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Old 06-01-2005   #1
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Rant about ODP bashing

OK, this is the padded room and I can scream as loud as I want, so I will!

I am sick and tired of all the ODP bashing I've seen going on in SEO forums for years. I have had it with what's become a fun "sport" of throwing daggers at a group of people just because they have *editor* attached to their name.

DMOZ is not evil, DMOZ is not corrupt, DMOZ is *nothing*! DMOZ as an entity has no character, either positive or negative. No "entity" does except by it's publicly stated policy - like hate groups being evil.

It's my judgment that a blanket indictment of any organization or group of people is downright prejudicial and outright bigotry. Unless it's the collective policy with which all within agree, it is only individual people within the organization that are good or bad, evil or virtuous, saint or sinner, honest or corrupt - NOT the organization as a collective.

What people put on their own blogs, homepages, websites, publications et al is one thing - that's their business. But SEO forums are online *communities* - and should serve the needs and protect the dignity and human rights of every single member - including ODP editors who happen to be members.

To be honest, I'm tired of the hate-mongering, fruitlessness of what I've been seeing in ODP forums for several years. It's an outright disgrace to allow people to be treated like that - particularly the majority who are innocents GIVING freely of their time to the internet community, to be publicly bashed and ostracized as evil. What if their children read that stuff? "Daddy, you're an editor - are you evil and corrupt? Is our whole family going to Hell?"

Of all *entities* the last group that have any right to throw stones - as a collective entity - is a group of SEOs. Ask any search scientists or group of search engine engineers who have a full time job of trying to combat the outrageous flood of swill that bombards their index just how *virtuous* and clean the SEO community appears from their perspective.

IMHO it would be no loss if every one totally shut down, rather than continually allow a segment of their membership to be subjected to abuse - and ABUSE it is. Unless there's a turning around to treat all members with respect and conduct matters with respect, I can see no justification for the continuance of such goings on in what's supposed to be a professional environment.

Now, five will getcha ten that ODP bashing will start even here. No, that isn't the topic - the topic is that I'm sick and tired of the POT calling the kettle black and the disrespectful, abusive, nonsensical crap I'm tired of reading - and won't any more. This isn't a discussion and my opinion isn't open to negotiation. This is a rant based on my judgments made in the course of around 5 years of observing the same abusive bullcrap over and over. This isn't about ODP, it's about the disgraceful state of affairs that's been going on in ODP forums - when they could be productive - in *communities* if you will - rather than pits of venomous poison being spewed.

End of rant, now I feel better.

Last edited by Marcia : 06-01-2005 at 05:08 AM.
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Old 06-01-2005   #2
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I agree. I don't like bashing of any time. In the case of the ODP, I'd love to see things progress past problems and more toward potential solutions. It just seems the system needs to evolve in some way. Wish I could say what exactly, but I don't know.
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Old 06-01-2005   #3
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Great post. Needed to be said.
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Old 06-01-2005   #4
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DMOZ is not evil, DMOZ is not corrupt, DMOZ is *nothing*! DMOZ as an entity has no character, either positive or negative. No "entity" does except by it's publicly stated policy - like hate groups being evil.
Get ten people together in a group and they do, very much, have a character. And yes, it can be both negative and positive.

Quote:
Unless it's the collective policy with which all within agree, it is only individual people within the organization that are good or bad, evil or virtuous, saint or sinner, honest or corrupt - NOT the organization as a collective.
OK, but if you promise, as an organisation, to be something and then don't deliver, what are you? if you accept corruption and do nothing, are you still guilt free?

I ask these questions because @ cre8 we had an eleven page discussion, in which a lot of questions were raised. I am still left asking many of them, primary of which is: collectively, does DMOZ live up to this: http://www.dmoz.org/socialcontract.html or this http://www.dmoz.org/about.html? These are DMOZ stated goals. Not mine. Not what I hope for DMOZ, but the purpose, the raison d'etre of teh ODP. Do they get there? Are DMOZ, as a group, failing? If so, what is being done to combat it?

IMHO, the ODP does a lot of stuff to invite criticism, not least of which is obviously being the biggest. Being the biggest has always bought unwanted attention (does anyone see a mooter-watch website?), but that isn't the only force at play here.

