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