Applying for New Categories: Advice and Guidance
- Choosing a Category Based on Experience Level
- New Application Checklist
- Application Tips
- Reasons for Denying Requests
- Reference Sources
Getting approved to edit a new category is easy if you take the time early on to learn the editing guidelines. We seek to promote editors who have a record of adding quality to the directory. The ODP benefits most from having as many good editors as possible with permissions to edit in broad and diverse areas. If you add quality sites and lots of them, then you will be systematically granted higher and more diverse editing privileges. This document provides some advice and guidance that will help you in getting additional editing opportunities. It also provides a basic overview of the "do's" and "don'ts" of editing.
When you apply for a new category, the quality of your current categories and your edit history will be evaluated. When reviewing your editing history and statistics, please keep the following in mind:
- Every application is evaluated individually. Remember, this document is not a set of prescribed rules. It's only advice.
- Your application will be reviewed by a meta editor, category moderator, or on rare occasions, a staff member.
- The most important factors considered are the quality of your editing and expertise, rather than the quantity of edits you have done.
- Quantitative editing statistics vary in significance. Editing numbers are important because they give a representative sample needed to most accurately determine the quality of your editing. Editors may be accepted to high level categories with less edits; and editors with thousands of edits may be rejected for low-level categories.
- Editing stats reflected in this document refer primarily to additions of new sites and edits to reviewed sites. The quality of new adds and current category listings are very important.
- Your editing stats should reflect the ability to
- Add a number of quality sites with good titles and descriptions. You should not show favoritism toward your own sites or sites with which you are affiliated.
- Resolve dead links, remove spam, affiliate links, and other types of sites we don't list
- Move inappropriately listed sites to the appropriate categories
- Clean up any existing site annotations, such as spelling errors, obvious hyped descriptions, etc. Remember, site descriptions should not read like sales pitches and online advertisements. They should objectively describe content and subject matter.
- Keep up with new submissions
- Organize sites into an intuitive taxonomy that doesn't duplicate other areas of the directory.
- Prepare useful and informative category charters (if lacking)
What type of editor are you? Approval of your application is dependent upon the quality and diversity of your editing as well as your experience. This section gives some good advice about choosing categories appropriate for your experience level. Editing statistics presented are not absolute requirements. They are presented to give you an idea of the rough sample size needed to qualitatively assess your edits.
A "Beginner" is generally someone who has one or two small categories, and is still learning the basics of the directory and community. As a beginner, it pays to develop good editing habits early. You'll save yourself from doing extra work if you do things correctly from the start.
- Before applying for a new category, you should have made at least 20-30 total edits, and should have added several new sites. This gives a minimum representative sample for us to gauge your understanding of the editorial guidelines.
- Your edits should include a number of new adds so we can get a sense of your ability to select quality websites relevant to your category.
- Many websites look nice when you first load them, but have no content beyond the first page, or are full of broken links. Be sure to look past the first page before adding or editing sites in your categories.
- Clean up the categories you edit. Remove spelling errors and obvious hype from descriptions.
- Every site should be consistent with the directory guidelines, whether or not you added some sites to the category.
- Consider applying for categories that are related to the subject of your current category. Consider applying for a category one level up, or at the same level in the hierarchy.
- Apply for categories one at a time. Get each category into top-notch condition before moving on to the next. If you are unsure about the quality of your edits, ask for constructive criticism from an editor in a parent category or in the New Editors forum.
- If you receive a category and do not edit in it, than you probably won't get approved for an additional category. If you decided not to edit in a category previously granted to you, then resign the category before applying for a new one.
- If you are approved for a category with another named editor, contact the editor before making any changes to the category's taxonomy.
- If your category has subcategories, you do not have to apply to edit these subcategories. Your editing privileges already extend to these subcategories.
An intermediate editor is someone who has gained experience in 2 or 3 medium sized categories. By now, you should know the basics of editing. You should have a solid record of adding quality sites. The listings in your categories should be current and relevant to the scope of the categories. All site titles and descriptions should follow the guidelines.
You should consider broadening your editing abilities by either taking on larger categories, particularly those near the top of a main category, or editing related subject matter across the directory.
- Consider building a specialty. Apply to edit in categories across the directory that are related to your interests (e.g. If you edit in Arts/Crafts/Textiles/ consider applying for Business/Industries/Manufacturing/Textiles_and_Nonwovens/ or Shopping/Crafts/Fiber_Arts/). This will allow you to become familiar with the nuances of editing in other areas, and give you a better overview of the directory’s bigger picture.
