26 Oct 2005

Psssst — GIVING away DMOZ Editor Accounts!

Last week there was a big stir in the SEO field when SEO Black Hat put a listing on Ebay, selling a DMOZ editor username and password to an unknown PR5 category in DMOZ. The ad was shortly pulled from eBay, and he was also sent this letter from Ebay suspending his eBay account.

I found it very interesting in reading the threads and the news about this “blackhat” deal that people were willing to shell out a lot of money to become a DMOZ editor. 

Before I tell you about those DMOZ editor accounts that are being given away, let me give you some personal thoughts on DMOZ. To start with, I think DMOZ is highly overrated. DMOZ may have been a bigger factoring to rankings in Google in the past, but I doubt that today it’s worth any more than any other link of equal value – that is to say, I doubt that just because you’ve got a link from DMOZ.org that that’s treated different than any other link. There’s lots of people who haven’t changed with the times and are mistaken into thinking it’s a magical  factor to ranking high in Google.

SEO via DMOZ is very 2002 – 2003ish, What’s “related” but more 2005ish is getting links within Wikipedia….remind me, I’ll have to do a “How to help Wikipedia’s information” post.)

So, on to the title of my post “Psssst — Giving away DMOZ Editor Account” – that got your attention didn’t it?

Guess what…it gets even better…. Would you believe that you, yes YOU, could become a DMOZ editor for Free! I shit you not! Why spend thousands on eBay, when you could get listed for free? Once you’re there, yea, you can improve the organization of DMOZ, or you can try to harm your competitors….that choice is up to you once you’re in (and will factor into how long you stay an editor).

How to get to be a DMOZ Editor for Free

 

Short answer: You Apply at DMOZ  – that’s the old fashioned way to become a DMOZ editor.

Let me show you how. (be forewarned, it’s might get a little “grey”).

Know off the start that you’re getting advice from someone who got banned from DMOZ in 2002 for having 2 editor accounts, and each year I write an apology and ask to be allowed to edit again, on their special page just for people like me (“I was a spammer, let me back in form“), but for some reason (um…maybe they know I’ve been known as a “DMOZ Rule Breaker” to them, but I didn’t spam in my categories (from what I can rationalize as “spam”).  I may be banned, but I’ve helped several of my employees over the years to become DMOZ editors (so they can make the web a better place).

OK, for best results, read this ALL first, THEN submit. 

Education:
Start by reading this page on DMOZ about Becoming and Editor.  As it says,

All you need is an interest or passion and a computer

But also keep these quotes in mind from that same DMOZ page. 

we seek people who have a genuine interest in building a directory that is free of commercial interests and favoritism

and

 “(DMOZ) is a community of volunteers who altruistically devote their time and subject expertise to give back to the rest of the Web community. Editors edit for the love and fun of it in the spirit of fostering a free and accessible Web.

We all know the above is not always true in the “real world of DMOZ”….but believe me, if you’re applying to be a DMOZ editor, keep the above quotes in mind. 

I know that most of you want to really be an editor of the category where you’d like to get your website listed at. In the back of your mind you’re thinking “As an Editor, I’ll add my site of “interest or passion” (cough cough).

On this DMOZ page called “Become an Editor at the Open Directory Project” they say

“If you are a webmaster or associated with any website, please disclose this on your application.”

To that, I’ll give this advice: I don’t believe that DMOZ wants people who smell like SEO’s or site owners. After all, aren’t they many of the corrupt ones.  I personally wouldn’t use your site as one of the site’s you’re submitting when you apply. Keep in mind the DMOZ quote

“we seek people who have a genuine interest in building a directory that is free of commercial interests and favoritism

OK, now let’s jump right to the “Job application” for being a DMOZ Editor (an example page for Applying to be a DMOZ editor). 

Notice the paragraph on the top. Again they tell us:

…We do not bar editors with business affiliations, since those editors with their own sites usually know their competition and related sites better than anyone. This knowledge can be ideal for helping build an authoritative directory….

If you believe that, I’ve got a bridge….. I believe that this is a trick. It’s there to trick you into saying “Yea, I own this site” so they can turn you down. Maybe I’m wrong….but it’s what I believe.

DMOZ also doesn’t want people who are applying to just get their site listed and to never return. They want prospective editors whom appear to be people who will submit good quality sites, and whom appear to want to help with organizing DMOZ. If you appeared to be the local college professor who just wants to make the web a better place and has lots of spare time on their hands to do this for the “interest or passion” of your “genuine interest”, your chances are much better than if you appear to be the local SEO who’s going to destroy their competitors in DMOZ and corrupt the category.

