, we do accept submissions for all sorts of shopping websites. Have you checked over in the Shopping description section? If you can't find what you need there, check the Shopping FAQs section."
"Thanks! Is there anything else I should know?"
"Why, yes! We've covered the requirements below. I'm quite certain whatever you need can be found there!"
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To be listed in the Shopping branch, the requirements are simple. The website must have: 1. A listing of products for sale, 2. Prices, 3. A way for the consumer to buy the product without having to leave the comfort of his/her house, and (of course) 4. Unique content.
If the website only has "here's a few photos of our stock, call us for more info" that won't be listed in the Shopping branch because it doesn't have specific products listed or prices.
If the website has a list of products but no prices, it still won't be listed in Shopping. It must meet the 4 criteria above.
If the site doesn't meet them, you can try suggesting the site to a related category in the Business branch (for example, a manufacturer's website) or in the Regional branch (for example, a local grocery store).
But wait! There's more! If the site is a USA-based business, it must ship across most of the USA. For all other countries, the business must ship to at least one other country. (For DMOZ purposes, the United Kingdom is considered one country.) If the business fails this requirement, you can suggest the site to the "Regional/Country Name/Business and Economy/Shopping" category that corresponds to the country you're looking for.
Ohhh yes, there is one more tiny little thing: doorways, mirror sites, lists of advertisements and drop-shippers are prohibited in the shopping category. Non-English sites should be submitted to the appropriate World category. If you'd like more details, view the shopping category description.
Titles? Descriptions? You can always try this blog post about writing titles and descriptions. In the Shopping branch, we focus descriptions more than on the products offered, but of course if the website has features that others don't, mention them!
Where to suggest a site?? You can either click and surf 'til you find what you want, or try a simple search within the Shopping branch, or see where the competition is listed. The closer you can get, the better. If you don't know where the site belongs, make an educated guess. If you instead submit it to a higher level (such as submitting a site selling ocarinas to Shopping/Music/Instruments instead of Shopping/Music/Instruments/Winds/Ocarina hoping the editors will figure it out, that will only delay the site's review. So please, do your best to get the site as close as you can!
Hard to believe, but it's already been 11 years since DMOZ launched back on June 5, 1998. In that time, it has grown to become the largest human-edited directory on the web thanks to the tens of thousands of dedicated volunteer editors who have collected, sorted and organized millions of websites into categories on topics ranging from Aerospace to Zoology (and just about everything in between). The directory includes more than a half-million categories and content in more than 80 languages. There is even a hand-built directory of recommended sites just for Kids & Teens.
There are numerous ways that people get information from the web. Depending on the circumstances, some people begin by using search engines such as Google, AOL, Yahoo and MSN; at other times, a directory-based approach such as the one DMOZ offers may provide the better path to the desired information.
If this is your first time here, welcome! It's worth pointing out that our volunteer editors select sites for inclusion in the directory based on unique content, so a stroll through the directory can provide an excellent overview of a particular topic. If you'd like to see an example of this in action, you can read this blog post.
From the beginning, the directory data has been offered free of charge to site owners who would like to use it to enhance their own site. The only obligation is that proper attribution is given to show DMOZ as the source of the data. DMOZ data provides the basis for Google Directory, but is also used on thousands of smaller sites which extract a small amount of data relevant to the topics they cover. You can learn more about usage guidelines and how to retrieve the data at our RDF overview page.
We invite you to take a look around the directory and see what we have to offer. If you'd like to contribute, you can learn more about becoming an editor and help us continue to build the directory in its second decade.
We often hear questions from prospective editors who are looking for guidance on how to improve their chances of having their application approved. For this week's post, we've put together a brief tutorial to help applicants tackle the more difficult parts of the application process.
Select a Category Selecting the category you'd like to apply to edit is one of the most important – if not the most important – parts of the application process. While this may seem very straightforward, it takes a bit of time and research before you submit the application to make sure that the category is a good fit for you and that it's the appropriate size for a new editor.
The best way to begin is by browsing the directory to get a feel for the taxonomy and to begin exploring topic areas that are of interest to you. Once you've identified the general area where you'd like to edit, you can begin to make your category selection. You may find it helpful to use the "Description" links in the right-hand corners of the category pages to compare categories you're considering. These may include descriptions of the type of sites the category contains or related categories for you to explore.
