In 1998, a new web directory launched in a challenge to the then pre-eminent Yahoo directory. Although it went through a few name changes and owners in the next few years, it was soon officially known as the Open Directory Project, and eventually as DMoz, or “Directory Mozilla.”

It’s claim to fame was that, even years after every other directory switched over to the machine generated results of modern search engines, DMoz remained a human-edited and managed directory for the internet.

Now, after 19 years, DMoz has finally given up trying to use people to index the web, and has officially closed it’s doors.

The End Of An Era

Most people probably won’t even notice. But for those of us who’ve been in the industry for a long time, it’s not without a bit of nostalgic regret that we see them go.

Apart from anything else, for many years, a link from DMoz was considered very valuable in terms of search engine optimisation.

We’re moving inevitably into a world of machine-managed data. The simple fact is that there is just too much of the stuff for us to ever be able to even imagine managing it manually. But for 19 years, DMoz tried. It may have been a last gasp attempt to hang on to a more human web.

Most people are expressing surprise that it took them so long. But in some senses, this truly marks the end of an era. And I can’t help but feel a little twinge of regret as I look at the sign that now greets visitors to the Open Directory Project.