Bonus information: Read this thread on cre8asiteforums about Applying to become a DMOZ editor.

If by great luck, you do become editor of “that special” category, you’ll want to wait a few months before “giving back to the web community” by offering your great resource site of your interest….which you just so happen to might own.

Keep in mind that DMOZ recommends that for a first time editor that you apply to be an editor of a “small category”.

Getting to become editor of your “perfect category” is often not going to be possible because they might not be giving openings, or they might be “too big” of a category for a new editor. 

An easier place to become an editor is by applying to a local category. If you’re in the USA, start HERE, if you’re outside USA start HERE , and drill down to some places that you are familiar with (only click on link that have “Regional” in the URL.)

If you go this route, and you think you’ll be able to one day get control of your “choice” category, you’re right….but not for probably after several months or years…and only then only if you’ve showed that you’ve cleaned up your current categories, and added many new great resources, and didn’t do anything that looked crappy. Then you could apply for your main category choice category again.

You could also go for your real hobby because, as DMOZ states, “for the love and fun of it in the spirit of fostering a free and accessible Web.”. That’s one way to get to be an editor, and that’s a cheaper and better than getting some bling category you won in an eBay auction. Might as well have something you know about so you can have “more fun” updating the category to look like a good active Editor, so you can move up in the DMOZ world of editing.

Ok…let’s move back to the example DMOZ Editor Application again.

How to Fill out your Application to be a DMOZ Editor

 

Question: Choose a “Display Name”
Put in something that sounds very “resourcey” here’s some examples off the top of my head “ProfessorSam” “LibrarianSue” “GrandmaJane” ya know…not “SEOwizKid” or “ISellThistoo”

Question “Email Address”
Make sure you don’t give your “bob@ISellThisToo.com“…again, a nice “professorSam@yahoo.com” or something of the sorts.

Question: Have you ever been an ODP editor before?
If you say “yes” I’d bet your chances are lower of getting accepted….it’s never worked for me personally.

Question: What is your Internet experience? - 
Tell them how you’ve been surfing for years, and you appreciate the use of things like DMOZ to organize the web, and you’ve used it often in your research, and you see some areas that could be made better….bla bla bla.

A blackhat might say to write about how you helped organize your college databases in organizing all sorts of stuff on this stuff (the category you’re applying for).

Question: Why are you interested in volunteering to be an editor for the ODP?  
You know, you just want to help organize the web, and hey, DMOZ is a great way to do that.

Question: Explain your interest in the subject of the category for which  you are applying to edit:
A blackhat might some something like say you’re a professional (but you don’t profit from) or it’s your hobby (that you don’t profit from)..you do this for fun and you love organizing this stuff…..don’t ever say “I want to get my site listed and remove my competitors and keep my competitor out”.

Question: Sites with which you are associated:
If you think you’ll be made an editor if you tell them that you own a store in that category, my thought is that you’re wasting your time.

A blackhat might say to put in something like: http://www.law.harvard.edu/library/ (I’m the head librarian at Harvard and I organized the online library) and http://www.asmweb.org (I’ve served on the board and do some web work each year for them organizing information inside there).

Submitting 3 sites to DMOZ

You are going to plan on submitting 3 sites.

Even if you just want to get your site in DMOZ, and have no desire to become an editor, you will still want to submit 3 sites.  If you just want your site listed (and not be an editor) you will find 2 other relevant great resource for your category, and you will submit all 3 to DMOZ. (I’ll explain why later below).

Finding the Category to list your site:

Keep in mind that directories like DMOZ want sites listed in the lowest relevant category possible within the tree structure…keep drilling down when researching where to get a site listed. One you’ve have some fun drilling up and down DMOZ, and doing searching and exploring all different tree branches”. (tip: listing with @ in them mean that it’s following a different “tree path” (watch urls in links)).

Keep in mind that not all pages are open to apply to (most smaller categories are open). Look at the footer of the page you’re on, and if it says  “Volunteer to edit this category.” then you can apply – even if there’s already an editor in that category – you’d “share” “responsibility” of the category.

