The first step to starting a new website is adding your URL to the Open Directory Project (or DMOZ…it’s original domain name was directory.mozilla.org). DMOZ is one of the backbones of the internet. Getting your website into this PR 9 directory means being listed and categorized into the web’s largest portals, including Netscape Search, AOL Search, Google, and Alexa.
The Open Directory Project is written and run by volunteer editors, much like Wikipedia. As a Wikipedian, I am immediately sympathetic to the challenges DMOZ faces, and the often thankless work of the volunteer editors who typically approve some 20,000 new URL’s per month.
How Can We Help?
The first thing to keep in mind is that unpaid editors around the world are working pretty hard at an unglamorous job so we internet users can find our websites. Zach submitted ValueWiki.com to DMOZ in August 2006, and we are still patiently waiting. It is a bit frustrating to be 55,072 on Alexa, and still not be listed in Alexa’s directory. And 8 months is a good wait when the DMOZ FAQ claims the waiting process may be “2 weeks or more” (although in fairness, I suppose this is accurate).
Become an Editor
If you want to become a part of the solution, you can become a DMOZ editor. This is a pure act of open-source internet altruism. There are no time requirements, and you can think of it as your monthly internet Karma shot.
For what it’s worth, think of the power a DMOZ editor weilds, as sites like ValueWiki patiently wait in the balance. There are rumors of sites taking major search engine page ranking boosts just by being listed in DMOZ. So DMOZ continues to be an integral right of passage in a new website’s development.
Open Source Internet
I am not sure how much the general public is aware the internet runs on open source projects. Personally, I am still learning more about this every day. I expect to blog more about this in the coming weeks.
Update: For what it’s worth, as I write this, 55% of poll responders on Digital Point Forums will sign a petition asking Google to stop using DMOZ.