18, 1998 -
A couple of months ago, a San Francisco programmer
named Rich Skrenta was getting frustrated with Yahoo: Its links were
rotted all to hell, and it was slow to add the sites he submitted.
"Clearly they were neglecting the maintenance of their directory,"
says Skrenta, "apparently in favor of doing other 'portal' features
like classifieds, chat, and co-branded Visa cards... It was about
two months ago when we realized that the only way to make a scalable
web directory project was to open up editing and review to the Net."
a web directory assembled by a distributed, self-regulating
community of volunteer editors rather than the (relatively) small
staff of paid professionals who create directories like GnuHoo's
There's no screening process. If you want to be a GnuHoo editor,
you've got the job: Just pick a category and dive in. Skrenta and
cofounder Bob Truel decided that "individuals who care about the
topics they maintain would be better reviewers than generalists, and
the directory would get better as the Web grew, instead of getting
worse." The site's been live since June 5, and it's up to 200
editors and 27,000 sites in 2,000 categories. Not bad, considering
what it cost.
Scalability GnuHoo has in spades, assuming the recruiting process
doesn't plateau out, but quality control? Skrenta allows the
possibility that the public will abuse the trust he places in it.
"Clearly there will need to be a hierarchical oversight and review
system... No one has built anything like this before, so we expect
to have to overcome some difficult but interesting problems as we
grow." He's not quitting his day job just yet, but he's not ruling
it out for the future. "I think that GnuHoo will have to become some
kind of commercial enterprise if it's going to fulfill its mission.
Yahoo has 100 servers for their site, and GnuHoo's goals are to be
much, much larger."
R E L A T E D L I N K S
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