Many times, ODP editors that choose to respond in public fora have continually responded to fair and reasonable criticisms with less than politeness, and have not taken any position which precludes them from any guilt in the attitude towards them.

Which raises the vital question: do we, as the web using public, the people DMOZ proclaims to serve, have a right to voice dissent?

Criticism (in the true sense of the word: to offer a critique) is good. It is what keeps the world real and in check. What is more, in DMOZ specific case, and this is an absolute kicker, DMOZ invite criticism. Let me repeat that: DMOZ invite criticism.

From the Social Contract:
Quote:
Originally Posted by http://www.dmoz.org/socialcontract.html
5. We Encourage a Self-Regulating Community

We foster a self-regulating community governed by community-driven standards. We encourage the community to regulate itself, and to provide the checks and balances needed to ensure that its members follow mutually accepted codes of conduct and editorial standards. We depend on the honesty and integrity of the volunteer editors to ensure the directory is high quality, user-friendly, and free of abuse.
So, as a part of this "community", everyone and anyone whos uses the web, IMHO, has a right to "...provide the checks and balances needed to ensure that its members follow mutually accepted codes of conduct and editorial standards". Unless the social contract is read differently for different points that is

Yet DMOZ editors state they won't change in response to the very checks and balances their social contract claims to need.

IMHO, laying blame in the "DMOZ attacks" threads at any one group or individuals feet is unfair. While it would be convenient to blame the DMOZ detractors, and the many unreasonable people that complain about trivialities, the fault lies with all parties.

The ODP can't change the crazies. ODP editor's sphere of influence is just there own actions, and all too often ODP editors deny anything is wrong. They also have created a false divide between "webmasters" (like Whitehatistan's "spammer", this is apparently now a synonym for "satan") and the people they suppossedly serve. No such divide actually exists, nor is actually mentioned in any of the DMOZ information pages, and in fact the people most likely to use DMOZ are webmasters.

When I see ODP insiders argue circularly, usually revolving around the lack of funds combined with no way to make any funds, I am left scratching my head. Editors defending the indefesible, attacking trivial elements of a criticism and avoiding any introspective look at the ODP is at the root of many (including my own) frustration with the whole DMOZ concept.

Having said all that, a lot of criticism aimed at the ODP is unwarranted, harsh and written in terribly connotative language that is unreasonable and, often, downright ludicrous. This a directory of volunteers that lists sites for free, for goodness sake. It isn't foreign aid, third world poverty relief, charity or sanitation. No one will die if DMOZ is not perfect, yet the hysteria around DMOZ is worse than that surrounding the wrongful (some might say illegal) imprisonment of my compatriat, David Hicks at Guantanamo Bay.

I sincerely wish this sort of this sort of criticism would go away, and that we grown ups could be allowed to provide useful, professional critiques of the ODP. But that doesn't, to my mind, mean we should stop criticising, stop offerring checks and balances, stop hoping for better. If we did, we would be helping to break the ODP social contract, and i don't think that is right

In the end, I am saddenned by the thought that DMOZ, warts and all, will be and remain DMOZ, with no improvement or progress, and that people, rudeness and all, will be people.

But what can you do? Rant or ignore I guess. I see Marcia chose column B, and I guess I did as well

Last edited by projectphp : 06-01-2005 at 08:03 PM.
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Old 06-01-2005   #5
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I agree about the bashing, but I've seen many constructive comments, suggestions and complaints automatically get categorized as "bashing" by editors who simply believe they are above the masses. It would be nice to have a constructive dialog and better yet, see some changes made in the DMOZ management structure.
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Old 06-01-2005   #6
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Marcia & Danny,

I've been guilty of this sort of thing - not direct bashing, but definitely exposing my own very negative experiences as an editor there. There is an easy solution though...

Add "nofollow" tags to all links from ODP
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Old 06-01-2005   #7
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We turning this into a "I wouldn't be bashing if only ODP would do X, Y , or Z" thread now?
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Old 06-01-2005   #8
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Marcia - Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
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Old 06-01-2005   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcia
This isn't a discussion and my opinion isn't open to negotiation.
Right, same here.

Now so we understand where you're coming from Marcia, could you please explain your relationship to ODP? I assume you have been a well-placed editor and therefore have something personally invested in the cause?
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Old 06-01-2005   #10
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Marcia is not and has never been an editor. I've pestered her to apply since I think she actually has a clue how ODP operates, but she always says that she's too busy.

