The Open Directory Project that uses human editors to organize websites, otherwise known as DMOZ, is finally closing. This closing marks the end of that period of time when humans tried organizing the web.
The news came in an announcement via a notice that’s being shown on the homepage of the DMOZ site. It says that it is going to be closed as of March 14, 2017:
Originally, DMOZ came out as “GnuHoo” in June of 1998, and quickly became a rival to the Yahoo Directory name at that time, where they changed their name to “NewHoo.”
Soon after that, the company was acquired by Netscape in November 1998. This is when it became the Netscape Open Directory. AOL then acquired Netscape later that month, which gave AOL control of The Open Directory.
Google soon came up to challenge Netscape when it was born that same year. This was the beginning of the end of human curation of websites. Google bought the power of being able to search all pages on the web with the relevancy that was a hallmark of human-powered directories.
After some time, Yahoo also shifted over to machine-generated results over human power, which pushed its director further and further behind-the-scenes until its eventual closure was announced in September of 2014. It officially closed in December 2014, with the old site these days entirely unresponsive.
Despite Yahoo Directory’s closure, DMOZ lived on, although for marketers and searchers. At this point, it had been long since forgotten as a resource. Surprisingly, it took a long time for it to finally be closed down.
DMOZ is going to live on though, if not in a very interesting way. It will live on as the NOODP meta tag. This was a way for publishers to tell Google and other search engines not to describe their pages using Open Directory descriptions. This tag, although redundant, will remain lurking within web pages that continue to use it for years to come.