October 09, 2009

ODP/DMOZ: Plus ça change

It's been quite a while since I last posted about the Open Directory Project where I volunteer my time as a meta editor. This may lead the optimistic (or naive) to suppose that all has been going swimmingly, but in fact the reason is simply that nothing seems to change or improve, and even I can get tired of describing the same problems over and over again.

Hence the title: Plus ça change can be roughly translated as same old same old.

Every now and then there'll be a brief drum roll and some AOL person will announce that a Shiny! New! Improved! DMOZ 2.0 is "just around the corner", and that all the paid (ie invisible) staff are working terribly hard on it. These announcements have been happening every few months for about 3 years now, so they don't have quite the morale-boosting effect on the unpaid volunteers that management obviously expects.

In fact, not surprisingly, the opposite happens, which is that more and more people lose interest. This situation starts at the top, with the ongoing decline of the ironically named Administrators, whose numbers and activity levels seem to have dropped even further than when I last recorded their attrition rate:
"So out of 16 people specially chosen by the Emperor to manage DMOZ, we are left with
4 invisible and inactive Admins,
2 invisible but apparently active ones, leaving
just 3 who are effectively fulfilling their roles."
That was back in April. The numbers are now even sadder, with the 4 invisible and inactive ones still resolutely declining to meet even the bare minimum requirements of their position, and the number who seem to do anything at all being reduced to 2. Full credit to them for carrying on, of course, but it does beg the question "why". Is the Admin role so pointless/untenable/onerous or just plain unpleasant that more than 3/4 of them are unwilling to do it?
If so, then why remain in the position year after year, when all other editors are required to contribute something to the directory in order to maintain their accounts?

The other thing that never, ever changes in regard to DMOZ/ODP is the frequently wilful misunderstanding of the role of an editor.

To increase the endless repetition by one more, here are the reasons editors do not "process submissions" in any time frame desired by the webmaster:
  1. All editors are volunteers who are free to spend as much or as little time on the ODP as they choose.
  2. DMOZ/ODP is not a listing service, and site suggestions made by non-editors are nothing more than that - suggestions of sites that an editor may wish to look at.
  3. There is absolutely no requirement for any editor to look at these suggestions, although someone probably will, eventually.
  4. Editors have many, far more useful places to look for worthwhile sites to add.
  5. It's a hobby, that's all.
No matter how many times these simple facts are repeated, obstinate webmasters and SEO "experts" keep on and on and on with their complaints, while steadfastly refusing to listen.

This technique might work for some small furry mammals, but it's pretty silly and very seldom effective in the world of grown-ups.

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails