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July 31, 2005

MIT's open-source story brings bloggers in

Stephen Baker

Wouldn't you know it? I finally caught up with Wade Roush's open-source cover story in the paper issue of MIT's Tech Review. I had posted an item on it months ago. I find the resulting article to be a useful round-up of many tech trends. Lacks a strong point of view, though. Maybe it's because I know that hundreds of people participated in the editorial process, but it reads a bit as though all the sharp edges have been sanded down. That's not necessarily a bad thing. I'll bet this process thoroughly vetted it for errors. Still, I'd like to have Wade's feedback on this. (He's in Africa for a few weeks, and presumably not scouring Technorati for feeds.) In any case, I'm going to be studying this case, because I'd like to launch an experiment in the same vein on this blog.

07:29 AM

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Blogging is a great tool for academic work. The search engines that have done well commercially have academic roots. I think blogging has the potential for changing the way search engines work.

"The Open Directory Project is the largest, most comprehensive human-edited directory of the Web. It is constructed and maintained by a vast, global community of volunteer editors."

Source: http://dmoz.org/about.html

So, "hundreds of people participated in the editorial process" for one story. Not very efficient for a single story. A good way to sand the thing down though. The dmoz page says, "Link rot is setting in and they can't keep pace with the growth of the Internet." Too much automation! "The Open Directory powers the core directory services for the Web's largest and most popular search engines and portals, including Netscape Search, AOL Search, Google, Lycos, HotBot, DirectHit, and hundreds of others." So the search engines get people to do all this editorial work which is translated into profit for commercial search engines.

An interesting experiment might be the use of blogs to help organize the Open Directory. If each blogger used a tag to insert links into dmoz as they updated their blog, the directory would be increased and the edits would be humanly generated. The search engines would have better results, which they want, bloggers would edit dmoz while doing what they are already doing (blogging) and dmoz would have a new army of editors updating dmoz rapidly as blogs are being constantly updated. It seems like a win/win/win situation.

Posted by: Jim Dermitt at July 31, 2005 10:01 AM

Having editors for dmoz seems dumb for a number of reasons. I'm not going to sit at my PC for hours and edit dmoz for nothing. I have better stuff to do than that. I found this bribe the dmoz editor story funny. It would be much more difficult to bribe 20,000 bloggers organizing the dmoz directory while they blog.

How to Bribe a DMOZ Editor

http://www.corruptdmozeditor.com/2004/12/how-to-bribe-dmoz-editor.html

Here's another funny thing.

Another day, another screwed DMOZ submission

It's another day and more submissions are lining my queues. I go to a cafe with free internet access and cute college age kids behind the counter, and log in to one of my dmoz accounts using firefox to spoof the OS and browser. Then I delete a handful of listings starting from the top without even looking at them. The next batch I include but I make sure to drain the listings of any useful keywords. The next bunch I keep on hold for the next time. I have a few listings that have been on hold for, I kid you not, eighteen months.

END

What we have are millions of bloggers acting as editors for a single story or subject and one person doing the edits for a dmoz category that could have a million links. It's no wonder we have link rot and so many crappy blog stories floating around the web that nobody would waste time reading. You wonder why these people even bother writing most of these blogs.

DMOZ calls it

The Internet Brain

The Open Directory is the most widely distributed data base of Web content classified by humans. Its editorial standards body of net-citizens provide the collective brain behind resource discovery on the Web. The Open Directory powers the core directory services for the Web's largest and most popular search engines and portals, including Netscape Search, AOL Search, Google, Lycos, HotBot, DirectHit, and hundreds of others.

How Much Should You Pay to Bribe a DMOZ Editor?

That's pretty much a sliding scale. The higher up a category, the less crowded a category is, how much PageRank there is in the category are factored into the price of the bribe. But perhaps the ultimate factor is how much money do you stand to make?

I'm starting to think the whole thing is a bad joke.

DMOZ links are more or less being corrupted and manipulated. "The Open Directory powers the core directory services for the Web's largest and most popular search engines and portals, including Netscape Search, AOL Search, Google, Lycos, HotBot, DirectHit, and hundreds of others." This is what powers the core directory services. It seems like some of the core is rotting, thus you get link rot. I think bloggers could improve this situation. I'm sure dmoz has some fine editors, but the process is open to corruption and this system is dumb. Really dumb!

I think that blogging can help organize things with dmoz and also make searching more productive. Obviously bloggers are searching the Internet, so they want the best search results possible. I'm not sure what some of these dmoz editors want to do, but there has to be a better way to do it. Bloggers will find a better way and a better dmoz should result from the effort. This could lead to profit for those who do blog. I've spent time on this link blogging concept and I believe that it should make finding information easier based on the power of bloggers to really change the Internet. We'll have to see what happens next.

Posted by: Jim Dermitt at July 31, 2005 03:14 PM

More likely, the "link rot" is as a result of Time-Warner taking over DMOZ, and those editors who poured hundreds and hundreds of volunteer hours into a volunteer organization feeling USED, and now holding on to their editorships by doing the bare minimum required.

Posted by: Dmoz Addict at October 17, 2005 02:18 AM


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