Histopolis Grave Index
Histopolis Grave Index - Balance
The Use Paradox
An index of other sites, by its nature, must contain and reveal something about
the sites in the index. Content owners are understandably protective of their content
and uncomfortable when another site uses any part of it. Many sites objected to
the "use" of their content by early search engines until it became apparent that
the benefits to their site greatly exceeded any real or perceived negatives associated
with this use.
Usefulness versus Fairness
The usefulness of a grave index depends on the level of detail it contains. A list
of sites containing graves with a particular surname is useful, but also including
the first name and/or date of death makes it even more useful. The most useful grave
index would be one that includes all of the information available on the source
site for that grave – but at that point it ceases to be an index and is simply an
unfair copy of the source information.
The following principles have guided the development of the Histopolis Grave Index.
The index shall:
- Provide a clear net benefit to the researcher,
- Provide a clear net benefit to the content owner,
- Include only a limited subset of the information available on the source site,
- Provide clear source attribution for each index entry,
- Be flexible to accomodate content owners' preferences including the capability to
We have used two questions to validate the reasonableness of these principles:
- Q: How likely is it that a researcher would NOT continue to the corresponding source
site after encountering an grave index entry satisfying their search criteria? A:
In our judgement, very unlikely.
- Q: Would we allow another site to index Histopolis using these principles? A: Yes.
The implementstion of the Histopolis Grave Index attempts to achieve a reasonable
balance of usefulness and fairness through two complementary mechanisms:
Each index entry contains a limited set of data fields focused on providing usefulness
to the researchers while maintaining fairness to content owners.
A set of indexing rules that can limit the level of detail contained in the above
Achiving the proper balancing of usefulness and fairness is perhaps the biggest
challenge associated with developing the Histopolis Grave Index. We believe we have
achieved a reasonable balance with this implementation but expect to make adjustments
based on feedback from researchers and content owners.
Please send your comments and feedback on the Histopolis Grave Index to the