Is someone being an editor the only reason you can grasp for someone to start a thread like this?
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Old 06-01-2005   #11
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There is an easy solution though...
That won't work Rand. At least not while ever the ODP is available as an RDF dump (which it has to according to the social contract).

The most effective solution is for the ODP to accept that what started as a good idea has got out of hand, and look to change. There are problems keeping up with submissions,a nd there are other issues. Accepting you have a problem, is the first (of 12?) steps to fixing it.

Would ODP bashing go away if the ODP did accept some problems? Hell no, no more than Google bashing will. Harm minimisation is, even knowing this, always a good move.

IMHO, we can all sit here and say "bashing the ODP is unfair" til the cows come home and it won't change a thing. The bashings will go on in less reasonable forums (of which there are many). Instead, we should ask what we can do to improve the situation.

All this forum can do is encourage civilised debate and, yes, even criticism. That starts by actually criticising the ODP in a fair and reasonable manner. Not defending wrongs and portaying any one party as in the wrong, but actually providing the "...checks and balances needed to ensure that its members follow mutually accepted codes of conduct and editorial standards."

Any campaign to stop others doing something is doomed to fail (prohibition anyone?), but a policy of introspection and reasonable debate has a chance (no matter how small) of providing useful insights and progress.

Hate breads hate, and DMOZ-basher-bashing, IMHO, perpetuates the problem. Fair and reasonable critique, on the other hand, aimed at improving what is without doubt one of the Internet's 10 most important Hubs (I would argue the single most important) is something we should all be actively engaged in. A substandard ODp has far reaching effects, not just for webmasters and marketers, but for the ease of use and usefulness of the Internet and that, IMHO, is something we all have a vested interest in protecting and furthering.

Last edited by projectphp : 06-01-2005 at 11:24 PM.
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Old 06-01-2005   #12
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A substandard ODp
So, what's the standard (not crackpipe standard, but real one)?

Don't bother answering that - nothing else compares in terms of large, free, comprehensive directories.

Is ODP's database perfect (since that is what we're ultimately talking about)? No, but neither is Google's or Yahoo's or anyone else's. Why don't they get the tar and feathers poured on them? Probably because people have accepted that they get to do whatever they want to do, and they fear the repercussions of libeling Googleguy or TheOtherTim, for example. ODP is free and doesn't have life-or-death control over people's livelihoods (unlike what Google did to poor cliff, for example), but it is regularly lynched in forums all over. What the heck is that all about? I think it's because ODP editors look ripe for a caning, and because the whiners/whippers don't understand or have forgotten is that (A) their site is possibly not listable, (B) ODP doesn't have to look at anything they submit -- ever, (C) ODP's guidelines allow for editor discretion (but not abuse -- and there's a way to file abuse reports that all you educated people in here should know about), and (D) ODP editors work for nobody: you didn't pay them, they aren't employees, they draw no salary, and they volunteer to as much or as little as they wish (as long as they don't abuse).

Start trashing Google or Yahoo or their employees the way you do here and see how it goes.
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Old 06-01-2005   #13
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Quote:
Now, five will getcha ten that ODP bashing will start even here.
It sure didn't take too long, did it?

From the first post, the topic of this thread:

Quote:
This isn't about ODP, it's about the disgraceful state of affairs that's been going on in ODP forums
No respect for anyone. Point once again proven. I rest my case.
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Old 06-01-2005   #14
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Start trashing Google or Yahoo or their employees the way you do here and see how it goes.
<looks over shoulder, first left, then right. Sees only a cute Lil' silky Terrier. With appologies to Taxi Driver>You talking to me? I don't see anyone else holding a critical view, so you must be talking to me

I don't see anywhere in any of my posts where I was disrespectful towards DMOZ or the ODP. I don't see any trashing, I don't read any nastiness. Oh, that does exist on forums, no doubt, but I don't believe my comments classify as such.

Quote:
(C) ODP's guidelines allow for editor discretion
And that fascinates me. Why are the guidleines quoted only when they justify when the ODP has been less than great? Why aren't they ever used to show that others criticisms are valid?

http://www.dmoz.org/socialcontract.html is a good read, it really is. I see in it a lot of DMOZ responsibility, as well as the other side. I specifically see, in bold:
Quote:
6. Our Priorities are Our Data Users and the Community
So who qualifies?

