Will Dmoz Continue to Have a Place in Search?

    May 16, 2010
    Chris Crum

Nearly a year ago, we looked at what Dmoz (aka: The Open Directory Project) was up to, and if it still had a place in search. The directory was talking about how it was looking for "a little respect" as it prepared to celebrate its 11th birthday (on June 5).

Has Dmoz earned any more of that respect going into its 12th year?
Tell us what you think.

Dmoz has been brought back into the discussion as Google’s Matt Cutts appeared in a new Google Webmaster Help Video answering the following user question:

Why is Google still taking notice of DMOZ? Many have alleged that the editors are corrupt. It’s impossible to get them to list a site even if it is very relevant to a specific area.

"I know that people do have complaints about Dmoz, and we don’t show it in our one-Google-sort of tabs at the top of the page like we used to in previous years, but in some countries, it can be very hard to type in queries. It can take a lot of time," says Cutts. "For example in something like Chinese or Japanese or Korean, sometimes it might be easier to browse by clicking, rather than typing in the query, and so especially in those sorts of countries, it can be very helpful to show Dmoz."

"But we don’t use Dmoz in a lot of the ways that we used to. We don’t show the Dmoz categories or the Open Directory categories beneath the snippet, and we used to do that," he adds. "We don’t show it on the main page like we used to anymore. So if you’re frustrated, you can always try a different category that you also think is relevant. You can always go to editors up the chain. But in general, if you can’t get into Dmoz, I wouldn’t necessarily worry about it. There are a lot of other great places to get links across the web."

Dmoz continues down the slope it’s been on for quite some time in terms of unique visitors. Google not giving it as much play certainly must play at least some role in this. It does get over 18% of its referrals from Google:

Dmoz on its Own Future

Dmoz swears it still has plenty of life left in it, so if you believe the editorial department, there may be new opportunities from Dmoz down the road. In a post earlier this year, reflecting upon the last decade, Bob Keating, Dmoz editor-in-chief said, "Over the ’00 decade, DMOZ has grown to be one of the most successful collaborative projects on the web. It has outlasted its commercial counterparts, and continues to be relevant in the search industry. The keys to its longevity and usefulness are its dedicated community, its open, collaborative editorial model, its non-commercial nature, and open data distribution channel."

"While DMOZ receives hundreds of editor applications, and lists thousands of websites each week, it needs a new Plan – a new blueprint for the future of how the web is organized, and how human organized data is consumed," he says. "Using traditional web directories as a means for information discovery is a thing of the past. However, the need for organized web-based content continues to grow exponentially. The future of DMOZ does not lie merely in improving its toolset, making it more SEO friendly, or convincing others of its collective brilliance. Its future lies in turning the entire thing on its head."

Keating went on to list some goals for this decade, including the development of an API for Dmoz data to allow editors and developers to write new apps using it. He also wants to transform Dmoz from a fixed-path directory to "the largest faceted system for organizing information on the web," have it become a "major influencer" for bringing the semantic web out of the lab/enterprise and into the entire web, and transforming Dmoz into a "suite of products with multiple levels of participation and engagement."

Things have been pretty quiet on the Dmoz front since then. The only updates on the Dmoz blog have been from editors talking about their experiences editing specific categories. Perhaps that is because some of the aforementioned goals are in the process of being realized behind the scenes.

Note: With a great deal of talk in the comments about corrruption, you may be interested in hearing from a former editor on the topic. Read here.

Do you think Dmoz has a place in the future of the web? In the future of search? What kinds of apps would you like to see built upon a Dmoz API? Share your thoughts in the comments.



Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.