The Sort of Help We Need

      We need people to select an index and care for it. Only those indexes listed in bold font in the Central Catalogue - you may switch back to it if you wish - currently have their own maintainers. You'll find that most of the indexes, particularly those under "United States" lack maintainers.


      The basic qualification is a willingness to devote an hour or two each week or so to make an index an effective tool for students and researchers. Beyond that, one should have an interest in and knowledge of the subject one is indexing, although maintaining an index in itself soon makes one something of an expert in the field. A basic knowledge of HTML would help, but we have templates for entries and so little technical knowledge of formatting is needed.

What the Job Entails

      The Web is always in flux; sites disappear or change their locations without warning, and an index in which many of the pointers do not work is not much good to anyone. For this reason, a maintainer should check his connections every couple of weeks, deleting those pointing to sites that no longer exist and changing the addresses for those which have been moved. This could be a tedious job, but there is a link-checker available for free downloading that does much of the work of finding those pointers that need to be checked.

      Every Index should point to as many of the best resources available, and new sites are appearing all of the time. This means that the maintainer should scout the web every now and then - Google and Yahoo! are helpful in such searches, and we also have lists of excellent indexes other than our own. The index must be updated with these new sites, but that is a rather simple matter and can be done in your own machine. An effective FTP program for downloading copies of the existing index and uploading the updated index can be downloaded free of charge.

      Additionally, there are some tricks of trade that can make the work rather simple and virtually error-free.

Membership Status

      WWW-VL History is part of the World-Wide Web Virtual Library set up by Tim Berners-Lee, the developer of the Web in 1993 - as a matter of fact, it was the first index in WWW-VL. WWW-VL numbers over two hundred sites, each with its maintainer. Since the very beginning, each maintainer has been considered the owner of his or her index and is an equal member of the WWW-VL organization. The members of WWW-VL History have developed certain general and common rules, which you may view by clicking here. and agreed to abide by them in order to create a network of indexes each organized much like the others so that the user is not confronted with an entirely new situation each time he or she changes from one index to another. Nevertheless, we are colleagues and not bosses and workers.

      We have a discussion list closed to all but fellow maintainers, and we share information, and a bit of fellowship, through this means.


      There are no tangible rewards for this sort of work, but the knowledge that you are performing a service for hundreds of thousands of people can be both satisfying and fulfilling. The main catalog of WWW-VL History receives over 300,000 visitors annually, which is not all that many until one considers that people use the main catalog to find the indexes they want to use, bookmark them and perhaps never visit the Central Catalog again.

      Then, too, there are advantages to working with and getting to know an international group of like-minded people. Scholars who use the web for research are full of praise for WWW-VL History and are very likely to know who provides them with the tools they use. For this reason, maintaining a WWW-VL index can provide one with an important line in one's resume.

What Next

      Please read over the materials in the section describing our project and listing the present members. If you would like to participate, you should decide upon the index that you would like to maintain and whether you have a site in which to place your index or whether we should try to provide one for you. Then send me a note at asking whatever questions have occurred to you, telling me what you would like to do and providing some information about yourself so that I can introduce you to the other members.