I’ve built a lot of different niche web directories over the years.  Frankly there are some that I have forgotten about.  But here are some highlights.

Planet Doom – 2001 – 2005 this was my first directory/portal.  I learned a lot operating it and it had quite a lot of traffic.  At the time, Google was pretty poor at delivering results for niche searches so they would often put niche directory categories in their SERPs.  In effect they would “hand off” the search to the specialists.  As Google got better at it they moved away from featuring niche directories in the results.  Template – custom. Logo – custom both by Lynne Scott.

I went with Scifi/Fantasy/Horror in order to make myself a little different from most of my competition who were doing just Scifi and Fantasy.  Doing all three never was a good fit.

This is the directory that got carpet bombed by Google after my host, Searchking.com, sued Google.

Scifimatter.com – 2003 – 2012  Once it became clear that Google would never send traffic to Planet Doom (above) ever again, I took the backup database from Planet Doom, discarded the Horror listings and created Scifimatter.  The earliest version used a free version of the Gossamer Threads script which had a flat file database.  Later versions (pictured) used WSNLinks, if I remember right.  At various times this directory offered webring hosting and banner exchanges for webmasters.  By about 2008 it became clear that directories had had their day.  I stubbornly hung on to this neglected site until 2012 when I finally pulled the plug.  This was my favorite.  Template – off the shelf.

Shadowdark.org – This was a catchall domain.  From it I ran lots of different perl and php scripts on subdomains to save some hosting fees.  The sites were of all sorts of genres.  Three directories stand out and are listed below.

Planet Doom II –  experimenting, I revived the Planet Doom name as a Horror, Dark Fantasy and Scifi Monster Directory.  I used the free version of Fluid Dynamics Search Engine which worked pretty good for search but was hard to administer. The categories are fake, if you hover over a category you see it triggers a search engine search.  It did okay but was never super popular.  Ironically, today, using a site search engine script, something like this might make a better niche directory than a directory script.  PD II might have been ahead of it’s time.  Template – off the shelf.

The Ring Codex – I rushed this out to take advantage of all the hype about Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies which were forthcoming with fevered anticipation.  I used a free version of the Gossamer Threads perl script.  Codex had a lot of people using it.  I should have spent more effort on promotion and building the index.  The script had no captcha protection on the Add URL form so it eventually attracted automated spam submissions.  I think at one point I was manually deleting, one at a time, 200 spam submissions a day, with very few legit submissions.  Rather than spend money on upgrades, I closed it down.  Template – off the shelf.

Spy Fiction Guide – I was getting burned out on SF/F/H,  but espionage fiction had always been a favorite genre of mine.  With the fall of the Berlin Wall and eventual collapse of the USSR the spy genre seemed to be dying out. So this was sort of a labor of love on my part to keep the genre alive.  It was never wildly popular but I had fun.

The index of most of these were built by me using a dial-up internet connection which was a very time consuming process.  Niche directories were at their best when people were still building serious websites on Geocities, Tripod, Angelfire and the other free web hosts.

If you have read this far, I thank you.  This post was an itch I had to get out of my system.


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2 thoughts on “Highlights of Web Directory Building Past

    • Hi Kicks,

      I’ll try and answer your questions.


      I read a lot. But generally after the site got listed. As an editor you get into a routine of how you spot check a site for inclusion. For a fanfic site that meant checking to see if it was really fanfic and how extensive it was. I did not really judge how go the fanfic was, only that it was readable, navigable, legit. It was up to the visitors to judge how good the fic was. The other interesting category were the serialized fiction blogs. These were original fiction with each post being a chapter in the story. Again, they just had to be reasonably competent at least back then. I think my criteria for inclusion would be different today.

      > Hip Rank

      This was my parody of Google’s Page Rank. A lot of directories were starting to organize their listings by PageRank. There was a tiny search engine called Search Hippo that offered a free API of Hip Rank. I decided to sort my listings by Hip Rank, in mockery of Google. It was never popular. Nobody understood it, and if you have to explain the joke it sucks all the funny out of it. I think I only used HipRank for about 1.5 years then gave it up.

      The problem with sorting a directory listings by PageRank or AlexaRank is that it is not a mark of quality, it is only a opinion of popularity. So if the most popular sites are always first they tend to stay the most popular. Probably alphabetical order tends to be the most neutral and fair.


      Well I hope I did. Directories in the later years did not inspire fan mail so I don’t know. I do know that I sent a lot of traffic to some sites because the directory script logged clicks out. Some sites got thousands of visitors from me. I’d like to think that helped.

      I think writing a series of easy how to guides would be good today. ie. How to use SeaMonkey Composer to make a site on neocities. Also having a category in your directory of free and easy resources for web building helps.


      I love all those monster movies. One of my favorite sites is still around Stomp Tokyo. See, I remember it 18 years later! Any B monster movie, no matter how bad it is, is good. Plus the Universal Studios monsters from the 30’s. Plus anything with Vincent Price. Good times.

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