May 11, 2009

DMOZ Editor Corruption Shock

We interrupt this blog to bring you the latest news from the Open Directory Project, where thousands of volunteers from all over the world spend their own time helping to make the internet a little more useable.
Or so they claim.

But in news just to hand, it appears that all these so-called "editors" are actually engaged in a systematic attempt to undermine civilisation as we know it!


So who are these "editors", exactly?
Masquerading as slightly obsessed and order-loving hobbyists, they meet in darkened forums and pass secret messages to each other using codenames and an indecipherable language, including arcane words such as "catmv", "reorg", "keditall" and "meta". This last term used to carry all sorts of fearful connotations, calling up images of big sticks, slashed permissions, and super-secret cabals.
But bureaucracy has extended its grip even into the subterranean caverns of DMOZ, and metas are now no more awesome than the average middle manager. Instead, a new overclass has emerged in recent years ... the all-seeing, all-knowing, all-powerful Admin, although for reasons which are poorly understood, they seem to have some sort of inbuilt regulatory system which continuously limits their numbers, regardless of new additions.

OK, so what's all this "corruption" about?
Well, this is the really scary part ... nobody actually seems to know for sure, but it definitely happens. A lot!
Oh yes, it does, because lots of people say it does, and they wouldn't lie, would they?

Besides, you can read it all over the internet, which is further proof that it must be true!

According to these "reliable sources", most editors are getting paid by webmasters who are understandably anxious to have their sites included in this prestigious directory, even though the DMOZ Social Contract promises that there will never be any charge.

All these corrupt editors are apparently making an absolute fortune by selling something which is actually free, and what's more they are managing to do it without ever being caught!
Hundreds and hundreds of them!
For years and years!

Hang on, that doesn't sound possible!
Well no, you are quite right. Of course it's not possible.

For a start, there are strict guidelines about editorial Conflict of Interest, and any volunteer found to be requesting or accepting payment will instantly and permanently lose their account. One bribe, and you're out. No second chances.

Secondly, any webmaster who tries to bribe an editor risks having all his sites permanently banned from listing in the directory - hardly worth the risk of even trying to pay for something which is already free.

Thirdly, there is a prominent link on every DMOZ category page called "Report Abuse", so that anyone can report any breach of the ODP policies and guidelines (with the necessary evidence, of course). Needless to say, the people so stridently claiming abuse never have enough evidence to submit such a report.

Fourthly, many of the more experienced editors have excellent detective skills and a passion for finding the occasional "bad egg" that inevitably shows up in a large community.

And finally, it is clear that some of the more hysterical and slanderous claims made about widespread DMOZ corruption come from the following groups:
  • former editors who have previously lost their own accounts due to abusing their positions
  • webmasters who have tried and failed to bribe an editor, and who are therefore bitterly disappointed
  • owners of websites which do not meet the criteria for listing and therefore blame DMOZ for having high standards.
A credible bunch, to be sure. They probably have some unclaimed lottery winnings they'd like to discuss with you too.

ADDED in March 2011: Before you click the Comment button, please read this post. Thank you.

10 comments:

aVeryLittleEditor said...

Somehow I've missed out on the fortune... no one is trying to bribe me for listings in MY category. Maybe I need a more exciting category, so that I, too, can become fabulously wealthy on bribes!

Anonymous said...

I always thought it was a sting operation:
Guy A: A DMOZ listing is really important to have. The only ones who get listed had to bribe an editor, but if you get caught doing this your site will be blackballed.
Guy B: It just so happens that I have great experience and success in bribing DMOZ editors so if you just hand over your money....

Mak said...

Oh it's definitely a scam. The people who take the money and run have no way (and therefore no intention) of fulfilling their promise. And to forestall the inevitable "deduction" that the more paranoic webmasters will leap to, any editor engaging in a deliberate "sting" attempt would suffer just the same fate as if he were accepting a bribe for any other reason.

pbj said...

I just love your irony *LOL* - it's very Danish like "irony" humor in a way.... wonder why ;-)

caprichoso said...

The fact that I'm a paranoid doesn't prove that they aren't after me.

Now. A lot of accusation without evidence is not likely to be taken seriously. But every effect has a cause. And we should ask ourselves what DMOZ editor did to raise provoke this. There is plenty of directories out there in the web. Why only DMOZ is being attacked in such scale in the last years?

Mak said...

Yes there "is (sic) plenty of directories", but none of the others are both free and so comprehensive. Consequently, those who are angry about their own sites not being listed have to make up all sorts of theories, rather than accept the simple fact that DMOZ is not a listing service for them.

Besides, most of the people who make these baseless accusations are those whose sites don't meet the selection criteria anyway, or whose sites have been permanently banned because they tried and failed to bribe an editor. Whose fault is that?

Mergen, WebGuru Co Ltd said...

DMOZ listing take a ton of time and energy. You have to write perfectly and then have to contact the editors over and over. The editors can take their sweet time to approve if at all. Why couldn't they make the process a bit easier? It can be a long process involving couple of months waiting for the approvals, contacting the editors, re-submitting for approval. I really don't want to have to report the editors just to have my listing approved.

Mak said...

I have published the above comment to highlight many of the very common misconceptions about ODP/DMOZ:
1. " You have to write perfectly" - not at all. 99.9% of suggested titles and descriptions are rewritten by editors in order to meet the editing guidelines (http://www.dmoz.org/guidelines/describing.html). Editors expect to have to do that.
2. "contact the editors over and over". A complete waste of time. This has no influence at all on whether or not a site is listed, as editors simply ignore such emails, from long experience.
3. "The editors can take their sweet time to approve if at all." Of course. It's a hobby, and our time is our own. :-) Also, suggestions are nothing more than one resource we can look at if we feel like it. Not a priority at all.
4. "re-submitting for approval." As the suggestion instructions clearly explain, excessively repeated submissions can lead to a permanent ban. One suggestion is plenty. It is only a suggestion, after all, and editors are not required to view or list suggestions at all, because ODP/DMOZ is not a listing service.
5. " I really don't want to have to report the editors just to have my listing approved." Indeed. Why on earth would anyone report someone for spending their hobby time as they choose? If there is evidence of editorial abuse, of course, please report it, but the simple fact that no volunteer has reviewed a particular site is hardly "abuse"! There are millions of such sites. ;-)

Website Design said...

I really don't want to have to report the editors just to have my listing approved.

Mak said...

Thank you for your comment, "Website Design" but I'm afraid you seem to have mis-understood my post, and indeed the nature of the ODP, as well as overlooking my lengthy comment above. Sites are reviewed purely on the basis of the inclusion criteria, and most listings are not even suggested by the webmaster, but found by editors themselves.
As for reporting editorial abuse, that is an entirely separate matter, and strongly encouraged, provided you have evidence of actual misuse of the editorial position. However, please remember that DMOZ is not a listing service, so the fact that a particular site has not been listed is immaterial, because there is absolutely no requirement for any volunteer to review suggested sites at all.

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