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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.
Aug 24th 2009 11:23AM
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.
Jul 29th 2009 5:24PM
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.
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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:
From our Guidelines:
- 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.
Jul 10th 2009 2:31PM
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.
Jun 26th 2009 12:00PM
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.
Jun 23rd 2009 5:02PM
Editor lisagirl has provided the latest in our series of posts highlighting portions of the directory, this time focusing on the Shopping section.
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"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,
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.
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!
What sorts of shopping sites does the Open Directory Project list?
You name it! How about these examples:
Clothes for lawn geese
Letters from St. Nick
and of course...CHOCOLATE!!!
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