The Open Directory

Children, Taxes, In-Laws… Why is it that some of the most frustrating things to deal with in life are also the most important?

The Open Directory ( is similar. Its vital to get your website listed by them, but it can also be a long and remarkably annoying process. OD is an important website in its own right but it’s results are also used by Google, Yahoo, AOL, Netscape and other large companies. Getting accepted means a search-engine ranking boost across many large websites.


The OD was founded because so many people were frustrated with the bad job Yahoo were doing of listing websites. Originally, the OD was called “Newhoo” and aimed to be an idealistic, volunteer-run directory.

Why does is have such a strange e-mail address? Well, the name "dmoz" is a combination of "directory" and "mozilla". Mozilla is a new name for the old Netscape browser that was popular in the 1990s. Netscape took over the project at an early stage and they themselves were subsequently swallowed up by AOL-TimeWarner. Yesterday’s “Open” and small start-up is now part of a corporate giant.


Getting your website into the Open Directory is a hit-and-miss process.

Unlike Google, Yahoo and MSN which use computers do the job automatically, OD listings are maintained by editors. Some will simply concentrate on adding new listings. Others will check ones that have already been accepted. This editing process is the strength and the weakness of the Open Directory.

Although you can make a website submission there is no way to track its progress, to find out whether it has been accepted or rejected, or to find out why a particular decision has been made. Your website is entirely at the whims of the anonymous editor in charge of your category. Has your biggest competitor become the editor of your category and have they decided to block any application you make? There’s no way to find out. The OD does have a system for reporting abuse but it does not help its reputation by keeping so much of what it does hidden from the public. The web is full of frustrated people who want more clarification about how why their website or editor application is falling short.

Having said all that, one of the first things you should do when marketing your website is head over to and click on “Suggest URL” in the top-right corner. It may take anywhere from 2 weeks to several months for your site to be listed (or not) but over 5 million websites are in the OD and there are nearly 600,000 categories (enough for everyone). If you can deal with children and taxes, you can definitely survive the OD.

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