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4.3. Collaborative indexing / targeting

There are various forms of collaboration necessary for the sustainable development of a world-wide legal index and search facility.

4.3.1. A `multi-threaded' index and search facility

The creation and maintenance of a world-wide intellectual index and targeted search facility for law is a reasonably large task requiring continuous funding. The size of the task probably means that it is most feasible if a number of `collaborators' who wish to create complementary indexes and search facilities can agree to do so within a common framework (what we have called a `multi-threaded index').

The DIAL Index prototype has been constructed as an integral part of AustLII's World Law Index of law on the Internet, partly for technical reasons, but also because we are of the view that what we call a `multi-threaded index' is one of the likely options for making such an index sustainable at a reasonable cost. The idea is simply that a number of collaborators work together in the construction of a large Internet law index, with each stakeholder concentrating on building (or funding) one part of the index. So, for example, Project DIAL concentrates on the creation of pages of links relating to legislation, and legislation-related resources such as Parliamentary sites and law reform reports. These pages appear in World Law Index clearly identified or `badged' as `Project DIAL Index' pages, as illustrated in the screen examples in these chapters. However, there are many other pages in the index that have been built for other purposes, and these appear identified as general `World Law Index' pages or `badged' as part of some other specific and separately funded project (eg on indigenous legal issues). In both cases the separately funded resources can be separately identified, but this no impediment to the creation of a much larger facility than could be sustained for one project alone.

Similarly, in DIAL Search, there are a number of separately searchable Libraries, most of which reflect the emphasis of certain funding sources on targeting certain types of resources. Users can search `All Libraries' or can search the separate collections.

4.3.2. Involvement of country and subject experts as `contributing editors'

The continuing development and maintenance of the index may need to be geographically dispersed, with indexers in different locations responsible for parts of the index, and for targeting the web spider in relation to these aspects.

4.3.3. Use of `Add a Link' by users

Users can contribute by using the `Add a Link' facility to suggest new links that should be added[116]. Such proposed links are checked and edited by the index editors before being added.

4.3.4. The indexing software - facilitating collaboration

The indexing and targeting software used for Project DIAL facilitates such forms of collaboration by providing an editing interface accessible via the web, with password-controlled access. Authorised editors can therefore contribute to the indexing and web spider targeting from any location in the world.

Editing is via an editable view of the actual pages in the index, as shown below. Selection of one of the editing functions leads to a form for that entry which may then be completed or amended.

A DIAL Index page seen in editing mode

Part of the form involves the indexer deciding whether to send the web spider to create a searchable database of every word on the site being listed in the Index. The web spider must be sent to the correct URL ('targeted') in order to ensure that only desired pages on that site are made searchable, and that all desired pages are captured. The DIAL Index is therefore used as the mechanism for controlling what is included in the DIAL Search facility.

Part of the web spider targeting options in the indexing form

[116] The `Add a Link' facility is at the top of pages in AustLII's World Law Index, but a customised version is yet to be added to the DIAL Index pages.

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