I search the ODP all the time. Often, it has the best results. http://search.dmoz.org/cgi-bin/searc...alysis&all=yes is a great example, with much better results than Google or Yahoo offers. http://dmoz.org/Computers/Software/I...ysis/Articles/, especially, is brilliant for people looking to get educated.

My use of the ODP, IMHO, makes me a data user, and therefore part of ODP's priority. Any criticism I have is therefore not only valid, but absolutely defensible, nay, required by the Social Contract.

My justification done with (), if any post of mine, or anyone else's, crosses the border between useful critique and outright hostility, then such posts should be ignored, as they are indefensible. That, I assume, was Marcia's original point when she wrote "...disrespectful, abusive, nonsensical crap I'm tired of reading".

Cool, I can live with that. I don't believe I am any of those things. Yet I believe I have the right to criticise. But that isn't argued for by yourself, Keith. Instead, you offer up a "poor DMOZ" defence, and a "bait and switch", hoping to deflect people towards the Google and Yahoo. That there is no discussion of what criticism is acceptable and what isn't, is somewhat dissapointing.

Quote:
Is ODP's database perfect (since that is what we're ultimately talking about)? No, but neither is Google's or Yahoo's or anyone else's. Why don't they get the tar and feathers poured on them?
LOL, I thought people did

Anyway, not really a defence of anything, is it? I can't imagine Halliburton running with the defence of "Your honour, Enron was way worse, why don't you go pick on them..."

<added>Looks like I was wrong Seems Marcia doesn't want any DMOZ discussions. Or did i get that wrong?</added>

Last edited by projectphp : 06-01-2005 at 11:14 PM.
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Old 06-01-2005   #15
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To keep this on topic, I believe that a lot of the "ODP bashing" is actually constructive criticism from people who genuinely care. I'll take a cue from Marcia and provide my own rant.

I think that there is a difference between caring about the ODP, and caring about what a listing in the ODP can do for someone personally. I also think that only the second of those two form the basis for "ODP bashing". The first is constructive criticism.

My concern is that the two are often confused, then legitimate feedback and concerns are ignored based on that confusion. It's hard to reach out to someone who assumes you have the worst of intentions. After a while you just give up. The ODP is bigger than just the editors involved, or the companies financing it, or the websites providing it content, or the users using it, which I sometimes suspect many people don't understand.

In short, I think the ODP bashing should stop, but that people should continue to care about the ODP.

The fact that I would tell my child to stop doing something destructive, or tell a total stranger to watch out for that broken glass, isn't because I'm being negative or because I wish to hurt their feelings, or that I'm on a power trip or think that I "own" them - it's because I care.

I don't need to be a boss, owner, parent or relation to care - I just need to be human, and to believe that the internet is bigger than a collection of cabling, and is in fact something wonderful, rather than a resource to be consumed and used.

And isn't the whole idea of the ODP to care? About the internet, about the social contract, and about helping make something wonderful?

The worst thing that could happen to the ODP is for people to stop caring about it.

I post in forums (which take up a lot of my time for no real monetary benifit and cause a lot of stress at times) because I care. I donated time to SEMPO because I care. I helped form (and continue to work on and finance out of my own pocket) the SMA-NA because I care. I donate SEO work to charities because I care.

And dammit, I volunteered in the past for the ODP, and continue to discuss it's shortcomings and strengths in the hope of making it stronger, because I care.

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Old 06-02-2005   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kctipton
Marcia is not and has never been an editor. I've pestered her to apply since I think she actually has a clue how ODP operates, but she always says that she's too busy.

Is someone being an editor the only reason you can grasp for someone to start a thread like this?
I just like to understand where people are coming from. If this is about politeness or civility, it strikes me as a canard. The pro- and anti-ODP stuff is so over and done with. I'm sorry I even bothered to click on the threads to see old hostilities renewed.

If it's too hard to see that getting listed has an economic benefit to people, and that's why ODP's structure is prone to abuse and inefficiency, then you don't seem to grasp the whole concept of how search has evolved in every major search company.

