This article studies one of the main bottlenecks in providing more effective information access: the poverty on the query end. We explore whether users can classify keyword queries into categories from the DMOZ directory on different levels and whether this topical context can help retrieval performance. We have conducted a user study to let participants classify queries into DMOZ categories, either by freely searching the directory or by selection from a list of suggestions. Results of the study show that DMOZ categories are suitable for topic categorization. Both free search and list selection can be used to elicit topical context. Free search leads to more specific categories than the list selections. Participants in our study show moderate agreement on the categories they select, but broad agreement on the higher levels of chosen categories. The free search categories significantly improve retrieval effectiveness. The more general list selection categories and the top-level categories do not lead to significant improvements. Combining topical context with blind relevance feedback leads to better results than applying either of them separately. We conclude that DMOZ is a suitable resource for interacting with users on topical categories applicable to their query, and can lead to better search results.