Editor Initiatives During the Crash
The crash of 2006 was probably one of the most traumatic events that have befallen the ODP in its history. Many editors had the ODP as part of their daily routine and felt a wide range of emotions when trying to deal with that lack. Some took a break, some just stayed up to date with the forums, but some found ways to be active with the ODP, even without server access.
Learning from the Experience
Obviously the crash took everyone by surprise, and the sheer magnitude of it surprised even more. While a major part of the technical side of the issue were outside of the editors' realm of influence, several issues were noticed where the editors could get more active. E.g. by setting up threads that point editors to status updates, by translating news or by putting contingency plans for communications in place so that, should another outage occur, communication will run more smoothly.
Other Ways of Staying in Touch
One of the strengths of the editor community is the communication between editors. The editor forums were up the whole time, but this wasn't obvious to all editors: many are used to accessing the forums from their dashboards. Various methods were found to make contact and point editors to the forums, including Instant Messenger, IRC, the Resource Zone and other external boards.
As most people know writing documentation can be a pretty arduous task,
and often gets put-off to another day while there are more pressing issues
that need to be dealt with. The outage was, therefore, a good opportunity
to dust off the external documentation and to work on bringing it up to
date. Separate servers were set up to host this work and some great progress
In addition, the "Standardized Category Charters" team continued its work: they prepare ready-made, well-polished category descriptions for use e.g. in Regional template categories.
Keeping Track of New Sites
Scavengers Unite! presents a new site-tracking game in detail.
Editors' desire to catalogue could not be thwarted by the temporary absence
of the ODP. While some found other worthwhile projects to contribute their
time, others worked to get a head start for when the ODP returned. Threads
were started in the internal editor forum where people could post the information
about found sites, so that they could be added later. Even a new tool was
set up that allowed to store URLs, complete with target category, title
Other editors used the fact that the public side of the ODP was up and running for quality control checks - making their own private notes about sites that should no longer be listed, where descriptions should be changed, or listings moved to a more appropriate category.
Taking a Step Back
Many editors used the time to step back and take a look at ODP and its place on the internet. This resulted in brainstorm threads and discussions which all focus on the question: how can ODP be relevant in the web of today and - even more important - in the web of tomorrow?
Preparing for the Come-back
If you just re-entered the server for the first time, you can find good tips for the first day in the article Getting back up to Speed.
One of the things that was obvious from an early stage during the outage
was that this would break the regular contact between editors and the ODP.
Therefore when the editing side of the directory came back on line, we would
need a way to get back in touch with the all editors again, and to let them
know that editing was available again, and asking to invite them to "come
home" and to help them deal with the various remaining technical limitations
during the first days.
Many editors helped to craft the welcome back message and prepare the related forum threads. As editors trickle back to their dashboards, it gets obvious how important these preparations were. When feedback is available again and more editors can be reached, many more will make use of the welcome back information.
Many of these efforts are documented in much more detail in the Internal Editor Forums, and I would encourage anyone who has not looked at them to check them out and find out what went on while they were "offline" from the ODP. While this was a major hit to the directory, some very encouraging things were seen, the biggest of which is that the editor community is alive and well.
Please send all comments, questions or suggestions to the newsletter editor.