Site Selection Criteria
- Sites to Include
- Sites Generally Not to Include
Below are guidelines that directly relate to adding specific types of sites. These guidelines will help ensure that material added to the ODP meets the directory's goals.
Sites to Include
The ODP's goal is two-fold: to create the most comprehensive and definitive directory of the Web, and to create a high quality, content rich resource that the general public considers useful and indispensable. In short, editors should select quality sites and lots of them.
Consider the relative value of a resource in comparison to others information resources available on your particular topic. Relative value refers not only to the quality of the site, but also to its ability to contribute important, unique information on a topic.
In general, ODP editors should enter sites that represent the following:
- Original, unique and valuable informational content that contributes something unique to the category's subject.
- Contrasting points of view on major issues. The ODP attempts to cover the full breadth and depth of human knowledge, representing all topics and points of view on those topics.
Editors should consider the following for each site:
The site should have working links and content rich subpages. Links should not bring up 404 pages or subpages with no content. If a web site is still under construction it is not a good candidate for the Open Directory.
Sometimes sites may have broken links, poor design, or other "quality" issues, yet present information that is difficult or impossible to find on the Web. Consider adding these sites to the ODP. Even with some flaws, if the content is rare and unique, the site may be considered very useful.
Can you see which person or entity is responsible for it? Does it give enough information about the source for a user to judge its reliability? While we cannot assess the accuracy of every site we list, we can select sites which give verifiable information.
For example, the site of a trustworthy business or organization typically displays its official name and address, or includes industry-appropriate information about itself verifiable through a recognized third party. A trustworthy informational site typically gives its authorship and/or sources, as appropriate, and makes clear any commercial sponsorship. The information necessary to verify a site's trustworthiness will vary depending upon the topic and the category.
Remember, no site is guaranteed a listing in the Open Directory, and we depend on editors to use their own discretion. In short, we ask that editors maintain editorial integrity, keep the ODP's broader goals and mission in mind, and always employ good common sense.
Sites Generally Not Included
Since the ODP attempts to be comprehensive and all inclusive in scope, it is sometimes easier to talk about the sites we don't include rather than the sites we do include. This section provides the types of sites the directory does not include.
Affiliate Marketing Schemes
What Does "Affiliate Marketing" Mean?
Revenue sharing between online advertisers/merchants and online publishers/salespeople, whereby compensation is based on performance measures, typically in the form of sales of products and services, clicks, registrations, or some other hybrid model. There are four basic types of affiliate sites: Affiliate Links, Sites Consisting Mostly of Affiliate Links, Affiliate Reseller Sites (aka Fraternal Mirrors), and Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) Independent Representative sites.
Why Doesn't the ODP List These Sites?
It's not the business model we don't like. It's the mirrored and duplicated content. For example, suppose you have a company offering data storage products and services. They have exclusive resellers who provide a front for selling their products and services. While the reseller sites may be designed and written differently, their content and aim are exactly the same. Adding sites with the same content or that point to the same place are not unique or useful.
Guidelines for Specific Types of Affiliate Site
- Affiliate Links
- This is an affiliate relationship based on clicks. Affiliate links are URLs for a commercial site that usually, but not always, include an affiliate or referral ID in the URL, such as AffiliateID=19555&ProductID=508. The person whose ID is in the link gets a commission from anyone who buys from the site after following that link. Affiliate links should never be added to the directory.
- Sites Consisting Primarily of Affiliate Links
Sites consisting primarily of affiliate links, or whose sole purpose is to drive user traffic to another site for the purpose of commission sales, provide no unique content and are not appropriate for inclusion in the directory. However, a site that contains affiliate links in addition to other content (such as a fan site for a singer that has interviews and photos plus banner ads and links to buy the singer's CDs) might be an acceptable submission to the directory.
General rule of thumb: Look at the content on the site, mentally blocking out all affiliate links. If the remaining information is original and valuable informational content that contributes something unique to the category's subject, the site may be a good candidate for the ODP. If the remaining content is poor, minimal, or copied from some other site, then the site is not a good candidate for the ODP.
- Affiliate Reseller Sites (aka Fraternal Mirrors)
- Fraternal Mirrors have the same basic content, but usually different designs. Fraternal mirrors are harder to spot because the sites are designed and written to appear different, but a careful examination will reveal they offer the exact same product or service as another affiliated company. The are usually set up by merchants as affiliate, reseller, or lead generator sites. For example, sites which sell products or services provided by another company and make a small margin on the sale are affiliate mirrors. In general we do not list affiliate sites unless the affiliate has strong, high quality content of its own that end-users will find really useful.
- Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) and Pyramid Schemes
Multi-level Marketing (MLM) is a system of selling in which sales people may receive compensation in two ways; from sales of goods and services to consumers and from the sales made by other sales people recruited into the plan.
You may list the domain for the corporate site, however, you should not list independent representatives or distributor sites. For example, only the main Metabolife should be listed in the category Business: Opportunities: Networking-MLM. Metabolife representative sites should not be listed anywhere in the directory. You may come across a personal page that includes information on one's activity in an MLM program. If the thrust of the site is not to peddle products from an MLM program, then the site might be a good candidate to list.
If you discover an independent representative site listed in the directory or you find them in your category's unreviewed queue, send them to the appropriate category under: Test: Affiliates: Networking-MLM (e.g. Metabolife rep sites should be sent to Test: Affiliates: Networking-MLM: M: Metabolife: Independent_Representatives).
