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Bannable Offenses

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ODP documents are clear that no site is guaranteed placement in the Open Directory.

There have been instances over the years where webmasters and, IMHO, especially webmasters who are now ex-editors (fired for cause) didn't get their sites listed where/when/how they wanted - and they resorted, as a form of retaliation, to making unfounded accusations in forums (often anonymously) and/or sending hateful and/or threatening emails to various editors, sometimes with the return address spoofed and the IP showing to be from an anonymous proxy.

Sometimes the attacks have been more "manly" and direct, where the unhappy people do no hiding of any sort while saying things that they know aren't true.

It's hard to know exactly where to draw the line, but when the line is crossed, the harasser will find all of his or her known domains banned from ODP.

Recently someone (with a complicated history with ODP going back a few years) logged into Resource-Zone as "linxlover" and queried about phone sex sites in a thread in the Adult forum. After getting a response that he didn't like from a person he didn't like, an editorial of sorts was posted at http://www.phonesexcoalition.org/news-bulletin.htm [warning, adult-ish content at the site, though I don't see it on this page]. The author is the same person, "linxlover." This type of trash-talking slander is definitely over the line, and it's not the first time it's happened. Linxlover apparently hasn't ever realized that his sites are banned as a result of his harassment of the phone sex editors at ODP. (Or, if he did realize it, he can't possibly admit it in print because it would allow the public to see through his red herring of an argument). Yes, they're banned. Blacklisted. Never gonna get in. Flagged for deletion if they show up anywhere -- and all with staff approval. Staff warned via email that he would get banned if he kept it up, but that surprisingly didn't deter him.

The deletions were done by meta-editors, as was the tagging of the offender's sites with "do not ever list" notes. We were happy to do it. ODP is a human-edited directory, and humans can only take so much flak from harassers and cyberstalkers.

Now, where is the line?
  • Is complaining about ODP in a forum or on some website over the line? No.
  • Is making incorrect or illogical conclusions about ODP based on having an incomplete set of facts over the line? No.
  • Is implying or directly saying, "Editor so-and-so is not an honest editor!" over the line? It depends on how it's done. If the accuser is so sure of the corruption, he should file a report at http://report-abuse.dmoz.org/ with all of the details necessary to prove the corruption. An investigation will be conducted by multiple meta-editors.
  • Is personally attacking or harassing an editor, especially over editing-related matters over the line? Yes, whether in forum postings, on websites, or via email. Using editor feedback to do the harassing is an additional no-no.
Once the line is crossed, it's possible, though not necessary, for the harasser to get one final warning to retract the statement (if it was made public) and otherwise stop the harassment. Failure to do so will surely lead to the ban.

Now, I just have to explain this: when someone makes true and provable accusations, justice will be done and abusive editors will be disciplined, possibly to the point of removal. When someone makes false accusations, it's often not allowed - because of editor confidentiality - for editors to fully "set the record straight." This means that spiteful or incorrect accusations not only can't be countered with the truth (at times), but the conclusion is sometimes reached that the ODP must be in the wrong because nobody thoroughly or convincingly corrected the misinformation. Our hands are tied -- we look bad whether or not the accusations are true. I assure you that most are way off the mark, either from the accuser not having all the facts or from a deliberate attempt to twist some details into something they're not.


Whew, glad to get the above out of the way...

We also ban domains based on implied or direct attempts to bribe editors for listings and/or favorable titles and descriptions. We also tend to remove editors when it becomes clear that they're charging specifically for ODP listings. Yes, editors might have a financial stake in certain websites and may even work for a webdesign firm, but that's not quite the same as money changing hands in order to get sites listed.
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