If you’re just trying to get your site listed (not asking to be an editor), be absolutely sure you’re submitting to the best most relevant category for your site (bounce all around the tree structure to make sure you’re submitting to the best most relevant category for your site). If the editor sees that you’re not submitting to the right category, don’t expect them to find where it should go and list it there, expect they’ll delete your request. 

Finding a Category – If you want to be an editor. 
OK – here’s the hardest part – Choosing a category. Get this wrong, and your application will be trashed in an instant.

If you’re applying to be an editor, be sure you get a category that has 10-50 sites listed in there already, and be prepared to do at least 20 changes and submissions before you’ll ever have a chance to move on to gaining more categories that you can edit. You’ll need to show that you cleaned up and made your area bigger and better than it was previously. Don’t make the mistake I once did of getting your first category to be one that you can’t greatly add to, or improve. If that happens, you’ll never be able to get another category to edit (and might resort to trying to get a second Editor account which you can be kicked our for doing – I know from personal experience). 

When you find a category you want to list your site it (or manage) be SURE that the sites you’re going to suggest to that category are in THE most relevant category to that site’s topic.

Bounce around to all related topics, and run searches in DMOZ paying close attention the the categories that the top sites are located in to double check that that’s the most relevant category for the site you’re submitting.

Now, where to find the 3 sites to submit to DMOZ. 

Remember, our goal is to find 3 good sites for submissions for your chosen category – if your site is one, that’s OK (provided you’re NOT trying to be the editor of that category – see part one to this article).

Keep in mind that DMOZ usually, but not always, will list just the homepage of a site. Unless there is a great content laden page, or a “separate” section of a website dealing with that “topic” DMOZ will usually just accept the homepage.

Here’s some ideas to find sites that should be listed in your chosen category:

Search the YAHOO directory (see top of tree structure on the left side) to find sites that are listed in the Yahoo Directory, but not in DMOZ. Be sure to try not to include stores, but rather “resource” types sites. 

Search the Zeal Directory (non commercial Looksmart) – (Warning, Zeal loads slower than shit on a cold day…so bear with feeling like you’re on slow dial-up while surfing Zeal.) to find good resources in Zeal that aren’t in DMOZ.

Search Google for “site:.edu keyword keyword” to find good college resources pages for your directory category.
(will be a subpage listing URL)

Search Google for “site:.gov keyword keyword” to find good government site papers on your category topic.
(will be a sub page listing URL)

Search Google for your categories topics to find good “resources” that aren’t in DMOZ. I stress, Resources, not Stores.

Now, be sure that these sites aren’t already in DMOZ. The method I use is to go to the Google Directory and search “therootdomain.com” and see if that page is listed in the results. 

—–

What to put in the TITLE area of the DMOZ submission form

This is an easy area, there is usually no debate as to what the “title” is. Go to the page and look at the logo and grab the company name in the logo (if you’re submitting a homepage).

If you’re submitting one of those .edu’s or gov’s or other internal great resource page, then you’ll fill in the Title with the name of the article or the name of the page. 

A blackhat friend of mine used to make sure that the company logo would include keywords until their site was listed, when they’d change it back to the regular company name. 

If the name of the site is “Bob’s Widgets” then that’s the Title you’ll fill in…nothing else, no debate here.

– on a side note: keep in mind that this could effect how Google shows your sites listing (see this related thread, and the second comment by plumsauce.

Hey, you can get your title borked for free at dmoz.org, but only if they decide to include you to begin with.

This doesn’t always happen in Google search results, but it sometimes does.

What to put in the Description area of the DMOZ submission form

When you write the sites description, keep in mind that you must write it in a clear and concise statement without hype or promotional language.

The best advice is to look around at for examples of how to write your description is to look at the other listings in your category, and in the categories above you in the tree structure and study how the descriptions are written. Short and concise without the hype.

When you’re submitting your site you’ll want to include keywords in your description like “Site offers keyword keyword, keyword keyword, as well as keyword keyword.”

Why find 3 sites to submit?
If you’re trying to be an editor, then start by submitting 3 great ole sites, not your own. If you’re submitting your own site, then submit 2 other sites first, and then submit your site (but do all the submissions the same day) and monitor them for inclusion to see if the editor has seen the suggestion for your site. If the editor included one of the other sites you submitted that day, but not yours, then you know you’ve been turned down, and you should move on to another category.

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That’s it – Yes, You too can become a DMOZ editor, for what it’s worth. If my advice was of help, and you become a DMOZ editor, let me know, I’ve got a site somewhere that’s just perfect for your category 😉