The Open Directory Project

When it comes to locating valuable information on the Internet, you may come across terms like search engine or web directory. While both terms refer to platforms that help locate relevant information, there are major differences between the two. According to their site, the Open Directory Project is the largest and most comprehensive web directory available, but many people do not know what makes this site differ from popular search engines.

Most people are, or believe they are, extremely familiar with the major search engine Google. When you search for an item using this or a similar search engine, your results come from an index of pages compiled by searchbots, a piece of software whose main function is to crawl the web looking for new web pages. When a new page is found, the web crawlers scan the page’s content and transmit them back to the search engine’s indices for storing. When you then use the search engine, the results you receive are determined by the relevant keywords that the crawlers were able to identify in the web content. Each major search engine possesses a secret algorithm for determining which websites are considered to have better information.

The Open Directory Project takes a much different approach. Instead of using robots or web crawlers to find web pages, websites are submitted to human editors who control the content of the web directory. It is a completely free web directory that is maintained by volunteer editors from all over the world. There is no fee to submit a website to the directory and there is no cost to use the directory. And because it is a non-profit, there are no ads anywhere on the site. The design is very spare and free of any branding. It value is the actual content, and that is its design (although I do wish a more capable illustrator would volunteer to fix their dragon mascot).

The human editors play a very important role when adding content to the directory. Anyone can submit a website to the directory, and the editors will then review the sites before they are added. The editors also maintain the existing entrees to eliminate any spam or duplicate entrees, and to correct any spelling, grammatical, or punctuation errors.

There are plenty of benefits to using a web directory such as the Open Directory Project. Because real editors, not algorithms and web crawlers, control the submissions, some would say that all of the sites are going to contain unique content that has been submitted by a legitimate source, which has already been reviewed. A human expert is better at this than a software algorithm. The format of the results themselves may differ because the editor will often assign a new title and description that describes the content accurately, as opposed to relying on the source code within.

As the content of the Open Directory Project is compiled differently than it is within a major search engine, it must be reviewed differently as well. Whereas a search engine is useful for quickly finding very specific information quickly, the Open Directory Project is excellent for finding a series of websites relevant to a specific topic. For example, if you were searching for a listing of websites offering a specific service, the Open Directory Project can allow you to browse many different sites through their hierarchical structure of information. Once you designate your desired category, you can easily browse many different high quality relevant results in one place that have been reviewed by an editor.

If you’d like to give it a try, click here and let us know what you think. Do you think the Open Directory Project is a useful tool? And are you interested in submitting your site?

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