We often hear questions from prospective editors who are looking for guidance on how to improve their chances of having their application approved. For this week's post, we've put together a brief tutorial to help applicants tackle the more difficult parts of the application process.
Select a Category
Selecting the category you'd like to apply to edit is one of the most important - if not the most important - parts of the application process. While this may seem very straightforward, it takes a bit of time and research before you submit the application to make sure that the category is a good fit for you and that it's the appropriate size for a new editor.
The best way to begin is by browsing the directory to get a feel for the taxonomy and to begin exploring topic areas that are of interest to you. Once you've identified the general area where you'd like to edit, you can begin to make your category selection. You may find it helpful to use the "Description" links in the right-hand corners of the category pages to compare categories you're considering. These may include descriptions of the type of sites the category contains or related categories for you to explore.
First-time editors should select a small category to start with. As a general rule, this would mean a category with fewer than 100 current links including those in the category itself and all of its sub-categories. Many enthusiastic applicants apply to categories that are too large or complex for new editors and are frustrated when their applications are rejected as a result. Not to worry, though. Once you get comfortable with editing in a small category, you can always apply for permissions in additional categories or higher in the taxonomy.
Look for categories that you find interesting and will want to work on. Some people select a category related to their profession, and others choose categories related to hobbies or their studies. It's really up to you to decide where you think your interest and efforts fit best. Once you've chosen your category, use the "Become an Editor" link on that page to apply.
Find Sample Sites
After you've narrowed your category choices down to one or two, do some research to see if you can find additional sites that would fit in each category. Look for sites that offer unique content and would add value to the category you've chosen. Sometimes, the distinctions between categories are very subtle making it a little difficult to determine where a new site fits best. This blog post can help you understand how to make these selections.
Depending on the type of category you've selected, you might try using a search engine, looking on trade association or local chamber of commerce sites, or reading posts in forums related to your area of interest to locate new sites.
You'll need at least two (and preferably three) new links to use on your application. If you can't find at least that many sample sites, you will need to select a different category. Not only does a lack of links mean you can't fully complete the application, but categories where you can't find new sites to add have limited growth potential, so they aren't the best places for new editors to learn the ropes.
Write Site Descriptions
Once you've selected your category and identified some sample sites to use in your application, it's time to write the site descriptions. Keep in mind that these should be objective (avoid promotional or marketing language), grammatically correct and provide a succinct description of the site content as it relates to your category. You can find more detailed information and examples in our blog post about writing descriptions or by reviewing the complete editorial guidelines.
Disclose Site Associations
The DMOZ community takes abusive editing practices very seriously, and we make every effort to ensure that we keep the bad apples out altogether. The site associations portion of the editor application (sometimes referred to as the affiliations section) is our first line of defense against abuse, so it is very important that you fully disclose all affiliations upfront. This will speed the application process and help to ensure that your application is not rejected due to undisclosed site associations.
Site associations include any sites you own, work on or represent in addition to other sites in which you have a vested interest (for example, a spouse's business site). If you'd like more details about what constitutes a site association, please review our conflicts of interest policy.
An affiliation with a site or category alone is not cause for an application rejection (after all, we want editors to be interested in and knowledgeable about the topics they're covering), but disclosing affiliations helps us to know that editors are not being deceptive about their motives for applying.
Submit Your Application
Once you've filled out all of the application fields and double-checked your work, you can submit your application. It's a good idea to save a copy for later use in case you're asked to make updates or need to apply for reinstatement. Your application is not visible to editors until you've verified your email address, so be on the lookout for an email from us. If you can't find it, be sure to check your spam filter as well. It may be helpful to white-list the dmoz.org domain if your email software allows it to ensure that you receive all communication related to your application.
There are a number of factors that influence the length of time it will take for your application to be reviewed. Probably the biggest is the category's location in the directory and the number of senior editors who are working on processing applications in that area. Generally speaking, you should have a decision within a few weeks; however, applications to edit categories in some languages or in smaller corners of the directory may take a bit longer.
If you aren't accepted on the first try, don't be discouraged. Many excellent editors have had their applications rejected the first time around. You can always reapply and incorporate any feedback you've received into your revised application.
Also keep in mind that each editor may only have one - and only one - editor account. Duplicate accounts are forbidden because they are often an indicator of editor fraud. You risk losing both accounts if you were previously an editor and you attempt to apply for a new account. If you've ever been an editor in the past (even if your old account is no longer active), you must use the reinstatement form rather than the new editor application. If you no longer use the email account you listed on your old editor profile or have forgotten any of the other details needed to re-activate the account, please ask for help at Resource Zone. This is not a barrier to reinstatement, and our current editors can help guide you through the process.
You can find additional information about applying in the Becoming an Editor section of DMOZ.org or visit our public forums to ask a site editor for a status update (be sure to follow the status request guidelines) or learn more about the community.
Being a DMOZ editor is a rewarding hobby that allows you to expand your knowledge of, and insight into, a topic that interests you. As an added bonus, it gives you the opportunity to join the truly global editor community. If you'd like to read about some of our editors' specific experiences with the project, check out these posts from editors crowbar, imrankhan, mollybdenum and laigh.
We look forward to having you on board!
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An Applicant's Guide to Becoming an Editor
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