ZOMDir > Blog

Monday, 24 February 2014

There is a hole in this blog

Today I discovered that there is a hole in this blog. Between 26 february 2012 and 26 july 2014 I have posted nothing. There was a reason for that. I was working on the real site ZOMDir.com and was afraid that someone will pick-up my ideas and realise it earlier than I was able to do it.

Now I think that it is a silly idea to keep your mouth shut for 17 months. So I want to catch up and tell a lot more about the ZOMDir project.

The first idea

The first idea was formed in the summer of 2010. I have found some sketches I have made that summer and scanned it. Here is the first one.

The first thoughts about what is now ZOMDir.com

From this sketch it is very clear that I believed that it should be possible to create a better directory than DMOZ.org. At the upper left corner you will see that at that moment in time there where 17 campings in the Dutch province Zeeland. At the same moment I have logged around 70 campings in Zeeuws-Vlaanderen (which is a part of Zeeland). See this page and this page

At the upper centre you see that I wanted to use the database of Google App Engine.

At the upper right you see the initial goal. I wanted to create the Dutch DMOZ/Yahoo!

At the middle right you see that I want to use the salamander as logo, and some brainstorming about names. Recently I checked salamandir.com and mandir.com (formerly the names I loved the most). Both are still for sale. Salamandir.com could nowadays be yours for $1795. 

At the lower right you see the initial structure of the URL and a note that I want to show Google Ads when there are at least 20 links at a page.

At the lower centre you see that I believed that the optimum number of links on a page is 7 till 40 and that I want to use social media to let the world know that a link is added.

At the lower left you will see all the stuff that I wanted to collect of a website. I wanted to warn the owner of a site by mail when the link was changed. You see also that people should be able to judge a link.

At the middle left you will see that it should be a smart Wiki and that there shouldn't be a (human) moderator. 

In the middle you will see the initial title wjijw.nl. As far as I can remember it was a short way of saying "What you want". It was the initial title because "wjijw" is a palindrome. Due to the fact it wasn't international enough it didn't make it.

The results

A lot of the first ideas are realised. 
  • I think that all the Dutch campings are linked at ZOMDir.com. In Cadzand (a village in Zeeland) there are 12 campings nowadays. See: Campings, Cadzand;
  • I have used Google App Engine and the associated datastore; 
  • The initial goal is the same. I still want to gain ground in the Netherlands first;
  • The salamander is indeed the logo;
  • The structure of the URL is almost the same as initially conceived; 
  • Currently there are no ads at all, ZOMDir is programmed that efficient that it isn't necessary yet;
  • I used to tweet the results of Website Quality at a Glance, however at a given moment of time something changed and the tweet functionality was broken. See https://twitter.com/wqaag, so I didn't thought of tweeting from ZOMDir.com itself;
  • I collect as less information of a website as possible, the URL, a text and a description is enough;
  • ZOMDir.com is indeed a smart Wiki. Links are added or refused without a human moderator;
  • The owner of a website will not be warned by e-mail when something changes, instead a subscription to a feed is possible.
So for me it was very helpful to trust my thoughts to the paper. It took some effort, but the result is there.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

About humans and bots

ZOMDir is a human edited directory. Everyone is able to edit almost everything. Texts, subjects, locations and of course links. As a consequence everyone is also able to remove a link. This is very powerful in the flight against linkrot.

Due that linkrot is a huge problem there is an automatic link removal tool. Once in a while links are tested. When the linked webpage doesn't response normally, the link will be removed directly.

Such a tool seems to be necessary. For example DMOZ.org has pmoz.info and Robozilla to fight linkrot. 

Recently I learned that Wikipedia use bots to fight vandalism. For ZOMDir that isn't necessary yet, however I will add an anti vandalism bot on the product backlog with for the moment a very low priority.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Linking is the essence of the Web

Recently I read an article of Gerry McGovern called "Content Paupers". In this article Gerry used the phrase: "Linking is the essence of the Web". My first thoughts were: 
  1. "Indeed", 
  2. "That is where ZOMDir is about" and 
  3. "I should ask Gerry if it is ok to quote him". 
So I asked if it is ok to quote him, and that was fine. So now you will find on English and Dutch pages without any link this image:

I hope it is an extra stimulans to add a link to the directory.