Print pageEdit pageSearch site:
International Indexing Good Practice Website
Home :: Proposal :: Project Proposal

Proposal for International Good Practice Website

  1. Objective: to raise the profile of professional indexing, especially in relation to electronic media, by:
    1. promoting good practice in indexing
    2. promoting professional indexing to potential clients
    3. demonstrating the application of professional indexing to web materials, active documents, help files, information databases and other electronic information media, as well as to print media indexing.
    4. providing a high quality resource of:
    * quality criteria
    * guidelines
    * demonstrations
    * examples
    * links to resources such as software [not just indexing software, but interfaces, XML tools etc.], standards, books and thesauri, online journal articles etc.
    * links to indexing societies / indexers

    n.b. the intention is NOT to tell potential customers how to make an index themselves; it is to show them good indexing and how to judge it for themselves, and then tell them where to buy it.
  2. How will this differ from the existing sites of societies?
    1. It will be directed purely at the accomplishment of topic access to the contents of documents or collections of documents. [i.e. not to any specific group of people; there will be no housekeeping info, no lists of meetings, nothing specific to any society activity or business; links can be included to anything desirable].
    2. By pooling talent and resources within the various societies, it should be possible to produce really excellent materials. No society on its own is likely to be able to produce and maintain leading-edge information in such a range of topics. The site will require: design skills webmastering skills expertise in constructing active documents expertise in active indexing writing skills research skills and a great deal of enthusiasm and goodwill.
    3. All the societies could, if they wished, substitute pointers to site elements in appropriate areas, instead of producing and maintaining their own materials.
  3. How to set about it
    1. People: Each society assembles a small group of people with interest/ expertise, on the lines of SI Future Group. These groups discuss among themselves and with the other groups:
      1. communication and work procedures
      2. outline of topics to be covered
      3. persons taking initial responsibility for each topic [to identify experts, identify resources, set ball rolling by outlining work and communicating with other groups]
      4. overall coordination for this stage organised.
    2. Development
      1. Topic groups start refining/ filling in outlines.
      2. It is desirable for ISO999 provisions to underpin recommendations and criteria for assessing examples. There are only one or two areas in which consensus seems to differ from ISO999 recommendations, and in this case the difference can be made explicit. The value of consensus and reference back to an international standard is that:
        1. the purpose of the site is to promote indexers to outsiders [potential clients], and we should try to speak with one voice wherever we can;
        2. in many professions, such as engineering & manufacturing, adherence to standards is mandatory. If you tell an engineer that an index consisting of an alphabetical listing of every word in the text is not helpful, they will ask you to prove it. If you tell them it wonít meet ISO999, they will usually believe you.
      3. Locate core materials and examples. The objective should be as much as possible to use material that already exists, bearing in mind both copyright and the impermanence of internet materials. There should be many links to examples, but these urls must continually be tested and updated.
      4. Begin writing summaries, glosses, explanations, narratives.
      5. Overall coordinating editorial/ design group considers relation between topics, and how to consolidate the whole into an effective active document set.
      6. Editorial/ design group looks at software options for website.
      7. It may be useful at this stage for one or more Societies to allocate an area of their website to mount document/link sets for which feedback is wanted.
    3. Implement experimental password-enabled website.
      1. At this stage, people will need to see how their materials link together; to experiment with external links; to experiment with intra-linking among the various topics.
      2. The editorial/ design group need to experiment with software, and to do this collectively.
      3. This might be achieved by creating a password-enabled area of one of the Societiesí websites, or by setting up a new website. It is not advisable for all contributors to have the same site permissions -- only one person should be able to make permanent changes to documents or links, but all should be free to add comments directly to documents. It would be worth getting the software to do this.
    4. Go live and public --- eventually.
      1. It should be possible to go live on some areas before the whole is complete.
      2. It will be desirable to ask people not directly involved with the project to use the site and give feedback before it goes public.
    5. Set up maintenance procedures; monitoring procedures; feedback facilities.
      1. Maintenance will be a complex but crucially important task. Nothing lowers confidence in a site like broken links or visibly outdated information.
  4. Finance
    1. The project will also require financing: we need to use one of the best interface packages, such as Startree Professional; we need password-controlled access as well as public access; we need site-based conferencing for developers, and probably site-based email. And of course a site. And perhaps honoraria for people doing site admin and maintenance. But these expenses will not be great, shared among the societies, and most of them would not be incurred until the basic work is well underway.
  5. Ownership
    1. Societies will have ultimate ownership/ responsibility of the site itself.
      1. Societies will need to agree budgeting and finance provision.
      2. Societies for their own protection must oversee disclaimers, and should monitor the usage of copyright materials.
      3. However, Society boards, councils etc. should not concern themselves with detailed content, and should certainly not vet or copyedit specific texts.
    2. Authors/ contributors should have credit for their individual contributions.
      1. The reward we can offer experts is that their contributions be fully acknowledged, and that they have a special opportunity to promote themselves to potential clients.
      2. Authors / contributors should have the right to use a "promotional" signature next to topics they have contributed to, and direct links to their own website.
    3. Project editors / designers should have the same role as publication editors normally have: that is they will not only be responsible for overall presentation but they will have a role in ensuring a high standard of presentation and copy-editing.
  6. Why have I abandoned the proposed ISO999 Guide to practice? Three reasons:
    1. It was all a bit unnatural. The guide would have been published by BSI, as a hard copy document, as a British gloss on BS ISO999. If it was a good enough guide in itself, and cheap enough, it would have competed with ISO999 sales. This would be counter-productive, because it is only ISO999 sales that keep ISO999 and BSI:IDT/2/2 committee in existence.
    2. In the consultation process a couple of years ago, no suggestions were received except for quibbles with minor aspects of ISO999. There is no chance on earth of amending ISO999 in the foreseeable future. 140 countries are entitled to vote on whether ISO999 is confirmed, revised or withdrawn. About 60 do vote on it, but the people deciding how to vote tend to be librarians who have never seen the standard and have no interest in it. A proposal for revision requires the proposing country to provide resources for committee work, and for supporting countries to provide resources for individual participants. Even though direct costs would these days be minimal thanks to email, most standards organisations will vote down any such proposal unless they are already convinced of direct local benefit.
    3. Indexers seem to be managing to learn to index without an ISO999 guide. However, indexers in general are NOT being equipped to deal with the widening market for active document and internet indexing, and potential clients donít know they need them. (This is not to belittle the important work individual indexers have done in the past few years, or contributions such as AusSIís Web Indexing Prize.) But I do notice other organisations, such as librarians, purporting to have the only expertise in online indexing.

In short, it seems the best service we can render ourselves and our colleagues is to put down a big shiny marker where everyone else can see it.