Thursday, March 23, 2006

The End of the Zeal Directory

Unfortunately, it appears that LookSmart is closing the Zeal Directory. An announcement on the Zeal message board notes, "Thank you for being a part of the Zeal community and contributing your time and knowledge to the Directory. After trying to put the deserved resources behind Zeal, we have made the conscious decision to shut down On March 28, 2006 Zeal will no longer be available. We are not selling and have no future plans for it at this time. "

This is too bad. Zeal was an excellent resource for finding good quality information on the web. The Zeal community was lively, interested in doing quality work, and helpful to newcomers. The tools for editors were first rate and made editing at DMOZ and Joeant appear Byzantine in comparison.

Clearly, web directories are not as valuable as they once were. Google is much better at finding information than any directory. However, I still use directories to find good sites. There is still value in them. And I think user contributed directories like Zeal, DMOZ, and Joeant are the best type to use. I point them out to students in every library instruction session I teach.

For Zealots looking for another community to contribute at, I would recommend Joeant or Illumirate. Both communities are small with instant feedback on editing. People will help you learn the community. DMOZ may also be worth a try but it is much larger, the editing is not intuitive, and the community is highly political. Many new editors are simply overwhelmed and give up. Take it slow if you are allowed to edit at DMOZ and ask for help if you need it as unsolicited advice is not always forthcoming.

Maybe directories are not worth contributing to anymore. Perhaps social bookmarking at sites like or Furl is the way to go? I am wedded to the past and I will stay active in a web directory or two. I enjoy it. But I realize the heyday of directories is over and my web editing only really helps me to keep my own cataloging skills sharp.

I hope LookSmart eventually sells Zeal to someone who will reopen it and allow the community to participate. (Maybe a university or library should acquire it?)


jokel said...

Hi Michael, I'm trying to collect links about this desaster. blog at . Forum at . also a Google Group xzeal .

Nick Sahadi said...

Open Proposal -

It has always been my hopes (for over 5 years now) to build an alternative directory to the falling throne (FWIW, I have not seen any directories come close to taking over the falling throne).

As is such I would like to make a proposal:

I am willing to turn over Open Grid to the "Editors" or shall I say all
editors from the editing circles e.g. zeal, sitelibrary, hedir, etc.

When I say turn over, I am willing to use copyleft license, and be known as the co-founder along with Norbert.

I know that there are so many
editors out there that truly believe in building a better directory, and I really want to facilitate that. Moreover, I want the editors to decide how to build the directory.

Thoughts, comments, and discussion welcome :)