One of the Finest Posts on Dmoz - Ever

9 comments
Thread Title:
No sleep 'till DMOZ (- a sorry tale of abuse)
Thread Description:

This is one of the finest, most eloquent posts i've ever read on the whole silly dmoz business - these threads come up on a monthly basis, in some places, a daily basis, but the cre8 boys and girls have been having an absolute field day with this one and tucked away back on page 7 or something ridiculous is this gem from Black_knight, aka Ammon Johns.

I've posted most of it, but there's a fair bit more and you should really check out at least this one post if not skim the whole thing for the juicier mayhem contained with in. Get a load of THIS:

It is indeed good to have the input of so many of the 'upper echelons' of DMOZ editing personnel. Thank you.

It could only be better if the discussion was a little more two-way. So far it has mainly seemed that we have on the one hand webmasters (we for whom DMOZ is not) talking about their experiences, and on the other hand the editors (who are in fairness rather limited in what they may say, both due to DMOZ editor communications policies, and by nature of peer pressure within DMOZ) mainly saying that our opinions are not valid because we are webmasters and not the audience, and because it does not come through the proper channels of a form email to staff that bypasses the front-line DMOZ editors entirely.

The 'proper channels' that kctipton007 encourages us to use - the email to staff - is a closed channel that usually ends in the ignore or bin folder. There is absolutely no openness in the correct channels, and if you ask Keith himself honestly, he could not tell you whether this whole matter has already been sent to staff a thousand times in the last month and binned.

The staff email is much like contacting any other editor. They won't usually deign to reply, not even to confirm receipt. Hard to believe that they invite your email and then just ignore it? Not at all. That is the DMOZ way of doing things.

They invite submissions that they apparently do not want. Invite email they definitely have no intention of dealing with. You're missing the point. They make the invitation only to be polite. They don't want you to actually use it. It is only there so they can continue to claim to be open. In fact, the Free Masons are far more open to outsiders than DMOZ.

Why does Keith tell us to use the staff email then? Because it is policy. Because it makes problems go away. It passes the buck. It puts all the responsibilities on far-away shoulders that are even more isolated and insular. It puts the matter firmly behind closed doors where the meta editors don't have to face any tough questions or criticism.

It's a very weird system in today's world.

It also shows just how 'open' the open directory really is, where even the meta editors are unable to react to criticism, suggestions, or anything at all but praise of the status quo.

It is kind of like the ancient times before trade unions where those who ran business automatically dismissed the thoughts of those who worked there because they only worked there. "Your opinions are not qualified". Or perhaps "If you think you can do better, go and start your own".

Any psychology student can tell you what this really means. Its the classic case of power assertion. "We're in power, and you're not. If we even acknowledge your opinions, we undermine our authority. You may see that we're not a divinely appointed class above. You'd only question more of our edicts. We can't have you know that, so we dismiss you and tell you your opinions are worthless. If we're really lucky, we might even convince ourselves that this is true."

That factor only becomes more pronounced when the power is illusory. The junior manager who has no authority is often the one who is hardest in bringing what authority he can make you think he has down upon you. He'll argue the rules harder simply because he doesn't want you too see that he doesn't even have the authority to change them. Often not even to suggest changing them.

Its all classic stuff. It is remarkable how much of this thread seems to so closely resemble those classic cases.

Of course, once such blinkered, short-sighted, preservation-of-class-distinction was removed from (most) workplaces, there have been huge steps taken in worker-lead efficiency improvements. Better products made by a more satisfied and involved workforce. Even products invented by the workforce.

I mentioned how this had happened with respect to customers as well as workers earlier, with my references to the development of the field of Marketing. Organizations that learnt to pay attention to their markets (not just customers, but the people who were not customers but were in the target group - those with a need or interest) have done far better than those who stuck to the old snobbery that the customer is just a mark.

If anyone thinks that what is shown in common in these two movements (paying attention to workers and paying attention to markets) is purely a lesson for commercial ventures then they are seriously missing the point.

What are pilot TV shows? They are shows made to test audience reaction. What are the TV ratings all about? Measuring audience attention and volume. Why do most blogs have comments fields? To garner audience feedback.

Getting suggestions, thoughts, and even criticism from an audience is known to be vitally important to improving the quality of experience provided to that audience. Commercial or not. Well, not known to DMOZ perhaps, but known around the world elsewhere.

Take a look back through this thread - back to the first ten posts. It was a discussion of Peter's directory, only incidentally covering any issues with DMOZ. It is DMOZ editors that turned this into a discussion of the problems and failings of DMOZ, and then DMOZ editors that bemoan it turning into such.

Peter built a directory, and took the gambit that it would not be accepted into DMOZ to enhance the perceived value of his directory. He pointed out after 24 hours that he had no idea what if anything was happening to his DMOZ submission, as opposed to the promise that any and every submission made to his directory would be dealt with within 24 hours. Not always listed, for sure, but you'd know one way or the other in 24 hours.

The case could have closed there. But it didn't. Rich Skrenta saw the ploy and decided to process Peter's submission himself. It still took eight days, but even so, it turned the joke on Peter somewhat, and showed that Rich still had a fine sense of humour. Sure, he was probably wrong to use DMOZ as the tool of that humour, but it made DMOZ look far more responsive and intelligent than it had for a long time previously.

It could have ended there but for the fact that Peter went one better. He took advantage of a group of white-hat supremacists. he got them all fired up over him getting listed, so that they then went on the warpath and turned the whole thing into a hugely out of proportion debate over the ethics and abilities of Rich Skrenta. In the end, they managed to get Skrenta demoted - the man who built DMOZ was no longer trusted by DMOZ. The greatest own-goal in all the history of own goals.

So again, it could end there. Yay to Peter, master of manipulation and marketing, who turned it all around again. Being delisted proving that his directory was better for commercial webmasters, that DMOZ was a little crazy and, on a more personally satisfying level, that Doug is incredibly easily manipulated.

Peter looked good, DMOZ looked as bad as usual, and we could all have gone on as before.

Didn't he do well? heh..

Comments

Awesome. Hard to comment afte

Awesome. Hard to comment after that beautiful summation.

10 stars!

10 stars!

The whole thread has some ver

The whole thread has some very points I think, I doubt anything will come of any of these comments though.

Shucks

Thanks for the mention, Nick. Even though discussions on DMOZ are more than just common, this one did turn out to be just a little more even-handed than the majority. Editors came as close as they easily can to admitting certain problems (though naturally still downplay how important those problems are) with changing policy, communications, and that many of the editors most vocal in forums are thought to be, er, let's say 'less than helpful and authoritative', even within DMOZ.

Those interested in balanced views of DMOZ may be particularly interested in the wikipedia entry about DMOZ - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ODP - especially the section on Policy and the section on Criticisms. It is interesting to note how Wikipedia itself is probably the closest thing to what the ODP was orginally supposed to be.

white-hat supremacists

This post is also noteworthy for coining (as far as I know) the expression 'white-hat supremacists', which I've already seen repeated a couple of times since it was posted. I predict that it will catch on.

WHS

Yeah! I got it from there and have already used it once, it's a wonderful invention - so apt :)

ODP Bashing Goes Mainstream

. . . Of particular interest at Crea8site Forums is the clear and concise criticism
proferred by XODP Editor theknight (aka "The Black Knight," aka Ammon Johns). . . .

hehehe

Yup, a moment of inspiration there, and oh-so-apt, I just had to use it once it came to mind. So much better than the Klooless Klutz Klan ;)

>white-hat supremacists wo

>white-hat supremacists

wonder if doug is using AdWords yet...

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