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So What Is Wrong With Editors Accepting Cash for Listings

Discussion in 'ODP / DMOZ' started by brizzie, Aug 24, 2006.

  1. #1
    Just flying a kite.

    There are a lot of accusations of corruption and abuse around this forum and they surround two things more than anything else - taking money for listings, and listing your own sites excessively regardless of whether they are technically listable. These two activities (except in one case) are considered corruption and abuse, punishable by removal.

    But there is a case to be made that says DMOZ has always been a money maker for editors and others involved. Totally legitimately.

    * the original founders sold the thing for money. No volunteer sentiment but a business transaction.
    * Netscape and AOL have their names on 600,000 pages - cheap advertising.
    * at least half of all editors join to list their own site(s), some of them going on to become editalls and metas.
    * Netscape/AOL employees have drawn salaries for editing duties in the past
    * Also in the past companies have been invited to nominate employees as editors to add specific listings.
    * Web designers, SEOs, webmasters, are all welcome to join and to list their sites and those of their clients. Whilst there may not be a specific fee for a DMOZ listing and they cannot advertise the fact, the quickest legitimate way to get a listing is to employ an SEO who is also an editor.

    Take that last category, SEOs and web designers who are editors, what is the real difference between using such a service where you're going to get a listing but they cannot say so, and using an editor who advertises $100 to list you but offers no other services. One will not even warrant a blink and the other will get removed.

    DMOZ has rules to deal with conflicts of interest. Editors can list their own sites, their friends' sites, their clients sites as long as they

    * don't exclusively list sites they are affiliated with
    * don't list inappropriate unlistable sites
    * don't cool their affiliated sites
    * don't favour their affiliated sites over competitor sites
    * don't remove valid competitor listings or reject valid competitor submissions
    * declare the affiliation
    * don't advertise DMOZ listing as a service

    Yet an editor who breaks that last point but sticks rigidly to the first six will be removed and branded corrupt. But it is no more corrupt, really, than the editor who doesn't advertise. Is it?

    Consider two scenarios and assume the site concerned is perfectly listable. A webmaster approaches an editor and offers $100 for a DMOZ listing. Either the editor accepts and is corrupt even if the approach was unsolicited and they follow all the rules above. Or declines and the webmaster sees their site and any related site banned forever. Second scenario, webmaster sees that an editor offers general web marketing services in some form, and engages their professional services for the low price of $100. The site is listed in a week and the editor has followed all the rules. Is it corrupt. Not according to DMOZ rules. The only difference is that a DMOZ listing isn't itemised on the bill. But there is no moral or ethical difference really.

    OK but what about editors who have no site of their own and no professional connection to the web industry. How many of those have given preferential review times to a site belonging to a friend or relative. Most if not all. Is it a problem? No, as long as they follow the same rules as the web professional who is also an editor. Even if the editor lists all competitor widget sites at the same time as their neighbour's on the same subject they have still given their neighbour a quicker review than they would have got had there been no connection with an editor.

    If you want total consistency in the treatment of abuse in this area then it should be deemed corruption to list any site you have any personal connection with. But this would eliminate virtually all editors. Or you allow editors to openly accept cash for listings and if someone want to set themselves up as a professional freelance editor no problem as long as they follow listing rules. Which completely undermines basic DMOZ concepts that all listings are free.
    SEMrush
    There is a flaw in the model somewhere and I can't instantly reconcile it.

    What is actually corruption when it comes to adding new sites, assuming they are listable. It cannot be accepting cash for listings in an Internet directory - most other directories accept cash and pay employees to do the listings. It isn't listing sites for clients, friends, family, and whoever else you want to do a favour for - as long as the site is listable and you follow the rules no problem at all. It must come down to advertising and/or accepting money specifically for a DMOZ listing, nothing else. Which seems to be a nominal rather than a real offence.

    I said assuming the site is listable - an important distinction. Adding a listable site, regardless of how it got there, serves DMOZ purposes. An editor who knowingly adds unlistable sites for reward or as a favour is always going to be corrupt as those listings damage the directory objectives.

