DMOZ was known as Gnuhoo when it was first founded. Bob Truel and Rich Skrenta founded Gnuhoo in the year 1998. At the time Skrenta and Truel happened to be engineers for Sun Microsystems. Coincidentally the original category structure of Gnuhoo was based on the configuration of Usenet News groups. Gnuhoo went public on June 5th, 1998. But, shortly after an article was published suggesting that Gnuhoo had nothing in common among the spirit of free software, Richard Stallman and the free Software foundation decided to cancel the use of Gnuhoo.
They decided to alter the program and change the name to NewHoo. Yahoo! did not like this choice in name because it was far too similar to theirs with the “HOO” at the end of it. The name was to be switched again. Zurl was the new name that the foundation came up with, but before that decision was set in stone NewHoo was bought out by Netscape Communications Corporation. This purchase took place in October of 1998 and NewHoo became the Open Directory Project, ODP for short. Netscape launched the ODP data under the Open Directory License. Shortly after Netscape took ownership of the Open Directory Project, AOL bought out Netscape.
Another name for the Open Directory Project is DMOZ. These two names are one and the same. The Open Directory Project had around 100,000 URL’s indexed with donations from 4500 editors. By October 5, 1999 the amount of URL’s indexed by ODP reached 1 million. In April of the year 2000 ODP had around 1.6 million URL’s. This was estimated to be higher than the number of URL’s Yahoo! Directory had received that year. On August 14, 2000 the Open Directory Project reached 2 million, 3 million on November 18, 2001 and a stunning 4 million on December 3, 2003.
In January 2006 the Open Directory Project published online reports to bring the public up to date about the development and revisions of the project. The first report provided information that covered the entire year of 2005. These reports were issued continuously up until September 2006. These reports helped to provide insight into the performance of the directory, rather than the simplified statistics provided on the front page of the directory. The listings and categories cited on the front page are “Bookmarks” and “Test” categories. These categories are not offered in the RDF dump.
The total number of editors that had contributed to the directory by March 31, 2007 was 75,151. In October of 2006 the Open Directory Project’s main server underwent a tragic system failure. This malfunction disallowed editors from working on the directory all the way up until December 2006. During that two-month period the older edition of the directory was the one open to the public. On January 13, 2007 the Site Suggestion and Update Listings were once again made accessible to the public. Then, on January 26 of 2007, weekly publications of RDF dumps resumed. To avoid going through another system failure, the system resides on a surplus design of two Intel-based dedicated servers.
AS the DMOZ became more widely accepted and known, two other main web directories emerged, Go.com and Zeal. Both of these directories failed to license their content for open content distribution. This may be one of the reasons they both failed.
The idea of using a large-scale community of editors to bring together online content has been extremely useful to a few other types of projects. DMOZ’s editing model motivated three other content volunteer projects including ChefMoz, MusicMoz, and an encyclopedia, which, is known as Open Site.