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DMOZ: Open Directory Project

Category Features

Alphabet Bars

Use alphabet bars to organize sites as a last resort. Generally, editors should use them sparingly because they are not easy for end-users to navigate. Examples of when alphabet bars may be useful include collections of hundreds of URLs or @links that cannot easily be subcategorized, such as artist names and authors. Editors often find it useful to consult with fellow editors to determine if an alphabet bar is the best choice for subcategorization.

To create an alphabet bar, click on the "Make an alphabar" link on the category edit page. This tool will guide you through the process of creating the alphabet bar and placing sites under the correct letter.

Sort Priority

Subcategories and @links may be grouped together in 2 or 3 sets. Horizontal lines separate these groupings. Each group is separated by a horizontal line.

Using Sort Priority

Sort priority should group similar categories together in a logical and intuitive way. Sort priority can be used as an alternative to creating an additional layer of subcategories. Sort Priority is meant to list the most popular or frequently visited subcategories near the top of the display. It is also used to separate two different aspects of a category. Sort priority is usually not useful in a category that does not have many subcategories, because splitting them into two or three groups will not really change the appearance of the category. Keep the end-user in mind when sorting categories, as this tool is meant to help them browse and navigate the Directory.

Setting Sort Priority

If others edit your category, make sure you've discussed your ideas for sort priority with them before setting sort priority.

To set the sort priority for your category, click on the "Set sort priority for subcategories" link on the category edit page. Use the radio buttons next the category names to specify how subcategories should be sorted.


Also known as symlinks, @links point to categories that could serve as subcategories of the current category. Symlinks are distinguished with the @ at the end of the category name. There can be many @links in a single category. @links are mixed in with the subcategories. A new subcategory that might duplicate the entries of an already existing category should include an @link to that category. Having more than one category with the same listings means more work for editors and a less useful directory for users.

Example: Arts/Performing_Arts/Magicians@ - This @link leads the user to Arts: Performing_Arts: Magic: Magicians. Thus, the Magicians@ category in the example is @linked to Magic/Magicians and Magic/Magicians is @linked from Arts: Performing_Arts.

Creating @links

To add an @link in a category, go to that category's Edit page and click "[Add @link]" at the end of the list of subcategories. Use slashes to separate categories in the path to the category you want to link to, and replace any spaces in the category name with underscores ("_"). On your editing page, an @link to a category that you do not have editing privileges for will appear in black (since you can't edit in that category).

Editing Tip: You may copy the category title like this, "Top:Computers: Internet: WWW: Searching the Web: Directories," and then paste that title into the "Category" blank in the form. Most systems will copy text by using the command "ctrl-c" and paste copied text by using the command "ctrl-v." The software automatically translates colons with spaces to forward slashes and spaces to underscores. This is much quicker and leaves less room for error. The only thing left to do at this point is to exclude the word "Top:" in the link, as the system will not recognize the category string if it is included.

Deleting @Links

The "delete link" button next to the @links on the editor page is not an instruction that the link needs to be deleted. If you accidentally click on the "delete link" button (or you wanted to delete an @link but then changed your mind), click on the "Back" button on your browser. Currently, clicking either "Confirm" or "Cancel" on the deletion request page will cause the @link to be deleted. By clicking on the "Back" button, you can ignore the delete request.

Related Categories

Related category links point to categories on connected topics in other areas of the ODP. There should only be a few related categories in each subcategory. Often a reciprocal link between two categories will be set up as an @link in one direction and a related category in the other direction.

Creating Related Categories

To create a related category link go to your category's edit page and click [Add/remove related Open Directory categories] and type in the category names.

Note: @link and related category link requests can be made through editall and meta editors, should you not have editing rights in a category where you think an @link or related category link would be useful. Each category has a forum thread devoted to these types of requests. The thread is usually titled - Rename/Delete/Move/Sort Requests. Do not insert @links or related category links that lead back to your editor bookmarks. The editor bookmarks are personal workspaces, and are not meant for public view.

Category Charters and Guidelines

On the category edit page, item "3. Edit Category Charter" allows you to add a category description, submission notice, and editing guidelines specifically for your category.

The Category Description section is for editors and Web searchers to learn more about your topic and the scope and purpose of your category. You can view the category description by clicking on the "Description" link on the upper right side of your category's public page.

A good category charter ...

The Submission Notice section is for people submitting sites to your category. This section can be viewed when someone clicks on the "Add URL" link on your category page. A good submission notice includes all the aspects of a good category description, plus it:

The Category Guidelines section is for editors only. If you are adding category guidelines, other editors in your category should agree to them before they are posted in this section.

The ODP Guidelines apply to every branch and category of the directory. Editors in some top level branches of the ODP have created their own set of guidelines that are meant to complement these general directory-wide guidelines. Category guidelines provide instructions for handing unique taxonomy and ontology issues relevant to the category's subject area. Please note that category specific guidelines should never contradict anything in these guidelines, and nothing in the category guidelines supercedes the ODP Guidelines. A repository of links to category specific guidelines and FAQs are maintained at Computers: Internet: Searching: Directories: Open_Directory_Project: Policies_and_Procedures: Editing_Guidelines.

Category FAQs

A category FAQ is a way for you to provide information to users and editors in a question and answer format. A category FAQ should contain information about your category, and offer answers to issues regarding scope and content. The same guidelines for creating a good category charter apply to creating a good FAQ.

ODP Staff may alter category charters and FAQs at their discretion, particularly those that may violate official editing and submission guidelines.