- Alternatively, consider gaining responsibility for a top-level node (e.g. Sports) or a very large second level category. At this stage, it will help if you continue to apply for categories up the tree or across the node (if you edit in Sports/Baseball, consider applying for another Sports category).
An advanced editor is someone who has obtained a relatively high level of experience in diverse areas of the directory. Advanced editors may have experience in one large category, several medium sized categories, or a mixture of both. Remember, edit numbers alone will not necessarily get you approved for higher permissions. The quality of your edits and the diversity of your experience are the most important factors.
Consider taking on larger categories within the areas you edit. If you have limited yourself to a single node, consider applying for the top level or larger and more complex second tier categories. If you have edited in a number of categories across the directory, consider picking one area, and apply for one of the largest categories. While becoming an editor of a large category is not a requirement for further permissions, it exposes you to several opportunities and will lead to a better understanding of larger directory issues. Editing experience in large or more diverse areas is helpful in getting permissions to edit anywhere in the directory.
While some “advanced editors” have several thousand edits or even tens of thousands of edits, getting denied for a new permission is not uncommon. No matter how experienced you are, you will only be considered for the uppermost tiers of top level categories if you have some experience in the hierarchy for which you are applying. So, if you have 3,000 edits, and are listed near or at the top of Business and Shopping, you won't necessarily get approved at an equivalent level in Regional. However, if you have amassed a few thousand edits, and want to branch off into other areas in this manner, you should consider applying for “editall” permissions. Also, you can have tens of thousands of edits, but if you have a record of poor editing, poor communication, an inability to work cooperatively with others, and do not appear conscientious about adding quality sites with good titles and descriptions, then you probably won’t get approved for any additional permissions until you have demonstrated improvement.
Finally, remember to clean up your dashboard. If you are named to categories where you are no longer actively editing, including top level categories, please resign from them before applying for additional categories.
Before you apply for a new category, take some time to make sure that the categories you edit are in good shape and consistent with the directory guidelines. Some categories have additional guidelines governing their content. Other areas with very specific guidelines include Regional, Kids and Teens, and Adult.
This may seem like a lot of work, but getting approved for a new category is actually very easy if you remember to:
- edit fairly, objectively, and never abuse
- take time early on to learn the editing guidelines, and show that you can follow them
- use common-sense judgment
The condition of your categories provide the best indicator of the quality you are adding to the directory. Here are some points to review before you submit an application for another category.
Link Quality and Organization
- Have you been adding inappropriate sites to your categories, such as mirrors, redirects, affiliate links, and spam? Are there any of these kinds of sites listed in your category? If so, get rid of them.
- Have you listed sites that are too broad, too narrow or otherwise not directly relevant to the scope of your category? If so, find a more appropriate home for them.
- If you have created subcategories to organize your sites, does the ontology make sense? Are the category names appropriate and informative? Do the subcategories duplicate categories existing elsewhere in the directory? Errors of this type will likely result in the denial of your application.
- Have you cooled your own site? Cooling your own site or ones with which you are affiliated is not permitted.
Quality of Site Annotations
- Have you reviewed the directory guidelines, and checked the quality of your site annotations? Please review and correct the entire category, not just your own edits. If it is a large and complex category, review the parts in which you actively edit.
- Do the sites in your categories have inappropriate titles? (i.e., all capitals words, exclamation points, or "Welcome to" and "Home Page" phrases.) If they do, fix them even if you didn't add them.
- Are the sites well described? Each description should provide an objective summary of the site's contents and subject matter, not a sales pitch, online advertisement, review, rating or personal opinion. Every site should have a description.
- Do the descriptions follow basic rules for spelling, grammar, capitalization, and punctuation?
- Are any URLs indexed more than once in your category? Generally, a single URL should be listed only once in a branch.
- Are you following any special guidelines and standards that apply to the categories you edit? For example, the Regional guidelines, or the Music/Bands_and_Artists standards?
Communication and Conduct
- Have you received any warnings about repeated poor editing or abuse? You won't be approved for additional categories until you demonstrate improvement.
