0010 - A lot of people said "what is it?" on my poll yesterday and while I realise that option was unfortunately phrased -- I don't expect many of you actually want to know what it is, but if you are curious, the Open Directory Project is a Web directory whose listings are added and described by humans; the category divisions are topical, regional, and by language. There's also an Adult section (18+ only) and a Kids and Teens section (only kid-friendly sites). It was actually while working through unreviewed submissions in Kids and Teens: School Time: English: Literature: Series: Harry Potter that I found my first HP fanfic. It was slash and rated NC-17, so the site was not suitable for listing in Kids and Teens, but, well, I was over 18. XD
Sites are added to the ODP by editors or suggested by webmasters or just random people surfing. An ODP listing is a good back-link to have for Google PR, so the directory is relentlessly spammed with affiliate junk, mirror sites, spider food and made-for-Adsense blogs with all content ripped off from other sources. These are typically not listed, of course (at least not by experienced editors who are trained to spot them), but people keep trying to submit them anyway. :| Anyone can become an editor, though sometimes it takes a couple of tries: a huge number of editor applications are from webmasters who don't give a shit about the project and just want to join to get their site listed and/or promoted unfairly, and the people who review the applications understandably tend to err on the side of caution (which is really sad, but what can you do?).
The ODP isn't really designed for the end-user; our chief export is the URL/title/description data that can be used by anyone for pretty much anything that can interpret and work with the RDF files. Google uses the data in some of its search results, and it also duplicates ODP data in its own directory. For example, if you search Google for The Matrix, the official site's description reads "Official site for the series. Cast and crew biographies, interviews, photographs, production notes, visual effects, posters, comics, press, chat, games, and downloads." -- I wrote that back in 2003 or thereabouts. Our objective is to describe accurately and without editorial bias what is found on the site (or what the site is about, if all sites in a category contain approximately the same sort of thing), as that sort of information tends not to grow out of date and become irrelevant unless the site shuts down or changes its purpose entirely. The ideal is to have an editor who's genuinely interested in a category's subject matter looking after every category, but of course that's never going to be possible.
The ODP mostly appeals to my inner love for order and linearity: sites are described as they are (rather than as the site owners hope to present them), everything is in a category, there is a clear set of guidelines of what is and isn't to be listed (the ODP doesn't want to list every site in the world, just those that are useful and relevant to searchers), there is extensive backend documentation for pretty much everything, and if I'm not sure what to do, I can ask in the editor forums. I've been an editor since 2001 and was promoted to editall (someone who can edit anywhere in the directory) a year later. It's fun. Being an editall makes it even more fun, because I can edit anywhere I happen to be interested in at the moment, or go and help out in a neglected/abused category (we call them cats for short). Not too long ago, I noticed that the Anime and Manga categories have been langushing lately so I went and built out Reborn manga and Reborn anime. :3 Most major changes or reorganisations require editor community consensus, and it's not a very fast-paced sort of environment: often it requires a lot of patience. But it's still fun -- because I know I don't have to do it. :)
0011 - I saw on my flist earlier today that some HP fanartist is going to self-publish a book of her fanart and sell it online. I... am not sure where I stand on this. I've never had any issue with book-based art commissions because I feel they are a priori not as infringing as, say, prompt-driven fanfic -- since the fanartist is drawing to spec based on the requester's (and her own) interpretation of the canon source where no reliable (and thus stealable) graphical representation of the canon characters exists in the first place. However, I've always been a little "..." about the selling of fanart prints -- I gleefully buy them for the Japanese fandoms I'm in because it's actually legalor at least tolerated by creators in Japan to profit off derivative work, but that is just not the case outside Japan. I am not saying this from the POV of "wah wah fanartists get away with everything what about meeeeeeeeeeee" (because let's face it, a ficcer would be strung the fuck up if s/he tried to do something like this); I have never had any desire to profit off my fan fiction, and I think fanartists' work in non-visual media is generally less infringing than that of ficcers, but... reprinting fanworks en masse to sell for profit? My internal barometer is at a pretty steady "do not want" on that one. What do you think? I'm particularly curious what the fanartists among you think about this kind of thing.
[the obvious]My internal barometer is mine alone and has no bearing on the fandom at large; I am saying what -I- think, and I'm asking because I want to know what other people think. And yes apparently I DO need to say this every time! -_-[/the obvious]