DMOZ Blackmail Scandal

When I first read about this on Pure Blogging, I simply couldn’t believe it.

Naturally, the first thing I did was scramble around the Internet as fast as I could to get some more information on the subject. Frankly, I was surprised that so few people were talking about it on my regular feeds.

But you know what? If you won’t talk about it, I will. Heck, that’s why I get paid the big bucks!

The Background
DMOZ was arguably considered the biggest and best directory on the net. Getting your site in there was a sure fire way to traffic and credibility. And if you didn’t know about Jeremy Schoemaker (otherwise known as ShoeMoney) well, he has one of the biggest sites and certainly one of the biggest blogs on the web. Up until recently, he was in DMOZ.

The Big Story
According to ShoeMoney, he was approached by an editor of DMOZ saying that if he didn’t pay the editor $5,000.00, his site would be removed from the directory. Long story short, he didn’t pay and he was removed.

So What?
I know for a lot of you you’re saying this so let me put it into context. There was a time not too long ago that for web developers, getting into DMOZ was essentially the holy grail. The solid foundation you built your house onto. For us bloggers who care about our rankings for sponsored reviews and advertising, it would be like Alexa coming up and saying, “Pay me a Grand or you’re back to an Alexa Rank of 3,000,000.”

37 thoughts on “DMOZ Blackmail Scandal”

  1. At the very least, ShoeMoney hardly needs a listing in DMOZ. But if true, I’d think said DMOZ editor would be really stupid because obviously ShoeMoney is going to mention something like this and he does have a large readership.

  2. If this is true, then I so hope DMOZ gets whipped on this one. Not that I enjoy others taking a beating, rather it’s about self-policing and doing the right thing. You simply just don’t do that sort of thing.

  3. @Angela & Mark – So true on what both of you said. I think the weird thing is, most of us web developers really put DMOZ onto some pedestal (probably because it was so freakin’ hard to get into it) and now not only do they seem like people, but some shady people at that. *nod*

  4. Well, that’s dumb. DMOZ will quickly be casted aside for repeated behavior like that. Most bloggers, popular to unpopular will not consider paying that much to be listed. I couldn’t even imagine paying that out of my marketing budget when I managed online media programs. $5000, seems like an awful lot for a ‘directory listing’

  5. Like I said over at Pure Blogging, I am not surprised at all this type of thing was going on. However I do think it is stupid they would target such a huge name in the blogging world. Guess they don’t know much about bloggers do they? They have not updated their site design since they started, so I considered them dead a long time ago. Plus anybody actually use DMOZ to find anything?

  6. I don’t know much about DMOZ, but I believe it isn’t being talked about much because it has been a corrupt system for awhile now and noone was really shocked. Hopefully something like this was all it will take to improve things.

    However I do think it is stupid they would target such a huge name in the blogging world.

    I suppose for a chance for this blackmail to work, they had to find someone with money 8)

    You can’t blackmail someone who doesn’t have anything!

  7. @Susan – Yeah, basically. Most bloggers definitely do not have 5K laying around for expenses like this and if you do, you’re probably not worrying about getting in there anyway.

    @G-Newt – I don’t think that “people” use DMOZ to really find too much stuff, (especially lately since it’s been ‘dead’ for a while now), but Google put a lot of stock into them so I think it’s fair to say their SE results were influenced by DMOZ.

  8. Feeling a little ignorant here, I know the existence of DMOZ since
    10 seconds ago when I read Bush’s post, but it seems that all the fault is from this corrupt editor, is all DMOZ to blame for this guy ?, well, I already say it, I don’t know much of this case . . .

  9. @Shaun – You’re welcome.

    @icedragon – The Legend of DMOZ

    Once upon a time in search engine optimization land, there was a directory called DMOZ. There are (of course) directories in existence today, but DMOZ was believed to be something special.

    It was said that if you could get your website into DMOZ, the gods of Google would bless your domain and permit it free passage through the rivers of its search engine. The problem is that DMOZ was heavily protected by its guardians known as “Editors”.

    Editors were a very selective group of creatures and sometimes it would take years upon ages for them to approve your website into their directory. Many a brave web developer attempted to triumph over the Editors but it was truly a hard faught battle. Nary a single developer escaped rejection without first becoming lost to the ages.

    And now it would seem that the once hallowed ground of Google may be tainted by the stench of corruption that freely flows from the halls of DMOZ.

    Will a hero rise and stand against DMOZ? Only time will tell.