    The underlying problem and cause of corruption allegations isn't that editors give preferential treatment to some but that it is an exclusive club shrouded in confidentiality clauses and secrecy, particularly when it comes to abuse investigations and decision. If anyone could edit and add their own listable sites, a lack of a listing would be laziness expecting others to do your marketing work for you. There would be no blocking or more likely simply ignoring competitor sites and the accusations of corruption, and the opportunities for editors to make money, would drop considerably. At the same time the numbers of listings would rise dramatically. The fault in this plan is the opportunity for vandalism, the influx of spam, and worse quality control issues than there are now.

    The only thing I can come up with is something like mandatory training and passing some form of test, say 15 hours logged training over a minimum of 3 weeks and you gain editing rights restricted to greenbusting for the next 3 weeks. That would put spammers off, too much effort, whilst allowing anyone willing to put in that effort to become an editor. No need to declare affiliations or worry about preferential treatment by editors - if they only want to add their own sites and they are all listable it doesn't matter, their competitors could do the same thing if they could be bothered. Which leaves deleting competitor listings and submissions to which the answer is that each has to be double checked by a senior editor. Even the deletions and rejections made in the first place by a senior editor.

    There are two terms - editor rights and editor privileges - both used interchangeably but they have very different connotations. In DMOZ the correct usage is privilege whereas maybe in a volunteer organisation that tips its hat at Open Source it should be a right. That it is a privilege perhaps contributes to the corruption allegations but also to declining editor numbers. And it is my answer to my own question. What is wrong with accepting cash for listings is that being an editor is a privilege not a right. Yet I still can't entirely reconcile that with the openly legitimate routes whereby webmasters can get a faster listing than their competitors via a personal or business connection to an editor. Maybe there is no way to reconcile it.

    Views anyone?
     
    brizzie, Aug 24, 2006 IP
    GTech likes this.
    SEMrush
  2. gworld

    gworld Prominent Member

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    #2
    Finally you are admitting that DMOZ is not based on volunteers but mostly people who are trying to benefit from being an editor which is a correct assumption at the present time.
    The flaw in your argument is that you can not believe that people will be actually interested in doing volunteer work without the need for financial benefit which is a wrong assumption.
    The golden rule should be that no one should list a site that they have personal connection with. Implant procedures that stop such abuse and open the doors to the REAL VOLUNTEERS. If anyone complains that DMOZ is too slow then ask them to join with open arm. ;)
    Obviously such open and honest volunteer organization will not be acceptable to current "senior" editors who see their editing privilege only as a mean for the economic benefits that provides them with. :rolleyes:
     
    gworld, Aug 24, 2006 IP
  3. nebuchadrezzar

    nebuchadrezzar Peon

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    #3
    My short answer would be that the decision as to list a site (or not) should be based on the merit of the site and not the depth of the site owners pockets. The ODP is the last major (or medium) directory in which listing has not become monetized. As soon as you go from free listing to pay for inclusion the content of the directory become slanted towards sites (usefully commercial) that are prepared to pay for a listing.

    I do have some concerns that the volunteer only model is sustainable in the long term.
     
    nebuchadrezzar, Aug 24, 2006 IP
  4. gworld

    gworld Prominent Member

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    #4
    Is it possible to become more monetized than already is? :rolleyes:
    The difference between DMOZ and other directories is the difference between legal economy and under-ground economy. Is it funny with all their talks about volunteer work, "senior" editors have no desire to discuss one thing that makes DMOZ a real volunteer organization, implementing procures that stops abuse. :rolleyes:
     
    gworld, Aug 24, 2006 IP
  5. brizzie

    brizzie Peon

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    #5
    Not true. I have two sites listed in DMOZ and did 23,000 edits. I don't think financial gain came into it, especially since neither listing has ever gained from the listing. But if I hadn't come across the editor link when submitting one site I would never have become an editor. If you haven't got a website you stand far less chance of coming across that trigger link. And the real trigger is you can list your own site. Without that then DMOZ would never have become viable and would have a fraction of the editors it has. Removing self-interest as abusive does not automatically mean closing DMOZ to other volunteers.

