Curlie appears to have inherited some of the worst traits of its predecessor, DMOZ.
DMOZ’s Sordid History
We reported on the closing of DMOZ and the preparations to relaunch the old directory under a new name, Curlie, last year.
Throughout its existence, DMOZ was secretive. Its editors and administration remained hidden behind aliases.
Though owned by some big name companies over time, including AOL, DMOZ always appeared to act independently.
In SEO (Search Engine Optimization) circles, a DMOZ listing was highly prized as a powerful signal and data source to major search engines.
DMOZ listings where ostensibly free.
However, due to the secretive and unaccountable DMOZ system and a huge backlog of applicants, many webmasters found the only way to get a listing was to bribe an editor.
That wasn’t the worst of the corruption. Some webmasters that had existing DMOZ listings claimed managing editors removed their sites when they refused to pay extortion fees to keep their site in. Others reported that editors with competing businesses would edit their competitions listings to make this less appealing.
Over time, DMOZ become increasingly irrelevant and outdated. Eventually AOL shut it down without comment.
Who Is Curlie?
Curlie.org is where an unknown number of former DMOZ administrators and editors landed after the old directory went defunct. Their clear goal is to reboot DMOZ under a new name.
Considering the charges of corruption that DMOZ faced, and the fact that Curlie is going to try to be a relevant directory in a search-engine world, one might think they would address these old issues with transparency and accountability.
But that’s not the case.
Browsing the new Curlie.org’s about page, there’s absolutely no information about who actually owns or maintains the directory and website. All we get is that it’s run by a “global community of volunteer editors.”
The ownership information on Curlie.org’s domain registration is hidden by a privacy service.
On their FAQ page is a question: “Who runs Curlie?”.
The answer: “… a self-regulating community of net-citizens.”
Well, that would be: “The Curlie Admins”.
There’s no contact page, nor contact information, on Curlie.org at all.
Just a statement that Curlie is “Incorporated in Texas”.
A public records search of Texas corporations finds a listing for The Curlie Project, Inc., with Robert R Broekhuis named as the registered agent. The mailing address for the corporation appears to be a residence.
Who is Robert R Broekhuis?
Unknown. An internet search turns up nothing definitive.
Though apparently incorporated in Texas, on Curlie’s Terms of Service page, it says any claims or disputes will be resolved “by a court located in the Commonwealth of Virginia”.
Why would claims and disputes be resolved in Virginia when Curlie is incorporated in Texas?
Curlie’s Non-Profit Status?
An email sent two weeks ago from “firstname.lastname@example.org” to former DMOZ editors inviting them to come edit on Curlie, stated “…we have registered as a non-profit organization”.
Consumer Press emailed email@example.com and asked for more information about Curlie’s non-profit status, amongst other things. We’ve waited two weeks and there’s been no reply.
Our attempts to confirm Curlie’s non-profit status in Texas were inconclusive. Texas corporations can be non-profit without being tax-exempt. When that’s the case, they do not appear in a public records search for Texas non-profit tax-exempt organizations. So we drew a blank there.
A search for records of Curlie having a non-profit status in Virginia came up empty.
With absolutely no mention of their non-profit status on their website; no information publically listed in Texas nor Virginia; no sign of who is running the site; and no response to our emails… there’s no way to confirm their non-profit status.
Curlie’s Questionable Claims
In addition to Curlie’s lack of transparency, accountability issues, and lack of documentation related to their non-profit status, there are also questionable claims on their site.
In their FAQ, they reference “Google, Yahoo, and AOL” as some of their “data users”.
However Google, for one, stopped using DMOZ data after it closed down, and Curlie itself admits on that same FAQ page that “Curlie’s data (RDF) is currently unavailable due to technical issues.”
Based on our research, it appears that the RDF has never worked on Curlie.org. The link for information about the RDF on Curlie leads to a dead (403) page on DMOZ.org.
Of course, Curlie can legitimately claim to be a data provider for the above search engines. Search engines crawl just about every publically available site. What’s misleading is any suggestion that Curlie has any special ties to, or that their data is handled any differently, than any other data on the internet.
What’s Curlie’s Future?
It’s hard to say. Curlie has a big mountain to climb if it’s going to be relevant, and it will never hit that mark if the powers behind it remain unaccountable and dodgy.
Now it’s your turn to jump in and add your thoughts. Is there a future for Curlie, and if so, what is it?
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