Now, to me, that's just a criticism. It's not bashing. It's not a personal attack. Life is not a Hallmark card. When there is stuff at stake you can bet that hiding behind a veil of supposed civility will make sceptics think there is something going on behind the scenes.

These forums and the search conferences are full of folks trying to figure out how to game search results, how to pay for better listings, you name it. For legitimate marketers, ODP's importance in its heyday meant being caught up in a silly queue behind all manner of jerks and idiots. The process was just not thought out well enough. Of course many categories are well edited. I'm sure I would have done a good job if I hadn't been rejected all those times. But keep in mind I could have remained utterly anonymous and snuck in somehow. Randfish admitted he "went rogue"! How many others have done the same?

Yes, dmoz is good in a lot of categories. Yay dmoz! Does this make you happy?

People are free to say whatever they like, it seems to me. Absolutely, innuendo should be challenged. But dissent shouldn't be surpressed either. I was pretty much run off a well-known forum a few years ago for wanting to discuss GoTo.com's promotion of click fraud. Now everyone talks about click fraud like they just discovered plutonium.

Dissent is essential in a democracy. Although I believe it may be against the rules within the Hierarchical Democratic Republic of Dmoz.
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Old 06-02-2005   #17
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Dissent is essential in a democracy. Although I believe it may be against the rules within the Hierarchical Democratic Republic of Dmoz.
That is DRoD to you Andrew

I agree absolutely with your post (except for the Hallmark bit. My life is trite and annoying just like a Hallmark card).

IMHO, if anything in this thread is "bashing", then I guess we all just have different views of what bashing is.
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Old 06-03-2005   #18
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Originally Posted by andrewgoodman

Dissent is essential in a democracy. Although I believe it may be against the rules within the Hierarchical Democratic Republic of Dmoz.

It is against their rules. As is any legitimate argument well at least on their forums that makes mockery of what they believe to be a well thought out venture.

Granted bashing the ODP is old hat....still listing a legitimate entity in ODP...well your right Old hat too....its still <snip>

I shall never waste an opportunity to express only but the following:

Quote:
When your prententious, don't understand the job you're doing, and/or your just a plain <snip> as a good portion of CatagoryMODS/Editors @ ODP are...Here's a tip: the ODP's decline started when you use un-professional people to do un-professional things.
The ONLY reason the ODP has been able to hold together is that impressive "perceived value". I'll bet turnover amoung ranks is huge and the "Perceived Value" keeps n00bs rushin right back in. "Oooooo SectionEditor"

"Yo its a rotten Carrot Folks"

Last edited by Marcia : 06-04-2005 at 03:47 PM. Reason: Inappropriate.
 
Old 06-03-2005   #19
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I guess I'm with Marcia on this one, unless she includes criticisms as "bashing". Bashing does occur from time to time, but not as often as might be thought. There was a disgraceful couple of threads in one forum not all that long ago, and there have been others through the years, but "bashing" really isn't all that common around the forums.

Criticising DMOZ, or any other 'entity', is perfectly acceptable, and shouldn't be prevented. Google gets a *lot* more of it than DMOZ gets (kctipton, please note ). The difference is that Google doesn't respond, whereas there are always some DMOZ editors who are all too ready to respond. Unfortunately, they sometimes respond with an attitude, which really doesn't help anything. Such an attitude appears to be on show even in this thread.

cbp is probably the best editor that I've seen in the wars. In those 2 threads that I mentioned, he conducted himself impecibly, but it was wasted effort because it was just a frenzy. And yet I've criticised him in this forum for something that I believe merited criticism. Rationally debating, criticising, and speaking against (and for) certain things that do or do not occur in DMOZ is wholly acceptable, imo, but outright "bashing" is not.
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Old 06-04-2005   #20
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Quote:
The ONLY reason the ODP has been able to hold together is that impressive "perceived value". I'll bet turnover amoung ranks is huge and the "Perceived Value" keeps n00bs rushin right back in. "Oooooo SectionEditor"
As it was very clearly stated in the first post, this thread is NOT about ODP. This thread is *deliberately* in the Padded Room and not the ODP forum because it is NOT about ODP per se. It's about people's behavior in forums - particularly mud-slinging and personal attacks that are in no way productive.

Last edited by dannysullivan : 06-06-2005 at 06:11 PM.
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