Since 1998, the Open Directory Project has been the largest, most comprehensive human-edited directory of the Web.
It is constructed and maintained by a passionate, global community of volunteer editors.
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.
This week, editor crowbar will provide some background about the role he plays as an editor for the directory.
- - - - - - - - - - - Editing is one of several hobbies that I indulge in when I'm not working in my real life business. My business doesn't have or need a website anymore. It was a nice tool at the time, but I found it to be unnecessary. Good service and word of mouth are much more effective.
Let me tell you about my hobbies.
Editing has been a hobby for the last 8 years. I applied out of curiosity - on a whim. After I was accepted, my first thought was "What have I gotten myself into?" The place was huge, the amount of information about editing was mind boggling, and I felt like a flea on a football field with no idea of what to do next.
I soon found out that nobody was going to lead me by the hand or crack a whip, and that I needed to be proactive in learning the ropes, though there were plenty of editors willing to help. All I had to do was ask.
Being accepted as an editor doesn't make you an editor. It is just the starting point to becoming one. It is a hobby. You are a volunteer, and your time is your own so you can proceed at your own pace. Some editors choose to stay in this first small category, and other editors expand their editing permissions to larger areas as their interests expand, as I have. It's totally up to each editor.
My point is that editors join the ODP (DMOZ) and stay as a hobby, not as a job. My business is my job, and editing is a pleasant hobby that I do when I have the time, and even then, I have to decide which hobby will get my time and how much of it.
I want to find really interesting and helpful sites for other water gardeners and other World of Warcraft players, and I use multiple resources to do this. Sometimes I look through the suggested sites submitted by the public; other times, I follow the links found on existing listings or do a search for specific terminology using search engines.
Some users think that our job as editors is to list every suggested site; however, this is not the case. We aren't a listing service. Our goal is to build useful categories with unique content for the benefit of information-seekers. We welcome high-quality, relevant site suggestions that provide real value to information seekers, but we don't guarantee placement of any site in the directory. The ODP is not a business, but an organization of volunteers editing in areas that are of interest to them, and giving away the results freely, no charge. We do not provide a service to site suggesters, we build categories for people looking for information.
The difference between a search engine and a directory like the ODP might be that a search engine can find specific information very quickly, but a directory can give you a spreadsheet of all the information laid out to choose from - a broader view of the topic.
In today's post we're bringing you the story of how one editor, imrankhan, took the leap from long-time DMOZ user to editor.
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My association with DMOZ started off back in 1999. I had just started using the internet and even the speed of my 56k modem internet connection was enough to bowl me over. Back then, my online activities were limited to sending/receiving emails and occasional repartee in chat rooms. It took me some months to realize that the internet is way beyond chitchatting or keeping in touch with your far away friends and family members. It turned out to be a whole new world of knowledge and information. I can't really recall what made me realize this, but one way or another I became aware of the revolutionary significance of the internet. As soon as it hit my consciousness, I gave up all other pastimes and restricted myself to internet surfing. In other words I got addicted to the world wide web.
At this time, I desperately felt the need of some resource like DMOZ. Even though I knew of some search engines, my first attempts at searching brought such irrelevant results that I dumped search engines for the time being, thanks to some clever manipulations done by webmasters to deceive search engine robots. Resources at web directories were either insufficient or subject to the personal interest of directory owners. Resources at search engines were spammed to the core and the human-factor was badly missing. It was then that I discovered the Open Directory Project, which provided that non-commercial, unbiased human-factor. Needless to say, DMOZ became my first bookmark and also, my first "cyber crush".
Why did I become a DMOZ editor?
"Help build the largest human-edited directory of the web. Become an Editor."
For some reason, I had always overlooked the above mentioned message that appears at the homepage. Perhaps because I didn't consider myself capable enough to edit, select or reject resources, or maybe because I was too overwhelmed by the largeness of this project. Hence, for many years, I continued to browse and avail myself of the great resources published at DMOZ, without taking into account the possibility of me serving as an editor for this gigantic directory. It was only after I started my professional life - that requires some serious research work - when I thought about making up for all the information and resources that DMOZ has made available for nothing. It was time to be a part of the cause.
My Experience so far:
Of course, fulfilling.
After so many years of surfing as a user, it feels good to be working "backstage." Apart from the guidelines laid down for the editors, one thing that has helped me a lot is my past experiences as a user. I see webmasters everywhere, at online forums, blogs, communities... complaining about the partiality or favoritism of editors, just because their website hasn't made it into the directory.
The problem I've seen until now, with sites being suggested to my categories for review, is that they don't provide anything of substance for the user. One thing we can't compromise on as an editor is the content of the website. The content has got to be unique, and by uniqueness we don't mean rephrasing or restructuring same piece of information in a hundred ways. There's no point in stuffing DMOZ with hundreds and thousands of websites, where the content is almost identical, hence of little or no use to the general public.
In the coming days, I am looking forward to make a significant contribution towards the growth of a directory that has introduced me to a number of truly useful resources. As a user, my association with DMOZ has always been good, and as an editor, it's even better!