In it, I described three tell-tale signs for spotting a noticeboard...
- Ongoing fees. If any payments made are renewable (eg annually) then that's an advertising fee and the site is not a directory. After all, if a listing is relevant enough to get onto the site in the first place, does its usefulness to a site visitor change at midnight when its current payment runs out? Clearly not.
- Empty Categories. If a site has empty categories it is a clear sign it is a noticeboard. Empty categories are no use to visitors. The only reasons for publishing an empty category are to impress search engines and entice potential submissions.
- Description. Where does the description come from? If it is supplied by the listed company itself, the site is a noticeboard. Of course we don't know what the copy supplied in any submission was... but the word "we" is a dead give-away. If it appears in any listing, the site is a noticeboard, not a directory.
Number two particularly irritates me as a user. You go to a directory, maybe because it has been highly listed on Google, expecting to see a list of organisations in the category of interest... and there's nothing there!
I mention it now because I've just visited an accommodation video review website (zoom + go, I'm not going to link to them) who claim to have "the internet's largest collection of traveller-submitted videos". Sadly the site looks a lot more comprehensive than it really is because they publish empty categories, demonstrating how search engines are more important to them than users.