- Do you get along well with others? Do you have your co-editors complaining and asking for mediation? Do you ignore email from your co-editors when they ask why you changed things in the category? Do you ignore email from senior editors when they try to mediate a situation? Have you initiated major changes to your category without discussing them with your co-editors? If so, please wait to apply until you have demonstrated that you can be part of the "team."
The application for a new permission is pretty self-explanatory. However, here some helpful tips that will increase your chances of getting approved.
Choosing a Category to Edit
Some areas of the directory have few editors and significant room for development. A neglected corner of the directory can allow you a tremendous opportunity to stand out as a good editor. No matter how experienced you are, you are more likely to be approved for categories that need help.
If you are applying to an area of the directory where you have little or no experience, it's always best to start small. This is particularly true when you are applying to edit in:
- A new language.
- A hierarchy unrelated to your prior experience.
- A part of the directory with specialized guidelines.
- A part of the directory with unusual submission problems.
- A part of the directory with particularly complicated taxonomy.
Give a brief reason for wanting to edit the category. You don't have to come up with something clever and profound here. Just share your interests. If there are special circumstances, then please state them. For example, some editors join to clean up or organize a category. If you are applying in response to a 'help wanted' thread be sure to note that in the "reason" area. If another editor has suggested that you request a category, name the editor. If you are applying to clean up a poorly edited category, please note that with your application. Please include specific examples of the problems you intend to correct.
Please give any affiliations you have with any site that may be listed in the category or one of its subcategories. By affiliation we mean a site that belongs to you, your employer, your client, etc. It is important for you to be honest. Just because you have a self-interest doesn't mean your application will get denied. You'll only be denied if you show favoritism, and you will be removed if you have been dishonest about your affiliations and favored these listings.
Provide Sample URLs
Part of the application process is to provide proposed URLs with sample titles and descriptions. Please provide all requested information no matter how experienced or qualified you are. The provision of URLs allows us to
- Evaluate your understanding of the scope of the category.
- Review your understanding of any specific rules that may apply in the new category.
- Reflect on your understanding of the general editorial guidelines.
The following are common reasons why we deny requests for new category permissions. These factors are listed in order of importance.
- You are adding sites we don’t list in the ODP or those of very poor quality.
- You are deleting perfectly good and useful sites without any reasonable explanation.
- You are adding sites that are not directly relevant or out of scope of the category.
- You are adding sites to a subcategory that are already indexed in the parent category.
- You are creating categories that duplicate those which already exist elsewhere in the directory.
- Your edits frequently contain spelling, grammatical, or other typographical errors.
- Your titles and descriptions are not consistent with the directory and category-specific guidelines.
- You were recently denied for the same category, and there is no obvious change in circumstances since the time of that denial.
- You are unable to work well with co-editors, particularly in matters of category management (e.g. you have made major organizational changes without their input).
Your application will be denied, and you will risk reduction or loss of editing privileges, if you:
- Demonstrate self-serving editing. (You have cooled your site, you are manipulating descriptions by deleting keywords from competition or keyword padding your own or an affiliate site to improve search ranking, or you are deleting good, valid and working URLs that belong to competitors).
- Demonstrate click-through editing: you are adding links using meta tag information, or show that you never bothered to review the site you are listing.
- Create vanity categories to highlight your own website or serve your own interests.
- Mirror another portion of the directory because you don't have permission to edit there.
- Add non-English language sites in English language categories rather than sending them to the World/ hierarchy.
- Add English language sites in the World/ hierarchy, or add sites to World/ categories with English language descriptions.
- Add Adult sites outside of the Adult branch (the Adult Guidelines define what's included in the Adult branch).
- Delete necessary/appropriate @links (symlinks) or related category links from the categories you edit without the consensus of other affected editors.
- "Collect" categories - i.e. you have a lot of subcategories on your dashboard, even though you edit the parent category, or are holding onto categories where you no longer edit.
What to Do if Your Application Gets Denied
- Review the checklist above and the common reasons for denying an application. Take a second look at your category.
- Every effort is made to send you feedback giving reasons for denying your application. If you need additional feedback, contact the meta or catmod who processed your request. If you look at your request log (e.g. type in http://www.dmoz.org/editors/log/requestlog?editor=username - substitute username for your editor name; there is a link to this in your editor side profile), you will find out who accepted/rejected you for a category.
- If you aren't getting a response from the person who processed your application, post in the "I got rejected. Why?" thread in the Meta-Editors' forum.