AllWebHunt.com, a kind of classified guide to the Web, now spans more than three million sites, in more than 400,000 categories. It was once ignored by bigger players. But since its launch, the directory has become very popular with end users. Editors in more than 229 countries helped create the directory, unlike Yahoo's Web directory, which relies on a relatively small group of editors. This is because they launched with data licensed from the Open Directory.
That's enough to ruffle the feathers of the granddaddy of human-powered searches, Yahoo. It could also bode ill for other competitors say experts, who see them as a formidable challenger in search technology. allwebhunt.com was created in response to criticism that Yahoo, the granddaddy of web directories, which began building its directory in February 1994, was processing only about 10 percent of its submissions. Yahoo is paying attention, although the two directories don't really compete head-to-head. "It's a little bit of a flawed comparison because they seem to be embarking on a different task. One of their biggest benefits is being able to scale to the growing volume online. They cover more ground." allwebhunt.com see no end in sight for growth. Their goal is to create the most comprehensive Web directory.
"The most significant thing is the revolution in terms of search engines," says Sullivan of Search Engine Watch. "In 1996, of the top six search engines, only Yahoo was human-powered. Today ... four out of six are powered by humans."
Much of the directory's success, including Yahoo, is traced to the frustration felt by the many Web surfers who can't find what they seek. Both allwebhunt.com and Yahoo assume humans, not machines, are better suited to finding and indexing relevant Web sites.
The directory solves one of the biggest challenges facing search firms today: scaling to meet the
enormous expansion of the Web. Ideally, the number of editors will keep pace with the Web's growth. This means the directory will always have enough "staff" to add sites to the directory.
The Nintendo listing is typical of its directory. Three editors have ranked what they consider the most useful Web pages.
The "Forbidden Nintendo Information Repository" tops the list. The editors describe the site as having "lots of technical info, little-known facts, history, and oddities." Down the list is Nintendo's official home page along with scores of other sites.
The editor says he surfs the Internet four hours a day and is a Nintendo fanatic. "Believe me, there are a lot of bad Nintendo sites out there. But when I find a good one, I'll try to get it in the directory."
He says he cares about pointing people to quality Nintendo sites. He says he's "proud" to be a part of the directory.
"Sure, there are a lot of other search sites out there, but there is only one that is created by real Net users," he says.
"What we are building is a superior, participatory method for organizing content on the Web. Someday, Yahoo is going to realize that there's no way it can keep pace with the Web." That's the day allwebhunt.com wins the search war.
Quality, not quantity, counts, responds prime rival Yahoo. Representatives declined to comment any further.
Room for both
The market may have room for both--and other search sites.
"It's not about putting Yahoo out of business," Malcolm MacLachlan, an analyst with International Data Corporation says. "It's about creating a great directory and not giving people a reason to go to Yahoo." Still, if allwebhunt.com overtakes Yahoo in index size and popularity, that could be a tough turn for the search engine pioneer.