    That is one way of doing it, as I mentioned. The downside is that DMOZ would not have grown anywhere near as large without that trigger I also mentioned. The risk of misdeeds is the penalty for growth and without that growth DMOZ would have far less use than it does. People hide their affiliations anyway, you do or you would have been caught and ejected. It would simply encourage far greater suppression of affiliations. In a perfect world... but this is not a perfect world.

    It wouldn't be acceptable because it goes against the grain even though it is a nominal offence and inconsistent with the legitimate ways of listing affiliated sites.

    Which is one of the great strengths of DMOZ. Paid listings also change the nature of the project into a webmaster service with all that entails.
     
    brizzie, Aug 24, 2006 IP
  6. nebuchadrezzar

    nebuchadrezzar Peon

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    #6
    This shows the bizarre standards that you expect the ODP to follow. You expect that people who are experts on certain categories should join the ODP as volunteers so that they can help out, then as a result their sites will never be listed. Really, do you think that is a sustainable model?
     
    nebuchadrezzar, Aug 24, 2006 IP
  7. uranus

    uranus Peon

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    #7
    Well, I do expect them to list their own sites or affiliations. But they need to work on others sites too than to leave sites unlisted for months, I submited my over a year now, I know it does not take that longer to just approve a site. If their want to decline thats fine. Just let the owner know.
     
    uranus, Aug 24, 2006 IP
  8. ishfish

    ishfish Peon

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    #8
    That's not really important. The current model is not sustainable. The question is whether that model is more sustainable than the current one.
     
    ishfish, Aug 24, 2006 IP
  9. helleborine

    helleborine Well-Known Member

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    #9
    You'd need a fair an consistent pricing - by way of auction or a fixed price structure.

    Payments should be documented and made to the ODP and not to editors, to prevent editor fraudulently collecting money, to follow proper accounting and accountability procedures, and foster transparency.

    Editors should get a cut of the action.

    However - this assumes that an ODP link is worth paying for, and I am of the opinion that it isn't. Even if it is now, it may not be tomorrow. But that is another issue entirely.

    Would it help the ODP?

    I would say "no." I would say "no" because the only reason why webmasters attribute extra value to a DMOZ link has to do with a perceived favoritism by Google.

    When Google severs ties with the ODP, no matter what the "business model" will be, the ODP will die at the fastest rate of its entire history. And paid listings might simply hasten Google's decision to sever these ties.

    Google won't prop up the ODP forever. That is the problem.
     
    helleborine, Aug 24, 2006 IP
  10. sidjf

    sidjf Peon

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    #10
    Google isn't propping up the ODP now...
     
    sidjf, Aug 24, 2006 IP
  11. gworld

    gworld Prominent Member

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    #11
    Why their sites won't be listed? :confused:
    I said that it shouldn't be listed by the editor who owns it but other editors can list it based on the site merit. There are a lot of people who have a lot of knowledge and also interest in subjects that is close to their heart and a certain percentage of this people will surely do this as hobby with no financial reward. Let's have ten or hundreds of editors in each category instead of the club that it is now. the present system will force people to apply for categories that they have neither knowledge or interest and asks them to jump through the hops to become an editor. Who do you think will do this and work so hard, except those who are looking for the big profits on the end of the road? :rolleyes:
    As mentioned previously, such systems will not be accepted by present management, since honesty is a considered a bizarre standard according to them.
     
    gworld, Aug 24, 2006 IP
  12. netprophet

    netprophet Banned

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    #12
    yes you're right. But when they applied for editor or volunteer for that category they are not selected. they reject their application.
     
    netprophet, Aug 25, 2006 IP
  13. nebuchadrezzar

    nebuchadrezzar Peon

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    #13
    Gosh, there is an idea. I'm sure no one thought of that before. I've got another idea. We get a round thing, we put an axle through the middle if it and use it to transport things...
     
