DMOZ provides a wealth of local and regional resources to users in towns large and small across the US and around the world. In this post, editor crowbar talks about the experience of building out these local categories.
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One of the more rewarding tasks of editing in the Regional section of the Directory is to find a small locality (city) with only a few listings, and to put it on the Internet map by hunting down every possible site that exists for it and listing those that meet our selection criteria and fits the locality. Depending on the size of the city, it can either be quite rewarding, or quite challenging, but in either case, very important to the people who live there.
My personal view is that every small town deserves to be represented on the web, and this is my attempt to make the Directory and its editors a little more transparent about what it is we do.
As a country level editor, it's like looking at a road map of the whole United States, and each editing session is like throwing a dart at the map, wherever it lands is where I'll be working.
A small city of 15,000 - 20,000 population with only 4 or 5 sites listed would be ideal. My very first category was like that. So where do I start? There are no public suggestions waiting in this one. The first thing I want to look for is the local Chamber of Commerce which usually has a good list of business, charity, and government sites and can be a real goldmine for an editor.
Then on each one of those sites, I always look for links to other local sites, I'm building quite a large spider web of sites, and it becomes like a scavenger hunt, with one site leading to more sites. The Directory has a standard list of topical sub categories that can be used for each city, such as this one for Tampa, Florida:
http://www.dmoz.org/... ities/T/Tampa/ . These include everything from education resources to transportation companies to local news sites.
An editor will normally only create these subcategories when he/she has 3 to 5 sites to put in each of them. What the editor is doing is building a category of entities that are located in this city. Most sites in Regional will be placed at this city (locality) level, not at the County, Region, or State levels.
Next, I'm going to look for educational sites, churches, website builders, real estate sites, and look for more links on them. If I get real desperate, I'll Google some of the zip codes I find on the sites or the first six digits of telephone numbers, both will pop up sites that exist in that area.
Now, I'll take a look at the sites at the County, Region, and State levels. They will sometimes lead me to other sites located in this locality, and I can also search the rest of the Directory. Many times there will be sites listed in a Topical category that can also be listed in the locality.
If an editor lives in the area, checking the local yellow pages of the phone book can yield a lot of sites, or the ads in local newspapers. It becomes so engrossing that a couple of hours can fly by before you know it, but the real reward is seeing a couple hundred new sites listed in all the proper subcategories. You have built something for that city and given them an equal presence on the Internet where they can compete, and they will never know it was you who did it.
The editor will never get a thank you for it, and none is expected, we do it for our own satisfaction. I suppose it's like putting a puzzle together, nobody really cares, but it was fun to do. This is just one activity, in one part of the Directory. Each area of the Directory is a little different to edit in and has its own specific guidelines, and there are many different tasks that an editor can choose to do in each editing session.
I think it's this freedom of choice and the trust that's placed in us as well as the satisfaction of building something worthwhile that keeps us at it. I hope I've given you some insight into what it is we really do inside the Directory.
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Regional Editing - SmallCity, USA
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