Zeal is a volunteer-built web directory, first appearing in 1999, and then acquired by LookSmart in October 2000 for $20 million. Zeal now combines the work of Looksmart's paid editors with that of volunteers who profile websites and place them in a hierarchy of subcategories.
Paid editors attend to commercial sites and oversee the voluntary work on non-commercial sites.
Volunteers work under a defined set of Guidelines and are required to pass an introductory level test on those Guidelines before submitting site profiles or edits. As points and experience are acquired, volunteers may elect to take a further exam which allows them to "adopt" and create topic categories of special interest. They can then move up the organizational structure from Community Member to Zealot to Expert Zealot, acquiring additional tools and oversight responsibility at each level. Expert Zealots, who can move or delete some whole categories, monitor the day-to-day operations of the non-commercial portion of the directory and act as mentors to new members.
Active volunteers are found in many English-speaking countries (particularly North America, United Kingdom, India, Australia, and New Zealand) and some other countries such as Switzerland and Japan.
By March 2003, Zeal had passed the 250,000 listings mark; it is rapidly approaching the 400,000 mark due, in part, to the Zeal Charity Drive contest (http://www.zeal.com/zeality/features.jhtml?story=2) of October 2003.
Since Looksmart's acquisition of Zeal, its internet traffic as measured by Alexa has fluctuated considerably; since MSN withdrew from the related partnership, Zeal traffic has declined from "usually better than 2000th" (mid-2003) to "about 5000th" (mid-2004).
- Official site (http://www.zeal.com/)
- Alexa Traffic Chart (http://www.alexa.com/data/details/traffic_details?&range=2y&size=large&compare_sites=&url=http://www.zeal.com/)
- Reasons Why Microsoft's MSN Dumped Looksmart’s Search Results - Non-Official Explanation (http://chinese-school.netfirms.com/computer-article-Looksmart.html)