dogfood indexing

In the “XML lab” class that I’ve been teaching this month, I had a group of students explore the following mechanism to create custom indexes of “web worlds”, subsets of the web that interest a given group of people.

Here’s the scenario:

  1. Kermit, Miss Piggy and many of their friends want to create an index of web pages that they like, about “dogfood” for example.
  2. To select what goes into the index, they agree on a unique tag, say dogfoodindex, to use on a social bookmarking system of their choice (see del.icio.us if you don’t know what this is. But you know, don’t you?).
  3. At regular intervals, a spider gathers URLs by collecting all bookmarks having the dogfoodindex tag on the bookmarks server (as easy as scraping a web page or parsing an RSS feed), and indexes all pages to which these URLs point to.
  4. Adding a URL to the index is then only a matter of bookmarking it with the dogfoodindex tag, and waiting for the spider to do its job.

This makes it real easy to collaboratively create custom full-text indexes of possibly scattered resources.

The implementation is not complicated, but of course for real use one would need to be able to moderate the tagged URLs before indexing them, or change the indexing tag often enough to keep spammers out.

Also, you’d have to make sure the bookmarking service is not hit harder than they’d like by the spider when gathering URLs to index.

This could be useful for projects which have documentation of varying quality scattered in several places…WDYT?

3 Responses to dogfood indexing

  1. You could eliminate the potential spam problem by only grabbing those items tagged by a specific list of users, either by having a list of users to fetch or by fetching all the links for the tag and limiting to specific users on the client side.

    Another possibility is to require a combination of tags, for example ‘dogfoodindex notspam’, and only advertise the ‘dogfoodindex’ part.

  2. I’m convinced you’d get a killer application if you could bundle this kind of facility (using standard browser technology) with some form of collaborative searching and perhaps some of the apps found on e.g. http://www.scone.de/

    (bookmarks shared across social networks, possibly based on web navigation monitoring, combined with
    stored shareable search)

  3. Valentin says:

    Hi Bertrand! Have you investigated the use of RDF (http://www.w3.org/RDF) for solving this kind of problems ?

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