St. Patrick’s Day 2017 marked the end of the internet era, says Steve Wyer, CEO of Third Coast Interactive, Inc. On this day, DMOZ, one of the Internet’s most successful and long-lasting human directory projects, closed its virtual doors forever.

DMOZ was founded in the summer of 1998, the same year internet search engine giant Google took its first binary breath. According to Steve Wyer, DMOZ, which was originally known by the moniker GnuHoo, a play on rival Yahoo’s directory name, was acquired by Netscape and later AOL, which gave the DMOZ project the official name of The Open Directory.

The Open Directory was a human-powered catalog of the Internet, explains Steve Wyer. It utilized human volunteers, known as editors, to categorize webpages on topics ranging from art to science to society and shopping. Upon its closure, The Open Directory had a catalog of nearly 4 million websites in 90 languages. Steve Wyer says 92,000 editors volunteered during the course of DMOZ’s two-decades-long reign.

With the widespread availability of Google and other search engines, many people viewed DMOZ as completely unnecessary and virtually useless, reports Steve Wyer. However, nearly 20 years ago, directories were considered vital by all internet users. At the time, Yahoo monopolized the online directory world and could virtually eliminate a site by refusing its inclusion, says Steve Wyer. Yahoo’s directory, despite turning to machine-generated results, was pulled from the web in 2014.

Both Yahoo and The Open Directory project succumbed to the success of Google, which most internet pioneers, including Steve Wyer, note as the beginning of the end of human cataloging online. Steve Wyer explains that Google’s search feature easily outperformed the monotony of clicking through links to find information.

Despite the Internet world’s reliance on Google and Bing, there are still a handful of web directories lingering online, reports Steve Wyer. The Web Directory (webdirectory.com), which was established four years prior to DMOZ, remains available with extremely limited information, according to Steve Wyer.

Steve Wyer says human-edited directories are of little value for web marketers and SEO professionals. The sites must be manually updated and are largely maintained by volunteers, much like Wikipedia. Unlike Wikipedia, however, Steve Wyer says directory sites offer very little information of value and results can be manipulated by editors. Machine intelligence, by contrast, is less capable of direct bias.

DMOZ and the Yahoo Directory, relying on a volunteer workforce, were monetized using a paid subscription or affiliate link model, says Steve Wyer. As Google captured a larger market share of researchers, these were no longer lucrative advertising options.

According to Steve Wyer, The Open Directory project continues to live on in millions of websites via the NOODP meta-tag. Although redundant and unnecessary, this tag once served as the primary way publishers instructed search engines to forgo Open Directory descriptions in search results.

To view a static mirror copy of the final update to DMOZ, visit dmoztools.net.

For more information about Steve Wyer and Third Coast Interactive, visit 3Ci.agency online.