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Website of the Week — Open Directory

Time again for our Website of the Week, when we showcase interesting and innovative online destinations. Our web guide is VOA's Art Chimes.

Before search engines came along to tame the World Wide Web, users looking for specific information relied on directories like Yahoo, with categorized listings organized like a library: all the Chinese cooking sites listed on one page, programming utilities on another, and so forth.

A few years back, search engines — notably Google — leapfrogged over directories to become the main way of finding stuff online. But the directories never completely went away, and this week we highlight one of the most comprehensive.

KEATING: "The Open Directory Project is a volunteer-driven web directory that helps users navigate the Web. People from, really, all over the globe, contribute and edit categories in the directory and contribute links to really the quality websites across the web."

Bob Keating is Editor in Chief of the Open Directory Project, also known as DMOZ at

Unlike Google, which relies on computer algorithms to help you locate the information you want, Open Directory uses 75,000 human editors — unpaid volunteers — to make sense of the vastness of the Web.

Although there are times when a search engine will be your best choice; other times, Keating says choosing Open Directory will be a smarter way to find what you're looking for.

KEATING: "The web directory is good if you're looking to find information on a topic, and you just want to see what's out there, where a search engine is really most useful if you're looking for specific types of information."

In addition to subject categories, there are dozens of individual language categories.

Using volunteers makes Open Directory similar in some ways to a popular user-written online encyclopedia.

KEATING: "The editor-contributor model like the Open Directory is similar to what you find today with Wikipedia and these other types of projects that have user-driven content. And the Open Directory was a precursor to those projects in that it was meant to be scalable by making it open to the maximum number of contributors."

Editor in Chief Bob Keating of the Open Directory Project, which is owned by AOL through their Netscape unit. Check it out at, or get the link from our site,