The hot topic of the week is Jeremy Shoemaker, aka Shoemoney, being extorted by a Dmoz editor.
Newbie note: DMOZ, also known as the Open Directory Project, is a moderated directory of web sites. Due to its weight with Google and other search engines, being listed is considered very valuable.
Shawn Collins decided to look into the situation and was pointed to a DigitalPoint post Jeremy made way back in 2005 — “if anyone seriously does know a dmoz editor pm me ill pay there lame corruption fee to get in the dmoz… I dont like it but I want to be listed.” Another blogger (who hit the front page of Digg) had his Dmoz editor account banned after posting a note questioning Shoemoney’s removal.
Most Dmoz editors are web site owners, or promoters, themselves. Shawn Collins said that he applied for his Dmoz editor account after having trouble getting a site listed. This is a conflict of interest to Dmoz’s integrity. Editors are blocking the competition as well as collecting cash in exchange for listing sites. The system is broken and has been justly exploited.
What can be done? Easy. Add transparency.
Just like Wikipedia, all edits must be made public. Additions, deletions, times, dates, and ip addresses. Real names and faces must be assigned to the editors. Whether an identity is real or fake, the reputation behind that identity takes time to build up. This minimizes corruption. Directory categories need to be open to all editors.
Does Dmoz even matter anymore? Between millions of blogs, Wikipedia, Digg, and forums, is there not enough timely social media to far outweigh a single directory? Perhaps, yes. However, Dmoz still remains a valuable internet property. Just like real estate, without maintenance and renovation it can fall into slums.