I don't see how you could come to that conclusion.
What you describe is called a "top site" script. It was the evolution of a "web ring" and I share your feelings about it )though much less stridently). The sites send traffic to get rated highly and there is no quality criteria and most sites just use scripted cheats to inflate their rankings.
What roverroad describes is far far different. And is comparable to a portal with editorial review and not a traffic scheme.
Basically, something like this: http://search.able2know.com/
with more of an emphasis on editorial review.
Do you not agree that it's a far cry from what you describe?