The blurred lines between encyclopedia and directory.
I don’t want to sensationalize this discussion or make it sound like a fight: Wikipedia is considering deleting links from about 5,000 different articles which point the reader to the Curlie directory—which is the current incarnation of DMOZ, spiritual successor to Yahoo!'s original directory. The issue is very interesting to me because, while the Curlie template is up for deletion because the directory is considered out-of-date, the argument has essentially moved toward the nature of large directories.
Although link directories are not as important as they were in the past, DMOZ (currently hosted by Curlie) is still recognized as the most important one. Ironically enough, the best contender to link directories today is probably the External links sections of our Wikipedia articles. And we don’t want to turn them into directories.
This is very interesting—because regardless of what Wikipedia intends itself to be, it often acts very much like a directory. (Or else what the hell is this?) I would argue that Wikipedia is a flat-out better directory than Curlie, because it is editorialized. In a way, this seems like it would be a bad thing for a directory—we like to think that a neutral classification of links is the ideal—but I think the intense effort to shape the descriptions and associations between links is motivating to the editors that have to keep the directory fresh and useful.
And, plainly, I just think a Curlie-style directory is too dry! Compare Curlie’s Board Games/Abstract category with Board Game Geek’s Abstract page. The generic directory page just comes off as… generic. And, honestly, Wikipedia’s List of abstract strategy games might be even better!
I’m starting to think that general directories went away (and expert pages) because the niche communities are just better. I can see why they were useful at the dawn of the Web.
Curlie, which has been added as a template to articles, is a depository allowing the liberal addition of spam links, so I would go further and add it to the list of banned sources.
I think DMOZ/Curlie has already had its chance to prove itself. I see that there is still potential there—and perhaps its editors can revitalize it—but I think it’s time to take stock of where salient links are living in 2019 and how to push this stuff into the future. (I am not advocating that href.cool or indieseek.xyz are the future—these are just experiments—but hopefully our efforts to reframe the web directory will bear some fruit over the next few years. I don’t see tiny personal directories as winning some war over mindshare or somesuch—I just think they could help us track sites that don’t fit into niche mostly-topical communities and have been lost in the move away from these large open-ended directories.)
I’ve also been wondering if we need a mailing list or a forum or something for parties interested in linking/directories who can’t seem to get on the Indieweb.