First-time editors should select a small category to start with. As a general rule, this would mean a category with fewer than 100 current links including those in the category itself and all of its sub-categories. Many enthusiastic applicants apply to categories that are too large or complex for new editors and are frustrated when their applications are rejected as a result. Not to worry, though. Once you get comfortable with editing in a small category, you can always apply for permissions in additional categories or higher in the taxonomy.
Look for categories that you find interesting and will want to work on. Some people select a category related to their profession, and others choose categories related to hobbies or their studies. It's really up to you to decide where you think your interest and efforts fit best. Once you've chosen your category, use the "Become an Editor" link on that page to apply.
Find Sample Sites After you've narrowed your category choices down to one or two, do some research to see if you can find additional sites that would fit in each category. Look for sites that offer unique content and would add value to the category you've chosen. Sometimes, the distinctions between categories are very subtle making it a little difficult to determine where a new site fits best. This blog post can help you understand how to make these selections.
Depending on the type of category you've selected, you might try using a search engine, looking on trade association or local chamber of commerce sites, or reading posts in forums related to your area of interest to locate new sites.
You'll need at least two (and preferably three) new links to use on your application. If you can't find at least that many sample sites, you will need to select a different category. Not only does a lack of links mean you can't fully complete the application, but categories where you can't find new sites to add have limited growth potential, so they aren't the best places for new editors to learn the ropes. Write Site Descriptions Once you've selected your category and identified some sample sites to use in your application, it's time to write the site descriptions. Keep in mind that these should be objective (avoid promotional or marketing language), grammatically correct and provide a succinct description of the site content as it relates to your category. You can find more detailed information and examples in our blog post about writing descriptions or by reviewing the complete editorial guidelines.
Disclose Site Associations The DMOZ community takes abusive editing practices very seriously, and we make every effort to ensure that we keep the bad apples out altogether. The site associations portion of the editor application (sometimes referred to as the affiliations section) is our first line of defense against abuse, so it is very important that you fully disclose all affiliations upfront. This will speed the application process and help to ensure that your application is not rejected due to undisclosed site associations.
Site associations include any sites you own, work on or represent in addition to other sites in which you have a vested interest (for example, a spouse's business site). If you'd like more details about what constitutes a site association, please review our conflicts of interest policy.
An affiliation with a site or category alone is not cause for an application rejection (after all, we want editors to be interested in and knowledgeable about the topics they're covering), but disclosing affiliations helps us to know that editors are not being deceptive about their motives for applying.
Submit Your Application Once you've filled out all of the application fields and double-checked your work, you can submit your application. It's a good idea to save a copy for later use in case you're asked to make updates or need to apply for reinstatement. Your application is not visible to editors until you've verified your email address, so be on the lookout for an email from us. If you can't find it, be sure to check your spam filter as well. It may be helpful to white-list the dmoz.org domain if your email software allows it to ensure that you receive all communication related to your application.
There are a number of factors that influence the length of time it will take for your application to be reviewed. Probably the biggest is the category's location in the directory and the number of senior editors who are working on processing applications in that area. Generally speaking, you should have a decision within a few weeks; however, applications to edit categories in some languages or in smaller corners of the directory may take a bit longer.
If you aren't accepted on the first try, don't be discouraged. Many excellent editors have had their applications rejected the first time around. You can always reapply and incorporate any feedback you've received into your revised application.
Also keep in mind that each editor may only have one – and only one – editor account. Duplicate accounts are forbidden because they are often an indicator of editor fraud. You risk losing both accounts if you were previously an editor and you attempt to apply for a new account. If you've ever been an editor in the past (even if your old account is no longer active), you must use the reinstatement form rather than the new editor application. If you no longer use the email account you listed on your old editor profile or have forgotten any of the other details needed to re-activate the account, please ask for help at Resource Zone. This is not a barrier to reinstatement, and our current editors can help guide you through the process.
Being a DMOZ editor is a rewarding hobby that allows you to expand your knowledge of, and insight into, a topic that interests you. As an added bonus, it gives you the opportunity to join the truly global editor community. If you'd like to read about some of our editors' specific experiences with the project, check out these posts from editors crowbar, imrankhan, mollybdenum and laigh.