The 1999 beginning-of-year review of URLs in the Scholarly Societies Project is nearly complete now. I am taking this opportunity to report on the results of that review and their implications for quality control of the Project.
It is this last point that is the most problematic, since as time goes on, any collection of URLs will develop broken links, and the quality of the project will suffer unless steps are taken to deal with this situation. The remaining discussion of quality control in the Scholarly Societies Project concerns dealing with the degradation in quality caused by link breakage.
The 1997 beginning-of-year review was a critical one, since it was the review that pointed out the high rate of change of URLs, but also made it clear that an increasing number of scholarly societies were obtaining permanent URLs. In conjuction with that review, I developed the notion of a URL stability index.
Note: Below I have used the phrase permanent URL to mean that the society in question has gone to the effort of getting its own domain name. The word permanent is, of course, an exaggeration for anything connected with the Internet. I am using it as a convenient way of saying that these URLs are considerably less likely, on the whole, to change than the others.
At the beginning of 1997, the URL stability index for the entire Project was 18.0%. After the beginning-of-year review of URLs (which included deliberate searching for permanent URLs for sites already in the Project), the URL stability index increased to about 30%. In the process of doing this review, about 200 URLs had to be changed.
Because all the URLs were checked and fixed where necessary, the quality of the Project underwent a temporary increase. But the increase in the percentage of URLs in permanent form meant that there was also a long-term increase in the quality of the Project. At the time, there were slightly more than 1000 URLs in the Project, with slightly more than 300 in permanent form, and slightly more than 700 in non-permanent form.
In order to keep the maintenance work on the Project at a manageable level, it was necessary in October of 1997 to restrict future sites added to those with permanent URLs.
Note: The numbers below are approximate, and represent the situation after each annual review, which is conducted in the first quarter of the respective year.
The data shows the following trends:
The conclusions follow directly from the comparison of the annual reviews for 1997-1999:
The Editor is, therefore, cautiously optimistic about the possibility of continuing to maintain quality control over the URL stability of the Scholarly Societies Project.
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