November 28, 2008

FAQ about ODP/DMOZ editing
Part 1: Applying

In the unofficial ODP/DMOZ forum recently, I found myself answering extremely familiar questions about becoming a volunteer editor in the Open Directory Project
I am certainly not alone in this regard, and many of my volunteer colleagues have patiently repeated the same information far more often than I have, in weblogs and forums over many years.  There are also several authoritative places where people could find the answers, but they don't seem to look there before posting their questions - or perhaps it's natural to hope for a new answer. ;-)
So although this series of posts is merely adding to the pile of almost identical information, perhaps if it is repeated often enough, in different ways and places, the message might get out there. It's worth a shot, anyway.

That's a tiny skink on one of my ripening peaches, by the way, but as for my own credentials in providing these answers (which should always be the first question of course) you can check them out in an earlier post.

Now let's get started ...

"Why be an ODP/DMOZ editor?"
Short answer: It's a fascinating hobby, a chance to be part of an international volunteer community, and it helps people everywhere to find useful material on the internet.

Many people have given longer answers, of course, but one recent account was written by friend and fellow editor laigh in the official ODP blog: "I ( heart ) DMOZ...Why I Joined And Why I Love It"


"Is it difficult to become an ODP/DMOZ editor?"
Short answer: Not at all.  Editors come from all age groups and nationalities, 
with widely diverse skills and knowledge.

A longer answer is found in "Becoming an Editor":
Everyone is welcome to join the ODP.  All you need is an interest or passion and a computer. While there are no specific pre-requisites, we seek people who have a genuine interest in building a directory that is free of commercial interests and favoritism. Fairness and objectivity prevail here. ... Potential editors should demonstrate a keen eye for spotting quality and useful sites, attention to detail, and possess good grammar, spelling and communication skills.

"Any tips for making a successful editor application?"
Short answer: Read the instructions on the form, do a little homework, and be honest.

A longer answer is found in "Becoming an Editor":
We view the application as an indication of how you will edit. A thoughtful, well-written application that is free of hype has a far greater chance of getting accepted than one that is sloppy, poorly-written, and full of promotional, subjective language. Finally, be truthful about your affiliations with any Web sites. Webmasters, site owners, and friends and relatives of webmasters and site owners are free to join. However, you should be up front and honest about these affiliations.
Note: As far as helpful tips are concerned, a much more comprehensive answer can be found in the blog of my friend and fellow meta-editor, shadow575, who has written an excellent guide called Become an Editor.


"How will I know if I've been accepted or not?"
Short answer: Feedback is sent after the application has been reviewed, 
whether or not it was successful.

Longer answer: Each application is reviewed by an experienced volunteer editor - a meta or a category moderator (catmod). This can take anything from a few hours to several weeks.  
  • If the application is approved, a welcoming email is sent with further information.
  • If the application is rejected, a form letter is sent with a list of common reasons, and the reviewer may add specific comments.
The most common reason for an applicant not receiving any feedback is that it has been caught by a spam filter, so anyone applying to ODP/DMOZ is advised to set their email program to accept everything from ;-)
Unsuccessful applicants are almost always encouraged to try again, after attending to the issues raised in the feedback, and many current editors have been accepted only after submitting a more careful or complete application.
To help increase the number of editors, volunteers at the unofficial public ODP forum provide an advisory service for applicants (but please follow the instructions before posting).


"Can I be an editor even if I have a site to be listed in ODP/DMOZ?"
Short answer: Certainly. Many editors join for this reason, 
but as long as they are willing to be impartial, they are welcome.

A longer answer is found in the guidelines on "Conflict of Interest":
Everyone is welcome to apply to join the ODP, including those who own, maintain and promote websites. Editors may have business or other types of affiliations relevant to the categories they edit, and may add their own sites or sites with which they are affiliated. However, it is contrary to the goals and policy of the ODP for editors to add only their own or affiliate sites, to engage in self cooling or other forms of self promotion, or to exclude or disadvantage a site that belongs to a competitor for the purpose of harming the competitor. 

Next: Part 2: Getting started


Chetan said...

I am highly interested in becoming a part of this huge directory as volunteer but the problem is time. I am student of post graduation in computer science.
Can you please tell me how many hours you spend at DMOZ for editing ?e

Mak said...

Great to hear you are interested in joining, Chetan! You will find the answer to your question in Part 3: Settling in, but the short answer is "You can spend as much or as little time as you choose". Some editors give many hours a day to the project, others do a little every couple of months. Everything helps! :)

Row said...

This is a good post. I didn't know about many of the points mentioned here.

You mind clarifying one more ( very frequently asked) question? --

What is the maximum and minimum time it takes to get a site listed on DMOZ?

Mak said...

Thanks for reading it, Row. As you can see, there is much more to being an editor than simply reviewing site suggestions. Editors find sites in all sorts of places, so there is no "maximum" or "minimum" time for a site to be listed. It simply depends on when a volunteer feels like building that particular category, and where they decide to look for sites.

Aymen deals said...

I have so many great sites but every time i submit one site it gets rejected,that way i decided to not join ODP because i feel that there is no justice in adding listings to the directory.i Head also that there is some editors actually earning money from being editors,like listing their friends websites or people that gave them money to list their websites.and what they do is reject all the rest.

Mak said...

Gosh, Aymen deals, there are so many misconceptions in your comment I don't know where to start.
Have you read my posts about the continual allegations of editor corruption, always made without any evidence at all? How about my posts concerning the process of selecting sites to add, and how editors do that? Or even my post about why webmasters keep thinking the ODP is a listing service when it isn't?

If you read all those and still decide not to become a volunteer and help build the directory, at least you will be better informed. ;-)

blackrock said...

I would really like to participate during my free time. Especially helping in the foreign language and culture categories. Could you please advice me on how to get through the process. I have applied before without success.

Mak said...

We always welcome enthusiastic volunteers, blackrock, and it is very easy to apply. Just read and follow the application instructions. The advice contained here will also help you.
If you were unsuccessful with a previous application, of course be sure to carefully read and follow the advice you were sent with your rejection feedback. Many current editors were accepted only after following that advice and submitting a more careful or complete application. :-)


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