    nebuchadrezzar, Aug 25, 2006 IP
  14. gworld

    gworld Prominent Member

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    #14
    I think everyone can see by your postings that in order to be a "senior" DMOZ editor, you must have an IQ that is lower than room temperature. :rolleyes:
    The important issue that DMOZ refuses to deal with, is implementation of procedures that stops abuse or make it extremely difficult, so this vast resource of REAL volunteers can be admitted to DMOZ without any danger of abuse.
    But such procedures are not acceptable to DMOZ management due to the simple fact that it will also stops their abuse; therefore DMOZ can not use all these REAL volunteers that are available. ;)
     
    gworld, Aug 25, 2006 IP
  15. MattUK

    MattUK Notable Member

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    #15
    How about a pay per review model with no guaranteed inclusion? This would keep the quality sites aspect of the directory, while also cutting back on spam and repeated multiple submissions because of the fee?
     
    MattUK, Aug 25, 2006 IP
  16. brizzie

    brizzie Peon

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    #16
    Asking another editor to list your site because you cannot do so yourself is currently considered a corrupt practice.

    Your definition of real would result in far fewer, not more, editors. A significant proportion are already in the category of having no conflicts of interest. But as I pointed out, even the purist of the pure will no doubt have done a favour for a friend, relative, neighbour at least once, the favour being a quicker review rather than listing something unlistable.

    Two prongs. Firstly recognise that more or less every editor already gives legitimate preferential review times to their personal contacts and only advertising or accepting money for a specific DMOZ listing service is prohibited. Remove the prohibition because it is nominal anyway. Second, counter the negative effects by opening up the editor process whilst installing painful barriers for spammers such as mandatory training. If you have mandatory training and greenbusting plus double controls over deletions and rejections, then I think it is also possible to grant all editors much higher rights, maybe even universal editall. Submitters wait for a free editor, use the services of a "professional" editor, or join and list their site themselves, earning the right via training and passing objective tests. Free listings still remain available to all.

    Oh and I don't believe in official pricing. The directory listing is always free, it is only recognising and opening out the ability to receive editor favours in terms of a fast track review to those who don't know any. If you left it to the market then a fair price for a professional freelance editor would probably work out at around $10 a review and you could officially cap it at that. And maybe put professional freelance editors through some form of accreditation.
     
    brizzie, Aug 25, 2006 IP
  17. klown

    klown Peon

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    #17
    The problem with dmoz is obviously a lack of editors.. even if i submit a quality listing it wont be submitted for a year, that just makes dmoz out of date and shitty.

    Not just because it doesnt have my listing, but because it doesnt have mine and hundreds of others like mine.

    thats the way to go, donate the extras to charities, you would do a lot of good
     
    klown, Aug 25, 2006 IP
  18. minstrel

    minstrel Illustrious Member

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    #18
    Of course it is. Or more accurately, the mistaken belief that Google gives extra weight to an ODP listing is propping up the ODP. Take that away and the ODP becomes one more hobbyist's club and nothing more.
     
    minstrel, Aug 25, 2006 IP
  19. ishfish

    ishfish Peon

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    #19
    My friends, relatives, neighbors, etc don't know that I'm an ODP editor. I do not know of any friends, relatives, neighbors, etc that have websites. I do not own a website. I have never preferentially added a site for someone I know. I have never deleted a competitors website (it's a little hard when you don't have competitors). Does that mean I'm purer than the purest of the pure?

    Now where did I put that halo?
     
    ishfish, Aug 25, 2006 IP
  20. gworld

    gworld Prominent Member

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    #20
    I didn't say to ask someone either, simply add it to the submission line and an editor will look at it and judge it by it's merit. When you have larger number of editors for each category, the waiting time for such submission is insignificant and the editors site will be listed if it deserves a listing, so is everyone else's sites. ;)
     
    gworld, Aug 25, 2006 IP