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The End of DMOZ

DMOZ, or The Open Directory Project, that uses human editors to organise websites has closed. This marks the end of a time when humans, rather than machines, tried to organise the web and the announcement came via a notice that’s now showing on the home page of the DMOZ site, saying it closed on March 14, 2017.

DMOZ was born in June 1998 as “GnuHoo,” then quickly changed to “NewHoo,” and was set up as a rival to the Yahoo Directory at the time. Yahoo had faced criticism as being too powerful and too difficult for sites to be listed in. DMOZ was soon acquired by Netscape in November 1998 and renamed the Netscape Open Directory. Later that month, AOL acquired Netscape, giving AOL control of The Open Directory.

Also born that year was Google, which was the beginning of the end of human curation of websites. Google bought both the power of being able to search every page on the web with the relevancy that was a hallmark of human-powered directories. As the web developed at a rapid rate, the demands of a human edited directory meant that these sites quickly became outdated and obsolete. However, DMOZ did go through a phase of being a resource used by Google and many companies tried to get listed, usually unsuccessfully as the number of editors on the site declined.

Yahoo eventually shifted to preferring machine-generated results over human power, pushing its directory further and further behind-the-scenes until its closure was announced in September 2014. The actual closure came in December 2014, with the old site these days entirely unresponsive. DMOZ continued, even though for marketers and searchers it had also long been mostly forgotten as a resource, so the only surprise in this news is that it took so long to close!

DMOZ will live on in one unique way – the NOODP meta tag. This was a way for publishers to tell Google and other search engines not to describe their pages using Open Directory descriptions. While the tag will become redundant, it will also remain lurking within web pages that continue to use it for years to come.

If you’d like more information about DMOZ and the recent closure, please get in touch.