Sunday, February 06, 2005

MeL Best of the Internet

MeL Best of the Internet. This is a Web directory created by librarians working with the Michigan Electronic Library. There are over 20,000 listings with annotations. The sites are also divided by category. As I work with several Web Directories (DMOZ, Zeal, Joeant, Uncover, and a few more) I know how hard it is to build and maintain a quality Web directory. This one is well done and I commend MeL for having it.

However, I am really bothered by the ways links are listed. Instead of listing the actual url, the sites are hidden behind a redirect link. For example, the excellent history site History of Nations is listed as http://web.mel.org/weblink.jsp?resourceid=151398&refTopic=0&topic=345&URL=[[[http://www.historyofnations.net/]]]. The real url is http://www.historyofnations.net/.

The problem with this is that Google, Yahoo, and other search engine spiders do not see the real url. As such, the listed site gets no credit by these search engines for being listed by MeL. And as Google and Yahoo both use the quantity and quality of links a site has to determine the algorithms for search results, a listing at MeL does not help at all. And that is too bad. This is a spam proof resource and exactly the type of site the search engines like to give a lot of weight and trust.

I think the value judgements of Michigan librarians who have built MeL are worthwhile and we ought to be willing to share them with the whole world by allowing their efforts to directly influence search engine results. Take down the walls! I hope MeL redoes this resource to allow for the direct listing of urls.

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