Saturday, October 29, 2011

My Process for Adding New Links, Part 2

Last week I gave you a quick run-through on how I process new links: My Process for Adding New Links. This week I realized that there are a lot more tedious steps that I go through, so I thought I'd list them here to give you an idea of what it is like to maintain an index like Cyndi's List. Consider this: I go through each of the steps outlined below for every link that I add or update on Cyndi's List. Many times I do this a hundred or more times a day. Yes, my job is tedious. And no, there is no staff working for me.

I have guidelines on the site for submitting new links. But, not everyone reads or follows them. Because of that I generally have a lot of extra steps I have to take when categorizing links. You can see the general guidelines, the URL Guidelines, and the Description Guidelines on this page:

URLs - Addresses
  • I have to confirm that the address given is correct.
  • Sometimes incomplete URLs are submitted.
  • Sometimes URLs are submitted with typos.
  • Sometimes a URL is given that points to the top level of a site, but the link is actually intended to point to something deeper within the site. So, I have to search to find the correct URL for that deep link.
  • If no description is submitted, I have to find one.
  • With personal web sites, I like to have a description that includes 10-20 of the top surnames to be found on the site. If those aren't already included in the link submission I will do my best to find them and add them myself. I think having the surnames with the link make the search & find process easier for those of you who are browsing.
  • If the text given in the description is repetitive or redundant I edit that out and strive to make the description as concise as possible.
  • If the text in the description is too much of a "commercial" and has too much marketing buzz, I remove that. Instead, I focus on the available content when I edit the description.
  • Sometimes I have to e-mail the submitter or owner of a site to get clarification.
  • Titles on web sites give me fits every day.
  • Sometimes there is no title on a web site.
  • Sometimes there is a title in the body, but not in the Title tag (top of the browser window).
  • Sometimes there is a title in the Title tag, but not in the body of the text.
  • Sometimes there are multiple different titles in the body, in the Title tag, and in the link submission. At this point I'm usually pulling my hair out.
  • I often have to treat multiple titles as if they are a title and sub-title. So, I include them both in my link title, separated with a hyphen.
Editing and Proofreading
I have to do a lot of editing and proofreading of link submissions. These are some of the things I have to fix on a regular basis:
  • Remove extra unnecessary blank spaces.
  • Insert blank spaces after commas or periods.
  • Remove extra unnecessary punctuation.
  • Insert punctuation like commas or periods.
  • Capitalize words that need it.
  • Change capital letters to lowercase letters where necessary.
  • Remove extra line breaks - all of my descriptions are just one paragraph.
  • Fix spelling errors.
  • I have to determine the location for a web site in order to categorize it.
  • Sometimes all that is supplied is a name of a cemetery, library or society, but not the location.
  • I determine the country, the state/province, the county, the city/town/village.
  • In order to do this I have to consult maps, gazetteers, and other online geography tools.
  • Sometimes I have to e-mail the link-submitter or the owner of a site to get clarification.
  • Sometimes web sites are in a foreign language.
  • I use online translation tools to help me determine the purpose, title, and description of a site.
  • Sometimes I consult with friends that have knowledge of foreign languages to get their help with determining specific information about the site.
Duplications, Spam, and Fraud
  • I often get duplicate link submissions. 
  • Sometimes people don't bother to check and see if the link already exists on Cyndi's List.
  • Sometimes people think I won't notice that they are sending a duplicate, hoping for additional exposure for their link. Trust me, I notice.
  • With a duplication, I generally check to see if I might need to update any of the addresses or descriptions for those links already on Cyndi's List.
  • Every day I get dozens of link submissions that are just plain spam. The public never sees them. I delete them and send out a rather testy "reject" message.
  • Sometimes I get links for sites that I know to be fraudulent, or to have participated in something fraudulent in the past. The public never sees these.
  • Sometimes I get links for sites that are bordering on fraudulent and are just plain "iffy." I generally try to investigate the sites to determine who owns them, what genealogical content they actually contain, etc. If it doesn't feel right to me, I delete them.

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