  10. Who is this guy, D. Moz, anyway ? 😉

    Speculating the insane – sometime – run for better ranking in SE, is not at all surprising ones would end thinking to “make money on the net, at home, working 2 hours a week”, even if that would mean MLM scam, build huge agloco list (and promote to suckers to browse the net with a lame toolbar activated – max 5 hour a month .. lol) or asking/taking bribe to do something which else is free – but subject of one mood …


  11. This is hardly the first time DMOZ has been accused of anything like this, but it’s possibly the most noticed/publicized. This is most likely due to Shoemoney’s notoriety within his niche (and those not in his niche thanks to AuctionAds) compared to others who have claimed to be the target of blackmail in the past.

    I have to agree with many of the suggestions I’ve read elsewhere that Google should create its own directory instead of using this corrupt third party. Alternatively, the big search engines should come together to produce an authoritative website that accomplishes this.

  12. @Valentin – Ha ha
    @Matt H – I agree. And I think Shoemoney suggested Best of the Web as the new one. I mean, a shared web directory sounds like a good idea but I doubt the search engines would do that. If anything, I think G might acquire one of them, or just make their own or something.

  13. It doesn’t take a lot of research to find out that the owner of the site offered the ODP a bribe to be listed two years ago.

    Editors told him where to go and banned the site from being listed. There are many sites that mention that.

    If the site was banned from being listed in the ODP how could anyone threaten a removal? It never happened.

  14. @Alex – I’m glad you found my little site! As for what you said, “the owner of the site” that you’re referring to, is that Shoemoney and Because I’m not sure how what you’re saying makes sense in that case per this archived screenshot showing that the site WAS in fact in DMOZ. The Screenshot I hope you come back and clear this up. Thanks!

  15. +1 I shouldn’t’ve said screenshot, plus I don’t think that link works. You have to navigate to the section yourself. And again, that was from Shoemoney’s website. (#):)

  16. So another dupe to a Shoemaker Link Bait

    From Shoemakers discalaimer which he says everyone should read before acting on the post:-

    ‘You should assume everything written on this blog is a lie. You should assume I have motivation for linking to everything on this page and will benefit from it somehow. …. You should question everything. You should come up with your own thoughts and opinions and not trust some stupid blogger.’

    Looks like there are a lot of stupid bloggers out here…

  17. @Mark – I’m still going to write about this later but yeah Mark, I’m not sure what Shoemoney would get out of it either since he already has plenty-o-traffic.

    Besides, for something thats “a lie” (per Eric-The-Bun) it’s funny that Shoemoney went on to write a separate post inviting editors of DMOZ to defend themselves there and on his podcast…See THAT post here : DMOZ Editors Come Out Come Out

    Also interesting to note that these ppl defending DMOZ are pretty much the only ones since the inception of this blog that didn’t have/leave their blog’s URL in their comment.

    Interesting eh?

  18. It doesn’t take a lot of research to find out that the owner of the site offered the ODP a bribe to be listed two years ago.

    Editors told him where to go and banned the site from being listed. There are many sites that mention that.

    If the site was banned from being listed in the ODP how could anyone threaten a removal? It never happened.

  19. Very interesting Bush! Plus they are acting like little upset children with their name calling and put downs. Either way as I’ve said before, I know it is happening regardless of this incident. The whole project needs a revamp and it would be about time.

  20. Sort of hard to leave a URL for a blog if we aren’t blogging. Honestly there are still a few out there that don’t. Most editors have enough on their plate, given being a dmoz editor isn’t (contrary to rumor) a paying job.
    Why Shoe did the link bait scam is for him to say. The fact that that’s all it is, however, is exactly that, a fact. He was banned back in 05. The ban for a bribe attempt is permanent. He was accidentally listed for one month early this year (the server crash killed the text of the rednote), the error was caught and corrected.
    Dmoz staff has asked him to supply the email so they can remove the editor. It’s a nice way of saying put up or shut up, but then it shopuld be easy for him to comply and natural that he’d want to. Of course, since it never happened in the first place, he can’t.
    If people want to believe his story that’s their prerogative, but it’s a bit like the Proctor and Gamble Satanic connection… just an urban legend.

  21. @G-Newt – This has turned into a bit of an interesting post hasn’t it?

    @Alex – Thanks for posting the exact same comment twice in the span of a couple of days. You’re really adding credibility to your argument that way.

    @Eric-The-Bun – I saw this comment pretty much word for word on another site. Hm…I’m starting to see a trend here.

    @Rob – Thanks for finding my site! And hey, why do you think this is a link bait scam? If this was say John Chow, I’d be more likely to believe you, plus Shoemoney seems to still be asking for DMOZ editors to come on his show. I mean, if this is such a black and white issue, (he got banned and because of a server issue he was back), why is it that no editors are stepping up to the bat and speaking on his podcast?

    Again Rob, I appreciate your comment but if DMOZ really wants to deal with this issue, I think they would be best served if they handled it openly, professionally and with full disclosure. A forum such as Shoemoney’s podcast would be great (imho) because like he says, it’s live so he would have no more control over it than the guest.

