What it Means to be Human


By David | January 17, 2013 | Home | Blog Categories | Articles

human editorBelow is a list of 7 functions that every human editor of a directory should be engaging in:

1. Approving/Rejecting submissions (the easiest and least significant part of the job).

2. Reviewing the content of websites to decide their suitability for possible inclusion.

3. Seeding empty categories with worthwile listings or improving categories with content by including the best sites in that field to round out the listings.

4. Editing submitted information (titles and descriptions) to remove spam or keyword stuffing.

5. Auditing existing content to remove dead links and websites which are offline or no longer relevant.

6. Restructuring Taxonomy (categories and subcategories) to cope with the growth in content and to maintain relevancy and useability.

7. Creating Value
-Add data and information for listings, such as metadata, map locations, customer review/comment sections, and about us/our team.

Being a human edited directory goes far beyond just approving/rejecting submissions. A robot can do that job. Claiming to be human-edited because you monitor a review queue is a misleading and false claim. If all you do is step 1 in this list then you need to change your ways.

In order to be a true human-edited directory you must perform all 7 functions in the list. If you don't then you aren't engaging in human editing, and you can pretend all you like, but those of us who know better will call you out!

So let's talk a little bit more about what each of the other 6 functions mean.

Human-editing also encompasses human-reviewing. You actually have to look at a website, review its content and decide whether it is a useful addition to your directory. This goes beyond just checking that the site is online. Some questions you should be asking yourself as you review a website: Does it have depth of content, and clear navigation via menus? Is the design unique? Is the content useful? OR is the site MFA? is it plastered in advertising? do the ads dominate the content? is it a content-farm with wafer thin content that delivers very little  actual information? These are the sorts of questions you should be asking yourself when reviewing every site that comes through your submission form (and basically any website that you look at on the web --- if you see/use a lot of good websites, why aren't they already listed in your directory?)

A lot of directories, even good ones, will have empty categories. A category that has no content in it, is useless. I've had people tell me over the years they have a great directory, but when I review them they have very few listings. That doesn't make their directory good at all. My recommendation has always been to seed empty categories with listings that you find yourself. If you use a range of websites in your day-to-day web activity then why aren't those websites already listed in your directory? Add them. Don't think about it, do it. If you have categories with a lot of listings, but the best sites in those fields, arent listed. Why is that? Give your viewers the best content, don't leave out content because it wasn't submitted to you. That's weak. It's also lazy. You MUST seed.

In addition to accepting/rejecting submissions, the editor must EDIT the submitted information. I've been part of the directory industry for a long time now, and in literally 99/100 cases submitted information needs editing. Allowing the submitted information to be added AS IS, is a huge no-no in the directory industry. It's tantamount to being a link farm. SEOs of all people are the worst submitters because they are going to keyword stuff their entries and try and sneak it past as many unsuspecting directory owners as they can. You might think because that SEO is well known or because the site they are submitting is well known that you need to bow down to them and accept what they are submitting. WRONG. The key to all of this is that YOU own the content. YOU control the content. And as such it is up to YOU to edit the content for suitability. If you don't then you are not only going to end up with duplicate content, and lots of it, you will also end up with dreaded piles of spam.

Auditing existing content is a topic that we are currently discussing at the Info Vilesilencer Forums with other directory owners. What this means is that you check through your listings to find any that are dead links or parked domains or where the content is no longer relevant (maybe the site was abandoned years ago but is still online, and the content is now outdated). This is a task that can be overwhelming, so at the start of the year, you should work out your number of listings, and then create a manageable number of listings to work through until the audit is complete.

When you audit you can also come across another problem. i.e. that your content has outgrown its category structure. Let's say you have a Recreation > Travel category that has grown to have scores or even hundreds of listings. What you will find is that many of those listings are similar to each other, and should therefore have their own subcategories.

e.g. Accommodation style listings could all fall under a Recreation > Travel > Accommodation subcategory with further breakouts into deeper subcategories of  lodging, vacation rental, holiday cabins, etc

Naturally then, you can do the same thing for travel guides, airfares, and any other like sites that would benefit from their own subcategory breakout. This is a simplistic example, and more involved taxonomy structuring like  symbolic categories should also be employed.

By pushing all the "like" sites into their own subcategories, you improve the relevancy of the directory. This category restructuring also makes the directory a lot more useful to the end user. If I am looking for Travel Discount sites like Priceline, Kayak, Expedia, then if you have them all listed under their own subcat my search is over. I've found them all. If you have them all in a category mixed with accommodation and airfares then I have to wade through the content to find what I am looking for, and I'm not going to stick around.

The final thing an editor should be doing to distinguish themselves as human edited and also differentiate their directory from everyone else is to build in some value add for listed sites. Things like details pages, maps, featured products, customer reviews and comments sections, all add a unique diversity to a directory that can build additional content that others may not have. Customer comments for example, can allow visitors to review a particular business and offer their personal opinion or experience. If they do this on your directory they've just provided you with unique content, which adds value to an otherwise static listing.

This stuff isn't rocket science, and it pretty much hasn't changed in 10 years. If you want your directory to be considered a quality human edited resource and not a low-level link farm you need to engage in the 7 functions of a human editor. Stop making excuses and start making quality content.

What it means to be human was written by by Dan of VileSilencer, one of the longest running sites dedicated to maintaining a directory of directories and much more.



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Publish date: January 17, 2013
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