How is the ODP being used today?

One of my tasks lately has been looking at the Open Directory Project, also known as

The ODP was started back in the late 90s as an alternative to the Yahoo! directory by Rich Skrenta. It sits between a typical publishing model (where writers and editors are employed by the publisher) and a user-generated content model where anyone can contribute and edit (like Wikipedia).

It was taking too long for sites to get into the Yahoo! directory, so the thinking was that by using volunteers you could build a directory faster. A distributed group of volunteer editors manually filter and categorize Web sites. Becoming a volunteer editor requires going through an extensive application process and being approved by existing editors. The resulting data is available for browsing using a category tree at An RDF file containing all the data is also available for anyone to use.

There are different ways to “use” the data:

  • As a consumer, you can go to and browse through 16 top-level categories. An adult category is also maintained, but not linked to from the main page.
  • Search engines like Google and Yahoo! sometimes use the ODP descriptions on their search results pages.
  • Search engines and researchers use the data to train their algorithms.

I’m curious how people are using it today. Are you currently using the ODP? Do you use it to find Web sites? Do you submit Web sites? How are you using the RDF file?


About Rakesh Agrawal

Rakesh Agrawal is Senior Director of product at Amazon (Audible). Previously, he launched local and mobile products for Microsoft and AOL. He tweets at @rakeshlobster.
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5 Responses to How is the ODP being used today?

  1. Pingback: Cmicblog » Blog Archive » Google sinon rien!

  2. geol says:

    hello, i’m french éditor, i use ODP to find goods sites in Sciences, not pollued by “politic”, in environnement, biologie, paléontologie, évolution, etc. Sometime, very goods littles sites forgottent by search engine are in Dmoz…

    Sorry for my bad language…


  3. astrozygote says:

    If you want more informations about how Dmoz is being used, here it is :
    The project was done by ODP editors.

    As an editor, I feel I am a user of ODP datas too.
    When I surf on the Internet, I wonder all the time if the information I am reading is valuable for our directory.
    I use directly Dmoz to find “topics” that I would not have thought before and I crawl the directory sometime randomly – like a squirrel in a tree – to broaden my culture.

    I consider this directory list websites rather than marketing products visible in a search engine query list.
    I have also the power to set my own algorithms to find the information manually – it is not the case in a search engine (they are complementary anyway).

    My feeling is that search engines will give more and more features found in a directory (like categorization) and a directory like Dmoz as probably much more to offer, with the help of a real partnership.

    Best regards

  4. Pingback: WebFlash » ODP et noms de domaines : la bonne affaire! - Blog et Discussions sur l’Actualité » Blog Archive

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