Sites for "pyramid schemes," "chain letters," or "money games" should not be listed as they may violate the U.S. Postal Lottery Statute (18 U.S.C. § 1302). The World Federation of Direct Selling Associations defines a pyramid scheme as being a "scheme in which a recruit pays (an entry fee) for the opportunity to receive future benefits (money or privileges) which are primarily derived from that recruit's (and/or subsequent recruits') introduction of additional participants in the scheme, rather than from the sale of products to consumer." Please see the WFDSA site for more details.
Identical mirrors are sites with the same content but accessible by two different URLs. For example, http://ch.dmoz.org/ is a mirror of http://dmoz.org/. You would list http://dmoz.org/ but not any others.
Sometimes identical mirrors are created to ease the load on the main site. Try to determine which of the mirrors appears to be the original site, and list that one, if it is not already listed. Then remove the remaining mirrors.
Determination of the original site is not always obvious. Sometimes the URL is listed on the site itself, sometimes it is evident from the URL. In some cases, the original site will automatically redirect to a mirror (this occurs to ease server load, as mentioned above).
Redirects and "Cloaked" URLs
A redirect URL points to a page that will redirect your browser to a completely different URL. An automatic redirect will immediately redirect your browser if you click on the URL, or type the URL in your browser's address bar. Sometimes you may come across a redirect page. Redirect pages area sometimes set up when site is moved to a new URL. You should never add automatic redirects or redirect page links to the directory.
If URL cloaking is being used, the target page will be displayed in a full size frame, so that the redirect URL is kept in the browser's address bar and the real URL of the displayed page remains invisible. Cloaked URLs are sometimes called "vanity URLs." Some well known vanity URLs include: come.to, welcome.to, go.to, surf.to, listen.to, fly.to, move.to, jump.to, run.to, and talk.to.
Cloaked URLs such as "*.to" and "*.at" sites should be reviewed carefully. Do not add the cloaked URLs. Add the real URL instead.
Sites with unlawful content should not be listed in the directory, particularly those intent and substantially focused on making available and distributing illegal materials. Examples of content that is illegal in most jurisdictions include child pornography; material that infringes on intellectual property rights; material that advocates, solicits or abets illegal activity (such as fraud or violence) in specific instances; and material that is libelous. Factual and how-to information is generally NOT abetting illegal conduct unless its intent is to facilitate the immediate commission of a crime in a specific situation.
Some nations outside the US may seek to exercise jurisdiction over websites available to users in their countries. Such jurisdictional claims may extend to websites like the ODP that merely list and describe other sites. Editors should therefore comply with the laws of their own jurisdictions regarding the activity of listing various types of websites. If the act of listing a specific type of site in your jurisdiction could be considered illegal, then you should not list it, and leave it for someone else to review.
Following these guidelines, editors should not use terms for subcategory names that would incorrectly suggest a category contains links to illegal content (e.g., "Warez" or "Bootlegs") or advocacy of illegal activity. Similarly, ODP descriptions should not suggest that a listed site will help users commit illegal acts or obtain illegal content (e.g., pirated software or music), as such descriptions could incorrectly suggest an intent by an individual editor or the ODP to promote the commission of such acts or distribution of such materials.
The evaluation of the potential illegality of a given site is often difficult and requires case-by-case review, particularly in cases of copyright and trademark infringement. We don't expect editors to be legal experts or the Internet police. Editors should consult with ODP staff about all legal issues. The ODP staff reserves the right to delete or modify site listings at their discretion.
Site Listings Including Search Results
Site listings should take the user to a specific page. It is bad form to create a search results set and list the set as a site. Entries should not consist of search results from other web directories, dmoz.org, or generic search engines. In some rare cases there may be listings that consist of search results from specialized content sources, but this is not encouraged. Under no circumstances should dmoz.org search results be listed as a site entry.
Sites devoted to the sales and distribution of a single product should be avoided if they are affiliate sites or if the site is merely a distributor for a manufacturer already listed in the Directory. The purpose of the ODP is not to replicate the individual listings of an online shopping catalog. However, individual product sites offering substantial information, tips, advice, and usage information for consumers are generally acceptable.
Site Listings as Notices
Site listings should not include notes or messages meant for editors or submitters - be they official or personal. Though well intentioned, these notices are compiled into the ODP RDF dump, which is used by many different search companies. Notices lose their meaning and context with downstream data users, and thus only confuse the searcher.
Spider Food, Lead Generators and Content Mills
Spider food websites are intended for consumption by search engine software which spiders the web to index pages. Their purpose is to increase the perceived importance of another website by their links to it, so promoting that site in search engine rankings.
Lead generator websites aim to gather information from visitors by means of email forms, to feed to a business or businesses represented elsewhere on the Web.
Content mill websites prominently feature advertising for other websites and any content is typically assembled from other sources. These websites are not designed to be an end destination themselves but instead to shuttle visitors to other websites.
These sites may appear to be unique, content-rich, informational sites, however the content is typically copied or slightly modified from reputable sites, or has been autogenerated or manually produced but lacks any real substance. They typically lack any sort of authentic and credible statements of responsibility. The existence of advertising, links or email forms is not by itself damning. These all appear on many listable websites. It is the combination of such features and the absence of authorship and/or other verifiable information which characterizes such sites.