The Lazy Editor

No, not the one who maintains these pages. The other guy, the one who volunteered to work at the Open Source Directory a few years ago. Uh, yeah, that’s me too, but with the ears down. I’m editor for an entire category with subcategories over there. And frankly, it’s a mess.

How did it get that way? Well, it was a mess when I arrived, some 4 or 5 years ago, but I was young and naïve and inspired and ready to kick butt. I was going to put order into the chaos of the category I was put in charge of. I was going to search the web for all the best sites that belonged there. We’re talking quality here. And who better to find and catalogue all that quality than me? (Oh, and as a sideline, I had a couple of my own sites that would benefit from getting promptly placed in the Directory.)

Weeelllllll….. Yeah. I went in there that first week and found some sufficiently incredible sites that belonged in that category and stuck them there. I was very proud of myself. After huffing and puffing and patting myself on the back for several minutes, I noticed something off to the side. It was The Queue.

There was this huge year-long Queue, a backlog of sites that had been submitted, but not yet reviewed, waiting patiently, just for me. You see, the Open Source Directory is a human directory. No bots for us. A real human looks at every site and either accepts or rejects it. Kind of like Yahoo, but free. It feeds most of the other major directories and search engines, Google, Lycos, AOLSearch, etc. And apparently, I was now that real human with a newly looming Queue.

For the sites I’m supposed to accept, the description has to be very concise and devoid of hype (my sites too? Oh, no…..Yeah, yer sites too, pal). Also for the accepted ones, there can’t be any deep links going to sites that are already listed in the Directory and there can’t be any groups of affiliate links, etc. Spam, trickery and scams. Actually, there are probably easily another hundred rules beyond those three. The job can get fairly involved. As I said, it’s free to the public, and we don’t get paid either.

That’s where we get to that Queue of submitted sites waiting like a very large dog, wiggling and antsing around near the front door because he has to go out real bad. Not only did I have to review the mess, but I had to do so responsibly and within the ODP’s guidelines. Although I can trash a site that I just don’t like, it’s not recommended that I let my biases take charge. After all, whoever designed that site must have at least one or two other people who think it’s quite a work of art, no matter how many browsers or color scheme’s it’s capable of breaking. In other words, that big dog’s gonna eat or shit or piss all over the place. Yeah, that’s what it’s gonna do.

To make a very long story as short as possible, that first week was the last time I went out and found Amazing sites to add to my category. Since then I’ve been spinning my wheels trying to keep up with the backlog and trying to keep it at least in the current year. But not only have I been spinning my wheels editing sites that keep coming and coming, the vast, vast majority of them are total trash. They’re eyesores. They shouldn’t be allowed on the web, much less in the Open Source Directory. (But, but, we’re being subjective again, aren’t we? We must be responsible and catalogue them anyway, and do so concisely and with precision). And god forbid we should quickly gloss over a boring site and just slap it in the Directory. Sooner or later, a Meta Editor will review our work and discover that the site was a phony backdoor for another site that was already listed. Oh, the shame of it all when that happens. We have to not only look at these monstrosities, we have to fucking concentrate on the bastards while we review them. The horror.

I started visiting the monstrosity less and less over the months. About two years ago, I logged in and was greeted by a Personal Review from a Meta Editor who wasn’t real pleased with what I’d done up to then. She didn’t like my sloppy directory. She didn’t think some of my descriptions were concise enough. There were mispellings in some of them. In fact, some of the descriptions made it seem like I hadn’t reviewed the site in question at all. I had to acknowledge my personal failings, and clean up the mess. I wasn’t to review any new sites until I cleaned up the old ones. And all the while, the queue would keep growing.

Fuck that, I’m outta there.

But. But what happens if my own sites get trashed by another editor? I get serious Google and AOL placement from the bastard. Dang! Well, long story short again, I kept my mouth shut and cleaned up the mess and did what I could about the Queue. Hey, it was a mess. I resigned myself to the fact that I would never get through it, but that was okay. I would do what was humanly possible in my spare time. Fuck it if they can’t accept that.

It turns out that they could and did accept that. It turns out that I’m not the only editor with a monster for a category. It turns out they sincerely appreciate anything any of us can do (probably not counting the Meta Editor I pissed off). Something else was happening though, over the time I’d spent there. I have found in the past few months that I’m afraid to leave, no matter how grotesque the sites are that I have to review. My own sites no longer concern me. It’s The Queue. The Queue has taken on a life of it’s own. It depends on me to keep it in the current year. If I leave, what will happen to my category? What will happen to the whole damned Directory? The Internet? The motherfucker could collapse under its own weight. It’s a Big Responsibility, my little category. And maybe that’s what keeps me there. Or maybe I need professional help.

Which brings me to last week. Since I’m listed as editor for the directory, submitters can email me with, uh, questions. They’re normally little cattle prods and nudges as to when the hell their free site listing is going to get approved. One particular submitter was very aggressive. No matter how many times I ignored his emails, they kept coming. I felt guilty putting him in my blacklist; after all, he was just trying to get his site listed. Eventually, I reviewed and listed him, just wanting him to go away. Fine and dandy. But last week he writes complaining that I moved him to a subdirectory that didn’t properly reflect the content of his site. I went in and looked, and a Meta Editor had moved it. Not wanting to cross a Meta, I sent him to a forum where submitters and Metas interract where he could get an authoritative answer. He came back and said they told him I could go ahead and move him back. He had a new site description for me, which I put in, after stripping it of the usual hype. (Turns out, he never talked to any of the Metas in the forum).

The next email from him was verrry pompous. It was pre-drug-infested-Rush-Limbaugh style. It seems that he held a Masters in English from Oxford, and that my hatchet job on his description was a Supreme Embarrassment to us both. I was to correct it immediately, if not sooner.

Oooooooooooh. Fee-fi-fo-fum…..I smell F-O-D-D-E-R!!!!……..

First I went into his site listing and made it even CONCISER! Then I turned the fucker to toast. I forget what I wrote, except that it was the most fun I’d had all week. I think I added something on the end like “If I were you I’d demand a full refund!” (In reality, I’m too fucking responsible to delete his listing. It’s not a bad site and it belongs in the Directory).

Then I finally had procmail bounce all future messages from him. According to my logs, a bunch of them came almost immediately and bounced back to their little pre-drug-infested-Rush-Limbaugh owner. Then he apparently got really screwed up with rage and emailed a nasty letter detailing my “outrageous behavior” to every single Meta Editor in the Directory. Since it’s internal, I can’t reveal what the Metas did as a response. But shocking as it is, they backed me 100%, even though they mentioned that we should try and avoid public controversy as much as possible. They let me know that they appreciated my years of service and advised me that I didn’t have to respond to any more of the emails from submitters.

Or. They’ve got The Queue on their minds.

Which is where I should be right now. Dang.