ResearchBuzz (aka Tara Calishain) writes about how Yahoo has downplayed their human built directory of web sites in the past few years. Tara is correct, they have. She continues, "But I'm sorry and upset to see the directory take such a back seat. The Web needs, I strongly believe, a good searchable subject index. There is a class of general searching that it's difficult to do well in a full-text search engine, that works very well in a searchable subject index like Yahoo. Searchable subject indexes are also wonderfully browsable and make it easy to find related groups of information. You CAN find those groups on full-text engines, but it's more difficult.
The good news is that several well organized (an understatement) and impeccably maintained, general web directories STILL exist. Quality and authority of the underlying is key. Take a look at the SearchDay article: The Value of Non-Commercial Web Directories, for a list of several of our favorites.