    And just to repeat myself again, I think the podcast PR would serve DMOZ much better than editors/fanboys posting the same comment on multiple blogs or posting the same comment on the same one in a couple days of each other.

  22. To gnomeynewt: I have no idea what value the URL of my business website adds, but if it makes you feel better it’s shown this time. It was listed in Dmoz before I got there… in fact it was in there 8 or 9 times when I got there, as it is a Real Estate website and the restrictions 8 years ago were ridiculaously lax. Since then we’ve created the Real Estate Guidelines (I took part in that) taking RE sites (mine included) down to a single listing in the locality of our office. Exceptions are rare, and mine isn’t an exception.

    As I have on various occasions had to explain the same answers over and over to those that suspect every editor is there to benefit their own site, I don’t edit my own, and the description on mine was not written by me, it was written by a meta that as I recall was not one of my bigger fans. I have a tendency to speak freely and upset a lot of the hierarchy inside. ***

    Bush: My thoughts are my own, and I don’t elect to parrot anyone. While I may not agree with you I will always try to present my side clearly and in my own words.

    Having access to the edit notes gives me a bit of an unfair advantage when it comes to the Shoemoney story, but yes, he’s telling a whopper here. I am not in a position to tell the guys that own the directory how to run it, so insisting we share edit logs openly need not be directed at me. I don’t write the rules, but I do have to follow them. If I start my own directory I can do it my way.

    My take on the correct response is that staff should deal with Shoe head-on. The internal tracking gives lie to his claim, and while they have failed miserably in the past to stand up to claims like this in the past, IMO this one is big and bold enough to take to a defamation suit.

    Shoe’s disclaimer is the sort of exculpatory clause courts consider invalid pretty much daily. A restaurant can put up a sign that says “We are not responsible for items left unattended… watch your hat and coat”. That might discourage suits if someone’s hat disappears, but it won’t slow prosecution if the restaurant owner actually steals it. Disclaimers cannot exempt someone from all legal recourse. It might be a fun thought, but libel is still illegal.

    Shoe is perfectly able to bob and weave on his own podcast with the best. If staff follows my recommendation, Shoe will have a much greater challenge in court, and he’ll discover that he might just have done something worse than initiating a flamefest.

    Regards- RJ

  23. @Rob – Thanks for the thoughtful reply.

    I’m sorry that you felt that you had to add your URL, because obviously as the owner of this site, I knew what your site was per your e-mail addy, and like you said in the previous comment you left, it is not a blog so I can see why you didn’t feel like you needed to add it.

    Per your other comments, I’m glad you’ve stuck around and come back a time or two to comment. Certainly, yours have been more interesting than most who have come to DMOZ’s defense.

    But yeah, if I ever made the insinuation that you were “parot-ing” somebody else’s thoughts I apologize. I think in the end with all this the fact remains that (apparently) non-editors can’t see/verify the edit logs, so no one can see if what you are saying is true.

    You seem like a pretty level headed guy and again were nice enough to drop some interesting thoughts on the matter so at the very least I think readers on here should appreciate that.

    The liable thing is very interesting, because if it’s true, I don’t know why DMOZ wouldn’t go after Shoemoney. But then again, maybe no one inside DMOZ really cares about DMOZ anymore so no one cares enough to fight this. *shrugs* Personally, I don’t really know.

    But thanks again for coming back and chatting a bit more! – It was much appreciated.

  24. > if it’s true, I don’t know why DMOZ wouldn’t go after Shoemoney.
    > But then again, maybe no one inside DMOZ really cares about
    > DMOZ anymore so no one cares enough to fight this. *shrugs*

    ROFL. We found something on which we agree completely. 🙂

    As you are a blogger I trust you don’t mind me tossing that quote to Dmoz staff. It’s precisely the point I’ve been making internally, I’d like ’em to know it’s obvious to folks outside our little world.

    Thanks again, and best of luck. – RJ

  25. As another of the 5000+ editors at dmoz I can confirm that everything Rob has said here is true.

    I can also confirm that Jeremy Schoemaker is well aware that his blog is banned from dmoz and has been told exactly why on more than one occasion. I can confirm that editors are begging AOL to sue Schoemaker. I don’t know what AOL legal will decide, but I can tell you from experience that just being in the right doesn’t always make for a good legal case.

  26. @Xixtas – Thanks for joining the conversation! It looks like the discussion about this has really heated up on here but unfortunately, I haven’t seen too much more on this subject on other sites.

    “…just being in the right doesn’t always make for a good legal case…”
    Very good point. Hey Xixtas – What are your current thoughts on DMOZ? Where it’s been, where it is, and where it’s going?

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