SeekOn Search Service

DMOZ Open Directory Closed

The Open Directory Project for 19 years has been operating a human-edited web site directory at the domain The directory has 3.8 million listed web sites and accepted listings without charge. Open Directory is a world-wide effort and has directories in more than 15 languages. AOL, which now owns the domain and controls the sites operating with that domain name has announced that DMOZ has been closed as of 3/14/2017.  Ownership of a directory may have interfered with business relationships between AOL and search engines.

In addition to operating a public directory at that web address, Open Directory provides their web site listing information on a no-fee basis to many users including SeekOn. The SeekOn directory (, which specializes in providing information about local web sites in small towns in North America uses a small amount of Open Directory data although presented in a very different and we think more useful format. SeekOn also directly accepts listing requests for its human-reviewed directory.

Search engines have indeed largely supplanted directories especially for people who know fairly precisely what they are looking for: “Bill’s Café in Naples FL.” If you would like to see a list of restaurants or other activities of a certain type (with verified links) in a small town a directory is much better. Search engines still struggle to provide good machine-generated site descriptions. In addition, search engines have difficulty with spam and still present users with many links leading to useless or irrelevant sites.

Search engines are natural enemies of directories, and in what has to be a grossly anti-competitive practice, attempt to scare web site owners and developers away from using directories with vague threats to downgrade their search engine rank. So far this effort has been rather spectacularly unsuccessful and 3.8 million sites are currently listed on Open Directory. Claims that directories somehow interfere with search engine operation are bogus as explained here.

The existing Open Directory data is in the public domain and many existing volunteer editors would like to continue the effort. There are now several proposals for replacing the AOL servers and the software and infrastructure issues for building a directory from the existing public database are minor. We can therefore expect to see directories and specifically some version of Open Directory continue, possibly with a better format design. SeekOn is cooperating with and offering suggestions to groups proposing an Open Directory replacement.


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