According to Bare Bones 101:
Subject directories, unlike search engines, are created and maintained by human editors, not electronic spiders or robots. The editors review and select sites for inclusion in their directories on the basis of previously determined selection criteria. The resources they list are usually annotated. Directories tend to be smaller than search engine databases, typically indexing only the home page or top level pages of a site. They may include a search engine for searching their own directory (or the web, if a directory search yields unsatisfactory or no results.)
Today, the line between subject directories and search engines is blurring. Most subject directories have partnered with search engines to query their databases and search the web for additional sources, while search engines are acquiring subject directories or creating their own.
For example, look at these 3 versions of Yahoo:
- http://www.yahoo.com The traditional busy Yahoo page that gives you news, mail, weather, and a list of categories on the side bar.
- http://search.yahoo.com A cleaner, simpler version of Yahoo’s search.
- http://dir.yahoo.com/ – The directory version of Yahoo
One of the best subject directories out there is the Open Directory Project http://www.dmoz.org/. The Open Directory Project is the largest, most comprehensive human-edited directory of the Web. It is constructed and maintained by a vast, global community of volunteer editors. From their website:
The Open Directory was founded in the spirit of the Open Source movement, and is the only major directory that is 100% free. There is not, nor will there ever be, a cost to submit a site to the directory, and/or to use the directory’s data. The Open Directory data is made available for free to anyone who agrees to comply with our free use license.
The Open Directory powers the core directory services for the Web’s largest and most popular search engines and portals, including Netscape Search, AOL Search, Google, Lycos, HotBot, DirectHit, and hundreds of others.
Subject directories are best for browsing and for searches of a more general nature. They are good sources for information on popular topics, organizations, commercial sites and products. When you’d like to see what kind of information is available on the Web in a particular field or area of interest, go to a directory and browse through the subject categories.
Some other subject directories to check out:
- About – http://www.about.com/
- Librarian’s Internet Index – http://lii.org/
- Google Directory – http://www.google.com/dirhp (Notice it is the same info as The Open Directory Project)
Next up: Portals …