Wednesday, February 21, 2007

ODP/dMOZ - In Memoriam, Once Again

While I occasionally mention ODP/dMOZ in a historical context, particularly so in reference to Wikipedia inheriting whatever creative genius ODP once had, I wrote off ODP quite some time ago. Indeed, I had almost written off Web directories altogether until I stumbled upon Robert Barger and Brian Prince at Search Engine Strategies 2005 and discovered that they and others like them had successfully reinvented the concept of indexing communities. Even so, when enough people find some meat on ODP's rotting horse carcass, I write yet another post-mortem on the topic.

Notwithstanding a dismissive post that I wrote on the XODP Blog on June 19, 2006 entitled Will ODP Ever Die?, my last extensive post-mortem on ODP was posted on the XODP Blog on March 23, 2006, just under a year ago, so I guess it's about time for yet another one. To this end, Robozilla posted a brief message on the XODP Yahoo! eGroup pointing to a post on Richard Skrenta's blog from December 16, 2006 entitled, DMOZ had 9 lives. Used up yet?. I'm sorry that I'm so late in getting to the party, but better late than never. In any event, the horse has been dead for quite some time and has been hoisted up on a rope and hit so many times that it's beginning to resemble a piƱata, the difference being that there's no candy on the inside of this beast.

For those of you who are unaware of the recent drama over at ODP, here's a pithy excerpt from Skrenta's blog:
"Apparently the machine holding dmoz in AOL ops crashed. Standard backups had been discontinued for some reason; during unsuccessful attempts to restore some of the lost data, ops blew away the rest of the existing data on the system.

"So for the past 6 weeks, a few folks have been trying to patch the system back together again (reverse engineering from the latest RDF dump, I suppose).

"dmoz doesn't exactly operate on a model of transparency, to say the least, so they have been keeping the details of what happened private. . . ."
I first became aware of this drama when the ODP article at Wikipedia (which is still on my Wikipedia watchlist) started to see some really weird edits. Given what I know of the inner workings of AOL, I gave ODP about a 50/50 chance of disappearing from AOL, the way that Disney's Go Directory and Looksmart's Zeal directory disappeared, with the ODP editor community reconstituting itself in one form or another on one or more websites using one of the not-so-recent ODP RDF dumps. I also anticipated that Richard Skrenta and Jimbo Wales would step up to the plate and offer whatever assistance they could. But for the fact that someone over at AOL took notice of Skrenta's blog post, that's what would have happened. As it now stands, ODP's systems have been more or less restored to the status quo ante, for better or for worse.

With the exception of a very small handful of true believers, most of the people who have ever had any dealings with ODP are either very apathetic about it (i.e., me) or have a very negative opinion of it. Many people would like to see ODP completely extinguished, but the ongoing ODP RDF dumps and resulting ODP clones that currently populate the Web make that an impossibility. The best case scenario is one where a white knight like Jimbo Wales would be allowed to give the current ODP a new home.

More than one person with the resources to make it happen (not Jimbo Wales) has asked me if I would be interested in spearheading an effort to reorganize ODP, the last time being about a year and a half ago. And my answer has always been, "Sure, for the right price. However, if you have those sort of financial resources, there's quite a few other projects that I consider more worthwhile." And that really is the problem with ODP. With the rare exception of someone like Jimbo Wales, the only people with the wherewithal to salvage what's left of ODP are either totally disinterested, totally clueless, totally in denial, or totally corrupt. Moreover, while AOL does not seem to be interested in revitalizing ODP, it is dead set on making sure that no one takes it away from them.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

June 2007. Dmoz has been offline for 48 hours. It's about time the dinosaur meets extinction.

Sunday, July 08, 2007 6:41:00 AM  

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