Histopolis Grave Index - Benefits - Balance - Fields - Rules - Participate

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.

Guiding Principles

The following principles have guided the development of the Histopolis Grave Index. The index shall:

  1. Provide a clear net benefit to the researcher,
  2. Provide a clear net benefit to the content owner,
  3. Include only a limited subset of the information available on the source site,
  4. Provide clear source attribution for each index entry,
  5. Be flexible to accomodate content owners' preferences including the capability to opt out.

We have used two questions to validate the reasonableness of these principles:

  1. 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.
  2. Q: Would we allow another site to index Histopolis using these principles? A: Yes.

The Implementation

The implementstion of the Histopolis Grave Index attempts to achieve a reasonable balance of usefulness and fairness through two complementary mechanisms:

  1. Fields. Each index entry contains a limited set of data fields focused on providing usefulness to the researchers while maintaining fairness to content owners.
  2. Rules. A set of indexing rules that can limit the level of detail contained in the above fields.

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 webmaster .

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