Microsoft buys the Open Directory
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Microsoft buys the Open Directory -- or not

(April First 2002) Microsoft turns the Open Directory Project into the Microsoft Open Directory, but then again: maybe not. At the same time, ODP editors launch a new public discussion forum.

The new GOD directory

This morning the search engine community awoke to a new Open Directory home page. The fertile green color had been replaced by Microsoft blue and a huge Microsoft logo dominated the top of the page.

For good measure a small pop-up window appeared whenever someone accessed the site with the Microsoft Office paper clip smiling at you. At the bottom of the page one could read "Copyright Bill Gates".

At the Open Directory Who We Are and What We Do page the new name -- The Microsoft Directory Project (MDP) -- was used instead of the ODP.

It sounds serious, doesn't it?

The Open Directory is a Yahoo!-like directory edited by volunteers all over the world. It is owned by AOL, but powers many search directories across the Web, including the Pandia Plus Directory. Given Microsoft's monopolistic tendencies, a take over like this one would be interesting news indeed.

The Microsoft home page says nothing about the take over, although a Microsoft like "press release" at http://dmoz.org/April-01-2002_GOD_PR.html noted that the "MSN network of Internet services, with more than 270 billion unique reboots worldwide, today announced the addition of the Gates Open Directory (GOD), formerly known as the Open Directory Project." Aha, the ODP is not to be known as the MDP, after all, but GOD no less!

"The Gates Open Directory is part of Microsoft's vision to simplify copyright on the Internet by buying all copyrighted material," the press release said. "Once this goal is achieved Microsoft will be the single clearinghouse for all intellectual property, in effect streamlining the current legal bureaucracy surrounding patent and copyright suits by eliminating the need for costly lawsuits."

According to this text Rich Skrenta, co-founder of the Open Directory Project, believes that "the Gates Open Directory was inevitable, so why fight it?" Bill Gates, future owner of all things ownable, concurs: "Resistance is futile."

The current staff of Open Directory Project is being replaced by an Artificial Intelligence developed at the Microsoft Research Lab.

At the Webmaster World forum one ODP editor elaborated on the story, adding that the MDP technology platform will be used to develop reviews of both commercial and non-commercial websites, but only sites prominently displaying on the homepage the new button "I Love Bill Gates" will be accepted.

A new ranking system has been implemented, which will place at the top of search results sites having the keyword "Microsoft" consistently throughout the page text, or banners advertising Microsoft products. This new ranking system has been called MPR (Microsoft Page Rank). By the way, the "press release" includes a link to a similarly hilarious story from the Onion.

It is all a great prank, of course, but the ODP people responsible for it should hope and pray that Bill Gates & Co. has a sense of humor as big as their own. There are probably hundreds of lawyers out there itching to arrest them for using the Microsoft logo, and some AOL executives have probably been choking on their morning coffee.

The new lay out will probably be taken down any minute now, so if you have missed it, we have taken a snapshot for you.

A new public ODP forum

Members of the ODP Community have launched a new ODP Public Forum, and that's no joke.

The new suite of forums is an additional channel of communication where the general public can interact with ODP editors, and where direct questions about submissions, listings, placement, becoming an editor, and other ODP questions and issues can be addressed.

The Forum is moderated by the ODP Meta Editors Community, and will require a registration for posting messages, with specific acceptance of the Forum Guidelines. The public can in any case read the Forum without registering. For more information, see the official announcement page.

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