January 14, 2009

"I suggested my site to DMOZ/ODP ages ago, so why isn't it listed yet?"

Possibly the most FAQ about the Open Directory Project.

It astonishes me that it should be necessary for volunteer editors to continue patiently answering this question, when it has already been answered hundreds and possibly thousands of times in forums, blogs and documentation all over the internet.
But I guess it is human nature to keep hoping that an unwelcome answer will eventually turn into something more acceptable, if only it can be asked often enough. 

So, to supplement my recent series on "FAQ about ODP/DMOZ editing", I will copy a recent forum post in which I answered a version of the familiar questions:
  • "When will editors review my suggestion?" 
  • "Why hasn't my suggestion been listed yet?"
  • "Why does it take so long for editors to look at suggestions?" 
  • "In fact, what are those editors doing, when they should be reviewing suggestions??"
The shortest, simplest answer is
"Because the goals of ODP/DMOZ do not include being a review or listing service for webmasters".
But this seems to be unacceptable (or perhaps incomprehensible) to those repeatedly asking these questions, so here is my latest attempt to explain:
Firstly, no editor is required to look at site suggestions. Ever. They can spend years building the directory according to the guidelines without ever once looking at sites suggested by other people. For example, I have added about 25,000 sites to the directory, but probably fewer than several hundred of those were suggested by other people.

Secondly, editors have a wide range of activities to choose from, and no time constraints other than doing at least one edit every 4 months, and even then they can ask for reinstatement if their account automatically closes due to lack of activity. 

Here are some of the ways editors spend their hobby time in the directory:
  • searching for unlisted sites on the internet, in magazines, newspapers, local directories, advertisements etc
  • checking listed sites to be sure they are listed correctly
  • correcting titles and descriptions which don't meet the current guidelines
  • creating new categories
  • improving the structure of the directory
  • making it easier for people to find their way around the directory
  • helping less experienced editors
  • joining group projects
  • writing documentation or creating tools to assist fellow volunteers
  • discussing directory matters on the internal forums
  • learning more about editing and applying to increase their range of permissions
  • ... and yes, if they feel like it, reviewing site suggestions.

January 01, 2009

Bits and Bobs

Happy New Year everyone!

I've been assembling this post for a few days, and intended it to be a sort of "wrap-up" of incidental items at the end of 2008.

But as usual, my procrastinator gene came to the fore, so now this will have to be the first of 2009's witterings. 

In earlier posts I've mentioned my volunteer work with an adult literacy organisation, and I'm pleased to say that my student is making great strides. It's very rewarding to work with someone so motivated and with such clear goals, and I enjoy the challenge of making our lessons interesting and fun.

My role as a meta-editor in ODP/DMOZ continues to have its ups and downs, but my new policy of ignoring pretty much everything said or done by directory management seems to be working well. It was initially very difficult, because I am by nature respectful of authority, but such respect has to be earned, so I have found it surprisingly easy to ignore them and just carry on with what I enjoy.
It is sadly true that management indifference to the volunteer community continues to be the single biggest challenge to the project, but it is obvious that those of us who do care about this are not in a position to do anything about it. All we can do is work away in our chosen corners and try to hang on to what is still great.

Many thanks to Keith Tipton, who sent me a very insightful article entitled "Why Volunteers Quit". It should be required reading for DMOZ staff and Administrators, particularly the section called "How to Keep Volunteers" - an echo of my own comments early last year. 

In my yearly Christmas message to friends, I mentioned that by the end of this year I will have completed my Post-graduate Diploma in Forensic Medicine, but in response to further questions I have found it hard to explain what this entails. Thanks to numerous "forensic" TV shows, people get rather confused about all the different professions involved, and assume that I will be a forensic pathologist or a forensic scientist, whereas in fact those are completely different specialties, with separate training requirements and roles.

The Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine explains that clinical forensic medicine is:
principally concerned with the provision of forensic medical services to the living and medical advice particularly in the investigation of crimes.
So what will I will be trained for?
The Monash University course handbook says:
On completion of the [Post-Graduate Diploma] it is expected that graduates should be able to demonstrate a range of skills and knowledge specific to the units that they have undertaken. They should be able to: provide competent clinical forensic medical services; clearly communicate medico-legal issues to the justice system; prepare effective and objective medico-legal reports; critically evaluate the ethical and legal issues arising in forensic medical practice, and Interpret wounds and injury patterns with particular reference to causation. 
However, the only jobs available in this field in Western Australia are in Custodial Medicine, which is not an area that appeals to me. So unfortunately it looks like this will be yet another interesting but unused qualification in my CV. I seem to collect them!

Despite the absence of any formal feedback or performance review from last year, I have been offered another position as a clinical tutor at the University of Notre Dame Medical School, so I presume I did OK. I certainly enjoyed it, and so did my students, (who all passed their exams, yay!), so I'm greatly looking forward to meeting another group this year.

A recent addition to the family is Emily the Emu, made by a local sculptor who is also the creator of my (unnamed) kangaroo.

My dogs are starting the year as they finished it, comfortable, asleep, and thoroughly spoiled (yes, they get the prime position in front of the fan).

Wishing you and your loved ones a happy and safe 2009!


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