Netscape has created a branded version of the former NewHoo directory that it acquired last November and begun integrating it into the Netscape site.
Visitors will encounter the Netscape Open Directory primarily if they choose the "Find Web Sites" option from the Netscape home page. Over time, they will also find references to it when browsing the site's channels, as Netscape begins to use its directory categories in place of the branded offerings it has been pulling from Excite. The directory can also be reach directly via the URL below.
The name Netscape Open Directory may sound familiar, because that's originally what Netscape relabeled NewHoo, after it acquired the volunteer listing service. It has been renamed once again to the Open Directory, to distinguish it from the Netscape branded effort.
So to be clear, there is the Open Directory, which was NewHoo, and the Netscape Open Directory, which is a copy of the Open Directory promoted within the Netscape site and with Netscape's branding. It would be less confusing if the services had more distinct names. To help, I'll refer to the branded version as the "Netscape Directory" in this article.
The Open Directory remains a volunteer effort, with the overall goal of organizing web sites and publishing the information for anyone to use, including Netscape or its competitors. Thus, the Netscape Directory is powered by the public-domain Open Directory. Likewise, a new free use license would allow even Yahoo to make use of the Open Directory's information, assuming they provided appropriate credit. But this is seen as unlikely.
"Our feeling is a major competitor wouldn't do that, because it would be like ceding control to us," said Chris Tolles, the Open Directory's product manager.
Instead, Netscape expects that people may use portions of the guide to provide specialty offerings. It is making the complete directory available every two weeks or so as an RDF dump, to assist those interested in development. Netscape doesn't know of anyone using this method, however. Rather, most people seem to make copies of individual pages of interest and place their own branding and banners on them.
"We've had a lot of editors utilize their categories within their own sites," Tolles said.
Netscape says it is also taking advantage of the directory to build out regional portals, such as in Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom and Australia. Visit Netscape Canada, for example, and you'll see that the directory categories are immediately available from the home page.
There have also been a number of changes meant to improve and expand the Open Directory's content. A dead link crawler has reduced dead links from an estimated five percent to less than one percent, Netscape says.
Bulk content has also been added. In particular, the directory includes story archives from News.com, Wired, Time and Newsweek, along with content from several online encyclopedias.
For webmasters, there's no need to submit to both the Netscape Directory and the Open Directory. Submitting to the Open Directory will get you listed in the Netscape Directory, since the Open Directory is what powers the Netscape version.
Of course, you can enter the submission process through the Netscape version. If you do this, be sure to select the "Add URL" option at the bottom of the category you are submitting to, rather than the "Add Site" option that appears on the next line down. The Add URL link puts you into the Open Directory submission process, while the Add Site option routes you to Register It service. The free version of this is not configured for submissions to the Open Directory.
Netscape Open Directory
Open Directory Free-Use License
NewHoo Becomes Netscape Open Directory
The Search Engine Report, Dec. 3, 1998
More about how the volunteer directory works.